Jumanji: The Next Level and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Two years after the Jumanji reboot and I still think it’s a pretty good movie! I’ve had to of seen it at least twice since seeing it in theaters, and it still holds up pretty well; especially with such a fun and talented cast that could have phoned it in and let the special effects do all the work but instead elevated the material to something far more watchable than you’d expect at first glance! Now it’s time for a sequel, and… well I don’t know about you but I’d have rather seen a sequel to Baywatch than watch them try to recreate what made that reboot so good. Seems like a bit of a long shot that we’ll get something halfway decent out of this, but hey! I was saying the same thing about that first movie before it came out, and look what we got! Can we go back to the well one more time without the formula feeling stale and apathetic? Let’s find out!!
After Spencer, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany (Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Morgan Turner, and Madison Iseman) had defeated the mysterious Jumanji video game and smashed it to bits with a bowling ball, we pick up on their lives a year or so later where everyone is off doing their own thing but still manage to stay in touch as they even plan on meeting up during the winter break. However, only three of them show up to the meeting spot so they go to check on Spencer and find that his grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) hasn’t seen him since last night, though he hasn’t been paying much attention this morning as he has an unexpected house guest in the form of his former business partner Milo (Danny Glover) who Eddie’s been avoiding for over a decade now due to some conflict that broke them apart and I’m sure will be resolved before the end of the movie. Anyway, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany go to the basement to find that Spencer not only took the Jumanji pieces home with them but repaired them to the best of his abilities (I don’t know how many MAGIC retro console repair tutorial are on YouTube but I’m pretty sure it’s more than zero) and has managed to get himself back into the game. With their friend’s life (as well as contractual obligations) hanging over our heroes’ heads, they head back into the game once more time. However, things don’t go as planned as only Fridge and Martha wake up inside, and while Martha is still in the body of Karen Gillan, Fridge is now in the body of Jack Black. The ones filling the Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart shaped meat sacks turn out to be Eddie and Milo respectively who have no idea what’s going on but don’t seem to disturbed by it; assuming they just died or something. With only half their team, a brand new game scenario involving some dude named JURGEN THE BRUTAL (Rory McCann), and even some new mechanics including magic fruit and a body switching liquid, can this rag tag group of tired pros and retired noobs find Spencer and beat the game before everyone dies a miserable and painful death? What will Spencer have to say for himself once they find him and start demanding answers as to why he’s here in the first place? Will Eddie and Milo be able to resolve their decade’s long rivalry, and will it be half as compelling as the Sunny episode Frank’s Brother!?
The Secret Life of Pets 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures and Illumination
Directed by Chris Renaud
I remember the first movie having one of the most aggressive ad campaigns I’d seen since I started reviewing movies, and yet this one was much more subdued. I only saw the trailer a few times leading up to its release, but while that certainly kept me from being ANNOYED by the movie it didn’t really do much to improve my expectations. The first one was a C grade knock off of Toy Story, and while it wasn’t ALL bad it didn’t leave much of an impression outside of Jenny Slate’s performance and a few seconds of Andrew WK music to liven things up. Can the sequel manage to improve where the last one came up short, or will this be a lazy cash grab on the success of the first one with similarly mediocre results? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the first film, Max and Duke (Patton Oswalt and Eric Stonestreet) have been getting along with their owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) in their peaceful New York life. However, things change once Katie meets the man of her dreams Chuck (Peter Holmes), and cut to about five years later where Katie and Chuck have a kid named Liam (Henry Lynch) who Max is at first hesitant about but becomes quickly attached to. The added stress of watching over a child however is starting to give Max some unhealthy habits, but maybe an upcoming vacation in the country with Chuck’s family and their dog Rooster (Harrison Ford) will be just what Max needs to relax! While he’s off on his trip, Gidget (Jenny Slate) has been entrusted to watch his favorite toy which she loses almost immediately, and Snowball the bunny (Kevin Hart) has become some sort of animal saving super hero who’s latest mission is to help a Shih Tzu named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) save a tiger who’s being abused by a VERY evil looking circus run by a bunch of dudes with Russian accents and permanent sneers; one of whom is played by Nick Kroll. Will Max get over his nervous tendencies now that he’s around nature and the stern advice of Rooster? Can the other pets shore up their subplots before the running time exceeds ninety minutes? Is Illumination trying to sell us four episodes of an unaired TV series as a full length movie!?
Night School and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Malcolm D Lee
It’s always good seeing Kevin Hart! Okay, maybe not… BUT it’s always good to see Tiffany Haddish, right!? Ehh… fine, these are two VERY talented comedians but they aren’t always in the best movies as is the case with A LOT of successful comedians. Putting them together SHOULD be a match made in heaven, but then again maybe the filmmakers thought the script was so bad that even Hart couldn’t save it by himself. In any case, we can hope that there are at least a few good jokes in here even if the premise and the trailers don’t seem to be promising all that much. Does this movie manage to rise above expectations to be one of the better comedies this year, or are we doomed to suffer yet another mediocre effort from filmmakers and comedians who should be working on WAY more ambitious projects than this? Let’s find out!!
Teddy Walker (Kevin Hart) is your average Joe who is actually doing quite well for himself despite dropping out of high school and for reasons other than he’s a genius who went off to start his own company. Instead, he’s managed to find a good job at a barbecue grill store and has set himself apart from his peers due to his world class skills in customer service! I kind of find that hard to believe though considering he ends up accidentally blowing the place up not long after the movie starts. You’d think someone as professional as he is wouldn’t have done something like that, but in any case Teddy is now without a job which is doubly a problem as he’s been living paycheck to paycheck for some time; refusing to tell his girlfriend Lisa who has a WAY more successful job (Megalyn Echikunwoke) that he’s not as well off as he lets on and that he could REALLY use a few bucks to ease the stress. Luckily for Teddy though, his buddy Marvin (Ben Schwartz) JUST SO HAPPENS to have an even BETTER job for him all lined up… but he has to get his GED first! To make matters worse, the principal of the high school (Taran Killam) is someone he had beef with in high school (for some reason…) and is not about to let old grievances die off, even if he can’t TECHNICALLY keep Teddy from going to night classes run by Professor Carrie (Tiffany Haddish) which I assume is the way she prefers to be addressed. Can Teddy get his GED and that sweet new job without having his girlfriend finds out all of his deeply held and embarrassing secrets? What wacky hijinks will he get into with a classroom full of eccentric odd balls that have their own reasons for getting their GED? Can we send all six of the scriptwriters to night school? I don’t know about you, but they could really use some brushing up if this is what they consider “professional” material.
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment
Directed by Jake Kasdan
So I guess the nineties nostalgia train is just gonna keep on rolling until it either runs out of steam or derails horribly (the latter probably if someone gets the idea to do a Cartoon Network Cinematic Universe), and this latest stop on that journey might be the most baffling yet. Sure the original film is a straight up classic (don’t yell at me! It is!), but did it really have the kind of cultural impact to make what I GUESS is supposed to be a sequel some twenty years later? Maybe that’s why they got one of the most reliably bankable stars right now to take the lead, which to be fair is EXACTLY what they did in the original. Either way, does this manage to live up to the fantastic film that preceded it, or is this yet another soulless cash grab desperately pandering to millennial nostalgia for a quick buck? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the story of a group of kids stuck in detention for various reasons when they JUST SO HAPPEN upon a video game console that looks kind of like a TurboGrafx-16. Inside there is only a single cart called Jumanji which they decide to play because apparently detention in this school goes unsupervised; especially when its being served out in a storage room full of all sorts of precariously stacked sports equipment and I guess haunted video game consoles. The four kids, Spencer, Bethany, Fridge, and Martha (Alex Wolff, Madison Iseman, Ser’Darius Blain, and Morgan Turner) get sucked into the video game and turn into three character actors and a leading man in the process and now have to find a way to beat the game in order to get back to the real world. Dr. Smolder Bravestone is Spencer’s character (Dwayne Johnson) takes point due to his video game knowledge and brand new smoking bod, Franklin Finbar is Fridge’s character (Kevin Hart) is the animal expert with an infinitely deep backpack, Ruby Roundhouse is Martha’s character (Karen Gillan) as a Playstation 1 era female protagonist, and Professor Sheldon Oberon is Bethany’s character (Jack Black) who knows how to… read maps I guess? Anyway, the four of them have to work together in order to complete their mission of getting some sort of jewel back to its sacred resting place before the EVIL Van Pelt (Bobby Cannavale) shoots them all in the head and takes the jewel for himself. Will these four brave (or at least sort of brave) heroes manage to put aside their differences and work together to escape this CryEngine tech demo? What secrets are hiding in this jungle, and will those secrets contain references to the previous film?
Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by David Soren
Captain Underpants was a big staple of my elementary school years and while I eventually grew out the series after the first five or six books, I still have good memories (albeit vague ones) about those stories and the characters. Now at one point, even as recent as say 2010, I would have lost my freaking MIND over the idea of a Captain Underpants movie, but with this being made so later after I dropped off of the series coupled with the relatively bare bones marketing I saw for it, my expectations are somewhat tempered going into it even though I would love nothing more than for this series to get a new lease on life. Does Captain Underpants manage to be a better super hero movie than even the MCU can put out, or are we doomed for another DCCU style monstrosity of epic proportions!? Or maybe it could be the middle ground of the better X-Men movies… I guess. Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the adventures of George Beard (Kevin Hart) and Harold Hutchins (Thomas Middleditch). George is the kid with the tie and the flat-top while Harold is the one with the T-shirt and bad haircut. You should probably remember that. Anyway, they’re two good natured troublemakers at Jerome Horwitz Elementary School who always manage to peeve of their principal Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms) with their incessant pranking and never ending supply of self-published comic books that they distribute at the school. Their most popular by far is the Captain Underpants series which involves a super hero who wears nothing but underwear and a cape since most superheroes look like they’re wearing their underwear. I don’t know how true that is anymore as they mostly wear leather and body armor now, but that’s beside the point. What’s important is that George and Harold’s latest prank was the final straw to break the camel’s back and Mr. Krupp is going to separate them once and for all by putting them in different classes. In a last ditch effort to save their friendship, George uses his Hypno-Ring to hypnotize Mr. Krupp before he can sign the papers. Not only that, but just for the heck of it they ALSO convince him that he’s Captain Underpants as well which is funny at first but proves to be quite a burden as he turns into the hero anytime he hears someone snap their fingers and will only turn back once he’s bene splashed by water (it’s unclear if other substances will work in water’s stead). Oh, and there’s a mad scientist somewhere in this too who becomes a science teacher or something. Will Harold and George learn a lesson about their pranking ways now that they have to keep Mr. Krupp from hurting himself or worse? Eh, probably not, but will Captain Underpants manage to be an ACTUAL hero instead of just a guy running around in his tighty-whities? Most importantly though, is this just as good as the books I remember reading in second grade!?
The Secret Life of Pets and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney
Is it finally out!? OH THANK GOODNESS!! Whether or not this movie is actually good, at least we no longer have to see those same trailers over and over and OVER again. The marketing for this movie was absolutely insane and was in front of every damn movie I saw. They played this so much that now I don’t like Downtown by Macklemore anymore. THANKS A LOT ILLUMINATION ENTERTAINMENT!! Still, it’s not always fair to judge a movie by how obnoxiously they market it, and I did see a little bit of potential here before that hope was snuffed by the sheer incessantness of the advertisements so maybe there’s light at the end of this tunnel! Let’s find out!!
The movie is all about Max (Louis CK) who’s living a perfect life with his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) who does her human stuff during the day but always comes back to find Max waiting for her. One day however, she up and ruins the perfect setup they have going by bringing a new dog home with her named Duke (Eric Stonestreet) which is a shakeup that Max is not happy about for a myriad of reasons; the least of which being that this dog is HUGE and is probably not gonna be too friendly to the much smaller Max considering how territorial dogs can be. Oh well! They’ll learn to get along eventually, right? Well I wouldn’t DREAM of spoiling this movie, but before anything like that can take place, they get into a huge fight in the dog park and are stuck in the middle of New York City without collars and are just unfortunate enough to keep running into either Animal Control Workers, or a bunch of Animal Revolutionaries led by the rabbit Snowball (Kevin Hart) who want the two of them dead for convoluted reasons. While all that is going on, a bunch of pets at their apartment building band together to find Max and Duke before it’s too late! The group is led up by a little Pomeranian named Gidget (Jenny Slate), and is made up of a cat named Chloe (Lake Bell), a few dogs in the building (Bobby Moynihan and Hannibal Buress), a small bird who I don’t recall having any lines but is apparently played by Tara Strong, a guinea pig named Norman (Chris Renaud) and a hawk named Tiberius who’s played by Albert Brooks as you would expect a vicious animal to be played by Albert Brooks. Will Max and Duke manage to find their way home without getting murdered by humans or other animals in the process? Will their friends manage to find those two or will they end up getting just as lost in the process? Why do I get the feeling I’ve seen this movie already?
Central Intelligence and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber
That HAS to be the greatest tagline of all time, am I right? For months now, I’m been cautiously optimistic of this buddy film starring Kevin Hart as an everyday business man and Dwayne Johnson as… what can only be described as a puppy operated meat robot. Seriously, is there anyone more adorable than The Rock? Honestly, that’s the main reason WHY I was interested at all. The story looked average and the spy stuff looked simplistic, but damn do I love this guy and pairing him up with Kevin Hart seemed like a brilliant move. Well the movie is finally here, so does it live up to those expectations, or is this yet another non-starter for two actors who are absolutely fantastic but don’t always know how to pick a decent script? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart) who’s been coasting through life for the last two decades now without any real vision or goals. Now it’s not like his life is terrible because he is married to his high school sweetheart and he did land a good job as an accountant, but in high school he was the most popular kid in school and was voted most likely to succeed by his peers, and now he’s looking down the barrel of a twenty year reunion with nothing much to show for it. The day before the reunion though, things take a very odd turn as one of his fellow classmates Bobby (Dwayne Johnson) gets in touch with him on Facebook and convinces him to hang out that night which he agrees to and is surprised to see the fat kid everyone made fun of has turned into… well Dwayne Johnson. Things seem to go well that night as Bob pours his heart out about how Calvin was the only guy in school to ever treat him with kindness and respect, and they end up having a great time. That is until Bob starts asking Calvin to look into some files for him which inadvertently pulls his ass into one big terrorism plot where an ALL POWERFUL COMPUTER CHIP is gonna get sold to the highest bidder and Bobby’s the only one who can stop them. OR IS HE!? The CIA get involved as one their agents (Amy Ryan) gets in touch with Calvin and lets him know that Bob is bug-fuck nuts and is probably gonna kill everyone. Not an unreasonable assumption to make considering how much shit he fucks up and how much he REALLY idolizes Calvin, so now it’s a race against time as Calvin has to find out who to trust, how to not get killed, and possibly save America in the process!