Thursday, October 27, 2022

In & Out [post]: Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

I hope you understand. The greatest threat to our universe...is you.
 

Title: Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness    

Rating: PG-13    Runtime: 126 mins    With: My children. Without: My wife     Thank: God 

What's it about? With a decade-plus of Marvel movies behind us, not only are the stories folding in on themselves, but so is the universe- literally. Here, Dr. Strange finds himself not only dealing with the fallout of what happened in Spider-Man: No Way Home and WandaVision, but also the plight of newcomer America Chavez, aka Ms. America (but like fellow portal-opener Trish the Dish of a different cinematic universe, nobody calls her that). Turns out this young lady has a very coveted super-power: the ability to jump/star wipe herself from universe to universe. Fancy, right? Right. But it's also pretty effing dangerous, too.

What works: Though far from perfect, the multi-verse as presented here is pretty dope, with a blast through a bunch of them that was an absolute VFX highlight reel. The action is consistently thrilling, and the horror, for a mass-market Mouse House production is inspired, if not a bit...unsettling? Did I think there'd be multiple jump scares? No. No I did not. Did I bring my eight year-old daughter to this after Sonic 2 was (essentially) sold out? Yes. Yes, I did. Am I terrible father who inadvertently traumatizes his children with hardcore comic book movies? Also yes.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

In & Out [post]: The Founder

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.   

Title: The Founder    Rating:   PG-13     Runtime: 115 mins
With: three classes of bored sophomores

What's it about? Two pickles, diced onions and the got-damned United States of America. Well, that and the equally (and immorally) delicious tale of Ray Croc, the man who founded McDonald's in the same way Columbus discovered America. Part-time husband, full-time hustler, Croc turns what was a (not his) family burger business into a global empire. So global in fact, that according to the film, Mickey D's feeds 1% of the world's population every single day.

What works: Keaton is awesome as always, making Croc genuinely human...initially (by the end he's the T-1000 made out of special sauce). The rest of the cast are all charming as well, with Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch (as the McDonald brothers) deserving any and all praise (unless they got shafted, like their real-life counterparts). The film, set in the world of 50's old white-man business, moves along at a pleasantly brisk pace, routinely dropping factual nuggets of McDonald's lore along the way.   

What doesn't: I know it's a thankless role, but Dern is pretty much stuck on the moment the vet says that there's nothing that they can do for Mr. Whiskers. More pressing/hurtful, is the fact that some of the larger details seemed to be exaggerated for effect. It feels like we honestly have enough here, and any tweaks to the truth is just piling on.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

In & Out [post]: The Bad Guys

It's not a butt!

Title: The Bad Guys    Rating: PG    Runtime: 100 mins 

With: Violet (8), Kim (43)  And: Guy Who Sat in Our Seats

What's it about? A group of criminals, who also happen to be anthropomorphic animals, are caught during yet another Ocean's Eleven-style heist (elaborate robberies are kind of their thing) and sentenced to hard time. In an effort to further his impeccable image and standing in town, some little hamster dude named Professor Marmalade vows to rehabilitate the motley crew and make the Bad Guys, you guessed it, good.


What works: From the jump, the vibe is fantastic, with Sam Rockwell channeling peak George Clooney rivaling the breath-taking animation for the coolest thing ever. While my daughter was moderately miffed about some key changes from the book, the story is engaging, goofy and rocket-paced. If anything, it might move a bit too quickly (we've got a some sort of record for double and triple crosses), but overall it's a crowd-pleaser.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

In & Out [post]: Just Mercy

Whatever you did, your life is still meaningful.

Title: Just Mercy    Rating: PG-13    

Runtime: 137 mins    With: HS kids     

Did they read the book? No. No they did not.
 

What's it about? Hate. Love? Honestly, I'm not sure. Either way Just Mercy tells the incredibly inspirational (and real-life) tale of young lawyer Bryan Stevenson, a recent Harvard graduate who moves to the south in an attempt to overturn wrongful convictions for inmates on death row. Though Stevenson will have many clients throughout his career, the film focuses primarily on the case of Walter McMillan, a black man set to be executed for murdering a young white woman in Monroeville, Alabama (home of Harper Lee, of all people).

Sunday, May 8, 2022

In & Out [post]: The Northman

Remember for whom you shed your last teardrop.

Title: The Northman Rating: R             Runtime: 137 mins

With: my sister, my father (my king?)

Could I actually feel him hating the movie? Fully

What's it about? A seemingly docile Viking boy grows into a laser-focused monster of a man, with the singular goal of avenging the murder of his father. Along the way, he joins some sort of mercenary death squad, aiding in the killing of countless innocents, which should make his quest decidedly unsympathetic. Can we really root for a guy to avenge a senseless murder of someone close to him, if he himself is slaughtering families along the way? Turns out we can...at least for awhile.

What works: Outside of some fantastical elements and famous faces, at times this mfer feels like the most badass Viking documentary ever. Hardcore rituals where the line between man and beast is eviscerated by light angriest campfire in the history of time? Yes, please. Skarsgard disappears into the void (that is Amleth, honestly) and it's, initially, pretty f--king thrilling. Throw in an absolutely manic Willem Dafoe (whose long-rotted severed head still belongs to, rather obviously, Willem Dafoe), an eyeless Bjork (I blame that giant teddy bear back in 1993) and one of the dopest scores in recent times, and good times should be had by all.

What doesn't: While the curveball thrown into the Amleth's quest was definitely appreciated (and likely obvious to you non-morons), it didn't make make his journey any more satisfying, frankly. Ultimately, after all we've been through together, what we're left with amounts to damn near zero, and even if that's the point, it felt kind of...fruitless? Even when we get to the final boss at the Lava Level, which should be the story's climax, I honestly just wanted to get the Hell outta there already (it didn't help that I thought the movie had already ended thrice). I was tired of...everything.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

In & Out [post]: Morbius

We shouldn't be here when it gets dark. 

Title: Morbius Rating: PG-13 Runtime: 104 mins

With: Matthew, 12        Did I fall asleep? Probably

Year this should have been released: 1996

What's it about? Did you see the second Venom flick? It's that. Again. With different CGI creatures throttling each other endlessly. Basically, there's something kinda bad (symbiote/needing to drink fresh blood) in a guy that's mostly good (Eddie Brock/the guy from My So Called Life). Ultimately, he wants to use his powers to help protect the less fortunate, but sometimes things go awry (people are swallowed/people are sucked). Oh, and there's this other guy with the power, who is an out-of-control dick (Cletus the murderous a-hole/a guy who reminds me of Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending).

What works: Even if he is remotely off-putting for a variety of reasons (none of which I can really put a finger on), Leto at least seems moderately interested in bringing the half-dead Dr. Morbius to life. I thought I would hate Nerd Blade from the jump, but it turns out his mission is noble and his assistant is hot....so, in that regard? *awkward thumbs up*

Monday, March 28, 2022

In & Out [post]: Uncharted

Fell out of a car that fell out of a plane.

Title: Uncharted Rating: PG-13 Runtime: 116 mins

With: My older brother     Is Mark Wahlberg still alive? Maybe

What's it about? If you've played the video games or have the ability to imagine Indiana Jones minus a charismatic lead and mostly void of joy, you're halfway there. Add in something about a map and a lost treasure (and gold, sweet sweet golddd), and just like that...you've got everything you need to know about Uncharted.

What works: Three things: two gigantic action sequences and the infinite charm of Tom Holland. The action, the notable stuff, unfortunately pretty much bookends the film, with tons of silly exposition to slog our way through in between. But when things get crazy, it's inspired, and it's hard to not to be impressed with the spectacle of things that aren't supposed to be flying through the air doing just that. And yes, Holland is essentially playing Peter Parker as if Aunt May had been murdered, too, but I'm going to allow it. For now.

Friday, March 25, 2022

In & Out [post]: The Batman

Justice. The answer's justice.

Title: The Batman Rating: R Runtime: 176 mins

Where: Regal West Manchester How tired was I: Very 

What's it about? We've known for years that Gotham is a bottomless shit hole tits deep in murderous villains and gangsters, sure, but somehow, it's gotten worse, making Batman's job, this go-round, even more loathsome than before. And now? Even being Bruce Wayne sucks a rain-soaked dick, as it turns out his family's tragic legacy was built on lies, murder and deep-rooted corruption. Or was it?

What works: Turns out, staying awake, as I enjoyed this one infinitely more the second time around. That scene with the (actual) bat? Yeah, I didn't catch a glimmer of that the first time through (and who knows what else). Obvious shit like actually watching the entire movie aside, I really enjoyed the casting, with Pattinson and Kravitz just eviscerating the screen with their deadly mix of charismatic aloofness and unrelenting sexiness. The score is an absolute banger, and doom-and-gloom of Gotham has never looked doomier and/or gloomier. Frankly, there wasn't much I didn't love...

Sunday, March 13, 2022

In & Out [post]: Promising Young Woman

Can you guess what every woman's worst nightmare is?

Title: Promising Young Woman  Rating: R  Runtime: 117 min

Streamed on: HBO Max   Number of times my wife fell asleep: 0

What's it about? The only promise this young woman makes, is a day of reckoning for all the assholes and would-be scumbags of the world. That tipsy blonde in the corner of the bar? Take her home, bro. I f--king dare you. (basically, this film could be the most badass MCU flick ever, as it's essentially a goddamned superhero flick where Thanos' plan ain't got shit on what the criminally underappreciated Carrie Mulligan has in store for half the population)

What works: From the very first scene to the very last, Promising Young Woman is relentless. The mystery of how we are where we are unravels with a remarkable intensity, as Cassie's journey is equal parts terrifying and terrific. It's an awful story about awful people doing awful things, but there's a certain uneasy pleasure derived from Cassie's mission. The script is amazing, the supporting cast tremendous, but it is absolutely Mulligan who f--king owns every frame she is in (and honestly, even the frames she's not in). 

Monday, February 28, 2022

In & Out [post]: Jackass Forever

It ain't a bunch of NASA scientists writing this shit.

Title: Jackass Forever Rating: R Runtime: 96 mins

Where: Regal West Manchester With: My sister, old people???

Number of times the screen was mostly somebody's dick: 900

What's it about? Someone might tell you it's about a lot more, and they might be right, but the short version is a bunch of dudes get together to hurt each other's dicks. Repeatedly. 

What works: Even if you're the most miserable f--ker on the planet, I'd bet good money that something in this movie is going to make you laugh in spite of yourself. And even if you somehow manage to defy the odds and find none of this shit funny, there's a certain undeniable charm in seeing these assholes all grown up, still doing the same dumb shit they did as kids. Oh, and old-man Knoxville is kinda sexy, right? (I'm more of a Steve-O man, myself).

Saturday, January 29, 2022

I still prefer The Babadook.

Despite the fact that I would probably sacrifice an appropriate number of goats to make it so, turns out, it will never be December of 1996 again

Even worse, we're over twenty-five years from that motherf--ker, which just so happened to be winter break of my senior year of high school. Holy shit, right? Do you remember when you rounded the corner of 12th grade, knowing that the end was in sight? I can't actually remember it anymore, but I'm going to assume it was a magical time. My whole life was in front of me, you know? The possibilities were infinite.

But now, I sit here as a slightly-broken, slightly-balding, exhausted middle-aged jerk-off. As much as I always jump at the chance to revisit anything from my youth, it turns out they're right. You can't ever go home again.

Even if you live in Stu Macher's house.

Ah, Scream...5, 5cream?, uh, Scream 2022, um, Scream (the New One), how I wanted to love you so. After being away from Woodsboro for so long, not to mention meeting Neve Campbell at a Con a few years back (she was charming and so sweet to my daughter), I honestly couldn't wait to get back. But I had forgotten one thing, one very important thing. I'm old now. And the real stars of this movie? They aren't. So, shocking no one, I didn't really give a damn about the fate of any of these people.

Somewhat clever, somewhat cloying, this latest iteration of Scream is borderline impossible to define, despite characters onscreen attempting to do so. Literally. Half remake, half reboot, two-quarters legacy film, and fifty-percent top-to-bottom look how smart we are wank-fest, this flick, dedicated to the legendary Wes Craven, has yet another masked psycho, er, psychos, terrorizing the residents of Woodsboro. But not just any random a-holes, right? They're targeting people connected to the original murders...like, Sydney Prescott's neighbor's uncle's cousin type-of-shit. Er, something. Alright, it's not that convoluted...but it might as well be.

Even if the connections are a bit out there and definitely on the not many end of the How many f--ks should I give? spectrum, there's still enough, possibly just enough, of the old magic to have a wee bit of fun. While nothing will probably ever compare with a bra-less Rose McGowan getting caught in the ol' garage door/pet door of Doom, seeing what's left of the old gang back together was probably worth it. Better still, our returning trio are old, and have seen it all, and their f--k this shit attitudes really made my day, mostly because it was awesome, but partly because I couldn't have agreed more

Sunday, January 23, 2022

In & Out [post]: The Power of the Dog

Then you tell them the truth. I stink and I like it.

Title: The Power of the Dog     Rating: R     Runtime: 126 mins Spolier-filled review to follow: Yes

What's it about? Two brothers run a ranch in the shittiest time and place ever, 1920's Montana. One is an absolute asshole, the other is Jessie Plemons. Plemons is a kind man, and draws the ire of his brother, Phil (the aforementioned a-hole/shitface cockmaster) when he invites his new/actual wife and her, um, quirky son to live at the ranch. Phil, when not covering his naked body in mud after reading erotic literature in his masturbation fort, is a top-tier cowboy, capable of castrating a bull in eight seconds. He's also a f--king jerk.

What works: I'm pretty sure Jessie Plemons can do no wrong, and I adored him as the moderately sullen George. I've also loved Kirsten Dunst since the day I was born, and even if she exists in a raging sandstorm that only she can see, my feelings remain unchanged. Montana/New Zealand is gorgeous, and the stark setting makes the whole affair feel like a gotdamned horror movie at times. And as much as the ending enraged me, I'm all for feeling an emotion other than blinding consternation.

What doesn't: Cumberbatch occasionally sounds like the Grinch, and it intermittently derailed how much I was scared of Phil. George's stepson, the effeminate Peter, might be too-gay-to-function, as this poor kid's existence seems like a hate-crime waiting to happen. George, read the room, man...you're one paper-flower away from stopping my heart. There's a room full of uneducated ranch hands, maybe dial it back?

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

In & Out [post]: Black Widow

I'm not the killer little girls call their hero.

Rating: PG-13        Runtime: 2 hours 13 minutes    Stinger rating: A- (Selena Meyer? Yes, please)

What's it about? Do you remember that place that turned Natasha Romanoff into a top-shelf assassin who would stop at nothing to finish the job? The same place that ripped out all her lady parts damning her to a life void of family? The place that made Jennifer Lawrence drop trou at the head of the class? Well, Romanoff does, mostly, and in the midst of running from the US government after what went down (literally?) in Sokovia, she teams up with her long-lost family to blow that place, known as the Red Room, straight to Hell. Which is extra challenging, because, you know, it only exists in the clouds. Huh-what?

What works: The action is effing ridiculous, frankly, and in the best way possible. It starts chaotic and basically never lets up. Maybe I've been watching too much Cobra Kai (honestly, any amount of Cobra Kai is too much Cobra Kai), but the budget for Black Widow seemed to be pinned at f--k it, why not? [Cobra Kai has the production values of a mid 90s porno]. From the bridge battle with Taskmaster, that dope car chase through typically narrow European streets, the prison extraction/avalanche orgy, all the way to the nauseating mid-air finale, the action is not only plentiful but all fairly inspired, too. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

In & Out [post]: Batman: Hush

There are no ex-criminals, Father, only ones who aren't breaking the law at the moment.

Rating: PG-13    Year: 2019    Runtime: 81 mins (imagine?)        

What's it about? Somebody is pulling the strings on Gotham's greatest villains, wreaking havoc and chaos all over the city. In order to thwart this seemingly endless threat, Batman teams up with (and opens up to) the lovely and mysterious Catwoman, who is juggling her own cadre of famous and infamous super, um, men? Turns out she's falling in love with Bruce Wayne...and the Dark Knight...who apparently feel like totally different dudes when you make out with them.

What works: If someone told me the next live-action Batman movie was just a retelling of this story, I'd be absolutely stoked. I don't watch a lot of these direct-to-disc releases from WB/DC but Hush was consistently intriguing and fairly action-packed. Does it hurt that every major villain ever is in this flick? No. No, it does not. And hand drawn or not, Selina Kyle is as sexy as ever, and her arc is surprisingly satisfying. Ol' Batsy ain't exactly the easiest one to settle down with, but you can't blame a girl for trying.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

In & Out [post]: The Meg

So far nothing new, my friend. It just keeps getting worse.

Rating: PG-13            Year: 2018            Runtime: 113 minutes      

What's it about? It's a giant shark movie, right? But as much as you want it to be about a giant shark doing giant shark things, it's also a story about redemption. The best deep-sea rescue guy in the world (Statham, as jacked as ever) is forced out of a life of drinking and sleeping in the sun to, perhaps unsurprisingly, lead one last deep sea underwater rescue. Turns out some billion dollar research lab led by Dwight Schrute has inadvertently unleashed a ninety-foot shark from below the bottom of the ocean floor, and that f--ker, gifted with the new freedom of open waters, is pissed. If it's not eating whales and being the biggest dick in the sea, this damn shark is destroying everything, including any and all sea craft in its vicinity. I think because it hates shiny things?

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

In & Out [post]: Encanto

You're exactly what this family needs.

Rating: PG Runtime: 102 minutes (appreciated)

With: whole squad (this now includes a 7th grade boy, so...minor miracle here)

What's it about? An extremely magical family that lives in an extremely magical house...starts to lose their magic...and their house. The outcast of the bunch, the muggle-ish Mirabel, must solve the mystery before the foundation of her family, and their casa, cracks and crumbles beyond repair.

What works: Whoa, whoa, whoa...perhaps shockingly, a lot. I don't think I ever saw a commercial for this one, and the poster politely informed me, hard pass. Turns out? That would have been a huge mistake, as this story about finding your place in the world (and the world of your family) is brilliant. The songs, the characters, the completely welcomed (and fairly consistent level of) silliness all dovetail with a fantastic story that recaptures some of that old-school Disney charm in a decidedly new-school way. 

What didn't: The roster can a get a little overwhelming at times, but otherwise, there wasn't a bit of this one that I didn't enjoy. 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

In & Out [post]: The Birds

Don't they ever stop migrating?

Rating: PG-13 Runtime: 119 mins     Where: Basement

What's it about? A mysterious (and sexy) woman falls for a dude at the world's most chaotic pet store, stalks him all the way home, and somehow ends up in a bird-infused apocalypse. With him. And his entirely too-young sister. Are these satanic seagull shenanigan's this woman's fault? Unlikely, but according to a crazy woman in the local diner, everything was fine until she showed up. And if you can't trust someone having a meal with her kids at a restaurant during the middle of a school day, who can you trust?

What worked: Tippi Hedren is fine as Hell, and basically never leaves the screen, so in that regard, it's all good. The intrigue builds slowly, but steadily, which is also appreciated (the burn is fairly slow, right?). Oh, and there's enough sexual tension between Hedren and (twelve inches to a yard Hot) Rod Taylor to jettison Bodega Bay (and my pants) directly into the sun. Some of the bird chaos is pretty sweet, too, as you might swear that real birds are being tossed about.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

In & Out [post]: Don't Breathe 2

Now you're going to see what I see!

Rating: R        Runtime: 98 minutes                                              Where: Everywhere (a challenge, honestly [phone, laptop, two different televisions])

What's it about? Once again, some low-life a-holes f--k with the wrong guy (a murderous/invincible Navy Seal who may or may not be blind [he is, but still]). Big time. But instead of the rich kids collecting B&Es like Pokemon, this time around it's some meth-heads gathering human organs. Wait, what? Yeah, what starts out mysterious and shady, may ultimately be the most twisted romantic grand gesture in the history of cinema. Aww. But that's only after a dog is killed and a young girl is, get this, taken. Yikes.

What works: A bad guy is doing very bad things, but we root for him regardless. And even if you're better than this (and you are, trust me), seeing a douchey henchman take a hammer to the side of his head from across the room has a certain amount of timeless charm. And as wild as it gets along the way, the ending is absolutely bonkers, with an empty pool being a particularly spirited participant in the mayhem.

What doesn't: Last time, I think I was on the edge of my seat (when not recoiling in terror/disgust [the situation in the basement has never left me]), but this go-round you can call just about everything that's going to happen before it does. It's almost like...*whispers* you can see it coming.