Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Interview

Movie:  The Interview

Rating:  3 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:    Imagine a sweet little 8 year old girl singing to a crowd of people, ending the song with the message, “May the United States explode in a fiery ball of hell….Die, America, die!”  Welcome to North Korea.

Cut to a popular talk show that specializes in edgy interviews and pop gossip, and you have the Skylark Tonight Show, hosted by Dave Skylark (James Franco).  Off camera, best buddy and executive producer of the show is Aaron Rappaport (Seth Rogen), and they have just celebrated their 1,000th show by scooping the world in an interview with rapper Eminem where he admits he’s gay.  What could possibly top that show biz triumph?

Just when he should be jubilant, Aaron is troubled.  An old friend from Sixty Minutes has taunted him, making it clear Skylark Tonight is junk TV and not a real news show.  If they could only get a shot at a real news story, preferably a big one.  Like manna from heaven, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un lets it be known he loves the Skylark show.  Quick as a flash, the show contacts Kim Jong-un to request an interview, and to the amazement of the western news world, the dictator accepts!  Dave Skylark is going to be the first western journalist to interview the reclusive president of North Korea.  Which is when Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) of the CIA comes a knocking, and says that since you’ve been invited to North Korea, do us a favor and punch Kim Jong-un’s ticket for us….

Yes, this film plays fast and loose with logic, and the movie critics have savaged the movie, but guess what?  In an irreverent way it is pretty darn funny for the most part.  When Animal House and Blazing Saddles came out, they were panned by the critics as a waste of time.  Years later, they have become revered as innovative films and labeled classics.  I don’t imagine The Interview will ever achieve the lofty status of becoming a classic, but it does have a certain frenetic energy and slapstick humor that gives you your money’s worth as a comedy, and keeps the audience laughing.  Good enough in my book.

Huh?  What the ….:  The chances that the suite of rooms in North Korea where Dave and Aaron are staying not being bugged are zero and nada.

Dialogue Nuggets:  Aaron:  “I’m Gandalf to your Bilbo Baggins.”

Eminem:  “It’s kind of like I was playing gay peekaboo.”

Bill Maher:  “A hundred bucks says Skylark thinks he’s interviewing that guy from Gangnam Style.”

Skylark:  “This is 2014 – women are smart now!”

Agent Lacey:  “You have to secure the package!”  Aaron:  “Where the f*@k do I hide it?  Please don’t tell me I have to stick it in my ass!”  Agent Lacey:  “You’re going to have to stick it in your ass!”  Aaron:  “EEEEEEEEE  OWEE OWEE OWEE!!  …. Package is secure.”

Skylark:  “Ladies and gentlemen.  Kim Jong-un has just pooed in his pants.”

Aaron:  “Won’t they just get another chubby guy with a bad haircut to replace him?”

 

 

Top Five

 

Movie:  Top Five

Rating:  3 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:  Andre Allen (Chris Rock) is having a life crisis.  He’s made a ton of money doing Hamy The Bear movies, is highly regarded as a comedian, but he wants to be a respected actor and do something meaningful in his career.  So he is out on the talk circuit doing promos for his latest movie about a guy who leads a slave revolt in Haiti.  Sooner or later most comedy actors yearn to prove their dramatic acting chops (i.e. Jim Carrey, Tom Hanks, Steve Carrel and so on), and Andre is determined to make the leap to respectable actor.  Andre agrees to be interviewed by NY Times reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), and she is determined to drill deep into Andre’s life to find the real person.   During the three days she interviews him, a lot of her true self is revealed as well.  A little truth can go a long way; too much truth may be unwise.

In addition to the pressure of assessing whether his career is going to tank, Andre is on the verge of marrying the very sexy Erica Long (Gabrielle Union), a woman most men would cut off an appendage to date.  Erica is also very famous, mostly for being a celebrity in the public eye (think Kim Kardasian).  The path to love is never easy, especially when it takes place on the front page of magazines and talk shows.

There are some things to recommend this movie.  Chris Rock steps out of his comfort zone to try and make a statement about the rocky road of being a celebrity, the pressures, the hangers-on who all want a piece of the star.  It must be tough to keep an even keel and stay true to yourself as a person while being a public figure.  The movie shows that side of life relatively well; it did seem to drag in the middle, and at times try too hard to dwell on Andre’s “issues”.   I generally liked the film, but would rather see Chris Rock stick to his forte as a funny man.

Actors To Watch:  Look forward to the short uncredited scene with Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler and Whoopie Goldberg.

Huh?  What The….:  What was the deal with a photo of George W. Bush hanging in a Houston hotel room?  Was this some kind of inside joke?

The movie title referred to peoples’ favorite musical performers.  I have no idea how that was supposed to tie into the movie.  Personally, I think they should have gone with a different title, but as Dennis Miller likes to say, that’s just my opinion.  I could be wrong….

Dialogue Nuggets:  “If this thing collapses, we could be talking Dancing With The Stars!”

Erica:  “If it’s not on camera, it doesn’t exist.”

Andre:  “Ho’ sleep.  The kind of sleep you get when you think a ho’ might come over.”

Andre:  “My dick was gone.  Looked like a button on a mink coat!”

“With your credit, you couldn’t get a loan if Bill Gates co-signed you.”

Chelsea:  “What’s he going to tell people?  We broke up because my girlfriend shoved a red-hot chili pepper up my ass?”

Seinfeld:  “She took my wallet!”  Exotic dancer:  “I don’t have any clothes on.  Where did I put it?”  Seinfeld:  “Do I have to say it?”

Exodus: Gods And Kings

 

Movie:  Exodus: Gods And Kings

Rating:  3 Stars (Out of 5)

Review:   The story is not a new one.  Back in the days of ancient Egypt, there was a pharaoh named Seti (John Turturro) who had a son called Ramses (Joel Edgerton), and another young man named Moses (Christian Bale) who had been raised like a son.  Ramses and Moses, two princes of Egypt, go off to fight the invading Hittites and crush them in battle.  Moses fights quite bravely, and saves the life of Ramses with his quick thinking and skill with a spear.  The seeds of jealousy and resentment are sown within Ramses, as it is apparent that Seti favors Moses over his own son in many ways.

Even though pharaohs are worshiped as gods, they are still mortal, and eventually Seti dies, making Ramses the new pharaoh.  Moses soon runs afoul of the new leader, and is exiled from Egypt.  Moses wanders somewhat aimlessly, and eventually comes to a small group of sheep herders where he stops for water and rest.  Enchanted by young, beautiful Zipporah (Maria Valverde), the former prince and soldier takes a wife and settles into the quiet life as a herder of sheep.  That is, until some of his sheep wander up Mt Sinai, and Moses hears a voice from a young boy next to a burning bush who declares himself as God.  Moses is commanded to return to Egypt to free the Hebrews and lead them to freedom in the Promised Land.

Most people know the basics of the story.  Moses confronts Ramses a number of times, only to anger the pharaoh more and more, which in turn caused the Hebrew slaves to be treated more harshly than before.  The film is very successful in depicting the plagues sent by God to punish pharaoh, such as turning the waters of the Nile into blood, and frogs to overrun the land.  I think a few plagues were skipped over, such as the lice.  Personally, I should have thought that by plague #6 when everyone got boils that Ramses would have caved and sent the Hebrews packing, but he was obviously a stubborn dude  (It took 10 plagues to get the job done).  The movie in places had the look of a real epic motion picture in its depiction of the city (Memphis), and the thousands of slaves at work on the pyramids.  The battle scenes were well done and visually stimulating.  It is hard to pinpoint, but perhaps there was a lack of suspense and anticipation for a climatic confrontation.  The film just seemed to run out of steam a bit after two hours before the Red Sea climax.  Still, I found it a worthwhile effort.

Actor To Watch:  Not Moses, but Ramses.  I think this was really a stellar performance by Joel Edgerton.  An Oscar nomination for Best Supporting?  Possibly….

Huh, What The….:  Did Zipporah really have facial tattoos?  Was that supposed to be a turn-on?

Twenty foot crocodiles leaping high in the air to take out the mast of a boat on the Nile?  Maybe in a cheesy Sharknado movie, but this was supposed to be a classy film.

To me, Moses seemed way too snarky and rebellious when dealing directly with God.

Okay, hard enough to portray the old testament God in the person of a young boy.  But He shouldn’t be depicted as having a hissy fit when Ramses acts up.

Dialogue Nuggets:  “This is your famous Uncle Moses.  He was once a prince of Egypt.”

Egyptian Viceroy:  “You know what the problem is?  People live too long these days.”

Moses:  “Why is he smiling?”  Slave Overseer: “He says he feels no pain.”  Moses:  “Then why whip him?”

Ramses:  “I am glad you are alive.”  Moses:  “Is that why you sent two assassins to kill me?”

Doctor:  “There are still a few diseases that we don’t completely understand.”

Ramses:  “I am a God!” 

Egyptian General:  “We might need more than three divisions to recapture 400,000 slaves.”  Ramses:  “We’re not recapturing anyone….”   (Critic’s note – In fairness to Ramses, he said he’d let them go.  He never said he wouldn’t go after them.  Just saying….)

Pyramid

 

 

Movie:  Pyramid

Rating:  1 Star (Out of 5)

Review:   A giant pyramid has been discovered in Egypt.  It has lain undiscovered for eons because it was buried beneath the shifting desert sands, and only visible by means of high tech searches from satellites in space.   It’s huge, it’s ancient, and it undoubtedly holds  many secrets that make archeologists salivate.  Alas, there are riots in nearby Cairo, and the team of archeologists that are about to enter the pyramid have been given the boot by the authorities, and ordered to leave the country by morning.  So of course, the fearless explorers must take just a quick peek before they leave.  No harm in that, is there?

This review will be mercifully short and brutal.  This is a really bad horror film on all levels.  There are limited production values, no original scary thrills, and worse, becomes boring and annoying.  Stay away from this dud.

Actor To Watch:  None.  No acting in this flick.

Huh, What The….:  We are supposed to believe that a living entity could survive inside a sealed pyramid for over 3,000 years with no food, water or oxygen….

Dialogue Nuggets:  None.  A lot of “What’s that!” and screaming.