Ghostbusters (2016) – Review

2 Stars

The rebooted Ghostbusters film has arrived in theaters riding a wave of negativity. The internet has been ablaze for months over the casting, the poorly received first trailer, and the idea that the 1984 original is a masterpiece. So, let me state that the 2016 movie is better than I expected but it’s clumsiness and anti-male sentiment gives the film an off-beat vibe. Ranking the new Ghostbusters as not much of an improvement over the cynical cash-grab sequel from 1989. This is a faithful homage/re-imagining that manages to blend its special effects with sporadic laughs for a spirited and entertaining, but disjointed movie-going experience.
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Central Intelligence (2016) – Review

3 Stars

Box office Heavyweights Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart make an amusing screen coupling in the light-weight action-comedy Central Intelligence. This is a comedy that’s more ‘fun’ than funny. The appeal of each headliner individually and as a screen duo is rare these days. Both men have already shown themselves to be fond of appearing in sequels, and if I have to choose between another Ride Along, G.I. Joe or a follow-up to this–I’d choose this pairing again.
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Fathers’ Day (1997) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Father’s Day is a fairly abysmal comedy starring two of the previous decades’ highest regarded comedians. It’s arguably Director Ivan Reitman’s worst, although Junior will always hold that place for me, and it features way too much of Mark McGrath and Sugar Ray. This ‘High-Concept’ comedy was based on a very successful French film, Les Compères,but something surely got lost in translation. Producer Joel Silver, who has no previous experience with comedies, is the man responsible for pooling all the on-screen talent in an unsuccessful attempt at re-creating the magic all have shown in better films.
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Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

I’m sure everybody has dealt with an annoying neighbor at some point in their lives. Someone intent on adding an irritation to your life through intentional and often unintentional means. Currently, I’m dealing with upstairs neighbors that have feet etched out of concrete. I digress. The appeal of the original Neighbors was universal in its concept, and superior in its well-thought out execution. It treated its characters fairly and balanced raunchy with sentiment in proper measures. The sequel squander it’s perfect set-up and exposes itself early as a comically lazy and particularly sloppy filmmaking effort from the once heralded director Nichols Stoller.
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Stroker Ace (1983) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

Stroker Ace was the most popular film ever made about NASCAR until 1990’s Days of Thunder came and presented the sport, and its drivers in a less comedic light. This Burt Reynolds star vehicle is the most professionally polished of all the film made with long-time director/friend/stuntman Hal Needham. To watch this film today is to witness the last hurrah of a movie star in a vanity project backed by a large budget and full studio promotion. Sure, Cannonball Run II and City Heat would out-preform Stroker in terms of box-office prowess, but Ace is Reynolds’ last true good ‘ol boy flick, and it holds a certain appeal because of that.
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Top Secret! (1984) – Review

3 Stars

Directors Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker, the creators of Airplane and The Naked Gun series, spoof World War II spy movies, and 1950’s Elvis musicals, with smart sight gags and funny dialogue. Top Secret! doesn’t hit the high bar set by those two other classics from the trio of comedic filmmakers, but it’s still a lot of fun.
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Rough Cut (1980) – Review

2 Stars

It’s become part of the James Bond mythology that American actor Burt Reynolds was approached by series producer Albert R. Broccoli to take over the role for the departing Sean Connery. Thankfully, for Reynolds and audiences this never came to fruition. Yet, Rough Cut feels like a glimpse of what could have been. Hitchcock movies, Cary Grant pictures, and The Italian Job all seem to be heavy inspirations for this troubled film, that saw three directors exited during a tumultuous production.
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Ride Along 2 (2016) – Review

1 Star

Ride Along 2 is a coarser, more hectic, more cheaply written sequel to the smash hit from a few years back. This is a dull, and redundant exercise in marching through mismatched buddy-movie troupes. The biggest loser in all of this is star Kevin Hart, who still hasn’t found the right comedy vehicle for his talents. Ice Cube’s legacy as a hip-hop pioneer hopefully won’t be tarnished by the string of sub-par movies he’s appeared in over the last 20+ years. Here, the comedy is tepid, the action is dopey and even the violence is boring.
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Mr. Deeds (2002) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Mr. Deeds makes a critical error and never recovers. It positions Adam Sandler as the straight-man and casts Winona Ryder as the farcical character. This is a terrible miscalculation on the writing level, it locks comedian into a state of reacting to the supposedly humorous behavior of Ryder’s undercover news reporter. Problem is, this isn’t nearly as funny as watching Sandler maneuver through these situation, and Deeds is an angelic simpleton who seems as disinterested in the film’s plot mechanics as Sandler appears to be himself.
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Cannonball Run II (1984) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The wheels have finally fallen off of the car-themed pictures of one-time box office king Burt Reynolds. The Cannonball Run II is the fifth collaboration between Reynolds and director Hal Needham, while this sequel is a better product that the original Cannonball Run, the absence of any artistic intent, or comedic by-play ranks this as one of the worst in Reynolds’ vast trove of cinematic turkeys.
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Get Hard (2015) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Get Hard is an embarrassingly bad, misguided, offensive and somewhat depressing movie that is supposedly a comedy. Farrell has to kiss a dick, hilarious? Not, so much. This material may have been better served in the hands of Eddie Murphy and Dan Ackroyd back in their Trading Places hey-day. In today’s world, it’s old-hat, the jokes are forced and the leads aren’t particularly funny, they flounder on-screen under Etan Cohen’s unfocused direction.
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Chasers (1994) – Review

2 Stars

I’m stunned a movie like Chasers was made, it’s so unconventional and full of minor digressions that it’s simply amazing Warner Bros. gave it a nation-wide release. Who did they think was going to show up? Chasers wants to be a throwback to the satirical/message pictures of the 1970s. Instead, it’s a mess of whimsy, illogical motivation, lazy writing and bad casting choices. Tom Berenger is the only one on-screen who seems to understand that he’s in a black comedy.
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European Vacation (1985) – Review

2 Stars

European Vacation has the elements for a classic comedy and greatly disappoints. The writers go through the motions while failing to further develop the characters, and often sticking them in stock sit-com situations. It’s a boring film, the first Vacation had the pay-off of Wally-world at the climax, this sequel just lays there on the screen rather listless. The filmmakers have taken the edges off the picture and softened up the material to make the Griswolds more accessible to family audiences. There is no sexpot attempting to woo Clark from his loyal family, only assorted rude Europeans making life miserable for the ever-traveling Americans.
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The Cannonball Run (1981) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

Reynolds and many of his pals star in yet another reckless-driving movie on the order of Smokey & the Bandit. The story concerns a coast-to-coast car race that defies the country’s speed laws. But the jokes and theme is so worn by now that the film runs out of steam long before the cars cross the finish line. A steady stream of corny gags accompanies the crashes and mechanical mishaps. The good breezy fun of the Bandit outings is sorely missing.
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