Tag Archives: Maya Rudolph

Cinema Dispatch: The Happytime Murders

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The Happytime Murders and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment

Directed by Brian Henson

Well the day has finally arrived!  After a decade of production hell, Brian Henson has FINALLY completed his dream project and is ready to show it to the world!  I’m excited to say the least, especially after they released the trailer and I started looking into Henson Alternative which is the offshoot of the Henson Company that’s responsible for bringing this to life, and sure some of their productions have been less than stellar, but this premise is just too great of an idea to NOT want to see get made!  I rarely get this excited for a movie as I usually try not to get too hyped for stuff that I’ll end up reviewing (I’m also VERY good at living under a rock so a lot of movie do sneak up on me), but for this one I have very high hopes that we’ll get something unique if nothing else.  Does this manage to exceed my expectations and is one of the best action comedies this year, or was this yet another pet project that should have never seen the light of day?  Let’s find out!!

Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) is a private eye working in Los Angeles who not only used to be a cop but was the very first puppet cop in the city.  However, after… THE INCIDENT… that ousted him from the force, he’s been making ends meet digging up other people’s dirty laundry.  May not be the most noble of professions, but it keeps a roof over his head, a steady paycheck for his assistant Bubbles (Maya Rudolph), and a well-stocked shelf of booze.  Content with his sad life, Phil never expected that his latest client Sandra White (Dorien Davies) to be the one that changes it all forever.  Well sort of.  While investigating a blackmail letter that Miss White received, Phil stumbles upon a bunch of dead puppets; one of whom was a cast member of a famous puppet TV show known as The Happytime Gang.  Things get even worse for Phil once his former partner Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) is put on the case, and Phil eventually finds his way towards investigating it himself when more Happytime Gang bodies start piling up; especially since his brother Larry (Victor Yerrid) was one of the cast members as well as Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), the woman he loved.  Can Phil and Connie put aside their differences regarding… THE INCIDENT… in order to solve this case and save the lives of the remaining Happytime Gang?  What could possibly be motivating such killings, and could it have something to do with Phil himself?  Can we get Best Achievement in Puppets category for the Oscars?  I feel like this should win SOMETHING, and if we’re making up new awards anyway!

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“If Suicide Squad gets one, you bet your blue butt I’m gonna get one too.”     “Why are you putting your sunglasses on?  We’re going inside that building.”    “Don’t ruin this for me…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Trailer Talk (The Happytime Murders)

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The Happytime Murders is owned by STXfilms and all the images you see in this trailer talk are the property of their respective owners

Directed by Brian Henson

If you follow movie news rather closely (or did a google search after the trailer drop), you’d be aware that this is a project that has been in development hell for quite a few years; languishing at Lionsgate for many years before finally getting switched over to STX in 2015 which is who is finally getting this thing into theaters.  Apparently the story of a hardboiled detective who is ALSO a puppet wasn’t the easiest concept to produce even it sounds like THE GREATEST IDEA EVER, but now that this is ACTUALLY turning into a real film instead of a piece of strange Hollywood trivia, what do I think of what we’ve gotten in the first trailer?  I think it looks pretty good!  I’m a huge Melissa McCarthy fan, and while the joke is PRETTY obvious, there’s certainly potential for it to be really subversive of the cop genre and at the very least very interesting to watch.  I love the puppet designs here and in all honesty the incongruous nature of these goofy looking characters with a raunchy cop comedy isn’t nearly as enticing as seeing awesome puppets on the big screen again.  Sure, we had those two Muppet movies a few years back (this was in development well before those films by the way), but if it were up to me we’d be getting at least three puppet movies a year and in ALL sorts of genres for all sorts of audiences!  So the novelty will certainly be THERE and I’ll surely get a few chuckles out of it, but it needs to have more than just puppets acting crudely in order to be a GOOD film.  If that’s all they have up their sleeves, well Meet the Feebles, Crank Yankers, and TV Funhouse beat them to it.

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“I can’t HEAR you!  Over the SOUND!  OF ME STOMPING YOUR BALLS!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Life of the Party

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Life of the Party and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Ben Falcone

This isn’t the most object thing to say as a film critic, but there really are times where the success of a movie or the people behind it makes me hate the end product just a little bit more.  Adam Sandler’s entire career is based around this, and absolute dreck like Fist Fight and Daddy’s Home 2 are bad enough that their success only intensifies what I found lacking in them; especially with Daddy’s Home 2 which was so bad AND so successful that it pretty much poisoned the first film for me which I thought wasn’t THAT bad and somewhat enjoyable.  I bring this up because I get the feeling that many people feel that way about Melissa MicCarthy and her movies, and yet I’ve never had anything but praise for her as a performer.  Okay, I wasn’t a fan of Bridesmaids and I still haven’t seen Identity Thief or Tammy, but her track record has been pretty strong as far as I’m concerned and even her low end efforts like The Boss are still better than plenty other comedies that don’t seem to attract as much ire; not to mention the absolute shit storm that blew up over that AMAZING Ghostbusters movie!  Now she’s back to “ruin” yet another one of your treasured eighties films as this movie seems to be an update on Old School starring Rodney Dangerfield, and I hope the next film she does has her working on a golf course or traveling back in time to meet her parents in high school; just to see how far she can piss off “passionate” fanboys who can’t stand to see their original films (THAT AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE!!) being updated for a new audience!  Does this latest effort manage to do for college frat humor what the new Ghostbusters did for comedian driven adventure films, or is this a disappointingly low effort outing from one of the most talented comedians of our time?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Deanna Miles (Melissa McCarthy) dropping off her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) for her final year of college which SHOULD be a celebratory day… but it all goes to hell when her jerk of a husband Dan (Matt Walsh) informs her on the ride home that he’s divorcing her, he’s already seeing someone, and he’s gonna sell the house.  Well that stinks!  What the heck is she gonna do to support herself now that her husband is gone and she hasn’t worked in years; not to mention that she never finished college which closes her off from most job opportunities!  Wait a minute… COLLEGE!  THAT’S IT!!  She’ll enroll in the same college as her daughter to finish up that final year and get her degree in… Archeology!  Because the market is bursting at the seams for someone with THOSE qualifications I guess!  Oh, that’s not important!  The important thing is that Maddie’s mom is gonna be at the same place as her and will be SUPER embarrassing!  Well actually, Maddie’s sisters as the Sorority (Gillian Jacobs, Adria Arjona, and Jessie Ennis) take to her rather quickly and she soon becomes the talk of campus; even getting invited to parties and hooking up with sexy stud Jack (Luke Benward)!  Oh, and I guess she’s got to attend her archeology classes taught by Chris Parnell, but forget that!  It’s time to put the MOM back in MOMentous College Experiences as she teaches the youngsters about being responsible adults and they in turn teach her how to cut loose!  Will Deanna manage to pass her final classes to get that degree, or will the pitfalls of college life distract her from reaching her dreams?  Will Maddie gain a newfound respect for her mother now that they’re spending so much time together, and what will the divorce do to her relationship with her as well as her dad?  Will Melissa McCarthy retain her title as one of the most bankable stars in the country, even when she’s doing a cheap college film!?

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“Take a shot every time I cross a hundred million at the box office!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Emoji Movie

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The Emoji Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures

Directed by Tony Leondis

I’m not ready for this.  Seriously, why am I doing this!?  WHAT HAVE I EVER DONE TO DESERVE THIS PUNISHMENT!?  Actually, don’t answer that.  Okay… focus.  Deep Breathes.  Sigh…  So The LEGO Movie was a big hit and so was The LEGO Batman Movie which means the imitators and knock offs were sure to follow; culminating in THIS which I can only assume was the first idea that someone threw out at Sony and they just decided to run with it.  It’s got a pretty good cast, and I have liked Sony Animation films in the past, so maybe this has a shot!?  Yeah… probably not.  The best thing we can hope for is that it won’t be TOO painful…  So then!  Will this be a SLAM DUNK for the Oscars, or have we somehow managed to find a new low in cinema?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is all about the MAGICAL world of living apps that live inside all of our phones and in particular the messaging app that contains those ADORABLE and MARKETABLE Emojis we all love so very much!  One such Emoji is a Meh in training named Gene (TJ Miller) who’s ready to start his first day as an… OFFICIAL Emoji… I guess.  See, how it works is that these Emoji creatures wait around all day in vertical cubicles (basically a thirty by six Hollywood Squares setup) and are scanned whenever their MASTER USER wishes to use one of them.  Why they couldn’t just have their pictures taken and then scan THOSE when the user needs them is beyond me, but asking questions like that only breaks the immersion!  So anyway, Meh’s first day ends in utter disaster as he PANICS and makes the wrong face; leading to the user thinking the phone is malfunctioning and will therefore take it to be replaced.  Now all the Emojis are ready to hang him in the middle of the street because he’s bringing about Armageddon with the good ol’ Smiley Emoji named… wait for it… SMILER (Maya Rudolph) leading the charge!  He manages to escape with another Emoji named HI-5 (James Corden) who used to be one of the user’s favorites, but has fallen on hard times and needs to find a way to force himself back into their good graces and thinks that helping Gene find a way to… fix his bad Meh face I guess… will also lead to a solution to HIS problem.  The answer comes in the form of a hacker named Jailbreak (Anna Faris) who agrees to rewrite their code or whatever if they can help her get to THE CLOUD!  Okay then.  Will Gene find a way to be more meh, or is his less meh qualities really a gift instead of curse?  Will the three of them manage to save the phone and live for another few months before their owner switches out his current one for the latest model?  What sick and twisted God is responsible for giving such miserable creatures any degree of sentience AND WHY AM I SITTING THROUGH THIS NIGHTMARE!?

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“Kill… Meee…”

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Cinema Dispatch: Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

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Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone

Weird Al got a movie, Oingo Boingo got a movie, and now The Lonely Island have one.  I’m sure you can point to ten awful musician movies for every good one, but there are some all-out classics in that very strange sub genre.  The aforementioned UHF is a lot of fun, Forbidden Zone is an absolute classic, hell, let’s go ahead and throw in The Blues Brothers and Walk Hard: The Dewy Cox story while we’re at it!  True, the musicians in question for those movies are known more for their comedies than their music, but you can pretty much say the same thing about The Lonely Island!  Does this mockumentary into the absurd world of pop stardom turn out to be the perfect update to the Spinal Tap formula, or are these guys not up to the task of stretching their material out for an entire movie?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is presented to us as an documentary into the life of Conner 4 Real (Andy Samberg) whose debut solo album (Thriller, Also) was a record smashing hit and launched him into super stardom after he left The Lonely Island… I mean The Style Boyz.  We start the movie on the eve of the release of his second album which has a pretty amazing title (CONNquest) but it turns out to be a finical and critical flop.  From then on, we follow Conner as he tries more and more desperate moves to salvage the fledgling album and boost his ticket sales while also coming to terms that he may not be as good as he thinks he is (or at least as good as his Yes Men tell him he is).  Along with him on this journey is his DJ Own (Jorma Taccone) who was one of The Style Boyz back in the day, his manager Harry (Tim Meadows) who’s trying to juggle Conner’s insane ego with his duties of keeping their empire afloat, and many others who make up the eclectic group of misfits that Conner surrounds himself with.  Can he manage to find his creative spirit once again and come back stronger than ever, or will he hit rock bottom as he slowly begins to isolate those who are trying to help him.  Oh who am I kidding?  It will probably be both!

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“Would you fuck me?  I’d fuck me.”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Angry Birds Movie

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The Angry Birds Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures

Directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly

After the disaster that was Ratchet & Clank, this COULDN’T be worse… right?  Honestly, with the track record that video game adaptations have, it’s not like a shitty movie based on a mobile game can tarnish their legacy any more than Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li did, which isn’t to say that I have any hope for this movie; just that it’s not in a position to do much damage.  Does this turn out to be an unexpectedly competent surprise, or just another awful adaptation to add to the pile?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the angriest bird in Birdville, or whatever this place is called, named Red (Jason Sudeikis) who has finally pushed the citizens of Bird-opolis to the breaking point!  After an “incident” gets out of hand involving a slightly messed up cake and cracked egg, Red is assigned to mandatory Anger Management which is led by Matilda (Maya Rudolph) and is attended by Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride), and Terence (Sean Penn); none of whom are particularly well adjusted.  That’s only the first half of the movie though.  Eventually, a ship chock full of pigs arrives at the Island of Birds and come offering friendship and gifts of the outside world!  Only Red can see that they’re up to no good though, but no one wants to listen to him because… well he’s an asshole.  Still, he manages to get Bomb and Chuck on his side enough so that they agree to go with him to find the LEGENDARY MIGHTY EAGLE who is said to watch over Bird-sylvania and aid it in its time of need.  Can red get over his anger issues long enough to do some real good for his fellow birds?  Can the LEGENDARY MIGHTY EAGLE save the town before the pigs enact their nefarious plan?  Have these birds never bothered to go off of their island!?  How have they never heard of pigs before!?

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“Whatever it is, I think we should worship it.”     “Don’t you think that’s a little extreme?”     “HERETIC!!”     “Don’t you mean… HAM-etic?”

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