Sunday, November 23, 2014

Welcome to Nerd School.

I'm hooked on drugs. All of them.

I got my girlfriend pregnant. It's going to be a boy. And two girls.

Or worse, I'm going to go to a small, liberal arts college. Just like you did. And I'm going to major in Communications.

There are a lot of things I hope my son never says, but possibly even more troubling, is this one phrase he keeps repeating. In his tiny, five year-old voice, my son Matthew (on more than one occasion) has said the following phrase out loud:

Dad. I don't like watching movies. 

Whose kid is this?

Where the Turtles [review] failed miserably, and even Rocket and Groot [review] couldn't swing it, Hiro and Baymax finally triumphed. After months away, I finally, finally!, convinced my son to come to the movies with me. And while just having him next to me was the true victory, Disney's latest just so happens to be an excellent film.

Big Hero 6, from directors Don Hall and Chris Williams, may not sit at the top of the studios all-time list, but leaving the theater that day? Well, I might have had it pretty high up there. A surprisingly touching testament to science and family (not necessarily in that order), it's safe to say that this one has something for everyone. In fact, I would love to see it again. Now.

Set in the breath-taking city of San Fransokyo, Big Hero 6 is the story of Hiro Hamada, an incredibly bright kid who spends his time designing robots to battle in back-alley battles. He's good, and being that he's so young - it's an easy hustle. But after narrowly escaping arrest one night (with the help of his older brother), it's time young Hiro actually applies his skills to something more productive. Tadashi, the aforementioned sibling, takes him to the robotics lab he works in, and after meeting a slew of people just like him, Hiro's hooked.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thank you for bringing it to me.

There's this guy that's been hanging around L.A. for awhile - doing his thing, for sure, but not really getting recognized for it. He's a hard worker, and certainly committed to his work, but between you and me, I'm not sure you can really trust him. As much as admire him - he scares me. I mean, he's willing to do just about anything to make a living.

F--king anything, really. 
Usually with a camera rolling nearby.

As much as I'm talking about Louis Bloom, the protagonist in Nightcrawler, I might as well be talking about the masterful actor bringing him to life, Jake Gyllenhaal. Because as intense and entertainingly brilliant as this film is, every single ounce of that comes from Gyllenhaal's mere presence. I'm telling you, this performance is magic. F--king black magic at that, as this one will haunt you.

Nightcrawler is set in Los Angeles, but coming from a guy who has never lived there, it might as well be Los Angeles. Set primarily at night, Dan Gilroy's film tells the sordid tale of a mysterious loner simply trying to make it. He's come to the city with dreams, possibly even big ones, but when we meet Louis, he's selling chain link fence and stolen manhole covers. Katy Perry and her whipped-cream titties this a'int.

Louis is really weird, though strange (as f--kmay be the better word. But somehow, he's oddly honorable, too. He needs a job and presents himself as someone who can work hard and learn quickly. And even though he's impossibly awkward and all kinds of creepy...we believe him. Hell...we might even like him.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Salsa. Why did it have to be salsa?

I don't dance. Like, ever.

Fine. Maybe a little bit at my wedding, and sometimes with the kids, but overall? No. 

It's likely a coordination thing, combined with a complete lack of rhythm that's the culprit. But let's be honest, the real reason I'm not out there shaking my ass like a madman? Confidence.

(Did I mention I don't drink, either?)

Also lacking confidence is Bruce Garrett, the main character in this year's Cuban Fury. Played by one of my favorite people alive -Nick Frost- Bruce has plenty of the aforementioned coordination and rhythm, sure. But after getting his ass kicked moments before a dance competition as a kid, the thirty-something year old has grown into an incredibly timid man. His dancing days are in the past, as Bruce tells himself that he won't dance again.

Like, ever.

If only there was a way to reignite his passion? 

Oh, wait. I got it. How about the only reason a man ever steps foot on to a dance floor in the first place? Yep, you guessed it: a beautiful woman. And in Cuban Fury, she's played by the lovely Rashida Jones. 

There's no need to tell you the plot, as I'm quite positive you've seen this movie before. Someone stops doing what they love, after tragic events in their past, only to be forced back into it years later. It could be anything really, but here, obviously, it's dancing. Competitive dancing, actually. Of the salsa variety.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Let's just be friends.

Good or bad, she's in every high school in America - even the small private one I went to in Hawai'i. She's pretty, she's popular, maybe even a star athlete too. And at the end of the year, there's a good chance she'll be Prom Queen. She's nice enough, but for some reason, her friends are all guys. Guys that really enjoy just spending time with her, because, you know, she's cool, not because they're desperately trying to be the one. But in that crowd of guys (sometimes referred to as boys...ugh), there's one that's actually different. He really is her friend. She's like her brother, silly. But guess what?

He wants her, too. And it's killing him inside.

Not that I know anything about that.

As my final horror movie for October, I fired up 2006's All the Boys Love Mandy Lane. I first heard of this one over at Rambling Film, but it was the short run time (not to mention postergirl Amber Heard) that really sealed the deal. For the record, my school's Mandy Lane was way hotter...but that was seventeen years ago. Ouch.

Anyway, after establishing how sexy and coveted Ms. Lane is in perfunctory high school/horror movie fashion (slow mo walk through the halls [primarily focused on T & A]), things actually get kind of interesting. Well, okay, more interesting. At the, you guessed it!, pool party, hosted by King Douche, something rather unexpected happens. No, Mandy's chastity belt doesn't rust and fall off, revealing her magical vagina. Instead, in yet another cringe-inducing attempt at impressing Mandy, ol' King Douche dies tragically (and perhaps hysterically). The real kicker? Mandy's tag-a-long (though marginally creepy) bestie, Emmet was inadvertently responsible. Didn't really see that one coming...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Yeah...I kind of enjoyed that.

Many years ago, there was a man. A mysterious individual, capable of doing amazing things that not everyone would have been proud of. In fact, his accomplishments turned many people away in disgust.

When you heard anyone say his name, you knew exactly whom they were speaking of. You didn't have to search your memory, you never confused him with someone else. In fact, just hearing his name, you were compelled, every single time, to utter the same one syllable word in a tone that suggested a sense of baffled amazement.

That man? Keanu Reeves. That word? I won't insult your intelligence.

Now, right now, there is another mysterious man capable of amazing things, but his name is f--king John Wick. And when you hear his name, and you hear what he's done, the only thing you utter is Oh. Because in this insanely kickass film from directors David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, that's all you've got time for. John's coming. And he's going to f--king kill you.

He sure as shit killed me.

I think it's safe to say that we all love a good revenge flick. And when those about to be revenged are some first-rate pieces of shit? Well it's even better. Here? It's borderline delightful. Sure we love John, but holy shit do we hate the people he's going to kill. Because not only did they steal his car and knock John around, but (and you know it's coming)...they killed his dog.

I'm not going to lie to you, even knowing that it was going to happen, I was still f--king devastated when the moment finally comes. It's so excruciating (and surprisingly touching) that I instantly wanted blood, too. John, after the death of his lovely wife, is given this adorable little dog to take care of, and the moment Daisy (aww) is gone, it's all too clear that he has nothing left. Absolutely nothing left. While he had desperately (and damn near literally) buried his previously unsavory life, he is forced back into it. He doesn't want to do it, and doesn't even to take any joy in it, it's simply what must be done.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tonight we came for a bloodbath.

My eighth graders keep telling me this same story, again and again, over and over. And no matter the kid telling me, it starts the same way:

Well, on Facebook, it said...

It's at this moment, that tiny fragments of my soul harden, and I'm forced to pass them like a kidney stone. At least that's what it feels like. Anyway, the most recent story that they've been constantly referring to, just in case the ultra-reputable social media hub has, you know, more than one, is about someone coming back to life after supposedly dying from Ebola. This news essentially confirming what these thirteen year-olds have known all their lives: zombies are real.

I shake my head, imaging that ten years from now, Facebook will actually be a legit news source, with anchors, reporters and the like. But it will be so reputable, that future middle schoolers will shun it altogether, and turn to another online juggernaut for accounts of true events.

Well, on Netflix, it said...

...that zombies are real. And according to 2009's The Horde - they are. And they're not the slow-moving, shambling air-biters of previous zombie flicks, either. Oh no. The only thing these bitches do faster than run, is devour people. And in some shitty, rundown French ghetto, said people are one of two things: cops or criminals.

The idea of being trapped in a building during a mysterious (zombie) outbreak isn't anything new. But the fact that the survivors, who minutes prior were actually trying to kill each other, now have to work together? Well, that adds a nice twist. Throw in some silly violence and an ass-kicking fat man, and you've got yourself a party. Just not a very good one.

The poster likely tells you everything you need to know, as The Horde isn't really trying to be anything more than average horror fare. I will give it an enthusiastic high-five for pace and ridiculousness, as each of those are off the charts. Oh, and it kind of starts out rather serious, too, which was a nice touch for a minute. But then a dead guy emerges from the shitter and gets shot...somewhere in the neighborhood of.ten thousand times and all bets were off.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Perfect. Now the geeks are in charge.

Raise your hand when you hear the tone, okay?

I was probably in fifth or sixth grade when I took my last hearing test, but I'll never forget it (neither will my family, as I repeat this story all the time). The woman was going through what I'm sure was standard test protocol right up until the very end. The last time I raised my hand, she looked at me in disbelief. You heard that? No one ever hears the last one! 

Apparently, I had a gift. I could hear just about anything. Well, as long as it was alive.

ParaNorman, from the stop-motion wizards that brought us Coraline (and that are currently bringing us The Boxtrolls), tells the tale of a rather unspectacular kid named Norman. This kid, your seemingly average middle-schooler, just so happens to be blessed/cursed with his own special power: the ability to communicate with the dead.

It's never the popular kid that has the gift, no, it's always the lovable goofball, and trust me, Norman is no different. While he's awesomely fascinated by creepy stuff and horror flicks, his family would unsurprisingly prefer he never mention his gift and just be normal. But when a three-hundred year old curse is unleashed upon Norman's macabre town, guess who's going to come up huge? Yep, you nailed it: Norman's chubby friend Neil.

Okay, that's not really what happens, but as is the case with most family flicks, you can see the resolution coming a mile away. But while the outcome may not surprise you, some of the content will. Turns out, ol' m. brown ain't the sharpest tool in the shed. He sat the family down to what he thought would be a quirky Halloween-ish good time. Um, about that...