Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hey...I misjudged you.

You respectable types probably never do this, but being that I often get in way over my head, I, uh...well...I sometimes go back and re-read the plot synopsis of a movie I'm about to make a post on. Feels good finally saying it out loud.

I know, I know - it's pretty f--king embarrassing how terrible my memory can be, but despite stumbling around like a moron half the day, there's a lot going on upstairs, you know? I mean, how can you remember what a movie was about, when your head is full of baseball stats and the lyrics to 90 percent of every pop song ever recorded.

But even after watching it two nights in a row...re-reading the events of the film? I still couldn't tell you what the f--k it was about. And I read it twice. 



The good news? Even though I really can't tell you what the mission was exactly, I can, with exquisite detail, tell you that I f--king loved Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation. I had so much fun, in fact, I was actually upset. Like, why the Hell did I wait three years to see this? 

Had I not looked it up, I would have told you this one was about the usual double-agent stuff...a list of operatives has gone missing, everyone's in danger, and Tom Cruise is gonna slow-motion jump through a window.

Turns out, most (if not all) of that is untrue, and this fifth installment instead finds the IMF being folded into the uncaring arms of the CIA. Ethan Hunt (possibly the long-dead CGI version of a 33 year old Tom Cruise) is desperately trying to prove his teams' worth to a government agency that ain't exactly feeling it. Yeah, Hunt and his crew always get the job done, but often at a spectacular cost. Just ask any one trying to take a selfie in front of the Kremlin.

Apparently, there's some mysterious/imaginary group of terrorist known as The Syndicate, and shocking no one, these a-holes are major fans of creating utter f--king chaos. Turns out they are going to assassinate some chancellor dude, and Hunt secretly enlists Benji (Simon Pegg) to thwart the hit. They do, sort of, and the game is officially on. Already beautiful people will continue their seemingly genetic lucky hand and pull off some of the most insane and daring things all in the name of world peace. Meaning?

Bullets will be dodged. Gadgets will be deployed. And, of course...faces will be torn off.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Humans? Monsters? What's the difference?

This November, my wife and I (assuming she hasn't eaten my head like a lady praying mantis) will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. Mr. Piven, your thoughts?

While the weekend getaway is always nice, at this point, staying at a hotel again is a bit played out. Not that I wouldn't enjoy myself, mind you, but I'm thinking my wife would like something a little more rewarding for putting up my brand of nonsense for a decade. Something a little more...beachy, perhaps. But being that we live in lame-ass Pennsylvania six weeks shy of Christmas, I don't think sun and fun are something we could pull of in a short amount of time. Unless, of course...we went on a cruise.

But who wants to spend valuable time stuck on a boat with a bunch of a-holes?

Perhaps surprisingly, after seeing Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, I'd be all for the open ocean, even if we too, were headed to the Bermuda Triangle. Sure, a cruise is essentially a hotel on water, but if it's this much fun, who cares?

Yes (possibly ex) friends, the third installment of a franchise that absolutely no one asked to go this long turned out to be a pretty good time. My wife had fun, the kids had fun, and even though I thoroughly loathed the second one [review], Hell, I had fun. 

A long, long time ago, Drac and his crew were attempting to travel by train when that goofy bastard Van Helsing showed up and tried to kill the whole lot of them. Ever since, Van Helsing has been obsessed with hunting Drac, the same way Elmer Fudd always twies to kill that wascally wabbit. But no matter how far he shoves that gun down the hole, Van Helsing always shoots himself in the face.

Fast forward a bajillion years, and we catch up with a lonely Drac scouring his phone in an attempt to meet a lady. Poor dude has been a widow for over a century, and even if he's got his sexy daughter and her family to keep him busy (um, and the hotel), he can't help but long for the warm embrace of a lady vampire. Aww.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

This is stupid.

Take five minutes and look up the Kyle Maynard story. Go ahead, I'll wait. Hell, you probably won't even need all five of them to believe.

Born with a condition that prevented him from developing limbs, this dude decided at an early age to be an absolute powerhouse. And though I saw his story years ago, it's never left me. Kyle has no arms and no legs. And he wanted to be a MMA fighter. And he did.

While many disabled people simply want to be treated like the rest of us, let's not really kid ourselves, okay? They are not like the rest of us. 


They're better.

While Kyle Maynard fought his entire actual life, in Skyscraper, fellow amputee the fictional Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson, continuing his streak of great fun in not-so-great movies), will fight for one incredibly long day. And a helluva day it turns out to be.

After losing his leg in a horrific blast years prior, we meet up with Sawyer as a loving husband and humble father of two, simply trying to make ends meet. He's left the S.W.A.T. team far behind, and is currently running a small security company. Inexplicably, he gets hired by a mysterious zillionaire to determine if there are any security concerns in the world's tallest building, a 225-story behemoth known as The Pearl. Turns out, there's a few. 

Dozen.

Not an hour after his presentation, the seemingly gentle-giant Sawyer straight up murders a dude. Sure, it was in self-defense, but good God this is a man that clearly, is not to be f--ked with. But what do some low-level gangster types do? Something worse than f--king with Sawyer. They f--k with his family. And shocking no one, he ain't exactly having that. And even with one leg, The Rock, yet again, is kicking twice as much ass. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The American people don't need this!

Twelve hours...and I can do anything I want? Like, anything-anything? That sounds f--king fantastic.

I've got it. I know exactly what I would do, motherf--ker. Exactly. *rubs hands together, Mr. Burns-style*



But, uh...is it still considered a nap if you do it for half a day?

Somebody in Marketing needs a raise. And probably a passport.
It's not that The First Purge was sleep-inducing or anything, but this was the only time in four films I thoroughly didn't give a shit. Dialing the series back to how the annual night of lawlessness began was a solid (if unsurprising) way to further the lore, but the results are mixed at best. Maybe it's because series creator James DeMonaco finally didn't direct his own script (he was three for three prior), or maybe seeing how it all began was simply... redundant. I mean, we all know how the Purge began, or well, will begin. It's f--king happening all around us.

Turns out, the (fictional) initial Purge was a bit of a bust. Confined to Staten Island, most people just wanted to get high and dance in the streets like coke-fueled MC Skat Kats. These opposites don't attract however, and the recently-elected New Founding Fathers of America (the NFFA, derp) have a big f--king problem on their hands. After going all in on this absurd/brilliant (if you're Thanos) concept, the NFFA see firsthand that America, well, a certain segment of it, ain't exactly all about the murdering of their neighbors. Even if you pay them to do it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

You are the World's Greatest Grandma.

My wife, seated three seats to my right, leaned forward, beaming. She was saying something, but with my brother Bryan next to me, and Violet next to him, I couldn't make it out. The house lights were coming on, and all the rookies were leaving.

She basically doubles over, saying, I said, 'pretty much the best Marvel movie ever', right?

I nodded. And then sat back, disappearing behind my brother, who, along with Violet, may or may not just have rejoined the grownups in consciousness.

Best Marvel movie ever? It barely makes the top three. Of this year.


It's not that I didn't like Ant-Man and the Wasp, it was fine, but I honestly don't think I was ready for how small small-scale would be. Obviously, following the universe-enveloping events of Avengers: Infinity War [review] is an unenviable task for just about any comic book film - I get that. And of course, someone had to take that bullet/vicious finger snap and be up next, so I commend Peyton Reed and his crew endlessly. But, even as it was happening, the more I thought about the second Ant-Man flick, the less I cared.

It's not that I don't get it, of course I would drop everything for Michelle Pfeiffer - who wouldn't? But heading into the Quantum Realm to rescue the original Wasp wasn't as intriguing as I hoped it would be. I don't know how to explain it, but I wanted more Ant-Man. And more Wasp. I'm not even sure this is possible, but I felt like neither of them were in the movie that much. Hank's fine, Luis is beyond awesome, the secondary dudes in the crew absolutely slay. There's not a character I don't like.

But during all the silly bickering and back-and-forth, what I found charming in the first film...felt like filler. The daughter (adorable as she was), the villain (cool as she was), both great, but haven't we got bigger fish to fry, ladies? Purple Cable is (about to be?) up in the sky tossing Uhura off a cliff and we're down here arguing over a tackle box? C'mon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A creature from the future, made with parts from the past.

A Chinese Lantern.
William Shakepeare's signature. 
The elusive Albino Humpback. 
Someone genuinely excited about Scarlett Johansson's next role.

In an age of copies and mass production, it's a good thing the world still offers up something unique and rare on occasion. Something we can gaze upon and collectively marvel at its overwhelming scarcity. The kind of thing that you'd turn to the person next to you and say:

Wow. I didn't even know that was possible.

It's funny that it took a theatrical showing of something as derivative as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom for me to realize that my own niece and nephew, ages 15 and 12 respectively, had never seen a freakin' Jurassic Park movie. I didn't know this astounding fact when I invited them (and my father-in-law) to a mid-week screening. Frankly, it was a good thing too, because I probably wouldn't have let them tag along otherwise. I mean, what responsible uncle/movie nerd lets his own family walk into a part FIVE without at least a ten to four-hundred slide PowerPoint about Dr. John Hammond and the nefarious InGen Corporation. 

Think about that for a second. Two kids, both of a (previously believed) perfectly normal and appropriate upbringing, had, in a home with many screens, somehow avoided what one could argue is the most popular film franchise of all-time...and it absolutely made my life to let them in on it. When we walked out of the movie, these two normally reserved goofballs were ablaze with nerdy questions and comments about what we'd just seen unfold. If I have a better time at a movie this or any year, tell my wife and kids (and Dodger) I loved them all, because I probably died during it.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I actually kind of like that.

Remember when Chris Webber called a timeout he didn't have against North Carolina (and narrowly missed traveling before that...)? Or when he dunked on Sir Charles after going behind the back on an outlet from Spree? Of course you do. Who doesn't?

Hell, what about that time Nate Robinson threw down over Spud Webb to win the dunk contest? That was nuts. Almost as crazy as when he jumped on Big Baby's back to form Shrek and Donkey in the Finals for the C's.

Shaq (/Neon Boudreaux) has too many moments, right? Like when he brought down the hoop against the Nets. Or when he so delicately declared, Kobe. Tell me how my tastes.

But nothing tops Reggie Miller destroying Spike Lee and the Knicks in the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals. The next day at practice our coach had to ask everyone to cut the shit with choke signing everyone after a made three. As stupid and pointless as it was, we couldn't help ourselves.

I also couldn't help myself from seeing Uncle Drew, as stupid and pointless as it was. Hell, even if I didn't have an eight-year old son who lives and breathes all things N.B.A, being a lifelong hoophead/bad movie aficionado?This flick, based on a series of Pepsi commercials (!) -of all things- was 100% must-see cinema.

Uncle Drew, played by current NBA all-star Kyrie Irving (who I completely hated as a Cav, but endlessly respect as a Celtic), is an old-school playground legend. And when local good-guy Dax (Lil Rey Howery aka the funny dude in Get Out [review]) loses his Rucker tournament team at the last minute, he begrudgingly turns to the old timer for help. Uncle Drew is in, uh...rather easily...as long as Dax gives him the full LeBron, and lets him assemble and run the team. Meaning? Naturally, we've got to get the gang back together The Muppets [review] style with an epic and episodic (and utterly nonsensical) road-trip. Apparently, nobody has a cell phone. Got all that? Good. But, guess what?

It doesn't matter, even if you don't.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a 'film' starring old NBA players about even older streetball legends isn't exactly rocket science. Hell, Uncle Drew isn't even Weird Science. It's almost offensively predictable and impossibly bland, but in a shocking turn of events...still pretty damn amusing. Um, assuming you absolutely love the NBA. And watching men have a dance-off. Both of which, I'm a firm supporter of, truth be told.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

She isn't gone.

I should have just went to sleep.

Yeah, I was a little bit spooked, sure, but it was late. No one would have questioned me if I had gone straight to bed.

But I couldn't get it out of my head, you know? There was no way I was going to fall asleep. Not with that massive f--king burden coursing through me.

So when she asked me how was it? I did the worst thing possible you could do to someone who doesn't like horror movies: I told her. Everything

Why would you tell me this? Why? 

Um, because trust me, letting you find out on your own is worse. Way worse.

Hereditary, written and directed by Ari Aster, has pretty much permanently f--ked me up. I'm not sure I ever wanted to see some of the things I saw that night, and goddamn it, now I can't unsee them. And because of that, I really want you to see them, too.

I was (unfortunately?) raised on horror movies as a little kid so I'd argue my tolerance for scary shit is pretty high, but needless to say, I wasn't prepared for this one. As the film opens, Annie (Toni Collette, who I assume hates sleeping. And joy.) is giving the eulogy for her recently departed mother. Turns out, ol' grandma was a bit of a handful, and may have been batshit crazy. And grandma's favorite kid? It's not Peter, Annie's high-school aged son. Nope. It's Charlie. Annie's infinitely creepy middle school daughter who will straight-up haunt my nightmares til the day I die. 

Seriously.

I know it's basically after the fact, but I'd still rather not spoil anything for those of you lucky enough to have not seen this film (still not sure if I should add yet to the end of that sentence). Safe to say the next hour and fifty minutes will absolutely knock you on your f--king ass, even if your audience was as shitty and distracting as mine. Sure, I left the theater hollow and a healthy combination of confused/disappointed (I initially thought it went waaaaay off the rails in the last twenty minutes), but after talking with my sister [who has seen this movie more than once] I think most of my questions have been answered. So if you've seen it, give me another minute or two of your time and let's talk it out below. And if you haven't? Good f--king luck.