Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Long Dumb Road

***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! This could be the title of my autobiography.



The Long Dumb Road – 4 out of 5

I wish my real-life road trips were anything remotely like the road trips I see in movies.  Wacky adventures, meeting strange but interesting people, and hitting the lowest of the lows before suddenly everything turns around and it all works out as you hit your destination.  Instead, my road trips involve long hours of staring dead-eyed at the highway as I listen to podcasts and interrupted only by moments of panic when I think my bladder isn’t going to make it to the next rest stop.  Until these road trips start to get more interesting, I’ll keep turning to the movies.  Movies like The Long Dumb Road

I wanna hang out with these two.

Nat (Tony Revolori) is hitting the road and on his way to art school.  However, after his car refuses to start, he meets a mechanic by the name of Richard (Jason Mantzoukas).  He fixes Nat’s ride and, in return, is offered a ride so that Richard can start a new life over in Las Vegas.  Strangely, the two start to bond and Richard starts to tag along.  As the journey continues, though, the two begin to wear on each other and their road trip turns into a misadventure full of fights, alcohol and even being robbed.

"Get in loser.  We're gonna learn about life."

Honestly, I'm kinda obsessed with Zouks!
I really enjoy Mantzoukas so when he started promoting this film on the various podcasts he shows up on I knew I had to see it.  Due to Zouks being in it, my expectations were for a road trip film that was on the more wacky side and had a heavy emphasis on raunchy comedy; however, I was surprised how this film had a more dramatic leaning with moments of comedy.  I was taken by surprised but not disappointed because the tone works very well and Revolori and Mantzoukas show some excellent range in their performances.

Both of them are desperately trying not to think if past guests in the
hotel wore those robes.

The tone of The Long Dumb Road is incredibly well handled.  The story goes through all the motions of a more comedic road trip movie but the film never treats these moments as the main points of comedy.  Instead, the humor is birthed from the characters themselves.  Yes, the situation can still be amusing in various ways but the real laughs I had was from the characters themselves and their interactions with each other.  This made the mostly implausible story much more human and ended up making the characters even more engaging.  This also resulted in a film that contained more heart than humor and it never felt disappointing for going this route.  It created a very rich experience.  

Richard is informing Ron Livingston's character about what happened with the woman
he is seeing and Lumbergh.

The performances in this film are top notch.  Revolori and Mantzoukas have great chemistry together and they are surrounded by some great supporting players such as Casey Wilson, Taissa Farmiga, Grace Gummer and Ron Livingston.  Both Revolori and Mantzoukas really found that line of delivering a dramatic performance but also knowing how to be funny when the time is right.  I was very impressed with how Mantzoukas did this because I know and love him so much from the wacky and wholly inappropriate antics he usually portrays (and shows to an extent in this film) but was amazed to see that he has the goods as a great dramatic actor.

It's not a good road trip if there's no open wounds.

The Long Dumb Road travels down a road that we may have seen before but the company is very different.  Thanks to its nearly perfectly balanced tone and absolutely excellent performances, the film is able to miss being a generic road trip film and carries itself as a tremendous dramedy that really feels original and its own.  I had my expectations for it and they ended up going into a completely different direction…and it worked.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Christopher Robin

***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! Oh, bother!



Christopher Robin – 4 out of 5

Like so many children that have grown up through the ages, Winnie the Pooh was a big part of my formative years.  I never knew much about the original books by A. A. Milne and was, instead, introduced to him and the rest of the gang in the Hundred Acre Wood through Disney.  Heck, my family would regularly say “TTFN” when we said goodbye to each other as we mimicked the farewell from Tigger.  Since my days as a wee boy, that silly old bear has had a special place in my heart and when I saw the trailer for Christopher Robin I was instantly sold…and knew it was going to make me cry.

That looks like paradise to me.

You're welcome, Eeyore, we noticed you.
There comes a time in everyone’s life where one must grow up and that’s what Christopher Robin did when he said goodbye to the Hundred Acre Wood and his best friend Winnie the Pooh (Jim Cummings).  However, one day Pooh wakes up to find all his friends; Tigger (Cummings again), Eeyore (Brad Garrett), Piglet (Nick Mohammed), Rabbit (Peter Capaldi), Kanga (Sophie Okonedo), Roo (Sara Sheen) and Owl (Toby Jones), have all disappeared.  Venturing out of the woods, Pooh seeks out Robin (Ewan McGregor), now an adult with a family, in order to help him find the others.  However, Christopher has grown up too much and cares only for his job and can't remember the fun times he had with Pooh and doesn’t seem to have the time, or imagination, needed to find his old friends.

Little Kid Ron would have went crazy to see a live-action Tigger.
Probably as crazy as Adult Ron went when he saw the live-action Tigger.
It was a significant level of crazy.

It would be easy to write-off Christopher Robin as a shallow tale that mirrors the film Hook and shows the old child protagonist become a disillusioned grownup that left behind the days of whimsy and imagination.  To be honest, the film is entirely that but, from my perspective, that doesn’t make the feature inherently lazy but rather shows the natural progression that would eventually occur in the character’s narrative.  Additionally, the simplicity of the story and seeing a man who has grown so far away from what he was as a child and have said childhood come and stare at him in the face naturally made this film endearing to me.  Being an adult in the world often feels like it is out to destroy whatever child-like wonder we still carry so it was easy to sympathize with Christopher’s situation and to smile when he rediscovered the kid inside.

I thought I would want a real-life Winnie the Pooh in my life but I remembered
I have a dog...aaaaaaand I realized that he also needs a real-life
Winnie the Pooh in his life.

The story is basically a simple tale of rediscovering one’s youth wrapped in very wholesome packaged with a side of that trademark Disney magic.  The journey of Christopher Robin as he goes from an adult who is less-than-thrilled to see his childhood friend Winnie because he has a deadline he has to make for his important career to a man who realized there’s more to life than business is fluid and heartwarming.  Part of this is due to how easily is it to become enamored with Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and the rest but a big part of it was how McGregor really knew how to find that line in his performance and show a fluid and very natural progression of his shedding the stuffiness that has grown on him and find that spark of youth.  Add in some friendly, good-natured humor and the story became something very easy to invest emotionally in.

Look, a family of Robins!


I really enjoyed McGregor’s performance because it really helped legitimize the story and the development of the character but I can’t do a review without bringing up the work of the voice actors.  Jim Cummings, who has been Winnie and Tigger for quite some time now, returns to once again bring life to these characters.  Cummings’ work as these two, both past and present, is truly amazing and he used that talent to make Pooh such a sympathetic character and one that truly was the emotional backbone of the feature.  Cummings’ voice acting easily made you smile, laugh and cry as Pooh went along on his little adventure.  Both of these gentlemen, Cummings and McGregor, are backed up by some terrific supporting players in both the voice acting realm, like Brad Garrett, Toby Jones and Peter Capaldi, and the real-life actors like Hayley Atwell as Christopher’s wife, Bronte Carmichael as Christopher’s daughter and Mark Gatiss as Christopher’s overbearing and unfair boss.  Everyone played in concert so well and really made the reality of the story blossom and flourish.

The Doctor regenerated into a rabbit.

There is an undeniable wholesome quality to Christopher Robin that can easily grate more cynical and jaded viewers.  The story is straightforward and the plot offers no surprises as you know exactly how any and all development will go but I can’t deny the adorable and charming qualities this tale holds and the characters within it.  Add in some great special effects that bring these characters to realistic life and some very engaging performances and this movie had me laughing, crying and continuously smiling.

Matt Berry is in this too?!?  Score!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sorry to Bother You

***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! With a title that is an apology for inconveniencing people, I would imagine this film is about my own social anxieties.



Sorry to Bother You – 5 out of 5

From the moment I heard Boots Riley talk about Sorry to Bother You, I really wanted to see it.  The trailers I saw didn’t really do the best job at selling what a work of satire this feature was but hearing him talk about it sure sold me.  Since I am wealth-lacking, I waited till I could get this cheaply for the home market and, I gotta say, this movie is truly one-of-a-kind and a whole lot of amazing!

Tessa Thompson sure has an incredible ability to attach her amazing talents
to amazing products.

Down on his luck and living in his Uncle’s garage, Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield) takes a job as a telemarketer for a company called RegalView.  Initially he struggles but after an older coworker offers some advice he starts to makes some serious progress when he starts making phone calls with his “white voice” (done by David Cross).  As some of his coworkers start to protest in an attempt to form a union, Cash sets his sights on being promoted and becoming a Power Caller.  This drives a wedge between Cash and his friends and his artist girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) but also brings him a lot of success.  This also results in the CEO of WorryFree (Armie Hammer) becoming interested in working with Cash but, aside from WorryFree being an already terrible company that basically makes slaves out of its labor force, Cash learns a dark and horrifying secret that the CEO has up his sleeve.

Hammer really nailed the sleazy CEO.
See what I did there?  Nailed?
I'm sorry.


Live your life with the confidence of a person who
answers the phone while having sex.
Boots Riley really made something memorable and truly creative with Sorry to Bother You.  The film is one long satire of capitalism and class and how it impacts race.  The visuals and scenes are heightened to make a reality that feels aloof but never feels too far away from the ground.  For example, to illustrate Cash’s journey through cold calling, we see his desk figuratively fall through the floor of his office building and enter the homes of the people he talks to.  From a visual standpoint it is very funny but also amazingly creative.  This balance makes the satirical edge sharp but never dull so a casual viewer can’t understand it—like how an article from The Onion can end up looking too much like a real article and just so happens to be affirming reader bias and we end up with those people who think it is real news.  Essentially, Riley constructed a film that is highly entertaining and amusing but also visually stunning and incredibly thought-provoking.

Atlanta, Get Out, and now this?  I can't wait to see what other epic pieces
of work Stanfield attaches himself to.

The performances and the cast is absolutely top notch in this film.  Stanfield carries the movie amazingly and it was easy to invest in his character because he found that balance of being a guy trying to better himself but also getting caught up in the madness of our broken capitalistic society.  The supporting players like Tessa Thompson, Jermaine Fowler, Danny Glover, Steven Yeun, Omari Hardwick, Terry Crews and David Cross and Patton Oswalt being the “white voices” really helped bring this unique world from Riley to life and they were all just very addicting to watch.  Finally, Armie Hammer as the CEO of WorryFree had the perfect level of smug that befits a CEO with too much money and too many dark plans for the future.

Wait, is Cassius about to join the Corporate Avengers?

Terry Crews, the man we all should strive to be like.
Sorry to Bother You is a wicked piece of witty satire that has an engaging story filled with biting commentary, a terrific cast and some fantastic music (most of it Boots Riley's own).  The film is somehow able to find a unique balance where it can analyze and critic so many aspects of our society but never deliver this critique in a way that feels like it is being smug about it.  Furthermore, it delivers this message in a goofball way that never feels too silly or like it is not taking itself seriously enough.  It’s a very fine balance and one that Riley found and rode perfectly.  Sorry to Bother You is one of those movies that, after I watched it, I truly hoped it would be something that can move hearts, change minds and better the world.  Will it?  Only time will tell.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Uncle Drew

***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! Who would have thought a terrible soda would birth a fun film?



Uncle Drew – 4 out of 5

I don’t watch a lot of television when it is originally broadcast so I don’t see many commercials.  Due to this, I was unaware that the character of Uncle Drew originally came from a marketing campaign from Pepsi Max.  I saw the trailer in the theater and thought the film looked funny but I never knew that this character already existed in the world.  I will admit that it is kinda strange watching a feature length comedy that was spawned from a commercial but they tried to make a TV show based on Geico’s cavemen ads so, realistically, how bad can Uncle Drew be?  Amusingly, enough, that caveman show starred a gentleman in this feature.  Honestly, it wasn’t bad at all and was a pretty fun trip!

GOALLLLLLLLL!!!!

Dax (Lil Rel Howery) is a huge fan of basketball that once dreamed of making it big on the court but now works at Foot Locker during the day and coaches a perspective team in his free time.  He and his girlfriend Jess (Tiffany Haddish) hope to use his star player Casper Jones (Aaron Gordon) to win the Rucker Classic; however, when his old rival Mookie (Nick Kroll) steals Jones away from him, Dax’s dreams are shattered and Jess kicks him out.  Lost, Dax gets some advice from his barber Angelo (J.B. Smoove), and tells him about the great Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving); a basketball legend who mysteriously disappeared when he was supposed to take part in the Rucker Classic.  Fate intervenes and he sees the older man schooling young players on the court and decides to take a chance.  Uncle Drew agrees to be a part of his team and play in the tournament but only if he can bring his old crew; Preacher (Chris Webber), Lights (Reggie Miller), Boots (Nate Robinson) and Big Fella (Shaquille O’Neal), with him.  Reluctantly, Dax agrees but past grudges, Preacher's angry wife (Lisa Leslie), and the natural process of aging might stop them from winning the game.

Since Uncle Drew, a character from a commercial, worked out so well in this movie,
can we get a film about Terry Tate Office Linebacker?

I say this every time I watch a sports-related feature and that is I don’t know anything about sports.  Even with this mentality, I still found the trailer to be amusing and wanted to see the film.  Uncle Drew doesn’t present a movie about basketball but rather a story of humor and heart that just so happens to contain basketball.  The film explores all the tropes of sports features like overcoming adversity, determination, disciple and more but with a more comedic leaning.  Yes, the story plays out how you expect it but the film never comes off like a cheese and crackers underdog story and that’s what made this film so fun to watch.  It strikes that balance of being funny and fun to watch but without feeling like it is crossing the line into being overtly inspirational.

Well, this definitely would make church much more interesting.

That facial hair actually works very well for Shaq.
He looks pretty badass.
The cast is fantastic and the feature does a tremendous job of mixing real-life basketball stars and comedians.  What’s the most impressive is how the sports stars perform.  Sometimes when a cast contains individuals who aren’t actors by trade the results can be a mixed bag.  However, in Uncle Drew, the sports stars (who, admittedly, all have plenty of acting credits on their IMDb pages) are all doing a tremendous job of not only showcasing their talents on the court during gameplay moments but showing they knew how to hit the right moments—whether it be for the comedic times or more down-to-earth dramatic scenes.  Finally, Lil Rel Howery does a tremendous job of leading the charge in this movie.  Being the lead and, essentially, the comedy’s straight man, Howery is the perfect guiding force to watch the story unfold and his chemistry with the entire cast is terrific.  I especially enjoyed his back and forth with Nick Kroll.

Sometimes Kroll can be hard to watch when he's all the way turned up but,
when properly dosed, the man is really funny.

The only drawback I found for the film is the makeup sometimes looked strange to me.  For the most part, the makeup effects that turned the young cast members into older individuals looked great.  However, there were times during close-up shots and certain lighting that the makeup looked very obvious.  These moments were usually early in the movie and once I accepted the film’s reality, I never once paid attention to the makeup again and was fully onboard with what I was seeing.

I'm just gonna go ahead and say it, Lil Rel Howery is a treasure.
The man is hysterical.

Uncle Drew has the usual tropes of the sports film genre and presents them with humor and lots of fun.  The cast is fantastic and the movie has some great music to keep it lively and moving.  Since this film was born out of a soda campaign, I had a lingering doubt in the back of my head that this film would be hollow and pointless but the end product was incredibly entertaining.