I Didn’t Love The New Ghostbusters, But Love That It Exists

ghostbusters-2016-posterSo this new Ghostbusters film was kind of a lightning rod, huh? It shouldn’t have been, of course. Grown-up human people should be able to understand that 1) a group of female Ghostbusters doesn’t threaten them in any way and 2) the existence of a remake in no way takes away from the original, but the last few years have gone a long way to prove that rationality and insight might not be as prevalent as I previously thought.

It feels like I’ve been excited for some kind of new Ghostbusters film for forever. I actually interviewed Harold Ramis back in my ToyFare days and he talked about a Ghostbusters film being written by a pair of writers from The Office. Between his unfortunate death a few years after that and a variety of studio concerns, that never happened. Then it turned out that the super talented Paul Feig would do an all-female take. By then I was covering stuff like this for Spinoff and writing about this movie on what felt like a nearly constant basis. Still, I was stoked. Only a fool would be bummed out by a film starring the ridiculously funny Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. Continue reading I Didn’t Love The New Ghostbusters, But Love That It Exists

Quick Movie Review: The Hangover Part II (2011) & Bridesmaids (2011)

It’s weird to say this because I am a big Todd Phillips fan going back to Road Trip, ¬† Old School and Starsky & Hutch, but I don’t remember much about The Hangover. I gave it a glowing review, but, honestly, I couldn’t tell you much about the plot aside from the basics and the reveal of where Justin Bartha’s character wound up really being. As such, I wasn’t super excited about seeing the movie when it wound up being on a double bill with Bridesmaids at our local drive-in. I was however excited about the latter movie and the idea of actually seeing a new movie with our baby in tow (the whole thing worked out quite well, actually).

Anyway, I had a good time with The Hangover Part II. My initial impression from the trailers was that it was basically the same movie in a different setting and it kind of is for the most part, even down to the reveal of where the missing person is. But, you know what? Sometimes it’s just fun to watch characters (archetypes even) doing the things you expect of them in increasingly hilarious–and even action packed–ways. Also, the scenes with the drug dealing monkey made me lose my shit.

My only complaint was that I wish Bartha had gotten in on the action some more. The sequel didn’t have to be exactly set up like the original. I think he’s a lot of fun to watch on screen, but still hasn’t really gotten the chance to shine through. Maybe in the third one they’re talking about.

Side note, I think I could watch Bradley Cooper in just about anything. Dude’s CRAZY charming.

Much like H2, Bridesmaids exceeded my expectations, which is impressive because I was really excited about the flick. I mean, how can you not be intrigued by this poster? There’s a lot of hot funniness bubbling below the surface there. The thing that surprised me about this movie, though, is how misrepresnted it was by its own ad campaign and even the many talk show appearances I saw of various cast members (the missus has a jones for watching Good Morning America, The Rachel Ray Show and The View so I’m seeing all kinds of stuff I never saw before). Even when Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph straight up said it wasn’t like The Hangover-but-with-women they didn’t really seem to nail what the movie is about. See, here’s the plot, contains some plot SPOILERS. Wiig and Rudolph are best friends and have been forever. Rudolph gets engaged to a guy who’s got a great job. She’s been palling around with Rose Byrne’s character because she’s married to the hubby’s boss. So, basically, Rudolph’s gaining access to this more afluent life style and it’s creating a rift between her and Wiig. At the same time, Wiig’s life is in the crapper because her bakery failed, she lives with British freaks and she’s hooking up with Jon Hamm in a role so outwardly skeezy that he might actually be a descendant of Don Draper. Rudolph makes Wiig her maid of honor, but there’s immediately static between her and Byrne.

The trailers made it seem like the story then focused on that rivalry as well as the exploits of the other ‘maids (Melissa McCarthy as the sister-in-law, The Office‘s Ellie Kemper as the co-worker and Reno 911‘s Wendi McLendon-Covey as the cousin) but most of what you see in the ads came from the movie’s first half hour or so as the rest of the flick revolves around Wiig’s slow descent towards rock bottom and madness as tensions rise with Byrne, Rudolph and her ill-fated relationship Chris O’Dowd’s police officer (love that dude’s voice).

So, while it’s not this raucous lady Hangover, Bridesmaids still packs in the laughs–including some amazing gross-out stuff that I had heard about, but didn’t expect to be quite so funny or graphic–but more importantly really gets into the difficulties of friendship and keeping them strong as things in life change. It reminded me of some dude-based movies I’ve seen, but I can’t quite put my finger on which ones. I’m hoping that it’s success will lead to more funny lady comedies that aren’t afraid to have some balls.

Did You Know Kristen Wiig Was On The Joe Schmo Show

This should come as no shock to anyone who reads the blog on a regular basis, but I’m a big fan of reality television. So, when I was in college in 2003 and I heard about Spike’s The Joe Schmo Show which was a fake reality show built around tricking one guy into thinking the whole thing is real, I thought it sounded rad. It really helped that Matt, the mark, turned out to be an incredibly nice guy who happened to remind me of my buddy Jacob who I watched the show with every week (along with Real World Vegas). It was cool because there was all this tension around whether Matt would figure out everything was a ruse or not, which was a possibility every week as the actors were doing all kinds of improv and trying to remember their stories.

Well, Spike is replaying the show today which is awesome and I was surprised to see that Kristen Wiig was one of the fake contestants! I’m not a huge fan of Wiig on SNL because I think her and her writers are getting a little lazy and only creating one trick pony characters for her (I hate Gilly with a firey passion), but dig her in movies like Knocked Up and she was great in Whip It. It’s always fun seeing a star in her early days, the funny thing is that she’s basically playing the kind of “whacky aunt” character she’s become famous for on SNL. This almost makes me want to not leave the house and just watch the whole season (it’s only 9 episodes).

UPDATE 1: Wiig would go on to get sent to the hospital in a sumo game where Matt knocked her on her ass. Her character left the show as part of a deal related to the prize Matt gave her for accidentally hurting her. Dr. Pat got some cash, voluntarily left and no one was sent home.

UPDATE 2: The dude playing the jerk character named Hutch was played by David Hornsby who would go on to play Rickety Cricket in Always Sunny In Philadelphia and Drew in Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem.

UPDATE 3: Series writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese would go on to write Zombieland as a TV show which eventually got turned into a movie. The pair is working on a Deadpool script. Reese apparently also did “additional screenplay material” on Monsters Inc. and wrote Cruel Intentions 3.

Quick Movie Review: Extract (2009)

I really had high hopes for Extract. Not only was it written and directed by Mike Judge (who did the brilliant Office Space and Idiocracy), but it also stars some of my favorite actors and actresses: Jason Bateman, Ben Affleck, Mila Kunis, J.K. Simmons, Kristen Wiig and David Koechner. So, it’s all the more disappointing that this movie turned out to be an incredibly dull and annoying affair that didn’t end soon enough (which is saying something for a 90 minute movie). Let’s see if I can relate the plot to you (it’s mighty complicated), Bateman owns an extract plant, but wants to sell it. He’s married to Wiig, who doesn’t have sex with him because she wears sweatpants. Meanwhile, Kunis plays a conwoman who reads in the paper that an employ at the extract plant got hurt and could be worth millions if he sued, so she becomes a temp for Bateman’s company. Bateman thinks she’s cute so he gets stoned with his friend Affleck who convinces him its a good idea to hire a gigolo to sleep with Wiig so he can cheat on her with Kunis (she flirted pretty heavily with him to get the injured employee’s contact info). Oh, also, before the accident, Bateman was in talks to sell the company, somehow the employees get word of this and freak out. As you can tell, there’s a lot going on and none of it really feels real or solid, mostly because a lot of it could have been figured out with a few simple conversations. I kept thinking that the idiot gigolo wasn’t really even sleeping with Wiig, but it turns out he was. And even though I liked all of the above-mentioned actors in their roles, except for Koechner who plays the most annoying neighbor on the history of the planet, I still could not get into it. One of Bateman’s employees, a redheaded woman, is also incredibly annoying. Usually in a movie like this, those characters get their due, but in this case, not so much. I will say that I liked Wiig actually playing a normal person. I’m a fan of hers, but I’m getting a little sick of most of her recurring characters on SNL (I hate hate HATE Gilly). I also got a kick out of the little bits of music/rock talk. The movie starts with Kunis flirting with two Guitar Center employees (one played by Hal Sparks) who go on and on about fusion (a combination of rock and jazz guitar playing). There’s also a later conversation about the different sub categories of heavy metal that I got a chuckle out of. But, overall, liking a few music jokes that last roughly 5 minutes (maybe) and some actors doesn’t make this a movie worth watching. I found myself constantly getting up and walking around because I just didn’t care (Bateman’s situation seems a little too close to his role in Juno actually and Em kept referring to Envy, a terrible movie I disliked so much I don’t even remember) and both of us were thankful by the time it was over. Em even said we should move on to Season Two of Doctor Who as a palette cleanser, so we are. We’re 20 minutes into the Christmas episode and it’s FAR better than this movie. Hopefully Judge’s next one will fix this. Everyone makes a few crappy movies, it’s inevitable.

Quick Movie Review: Adventureland (2009)

Em and I watched Adventureland yesterday and I really dug it. It was an interesting follow up by Greg Mottola (Superbad) as it wasn’t really laugh out loud funny (though I kept laughing pretty loudly, warranting “shush”-es fromo Em). It’s a story about growing up from the perspective of a recent college grad who studied literature and wants to be a travel writer, but has to work at an amusement park to make money from grad school in 1987. Along the way, he meets plenty of interesting characters (including Bill from Freaks and Geeks, the lovely Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Kristen Stewart). But like I said, it’s not as crazy and wild as Superbad, it’s a more subdued movie with a lot more emotion and I can’t help but relate to James (our hero) who has no idea what to do with his life now that he’s done with school and has a degree in English. There’s an Avenue Q song about that right? Anyway, it definitely reminded me of working at Barry’s Bagels back home, meeting weird and interesting people who introduce you to all kinds of stuff.

Anyway, like I said I dug it. A few things of note, we had to turn our subtitles on just to make out what everybody was saying. There aren’t any accents, it’s just that James, played by Jesse Eisenberg is very soft spoken and delivers a lot of under-the-breath lines, which I found to be the funniest. If you turn the volume up too loud, then the damn music kicks in and blows your ear drums (wow, that made me sound OLD). Also, this might be the first movie I can remember where the young stars actually didn’t look old enough to be playing their characters’ ages. Specifically Eisenberg doesn’t look like a college grad, but a high school one. This threw me off for part of the movie because I kept thinking they might get in trouble for drinking in public. I had to keep reminding myself of that. Also, I haven’t seen any of Kristen Stewarts other movies (scratch that, she was the kid in Panic Room? huh) and I definitely didn’t have the strong feelings towrads her character than Ben had, but I can say that, for the most part, this is the least gross I’ve ever seen her. What’s with the greasy hair? I get that you’re pothead, but dress it up a little, you know? High points were when Bill from Freaks & Geeks shows James how all the rides work and when James punches a meathead. All in all, this is a great movie for English majors.