Crazy, Stupid, Love Review

Before I get to the review, I just want to remind you that there is still a little bit of time left in the submission period for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon, which is open until February 9th, 2020. If you would like to participate in the blogathon, all the details can be found in this announcement post.

Also, Drew’s Movie Reviews is now on Letterboxd! Click here to visit my profile.

Okay, now on to the review!


Crazy, Stupid, Love movie posterSynopsis
After Cal’s (Steve Carell) wife Emily (Julianne Moore) tells him she wants a divorce, he begins hanging out at bars, where he meets Jacob (Ryan Gosling). With Jacob’s help, Cal reinvents himself and learns Jacob’s tricks to picking up women.

Review
Many romantic comedies follow a similar and predicable story. Crazy, Stupid, Love, even with everything it does well, does not escape from this trapping. However, it is able brings a genuineness not often found in similar movies. The first reason for this is the star-studded cast, which consists of Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marissa Tomei, and Kevin Bacon. What makes this film work so well is the chemistry between all the cast members. With pairings like Carell and Gosling, Gosling and Stone, and Carell and Moore, and even Carell and Jonah Bobo, who plays Carell’s son, every scene is funny, sweet, and filled with so much heart that it’s not hard to enjoy it. Marisa Tomei is only in a handful of scenes but she steals every one. With a cast like this, there is no one stand-out performance; they are all wonderful.

With so many characters, there are several story lines happening at once. When they all come together about two-thirds through the movie, hilarity ensues, resulting in one of the best scenes of the film. The script, written by Dan Fogelman, is the second reason this movie shines. It manages to balance every character and memorable moment well. Even though the cast of characters is fairly large, especially for a movie like this, no one ever feels like they are overpowering the others. There is a clear focus on Cal, Jacob, and Emily, but the supporting cast get plenty of their own stand-out moments as well. Also, the script doesn’t sacrificing character development for one-liners. a pitfall common in comedies. Instead, the script accentuates the talents of the cast, letting comedic moments flow naturally, allowing character moments and humorous moments stand side-by-side without feeling jarring or unnatural.

I thought Crazy, Stupid, Love was GOOD πŸ™‚ Like many romantic comedies, it is predicable. But what it lacks in individualism, it makes up for with heart, an enduring cast, and a well-balanced script that expertly manages the film’s many relatable characters and great moments. This film is an example of when all the right pieces come together just right and at the right time, creating something worthwhile in the process.

Favorite Quote
Jacob: Are you Steve Jobs?
Cal: What?
Jacob: Hold on a second. Are you the billionaire owner of Apple Computers?
Cal: No.
Jacob: Oh, okay. Well in that case you got no right to wear New Balance sneakers ever.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Glen Ficarra – Director
John Requa – Director
Dan Fogelman – Writer
Christophe Beck – Composer
Nick Urata – Composer

Steve Carell – Cal
Ryan Gosling – Jacob
Julianne Moore – Emily
Emma Stone – Hannah
Analeigh Tipton – Jessica
Jonah Bobo – Robbie
Joey King – Molly
Marisa Tomei – Kate
John Carroll Lynch – Bernie
Beth Littleford – Claire
Kevin Bacon – David
Liza Lapira – Liz
Josh Groban – Richard

The Gentlemen Review

Before I get to the review, I just want to remind you that the submission period for the Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is going on now and is open until February 9th, 2020. If you would like to participate in the blogathon, all the details can be found in this announcement post.


The Gentlemen movie posterSynopsis
Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey), an American drug lord in Britain, is looking to sell his business to fellow drug lord Matthew (Jeremy Strong). Dry Eye (Henry Golding) hears about the deal and tries to take the Mickey’s business for himself.

Review
Honestly, going into The Gentlemen, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. Outside of the recent Aladdin remake and the Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, I wasn’t familiar with much of Guy Richie’s work before going into the theater. After a quick IMDb search, I recognized a few more of his films that I was at least familiar with. Anyway, my point is that all I was really basing my interest to see the film was the trailers, which were quick and snappy. And as it turns out, that is a good representation of The Gentlemen.

Writer and director Guy Richie hits the ground running and never slows down. The first two acts are narrated by Hugh Grant’s Fletcher, a sleazy fellow who is trying to extort money from Ray, played by Charlie Hunnam. Fletcher talks fast which correlates to fast cuts between his conversation with Ray and the tale he’s telling. This quick switching of locations, and Grant’s even quicker tongue, keeps you from getting your bearings. It takes a little while to get used to the style and understand all the moving parts. Fletcher is literally telling the audience the story of the movie; He’s attempting to piece together events he has witnessed and fill in the blanks, often with some flare or embellishments. As the audience, this makes you question the accuracy of his story. It would be interesting to see what elements of the story I can pick out in subsequent viewings.

Everyone in the cast is at the top of their game and clearly having a good time. Matthew McConaughey hams it up and brings a smile to my face in every scene. Most of Hunnam’s role have been pretty average for me but here he is fantastic. He’s cold and calculating and has the perfect poker face, never giving away what he is thinking. Definitely not someone I would want to run into in an alley. Grant is a stand out as well. As I was talking about before, his scenes with Hunnam are absolutely electric. However, my absolute favorite is Colin Farrell as Coach, who stumbles into working for Ray. He doesn’t have much screen time but his scenes are some of the best, which is saying something given every scene in this film engages you in some way. Michelle Dockery, one of the few female cast members, flawlessly stands with the male members of the cast but is underused. Like Farrell, she makes the best of her few scenes, often being the highlight of them.

Richie’s script, co-written with Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, is a great combination of wit and action. There’s a little bit of mystery, mixed with explosions, with some humor sprinkled on top. It’s meta, it’s cheeky, and it’s even a little offensive. It’s anything but traditional, a real breath of fresh air in today’s Hollywood landscape of franchises.

I thought The Gentlemen was GOOD πŸ™‚ At one point during the film, I thought to myself that it feels like I was watching RocknRolla again, one of the few Guy Richie films I have seen that’s not based on existing franchises or characters. Like RocknRolla, there are a lot of moving parts in this film and it moves at such a quick pace you’ll have a hard time catching your breath. However, The Gentlemen‘s witty and irreverent script, combined with an outstanding cast – who are clearly enjoying themselves and delivering some of their best work – create a film that is fierce and energetic in all the best ways.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Guy Ritchie – Director / Screenplay / Story
Ivan Atkinson – Story
Marn Davies – Story
Christopher Benstead – Composer

Matthew McConaughey – Mickey Pearson
Charlie Hunnam – Ray
Michelle Dockery – Rosalind Pearson
Jeremy Strong – Matthew
Henry Golding – Dry Eye
Hugh Grant – Fletcher
Colin Farrell – Coach
Eddie Marsan – Big Dave
Tom Wu – Lord George
Chidi Ajufo – Bunny
Simon Barker – Frazier
Lyne Renee – Jackie
Bugzy Malone – Ernie
Franz Drameh – Benny
Christopher Evangelou – Primetime
James Warren – Jim
Sean Sagar – Mal

Playing with Fire Review

Playing with Fire movie posterSynopsis
Jake Carson (John Cena) and his crew are an elite squad of smoke jumpers but when they rescue Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand) and her two siblings, they realize fighting fires might be easier than taking care of three children.

Review
When going into Playing with Fire, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. Family comedies can be hit or miss for older audience members. However, I was intrigued given it starred Keegan-Michael Key, one of my favorite comedic actors at the moment, so I was willing to check it out. In the end, I found it to be a lot of fun.

One good thing about this film is no matter your age, there are plenty of laughs to be had. For me, Key steals the movie with his performance. As I’ve said before, I am a huge fan of his skit show, Key and Peele, and he channels much of that same energy into his performance in this film. He also had great chemistry with everyone around him, particularly John Cena, which only makes him even better. Speaking of Cena, his performance as the buff leader was entertaining but many of his jokes or gags fell short for me. I haven’t seen many of his other comedic roles but based on his performance here I felt he was eclipsed by some of the other actors. Besides Key and Cena, the rest of the cast also each had their moments, generating a fair number of laughs throughout the film.

As for the story, it was fairly predictable. It treads similar ground of movies like Vin Diesel’s The Pacifier, where the premise is taking muscular men and putting them in charge of or taking care of young children, clearly being out of their element. Playing with Fire also incorporates gags seen in many other films before, such as one character being silent for most of the film then shocks everybody when they finally open their mouth or the tough guy not getting the hint the girl likes him. So don’t expect any new ground to be covered.

Despite the unoriginal story, this movie has a big heart. What Cena lacks in the comedy, he makes up for with warmth and genuineness. His moments with Judy Greer, and Brianna Hildebrand in particular, form the emotional backbone of the film. Cena’s Jake Carson also isn’t just a pretty face. He receives a lot of development that is well explored for a 90-minute family comedy.

I thought Playing with Fire was GOOD πŸ™‚ While it’s not entirely original and fairly predictable, this movie doesn’t try to take itself seriously and the cast’s dynamic makes it fun and entertaining. If you go in with an open mind and don’t take the film too seriously, like the actors, you might find something about it to enjoy.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Andy Fickman – Director
Dan Ewen – Writer
Matt Lieberman – Writer
Nathan Wang – Composer

John Cena – Jake ‘Supe’ Carson
Keegan-Michael Key – Mark
John Leguizamo – Rodrigo
Tyler Mane – Axe
Judy Greer – Dr. Amy Hicks
Brianna Hildebrand – Brynn
Christian Convery – Will
Finley Rose Slater – Zoey
Dennis Haysbert – Commander Richards

Good Boys Review

Good Boys movie posterSynopsis
Max (Jacob Tremblay), Lucas (Keith L. Williams), and Thor (Brady Noon) are going to a party hosted by the most popular kid in the sixth grade. When Max loses his dad’s drone, the three friends go on an epic adventure to get it back.

Review
When the trailers dropped for Good Boys, comparisons were made instantly to Superbad. The analogy is not too far off. Where Superbad dealt with high schoolers trying to hook up with girls, Good Boys deals with sixth graders trying to hook up with girls. And since these are elementary aged kids, β€œhook up” means kissing. That doesn’t mean the film is approached any differently. What made this film so enjoyable for me is that the plot of the film is exactly what you would expect to see in a sexcapade like Superbad, Eurotrip or Sex Drive except starring β€œtweens” instead of teenagers or young adults. Despite the language and vulgarity, they are still naive children who have no experience in the adult world of sex and sex toys and their innocence makes everything ten times better. The casting was great, especially Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams, and Brady Noon, the three leads. They had me laughing non-stop throughout the entire film. If they are this outstanding as kids, I can’t wait to see them as they grow up.

I thought Good Boys was GREAT πŸ˜€ The raunchy comedy in this film is what you would expect to see from an older cast. The age-appropriate innocence of the characters mixed with the maturity of the subject matter makes for a unique and hilarious blend that had me in stitches throughout the entire movie.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Gene Stupnitsky – Director / Writer
Lee Eisenberg – Writer
Lyle Workman – Composer

Jacob Tremblay – Max
Keith L. Williams – Lucas
Brady Noon – Thor
Molly Gordon – Hannah
Midori Francis – Lily
Izaac Wang – Soren
Millie Davis – Brixlee
Josh Caras – Benji
Will Forte – Max’s Dad
Mariessa Portelance – Max’s Mom
Lil Rel Howery – Lucas’ Dad
Retta – Lucas’ Mom
Enid-Raye Adams – Thor’s Mom
Sam Richardson – Officer Sacks

The Hangover Review


This review was originally posted for the Ultimate 2000s Blogathon, hosted by Tranquil Dreams and me.

Before I get into the review, I want to go over a little comedy movie history. Many comedies of the 2000s (2000 to 2009) are based around characters that are crude, clueless, and, put frankly, idiotic. These movies are an evolution of the slap stick films from earlier decades. There are stylistic hints from films like The Naked Gun, The Cannonball Run, Dumb and Dumber, and Happy Gilmore. We began seeing glimpses of this new brand of humor in movies like American Pie and Zoolander. By 2004, this new brand of humor had become the norm. Movies like Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and Napoleon Dynamite embodied 2000s comedy and characters. These characters were vulgar and naive. The films themselves reveled in their gags and ‘did he really just say/do that’ moments, relying on making the audience laugh from becoming flabbergasted or uncomfortable, rather than genuinely finding the moment or joke funny.

This is especially true in the spoof movies. Movies like Scary Movie, Superhero Movie and Insert-Whatever-Genre-Here Movie looked to cash in on pop culture and parody whatever genre was in the title. Spoofs are nothing new in Hollywood. Mel Brooks practically made his name making spoofs like Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and Spaceballs. And then there is everyone’s favorite spoof: Airplane!. While these movies shared many similarities with with the parody films of the 2000s, their scripts were solid and, you know, actually funny, an element severely lacking from most of the spoofs during this time period.

By the end of the 2000s, comedy filmmakers were learning that this latest iteration of comedy films needed to be refined; that ignorant or appalling actions do not automatically equal funny. And while actors can be funny on their own, or sometimes ad-lib better and funnier lines, the movie can’t solely rely on them and the script needs to support the actors. While not every comedy fit this decade-defining mold, such as EuroTrip or The 40-Year-Old Virgin, these feel like exceptions, not the norm. Although this type of comedy, what I’ve come to call ‘stupid funny,’ still continued into the 2010s, it wasn’t to the extent that existed in the previous decade.

Moving into the tail-end of the 2000s, comedies began changing how they approached their characters. They were still profane and sometimes oblivious but that wasn’t the focus the film anymore. Crude jokes weren’t often being made for the sake of being crude. Instead, the films were becoming smart, insightful, and sometimes even filled with heart. Movies like Baby Mama, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I love You, Man, and Tropic Thunder used their comedy to amplify their story, not be the crux of it. They shared many characteristics with the earlier comedies of the 2000s but writers and directors had learned how to use these characteristics more effectively.

To make a long story short, that is why I believe The Hangover is the best comedy of the 2000s. The early- and mid-years of the decade feel more like stepping stones to get to the comedies in the latter part of the time period that told better stories and were still funny without solely relying on its stars. I believe that The Hangover is one of the best examples of this. So without any further ado, here is my review of The Hangover.


The Hangover movie posterSynopsis
Doug (Justin Bartha) is getting married. For his bachelor party, his friends Phil (Bradley Cooper), Stu (Ed Helms), and Alan (Zach Galifianakis), take him to Las Vegas. Phil, Stu, and Alan wake up the morning after arriving in Vegas with no memory of what happened the night before. They attempt to retrace their steps to figure out what happened and to find Doug, who has gone missing.

Review
When a movie comes along that has a phenomenal cast with perfect chemistry, who are backed by a memorable and quotable script, I get excited. It makes it even better when that criteria applies to a comedy because, in my honest opinion, comedy films are one of the hardest genres to make everything click. The Hangover checks all the correct comedy film boxes and more.

The first thing this movie nails is the casting. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis all have very different brands of humor. Their deliveries are different, their body language is different, their mannerisms are different. Nothing about them is the same. And yet, they all mesh together so well. Their different styles complement each other wonderfully. Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis are in almost every scene together and every scene is filled to the brim with laughs. Coincidence? I think not.

Everyone in the supporting cast is top notch as well. Justin Bartha rounds out the group of friends at the center of the film. While not much is seen of him, he does add an extra dynamic to the group when he is there. Smaller roles from Heather Graham, Rob Riggle, Bryan Callen, Jeffrey Tambor, and Mike Tyson all bring the laughs. However, the best member from the supporting cast is Ken Jeong. He had me in stitches every time he was on screen. He deserves as much praise as the headlining three.

Even though Cooper, Helms, and Galifianakis are funny on their own (and together), the script amplifies their comedic strengths. The script, written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, feels fresh and clever compared to other comedies of the time. It leaves the audience just as in the dark about the previous night’s events as the characters, so as they piece together what happens, the audience is right there with them. It’s crass, it’s vulgar, and at times it’s irreverent, but It doesn’t rely on toilet humor or leaving the viewers dumbfounded to be funny. It uses jokes or visual gags that are funny because they are truly well written or well delivered. As a result, The Hangover is insanely quotable and has very few diminishing returns on its jokes.

This movie reminded me a road trip movie. In road trip movies, the main characters are going from point A to point B, and along the way, they meet people who usually only show up for a scene or two. This format fits this film as well; Phil, Stu, and Alan are going to these different places to try and piece together what happened the night before. It’s fun because it allows the focus to remain on the three main characters while allowing the supporting cast to have their own funny and unique moments.

I thought The Hangover was GREAT πŸ˜€ The entire cast had me laughing throughout the film. Every scene was filled with jokes and gags that always landed and are just as humorous after many, many views later. I can think of no better film than to call the best comedy of the decade.

Favorite Quote
Doug: I don’t think you should be doing too much gambling tonight, Alan.
Alan: Gambling? Who said anything about gambling? It’s not gambling when you know you’re gonna win. Counting cards is a foolproof system.
Stu: It’s also illegal.
Alan: It’s not illegal, it’s frowned upon, like masturbating on an airplane.
Phil: I’m pretty sure that’s illegal too.
Alan: Yeah, maybe after 9/11 where everybody got so sensitive. Thanks a lot, Bin Laden.

Trivia
No effects or prosthetics were created for Stu’s missing tooth. Ed Helms never had an adult incisor grow, and his fake incisor was taken out for the parts of filming where Stu’s tooth is missing. (via IMDb)

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Tod Phillips – Director
Jon Lucas – Writer
Scott Moore – Writer
Christophe Beck – Composer

Bradley Cooper – Phil
Ed Helms – Stu
Zach Galifianakis – Alan
Justin Bartha – Doug
Heather Graham – Jade
Sasha Barrese – Tracy
Jeffrey Tambor – Sid
Ken Jeong – Mr. Chow
Rachael Harris – Melissia
Mike Tyson – Himself
Jernard Burks – Leonard
Mike Epps – Black Dog
Rob Riggle – Officer Franklin
Cleo King – Officer Garden
Bryan Callen – Eddie

Night at the Museum Review

Night at the Museum movie posterSynopsis
When Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) starts his new job as the night security guard at the Museum of Natural History, he learns that the museum holds an extraordinary secret: everything comes to life at night.

Review
Compared to some of Ben Stiller’s other films, Night at the Museum is pretty tame. I guess considering it is rated PG, it is aimed towards a younger audience. Regardless of the mildness of the action and fairly subdued humor, there is still plenty to enjoy. Stiller shows the range of his comedic chops. In something like Zoolander or Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, he is more eccentric and exaggerated, whereas here, he acted more like the straight man. He is given several people to play off of, such as Robin Williams and Owen Wilson, but the chemistry isn’t there to make any particular moment stand-out. One of the main focuses of the story was Larry Daley (Stiller) trying to connect better with his son, Nick (Jake Cherry), after his divorce. When the story focused on that aspect of the story, I found it flat and tedious. The story that interested me more was the museum exhibits coming alive. It has a Toy Story vibe, like β€œwhat would happen if these inanimate objects came to life?” As someone who likes to visit museums when I travel, this was exciting to me. Since it carries the PG rating, the action, like Stiller’s comedy, was fairly mild-mannered, at least for someone like myself who regularly watches action heroes get beat to hell and blow everything around them to smithereens, but I can see how the younger demographic could find it exciting.

I thought Night at the Museum was GOOD πŸ™‚ While it offered nothing too notable, it is not completely forgettable either. Both the comedy and action feel mellow if you fall outside of the films target demographic. However, it still offers an enjoyable experience if you roll with the lightheartedness of it all.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Shawn Levy – Director
Robert Ben Garant – Writer
Thomas Lennon – Writer
Alan Silvestri – Composer

Ben Stiller – Larry Daley
Carla Gugino – Rebecca
Jake Cherry – Nick Daley
Kim Raver – Erica Daley
Dick Van Dyke – Cecil
Mickey Rooney – Gus
Bill Cobbs – Reginald
Robin Williams – Teddy Roosevelt
Owen Wilson – Jedediah
Steve Coogan – Octavious
Patrick Gallagher – Attila the Hun
Rami Malek – Ahkmenrah
Pierfrancesco Favino – Christopher Columbus
Mizuo Peck – Sacajawea
Easter Island Head – Brad Garrett (voice)
Ricky Gervais – Dr. McPhee
Paul Rudd – Don
Pat Kiernan – TV News Anchor