The High Note (2020)

The High Note (2020)

Directed by: Nisha Ganatra. Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kelvin Harrison Jr. Runtime: 1h 53 min. Released: May 29, 2020.

In Los Angeles, a personal assistant, Maggie (Dakota Johnson), working for music superstar Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross), follows her dreams of being a producer when she meets singer David Cliff (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and gives him the impression she’s an established producer with connections.

That’s the best I could come up with as far as a synopsis for this film goes, as for much of it felt kind-of plotless until Maggie met David. A lot of it is a personal assistant working for a superstar who’s struggling with her age, and then it leans into romantic drama when Maggie meets David.

Their relationship felt like the heart of the film as Dakota Johnson and Kelvin Harrison Jr.’s chemistry was strong. Johnson plays the role as well as she usually does, and there’s nothing really new in her performance, but Johnson is why this worked for me at times. Harrison Jr. is good, too, there’s just nothing special about his performance, except the fact that his singing is solid and enjoyable.

About Tracee Ellis Ross, I haven’t seen enough of her to really create an opinion yet, but I wasn’t a big fan of this performance and that was mostly because I didn’t like the character – she’s a prima donna that’s too often unlikable, but her singing is fine. I liked her once we got to know her more, and a main plot point of her manager Jack Robertson (Ice Cube) pressuring her to take a Las Vegas residency was fine. It was interesting because Maggie wants her to take risks and encourage her not to play it safe, and safe would be the residency doing the same thing every night.

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Tracee Ellis Ross, Dakota Johnson and Ice Cube in The High Note.

I did like the dynamic occasionally between Maggie and Grace, and I really liked the sub-plot of Maggie working on one of Grace’s old albums to make it have a new sound. That was the most interesting part about Maggie’s character to me – her music knowledge. She’s like an encyclopedia, as Grace calls her, and her knowledge of music and her passion for it is inspiring and Johnson plays that side well. She’s a dreamer and she’s following her ambitions; but it still feels one-note and isn’t enough to create a truly great character.

About Grace’s old music: Everyone loves her music, but they don’t want anything new. It’s explained that her last album sold poorly and that’s why her manager Jack – Ice Cube is fine but has so little to do – is adamant about the residency. The logic of no one wanting new music just doesn’t make sense to me, here. Grace Davis is still doing tours and has her billboards up all over, she still seems like a big deal, still selling out venues. Why wouldn’t these fans buy a new album? Part of the story is finding that passion to want to release new music again, but I couldn’t buy that her album wouldn’t sell well when we’re shown that she is such a big deal.

It’s interesting learning a bit more about the role of a music producer, and I enjoyed all the musical aspects of this. The drama of this is just so flat and just lifeless at times, as this just goes through the motions and never really gets going, and I couldn’t really even tell where the story was going for much of the film. That’s not to say that this is due to an unpredictably to the film – more so that it just felt so unfocused and was trying to do a lot of things at once, while also feeling like nothing of substance was happening. This is made worse by the fact that this feels overlong at 113 minutes, and if this were 90 minutes and more focused, it would be much more enjoyable.

I say that because after the classic break-up conflict, the film finally hits its stride in the last 25-30 minutes. It felt lively as it hit the emotional heart of its story, and finally found its voice. The message of fixing regrets and showing that risks are integral to following your dreams was fine. The third act finally had a couple (predictable) surprises up its sleeve and the film felt like it finally clicked. I just wasn’t emotionally invested at that point, and it’s a shame it couldn’t find its stride or voice like 45 minutes sooner, because it all felt too little too late.

Score: 50/100

Climax (2019)

Climax (2019)

Climax posterClimax. Directed by: Gaspar Noé. Starring: Sofia Boutella, Kiddy Smile, Souhelia Yacoub. Runtime: 1h 37 min. Released: March 1, 2019.

French dancers gather in a remote, empty school building to rehearse on a wintry night. The all-night celebration morphs into a hallucinatory nightmare when they learn their sangria is laced with LSD. I figure I’ll start with the good in Gaspar Noé’s Climax. It’s a great technical achievement that I respect. The first dance sequence is hypnotic as Noé fills the screen with his professional dancers. The long, uninterrupted takes in the film are also impressive, as is the cinematography by Benoît Debie. Some of his shots are disorienting but I think they’re supposed to be.

The film is also impressively improvised by its cast, made mostly of professional dancers and the only professional actress is Sofia Boutella. She’s the only memorable performance, as well. The only good character interactions are between cousins Cyborg (Alexandre Moreau) and Rocket (Kendall Mugler). The film doesn’t have any rich characters because of the improvisation – as the dance scene at the beginning is the only sequence planned or choreographed – so that doesn’t work for me. Nothing happens until the second half – when there’s a credits sequence mid-film – and then in the second half it feels like everything is happening.

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The spiked sangria in Climax. (IMDb)

When I say everything is happening, it’s because the characters are screaming at the top of their lungs (especially Sofia Boutella), high and out of their damn minds. Everything is happening, but at the same time nothing of worth is happening, as this quickly turned into one of my most stressful movie stressful experiences from 2019. It had my anxiety going off the charts, but not in an enjoyable way like Uncut Gems which is intense for good reason.

This is horror that will make audiences anxious because of its disorienting cinematography and style, but if annoying were a genre, this would be Annoying first. I respect this film because Noé seems to accomplish everything that he wants to do with this film. I just hate it. It’s not the type of horror that I enjoy as it just drove me nuts at times, but it’s sat with me as a wild roller-coaster ride I wanted to jump off from mid-ride. It’s the Feel Bad Movie of 2019, so if you want to feel bad, watch Climax. If you want to keep your good times rolling, watch anything else. It’s an unpleasant experience I hate, but I know I’m in the minority on this one, too.

Score: 30/100

29 Days of Romance, Review #22: High Fidelity (2000)

29 Days of Romance, Review #22: High Fidelity (2000)
High Fidelity poster
IMDb

Directed by: Stephen Frears. Starring: John Cusack, Iben Hjejle, Jack Black. Runtime: 1h 53 min. Released: March 31, 2000.

This is a review of a classic music film, Stephen Frears’ High Fidelity, from someone who doesn’t live and breathe music. Music’s everywhere but most of the music I come across, it’s from film. I don’t sit down and listen to music everyday, but I watch movies everyday so I technically do listen to music everyday. Music makes some people focus but when I listen to music I like to listen to lyrics and not do anything else, and I just don’t have time for that. It doesn’t help me focus, it distracts, so I usually just sit in silence when I’m writing.

High Fidelity follows Rob (John Cusack), a record store owner and compulsive list maker who takes us through his top five-breakups, including his current breakup with Laura (Iben Hjejle).

I’ve always wanted to get more into music but I’m just usually too lazy to download songs and put them on my phone. But after watching High Fidelity, it’s the kind-of movie that makes vinyl look cool to even someone like me who doesn’t live and breathe music. The soundtrack is absolutely killer and I’ll try and find every song that’s listed in this film which will keep me busy for awhile.

The film is clever as Rob goes through his breakups, analyzing his wrongdoings and why he’s doomed to being single. The screenplay, written by D.V. DeVincentis, Steve Pink, John Cusack and Scott Rosenberg, based on the novel by Nick Thornby, has clever insight into relationships as there’s no such thing as perfection, and Rob learns this as he’s stuck over-analyzing the past.

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John Cusack and Jack Black in High Fidelity. (IMDb)

It’s a unique comedy in that way as he sorts through his past the way he sorts his record collection, and he literally starts to sort it autobiographically and how each record has impacted his life. Rob could literally just tell a story about every record and it would still be fascinating because the writing here is so strong and Rob’s so knowledgeable. The film uses the record store as a parallel for living in the past as the world keeps moving past vinyl.

Jack Black is a highlight as Barry, one of the employees at Rob’s record store Championship Vinyl. He’s obnoxious and hilarious and embodies rock and roll here. It’s signature Jack Black that seemed like a preview of his antics in Richard Linklater’s 2003 film School of Rock. He’s the best part of this for me. The other record store employee, Dick (Todd Louiso), is awkward and balances the trio of employees out. I can’t remember any of his jokes, but I like the chemistry of the group as they just shoot the shit and discuss their favourite records.

That’s what a lot of this film is, their banter and it’s entertaining because they’re great together. The best scenes are when they’re just talking, though when Laura’s new boyfriend Ian/Ray (Tim Robbins) comes in and confronts Rob, that’s one of the best scenes in the record store.

The characters get snobby as they judge people for their personal tastes in music and film, and their elitist attitudes are acknowledged but realistic to their characters. They’re still likable because this is definitely how I’d discuss films with my friends if I ever worked with them.

I know that if I ever went into Championship Vinyl they probably wouldn’t sell me anything because I couldn’t tell them my top five favourite bands. In turn, I just wouldn’t sell them anything if they came into my imaginary Blockbuster Video.

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John Cusack in High Fidelity. (IMDb)

Rob is an asshole and that’s something I wasn’t expecting going into this. It’s an unfiltered look at relationships, and I think that’s why Rob tends to get unlikable in his cynicism. John Cusack is great, though, and the dialogue’s clever. His constant fourth wall breaking is also a clever way to tell this story.

I think there’s something missing in the romance with Laura. Iben Hjejle is good, but there’s something missing here and I can’t quite put my finger on it. This might be the point of the film as Rob tries to find the perfect relationship but can’t because a perfect relationship doesn’t exist for him. There’s always something not quite right that he can’t identify. Hence, he accepts his fate and learns to be a better person, and that’s what made me love the last third of this film.

For the record (that’s not supposed to be a pun), I don’t love this as much as I wanted to. I think that’s because I’m not a music guy. Maybe after I know which bands and songs they’re actually listing in their conversations, I could love this because I’d know what they’re talking about.

I think High Fidelity is brilliantly written and acted, and so well-directed by Stephen Frears. There are just parts of this I can’t fall in love with it because I don’t like rock and roll as much as these characters. I think this film accomplishes its job because the cast’s passion for this music makes me want to love rock and roll as much as them.

Score: 75/100

29 Days of Romance, Review #16: Across the Universe (2007)

29 Days of Romance, Review #16: Across the Universe (2007)

 

Across the Universe poster
IMDb

Directed by: Julie Taymor. Starring: Jim Sturgess, Evan Rachel Wood, Joe Anderson. Runtime: 2h 13 min. Released: October 9, 2007.

So far in my 29 Days of Romance series, I haven’t liked Footloose, Midnight in Paris or Blue Valentine but Across the Universe just takes the cake in films I didn’t like.

It’s a romance set in the 1960s between an artist from Liverpool, Jude (Jim Sturgess) and upper-class American, Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood). If their names didn’t give it away, the story is set to the music of The Beatles, as it uses the Vietnam War and anti-war protests as the background for the story.

The film’s first 40 minutes had wonderful music sequences. “It Won’t Be Long” with Evan Rachel Wood was simple but effective, and both “I’ve Just Seen a Face” set at a bowling alley and Prudence’s (T.V. Carpio) singing “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” were all fantastic and had a strong visual style. Still, the structure of the film had problems at the start as it feels disjointed introducing its characters.

This problem was most prominent at the start of a double funeral to the tune of “Let it Be” as it depicts the 1967 Detroit Riots where one of our main characters, Jo-Jo (Martin Luther), a guitarist, has a son who dies in the riots. It just feels like a random scene as the son starts singing during the carnage. It’s a bad way to introduce the character who then moves to New York and starts singing with Sadie (Dana Fuchs) and meets the rest of the characters.

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Jim Sturgess and Evan Rachel Wood in Across the Universe. (IMDb)

To this point, there was some high fantasy and style during some of the musical sequences, but it felt charming and grounded, never distracting from the scene. However, director Julie Taymor abandoned that when this jumped the shark and changed into something else. Max (Joe Anderson), Lucy’s brother and Jude’s friend who introduces the pair, goes to the enlisting office because he’s being forced to enlist after dropping out of Princeton.

He’s met with an animated Uncle Sam singing “I Want You” and a group of nightmarish soldiers who look like a mix between the toy green soldiers and Kronk in The Emperor’s New Groove. Seriously, their chins are straight out of a horror film. The visual style is interesting, but this was just too bizarre for me. Then there was an acid-trip kind-of scene where Bono shows up as Dr. Robert to sing “I Am the Walrus,” and the music in this scene is the final highlight of the film.

The characters go on a bus with him where they eventually meet Mr. Kite (Eddie Izzard), who looks like he’s in a cult with these blue people, creatures that look like they just escaped from Fegan Floop’s TV show in Spy Kids and went to something much weirder. I didn’t know I was in store for something so weird with this film and thought it would be a musical with fantasy elements, but I was not ready for bizarre this became.

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Eddie Izzard and Fegan Floop’s rejects in Across the Universe. (IMDb)

With its bizarre style and hallucinogenic scenes, it was surprising they never played “Yellow Submarine” and maddening they didn’t play “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” until the end credits. The storytelling became a mess and I thought it lost all sense of plot as it became music video after music video, each trying to be stranger than the last. The songs seemed to usually fit its themes, though for “Strawberry Fields” it’s a weak transition where Jude simply looks at a bowl of strawberries, sings, pins them on a canvas and calls it art. It’s a stylish montage that I despised, and I don’t use that word lightly. I really dislike style-over-substance kind-of films, and for 80 minutes, this just abandoned substance.

The romance between Jude and Lucy is dull as Lucy fights for the cause in the anti-war movement and Jude works on his art. They just show how boring and one-note they are. Across the Universe felt disjointed as it introduced its characters, and since there was so much going on, it seemed like these characters were interesting (and Prudence truly is interesting as a lesbian who could not express her love for anyone). But when it focuses squarely on Jude and Lucy when every other major character is sidelined, they showed that their substance was simply a mirage.

I started hating this and wanted the spirit of the first 40 minutes back. As for the acting, Jim Sturgess can’t lip sync but he’s fine in the real acting, and Evan Rachel Wood is generally very good. Her singing is pretty, but the singing is unremarkable elsewhere. I love the Beatles but hated this story, and I just started shouting song recommendations at my TV. By the time it got to “Hey Jude” or even the titular “Across the Universe,” I was fed up with this.

Score: 40/100

 

 

 

29 Days of Romance, Review #15: Footloose (1984)

29 Days of Romance, Review #15: Footloose (1984)

 

Footloose poster
IMDb

Directed by: Herbert Ross. Starring: Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, John Lithgow. Runtime: 1h 47 min. Released: February 17, 1984.

I’ll discuss some spoilers in this review, but I feel like I’m the only person who hadn’t seen this.

Released 36 years ago today, I don’t think Footloose has aged well. In the no-fun-town of Bomont, Utah, rock music and dancing has been banned by the town council and Reverend Shaw (John Lithgow) to protect the town’s teens.

Their logic is that they’ll only lead to drugs, alcohol and fornication. A city teenager, Ren (Kevin Bacon), moves to town and shakes things up with his rebellion, while also falling for the local reverend’s daughter, Ariel (Lori Singer).

Ariel was the biggest problem for me. Her recklessness and rebellion against her reverend father got old fast. She puts her life in danger on two occasions, getting nearly flattened by a semi-truck and then nearly run over by a train. Writing this review, I’m realizing it’s so she can feel how her brother felt when he died (in a car accident) but the scenes are weak without that context.

Rock music and dancing aren’t the problem with this town when teens are reckless like Ariel. Singer plays her fine, and Ariel started to win me over by the end when she stopped needing to get her father’s approval, and I liked the loss of her brother developing Ariel and her father. I found her dull for the most part and didn’t feel any chemistry between her and Kevin Bacon.

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Dianne Wiest and John Lithgow in Footloose. (IMDb)

Before I get to Bacon, Shaw and his wife Vivian (Dianne Wiest) are the best characters here. Lithgow plays his role well and his arc is good, as he feels like he has to carry the weight of the town on his shoulders. Wiest is the highlight as Vivian for me. The scene where she speaks up to Shaw because he doesn’t see the bigger picture is the strongest scene. “You can lift a congregation up so high they have to look down to see heaven,” is a great line. Their scenes are engaging drama.

I had little interest in Ren and Ariel. Kevin Bacon’s fine as Ren, but the teens’ side of things is often uneventful. Until it gets to the point where they plan a secret dance, there was a lot of time killing like Ariel’s abusive boyfriend Chuck Cranston (Jim Youngs) challenging Ren to the ultimate display of masculinity: A classic game of chicken using huge tractors. I think this is what makes it feel like an ‘80s movie because it’s so ridiculous as it plays to “Holding Out For a Hero” by Bonnie Taylor. This is the point that I understood the appeal of Footloose and conceded that it’s simply not for me.

At least after dancing gets unbanned, the displays of masculinity can be dance battles. The screenplay by Dean Pritchford handles Chuck weakly as Ariel starts spending time with Ren and they forget all about Chuck. When they remember he’s a character, they bring him back to beat up Ariel and then bring him back for a fight at the end.

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Lori Singer and Kevin Bacon in Footloose. (IMDb)

The screenplay generally makes a habit of bringing characters into the film and forgetting about them, even with Ariel’s friend Rusty (Sarah Jessica Parker) who disappears for like 40 minutes. The fact that Ren is given a hard time for being the new kid seems realistic. He deals with the oppression, and the town’s rules, in a healthy way with a workout dance to Moving Pictures’ “Never.”

I’m giving this film a hard time, but I had some fun during this. I liked the scene where Ren, Ariel, Ren’s friend Willard (Chris Penn) and Rusty went to a different town to dance. It was lively when they play the titular song (“Footloose” by Kenny Loggins) and Rusty wanted to dance. This was also the first scene where the teens felt authentic. My main question of this scene is why Ren thinks it’s unbelievable that Willard can’t dance when dancing has been illegal in the town for six years. Speaking of Willard dancing, the montage of him learning to dance is charming.

Some of the dance scenes are fun, but I found most of the drama boring. I felt like a kid at the beginning of the film sleeping in Church. I don’t like the film, but the soundtrack is an absolute classic. Every song on the soundtrack bops and my feet were tapping a lot during this. It’s just a shame that the story never reaches that same greatness.

Score: 50/100

 

 

 

 

29 Days of Romance, Review #3: On Chesil Beach (2018)

29 Days of Romance, Review #3: On Chesil Beach (2018)
On Chesil Beach poster
IMDb

Directed by: Dominic Cooke. Starring: Billy Howle, Saoirse Ronan, Anne-Marie Duff. Runtime: 1h 50 min. Released: May 18, 2018 (USA release).

On Chesil Beach stars Billy Howle and Saoirse Ronan as a couple, Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting, respectively, on their wedding night in 1962 England as their idyllic romance collides with societal pressure as they inch towards the consummation of their marriage.

There’s a charm to On Chesil Beach that is at first romantic and then very awkward as the couple gears up towards sex for the first time. It’s not played for comedy, but there’s a lite feeling of comedy in the dialogue often (there’s one laugh-out-loud moment as Florence reads a sex guidebook).

The narrative structure is also intriguing here as we are “mostly” with the couple as they’re at a hotel by Chesil Beach and we get flashbacks into their relationship as their romance builds. Some of these flashbacks don’t feel completely necessary so the film occasionally feels slow.

The big thing that keeps it from becoming boring is Saoirse Ronan. Her performances can elevate any film and that’s no different here. She sells the awkwardness and tension in the sex scenes and she also sells the general compassion of her character. The chemistry between her and Billy Howle, who is also very good, shines through any slow pacing.

Howle, by the way, also sells the anxiety of their consummation. I think the best part of the film is the contrast of how charming and free-spirited their romance seems until there’s just the huge anxiety of sex, where they’re both just terrified.

They share great moments together, especially when Florence cares for Edward’s mom, Marjorie (Anne-Marie Duff), who suffers from a brain injury. This makes for one of the film’s best moments that shows the difference in their characters: Florence is so genuinely good with people, and Edward often doesn’t know how to deal with his mother’s condition.

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Billy Howle and Saoirse Ronan in On Chesil Beach. (IMDb)

The film deals with sensitive subjects, too, as the film eventually inches closer to character studies of these two characters rather than only being about their romance. That’s the most interesting part for me as we learn more about their characters and who they are as people and how the societal pressures make its way into their romance.

The story isn’t always captivating because it arguably feels simplistic. Ronan and Howle’s performances elevate this above its story, especially their romance and their characters. I just didn’t like some character actions and how one decision can shape your life, but if I had read the novel (or novella, if that’s what it’s considered as it’s only 166 pages), I would have liked this better because I would have expected the very real-world third act.

The characters feel realistic throughout though, and that’s why the film is good even if I didn’t love the ending. The dialogue is also very good and a 10-minute conversation on Chesil Beach is the big highlight because that’s when the dialogue is at its finest and the drama is at its sharpest. The film obviously stays true to its source material, too, as Ian McEwan adapts his own novella, and Dominic Cooke brings it to life well in his directorial debut, especially in the beach scene. Nothing makes it feel quite like an “idyllic” romance, though, more than Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography, which looks so nice because the locations are so lovely.

Score: 70/100

Get on Up (2014)

Get on UpReleased: August 1, 2014. Directed by: Tate Taylor. Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd. Runtime: 139 min.

Timelines in biography films can be difficult to depict, especially when dealing with a 54-year timeline that the ambitious Tate Taylor tackles while depicting the life story of James Brown, the Godfather of soul.

Wow, though, Taylor and writers Jez and John-Henry Butterworth make this unnecessarily difficult to follow. A big problem with the timeline here is that it sporadically offers one event, goes to other events, and revisits the first event in 30 minutes’ time. That’s just one frustrating and bizarre way that the film displays its narrative. There’s also very little indication of the actual point in time between 1939 and 1993, other than cues for music buffs, like when Brown’s song he’s performing was released; or important events in time, most notably the Vietnam War or when Brown performs at The Garden in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The meandering order of events finds no groove and it just feels lazily formed. Within the 149-minute run-time, it feels like it jumps around in time more than Doctor Who and Mr. Peabody combined.

This year’s Jersey Boys, Clint Eastwood’s music biopic depicting the story of the Four Seasons, also suffers from awful timeline issues – as the make-up department did not do a good job of successfully aging the actors – which is a problem Get on Up doesn’t possess. The film is, of course, about James Brown. It depicts his rise to fame from extreme poverty, and his road to be among music’s most influential artists.

Themes of extreme prejudice in 1950s Georgia are displayed by James getting five to 13 years in prison simply for stealing a man’s suit. This does put him on a course where he meets future band-mate Bobby Byrd (a grounded and memorable Nelsan Ellis). Byrd is a reasonable man, which seems to be a reason bandmates can tolerate Brown for so long, because even though he has a vibrant energy on-stage, his personality is quite arrogant. He could be soured by fame, which seems to be the case with a lot of big stars. Brown shows a preference to his black audience, and I think that’s well-highlighted by how well James seems to react to a “Let’s not make music for the white devil” spiel by a young singer named Little Richard (Brandon Smith). One jarring scene depicts his preference to black people, where he performs in front of a white crowd, and then breaks the fourth wall and is then performing in front of a black crowd. The imagined sequence just doesn’t have a strong transition.

There are scenes that do conduct their job marvelously. A scene in James’s childhood depicts him finding a hanged black man in the woods. James steals the dead man’s shoes. This told me his poverty is so extreme, in order to get a new pair of shoes he had to steal them from a dead man. This was the film’s most powerful scene.

The acting is fine all around. Octavia Spencer performs well in her brief screen time, and Viola Davis is great as James’ mother, Susie Brown. Up-and-coming star Chadwick Boseman gives it his all as the iconic James Brown with an energetic performance. He embodies Brown perfectly, down to the persona and vocal patterns. At least we can all take pleasure that both Tate Taylor and Boseman capture the essence of Brown in their film. However, Boseman gets so involved in the role that he might not realize he mumbles constantly. It’s difficult to hear him clearly and often enough, only every few words per sentence are caught. That’s the way Brown talks, but it makes for a truly frustrating experience if what is being said will make ask “What did he say?” every so often. Due to that irritating aspect, wait for the DVD and just watch this with subtitles.

Score: 55/100

 

The Wedding Singer (1998)

The Wedding SingerReleased: February 13, 1998. Directed by: Frank Coraci. Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Christine Taylor. Runtime: 95 min.

Apparently, more mediocre comedians should release their movies on the unlucky Friday the 13th, when they’re down on their luck. Maybe they’ll have a decent hit on their hands. That’s the truth with Sandler’s “The Wedding Singer,” an entertaining and predictable romp from beginning to end.

The story follows wedding singer Robbie Hart who enters a deep depression after he’s dumped at the alter by his bitch of a girlfriend Linda (Angela Featherstone). Then he meets the stunning waitress Julia (Drew Barrymore). She is about to be married to a total idiot Glen Gulia (Matthew Glave), who is so dumb, he doesn’t see what’s funny about the fact that Julia will know be Julia Gulia. Robbie thinks she deserves more, and, well, you know the rest.

This movie teaches that the only person you should plan a wedding with is the person you’re getting married to, otherwise, you’ll probably fall in love with the person you’re planning it with. It’s a traditional romantic comedy, with Sandler’s antics and a lot of angry and/or depressed singing.

The characters are funny. That’s mostly Robbie Hart and the nympho best friend of Julia, Holly (Christine Taylor). Allen Covert’s pretty good, too. There are some characters that are both creepy and funny. That’s most notably George (Alexis Arquette), the back-up wedding singer who only sings “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” It’s funny because the crowd turns on him every time.

These performers aren’t phoning in performances – you’re probably going to root for Robbie and Julia the whole way through. No one deserves to be married to a jerk right?

The movie’s really just a predictable ’80s styled movie. It’s entertaining, sometimes hilarious and always chuckle-worthy. Even though you’ll be rooting for Julia and Robbie, they don’t pass the Character Name Test; since Sandler’s characters seem to be all the same. You’ll forget half of the characters’ names within minutes. This is a movie where I’d rather refer to the characters by the person who’s portraying them. Even though Sandler has big hair in this movie, it doesn’t mean this character will be distinctive or stand out in any way.

Score75/100

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny (2006)

Tenacious DRelease Date: November 22, 2006Director: Liam LynchStars: Jack Black, Kyle Gass, JR ReedRuntime: 93 min.

I believe in building a so-called ‘stupid comedy’ tolerance. But that’s not why I seeked out “Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny” after so many years. I remember watching it a lot in my young teens. Revisiting it now, it’s still pretty damn funny.

In Venice Beach, naive Midwesterner JB bonds with slacker KG and they form the rock band Tenacious D. Setting out to become the world’s greatest band is no easy feat, so they set out to steal what could be the answer to their prayers — a magical guitar pick housed in a Rock and Roll museum some 300 miles away.

This film is just as silly as it sounds. If that sounds like your idea of a decent time; seek this one out. If it doesn’t, don’t seek it out – because this immature ride begins with flatulence and throws immature gags and smart and funny songs at the audience at a rapid rate. The characterization is weak because there’s no focus on it – they’re essentially slackers where the actors essentially play versions of themselves. The movie feels improvised at times, but it never takes itself seriously – and you shouldn’t take it seriously, either. There are memorable rock-offs, and this film is probably most enjoyable to those who love Tenacious D and their antics. It’s also suited for Jack Black fans.

It just isn’t suited for those who can’t find it in their hearts to appreciate a little stoner comedy like this. Critics that have to watch this might be amused by a bit-sized role from Tim Robbins. This film is predictable but it leads up to one heck of a rock-off, and songs that, even after years of not watching this, you’ll remember every lyric. And that’s saying something about this film. The music is great, the laughs big, but the story mediocre. But the story isn’t is what is important, because it never leaves you bored, even if it feels familiar. This movie’s just a lot of fun. And that’s what always brings me back to this movie.

Score75/100

Airheads (1994)

AirheadsRelease Date: August 5, 1994Director: Michael LehmannStars: Brendan Fraser, Steve Buscemi, Adam SandlerRuntime: 92 min.

Three band members hoping for a big break head to a radio station to play their demo tape and wind up holding everyone hostage with plastic guns when the head DJ refuses to play them.

“Airheads” is a different heist film, but a stupid one. It’s a satire, but it’s never exactly clear what it’s trying to mock, to the viewers or the filmmakers. It says that one shouldn’t sell out in the music business. But the plot is silly, and something like this won’t turn out well for anyone. Adam Sandler will make you chuckle a few times, but none of this will have you on the floor laughing. It’s nice to see Joe Mantegna and Judd Nelson, even if they’re in small roles. Chris Farley is criminally underused as a police officer. This is about the same quality as the Adam Sandler movies of today. It isn’t particularly smart, or entertaining. It’ll make you smile once or twice, but the plot is better suited for an episode on a sitcom. Everyone in this movie has been in funnier things, and the premise truly grows tired early on.

Score38/100