Film Review: Logan Lucky

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After doing some quick math, I think I saw double the number of films this summer vs last year’s garbage dump of cinematic “attempts.”  Logan Lucky is going to wrap up this crop of summer’s films and then it’s time to get ready for the usual onslaught of awful films from September-Thanksgiving.  However, I can see 2 early exceptions to this rule: Stephen King’s IT (that clown looks scarier than the Jets chances of making the playoffs) as well as the sequel for the Kingsmen.  If you haven’t seen the first Kingsmen film, do so.  It’s insanely well done and director Matthew Vaughn RARELY misses (see Wanted with Angelina Jolie as said exception.)  Anyway, on to Lucky Logan.

I must have missed the memo but apparently, Steven Soderbergh went into retirement for a little while but now he’s re-emerged with the hillbilly version of Ocean’s 11, Logan Lucky.  Soderbergh recasts one of his usual suspects, Channing Tatum, to play Jimmy Logan, a West Virginia good ol boy who just lost his job and comes up with a scheme to rob the Charlotte motor speedway.  Joining him is his one handed, bartender brother, Clyde, (Adam Driver who needs to wear his Kylo Ren mask wherever he goes, he’s one ugly dude) and his hairdresser sister Mellie (Riley Kelough).  Katie Holmes plays Jimmy’s ex wife with whom he’s constantly battling over their beauty pageant daughter.  I must say, she hasn’t aged well.  Watch an underrated film called, Go, from 1999 and you’ll see what I’m talking about.  Although my vote for scene stealer goes to Daniel Craig who plays Joe Bang, a demolition expert that’s current locked up in the hoosegow.  He’s hilarious and you can see him having fun with this character and accent.

This film has a slight “Dukes of Hazard” feel to it with the Yee-hah, state fair, NASCAR lovin’ country folk.  The only thing missing was a Trump reference but thankfully, Soderbergh doesn’t go down Stereotype Boulevard with that.  And just like Ocean’s 11, there’s a crew involved.  But the differences start here because I felt myself more attached to the Ocean’s crew than the Logan group.  It’s not that the characters do anything to inspire the audience hatred, I just didn’t smile as much or wanted to see or hear more of their characters.  If you’ve seen any of the Ocean’s films, Soderbergh uses his usual visual and musical clues for the audience to make sure that they pay attention to said clues.  He also put it best in an interview: this is a crew using “rubber band technology” as opposed to Clooney’s group having state of the art gadgets.  That does fit this group more soundly as it would be weird with a Boss Hog type using lasers to cut through glass.

The critics are loving the bejesus out of this film but I wasn’t as on board with their praise.  I felt the payoff in the end didn’t pack as powerful as a punch as it could have.  Hillary Swank comes in late as an FBI investigator and I felt she really didn’t add anything to the film.  Was this film fine?  Yes.  Is it as good as the reviews are?  No.  Should you pay $15 bucks for it?  Up to you but I’ll bet you’ll walk out saying, “Not bad, not great either.”

I give it a 6/10

Film reviews: “Arrival”, “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”, and “Jason Bourne”

The main 2 rules of gambling are: 1) Go with your gut and 2) Don’t be a hero, just win money. 

arrivalposterToday’s reviews are going to focus on rule 1.  When I saw the preview for “Arrival,” I said aloud, “Who gives a shit?  This is Jodie Foster’s Contact 2.0.”  And the reviews started to come in: Rotten Tomatoes loved it, some of my friends loved it, Amy Adams is going to win the Academy Award….you get the idea.  I figured since I was wrong about “Dr. Strange,” I decided to give it a go.  

So I did give it a shot.  I even saw it in the theater as other reviewers said you MUST see it in its purest form.  Amy Adams plays a master linguist who is called to service and communicate when alien spaceships land in many different countries.  Forest Whittaker and his lazy eye play an Army officer who recruits her for the position.  Tiny Jeremy Renner plays a scientist that goes with Adams to facilitate the communication betweens the aliens and Adams. And director Denis Villeneuve (did Sicario and LOVED it) is at the helm.

This film is better than Contact was but I have to admit, I was underwhelmed.  The ending was different than expected but not enough for me to pull a 180 on this film.  Just like Seinfeld, a lot of people found this to be fantastic and I’m just not with it.  You’ve seen the same plot before: aliens land on Earth, humans attempt to make contact, humans make headway, another nation wants to attack the aliens because they don’t want to wait for first strike, conflict arises, will the aliens destroy humanity or do we take them out first?

This film is alright, save your 15 bucks and watch at home.  6/10

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Trivia question: What do you a comedy that isn’t funny?  Answer: a Wes Anderson film.  BOOM!  Taking no prisoners, that’s for goddamn sure!  “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” is loosely based on the true story of 2 brothers who were told by their parents to bring wedding dates to their sister’s wedding in Hawaii after countless family gathering were ruined by the boys.  Zac Efron stars as one of the brothers who needs to make sure his shirt is off in at least 73% of the scene.  Anna Kendrick co-stars as a scorned bride who was left at the alter who makes it her life’s work to get on that free trip to Hawaii.  I did notice Stephanie Faracy (the mom in Great Outdoors) plays the boys’ mom and between plastic surgery and aging, Father Time has given her a vicious right uppercut to her work calendar.

When this preview came out, I said, “This COULD be that summer R-rated comedy of the year.”  And I wasn’t enamored by the preview and the reviews were as kind as a 24″ inch waist is to Rebel Wilson.  So, I watched it for free with the free (cable company which doesn’t sponsor me) points I’ve accrued.  You know a film is bad when you turn it off after 45 minutes AND YOU GOT IT FOR FREE.  I think I semi-chuckled twice, which is double the times I laughed at “Napoleon Dynamite” or any other Jack Black comedy.  Nothing gets me like a solid R-rated comedy but when the punchlines are softer than any Drake song, you lost me.  This film is dogshit and I was SHOCKED that it actually turned a profit. Anna Kendrick has a weird face and it’s funny to see her attempting to be sexy.  She’s perfect as Clooney’s protege in, “Up in the Air” and from what I saw while changing the channel, good in those, “Pitch Perfect” films.  Raunchy comedy, not her bag.  

I’d rather watch teens play in a video game tournament that finish watching this film.  2/10

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The first Jason Bourne film, solid.  The second, not so much.  The third, fantastic rebound and my favorite of the trilogy.  So when I read that Paul Greengrass (director of the 1st and 3rd films) was coming back to do the 4th Bourne and this time, I penciled this in to see in the theater.  Matt Damon reprises his title role, and we can wipe our memory banks clean of Jeremy Renner?  Cool, I’m in.  What scenes do you see over and over in the preview?  Damon dropping a dude with one punch and then yet another insane chase scene, this time on the Vegas strip.  Again, I’m in.

And then the reviews came in: nothing positive and pretty much all of them saying this was a hybrid of all 3 Damon films with no real original aspects of it.  So I didn’t see this in the theater as most of my friends confirmed these reviews.  I was going to see this and Suicide Squad in the same day and I’m glad I laid this hand down.  It’s the same recipe as all of the other films.  Hell, I think I can direct the next Bourne film.  Have an older white guy in a communications room, barking out orders to SWAT teams who are trying to locate Bourne for about 60% of the film.  The next 30% would be chase scenes mixed with a few hand-hand combat scenes.  The last 10% would be him trying yet again, to unearth even more backstory about how and why he was recruited to be an assassin. Give me 5 million bucks and the catalog rights to Moby’s, “Extreme Ways” so I can do the 234235th remix of that song and I’ll see you next summer with a 2 hour film that hopefully makes its money back.  

I again, used points from (cable company not paying to advertise with me) and didn’t pay a dollar for this film.  I wasn’t thrilled at all but hey, at least I made it all the way, unlike “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.” The Vegas chase scene does carry on a little too long.  The plot is murky and we’re again trying to figure out his character’s as well as his dad’s history with the Treadstone.  You end up not caring about this story about 20 minutes it.  “Bourne Ultimatum” did a fantastic job of wrapping up loose ends and answering all questions.  Greengrass should’ve ended on that high note cause this note cracks and falls flat. 

I’d rather watch all of the trailers for Rogue 1 (review next week) on an endless loop than watch this again.  4.5/10

Money Monster review (no spoilers)

 

If a better looking Jim Cramer dressed up like the Riddler from Batman and was held hostage…that HAD the be the elevator pitch for this film.  George Clooney plays a used car salesman-esque stock advisor on a financial tv show.  Julia Roberts plays his producer.  BTW, I’m STILL see-sawing on the, “Is Julia Roberts attractive or is she too horselike?” issue.  I’m leaning toward an aged horse but she has a little time left to sway me.  Anyway, a blue collar kind of fella sneaks onto set and takes Clooney hostage on live TV because Clooney gave bad advice on a stock and now this guy is out 60 grand after it tanked.

Jodie Foster directs this script which has a cookie cutter/paint by the numbers feel to it.  Clooney is a thrice divorced, dickish, money consumed, megalomaniac who begins to legitimately take pity on this sad sack.  Roberts plays the producer who feeds Clooney direction and lines to keep him from being blown into salt and pepper smithereens.  Of course, there’s more than meets the eye than just a disgruntled loser who fell victim to bad advice.  A predictable story line of financial corruption that plays into the stock price falling keeps Roberts and her team juggling multiple story arcs.

This film is fine, nothing special.  I’m glad I didn’t pay 15 bucks for it and neither should you.