Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Junior

***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 not a Junior!




Junior – 2 out of 5

If you keep up with my blog and check in regularly with my reviews (no one does, I’m clearly talking hypothetically here), since the Christmas season, I’ve been revisiting some of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s comedy endeavors from the 90s.  The first one was, fitting because it was Christmas time, was Jingle All the Way and then later came Kindergarten Cop.  Both of them showed me that I never truly gave Arnold the respect he deserved with his comedic performances and realized he was way, way better than I thought he was.  Well, I’ve returned for another revisit of Arnold making with the Ha-Ha’s with Junior.  

Put glasses on them and they are smart. Filmmaking 101.

After the FDA denies geneticist Dr. Alex Hesse (Schwarzenegger) and OB/GYN Dr. Larry Arbogast (Danny DeVito) the ability to test their new drug that promises to help women from having miscarriages, the two are at an impasse and cannot continue their research.  All looks lost but Larry has the crazy idea to test the drug out on Alex.  After swiping an egg from fellow geneticist; Dr. Diana Reddin (Emma Thompson), Larry puts the egg in Alex’s body and he begins to take the new drug.  They soon learn that their drug is a success and the fetus survives.  With this information, they can submit their findings and move on but Alex isn’t ready to give up on this new child and decides he wants to carry it to term.

Danny DeVito is hilarious but he's a creepy OB/GYN.

I saw Junior when it first came out because who didn’t want to see Arnold all preggo?  The movie didn’t leave any impression on me because I don’t ever remember watching it again in my life.  The feature would go on to have a legacy as a famously bad film.  Re-watching it all these years later, I can kinda see why.  The feature has some fleeting moments and has some elements working in its favor but it’s just not that funny and, honestly, I found it kinda boring.

"And here's the kid...Nope, sorry, I'm looking at your bowel."

I feel like this whole movie was made just to put
Arnold in a dress.
The movie is essential a dramedy but director Ivan Reitman just can’t seem to balance both the drama and comedy.  There is heart to the film but it too often feels too sappy.  When you have a story that involves a giant bodybuilder of a man getting pregnant, getting too sappy kinda hurts the overall product.  On the other side, the film never quite masters the level its humor needs to be at.  Mostly the jokes are hacky bits that show Arnold being too “hormonal” as he’s pregnant and much of it feels like a bad stand-up act from the 80s.  The story additionally tries to insert comedy by having Emma Thompson’s character as an accident prone klutzy woman.  This is fine in theory (albeit kinda cliché) but her over-the-top goofball antics doesn’t mesh with the rest of the humor so it really feels out of place.  To put it bluntly, I really didn’t find anything about this movie funny.

To Thompson's credit, she's giving her all.  It's just the writing that wasn't
working.

The horror element though was done very well.
Okay, so it sounds like I hate this film because I didn’t like the drama or the comedy but I don’t hate it.  In fact, there is one thing I really enjoyed about it:  Arnold’s performance.  The rest of the cast is doing a great job and trying to make the story work but, like my other revisits of Arnold’s stuff; I never realized how great of a performance he is giving.  Much like the rest of his career, Arnold isn’t phoning in anything and really giving his all to the role.  Even when it’s awful jokes about women being overly sensitive and since he’s now pregnant he’s overly sensitive, Arnold is delivering and making these awful comedic moments a little more bearable.  He can’t make them funny (he’s not a miracle worker) but he brings a charm to the scenes and is doing a tremendous job of bringing in a very subdued and nuanced performance as this character.

This movie is 100% scientific accurate.

Junior might have been a decent, goofball comedy about a man using an untested fertility drug on himself and then getting pregnant.  It’s a premise that, even on paper, feels like a difficult one to pull off because it can easily go off the rails and just be silly.  There are also hints that this film could have been a decent dramedy but it’s never quite developed right so it sorta feels sloppy.  Aside from the performances, the film didn’t really provide me with much entertainment value.

I'll end this with the fact this movie featured Christopher Meloni...in a time
before the internet became obsessed with his butt.

Monday, January 29, 2018

The Flintstones

***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!  Ro-on, Reverend Ro-on.  He writes movie reviews for fun.  From the State of Wisconsin, he's thinks this joke is done.




The Flintstones – 3 out of 5

The Flintstones; a family that as legend has it, were the modern Stone Age family.  Growing up, I never really was a big fan of their cartoon series.  Occasionally, I would watch its reruns on the Cartoon Network but I never was super into the show.  In the 90s, a film adaptation of it was release that I found entertaining and fun at the time.  However, it never really entered into my regular rotation so it has been many, many years since I’ve seen it.  Recently, I decided to revisit Bedrock and check out this feature and see how it stands the test of time (get it?  Because they are a family from ages ago—I’ll show myself out).

Meet George Jetson--wait, is that how it goes?

Fred Flintstone (John Goodman) and Barney Rubble (Rick Moranis) are just two best friends and blue-collared working men at Slate and Co.  One day, the executive vice-president Cliff Vandercave (Kyle MacLachlan) decides to test the employees so they can see who is the most deserving of a promotion.  After Fred and his wife Wilma (Elizabeth Perkins) helps Barney and his wife Betty (Rosie O’Donnell) adopt a child, Barney decides to help Fred out by swapping their exams.  Barney’s skills result in Fred being promoted but the change puts their friendship to the test.  However, things quickly get worse when it is realized that Vandercave and his assistant; Miss Stone (Halle Berry), are using Fred to take the fall as the two embezzle from the company.

Words will never be able to adequately describe how much I love John Goodman.

Golly, Rick Moranis is sure adorable.
The first thing that struck me about this live-action adaptation is the fact the story never really feels like an episode of The Flintstones.  Granted, I admitted I was never the biggest fan of the series and I couldn’t, for the life of me, recall a single episode in vivid detail but the basic premises never really felt primed and geared for a tale about embezzling.  That isn’t to say that the story is flawed in any way but rather that it just didn’t feel like a story that would have been part of the show’s legacy.  There’s also the issue that the film sorta feels like two stories as the beginning deals with the Rubbles getting their son Bamm-Bamm and, once this thread has been unraveled, it barely hasn’t any influence on the narrative.  It’s a very strange dichotomy to have this movie have a main story involving corporate shenanigans and then have a B-story that involves adoption.  Neither really felt very Flintstone-y.

Gaze upon the face of the woman that makes our childish president get
all cranky.

Visually, the film looks great because it does a tremendous job of recreating the look of the show.  The costumes, the sets, and how the creatures were designed all feel lifted directly from the cartoon series.  This is easily one of the most enjoyable aspects of the film but one that also is a little distracting.  As good as everything looks, you also can’t escape that everything looks incredibly fake.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not expecting the rock creations to really look like rocks but every prop and location sorta looks like a Flintstones-theme amusement part with everything made of plastic.  There are parts where I could swear I saw the seams caused from the plastic injection and molding process.  On one hand, you feel like you’ve jumped directly into a television and landed in Bedrock but, on the other hand, the illusion is pretty easily destroyed when you see characters carry the “rock” items like they were made of Styrofoam.

Speaking of fake, they couldn't get the real B-52's.  Instead, they get the
BC-52's and--oh, I just got it.

The film even managed to nap Elizabeth Taylor
for a role.  The 90s were weird.
In addition to the overall look of the film, I really enjoyed the performances.  For the time and for the product, there is no reason why anyone in the cast should have been doing their job to the best of their degree because this is essentially a kid’s film and no one would have faulted them for phoning in their performances.  However, you don’t see that here at all.  Instead, literally everyone is doing a tremendous job.  Most notably among them is Harvey Korman doing the voice of the Dictabird (basically a prehistoric bird who will take notes for you and repeats them back), Kyle MacLachlan as the antagonist and John Goodman as Fred. 

I hear they have good coffee in Bedrock.

Korman is very funny as the bird, MacLachlan is truly giving his all as Vandercave and Goodman (who is always awesome) really feels like a real-life version of Fred Flintstone.  I don’t want to sell the rest of the cast short because I truly enjoyed them all but these three really stole the show for me.  Their scenes were endlessly charming and entertaining.  It was actually pretty awesome to watch MacLachlan play his role without a sense of snark but instead play it incredibly sincerely and it's just amazing watching Goodman completely nail the character of Fred.

Fun Fact:  Korman wasn't just the voice, he physically turned himself into
the bird.  He was quite the talent.

Sure, Miss Stone can wear that to work but when
I do it, I have to talk to HR.
Overall, my revisited experience with The Flintstones was…okay.  I’m not going to say I hate the movie and I won’t say I loved it.  It has some great things working for it like fun practical effects and decent computer effects for the time, the cast is outstanding, and the overall look of the film is terrific.  However, it does have its fair share of drawbacks in the form of a weak story, the look of the film can sometimes look too fake and the jokes were too cheesy for me to really find humorous.  One thing, though, I did find interesting was the fact there is a flat Earth joke in the feature.  The joke is basically making light of how cavemen would have falsely believed the Earth to be flat and when you watch it in 2018 and realize that there are real people who stupidly believe this and deny the Earth is round, well, that puts a whole different spin on the experience.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Three Kings

***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! I'm disappointed that, at no point, did George Clooney say, "We three kings..." and then look at the camera and wink.




Three Kings – 4 out of 5

I don’t know what it was about Three Kings that stopped me from seeing it when it came out.  I mean, I love George Clooney and find him not only to be a great actor but a distinguished man who has a level of handsomeness that I could never hope to achieve—and am insanely jealous of.  Was it Ice Cube or Mark Wahlberg?  Probably not.  Most likely, it’s just one of those films that passed me by and I just never took the initiative to see.  Recently, I decided to rectify that and check out this feature from 1999 and I dug it!

Meanwhile, on the set of Mad Max...

After the Gulf War concludes and soldiers are just around to clean things up, U.S. Army Reserve Sergeant First Class Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg) and Private First Class Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze) discovers a piece of contraband hidden in the buttocks of an Iraqi soldier.  With the help of Staff Sergeant Chief Elgin (Ice Cube), the contraband turns out to be a map of various bunkers containing large amounts of gold bullion.  Under the command of Major Archie Gates (George Clooney), the group decides to go raid those bunkers but, along the way, find a group of Iraqis that need their help against soldiers still loyal to Saddam.

Go for the gold!

Three Kings has a lot going for it—more than just renowned for having a notorious difficult director at the helm; David O. Russell, and being the movie where Clooney had enough and got into a fist fight with the man because of the way the extras were treated on set.  The film looks terrific, it does an amazing job of balancing its tones, it’s got a killer soundtrack, and the performances from the three leads and supporting cast is top shelf stuff.  From beginning to end, this movie was very impressive and I really wish I would have seen sooner.

Judging by the weapon in his hand, I am gonna guess it wasn't a good day.

Russell’s reputation aside, the man did a fantastic job of putting together a very entertaining and visually stunning film.  His eye and use of color made for a very attention grabbing feature that was very dynamic in its use of visuals.  Deserts can get boring and flat but the uses of cinematography in this film made everything really pop and look terrific.  Add in the fact that Russell was able to balance out the darker humor with the story’s drama and action without feeling like there were chaotic or noticeable tone shifts really made a film that not only look good but had an atmosphere that was primed and ready for entertainment.

I know I make a "Say hello to your mother for me" reference every time I review
 a film with Mark Walhberg but this time I'm not going to do it...
but, gawd damn, do I want to.

Like I said, the performances are top shelf.  The leading actors are all great and are each able to ride that line and provide the balance of tones that the film holds.  Additionally, supporting players like Cliff Curtis, Nora Dunn, Jamie Kennedy, Saïd Taghmaoui, and many others all help bring to life some very vibrant and entertaining characters.  There isn’t a single individual that feels like they don’t belong or aren’t able to keep pace with everyone else.  For the lack of a better word, the casting in this film is basically perfect.

Every morning I wake up hoping I could be 10% as handsome as this man...
and every morning I am disappointed.

As far as drawbacks are concerned, I really didn’t find any.  The movie just works so well with all its elements and it tells a very entertaining story.  However, there might be an issue with replay value with this one.  As fun as I found the feature, I just can’t see me watching this very often.  Sure, I might check it out a couple times here and there in the future but I just don't see this being a movie that I will find myself often desiring to watch.  In the end though, Three Kings tells a very entertaining story that delivers on the laughs, action and excitement.  The cast is fantastic and the feature just looks spectacular.

Let's end this review with a pic of Jim Gaffigan, who was actually in the film.
I honestly did a double-take when he first showed up.