Saturday, December 28, 2013

The World's End [A Fat Jesus Movie Review]

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright are a comedy dream team. Ever since Shaun of the Dead, we knew there would be a trilogy to come out of these three guys. It's come to be known as The Cornetto Trilogy, and The World's End is the final installment. Coming off the heels of This Is The End, this was the second big name world ending comedy to come out over the summer. While This Is The End focused on full on outrageous humor, The World's End is a comedy that has more than a few areas of thick, emotional moments. I'd been waiting for this all year and after a couple viewings, it's cemented itself as one of the best comedies of the year.

The World's End follows the story of Gary King (Simon Pegg), a middle aged man and a recovering drug addict. He recants a story of him and his friends attempting The Golden Mile, 20 years earlier. The Golden Mile is a pub crawl covering 12 pubs in Gary's hometown of Newton Haven. Gary, alongside Andy Knightly, Steven Prince, Oliver Chamberlain and Peter Page (Nick Frost, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan) have since grown apart since that night, and Gary is looking to get the gang back together. Not long after beginning the crawl, they are met up with by Oliver's sister Sam (Rosamund Pike), whom Gary and Steven still pine over. The groups ends up at the fourth pub where Gary excuses himself after a disagreement with the group. In the bathroom he encounters an abnormally strong teen, after engaging him in a fight, he kicks his head off exposing him as a robot. The rest of the group come into the bathroom to confront Gary, as does the rest of the group the teen was with. They engage in a fight, and Gary and the rest of the guys, breakdown and beat the robots. Gary, Andy and the rest of the group decide to continue the crawl as to not raise suspicion of what they've done. They end up discovering more than they ever thought possible, as Newton Haven isn't quite how they left it 20 years earlier.

I'm going to split this review into two parts. The more serious aspect of this film and also the more obvious, comedic and Sci-Fi action side of everything going on. Wrapped up in all this comedy, there's a serious movie about addiction and pain going on with the well written character of Gary King. We opened the film with Gary, played amazingly by Simon Pegg, sitting it what looks to be a help group circle, reminiscing about his glory days (doing The Golden Mile for the first time) and remembering the all the hope he had for the future. We get into the meat of the film and he beings lying to his friends, not changing his ways, and generally trying to keep the past alive. By the time we got to the 12th pub, it was revealed that not only did Gary have substance abuse problems, but that he also tried to kill himself. Wrapped up in all the bravado and charisma, Gary King is severely hurting deep down. I think we could all relate to Gary in some way, and I loved the reliability, even on the dark side of things, his character brought to the film. On the flip side this movies also gives a fair amount of hope. How you can be a damaged person, but still be upbeat, still look forward to things and that you're still able to change in yours ways. By the end, Gary discovered, that even when you "mess up" your whole life, there's always that option, whether forced upon you, or a decision you made yourself, for everyone to change. This movie is so well written by Edgar Wright, that amidst one of the funniest film of the year, there's so much emotion behind everything. 

Then we get to the less emotional side of everything in The World's End. Which at times is side splitting and at others you into well choreographed action sequences. The timing between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is impeccable. They work off of each other so well, and it's almost automatic when these two get together. The rest of the cast is fantastic as well. Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman and Eddie Marsan round out an ensemble cast that is all business. Everything from callbacks and puns to fast talking back and forths, these guys know how to deliver a line. There's never a scene, even with all the seriousness, that there's not a one liner or a funny moment. The writing going into everyone, especially Gary King, is top notch. With all the performances being great as well. Edgar Wright did a fantastic job writing this all around, and it's hard not to hail his writing. The Sci-Fi aspect is pretty solid as well. The idea of a otherworldly being sneaking in and assimilating itself into a small town, to start a "takeover" that with ultimately make everything on earth better. More bland and faceless, but better. The ending is a bit wonky admittedly, but it still works overall. Finally, I wanna touch on the odds and end of this movie. The music is great and never detracts, while the action sequences and fighting montages are pretty will done. At just under two hours, it never feels long or draggy, which is always a good thing watching a film.

For me The World's End is easily of one my favorite films of the year. Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright hit another one out of the ballpark. As I've said in twice before in this review the writing is fantastic. The comedy is great and it's accompanied by surprising emotion and a decent Sci-Fi story with fun action. I don't know how much more I can say about this film. The Cornetto Trilogy may be done, but I really hope that Pegg, Frost and Wright get together more in the future. I like comedy and I like movies that are more than one dimensional. In the end, The World's End is just a great movie.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Don Jon [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Joseph Gordon Levitt has been on the rise the past few years. Starring in huge movies like Inception, The Dark Knight Rises and Looper. But, this is his first time in a writing and directing role. It's a romantic comedy, but far from the traditional one you'd expect it to be. Don Jon follows the story of Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Jon lives his life according the things he most cares about, "His body, pad, ride, family, church, boys, girls, and porn." He explains that even though he gets girls, he gets more gratification out of porn. His best friends, Bobby and Danny (Rob Brown and Jeremy Luke), call him "Don Jon" because he always goes home with at least an eight out of ten girl. One night Jon spots a ten out of ten, in Barbra (Scarlett Johansson), and fails to land her. Jon can't get her out of his head as he takes the time to track her down and ask her out. Brabra wants a traditional relationship and Jon will ultimately have to choose between her and his porn.

This is a fun little movie, and even after all these months waiting, it was a fun watch. Joseph Gordon-Levitt really embodies his role as Jon. Who could blame him, this was his debut as a writer and director. The acting is fine by the rest of the cast too, especially Julianne Moore. Her character almost serves as a unwanted moral conscience to Jon throughout this movie. Scarlett Johansson is fine a over-bearing Barbra, while Jon's best friends serve as decent comedic relief. There's a moment near the end of the film, where Brie Larson utters one profound line, her only of the film, and it got to me. Mostly because I'm a fan of Kevin Smith, and I love when Silent Bob gets his moralistic moment to shine in his films. Also, because it was just a damn good line. The story is pretty fun too. A man so entrenched in his addictions, porn, sex, working out, etc, has to really find out what's important to him in life. It's fun to watch his transformation as he breaks out of his own shell and branches out a little more in his life. The comedy is pretty solid as well as there a few laugh out loud moments and lines that will bring a smile to your face. I also loved the cameos from celebs, like Anne Hathaway and Channing Tatum, in his fakes movies shown in the film.

The marketing, in case you hadn't heard, was genius. As Joseph Gordon Levitt got teaser trailers to run on sites like PornHub before videos. But, enough of all the talking. Don Jon is a movie that had a ton of potential, but didn't quite live up to all of it. While it's a fun take one romantic comedies, I found myself to be kinda bored in the middle portion of the movie. The rest was good, between the story, acting and humor. This is a movie I'd been waiting awhile to see, and I'm glad it (mostly) lived up to expectations.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Internship [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson comedies, whether together or apart, are pretty hit and miss for me over the years. Obviously movies like Zoolander, Wedding Crashers and Old School are pretty good comedies. But, they've both had their share of stinkers. From the trailers alone I was pretty skeptical of The Internship, but it never stopped me from giving it a shot. The Internship follows the story of Billy McMahon and Nick Campbell (Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson). They are laid off from being watch salesmen after their boss goes out of business. Billy signs the two up for an internship with Google. They get in due to their highly unorthodox answers to their interview. They learn they will be spending the summer in a competition of sorts for the positions. Billy and Nick must band together with a group of upstarts, and learn how to make it in the age of the computer.

Let's just get right to it, the movie is mostly unfunny and very lazily done. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson can usually get a few laughs and even more with a great script. Every comedy film always has a few good moments, no matter how bad it may be. Everything in this is so forced it hardly ever works. As much as it's cute to brandish older people for not being tech savvy, it gets old after it goes on and on for a full movie. The acting is mostly fine for what it is, but don't go in thinking anyone's getting awards for this. Obviously Owen and Vaughn lead well, but it's hard to even remember the supporting cast of this film. As I said above this just feels like a lazy comedy. Mostly used to promote Google and any other brand wanting to throw their product into the film. I don't know what stars see in these types of scripts, maybe they need some extra money, or maybe they really think these movies are worth it. Either way, I don't want to sound condemning, more inquisitive.

The Internship is a comedy film that is light on the comedy. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson are fine, in a comedic role as usual, but the material wholly lacking. The story is formulaic and boring, while the constant "Google" bombardment isn't fun. If you want a throwaway comedy to put on in the background on a Sunday afternoon, this is your film. If you want to make a movie night out of this, I would not, as this isn't a very good "comedy" at all.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jobs [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

I'm not a huge fan of the Apple business practice of  "Let's release the iPod Touch 5 for $200" and then two months later "Here's the iPod Touch 6, with a few new features, you've gotta pay $300". I'm either over-simplifying or blowing what I just said out of proportion. That's not the point of this post. Moving on, there's still no denying that Steve Jobs was a great mind in world of technology. Always striving for the best product for consumers to buy. So the best option to play him in a biopic is...Ashton Kutcher? What's done is done I suppose. Jobs follows the story of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak (Ashton Kutcher and Josh Gad) as they form Apple Inc. and turn it into what we know it as today.

The biggest problem with this biopic, compared to say 42 from earlier this year, is that Ashton Kutcher is completely miscast here. He isn't believable at all as Steve Jobs, and it doesn't feel like he brought anything to the table. You need to have a strong lead that can, embody almost, who he's playing. Kutcher did not do that in any way shape or form in this. Also the story, at least the way it's written, feels really sloppy and disjointed. Really focusing on the young Steve Jobs, while getting way rushed once he actually gets Apple going. Finally, this is a long movie that just feels lifeless. None of the performances by Kutcher (aforementioned), Gad, Woods, Simmons, etc, are memorable. All just plain boring and uninspired to me. It really just feels like a cheap cash-in attempt so quickly after the death of this man. Despite what you think of Apple and it's business practices now, it's really not something the industry needs to do.

Jobs is everything I just mentioned in the paragraph before, and none of it is good. I'm beating a dead horse here, but the story, performances, casting, and movie overall was bad. A quick cash-in, that even hardcore Apple fans should feel pretty bad about. After this debacle I hope Steve Jobs gets a real biopic in the future. Cause this movie didn't do this man any justice at all.

V/H/S/2 [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

I love me some horror anthologies. Trick 'r Treat, The ABCs of Death and V/H/S are good examples, and pretty solid all around. While not masterpieces of horror, they're fun watches that are easy to go back to if you want a good watch. Usually having at least a few good stories, these types of movies are never just completely bad. So when I heard V/H/S/2 was coming out, I was interested. V/H/S/2 follows the over arching story of a private investigator who is tracking down a missing college student. Larry (Lawrence Michael Levine), and his girlfriend Ayesha (Kelsy Abbott), who is also a PI, enter the student's house and find it full of VHS tapes. Ayesha begins to watch the tapes, as Larry investigates the house (finding more tapes and tons of notebooks). What they don't know is that a mysterious figure is watching them from the shadows.

Now I could go through each of the four shorts and nit pick and break them down. But I'm not gonna do that. These are low budget short films designed to bring out the best of these directors. In a couple of the shorts, "Clinical Trials" and "A Ride In The Park", the spirit of of these movie is evident. But they aren't as strong as better spots of the first movie. Then we get into the meat of this movie. "Safe Haven" directed by  Timo Tjahjanto and Gareth Huw Evans. It follows the story of a news crew who enters a Indonesian Cult. When things go south, all hell breaks loose as the news crew tries to escape the situation. It's the best this movie has to offer and should been seen by any fans of the horror genre. We end with a safe, yet still absurdly fun, story of a sleepover that turns into a story most people would never believe outside of Nevada, with "Slumber Party Alien Abduction". There's a lot of good and a lot of bad littered throughout this. There's a must watch short in here and it ends on a pretty good note. The early portion of this is very bland and forgettable and it really hurts the overall value of the film though.

V/H/S/2 is still a very solid movie overall, even with the stumbling at the beginning. These actual meat of the movie is really done well, even if all the stories aren't the best ever. The overall story-arch is creative enough too, and still leaves the door open for a third film in the series. There's not much else to say. Though, if you don't feel like trudging through the whole movie to see the best part, "Safe Haven", go give it a Google search. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Insidious: Chapter 2 [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

If you've ever talked with me about movies, more specifically recent horror films, you'll know that I love Insidious. While not a perfect film, it's one of the better horror films of 2011 that you can get excited about. Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne are pretty great as leads and make it a fun watch. Two years later, Insidious: Chapter 2 has been released, and looks to recapture the magic of the first. Insidious: Chapter 2 follows the story of Josh and Renai Lambert (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) in the wake of the events of the first film. Something is a little off as Josh isn't acting like himself, and thinks a woman has taken over Renai. Meanwhile, Renai begins to see a woman in white roaming the house. Both will have to overcome the paranormal if they want the hope of getting back to a normal life.

James Wan knocked it out of the park earlier this year with The Conjuring, a movie I highly enjoyed. I was pretty hyped for this, but then I started watching it and things didn't quite click for me. The costumes and CGI were alright, but a ton of jump scares a quick cuts doesn't give you a lot of time to soak it in. I love jump scares and that whole old school vibe behind it. Unfortunately, that's all it felt like this movie was. It also felt like the story was phoned in. A ton of questionable at best dialogue brought this down as well. The story jumps around a lot until it settles in for the second half. Then a lackluster twist takes over. While better than the first half, the second half is nothing to write home about. The performances by the leads, yet again Wilson and Byrne, are fine, but it doesn't stop this from being just average. I can honestly say the best part of this movie is the music. It brings the creepy, old school horror film vibe. It also gives you a great reason to let the credits roll, if only to soak in the score.

If you liked the first movie, you should still check out Insidious: Chapter 2. It has all the style of the first, but with a noticeable drop in substance. Also for the fact Insidious: Chapter 3 will release in 2015. I still like the first, and hopefully after a bit of falter with this one, the trilogy can round out well. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson are great leads, and the lore this series is creating is pretty solid. Oh and the music, for the love of God, make more of this. It really does make a very mediocre film, almost passable.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Spring Breakers [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

This movie about spring break may be more than what it seems to be. Sure it's filled with young starlets going wild during spring break, but apparently it's a social commentary as well. I guess I'm not the brightest movie goer, as this was lost on me. Spring Breakers follows the story of four college friends, Faith, Brittany, Candy and Cotty (Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens and Rachel Korine). They begin to do traditional party type things, along with some illegal activity, during spring break. They then get arrested and bailed out by Alien (James Franco) as they learn about the darker side of spring break.

This is a movie that everybody says is one of social commentary. You can argue between misogyny with the use of the leads and the general atmosphere of spring break. You can also argue that the female leads set an example of women's empowerment. I want to argue the I didn't like this at all, and I don't see the point of this comedy. Or was it a drama? I'm still not sure, because I don't remember much laugh out loud stuff. While the drama can be queued up to party girls in over their heads. This is a movie highly reliant on sparking conversation I think. Cause this brings up so many questions about society, and the way we perceive things. Such as why people lose their minds for seemingly no reason when it comes to spring break. Bringing up questions and conversations about movies, isn't a bad thing at all. But, the way this movie is presented and done is so off putting. The story is not memorable at all, while none of the characters are likable to me. 

Spring Breakers is a movie, I think. It's a highly stylized look at what can happen when everything goes south during one of the biggest party times of the year. This offers no redeeming qualities story or character wise. It also baffles me how anyone could sign on for this. I still think sparking discussion is always a good thing. But ,you can spark it in about a million better ways aside from this film.

World War Z [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

We all love zombie movies! Right? Well, as of late it's turned into a tired sub-genre that produces way more bad than good. Every year though, or at least every few years, there's one or two really good zombie movies. World War Z is this year's attempt at big budget zombie. Adapted from the acclaimed novel of the same name, World War Z follows the story of Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family as the zombie apocalypse begins. Being a former UN employee, Gerry's recalled in an effort to go into ground zero and try to find a cure for this pandemic spreading across the world.

I may be a little biased, but I tend to enjoy zombie movies more than most and this one was really no different. This really gave off a 28 Weeks Later vibe. Now despite the early praise, World War Z, isn't a tour de force. Brad Pitt commands the screen and plays Gerry well. The CGI and effects are done well in this too. There's also a fair bit of action mixed in this as there's a lot of stuff, mostly panic and zombie killing, going on. The story is fairly pedestrian, and there's not many memorable characters either. That's one of the bigger problems this has. Brad Pitt is the star, everyone else supports him. At two hours this can feel kinda draggy too, but I was fairly engaged throughout. If you're not a horror fan, don't fear, because "zombies" really feel more like a plot device, than something out to scare you.

World War Z is a good "zombie" movie. Though it was hyped through the roof, and may have fallen short in people's eyes, this is a very solid movie. You could do much worse than watching this on a Sunday afternoon. Brad Pitt does well as the lead of this apocalyptic film. The story is fine, while the acting, action and CGI are all okay. This is a zombie movie, that doesn't force the fact it is one down your throat.

The Great Gatsby [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Ahhhhh adaptions. The age old tradition of taking writing, whether it be a book or other written piece, and turning it into a film. This time it's another try at F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic work, The Great Gatsby. This is pinned by Baz Luhrmann and musically produced by Jay-Z. As you may have already assumed, The Great Gatsby follows the story of Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) as he retells the tale of a mysterious man named Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio). He describes Gatsby as the most hopeful man he's ever come across. Thus begins the tale of one of richest and most powerful men of the 1920s.

The problem with this highly visually stimulating movie, is that it really focuses on the style rather than substance. The CGI is fun, the costumes are good and the predominately hip-hop score somehow blends well with the parties of the 1920s. Then the problems begin as there is a ton of voice over are narration (all by Tobey Maguire). When not narrating he gives a very pedestrian performance. I honestly can't remember who else is even in this movie aside from Maguire and Leo DiCaprio. But speaking of Leo, he's the anchor of this movie and gives a very good performance as Gatsby. He has that ability to adapt to most of the characters he plays and Gatsby is n different. More problems incur as this movie is really slow at times. Combine that with the fact that this is a really long movie (well over two hours) and you've got tons of boring stretches.

The Great Gatsby is a problem filled movie you'll either love or hate. There's a very even split of good and bad that comes with this. Even with the problems, this is still good enough for a watch. If you can stand being bored for a good portion of this, you'll get to hear some fun music and see some good visuals and CGI.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Coffee Town [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Coffee Town is the first movie from famed video site CollegeHumor. You've probably not heard of this, but the leads of this star (or are supporting cast) in, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Parks and Recreation and Eastbound & Down. Coffee Town follows the story of a website manager named Will (Glenn Howerton), who uses the WiFi at a local coffee shop to do his work. Upon learning that management may be turning the place into a bar, he hatches a plan with his two friends. Will, Gino (Ben Schwartz) and Chad (Steve Little) set off to try and convince the higher-ups not to go through with the change.

The reason I really like this movie, is the fact it doesn't try to be what it's not, a raunchy comedy. Sure there are topics and scenes, most wouldn't touch, or are considered "too edgy." But, this was made by site that will post most any video for a laugh. Couple that with the fact you have two leads from shows that disrespect every aspect of life (It's Always Sunny and Eastbound & Down). It's had to get Dennis Reynolds out of my head when I see Glenn Howerton, since I love It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia so much. But, Glenn does indeed do pretty well as Will, leading these misguided characters. There's no shortage of laughs out of Ben Schwartz and Steve Little either, as these three have pretty good chemistry. This is a small budget movie, that has a capable story-line that plays out nicely, with tons of laughs in between. Coffee Town is a perfect turn your brain off and laugh comedy.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Bad Grandpa is a movie that's a spin-off of the ever popular Jackass series. In the series, at points, Johnny Knoxville dresses up as an old man, Irving Zisman, to do stunts. But, this is the first time we've seen a character from the Jackass universe with it's own movie. Bad Grandpa follows the story of Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) as he takes his grandson, Billy (Jackson Nicoll), across the country to his father. He is ordered to do it after Billy's mother was jailed. Along the way, the two bond as grandfather and grandson. All while zany and out of place things keep happening to Zisman.

Imma get right down to it, if you're a fan of the Jackass series you're going to like this movie. It doesn't have the charm of the whole crew just paling around and maiming themselves for our pleasure. What it does have is a semblance of a story, a bit of actual emotion, fun stunts and the traditional Jackass comedy we've come to get used to over the years. To me this is nowhere as funny or outrageous as the original trilogy. Johnny Knoxville is fine throughout as Zisman, and Jackson Nicoll is oddly charming as Billy. The story of a grandfather getting to know his grandson for the first time is a nice touch in this type of film. Bad Grandpa succeeds best in bringing a story-like element to a hidden camera movie. If there's a Bad Grandpa 2, I'll welcome it with open arms.