Friday, April 28, 2017

Three is the perfect number

None of my friends are divorced. Yet.

None of my co-workers have been let go or asked to retire early. So far.

But I do know this one dude who was totally replaced by someone younger, seemingly out of nowhere.

His name is Matthew Brown.

And he is my son.

Though the ubiquitous trailer was amusing enough, I had very little desire to actually see DreamWork's latest animated flick, The Boss Baby. But when rain cancels baseball practice on Bargain Night, it just seemed like the logical thing to do. And while my family ending up at the movies (on a totally calculated whim) should surprise no one, the amount of heart and smarts in this comedy just might.

Timothy Leslie (ha!) Templeton had it all. A nice house, a cool room, two loving parents that doted all over him day and night. But then - the worst thing possible happens - a new baby arrives by taxi, and Tim's perfect world is knocked out of its orbit. This adorable little creature, known only as The Baby, instantly demands all of his parents attention, leaving Tim, for the first time in his life, desperate and alone.

It turns out this chubby-cheeked cherub is, of all things, a secret agent. His mission? To derail a hush-hush plan for total domination by, you guessed it...puppies. Yep, it seems that baby dogs have finally become cuter than baby, uh, babies, and the future of every would-be ankle biter is in jeopardy. And with Tim's parents being important cogs in the puppy machine, it looks like in this all out war, Poor Tim's happy life is collateral damage.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I should be the one that's writing angry letters!

I get it. I do. It may sound strange to you...but I'm cool with it. It's just how some of us deal with things, I suppose.

See, in a way, I also write letters to the universe. But I write mine because I have kids, you know? This dumpster fire you're currently standing in is a gift for them when I'm gone (Dad, you shouldn't have. Like, for real. Stop.), whatever the circumstances may ultimately be.

Yet, even though no one owes me a response, I'm not gonna lie: I certainly welcome it.

Collateral Beauty is the 2016 bullet point on Will Smith's resume of annual holiday-season/feel-bad movies. Released this past Christmas, the once freshest of princes plays Howard, a father still mourning the loss of his young daughter to cancer. Howard hasn't moved on, and we find him quietly drifting through his life at the film's outset.

Personal tragedies are typically just that - personal - until three top execs at Howard's company have finally had enough of his downward spiral. Turns out, it isn't exactly top form that their former fearless leader spends days in his picturesque office setting up and knocking down dominoes. Oh, it's totally rad, sure, but cost-effective it ain't, and they decide to walk the dangerous path of proving he's mentally unfit to steer the ship.

Knowing their boss has actually written letters to the universal concepts of Life, Death and Time (the former benchmarks of their advertising firm), these three kooks cook up a wickedly deceptive, three-step plan: 1) hire three actors to play Life, Death and Time 2) film their interactions with Howard on the streets of NYC and 3) digitally remove the actors making Howard look like a f--king psycho.

Wait, what?

Monday, April 24, 2017

People need their history. It gives them strength.

I can hear Jimi.

Many years ago, when I heard this certain exchange in Ron Shelton's White Men Can't Jump, I thought I understood it. See, the two main characters, Billy Hoyle and Sidney Deane were arguing about music when Billy, a goofy white dude (Woody Harrelson, my hero) claimed that he too loved Jimi Hendrix. Sidney, a super-smooth black dude (Wesley Snipes, also my hero), essentially states that that's not possible. And as your typical (cluelessly) know-it-all high-schooler, I got the joke but disagreed with Sidney. Anybody can get anything, and it was unfair to think otherwise, you know?

But now I'm older. Not only do I know what I know, but more importantly, I know what I don't know. I'm with Sidney. I think it's entirely fair that where you're born and raised can exclude you from really knowing about something, right? But even more telling?

When you were born and raised.

As much as it's possible to enjoy a two-hour funeral service, I liked last year's Jackie a good deal. Like the rest of the world, I was hopelessly transfixed on the stellar performance of Natalie Portman, I'm just not sure I can fully appreciate the film surrounding it. Oddly enough, I was born just thirteen miles from where JFK was assassinated, but sixteen years after it happened.

Set before, during and after the horrific events of November 22nd, 1963, Pablo Larrain's meticulous film plays like a documentary at times. Juxtaposing the nationally-televised version of our then First Lady with the determined (and at times, despondent) mother and wife behind-the-scenes, is a harrowing yet inspirational view of the iconic Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Obviously, any person dealing with that unimaginable level of shock, grief and despair would struggle immensely. But Mrs. Kennedy? At that time? And on that stage? Her response is nothing short of breathtaking. She's entirely (and deservedly) overwhelmed, but somehow, she keeps it together.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

It's not possible for you to be here.

"I time every journey, to bump into you...accidentally..." 
                                       - Franz Ferdinand's Dark of the Matinee.

I suppose, like anything (and uh, beauty), romance is in the eye of the beholder.

After becoming impossibly smitten (sounds way better than obsessed, right?) with a young woman I went to college with, I began to have a lot of official business...that would perhaps make an encounter with her possible. Or, probable. She worked on campus as a S.T.A.R. (a student something-something resource), and all of a sudden, I had a lot more work to do in the library. And the computer lab. And just about wherever I learned she would be. I wasn't quite moving tiny pieces around a map of southern Connecticut while wearing a bicorne, but it might have been close. Even if it ultimately worked out, getting a girl to notice you probably shouldn't be so...


While that girl and I have since pledged til death do us part, my initial pursuit of her anyway, didn't immediately jeopardize her life-expectancy (though the act of marrying me may ultimately be hazardous). In 2016's ill-received Passengers, however, falling in love goes hand-in-end with a fiery death, as two potential lovers find themselves awoken out of hyper-sleep ninety years too soon. You had me at 'we're going to die alone'.

As the megaship Avalon majestically soars through the galaxy toward a better life, an asteroid strike results in one of the 5,000 sleeping, uh, passengers, to awaken. Jim Preston (the now unlikable? Chris Pratt), a mere mechanic, comes to to find himself utterly alone in space. Initially, it's kind of cool having the ship to himself, but even Kevin McCallister eventually got tired of eating junk and watching rubbish. With over 90 years left in the journey to Homestead II, and any hope of correspondence taking almost as long, Jim's left with a tough choice. Die alone. Or...

...kill someone else.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I don't relate to that as much.

Ninety-five percent of my 'professional' career has been in education, so I've only experienced a true office party once. It was lame as f--k, having to make nice with the endless slew of elderly women I worked with. Hanging out with your grandma can be taxing enough - but multiply that (potential) nightmare by six...teen, and I'm thinking all I want for Christmas is a bullet in my face.

But the worst part - and I've said this before - is that I don't drink. Never have. So even the warm embrace of public intoxication couldn't shield me from hours of idle chit-chat about diabetic cats and UCONN women's basketball. Oh, and if somebody mentions a recipe they have, I might set this whole f--king place on fire.

When did something called a party become so lame and uninspired?

And worse, when did 'comedies' about these parties follow suit?

Despite a solid cast and a highly-exploitable premise, Office Christmas Party, while entirely watchable, plays it safe. Too safe. Sure, cocaine in the snow machine, gun-toting lady-pimps and 3D printouts of cock'n'balls may not seemed restrained, it sure as shit feels like it. Maybe my expectations were too high, or my testicles too low, but I didn't find directors Josh Gordon and Will Speck's film all that funny.

But...somehow...I still kind of enjoyed it.

When word gets out that his branch may be closed down and his employees laid off, the bumbling head honcho of Zenotek's Chicago branch comes up with a last-ditch plan to save the day. Against his bitchy sister's wishes, he's going all in on the office Christmas party. Er, non-denominational holiday get-together. Not only to cheer up his shitty employees, but in hopes of wooing a big client who values family over business as usual.

From there, it's just the kind of nonsense that you'd expect in a (bad?) holiday film: lessons will be learned, family will finally trump money, love will be found in the most unlikely of places, and most obviously, everyone will be just a little bit nicer, because, you know, it's Christmas! for f--k's sake. Or it was, as I saw this movie a few days ago. In f--king April.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Bonnie needs his Clyde.

Even though I have dreamed of a better life for me and my family, I have never done what (bad) movies tell me to do: hastily rob a bank, likely with the dumbest people I know. But I have thought of how I would do it...

When I was a kid, someone (allegedly) robbed the First Hawaiian Bank branch in my hometown. Rumor has it that some dude strolled in - never said a word - and placed a note on the counter informing the teller that he had a gun. She complied, and he ran the Hell out of in hand.

I don't know what came of that f--ker (the next closest town is twenty miles away [with absoluteldy nothing in between]), but I seriously commend this dude's non-violent efforts.  Me? I'd follow a similar tactic.

I'd just do it on Super Bowl Sunday. In the city of the underdog. At kickoff.

Wait. A movie starring almost exclusively SNL alums isn't great?
Since when?
Masterminds isn't about a bank robbery, but instead an inside job at an armored-truck company. Set in the super-rad year of 1997, this (alleged) comedy follows all the familiar beats of most amateur heist films, but cranks the incompetency to eleven. Though the cast is loaded with bankable talent, you might not want to peer into this cash bag. I hear that ink is a bitch to get off.

David Ghantt (Zach Galifiankis, tucking in his t-shirts) is a nice-enough guy living a quietly miserable life in Podunk, North Carolina. He and his bearded-lady face are getting married to Jandice (Kate McKinnon, in full sketch-mode), which like the rest of life, seems void of any real excitement. Even his job is boring, as David's lot in life has him peaking as a super-employee at Loomis Fargo of all places (aka that armored truck company you see everywhere).

Even though she gets fired after only four months on the job, David's (former) co-worker Kelly Campbell apparently made quite the impression. When she eventually hooks up with some slime-ball named Steve, er, Geppetto (Owen Wilson), they devise a plan to rob an armored truck, with love-struck David as their in. It's actually a pretty no muss, no fuss plan, or it would be, you know, if everyone weren't a f--king moron.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

How can I be strong, when you make me so weak?

Many people, okay - a few people (nerds, mostly), love to argue about what Disney film has the best villain. While I guess it's fine to waste valuable life time to debating such trivial matters (this is my 623rd blog post, by the way), I'd like to discuss something much more pressing. Like, serious serious business: What Disney princesses I'd like to hook up with.

My number one has always been Ariel. Long red hair, big round...uh, eyes, clam-shell bra worn as everyday attire, and a voice that's either angelic and melodic or totally mute. Regardless, add all that up, and she's the total package.

Number two? Jessica Rabbit. Okay, fine...she's technically not a princess, but everything about her gives me a royal boner. And clearly she's down, I mean, her boyfriend is a rabbit.

But number three? That's where me and the other eleven (voices in my head) lock the doors, and begin to deliberate fervently. Is it Jasmine and her olive skin? Mulan and her boyish good looks? Pocahontas and her...uh...okay, I never saw that one.

Honestly, those three? I think I'm gonna go with no..., no! and no? The answer is actually quite simple. Number three all-time?

Hermione. I mean, Belle. Number three is Belle.

I'm not sure what side of the fence I'm on when it comes to the influx of live-action remakes Disney is unleashing on the masses. While the risk seems to be low, the rewards apparently are quite high, as once again, Disney has broken the bank with a modern retelling of a beloved classic. Pulled from Walt's moneybin vault, Beauty and the Beast follows the formula from last year's The Jungle Book [review] to the letter: famous songs and famous scenes, now filled with famous faces!

Typically I'm wasting your time with poorly-written plot information anyway, but describing the story details of Beauty and the Beast seems like cruel and unusual punishment. Basically, a nerdy girl is held hostage by a hairy a-hole and all his friends until she loves him unconditionally. Sure, that doesn't sound super-romantic nor the ideal way for a romance to blossom, but being that the guy it totally rich, f--k it! There's a part about the girl's cockblocking dad being committed (or hanged, or something), but no one really cares about that guy anyway. Oh, and there's another giant prick that's in love with this girl, but no one really can figure out why.

Monday, April 3, 2017

I'm a fan, by the way.

Seventeen years as the same amazing character.
Seventeen years of routinely delivering the most bankable performance in a gigantic movie franchise.
Seventeen years making sure that no one walking this planet will ever best you in such an iconic role.

Seventeen f--king years, man. This role has a part-time job, a license, and all kinds of hair on its (gigantic) balls.

And while doing something magnificently for almost two decades is incredibly admirable, ending the entire run on the highest of high notes is bitter f--king sweet, you know? You finally knock me on my ass...and now you're walking away? Have you no consideration for my feelings, here? Seriously, I don't think I'll ever be able to love anyone else the way that I loved you. Just thought you should know that...mister. 

I know, I know, I'm focusing on the pain. But it's the only thing that's real, you know? At least I have my memories of you to keep me upright...

Your stoic presence. Your unflinching loyalty in the face of adversity. Those eyes, the fire that's burned behind them since the turn of the f--king century- I'll never forget them. And oh God, that voice. Stops me right in my tracks every single time I hear it. But the most memorable part of the role you were absolutely born to play? Easy.

That bald head.

I like how this poster implies that the little girl isn't an absolute death machine.
While my adoration for Patrick Stewart's run as Professor Charles Xavier may surprise you, the real shocker is how f--king good Logan is. It's quite honestly the best Marvel movie ever made. And yes, Stewart again commands the screen as the near-the-end version of Professor X, but all (wholly unnecessary) misdirection aside, the real star of this movie, and this franchise, has been and will always be Hugh f--king Jackman as Wolverine. I'm almost certain no actor has ever given more of his life to a role in the history of modern cinema. And to it finally come to an end is, personally, two things: incredibly exhilarating...

...and totally f--king devastating.

Set many years after the last (mostly shitty?) X-Men film, Logan finds Jackman's Wolverine literally limping through a quiet existence somewhere along the border between Mexico and Texas. Working as a chauffeur, Logan is doing all he can to take care of a dying Professor X, whose telepathic superpowers are completely f--ked up and endanger anyone near him. It's a sad state of affairs, as two of the world's greatest heroes are living out their days like distinguished veterans of an army for a country that was blown off the map years prior. It's not how these guys were supposed to go, but if they can just scrape together enough cash to buy a boat, perhaps they'll be able to die with a little dignity. Assuming, of course, that a self-inflicted adamantium bullet to the brain is dignified.