Monday, March 28, 2016

Pee-Wee's Big Holiday

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Why don't you take a picture of this disclaimer, it'll last longer!



Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday – 4 out of 5

I’ve been a fan of Pee-Wee since I first saw Pee-Wee’s Playhouse as a child.  When the series was released on DVD, I purchased them all and I still laugh my rear off like it was the first time I saw it when I revisit Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure every now and again.  Needless to say, when I found out that there was going to be an exclusive Pee-Wee film coming to Netflix, I was super excited.  I gotta say, Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday was a lot of fun!

                                                                                                                                       Netflix
When I first watched this, I thought, "Wow, Paul Reubens doesn't age."
Then I found out they used make-up and computer effects to "de-age" him.
I became a man that day...also, severely depressed.

Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) is a lovable man-child who is quite content to spend the rest of his life in his small town.  However, one day, actor Joe Manganiello (perfectly cast with Joe Manganiello) comes strolling into town and he and Pee-Wee hit it off and become besties.  Joe invites Pee-Wee to his birthday party in New York and urges the man to put his fears behind him and hightail it to the Big Apple.  Now Pee-Wee is on the biggest adventure of his life and soon learns that getting to New York isn’t going to be an easy task.

                                                                                                                                       Netflix
The comedy duo I never knew I needed in my life.

I watched this one the moment it became available to stream on Netflix and had a lot of fun watching it.  Normally, I review every film I watch—with a few exceptions—but, for one reason or another that wasn’t clear to me at the time, I decided that I wasn’t going to review this one.  However, right before I typed this, I watched it for a second time and had just as much fun as I did on the initial viewing so I decided to review it—because what else am I doing with my time?  My experiments in time travel and creating the endless nachos bowl can wait.

                                                                                                                                        Netflix
It really is just unfortunate formatting on my part that I talked about endless nachos
and put this picture afterward.  But don't get me wrong, I'm not sharing
my nachos with anyone.  Sorry, girls.

Nostalgia is really big right now; whether it be people sharing stuff from their past on Facebook and bragging about how kids nowadays don’t know what it is they’re sharing (for some reason, opening up the youth of today to the things they love seems out of the question) or whether it be X-Files returning or a new Full House series arriving, reliving our glory days (well, at least when it concerns are old entertainment passions) is now all the rage.  I won’t deny that a big part of the reason I enjoyed this latest adventure from Pee-Wee is because I’m already a fan of the character and the nostalgia of the fun times of my childhood and re-watching Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure really helped make the whole experience entertaining.
                                                                                                                                      Netflix
Just two cool dudes.

I will admit that there are times where the story had moments that were awkward or weren’t as funny as the other times of the film and there is definitely an imbalance when it comes to equally measuring out the more adult jokes and the way more innocent ones.  Ultimately, though, when these issues occurred, the entire scene was usually a bit awkward and really was a fault in the current moment of the film and not really a reoccurring issue throughout the film.  However, Paul Reubens makes it feels like it hasn’t been over two decades since the last time we saw the character in a film and that helps the awkward moments really well.  Additionally, Reubens had a really amusing chemistry with Joe Manganiello and these two elements really helped make a film that already had nostalgia points working in its favor work even better.

                                                                                                                                        Netflix
Faster, Pee-Wee!  Kill!  Kill!

                                                                                                    Netflix
Extra points for having The Swede from Hell on
Wheels
in the film.
One thing that really made the whole experience enjoyable was the numerous Easter eggs from Pee-Wee’s various adventures.  It was cool seeing Lynne Marie Stewart, Miss Yvonne herself, share the screen with Reubens again, as well as seeing Diane Salinger once again say, “au revoir, Pee-Wee.”  Finally, I have to emphasize this: I really found this film hysterical.  Yes, there are some jokes that I wasn’t super enthralled with but when this movie gets funny, I laughed till I cried.  Whether it be the loud shrieking Pee-Wee did when he was scared or the entire balloon squeaking sequence in Amish country, the funny moments in this film are strong and it really made for a fun film to sit through.

                                                                                                                                       Netflix
Best scene in the whole film.

Maybe I’m biased because I love the character of Pee-Wee Herman but I had a lot of fun watching Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.  The story is simple but effective enough to create amusing moments and ones that are perfect for the unique humor of Pee-Wee’s world and it is was just a lot of fun to see Paul Reubens once again wear the grey suit and red bow tie in a feature length film.  While I may not see this as a masterpiece like Big Adventure was, I was still very entertained with this feature.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Night Before

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  It's a little strange watching a Christmas movie in March.



The Night Before – 4 out of 5

Two things about The Night Before:  1) Reading its title instantly puts The Beatles song of the same name in my head and 2) I didn’t even have to watch a trailer for this film because when I hear it was a drug-fueled wacky comedy that had Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in it, I said, “Shut up and immediately stop drilling because you’ve struck oil.”  So, let’s get it to!

Let the fun begin!

Years ago, Ethan (JGL) lost his parents in an accident. His two friends; Isaac (Seth Rogen) and Chris (Anthony Mackie), decided to spend the Christmas holiday with him so he wouldn’t feel alone and this ended up becoming a yearly tradition where they would go out and party their faces off. Then, one year, they heard about an underground party that was the party to end all parties but, year-in and year-out, they were never able to get an invite.  Now, as the years passed, Chris is a big-time professional athlete and Isaac is starting a family and getting time to party with their emotionally immature and career-lacking friend Ethan is getting to be more difficult and they decide that this year is their last year…however, Ethan gets his hands on tickets to the ultimate party they heard about years ago and decided that their last year would be the best year.

It's hard to look cool in Christmas sweaters but these three do it.


I would be lying if I said I didn't piss myself during
this scene...it was a horrible mess and I'm
deeply embarrassed.
I adore Rogen, Gordon-Levitt and Mackie so having them all together for a goofy, raunchy comedy seems like a great idea and, honestly, it was.  The film is absolutely hysterical and all three main leads (as well as the supporting cast) all bring to life this silly romp effectively well.  Special mention has to be made to Michael Shannon who plays a drug dealer that keeps showing up in the story and he pretty much steals the film with his short scenes.  Additionally, the film has some excellent cameos that bring in some fantastically hysterical results from the likes of James Franco and Miley Cyrus.  In fact, nothing about the comedy and the laughs it brings is what kept this film from being better than it could be.

There's nothing Michael Shannon can't do.

He has taken on Hydra, there's no threat Anthony
Mackie can't handle.
For the purposes of a goofy situational comedy, the story works and does a great job of creating situations for raunchy and hilarious moments.  The weakness comes in the conflicts that each man has in their lives.  There are times where these conflicts are handled extremely well like in the case of Seth Rogen’s character.  He is having a hard time with the reality of becoming a father and this comes to a head during his drug-fueled bender.  His insecurities and faults are excellent developed and worked out (complete with comedy) throughout the story.  This level of detail and satisfying development isn’t handled as well with the characters of Ethan and Chris.  Chris uses steroids and Ethan is dealing with the breakup of a woman he loves and the fact he has no promises in his music career.  The problems that occurs is Chris’ steroid use isn’t covered or resolved very well and Ethan pining for an ex feels very cliché and the resolution to it feels just as cliché and formulaic.  Neither conflict feels as satisfyingly introduced or closed as Isaac’s insecurity of becoming a dad and it sorta makes the B-stories of these characters feel like an afterthought and even makes the character of Ethan—who is essentially the main focal point since their Christmas tradition was born out of his lose—feel like a background character.

Don't be sad, JGL.  At the end of the day, you're still a god in the movie world and
cooler and better looking than a wannabe movie critic like myself will ever be.

Despite my problems with the story, I still had a lot of fun watching The Night Before.  Sure, Seth Rogen and Michael Shannon stole the film for me and made it feel like the man who should have been the focal point of everything (JGL) feel like a supporting player but the laughs the film brings in are numerous and unrelenting and that made the feature very enjoyable and entertaining.  It’s not perfect but damn it is funny!

10 Cloverfield Lane

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! 10 Cloverfield Lane is always getting mail from the House at the End of the Street.



10 Cloverfield Lane – 4 out of 5

Okay, so technically 10 Cloverfield Lane isn’t a sequel to Cloverfield (a film I really do enjoy—I know, a “found footage” film that the good old Reverend digs.  Strange, I know.).  J. J. Abrams described it as a “blood relative” or “spiritual sequel” or “kissing cousins” sequel to his first film but, what really amazes me, is the fact that this “blood relative” sequel was produced, filmed and released without any leaks or spoilers getting out.  Sure, it was a smaller production and that helps but, still, that kind of spit is impressive.  Anyway, when I saw the trailer, I was excited to see this and actually ponied up the dough to see it in the theaters.  So, let’s get this review going!

                                                                                                                  Paramount Pictures
"Hey, what are you doing in there?  Can I come in?  I'm lonely."

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is upset and leaves her boyfriend (who you only hear in the form of a phone call and is played by Bradley Cooper—which is pretty cool).  While fleeing in her car, she gets into an accident and awakes to find herself in a mysterious bunker owned by a strange, kinda creepy man named Howard (John “I Make Every Movie I’m In 90% Better” Goodman).  Howard tells her that she has to stay in the bunker because an attack took place that has left the world outside toxic and she’ll die if she flees.  Also inside with them is a young man named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) who tells her that, unlike her, he willingly came to the bunker.  Michelle is dubious and is distrustful of the man keeping her but, eventually, warms up. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for her to realize that her initial moments of distrust might have been correct and that something even more dangerous than what is outside is residing inside with her.

                                                                                                                   Paramount Pictures
"Inside this barrel is my special chili recipe...don't let it get on your skin."

The story of 10 Cloverfield Lane is very enthralling and the mystery of what’s outside and whether or not Howard is a threat definitely kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time.  Another element that really made this feature very strong was the fact that director Dan Trachtenberg (making his feature length directing debut with this film) really gave the viewer a sense of claustrophobia with some tight camera angles but also knew how to use the visuals to create perfect emotional atmospheres—whether he needed some whimsical, amusing moments of the trio having fun as they try to live as normal lives as they can in the bunker or truly horrifying moments where you fear for Michelle’s safety.  Finally, the mystery of Howard, what’s going on outside and what’s happened in the bunker before Michelle arrived is perfectly revealed with hints given at a great pace.  It kept me wondering and engaged and, even better, the definitive answers aren’t revealed and you are left to fill in any blanks with your own desired results using the cues and hints left in the story.

                                                                                                                    Paramount Pictures
While Howard was distracted, Michelle quickly scrapped the veggies from
her plate onto his.

Without a doubt, the best thing about this movie is the cast.  You already have John Goodman giving a very predictably amazing performance—there’s one constant in the universe and that is John Goodman is f@#king fantastic in each and every role he plays.  It was a little hard on my soul to see Goodman playing the antagonist because I like the guy so much. He was so unnerving but, at the same time, hauntingly sympathetic as Howard.  Additionally, Winstead (another actor who is no stranger to great performances) is awesome as Michelle and does a terrific job of being the focal point for the audience and it was stupidly easy to invest in her character and to cheer her on to survival.  Finally, John Gallagher Jr. as Emmett is more of a comic relief character but, within that, he helps provide a lot of answers to the mysteries in the story (and creates some more doubt, as well) and he really rides that line of being serious and fun at the same time and does it fantastically.  The cast is small in this one but they are all doing their jobs excellently.

                                                                                                                    Paramount Pictures
There's a lot of scenes of people looking at possible sources of sound in this film.

                                                                                     Paramount Pictures
Look at them, not socializing and just staring into their
phones and--oh.  They don't have phones.  Look,
humans just don't like to socialize and we find
any reason we can to in order to get out of it.
Even alien invasion.

The only complaints I had about the film is the fact that replay value for it is a bit on the low end because it feels like it would be almost impossible to once again achieve the same level of investment that was delivered during initial viewing.  Also, there are times in the film that the story dragged.  These moments are very, very few and far between but there was a moment or two where I found myself just wanting to get more answers or found my excitement of seeing what is going on outside the bunker to be overwhelming.  Finally, the ending definitely has its cool moments and really helps solidify how Michelle goes from a heartbroken girl to a badass who will do whatever she can to protect herself but it did bring in some moments that I found kinda cheesy and some that weren’t very satisfying.  Granted, the build-up is so immense in the story that it, realistically, would have been very difficult to have an ending that is just as satisfying as the mystery and I really did dig the ending but the very finally moments were just sorta “meh” for me.

                                                                                                                   Paramount Pictures
All the horror of Game Night with your family!

Despite my very minor complaints, I really, really enjoyed 10 Cloverfield Lane.  With the great performances from an amazing cast and its story that contained some great nervous and frightening energy, it was very easy to become investing in what was happening.  Finally, I was very impressed with the work of director Dan Trachtenberg and I really hope this film becomes a launching point for his career and we see more great things from him.