The Secret Life of Pets

“Aww cuteness overload! That was pretty much the expectation going in, and pretty much what we got. The movie follows a group of NYC pets and their adventures during the day while their owners are away. Max who is absolutely loyal to his human, Katie, is taken aback when Katie unexpectedly brings home giant pup Duke. In trying to get rid of his new “”brother””, Max and Duke end up in trouble that they can only get out of with each other’s help. Aided by their neighborhood furry or featured friends, they make their way across the big city, averting the various big city dangers that befall them.

Yeah so basically it’s just a bunch of animals with celebrity voices being really cute. It’s a solid voice cast though: Louis CK, Jenny Slate, Kevin Hart, Lake Bell, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Dana Carvey, Albert Brooks, Bobby Moynihan. Not a whole lotta depth to it, but it’s innocuous enough. Certainly enough to make me wanna race home to my two little critters. I’d say it keeps together better than Illumination’s signature Minions, but we’re still not up to Pixar level. Maybe on par with the good Dreamworks stuff. Pet people and animal lovers of all types will appreciate it at least on some level. Just careful taking your kids to this if they don’t have pets already, cause they’ll just end up wanting one.

The Secret Life of Pets – \m/ \m/ \m/”

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

“Zac Efron’s really been cranking out the raunchy comedies this year. We’ve barely passed the halfway mark and we’ve already had Dirty Grandpa, Neighbors 2, and now Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. Despite taking top billing, he was probably the least utilized of our fab four (Mike, Dave, and their dates), but this is probably the best of this year’s offering from our smokin’ hot golden boy.

Here goes the summary. Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) are the ultimately bro-y-est brothers to have ever lived, and have amassed quite the reputation for causing trouble at family gatherings. When their little sister gets married, they are ordered to bring a couple of nice girls as their wedding dates, in the hopes that the ladies will help keep the boys and their antics in check. One viral Craigslist post and national talk show appearance later, they choose Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza). Little do they know that these gals are in fact even badder than the boys. Shenanigans and hilarity ensue.

Weddings tend to be a great backdrop for comedies, and the golden standard for raunchy nuptial comedy would have to be Wedding Crashers. I’d say that Mike and Dave has come about as close to nearing that as anything we’ve seen in the decade since Wilson and Vaughn first crashed. Granted, Mike and Dave still have a ways to go, but they’re well on the right path.

For me, I felt like this movie best gave Adam Devine and Anna Kendrick opportunities to shine. Efron did little more than stand there looking pretty (not necessarily a bad thing), and we’ve seen Plaza be bad plenty before. Devine may have been playing the same sorta loud dumbass bro that he typically does, but this time he carried most of the film. He was right on the edge of just right and too much, so those who have a low tolerance for his tomfoolery should approach with caution. The important takeaway is that he is capable of carrying a comedy, and hopefully he’ll get a chance to stray from his type casting and lead something really good some day. I also call out Kendrick because we’re used to seeing her as the sweet and cute little good girl. This film gave her an opportunity to really break bad, and it looked good on her. About time too, because she has been getting stuck in her type, so I really hope that this will open up some more opportunities for variety.

Right after watching, a friend asked me if this movie was worth heading to the theater. My answer is that it depends on the urgency of seeing it for you. It’s certainly worth watching (if it interests you) at some point, be it at the theater, on Netflix, or from a Black Friday bargain bin. However, I don’t necessarily think it’s worth highly prioritizing if you weren’t already inclined to do so. But if you need a little dirty comedy in your life right now, or have to get your fix of one of our four troublemakers, then by all means go now!

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

The Purge: Election Year

“Heh, so I thought I had a brilliant idea. I was really excited to see this movie, but it was being released while Mom was in town, and this is NOT one to take her to. But, some friends were planning a pub crawl in an area near one of my favorite theaters, and the timing worked out such that I could catch the flick afterwards and still get home at a decent time. What I failed to account for, was how much my tolerance has gone down in the past year or two. Let’s just say I missed most of The Purge because I was doing some purging of my own down the hall. Oops.

The second attempt went off without a hitch, tacking it on after Swiss Army Man. I know I complain about franchises extending beyond they need to, but this is one of the few that’s doing it right. When the first Purge introduced the concept, my main complaint was that it fully utilize what was a truly interesting set up. Then came Anarchy, and we had a larger scale impact and the beginnings of exploring the larger picture. Which brings us to Election Year, and writer/director James DeMonaco (who has been with us for the full ride) is finding his groove, and starting to look at the bigger picture of The Purge. I won’t go into spoilage details, but where things leave off, we’re primed to explore the next big questions that would logically come next.

Similar to last time, we’re focusing in a couple scattered people caught up in The Purge, whose storylines converge as they fight for survival. The difference is that the stakes are so much higher, because one of those storylines follows a Senator who is running for President on a platform of ending the annual purge. Of course, that does not sit well with those who live for their annual night of violence, and she becomes the top target. Conveniently for them (and our story) previous rules that exempted high ranking government officials have now been lifted, and she is as exposed and susceptible as the constituents she represents.

I think what I love most about these movies is the extremely visceral emotional reaction I feel watching them. The suspense of being caught in the open, within reach of those who would intend to do harm with reckless abandon and no consequences, and with no idea who to trust is palpably intense. I’ve been really stressed out and anxious lately and somehow found release in channeling that stress and anxiety into this film, which really heightened the experience, and somehow made me feel better for two hours.

Obviously, if you don’t do violence, stay the heck away from this. When telling my Mom of my plan “”Oh what movie are you gonna see?”” “”Nothing you’d have any interest in”” “”Something nasty?”” “”Basically two hours of pure violence”” “”Yeah, no, go ahead””. If you identify with the “”mother”” character in this conversation, then move along. If you more closely identify wit the “”daughter”” character, then by all means, purge away!

The Purge: Election Year – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

Swiss Army Man

Paul Dano has said that when he was first pitched this movie, the directors were aiming to make a film where the first far makes you laugh, and the last fart makes you cry. Daniel Radcliffe said something about how he wouldn’t want to regret seeing another actor on the screen, if he passed on it for being bizarre. Me, I couldn’t wait to see this this really strange looking piece of unique cinema.

For the record, the first far didn’t really make me laugh, but the second one certainly did. And while I’m not a cryer, I was rather unexpectedly emotional for the last one. So, I suppose it’s mission accomplished then. While they’re a big part of the film (not just for laughs, but also a major component of the emotional arc…just trust me), the movie is not strictly about flatulence. Paul Dano’s Hank has been stranded on an island for unknown reasons. Right when he’s ready to give up, he sees Daniel Radcliffe’s corpse wash up onshore. Despite being dead, Manny the corpse has some unexpected but super useful powers, including the ability to speak, that Hank utilizes to try and get him home to safety. What ensues is a very sweet buddy comedy about life and hope and trust.

I was about to say that I didn’t wanna say much more, because this is the kind of movie that just needs to be experienced, but then I remembered that I’m pretty sure I’ve used that exact line a couple times before. So, I’ll say that this is a movie that needs to be approached with an open mind and an open heart. Our two leading guys play off each other fantastically, and the story is inspiring in ways that you’d never expect.

My main takeaway, is that in a year where I’m complaining about the unnecessary sequels and rehashes, we have had a few bright spots of some of the most unique films out there. The Lobster, Tickled, and now, Swiss Army Man.”

Dawn of the Dead

“It’s my movie! By which I’m not saying it’s my favorite movie or the movie that defines me. I’m just going off the name. It’s my (Dawn’s) movie!

Move over, Walking Dead (or shuffle off slowly) because this is what truly defined the modern zombie. So much fun! Lots of bright red blood, fast and scary zombies, and one killer soundtrack.

I’ll admit, I haven’t seen the original Dead, and seeing as how older horror films don’t really hold up for me, I’m not sure I want to. This however, is exactly how I love my blood, guts, and gore.

Maybe a blog-a-thon of writing multiple entries in a row isn’t the wisest idea, but I really don’t know that I have much else to say about this one. You either like the genre or you don’t. And if you do, I’m sure this is already on your radar, if there’s isn’t already a worn out DVD on your shelf. As it should be”

The Fisher King

“Why did it take Robin Williams’ death for me to learn about The Fisher King? Seriously, I had never even heard of it until it kept getting mentioned repeatedly in various tributes. I watched it first chance I got, and then several times again over the subsequent weeks. Williams had so many wonderful iconic roles, it’s hard to pick a list of his best, but this would surely have to be on it.

Directed by Terry Gilliam, Jeff Bridges plays a radio DJ, Jack, who thinks so highly of himself, he doesn’t notice the people down below him. When he finds himself indirectly responsible for a high profile murder suicide instigated by a regular caller for his show, he disappears into obscurity and depression. A few years later, he encounters a homeless man named Parry (Williams), who is as eccentric as they come, yet is somehow joyful in his obvious mental illness. When Jack finds out that Parry’s wife was among the victims in the shooting, he feels compelled to help, and the two form an unlikely and unusual friendship.

Okay that sounded cheesy. It’s not. Yeah there’s some uplifting moments, but there’s a dark undertone to the whole thing, which we all know is my sorta thing. Williams and Bridges both give incredible performances, that would be career defining if their careers weren’t already defined by various other remarkable roles. Certainly a film worth checking out or rediscovering”

Macbeth

“If you’re an indie movie that’s released around Christmas and you’re not bringing in Oscar buzz, sorry, you’re gonna hafta wait for a sale DVD to be watched. The prospect of a Shakespeare adaptation both excites and worries me. I’m sure I’ve been into this before, but I have nothing but respect for the Bard. His stories are fantastic, and there’s pure gold when you dig into his words. Except I have a really hard time wrapping my brain around verse, and I struggle to fully follow.

A few years ago, I saw a one man version of Macbeth starring Alan Cumming, and to date it is one of the absolute best theatrical productions I have ever seen. Doesn’t mean I understood it too well. I hoped that this modern feeling but still past set stylized version starring Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard would finally bring me into the world of the Scottish play. Nope. I fell asleep. Oops. Maybe next time, Shakespeare. Sigh. Hey not every post can be insightful. I can fail too.”

The Legend of Tarzan

“Does this count as a sequel? Because if so, it fits in perfectly with the 2016 trend of sequels no one asked for. I’d hate to use the term “”reboot”” but maybe that’s more what it is. Still, whose idea was it?

The cast was the only reason I was interested. Even though he’s overplayed it by now, I’ll see Christoph Waltz as the villain in anything. Really, I’ll just see him in anything. Can’t go wrong with Margot Robbie or Samuel L Jackson. And then of course, there’s Alexander Skarsgard and his abs

Cutting right to the chase, something the movie refused to do, it was dull and boring. The thin story didn’t really go anywhere, and by the time we got to the action, it wasn’t that great. The whole swinging from trees thing was at least something we haven’t seen in a while, and I am a fan of apes/monkeys/etc, but overall, Dawn Dawn is not impressed.

The Legend of Tarzan – \m/ \m/”

Bottle Shock

“Remember back last summer when I bought a whole mess of DVD’s from a video store that was closing and I spent a couple months watching them all? Well, as far as rotating thru the movie wall for blog subjects, we’re back at those. Which brings us to the current pick, Bottle Shock. For me, the real shock of this movie is Chris Pine with hippie hair, but we’ll get there.

In this true story from the 70’s, a French wine connoisseur (played by the incomparable Alan Rickman) journeys to California to pick up a few bottles of wine for a blind taste test in Paris. Along the way, he encounters a family run shop owned by Bill Pullman and Chris Pine, that’s struggling to stay afloat. What happens next will shock you. Sorry, had to. Well the contest results were a bit of a shock to wine culture, but we won’t go there.

This is a delightful little dramedy that’s mostly been lost to obscurity. But finding it is like finding that special bottle of wine that’s just playful and perfect. Or so I’d imagine. My relationship with wine is the same as with most alcohol: put it in front of me and I’ll drink it, but don’t expect me to seek it out otherwise. This movie is worth seeking out though.”

Charlie Bartlett

“My world stopped for a moment when I heard the news of Anton Yelchin’s death. I’ve loved and followed that kid since Alpha Dog ten years ago. Terminator, The Smurfs, Odd Thomas, The Beaver, Green Room, Only Lovers Left Alive, Fright Night, and of course, Star Trek. Seeing as how Charlie Bartlett was coming up on the movie fall, I felt it was a fitting movie to use as a tribute.

Yelchin had a few roles where he could be considered a lead, but this one’s practically a one man show, and it’s a perfect showcase for his energy and charisma. Charlie is a rich kid starting over at a public school, and he just wants to be liked. He makes a name for himself as a student psychiatrist, listening to his classmates problems and selling them prescription pills he scams from his own shrink(s). Basically he’s an aspiring Zack Morris or Ferris Bueller or Van Wilder.

The movie itself is medicare (raise your hand if you even knew this movie a month ago), but again it makes a good vehicle for Yelchin. He does have a good supporting cast behind him (Kat Dennings, Hope Davis, Robert Downey Jr) but it’s all about our boy. I wish he’d been given a better overall film to showcase his talents, but he’s certainly what makes it watchable and worth watching once out of respect. Still, I’m devastated that he’s gone and wish there were infinitely more films listed on his IMDB page”