FlixChatter Review: LONG SHOT (2019)

Let me preface this review that I rarely go to R-rated comedies, particularly those with Seth Rogen in it. In fact, the last movie I saw Seth Rogen in a movie is probably 50/50 a decade ago with Joseph Gordon-Levitt which interestingly enough is also directed by Jonathan Levine. Yet there’s something about the story that appealed to me, primarily Charlize Theron‘s casting, and trailer made me laugh.

Speaking of miss Theron, her beauty and intellect suits her role perfectly here. She plays Charlotte Field, an accomplished politician, the youngest secretary of state who’s running for president. In contrast, Fred Flarsky (Rogen) is a talented and free-spirited journalist who’s perhaps too idealistic for his own good. We first see Flarsky in an undercover stint involving white supremacist group, an ordeal that could’ve easily cost him his life. When he later finds out his paper is being bought by a media magnate Parker Wembley (an unrecognizable Andy Serkis, clearly lampooning Rupert Murdoch), Fred immediately quits on principle.

When Fred and Charlotte meet, it’s not exactly a meet-cute but it’s definitely a memorable one involving 90s R&B icons Boyz II Men. Apparently she was his babysitter in his early teens and she has been his crush ever since. That meet-up leads to Fred being hired by Charlotte herself as her speechwriter, despite the protests of her staff members Tom (Ravi Patel) and Maggie (June Diane Raphael). Maggie distrusts Fred from the start and she couldn’t fathom seeing her glamorous boss dates the likes of him. Charlotte feels that Fred would provide a fresh voice and improves her more serious image with his youthful idealism and in a way, he does.

I’m glad there are more of these unconventional rom-com being made, as last February we saw Isn’t It Romantic? that’s both a spoof and an homage to the romantic comedy genre. As the title suggests, Charlotte is a long-shot romantically for someone like Fred, while Charlote is a long-shot presidential contender (playing on the notion that America still isn’t ready for a woman president). For any rom-com to work, even the most unconventional one, there would have to be chemistry between the two romantic leads. I’d say Charlize and Seth have a good rapport and comedic chemistry, but to say they have strong romantic chemistry would be a stretch. That said, there’s enough going for them that made me curious about their journey.

Writers Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah make a point that even the most beautiful & successful people do get lonely. Theron displays a certain vulnerability that makes her relatable despite her goddess-like appearance. She also has comedic chops and made Charlotte likable enough that it’s easy to root for her. Rogen’s Fred takes a while to warm up to, even if you can’t help empathize with his fish-out-of-water experience as he goes on the road with Charlotte. Undoubtedly there’ll be friction when two people with few things in common are suddenly thrown together, but how Fred views the world is quite problematic. Most politically-inclined movies out of Hollywood are usually far-left leaning, and this movie is no different. But I appreciate that the movie doesn’t shy away from showing how people with extreme worldview inherently hold prejudices. There’s a particularly in a memorable exchange between him and his loyal friend Lance (a terrific O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) that draws laughs, but that topic is definitely thought-provoking.

The R-rating is warranted given the amount of sexual, drug-related humor and profanity. There’s also a vulgar scene where I’m glad I averted my eyes, let’s just say it conjured up a scene from a classic R-rated rom-com There’s Something About Mary. The amount of physical comedy here is so fantastical that it’s practically cartoonish as in real life those incidents would result in him being seriously injured or dead. While the film comments on the tricky, slippery nature of politics, especially as an underdog AND as a woman, at times the way it’s presented are too ludicrous or too simplistic. Some of the supporting characters are downright cartoonish as well. Bob Odenkirk plays the TV-star turned US president who yearns to be a movie star, and Alexander Skarsgård relishes his comedic muscle as a hunky-but-shallow Canadian PM.

Despite the flaws, I find myself enjoying the movie for the most part. Some of the pop-culture jokes were funny, especially when it mentions a huge superhero blockbuster movie that’s still very much on top of the box office when this one comes out. There are some predictable beats and over-the-top scenes, but Levine managed to keep the movie engaging throughout. The ending is actually more in line with a typical rom-com in that it’s a crowd-pleasing, fantastical wish-fulfillment. It doesn’t exactly ring true, but at least it was an amusing surprise. I’d say if you’re a fan of raunchy comedies, you’d likely have fun with this. But if this sub-genre isn’t your thing, you might still enjoy this if you like the cast.


Have you seen LONG SHOT? Let me know what you think!

FlixChatter Review: SPY (2015)

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I have a confession to make. I haven’t seen Bridesmaids nor any of Melissa McCarthy’s R-rated comedies The Heat, Identity Thief, and Tammy. I’m not exactly fond of raunchy comedies with all the foul language and gross situations that I don’t find the least bit funny. But somehow when I saw the trailer for SPY, I was laughing so hard I actually watched it several times before the screening. I guess I love the spy action genre, and the casting of Jason Statham and Jude Law didn’t hurt either. Once the movie starts though, it’s clear that it’s McCarthy who’s the STAR of the show, she’s effortlessly hysterical and here she’s instantly likable. I was rooting for her character Susan Cooper right from the start, when she’s merely a desk-bound CIA analyst who’s desperately in love with a handsome spy (Jude Law).

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The story itself is pretty basic. When an operation goes bust, Cooper ends up volunteering to be a field agent and of course, hilarity ensues as she goes undercover to infiltrate the dangerous world of a deadly arms dealer. Just like any Bond or Bond-like movie, of course her mission is to prevent a psychopath villain from getting their hands on a nuclear weapon and save the world. But the plot hardly matters in a movie like this, so long as they keep the comedic moments coming and thankfully they did! Perhaps the fact that I’m not all that familiar with Paul Feig‘s brand of comedy works in my favor as at least it felt fresh to me.

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McCarthy herself is such a hoot here, she delivers the laugh from start to finish. It helps to see her paired with someone equally hilarious. Not sure why English comedienne Miranda Hart looks familiar to me as I’ve never seen her before, but I hope she’d get her own movie in the future. She’s simply hysterical and they have such a fun rapport together. If they ever do a movie or TV show with Melissa & Miranda together, I’d so watch it!

As a big 007 fan, of course I love all the Bond references, down to the moment when they go to the Q-branch to get her spy gadgets. The movie’s villainess comes in the form of gorgeous Rose Byrne. I’ve only seen her in a couple of non-comedic roles but she definitely has genuine comic timing. I remember McCarthy said in one of her interviews that Rose’s hair is basically a character in itself and it sure is! Her character is deliberately over the top but she also has some of the funniest bits in the movie “It’s the Bulgarian clown in you.” Ha!

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The casting of Jason Statham may seem odd but he got his start in an Guy Ritchie’s action comedy (Lock, Stock Two Smoking Barrels & Snatch) so he’s actually quite a natural here. Of course it’s a hoot seeing him poking fun at himself and a bunch of preposterous action scenes he’s been in. The bit where he’s bragging about surviving all kinds of ridiculous calamity is pure comedic gold! Allison Janney with her deadpan expression is pretty funny too as the no-nonsense CIA boss.

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Now, I’ve mentioned that I’m not fond of raunchy, foul-mouthed comedies and so of course there are scenes here I don’t care for. Seriously, those selfies of male genitalia is imbecile, gross and utterly unnecessary. I really don’t think it adds anything to make the movie funnier, and neither are the excessive f-bombs though sadly most people have become desensitized to such things these days. I’m also not that impressed by Bobby Cannavale (Byrne’s real life boyfriend) as this suave but deadly arms dealer. His character is too much of a caricature, so I guess I have more of an issue about how he’s written. Byrne’s character is definitely far more memorable and more fun to watch.

Despite those quibbles, I had fun with this one and I might even rent this later.I might also give The Heat a watch as it also has Sandra Bullock who’s always fun to watch. This movie made me like Melissa McCarthy and I think it’s great that her movies are box office hits! It’s about time we see guys like Statham and Law playing second and third bananas to her, and that we see more and more female-centric movies in general.

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Have you seen SPY? Well, what did YOU think?

FlixChatter Review: SEX TAPE (2014)

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This review will be short and sweet because honestly there’s not a whole lot to say about Sex Tape.

A married couple wake up to discover that the sex tape they made the evening before has gone missing, leading to a frantic search for its whereabouts. 

Yep. That’s about it. I went in with low expectations and it’s exactly what I got. The story is pretty simple. Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) met in college and had an intense physical relationship, but an accidental pregnancy, marriage and another kid later, they find their sex life is somewhat nonexistent. Annie is a mommy blogger whose blog is being courted by a Fisher Price type company and Jay is a music producer who is constantly gifting his iPads to family, friends and strangers. So, when Jay upgrades to a cloud based storage system and they film their sex tape on his iPad, it’s automatically sent to all of Jay’s used iPads. Yikes.

Sounds like a great foundation for a comedy right? Eh. When a film isn’t even rated half good (4.9/10 on IMDB), how do you expect audiences to be excited for it? Sure, there were some comical and awkward scenes, but it just felt tired. It was Jason Segel being Jason Segel. With the exception of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, his comedy has become redundant. And, he can’t seem to let go of that one character.

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I’m a big fan of Cameron Diaz’s humor because she’s physical, expressive and isn’t afraid to make herself look ridiculous. But, not even she could save this film. Which is a shame because I really enjoyed her last film, The Other Woman. True, it didn’t receive great reviews either, but maybe because the humor of that film was on the weird and complex nature of female relationships.

Honestly the amount of nudity and the premise of the film just didn’t work for me. The nudity was completely gratuitous and at times very awkward. Segel and Diaz spent more time naked than actually acting. Plus, it wasn’t believable that an intelligent, tech savvy couple couldn’t figure out how to delete their file from the cloud. I guess it wouldn’t make for an interesting film, but the couple embarked on a race to individually delete the file. Their journey leads them to Annie’s possible future boss’s house. Frank (Rob Lowe) appears to be clean cut, but Jay and Annie find him home alone and letting loose. I swear Lowe doesn’t seem to age, but he’s plays the eccentric, aloof characters so well. The film is almost worth seeing just because of him. Almost. 

I originally was going to give this three reels, but the more I’ve been thinking about it, it really only deserves a two. Sorry, I really dug into this one I know. But, I’m just being honest!

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So what do you think of this movie? Am I alone on the Jason Segel thing?

FlixChatter Review: 22 Jump Street

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I’m a big fan of the TV show 21 Jump Street, heck I think I’ve seen every episodes of the show during its original run. When it was announced that a movie version was coming to the big screen, I was bit a skeptical. I mean how are they going to turn a soap opera crime drama into a feature film? I remember reading online about the film’s early development, they were thinking of making it a full out action/adventure. Thankfully someone at the studio got smart and decided to make it into an action-comedy instead. After the big success of the first movie, a sequel was quickly greenlit and now we get to see more adventures of buddy cops Schmidt and Jenko.

This new movie picked up where the last one ended, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) are still doing undercover work. They’re trying to bust a vicious drug dealer known only as The Ghost (the always entertaining Peter Stormare) during a sting, of course their plan didn’t go smoothly and The Ghost and his men got away. After the botched bust, both Schmidt and Jenko got demoted to the Jump Street unit, again. This time instead of going undercover as high school kids, they’re going to college. After a student at a local college was killed in what appeared to be a drug deal gone bad, both heroes were sent to the school to investigate.

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Once they got to campus, Jenko was able to make friends quickly with the school’s football players, especially the team’s QB Zook (Wyatt Russell, yup he’s Kurt Russell’s son). Schmidt on the other hand is not a jock and felt he didn’t belong with the group, so he ventured out to a new area on campus and met a beautiful art student Maya (Amber Stevens). They hit it off quickly and later spent the night together at Maya’s dorm room. Since their work is to investigate who’s behind the drug dealings, Zook and Maya became their main suspects. Of course both Schmidt and Jenko had to go through lots of shenanigans before they solve the case.

Basically the plot of this movie is exactly the same as the previous one, but that’s not a bad thing. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller did a good job of moving the plot along and didn’t linger too long on some of the jokes. Although I wish they’d cut back on the self aware aspects of a sequel, yes we get it, the movie is a sequel and you might not able to top the original. I thought the jokes worked at the beginning but as the movie progresses, they became a bit tedious and I kind of got annoyed by all of those self-aware references.

Hill and Tatum have a great chemistry and the movie works because of them. Tatum’s Jenko joined the football team and became a star and he’s now questioning whether he made the right choice by becoming a cop. Hill’s Schmidt on the other hand, he’s right back being the nerd again and feels he didn’t belong with cool kids. I also like the supporting cast, including the love interests Zook and Maya. Yes you heard it right, Wyatt Russell‘s Zook was sort of a love interest to Tatum’s Jenko, they had this bromance going on throughout most of the movie and of course  that made Schmidt jealous. Ice Cube also returns as their always angry Captain Dickson. A little plot point involves him and Schmidt might be the funniest gag in the movie. Nick Offerman again appeared in a brief scene as Chief Hardy and he delivered some of the funniest lines in the movie.

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Overall I thought this was a good sequel and I think I might liked it better than its predecessor. It has some laugh out loud moments and everyone seems to have a good time in the movie. What I found a bit surprising was how tame it was for an R-rated comedy. Considering the story took place in college, I expected to see lots of nudity and gross humor. But with the exception of some F-bombs and some mild violence, the movie contained no nudity or any toilet humor and it’s quite “clean” by today’s R-rated comedy standards.

If you enjoyed the first movie then I’m quite sure you’ll have a good time with this one. It’s recommended if you’re in the mood for some good laughs.

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What did you think of 22 Jump Street?

FlixChatter Review: We’re The Millers

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When I first saw this trailer, I’ve got to admit that I found the premise to be quite hilarious. Former SNL cast member Jason Sudekis plays a small-time pot dealer David, who has to assemble a fake family for a mission to transport a ‘smidgen’ of pot from Mexico. He’s convinced that under the disguise of a family on vacation, they wont run into scrutiny by the border crossing guards.

The first 20 minute or so sets up each of the ‘family’ member and how they ended up agreeing to do this crazy journey together. One of the movie’s highlights was when the ‘family’ first met on the plane on the way to California before they drive to Mexico. I think the situation itself lends to hilarity as they tried to conceal their identity. Though she has such a limited range, Jennifer Aniston is more watchable in comedies than rom-com. There’s a comical moment when she arrives on the plane looking like a demure suburban soccer mom, complete with sensible shoes, but then again she was not believable as a stripper to begin with.

Interesting that I first saw Sudekis in another Aniston movie The Bounty Hunter where he’s basically reduced to a pathetic admirer of her character. This time he’s got the leading role, though his character also pines for Aniston’s Rose, a stripper who’s desperate for cash after she gets evicted from her apartment. I think both Sudekis and Aniston have a natural chemistry together, though for me, the scene stealer is Will Poulter as Kenny, the virgin teen who lives in the same building as David and Rose. He kind of reminds me of Tintin, so maybe he’d be a good fit if they want to make a live action movie of the Belgian comics, ahah. Kenny is instantly likable and hilarious, the scene of him singing the Waterfall song by TLC is a hoot! I just realized that the 20-year-old actor is English who was in The Chronicles of Narnia, which totally floored me as he was so convincing as an awkward Midwestern kid. Emma Roberts is just ok as the Millers ‘daughter’, she’s the least memorable of the ensemble, I think a more comedic young actress would bring something more to the table.

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To me the funniest moments are when the Millers get to Mexico in that giant RV, especially when they encounter a fellow RV-travelin’ tourist family after they managed to cross the border in Mexico. Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn play this squeaky clean, longtime husband and wife who are eager for some adventure to spark up their marriage. Offerman is one of my favorite comedians working today, the guy is naturally hysterical with his deadpan humor. I’d love to see him in a leading role for a change. French actor Tomer Sisley, whom I quite like in The Heir Apparent, was sadly wasted here, playing a stereotypical drug lord as the lame villain of the movie.

I’m usually not into raunchy R-rated comedies, I don’t know, endless profanities just don’t translate to entertainment for me. No doubt there are tons of that here, with vulgar scenes galore and some are quite offensive. The scene with Luis Guzmán as a Mexican cop asking for sexual favors in return of monetary bribe is just downright crude, but nothing could prepare me for the scene when Kenny’s um, testicles get bitten by a Tarantula! Aniston’s stripping scene doesn’t seem risqué by comparison, heck, it’s really nothing more than her showing off that she’s still got a hot bod at 44. One thing for sure, this is a comedy about family that’s definitely NOT for the whole family.

Overall, despite some hilarious moments, I feel like the premise has a lot more potential than what a team of four writers came up with here. I think under a more deft script and direction, this road trip movie could’ve been a comedy classic. At the same time, there’s enough going for it to keep me engaged throughout and some moments actually had me in stitches. So for that I’m going to be pretty generous in my rating. Comedies is tough genre to recommend as what people find funny vary so much, but I’d say this one is at least worth a rental.


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Thoughts on this movie and/or the cast?