3 Film reviews: Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Knives Out, and the Irishman

Oh, hi there you tickle monsters.  It’s been awhile since I had a film to review but let’s be honest, it’s been a collection of student films, garbage passion projects, and blatant cash grabs.  Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I saw 3 films that bear worth reviewing.  But before you read my critiques, why not download our new podcast, “Gutting the Sacred Cow.”  If you love movies and want to see other comedians try and trash well loved or successful films, you’ll love this.  We’re on iTunes, Iheartradio, Google play, Stitcher, Spreaker, and Spotify.

beautiful day

Bottom line: if you hate Mr. Rogers, you’re a communist that needs to be immediately deported and then set afire in a cage while in transit to Burma.  He TRULY is the closest human to being faultless.  And if that theme music doesn’t bring an immediate tear to your eye, you’re more robotic than the T-1000 from T2 or the guy who played Oz from American Pie.  Tom Hanks, who can honestly do no wrong, plays a fantastic Fred Rogers.  If you don’t know his story, I’m not going over it now.  However, this film doesn’t make Mr. Rogers the focal point of this story.  It’s about the journalist assigned to do a small piece on him, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys).  Lloyd is dealing with his father (Chris Cooper who looks like Sebulba from Star Wars Episode 1.  Don’t believe me, google it) and Mr Rogers somehow gets Lloyd to open up about his tarnished relationship and of course, tries to help him.

If you didn’t see the outstanding documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, you better get off your ass and watch it.  Because you’re not going to get as much insight about Mr. Rogers in this film.  Although, I had a great laugh when Mr Rogers comes over to visit Lloyd’s ailing father and his sister’s new husband blurts out, “Are you a Navy Seal?”  That was one of the urban legends that was going around for years.  There are great Mr. Rogers moments: the opening show segment with Hanks walking in, singing the song, and flipping the shoes.  My eyes watered up and had the nostalgic smile a mile wide on my face.  You also see several show re-enactments with Hanks CGI’ed in that you may remember from the show or have seen in WYBMN.

This film is good but again, I’m not as interested in the journalist’s story as much as I am seeing Tom Hanks chew up scenery and seeing kids with disabilities have breakthroughs.  Who knows if the documentary didn’t alter the script for BDITN as they didn’t want two biographical stories in 2 years.  I wouldn’t have liked BDITN as much if there wasn’t the doc to get into the nitty gritty material.  This film is good, the doc is better.

I give it a 6.5/10

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How many “whodunits” have there been in recent memory?  Memento?  Pretty good.  Clue?  That was such a campy yet fun ride?  Too bad they’re remaking it.  LA Confidential? FANTASTIC.  Murder on the Orient Express (original and reboot SUCKED)?  So I was quite glad to see “Knives Out” invigorate the genre.  Great cast but you know what scared me?  Seeing Rian Johnson wrote and directed this.  Cause last we saw of ol RJ, he went out and gave us a C- Star Wars film in the Last Jedi.  He also did Looper which gives him some credibility back.  Was this worse than dinner theater murder mysteries?  Let’s find out.

Christopher Plummer plays Harlan Thrombey, who looks like he could’ve been one of the brothers from Trading Places.  Don’t worry, he doesn’t uses racial slurs.  Harlan is an uber successful mystery writer who after celebrating his 85th birthday, falls victim to murder.  His children and daughter in law all have had reason to off him as they’ve been cut out of his will.  But his caregiver/nurse, Marta Cabrera (Ana de Armas), suddenly finds herself as the sole benefactor of the will.  Daniel Craig is the detective hired by an unknown source to find out who did it. Zod from Superman, the mom from 6th sense, Laurie Strode, Captain America, and Sonny Crockett play the kids/in laws who are in question.

Obviously, I’m not getting into details to not spoil it but the cast perfectly hums along.  Daniel Craig was fantastic as the smarmy, know it all (most of the time detective) who really has a ball with this role.  You may figure out who did it (I did) but you’ll NEVER figure out the how or why.  I changed my logic at least 4 times and was still wrong.  And that’s why this film is amazing.  Anytime you get a layered story and can’t figure out AND buy the process/conclusion, it’s a fantastic investment of time.  Run, don’t walk, to see this film.  And then when you get out of the theater, download our latest episode of Gutting the Sacred Cow.

This film is fantastic, 8.5/10

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And now for one of the most anticipated films of 2019.  The last time we saw Scorsese, he got Margot Robbie topless several times in a film.  And we owe him a debt of gratitude for that.  But now he returns to the genre in which he created and inspired tons of knockoffs and a few winners.  The man who gave us Casino, Goodfellas, Mean Streets brings back several of the actors who shot to the stratosphere.  DeNiro, Pacino, AND he got Pesci out of retirement.  Can’t go wrong, right?  Well, let’s see.

First off, prepare yourself.  This is a 3.5 hour film.  But thankfully, you’re watching it at home now so you can pause to pee, get some food, or complain on social media about how long it is.  And for all of those who complain about the length, no one seemed to have a problem with Godfather 2 and that was 4 minutes shorter than this.  This is the story of Frank Sheeran (Robert Deniro, the man who hasn’t turned any film down since 2003), the guy who painted more houses than Dutch Boy.  Ba-dum, ching!  First things first: Scorsese CGIs all of the older actors and it’s sometimes quite amusing.  My FAVORITE part was when a “younger” DeNiro sloowwwwwly beats up a grocery store own.  I mean, it looks like he was in quicksand while giving the guy a beating.  DeNiro finds himself working for Russel Buffalino (Welcome back, Joe Pesci!),

DeNiro earns his stripes doing errands for Buffalino and eventually finds himself working with the Teamsters and Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).  Shoutout to my buddy Jeff Paul who has few scenes with Pacino as a one of his crew.  Hoffa climbs to power while bringing Sheeran along for the ride.  Blah, blah, blah, mob stuff happens.  But without question, my favorite scene is Pesci explaining to DeNiro why Hoffa has to go.  It’s quite reminiscent of the Goodfellas scene is when DeNiro gets the phone call that Tommy is dead.  And there’s nothing he can do about it.

Again, people are shitting on this for the length.  Does this lag at times?  You betcha.  Could they have cut some down?  Without question.  But this is almost a mini series in a film as it tells the entire tale of Sheeran.  This is a great switcharoo of roles; a more mellowed Pesci leads the pack and should be nominated for supporting actor.  I’ll never compare this to Goodfellas because that’s as close to a perfect film as you can get.  Is this better than Casino?  No.  Departed? Not really.  And is this a film you immediately stop changing channels when you see it on?  For me, not yet.  But this is good and if you like seeing a lot of the old gang together again, this is for you.  It’s solid and enjoyable.

I give it a 7/10.

Film Review: Toy Story 4, the “worst” of the bunch

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Until Friday, I firmly put Toy Story as a top 5 trilogy.  As you sit and stare at that last statement in mild shock while trying to process if this is a valid point, I’ll make it easy for you.  Top 5 trilogies (meaning ALL THREE are nothing below fantastic) are:

  1. Star Wars
  2. Dark Knight.  Yes, some of you may not have liked DKR as much but it’s good enough.
  3. Indiana Jones (no one counts the 4th, just like no one counts Godfather 3 as a film.)
  4. Toy Story
  5. Back to the Future. BTTF3 isn’t as bad as some make it out to be and can we please get over the flying train?  He made a Delorean go back in time as well as fly, why the hell can’t he get a train?  Some of you will want to argue LOTR but that 2nd film was just 3 plus hours of WALKING.

Toy Story 1-3 are so goddamn good, I can’t even pick out an order how good they are.  Gun to my head, I pick 3, 1, 2.  3 is first only because it got such a reaction out of the audience and it has to be one of the best finales to a series.  I teared up like I was 6 years old (or even at my current age) again, watching ET and bawling when the flowers die or when ET goes home.  What about Kevin Costner having a catch with his dad in Field of Dreams?  Or when Arnold drops into the molten steel in Terminator 2.  Don’t you dare posture and say that didn’t get you.  Hell, even Rocky 2 gets me when he yells, “Yo Adrian, I did it.”

Toy Story 3 PERFECTLY wrapped everything up with people saying, “there’s no better way to close this out and I hope they don’t reopen the franchise and taint the series.  So imagine my tepid dismay as well as mild happiness when they announce that Buzz, Woody, Ham, the Potato Heads, and the rest of the gang would be returning this summer.  The preview wasn’t really grabbing me but in Pixar, not God, I trust.

We open with Bonnie playing with most of her toys, except Woody, before her first day in kindergarten.  Woody wants to make sure everything goes right (and also to maybe get some one on one play time) and shanghais a ride in her backpack.  He witnesses Bonnie getting her arts and crafts on where out of a few pipe cleaners and googly eyes, a new friend is born.  Forky is just what he sounds like and Bonnie loves him.  But Forky wants to be in the trash more than Bonnie’s toy and Woody tries to convince him that a toy is the life to lead.

Bonnie’s parents declare that it’s the time for a road trip in an RV, which sounds more like something outlawed in the Geneva convention than a vacation.  Camping, vacation for poor people.  Bonnie grabs all of her toys and away we go.  However, Forky feels there’s no better time to do his best Johnny Knoxville impression and jump out of moving RV.  Woody plays the role of Bam Margera and follows suit because he wants to get him back to Bonnie.  Buzz and the other toys run interference while Woody runs his mission.

Woody and Forky reunite with Bo Peep, who hasn’t lost her sheep but has a few new uninteresting friends tagging along with her.  They run into Gabby Gabby, voiced by Christina Hendricks, who runs the roost at a local antiques store.  GG turns out to be quite the naughty girl, as she wants Woody’s voice box as hers was faulty.  Hence why she’s never been selected by a child.  <insert easy boob joke here> But if Gabby had Christina’s cup size, even I would’ve pocketed my masculinity and bought that doll.

Some of the new characters are fun, especially Bunny and Ducky, voice by Key and Peele.     They TRULY steal the show.  Some of the new characters don’t hit the mark, like Bonnie’s originally owned toys and Giggle McDimples.  I wasn’t as crazy as Duke Kaboom, a Canadian motorcycle stunt rider, voiced by Keanu Reeves.  One of the problems with this is that the new film screwed with the perfect formula by the other films, not enough integration with the original characters.  And the biggest crime is a major lack of Buzz Lightyear.  The dynamic duo of Buzz and Woody is sorely missed and rumor has it that the reason for the reduced role of Buzz is because of Tim Allen’s politics.  IF that is the case, that’s truly sad that people can’t look beyond their opinions.  IF it’s because Tim Allen is a raging asshole, well then shame on him.

But to be perfectly frank with you, I didn’t have the same emotions with this one as I have with the previous 3.  There weren’t as many LOL moments.  I read that while Allen and Hanks broke down reading the last scene.  And I was all prepared to lose my shit again at the end of this film like I did with 3.  The problem of course, is facing a bar that’s set INSANELY high.  But although the ending does make that emotional turn, it didn’t grab me.  I was fine with it but it didn’t hit me near as hard as I expected.  Is this a good film?  Yes.  Do I hope they  they end this series to as not to tarnish its near pristine reputation?  Desperately.  You’ll like this, just not NEAR as much as the others.

I give it a 7 out of 10.  And stay for the credits, there are a few scenes worth checking out.

Film review: Mission Impossible Fallout

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It’s time to face facts.  Tom Cruise is the greatest actor of our time.  He’s done it all except win multiple Oscars.  And films are the one medium that doesn’t need hardware to measure success.  Tom Cruise bats .800 in my book, he’s almost as successful as Emily Ratajkowski giving me a boner.  Cruise’s filmography is as impressive as the lack of cleanliness in a Taco Bell bathroom: Mission Impossible series, Collateral, Risky Business, Rain Man, Edge of Tomorrow, Minority Report, Eyes Wide Shut (Nicole Kidman is just magical) and American Made to name a few.  Daniel Day Lewis is amazing but he doesn’t have the rewatchability nor financial successes that Cruise has.  Same goes for DiCaprio but I’ll accept Tom Hanks as a viable contestant.  Early critic reviews had described this latest installment of Mission Impossible as the “Skyfall” or “Dark Knight” of the franchise.  Is it?  Let’s find out.

Tom Cruise returns as Ethan Hunt, a much more entertaining version of Jason Bourne.  Hunt and his perfect multicultural team of Ving Rhames and Simon Pegg drop the ball in the film’s opening sequence by letting plutonium get away from them while the Syndicate (callback from MI: Rogue Nation) is trying to create bombs to nuke the world and start from scratch.  I think we should just start calling this plot line, “The Thanos Snap.”

Hunt runs into Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), MI-6 agent who he battled with in Rogue Nation, as she’s trying to stop Hunt from transferring Lane (also from RN) to the terrorists with the plutonium.  Action ensues, a lot of action.  You know how every MI film has at least one insane action sequence?  The climbing of the hotel in Dubai.  Climbing up an airplane during take off.  This film has at least 5 of those, “get the fuck out of here” moments.  Why does this film work so well?  Those insane aforementioned action sequences as well as a fantastic plot.  Different twists as well as this the first film in the franchise that calls back to previous films.  Hunt’s wife, Michelle Monaghan, from MI-3 returns in a pretty cool story arc.

The ONLY “knock” is this clocks in at 2.5 hours.  Does it drag?  Not one bit.  But some people are sticklers on time.  But the action and plot skyrocket this film as the best of the franchise.  So yes, this is indeed the Dark Knight and Skyfall of this series.  MI: FO is a goddamn tour de force and I shall probably see this again in the theaters.

I give it a 9.5, this film is damn near flawless.