The Other Guys

I can’t remember the last time I sat through a major comedy featuring prominent stars without at least a few good laughs finding their way out.  To my complete surprise, Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg have unsuccessfully lampooned the buddy-cop action flick with The Other Guys.  This latest Adam McKay–Will Ferrell collaboration hit with a thud, so much so I began questioning whether I even enjoy Ferrell as a comedian.

That simply can’t be the case.  He’s a gifted comic actor, and his performances in Elf, Anchorman, Zoolander, Wedding Crashers, Blades of Glory and other films have caused me side-splitting pains of laughter.  But lately with Semi-Pro, Step Brothers, Land of the Lost, and now The Other Guys (which is getting good reviews and making buckets of dough), I seem to be losing appreciation for the funnyman.  However, a likelier conclusion would be that he has simply been floundering in stink-pile projects.  Either way, The Other Guys happens to be an intriguing premise and allows Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg to trade zingers—an opportunity I was looking forward to immensely.  The script simply goes nowhere, and I didn’t care for any of the jokes.

Ferrell and Wahlberg play pencil-pushing cops Gamble and Hoitz, living in the shadows of destructive action-hero NYPD detectives (Samuel L. Jackson, Dwayne Johnson) living out Bad Boys-style stunts and rescues on a daily basis.  One such chase has them leap off a high-rise building in an effort to catch the bad guys, and their self-proclaimed indestructibility causes them to forget that gravity will pull them to their deaths. With these two larger-than-life boneheads out of the way, Hoitz wants in on the action and away from his desk, dragging the hesitant Gamble along with him.  Gamble wants to play it safe, while Hoitz is looking for a big case.  The two find one unexpectedly, and become knee-deep in some extortion plot resulting in their inevitable suspension, allowing action-movie cliches to ensue (although it’s intended for laughs).

Sadly, I found zero fun here.  I can appreciate what McKay and Ferrell were trying to do, and I can see this potentially being a great comedy, but the jokes continuously backfired and fell flat.  Even Wahlberg, usually the hard-nosed action-star, failed to do much more than shout obnoxiously throughout (hilarious Mark, I know).  The plot was simply lacking, the dialogue wasn’t funny, and the mash-up of Ferrell and Wahlberg was in fact inspired, but went nowhere with the material.  I am amazed that the critically-reviled Cop Out from Kevin Smith seemed more enjoyable.  If Other Guys has a redeeming quality, it is Michael Keaton throwing out lyrics from TLC hits and doubling as Police Captain and Manager of Bed Bath & Beyond.  Otherwise, Adam McKay and Will Ferrell continue down a slippery slope.  Step Brothers I hated, and Other Guys almost as much, just not in the same way.  Where Step Brothers was so idiotic and loud, Other Guys is simply tired and lazy.

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Rating: 2.5/5 (2 votes cast)

2010 Summer Movie Preview

I have to thank TacoGrande and his latest poll for inspiring me with the idea for this post.  As  the blockbuster Summer season is about to kick off next weekend with the release of “Iron Man 2,” I thought I’d take a look at my top-10 (sort of) most anticipated movies over the May-August frame, where studios release some of the biggest films of the year.

10. ROBIN HOOD (5/14):  In all honesty I have little interest in another take on Robin Hood.  But with Russell Crowe returning to his ‘Gladiator’ roots, and Ridley Scott behind the lens, maybe there’s hope for this mega-budget epic.  Ridley is trying to go the ‘King Arthur’ route and present his take on Robin Hood as the ‘real story behind the legend.’  ‘King Arthur’ was a domestic flop, and Scott’s own “Kingdom of Heaven” starring the star-that-never-was Orlando Bloom was a box-office disaster when it kicked off Summer, 2005. The previews for “Robin Hood” look a little bit like a montage of tamed battle sequences taken right out of ‘Gladiator,’ but I can’t deny being intrigued by a major epic reteaming of Ridley and Russell.  I really do want to know, however, what happened to the project’s original incarnation of “Nottingham” where the story was reversed and focused on Crowe playing a heroic version of the Sheriff of Nottingham.  Regardless, this movie looks epic, and the action should be great.  Add in the brilliant Cate Blanchett as Maid Marian, and this movie could potentially be awesome.

9. THE LAST AIRBENDER (7/2): The other “Avatar” movie hits theaters over July 4th weekend in converted 3D.  I have to admit that I know nothing of the anime series, but the previews alone have swayed me into an intrigued state, especially with M. Night Shyamalan taking a stab at the material.  While the infamous director has given us enough reason to hate anything he touches over the last few years, we can always look back to a happier time with Signs, Unbreakable, and The Sixth Sense.  Hopefully he’s got enough ‘bad-movie-itis’ out of his system to deliver an entertaining adventure film. I have faith in him yet, but this man seriously needs some salvation of credibility, and hopefully this movie is at least a small revival for him.  Visually, this movie looks plenty fun.

8. SPLICE (6/4): Sci-Fi has to be my favorite genre, and while I can’t tell if “Splice” is going to be a good movie per se, I can say that the premise intrigues me.  A month ago I knew nothing about this project.  After seeing a few trailers, I’m sold on the idea.  Since the film isn’t exactly being talked about a lot, I will tell you the plot centers on two scientists (Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley) who experiment on forging human DNA and animal DNA, creating a humanoid organism hybrid.  Things must eventually turn deadly, as this is sci-fi horror, but I have to say the trailers are effective, and I am very interested to find out if this is any good.

7. THE A-TEAM (6/11): Hopefully we get enough wit and laughs for all the explosions and stunts coming our way with “The A-Team” starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, and Jessica Biel among others.  The action sequences look a little heavy, but I have faith that this movie will be one of the best kick-back popcorn rides of the Summer, low on brain-power and high on thrills and humor.  This will all depend on the chemistry of the cast–if it works and audiences respond in kind–expect a franchise to form.

6. THE OTHER GUYS (8/6): Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell as two cops trying to compete with Dwayne Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson as two gung-ho cops in a comedy from Adam McKay (Anchorman).  Count me in.  Casting Wahlberg is an inspired choice, and I’m looking forward to him and Ferrell exchanging some great banter.  Wahlberg may be an awkward dramatic actor in Max Payne, The Happening, and The Lovely Bones.  But he was great in The Departed and very funny in Date Night.  So I can see him having a blast with this, and I think audiences will like the pairing of him and Ferrell.  With ‘Anchorman 2’ getting the axe this week, this may be the best we can hope for from McKay and Ferrell.  And as for Ferrell lately, with his last three movies finding serious hate from me (Semi-Pro, Step Brothers, Land of the Lost), this should be a sure-fire hilarious rebound.

5. TOY STORY 3 (6/18): Pixar movies have become just about as much of an event movie for me as any, and they are returning to their best film–“Toy Story” after more than 10 years since “2.”  Just think, the original “Toy Story” came out 15 years ago.  10 year-olds then would be 25 now, and possibly taking their little one to this latest installment.  “Toy Story 3” should be huge, especially with all the major voices returning (including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen), as well as the reliability of the Pixar brand.  While I don’t expect it to be as brilliant as the first film or some of Pixar’s recent movies, I imagine this being good-old nostalgic fun with a lot of heart and humor, and one of the biggest blockbusters of the year.

4. KINGHT AND DAY (6/25): Finally we have the return of Tom Cruise.  While 2008’s ‘Valkyrie’ managed to keep him on the map, luckily the former biggest-star-in-the-world returns to blockbuster action territory.  It appears as though he’s playing an action-junkie spy trying to protect Cameron Diaz’s character, and the results look very funny and very entertaining.  Some of the trailer mirrors “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” and it very much gives off that vibe, and I’m totally fine with that.  Cruise is playing a character about as crazy as everyone thinks he is, and I think with him having a ball playing a role like this, it should turn out to be another solid $100 million for him.  I still think he’s a great actor despite all of his negative publicity since his Oprah days five years ago, but hopefully ‘Knight & Day’ will get him back on track.  Under the direction of James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line), I think it’s possible.

3. THE EXPENDABLES (8/13): Fans of Cobra, Rambo II, Commando, and other classic cheeseball action flicks can rejoice–“The Expendables” are coming this August.  Of course I’m dying to see this throwback to 80s action flicks, if not just for the scene that finds Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone in a single frame together.  Add in Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham, and a whole cast of macho superstars in a major over-the-top action flick–and this is shaping up to be the event action movie of the year.  Back to classic real-life stunt work, pre-Bourne editing, and larger-than-life action stars in all their glory.  I’m so there.

2. IRON MAN 2 (5/7): While ‘The Dark Knight’ may have shadowed the enormous popularity of ‘Iron Man’ in 2008, this year is all about Tony Stark, as this sequel looks to be the highest grossing movie of the year–I see $400 million on the horizon.  Even though TDK is the fan-favorite of 2008, if I had my choice of watching the gloom-and-doom of Christopher Nolan’s superhero flick or the hilarious, roller-coaster ride of Jon Favreau’s, I am more than likely to take the ‘Iron Man’ route.  What an entertaining surprise that film was two years ago.  Robert Downey, Jr. has ten times more charisma and chops than Christian Bale, and ‘Iron Man 2’ should have just as much wit and fun as the last film.  Don’t get me wrong, ‘Dark Knight’ is brilliant and objectively the better film, but ‘Iron Man’ is a lot more fun.  Cheers to you Mr. Stark.  I will be trying to catch this one on an IMAX screen, and not a fake one…

1. –TIE– So what if I’m cheating… I can’t decide between my two most anticipated movies of the Summer, so you’ll just have to get both.

PREDATORS (7/9): I have been pining for another “Predator” installment for a long time (I should admit 1987’s ‘Predator’ is my all-time favorite guilty pleasure movie), and I can’t believe it’s actually happening.  It’s been 20 years since “Predator 2,” and after two horrid “AVP” movies, finally Robert Rodriguez looks to deliver a proper standalone sequel to the Predator universe.  While the trailer has me thrilled just knowing a new installment is in existence, I wasn’t completely blown away by what the studio has to show just yet.  Luckily, the story takes place on a jungle planet (much like the setting of the first movie), and will feature lots of predators facing off savage human killers from Earth.  Add in some bankability with Oscar-winner Adrien Brody and Laurence Fishburne headlining the cast, and I think this could actually turn out to be the sequel                                                       I’ve been waiting for.


INCEPTION (7/16): Anything Christopher Nolan touches turns to gold.  I like that he takes breaks in between his Batman films to conjure up other original projects.  I also love the fact that he has clouded “Inception” in total mystery.  It has something to do with agents stealing people’s dreams, or entering their minds or something… and that’s all we know other than the movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Caine, and Ellen Page.  The trippy trailers feature some crazy visuals that may become the invention of a new filmmaking style (ala The Matrix).  I think this is going to be the surprise juggernaut of the year and, if it’s as good as Nolan’s other work, may finally garner him the credit he deserves come award season, especially with 10 Best Picture nominations now.  But this is all too early to tell.  It could turn out to be a gargantuan flop, but I can’t doubt the man.  All I can say is, I can’t wait to see what’s in store with “Inception.”

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Rating: 4.7/5 (3 votes cast)

Land of the Lost

landoflostOne of the worst moviegoing experiences I’ve endured this year has to be Brad Silberling’s 2009 bomb “Land of the Lost.”  What a waste of talent, resources, time and budget (at $100 million).  Now, I haven’t seen the classic TV-show.  Subsequently, I have no basis for the film’s comparison, but I can’t imagine I would have been thrilled by the TV series after seeing the film, even if it is only vaguely reminiscent.

Will Ferrell continues his losing streak after “Semi-Pro,” “Step Brothers,” and now this botched movie.  He plays Rick Marshall, a scientist with a theory involving multiple dimensions in the universe that meet in a distant space-time continuum.  He explains that rather than time-travel moving forward and backwards, it moves side to side, creating a dimension where past, present and future collide at once.

The movie kicks off with a stranded astronaut being hunted by a T-Rex in this other dimension, which the movie never follows up on.  After the title credit, Ferrell’s character Rick gets a brain slap and a boot of embarrassment from NBC Today’s Matt Lauer.  Fast forward three years and Ferrell finishes his boombox time-warp machine that transplants him and two others in another dimension with dinosaurs, primate ancestors, and several other creatures.  Rick shouts, “Matt Lauer can suck it.” Of course, Rick and friends must somehow prevent the disturbances of this other-world from resulting in planet Earth’s demise, and also find an exit from the alternate world to their own.

Humor is not the film’s strong suit, and Ferrell is constantly the brunt of sight gags that have him covering himself in dinosaur urine, consistently failing to outsmart a T-Rex, and idiotic banter with the primate.  The special effects in the movie also wreak.  The creatures and dinosaurs look terrible, and much of the action sequences fall apart.  “Land of the Lost” would have been easier to forgive as a kid’s film, but with the profanity, sexual humor, drug-related scenes, and some scary creatures–it doesn’t exactly cater to youngsters.  Regardless, the movie is really an exercise in wasted time and money.  It’s one of the year’s worst films.

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Rating: 1.0/5 (1 vote cast)