The-Plague

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Reviews

Super Troopers 2
(2018)

It's like watching your son suck at sports...
Super Troopers is like an amazing night with a high school sweetheart that ends with me shouting "were gonna live forever!" Then she goes off to college and 17 years go by and she is now married and seems happy. Super Troopers 2 is her getting divorced and us trying to recapture that magic in our early 30's and the night ends with an O.T.P.H.J and me saying "well...I guess I'll see you around."

Spoiler free!

Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves
(2015)

The HJ of Ross Patterson Movies
First off, I consider myself a huge Ross Patterson fan. I own all of his movies and his book and I'm pretty sure I have a lock of hair floating around somewhere in my house. That being said, it saddens me that I couldn't give this movie the stellar review I'd hoped. First off, the movie is outrageous, which is great; the title alone is enough to make a viewer chuckle. Second, the main actors did an amazing job especially Jesse Merlin who portrayed Helen Keller's gay brother. Now for the bad news. It seems to me that director Ross Patterson simply took the elements that worked in his previous movies (Voice overs for example) then did them to death in Helen Keller vs. Nightwolves. The scenes with Saint James Street James didn't even compare to those in Poolboy 2 Drowning Out the Fury, and a lot of the times the over the top elements of the movie went on just a bit too long and became annoying. To put it in simple terms, I just didn't find myself laughing very much (even while viewing during alcohol consumption), and that is why a viewer watches a Ross Patterson movie, to laugh. Any fan of crazy comedies will get a kick out of this movie, but in terms of Ross Patterson movies it is a HJ. It will never be your first choice, but after a sad sigh you will take it. No hard feelings Ross, looking forward to the next one.

Tusk
(2014)

A podcaster is kidnapped by a deranged man and transformed into a walrus.
While I am a huge Kevin Smith fan, I do admit I did not enjoy Red State very much so I went into this hoping that Smith would redeem himself in my eyes. I say not a bad job considering this whole movie was created from a podcast discussion. The movie is stale at times and some of the dialogue runs long, (no, not Justin Long), but it was funny. Johnny Depp's character was hilarious, Justin long's performance was notable, and Michael Park was amazing. I literally believed the man was bat shi* crazy! There was some gore and bloodshed, but this isn't a horror movie, and I think a lot of people went into it thinking it was and that explains some of the bad reviews.

For a movie based on a totally absurd premise, Tusk was pretty good, unfortunately I don't see it having much re-watch value. I might watch it again just to laugh at some of the dialogue, but it certainly isn't Clerks or Chasing Amy. Tusk is basically The Human Centipede with some humor thrown in Kevin Smith style. I recommend a watch, but there will unfortunately never be a Tusk poster on my wall.

Sexy Evil Genius
(2013)

Three people are invited to a bar by an ex girlfriend they all have in common only to realize the entire meeting is a ruse.
"Sexy Evil Genius' is for the most part what I refer to as a one room adventure, or a movie where a majority of the story stays in one place. Seth Green (Zachary Newman) sits in a Los Angeles bar drinking five olive martinis (he missed lunch) waiting to meet an ex girlfriend Nikki from high school. To his surprise, he is not met by Nikki, but rather her former girlfriend from her twenties Miranda Prague (Michelle Trachtenberg). After a brief time talking, mostly sharing stories about the ex they have in common, Marvin Coolidge (Harold Perrineau), another member of the former Nikki fan club strolls into the bar. It becomes evident that Nikki wants these three to meet before she joins the group to share her "big news." 'Sexy Evil Genius' is similar to the 2011 movie 'Carnage' in the sense that because the story stays in one place the progression of the plot relies mainly on strong dialogue. In contrast however, 'Sexy Evil Genius' does have some minor flashback scenes, mainly because the characters are all telling stories about their ex girlfriend, and the plot strays from the bar at the very end. I know what the filmmakers were trying to accomplish by adding the flashback scenes, but it did muck up the plot and create some confusion. It appears that the characters telling their stories about Nikki could have been just as strong and less confusing than a director's depiction.

This movie features a strong cast including the people I mention above and William Baldwin, unfortunately the director is not experienced. In contrast, I thought the writing (mainly the dialogue) is captivating and attention grabbing. The story itself is interesting from beginning to end. When three people meet at in bar to have drinks with an ex girlfriend they all share there is going to be an undeniable tension, but also an incorporation of bittersweet nostalgia as they all reminisce.

Katee Sackhoff has a notable performance playing the crafty Nikki Franklyn who puts her master plan into motion weeks before anyone even sets foot into the bar. Her wit and her charm, along with the fact that she is as Seth Green says in the movie a "sexy evil Genius" creates a plot that becomes wild and unpredictable (in a good way). Her intentions become as unclear as the original reason why everyone has been invited to the bar, and by the end of the movie even M. Night Shyamalan would find himself saying, "ooh, what a twist!"

Savage Beach
(1989)

Two female DEA agents asked to fly medication from Molokai to Knox Island crash on a remote island.
I don't throw around the term bad movie very often, but "Savage Beach" was worse than the jump to conclusions mat, which according Samir Nagheenanajar is a horrible idea. Directed by Andy Sidaris, "Savage beach" has two plots that come together. One plot follows Donna and Taryn, two DEA agents who are asked to fly medication to Knox Island. On their way back their plane is struck by lightning and they land on a remote Hawaiian island that seems to have no inhabitants. The second story involves a representative from the Philippines who is working with the American government to retrieve gold that was stolen from his country by Japan during WWII. The two stories come together at the end when all parties arrive at the island in which Donna and Taryn initially crash landed to look for the stolen gold.

"Savage Beach" is a typical B list action movie filled with explosions, poor acting, and nudity. The combination of these three elements do not always guarantee a bad movie, leaving an opportunity for "so bad it's good" status, but "Savage Beach" just does not make the cut. The movie is full of sexual innuendos that pale in comparison to a good old fashioned "that's what she said" joke, and the only recognizable actor is Al Leong, or as you might now him, that Asian bad guy from every movie.

"Savage Beach" definitely exploits a guy's love of nude women, All principal actresses in this movie are former playboy playmates, which doesn't make them qualified for much other than taking their clothes off, and take their clothes off they do! "Savage Beach" has a scene with female nudity about every fifteen minutes, some more ridiculous than others. At one point in the film Donna and Taryn put the airplane on autopilot so they can get topless under the ruse of changing their shirts, wet from the storm on Knox Island. As the movie progressed I began thinking that Sidaris was playing an altered form of the meow game from "Super Troopers," attempting to see how many topless women he could incorporate in ninety minutes.

"Savage Beach" definitely exploits a guy's love of nude women, All principal actresses in this movie are former playboy playmates, which doesn't make them qualified for much other than taking their clothes off, and take their clothes off they do! "Savage Beach" has a scene with female nudity about every fifteen minutes, some more ridiculous than others. At one point in the film Donna and Taryn put the airplane on autopilot so they can get topless under the ruse of changing their shirts, wet from the storm on Knox Island. As the movie progressed I began thinking that Sidaris was playing an altered form of the meow game from "Super Troopers," attempting to see how many topless women he could incorporate in ninety minutes.

I stumbled across this movie inside of the Andy Sidaris collection entitled "Girls, Guns, and G Strings." After viewing "Savage Beach" I can say that the name of the DVD collection is fitting, but it does not leave me much hope for the rest of Sidaris' work. Nudity, the main appeal of "Savage Beach," is strategically strewn throughout the movie, but it isn't enough to maintain a viewer's attention (especially a female viewer). The only part of this movie that showed any promise was a five minute deathbed confession from a Japanese soldier at its end. I recommend laughing at the drug filled pineapples shown within the first five minutes, then skipping to the end, saving yourself time and avoiding disappointment.

Lik wong
(1991)

In the year 2001, a martial artist with superhuman strength serves a ten year sentence for murder, all the while fighting for the rights of his fellow prisoners.
"Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky" is a Hong Kong martial arts film adapted from a Japanese manga that was released in 1991. This movie is a low budget action packed gore-fest that can be compared to Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead" in relation to American cinema. This movie not only utilizes, but embraces the use of excessive violence and graphic bloodshed, leading me to believe that a majority of the budget must have been spent on fake blood. Action packed martial arts scenes and some of the lamest special effects in cinema solidify cult film status for "Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky," even if some viewers are just watching it because it is just that bad.

"Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky" opens with a transport vehicle bringing new inmates to a correction facility somewhere in Asia, although for some odd reason the name of the prison is written in Spanish. A black screen then appears with white writing informing the audience that the time period is 2001 and in this future all prisons are privatized and run like businesses. Riki-Oh, or Ricky as he is referred to in the English subtitles, emerges from the transport and enters the prison to begin his ten year sentence for murder. Ricky soon realizes that the prison is run by a tyrannical warden and his assistant, both of whom treat inmates like expendable resources. Ricky now must fight for his fellow inmates and his own freedom. clashing with four skilled fighters brawling his way through to the fiendish warden.

"Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky" is certainly not a typical Kung Fu movie. We have a hero avenging his girlfriend's death and protecting the weak, but we also have a villain with a prosthetic eye in which he stores mints. There are numerous fight scenes between our hero and villains, but there is also a scene where a dog is kicked so hard it splits in half. At times I found myself laughing at how absurd the movie was becoming with every minute that passed. At one point a villain stabs himself in the stomach and tries to choke Ricky with his own intestines, prompting the assistant warden in one translation to cleverly say, "I knew you had guts!" As over the top as this movie becomes it continues to increase in violence and does not lose pace by diminishing the bloodshed.

Aside from six villains and Ricky this movie does not have any characters worth remembering. The warden's enforcers, known as the Gang of Four, all use different fighting techniques and seem to increase in strength from the first to fight to the last. The most memorable of the four is Huang Chaun, a deadly male warrior played by a female actress. It is completely evident Huang Chaun is a woman, but the filmmakers hilariously dub her voice with a man's to keep up the illusion. The assistant warden is a combination of villain clichés retaining an evil looking prosthetic eye and a hook hand, appearing much more interesting than the seemingly normal looking warden. The warden himself, a middle aged bald man with a chubby brat of a son, has a secret that luckily allows him to become a unique character by the end of the movie.

Anytime a hero in a movie is strong to the point that they can literally punch through a person the viewer needs to watch with an open mind. "Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky" is cheesy and lacking in special effects, but it is also over the top and hilarious. I would recommend this movie to anyone with a high tolerance for extreme violence and gore, or someone who wants to see a man's eye pop out from being hit so hard in the head. If anything, at least this movie gives us the head crushing scene formerly shown on "The Daily Show" when Craig kilborn was the host. "Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky," heads might not roll, but they sure will get crushed!

Pain & Gain
(2013)

Three body builders use extortion and kidnapping in search of their version of the American dream.
Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Anthony Mackie team up in 'Pain and Gain' as three strongmen who think they deserve more than life is willing to provide. These three men formulate a plan to take what they think they are entitled from a man they feel is undeserving of his fortune. Unfortunately for these three men, God blessed them with muscles, but shortchanged them on intelligence.

I never expect anything great to come from a Michael Bay movie, and sad to say 'Pain and Gain' is no different. When I think of this movie I think of all of the times I watched whatever was on t.v. solely because I couldn't find the remote control. It wasn't bad to the point where I wanted to turn it off, but it also is not worth a second view. To his credit, I can say that Michael Bay stuck to his guns when making this movie. Bay's style of objectifying women, (and if that is too harsh at least creating weak female characters), and his incorporation of brutal action are both deeply embedded into 'Pain and Gain.' It feels somewhat fitting being able to say, "At least he is consistent." Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson may be the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, but honestly his acting skills are like hollow burritos. He is a high-grossing actor, and some of his movies aren't bad, but his performances do little to satisfy my appetite for good acting. Mark Wahlberg is undoubtedly the saving grace, but even his acting skills couldn't make 'Pain and Gain a good movie. The unimaginative story telling and drawn out plot that lasts over two hours makes the audience forget that the movie was inspired by true events and leaves them thinking, "wow, people just couldn't be that stupid."

Bindlestiffs
(2012)

After being suspended from their Texas high school, three virgins travel to the city to live out the plot of "The Catcher in the Rye," which they haven't fully read.
This movie first came to my attention when I watched "Losers Take All" and I was looking for other movies distributed by the same company. I eventually came across "Bindlestiffs," which is distributed by Kevin Smith's SModcast Pictures Presents label in association with Phase Four Films, the company that distributed "Losers Take All." After some research I found that "Bindlestiffs" premiered at The Slamdance Film Festival where it won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature; my interest peaked. "Bindlestiffs" follows three high school friends, who inspired by the novel The Catcher in the Rye, decide to travel to the city looking for sex and life experience after being expelled for drawing graffiti in the bathroom. Following in Holden Caulfiend's footsteps, John, Luke, and Andrew rent a motel room; that's where the fun begins.

"Bindlestiffs" is an amateur production made by students that were still in high school on a twenty thousand dollar budget, so it does fail in the acting and filming categories. To their credit, writers/ Editors Andrew Edison and Luke Loftin resourcefully film part of this movie in their high school using drama teachers as actors and students as extras. While entertaining, "Bindlestiffs" does not have any notable performances, only a second rate Michael Cera doppelganger and a pseudo Will Sasso security guard. Although it was shot in HD, the camera work left much to be desired following the characters as they move rather than shooting from one angle overlooking everything.

The strength of this movie undoubtedly lies in the humor of the story and the dialogue of the characters. Andrew, who is most interested in The Catcher in the Rye, wears a red hunting cap and smokes cigarettes emulating Holden Caulfield. Throughout the movie he tries to pass parts of the novel off as events from his own life with hilarious results. Luke, who claims to know the most about sex is a virgin, and even when presented with a prostitute he only pretends to have sex. John (the second rate Michael Cera) is a religious Caucasian being raised by an Asian family. Although John is the least rebellious of the group, he ends up trying to have sex with his drama teacher and bedding an elderly homeless woman. Say what you will about this movie, but it certainly never gets boring.

"Bindlestiffs" is another movie that can be found on my list of movies to watch when drinking. The crude dialogue that can only come out of the mouths of high school boys and outrageous plot make this a movie perfect for drunken viewing. What the movie lacks in acting and filming it certainly makes up for in laughs and re-watch value. I have seen this movie a few times and I am not tired of watching, mainly because of the crude and outrageous humor. If you want a movie depicting high school rent a John Hughes film, if you want a raunchy comedy about high school made by highschoolers, "Bindlestiffs" might just be what the witch doctor ordered.

Gladiator
(2000)

After a Roman soldier is betrayed by his emperor's son he is sold into slavery and forced to fight as a gladiator.
"Gladiator" comes out of the gate swinging, immediately opening on the battlefield. Caesar Marcus Aurelius stands off to the side of the battle watching General Maximus Meridius (Crowe) lead his troops to yet another victory. After the battle Maximus longs to return to his family, but Marcus Aurelius wishes to have Maximus succeed him as a regent, in a step towards eventually turning Rome back into a republic. Aurelis feels that his son Commodus is too unjust to rule and that Maximus will unselfishly give Rome back to the people. Commodus learns of his father's plan and before anyone else is informed of the Caesar's wishes he is killed by his son. Commodus then takes control of Rome and condemns Maximus and his family to death when Maximus refuses to pledge his loyalty to the new Caesar.

This film is the first large scale movie set in ancient Rome since the 1960′s; it basically combines the plots of "Ben-Hur" and "Sparticus" then adds a dash of "Braveheart" for good measure. "Gladiator" is the first movie I've reviewed that had me torn between two numbers to the point that I had to incorporate a half option in my stats section. This movie is director Ridley Scott's first since his box office bomb "G.I. Jane," which lost over 40 million dollars. Luckily for Scott this movie was well received by critics in addition to being a commercial success. "Gladiator" won five academy awards including best picture, and grossed over 180 million dollars, but I feel it still had flaws. In my review I will focus mainly on the problems that I had with the movie rather than its merit. 'Gladiator' is fourteen years old and it is still considered a notable success, and anything positive I have to say on top of that would simply be redundant.

To begin, Ridley Scott hired historians to ensure that this would be the most accurate movie ever made about Rome, but the story is still full of historical inaccuracies. It is true, that sometimes history must be changed when making a movie to keep the audience interested or to keep the story progressing smoothly, but the inaccuracies to which I refer were sever enough to lead to one historian quitting Scott's team and another asking for their name to be removed from the credits. While I am not going to sit here and list every single deviation from historical fact, I do find the need to raise one query. Why does a Spanish born Roman general have an accent from Australia, a country that during the time period would not existed for over a thousand years? If I only had to review the first forty minutes of this movie, up until Maximus becomes a gladiator, I would consider it perfect. At this point the movie noticeably loses pace, and even the incorporation of the gladiator fight scenes do not help. Luckily, 'Glatiator' still has one ace up its sleeve, Commodus does not know that Maimus is the famous Spaniard. Oh wait, never mind, he finds out immediately following the first battle in the Colosseum! When Maximus removes his helmet to reveal his identity to Commodus he also removes the remaining tension. I wanted Maximus to thrust forward with the fury that only a man who has had his wife and child brutally slain could posses, and nothing.

The audience is left to trudge through another hour in a half of hollow fight scenes and Commodus' scheming. Another hour in a half of a second rate villain lusting after his own sister, listening to himself talk, and emitting seriously creepy vibes towards his nephew. Another hour in a half of plot and sub plot with its merit being outweighed by the urge to hit the fast forward button on the remote, just for a little bit. As the movie comes to a close the viewer is rewarded with one last mediocre fight scene pitting two completely unmatched opponents against each other, then poof, it ends. We are left wondering what could have been if everything went right, like the star quarterback that blew out his knee right before going pro.

I Melt with You
(2011)

Four middleaged college friends come together for a booze and drug filled reunion and things spin out of control quickly.
If I were to write this review imitating Chris Traeger, a character played by Rob Lowe on the show 'Parks and Recreation,' I would undoubtedly start off by saying that this was LITERALLY one of the most disappointing movies I have ever seen (and keep in mind, Chris is normally a beacon of positivity). 'I Melt with You' starts off strong, but after about twenty minutes it hands the baton to the chubby kid and quickly loses pace. Following four middle aged college friends who come together for a weekend of fun, booze, and drugs, 'I Melt with You' had the potential to be a modern 'Return of the Seacacus Seven,' but ended up being closer to the annoying younger brother of 'The Big Chill.' Director Mark Pellington, who is more commonly known for his documentary work, boldly takes a swing and a miss. 'I Melt with You' tackles difficult subject matter including the loss of a family member, depression, and disappointment with one's life, but as they say, "it's all about the execution," After an hour I found myself praying for my own execution. The movie hides behind fancy cinematography and a soundtrack filled with old punk rock favorites, but it might as well be an elephant concealing itself behind a telephone poll. The generational sympathy Pellington is trying to stir up is lost somewhere in the haze a of cocaine induced drunken debauchery.

'I Melt with You' is another prime example that good actors alone cannot create good movies, just as the best crew team in the world cannot win a race in a boat riddled with holes. Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, and Rob Lowe all fail to rescue this movie from utter failure. Carla Gugino steps in as a charmingly convincing police officer who would have been a nice addition from the start, but after an hour and twenty minutes of watching the movie fall apart, it is more difficult care than to write it off as total loss. If an insurance company existed to compensate viewers who saw a bad movie I think 'I Melt with You' would quickly put them out of business.

I, Frankenstein
(2014)

Frankenstein's creation joins forces with a holy group to fight demons and protect humanity.
In a world where Taco Bell feels the need to make a taco out of a waffle so it can solidify its breakfast business, it is no surprise that old movies and old characters in books are getting reinvented. As if the historical monster from Mary Shelley's novel hasn't suffered enough, being rejected by his creator, hated by humanity, played by Robert Dinero in a 1994 adaptation…now this! I have heard of the straw that broke the camel's back, but this is more like the house that fell on the wicked witch.

To say that watching this movie is a waste of time would be unfair. The fight scenes had some action worth watching, but the low rating (PG 13) did not allow for much violence. The storyline, while unique, does not make much sense to me. In the film Adam, the name the creature takes on, seems to be invincible. I am all about suspending my disbelief, but Frankenstein's creature is however comprised of human parts. In essence, the creature should be as fragile as any human, and although he is re-animated, he should still suffer broken bones when being tossed through ten brick walls. Even if I take that out of consideration, the creature fighting demons? It sounds a little bit too Buffy the Vampire Slayer to me.

It is only about an hour in a half long, so it is not drawn out, nor does it become boring, Hollywood's lack of new ideas killed this movie far before it left the paper of the screenplay. Luckily, visual effects provided some merit and bumped this movie from stinky to watchable (barely).

Heavyweights
(1995)

A group of kids at a fat camp learn the camp is changing ownership and going from a place they loved to their own personal hell.
I think that I could do this review simply by saying "Judd Apatow." Every thing this man writes ranges from good to great, so it does not surprise me that I enjoyed this movie so much. Comprised of some well known actors from The Mighty Ducks series, including, wait for it, Gooooldberg, these young stars (well, young at the time) put on quite the show. When Tony Perkins (Ben Stiller) buys Camp Hope none of the campers could have known just how bad things would become, but frankly, I enjoyed watching.

This movie, which I deem viewable for all ages, is the type of light-hearted comedy that I loved in the 90′s and still love today. All of the campers are funny in their own way, and they have memorable performances. To this day I still hear people shout, "Watch out for Salami Sam" when they jump into a pool. Ben Stiller's performance, which unfortunately was pretty much recycled years later in dodgeball, was at the time hilarious and unique. One of the most under-rated shinning stars of this move is Tom Hodges who plays Lars, a counselor at Tony's camp who is from "far away." The acting/writing combination, along with a bit of 90′s nostalgia makes 'Heavy Weights' a great movie to watch.

Going Overboard
(1989)

A wannabe comedian takes a job on a cruise ship hoping he will one day be able to perform.
You know that one movie that your favorite actors made that is just kind of…well…so bad it makes you want to cut onions just to cover up the fact that you are crying? This is that movie for Adam Sandler fans. I do not know if it would be easier to talk about what is wrong with this movie or what they did right, but since I am a negative guy to begin with, let's get started.

Adam Sandler's acting is borderline horrendous, and I don't mind bad acting, but for some reason it just annoys me with this movie. He keeps talking directly to the camera, turning it into one of those (The main character knows this is a movie, movies), which I think is an ineffective comedy tactic. The terrorists in the movie were equally annoying and disappointing, and the rushed plot comes to an abrupt ending with no real storyline in the middle or conclusion. It is like opening a beer, then cutting to someone throwing a bottle away. What happened to all of the good stuff in the middle?

Glory Daze
(1995)

Days before graduation college students have doubts about moving on to the next step in life, well, in-between beers they have doubts.
What do Ben Affleck and Sam Rockwell, have in common? Well, yes, they are all in this movie, but no. They are both now famous, respected actors, and movies like 'Glory Daze' helped shape their careers. The movie, set in the 90′s, follows a group of college students that just might not be ready to let go of the party life. Angst filled, angry, generation xers souped up on pizza and beer that just do not know where to go in life. I mean we can all relate to that right? Admittedly, when these Hollywood superstars made this movie they certainly weren't at their acting peak, but they held their own. Ben Affleck conveys the perfect combination of anger and uncertainty in life, and when you throw in relationship issues he becomes a pretty evolved character. Rockwell, the one with the girlfriend in the movie, faces an issue of every graduating guy in his position, "do I stick with her and get serious, or do I go get some strange?" His struggle is uncomfortable to watch, in a good way, especially when Matthew McConaughey makes a cameo showing him what his life could be if it goes terribly wrong. To avoid forming a list here I will just say the others also did a great job playing their parts, especially Slosh (Vien Hong), the former computer geek, current party animal.

Unlike some college movies that play off of pretty much every college stereotype, 'Glory Daze' seems more realistic and genuine. I actually found myself believing that these actors could be college students. They looked a bit old, but it was a far cry from the thirty year olds playing high schoolers on 90210.

Writer Director Rich Wilkes (Airheads) does an admirable creating believable characters, but does have some trouble with the flow of the story. I did find that I started to lose focus and become bored at times. A movie like this should be almost like the perfect mix tape, you start of strong, drop it down a notch, then right back up. Instead we start of with "Thunderstruck" and get twenty minutes of Coldplay, and no one wants that Speaking of mix tapes, 'Glory Daze' has a soundtrack that is filled with that 90′s music that is sure to ignite that nostalgic feeling of "oh yeah, I remember that " so sit back, enjoy the ride, and remember how much better things were the 90′s.

47 Ronin
(2013)

A band of Samurai set out on a mission for vengeance.
This film takes true Japanese events from the 18th century and turns them into a Fantasy type film. I am a fan of Fantasy films, but I can't help but wonder why they decided to add that element. I think the original, true story, was not only interesting, but emotionally compelling. This average guy wanted to grab a Samurai sword and go on an adventure when he heard the original story of the 47 Ronin. The movie version however did not exactly make me want to grab a Samurai sword…couldn't even make me pick up a butter knife. It did not compel me, nor did it make me feel much emotion whatsoever. It wasn't bad, just bland like an unseasoned Chili.

I have always had a soft spot for Keanu Reeves. I grew up watching his movies, but I do notice he has a bad habit of taking on acting roles that just aren't suitable for him. His character, which was one of about three that had any character development or back story just wasn't someone you would fight for; there was no screaming at the T.V. "You got this man! You can win!" It was more so, this is cool to watch, effects aren't bad, but do I really care? There were only 47 of them, yet they never really seemed outnumbered, so I never really got excited to see them fight. I would rather see one man fight five men Bruce Lee style than boring one on one combat, even though they are supposed to be outnumbered 1000 to 47.

What it lacked in substance in its center it nearly made up for in action. There were a few exciting scenes, nothing to write home about, but worth talking about to a few friends at the bar. I think that some of the writing was good. Keanu's character had one line that is sure to get a girl to come home with you, he was indeed a smooth operator. While most of this review seems negative, it still was watchable. I did not have the urge to turn it off, and it kept my attention, which is saying something with movies today.

About Last Night
(2014)

A look into the lives of two couples as they make the leap from a one night stand to a relationship.
I generally do not enjoy remakes, especially if it is a remake of a movie that was done right the first time. In my opinion if something is done right, why do it a second time? Do you make dinner, take a bite, bask in its deliciousness, then make another dinner? I don't know about you, but I sure do not. Anyway, I digress. 'About Last Night' which is a remake of a 1986 movie of the same name is one of the handful of exceptions to my remake indifference, and a pretty entertaining movie.

Anyone who is a fan of Kevin Hart will appreciate his acting in this movie, one because he doesn't seem to be acting at all, and two, he won't shut up…but honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. The dialogue in the movie is definitely its strength. Aside from the four main characters I was pretty indifferent to the rest of the cast, excluding some minor moments with Joe Lo Truglio (Wet Hot American Summer) and Christopher McDonald (Shooter!). Each couple is unique in their own way, one cute and passionate, the other well…angry and sex obsessed, but they both work for different reasons.

The main focus of the movie is making that leap from a one night stand to a relationship. It's 2014, just because two people are having sex, it does not make them a couple. So how do you know when a one night stand reaches fu..uh fun buddy status, or if you are in a relationship? It is all mental. To be in a relationship you have to be mentally ready to commit to someone else, which is what the couples in the movie struggle with for an hour and forty minutes. Does it become predictable? Of course it does, there are no new themes in writing, but did I get bored? No. I think that a good romantic comedy keeps your attention even though it is evident what will happen in the movie. In 'Romeo and Juliet' Shakespeare tells us what is going to happen on the first page, but we keep reading, and I assure you that movies are no different than books.

Bad Milo!
(2013)

Stress can cause stomach pains, but so can a creature living in your intestines.
'Bad Milo' is a horror comedy starring Ken Marino who plays Duncan, an average man with an average life and a not so average creature living in his intestines. When Duncan begins getting stomach pains he assumes they are caused by the stress in his life, but there is actually a much less rational explanation. He soon finds out that he has a creature inhabiting his body; a fierce little monster who comes out through his butt to take revenge on the stress factors in his life. The creature, who looks like a cross between a demon and the "I'm the baby, gotta love me" dinosaur, and Duncan co-exist but how long can the situation stay under control? One might assume that a movie containing a creature that pops out of a man's butt to kill people would be stupid, but 'Bad Milo' is actually very well put together. Writers Benjamin Hayes and Jacob Vaughan succeed in creating a movie with immature subject matter conveyed in a non repugnant way. Milo, the killer hemorrhoid has his own personality and becomes as crucial to the movie as the other characters. At times you let your guard down thinking "he is kind of cute isn't he?" then you remember he came from a guy's butt.

Ken Marino is perfect fit playing the typical "everything about me is average" guy, but he also manages to step up and wedge himself into the hero role. The movie introduces psychological elements such as accepting your Id and also delves into family relationships. 'Bad Milo' never goes completely over the top to the point of losing the viewer, and although I found it enjoyable I think it would have been more successful as a short film. Certain aspects of the story start to become tedious but then a monster pops out of a butt and grabs your attention yet again.

Beer League
(2006)

A softball team must improve their game to avoid losing to their rival and getting kicked out of their beer league.
Artie Lange stars in 'Beer League' as the unemployed foul mouth drunkard Artie DeVanzo. Artie and Dennis Mangenelli (Anthony DeSando) have been competing with one another since high school. The two men continue their rivalry well into adulthood by playing in a beer league, which is basically just a group of grown men who get drunk and play softball. After a fight between the two teams during an exhibition the local police decide that the group with the better record at the end of the year will stay in the league, and the other is poop out of luck.

"Beer League' is a movie best enjoyed with a few friends and a few beers, and there is nothing wrong with that right? This comedy is purposely full of New Jersey stereotypes from angry waitresses at the diner to the typical garden state Italians. Writer/actor Artie Lange sticks to his raunchy style of comedy that will either have you on the floor laughing, or turning off the t.v. Cara Buono who plays Linda Salvo, (Artie's love interest), is truly charming although she isn't quite the girl next door type. His fellow teammates consisting of Jo Lo Truglio, Seymour Cassel, Jerry Minor, and Ralph Macchio (wax on wax off) all come together to form a believable New Jersey softball team that you can't help but want to join.

Critics never rate low-brow comedies such as this very highly, and it truly is a shame. I would gladly take this small budget movie that was only shown on 165 screens over some of these hundred million dollar summer blockbusters. 'Beer League,' which also made my list of movies to watch while drinking is crude and immature with a dash of genius. 'Beer League' is obviously aimed towards a male audience (sorry ladies) and is entirely "love it or leave it," but Lange's performance alone makes this movie worth a watch, come for the Lange, stay for the beer…league.

Best Night Ever
(2013)

How fast can a bachelorette party in Las Vegas spin out of control? Pretty fast.
I think that after seeing 'Bridesmaids,' and 'Bachelorette,' I went into this film a bit tired of bachelorette party movies. I love soon to be married women going crazy as much as the next guy, but I think enough is enough. 'Best Night Ever," which is by far the most far-fetched and over the top of the three movies, follows Claire (Desiree Hall) as she heads to Las Vegas with her two friends and her older sister. Unlike its two predecessors, this movie is shot in a pseudo home movie found footage way, which makes it more annoying than unique. It was irritating when 'The Blair Witch' Project did it, and it is irritating now.

I deemed this movie watchable because it does have a story line that flows well, and trust me, you won't get bored. The film certainly had its moments, most memorably a situation where roles are reversed and the women are punished for touching male strippers. Although there are some humorous parts of the movie, it is a far cry from an intellectual comedy. This is what I have referred to as a "pee your pants comedy," but it falls short of others that I have previously watched. I challenge you to watch the movie and not laugh, but I also challenge you to tell me its merit outweighs its flaws.

Writer/director's Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer are known for writing "spoof" comedies, and this one doesn't seem very different. 'Best Night Ever' is a movie that seems like it would attract a female audience, but it is certainly made for men. The four main characters are constantly challenging themselves to be as immature as possible, and to keep the party going. This movie reminds me that girls just want to have fun, and guys just want to watch.

Black Dynamite
(2009)

Black Dynamite, the baddest mamma around, is on a mission of revenge after his brother is killed.
'Black Dynamite' is a satire combining elements of martial arts films along with movies featuring a strong black lead character such as 'Shaft.' The story follows Black Dynamite (Michael Jai White) as he searches for the man who murdered his brother, pursues a love interest, and discovers a government plot to bring down the black man. While this is not the first movie of its kind, following 'Undercover Brother' and "I'm Gonna Get You Sucka,' I think it is however superior.

This movie, which is crammed with hilarious catch phrases and one liners is also filled with realistic stunt work. Professional writer/actor Michael Jai White just so happens to be proficient in ten different styles of martial arts, so when the director wanted a fight scene to look realistic White had no problem making it happen. White himself puts forth a notable performance combining just the right amount of cheesy lingo and badassery. Prior to this movie he starred in 'Spawn' and a few low budget action films, but I think that 'Black Dynamite' is what ultimately solidified his status as a respected actor/writer even with the movie's lack of financial success.

Despite his numerous contributions to the movie, Michael Jai White does not completely steal the show. 'Black Dynamite' is full of well known actors including Tommy Davidson, Aresnio Hall, Nicole Sullavin, and Mykelti Williamson who played Bubba Blue in 'Forest Gump.' The supporting characters, dawning names like Creamed Corn, Chicago Wind, Bullhorn, and Tasty Freeze all have their own personalities and quirks thus adding dimension to this retro movie satire. Although, as I mentioned before, it is not the first film of this genre, but the script and acting make it completely unique. I recommend that you to grab some chicken and waffles, avoid the Anaconda Malt Liquor, and watch this movie. Never fear, it's alright, you won't be disappointed with 'Black Dynamite!'

FDR: American Badass!
(2012)

The outrageous story of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who after being stricken with polio from a werewolf attack runs for president, kicks butt, and takes names.
'FDR: American Badass' is one of those movies that I rate high mostly because it is completely outrageous, hilarious, and unique. In comparison to a film like 'Citizen Kane' do I think that this is a great movie? No, but it sure is fun as hell to watch, especially with a few friends and a few beers. The movie follows Franklin Delano Roosevelt from the time he was stricken with polio to his campaign for president, to World War II. Is it holistically accurate? Well, I doubt it, but if you want history watch the history channel, if you want to laugh watch this movie.

Although this movie did not have a huge Hollywood budget, there are still some well known actors involved including Barry Bostwich (Spin City), Lin Shaye (Detroit Rock City), and even Kevin Sorbo…yes Hercules! The writer himself makes an appearance as Cleavon Buford, a swinging (and I mean that in the sense of key parties) southern repube…not repub, and I must say he brings a lot to the table. Having well known actors is a great asset, because even with a small budget, experienced actors allow it to not seem like a small budget film.

This movie is what I consider to be a "pee your pants comedy," which I think is pretty much self explanatory. It doesn't make me think, it doesn't make me fall in love with the characters, it just makes me laugh. "Pee your pants comedies" are also great because they have so much re-watch value. Unlike a movie like 'The Sixth Sense,' which loses half of its appeal after you learn the twist, 'FDR: American Badass' can be watched until it doesn't make you laugh anymore. This movie doesn't try to be anything that it is not, and I think that is important, because we all know that if you paint stripes on a horse it doesn't make it a zebra.

Best Man Down
(2012)

After the best man dies at their wedding, a newlywed couple must cancel their honeymoon and head back to Minnesota to plan his funeral.
"Best Man Down," another addition to the group of movies I would never have seen without my Netflix account, is certainly a movie in which critics and I differ in opinion. "Best Man Down" opens with a teenage girl sitting in a snow covered field leaving a message for an unknown person, then immediately cuts to a wedding reception in Arizona. Scott (Justin Long) and Kristin (Jess Wexler) are enjoying a romantic dance after tying the knot, then along comes the best man Lumpy with shots of alcohol. Lumpy (Tyler Labine) continues to drink like Jim Morrison throughout the night, and is found dead outside of his hotel in the morning. Scott and Kristin now must head back to Minnesota to plan Lumpy's funeral, and during the process they uncover things they never knew about him.

"Best Man Down," was made with a small budget and had very limited financial success taking in less than ten thousand dollars at the box office. The movie is best described as a drama comedy; it focuses more so on the drama aspect, but there are some laughs. This is director Ted Koland's first movie, so it does lack direction at times, but for a novice director he does an admirable job. "Best Man Down" has so much to offer because it is not about sex or cheap laughs, it is about love; the unconditional love a man can form for a total stranger, and the renewed love a married couple must find for each other.

Justin Long and Jess Wexler play a convincing married couple who are put in a stressful situation, which immediately dissipates their post wedding bliss. They also begin to realize that they may have decided to share their lives without getting to know the each others' intimate details. Scott is unhappy in his career and didn't have enough money to pay for his own honeymoon, and Kristin seems to be a walking pharmacy, opening a purse to reveal eight or so different medications. Now I have read critic reviews that claim they do not seem like a genuine married couple, but I disagree. Numerous people get married before living together, or fully knowing that we are all a little crazy, even their future wife or husband, and Long and Wexler's performances depict that side of marriage rather than the norm.

Although Lumpy dies within the first fifteen minutes of the movie, numerous flashback scenes grant the audience insight into his past, and allow Tyler Labine to give a stellar performance. Labine, who has the potential to be the John Belushi of our generation, ironically adds depth and consistency to a character named Lumpy. The friendship he forms with Ramsey, a teenage girl living with her mother and her mother's crystal-meth making boyfriend, becomes a beacon of hope that maybe good guys still exist. In a feat of great acting, Addison Tamlin (Ramsey) plays a morose teenage girl in this movie the same year as her role in "Stand Up Guys" as a chipper waitress in her 20′s. Tamlin added a certain element of sadness to "Best Man Down" creating character that is a Juno/Plath hybrid; stirring up emotions reminiscent of those seeing the puppies at the pet store, you just want to give her a good home.

"Best Man Down" is genuine in a world where movies are scared to be themselves. A beautiful story that inspires one to go out of their way to help others, with a few laughs. The perfect example that box office success can never create a great movie (Spiderman 3 cough cough). Excellent acting and a solid story come together to create emotions that make even the manliest of men say, "I'm not crying, there is just something in my eye."

Odd Thomas
(2013)

In a small California town, a clairvoyant diner cook prepares for a massive tragedy he believes will soon occur.
Anton Yelchin (Charlie Bartlett) is back in another thriller following the the remake of 'Fright Night' in which he starred in 2011. Yelchin dawns the role of Odd Thomas in this film adaptation of Dean Koontz's book of the same name. Odd, is for lack of a better term, an odd guy. He keeps his life as simple as possible by not owning a vehicle and taking a menial job as a short order cook at a diner, but that is only to balance out the complications that come with seeing dead people. Odd uses his abilities to serve and protect as some sort of supernatural sheriff, but when a strange man enters his diner surrounded by an unnaturally large group of bodachs (ghostly predators who feed on pain and destruction), Odd realizes that his town is in serious danger.

Now I know what you are thinking, "another movie where the main character can see dead people, really?!" but let me assure that Anton Yelchin plays a much more badass clairvoyant than Haley Joel Osment. In the movie, Odd is a skilled fighter who walks towards danger when most people are running in the other direction. While I have not read the Dean Koontz book and cannot comment on whether this is an accurate adaptation, I can safely say it is an enjoyable movie. Yelchin's performance as Odd really shows how far he has come as an actor since 'Charlie Bartlett,' and leaves no question as to why he landed a role in the new Star Trek series.

A movie is not made good by one man alone, and even Odd has his own paranormal pit crew. Yelchin is joined by Addison Timlin (Stand Up Guys) who plays Stormy Llewellyn, Odd's way too hot for him girlfriend, and Police Chief Wyatt Porter who is played by Willem Dafoe. Police chief Porter and Stormy are the only two people in the movie that know Odd's secret, and they support him in his supernatural endeavors. This movie was a redeeming performance for Willem Dafoe, renewing some of my faith in his acting abilities that I lost after seeing the Spiderman franchise. Addison Timlin, a young actress with a reasonable amount of performances under her belt, plays a convincingly genuine girlfriend who leaves guys asking, "I don't have nearly as much baggage as Odd, where is my girl like her?!" 'Odd Thomas' is one of those rare gems that I have discussed in earlier reviews; one of those movies I probably would have never come across without a Netflix account. From the opening scene to the ending credits I was lost in a world where a guy spends his days helping ghosts and still has time to make a hell of a pancake. This movie has two acting up and comers and one veteran, and let's be honest, a strong story line adapted from a best selling book doesn't hurt.

The Wolverine
(2013)

Wolverine is summoned to Japan by an old friend who makes him an offer that may be too good to be true.
Rating a movie based on a comic book is always hard. I want to take points away when they change things and divert from the original comic, but in a sense these movies are a re-envisioning, so I strictly rate them without bias. The Wolverine, which is mostly set in Japan, holds its own on the action front, but I find the story line to be predictable, even for someone who is not a comic book fan. Hugh Jackman, who seems to have the role as Wolverine down to a science, does do the character justice, but I think a lot of movie goers are tired of seeing him. This is Jackman's fifth time playing Wolverine (excluding first class, which he was in for about 1 minute).

Aside from Wolverine there were only two other mutants in this movie, Yukio and Viper. Although Viper's powers were interesting, Yukio's mutant abilities fell short. Her fighting skill did indeed add action, but I think you either need to go all in or not at all when making a movie based on a comic book. To the film's credit, it does have a strong story which is conveyed to the viewer in a more focused manner, unlike Wolverine Origins.

I would have rated this movie higher, but I think that it fell apart towards the end. The "twist" and climax were not as exciting as I had hoped and certain aspects of its conclusion were disheartening. I give the writer's credit for trying something new, not including a slough of mutants, and using a more traditional story telling structure, but the strength of the movie fades as it progresses, and by the end I am not as attentive as one would want their viewer.

Win Win
(2011)

For financial benefit, a lawyer on the verge of losing his practice becomes the guardian of a wealthy elderly man, and somehow ends up raising his teenage grandson.
Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti), is a struggling lawyer and volunteer wrestling coach who offers to become an elderly man's guardian for the financial benefits. Flaherty claims that he wishes to become his client Leo's guardian to ensure that his wish of living at home can see fruition, but soon realizes it would be too much work and sends him to a retirement home. He is free and clear until Leo's grandson Kyle comes to town to stay with his grandfather, but instead ends up living with the Flahertys. The entire family soon bonds with Kyle, and to Mike's surprise he is a wrestling sensation, but all secrets come out eventually.

'Win WIn' is charming in the sense that it deals with normal people and everyday life. In the movie Paul Giamatti's family has money problems that need a real solution. This issue, which cannot be solved in a three minute montage with 'Push it to the Limit' playing in the background forces Giamatti's character to make the wrong decision for the right reasons. That decision's weight on his conscience is inevitably what makes him take in Leo's grandson Kyle thus redeeming himself as a likable character. Writers Koe Tiboni and Thomas McCarthy do a wonderful job creating characters with real flaws the audience can relate to thus creating the feeling that characters on the screen are as human as themselves.

Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan both fit perfectly into their roles as suburban parents, and in his first performance Alex Shaffer manages to hold his own with the veteran actors. The somewhat unbelievable story is told in a manner that does not leave the viewer asking questions like "can that really happen," or "would they really do that?" "Win Win' is not a laugh out loud dramedy (drama/comedy), but it is darkly humorous. While you are rooting for the Flaherty family, you also secretly wish them some mild misfortune because whether it be a panic attack while jogging, or a teenager out wrestling an adult, sometimes it is just nice to laugh at the misfortune of others. Watching Mike Flaherty both deceive Leo and care for Kyle,'Win Win' truly shows us that what a person will do for their family is astounding, but what they will do for a total stranger, now that's beautiful.

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