Can You Ever Forgive Me? and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by Marielle Heller
Have I mentioned that I really like Melissa McCarthy? Because I REALLY like Melissa McCarthy. The Ghostbusters reboot was one of the best movies the year it came out, The Happytime Murders is one of the best films of this year, and I even liked Life of the Party which may not have gotten QUITE as much negativity as the puppet cop movie, but makes up for it in just how quickly everyone seems to have forgotten about it. Now she gets to star in a nice juicy biopic that doesn’t seem to have the over the top comedic tone of her usual output and is instead a much quieter and more character driven film. Hey, it may not be what she’s known for but I have no doubt that she has the acting chops to pull off something much more serious and it’d be even MORE hilarious if she makes a movie that critics fawn over in the same year that they’ve quite harshly rejected everything else she’s done. Does this biopic capture the importance of its subject matter along with giving Melissa McCarthy an interesting role to work with, or will this be a bigger disappointment than Bohemian Rhapsody? Okay, chances are NOTHING could be as disappointing as that, but let’s find out!!
Back in the long ago time of the early nineties, biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) was struggling to make ends meet with whatever profits she made from her earlier books drying up completely and her bitter attitude and sardonic wit making her not very popular in office environments. This is made especially bad because she’s experiencing a rather lengthy bout of writers block and is being stonewalled by her agent (Jane Curtain), so with nothing else to fall back on a sick cat to take care of she starts to pawn off whatever memorabilia she has; including a letter she got from Katherine Hepburn. It seems that letters like this can fetch a nice price from book stores and collectors, though when she just so happens to find two more letters from someone else who is famous she learns that they need to be… spicy as it were to fetch more than a few bucks. Well hold on! She’s a writer, isn’t she? And she writes about famous people already, right? Why, it wouldn’t be THAT hard to just make up some letters in the voice of those famous individuals and use old typewriters with old paper to more or less print money! That will give her enough money to help her sick cat AND keep her drinking habit alive! So she begins her life of crime which not only keeps a roof over her head but gives her a passion for writing that she hasn’t experienced for some time; not to mention giving her a little cash to spoil herself and her friend Jack Hock (Richard E Grant) who eventually joins her to help cover her tracks. How long though can these two keep this scheme of their going before collectors and the authorities start to take a closer look? Even if they can get away with it, will it help Lee understand and maybe even resolve the issues that have been plaguing her life and her writing up to this point? Is it too early to start filling out my Award Card yet? I know we’ve got another two months and I’m NOTORIOUSLY bad at picking winners, but this time I’m feeling lucky!
What!? Since she didn’t win for Bridesmaids, it means she’s due!
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!
“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…”
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.
“I can’t HEAR you! Over the SOUND! OF ME STOMPING YOUR BALLS!!”
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!?
“Take a shot every time I cross a hundred million at the box office!!”
Ghostbusters (2016) and Ghostbusters (1984) are both owned by Columbia Pictures
The new movie has finally come out we can all confirm that the world has not plunged into forty years of darkness, but while there have yet to be any reports of rivers and seas boiling or dogs and cats living together, there’s denying that we indeed saw some mass hysteria . Hopefully all that will subside soon enough, but those people have already gotten more attention than they deserve and it’s been difficult to keep everything in perspective as some people decided that the success or failure of this movie was going to be the crescendo in some childhood ruining man hating agenda, so trying to have a measured conversation about the strengths of both this new film and the original it’s based off of has not been an easy task. Thankfully we can hopefully start taking a measured look at both films’ individual merits and how one movie might have done somethings better than the other without having the more obnoxious among us either use it as proof that we are biased or evidence that the new movie is horrible. To kick that discussion off, here’s my own examination of both films and how one stacks up to the other based on important aspects that are in both films!
Who Ya Gonna Call? (The Crew)
This new movie made two fantastic decisions right off the bat. It was a reboot instead of a sequel, and they didn’t try to make these new characters analogues for the original crew. No one in this movie is a recreation of someone from the last film which means that we don’t have to play the WHO DID IT BETTER game on individual actors (a decision also wisely made by the Evil Dead reboot), and similarly I’m so glad that this new Ghostbusters team is not the trainees, or even worse THE DAUGHTERS, of the original crew which would have completely ruined what makes these new characters so interesting. Look, I’m well aware that this is a movie starring women that FIRST had to be done by men, but the fact that it’s not the case in the movie itself is an inspiring message to young girls to be proactive and forge their own paths. A lot of people who are upset about this movie seem to think it would have been better if this was a passing of the torch story which is a concept that worked pretty well for Star Wars, but there’s no way it would have worked here. At least in that movie there’s a whole universe to explore and the new people wouldn’t necessarily be in the shadows of the original cast allows them to do their own thing; something that would be infinitely harder here if the new Ghostbusters were still using the same logos, firehouse, equipment, jumpsuits, what have you that the original cast were wearing twenty years ago and everyone in the movie knew that. It wouldn’t be able to be its own thing as it would constantly be in the shadows of the original members who are still hanging around the background and would take attention away from the brilliant actors that are the real stars here.
Ghostbusters and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Paul Feig
No other movie this year, save MAYBE Batman v Superman, had as much drama and passion as this reboot of a classic eighties comedy. A very vocal minority of people were deadest on hating this from the word go with nothing more to go on than the idea that it would star women instead of men, and they haven’t shut the hell up about it since then; effectively drowning out any legitimate criticism that was levied against the movie. It’s true that this is a reboot and that Ghostbusters was a very much a movie of its time (not only in concept but also the fact that comedies just don’t have the same clout and reverence they did back in the eighties), but I was still genuinely interested in seeing this based on who they ended up casting and some of the better moments in the trailer. Does this manage to live up to the hype as a patriarch smashing masterpiece, or will it live up to the OTHER hype of being the worst possible thing to ever happen to anyone at any time in history? Probably neither, but is it at least good? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Columbia Physics professor Dr Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) being forced to confront an old colleague of hers, namely Dr Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) over a book they wrote years ago on the paranormal which she has since disowned but has recently resurfaced and may pose a threat to her bid for tenure at the university. Abbey never stopped her research and is angry at Erin for abandoning her those many years ago so she’s not too keen to help her out and has even gotten a new partner in crime in the form of super engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and they’re both trying to get evidence that ghosts really do exist. Opportunity comes a-knocking for all three of them however as Abby and Holtzmann (with Erin along for the ride trying to get Abby to take her name off the book) actually do run into a ghost and get footage of it on camera. Unfortunately, the video goes viral, Erin gets fired from the University, and all three of them can’t get anyone to believe the story. Still, this is some groundbreaking stuff they’ve uncovered, so they pool all their money together to begin a start-up company and relocate to the attic of a Chinese restaurant (a firehouse looked promising, but was WAY too expensive). As they perfect their craft and Holtzmann works on the weapons, they eventually meet Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) who saw a ghost at the subway station she works at and enlists the Ghostbusters to bust it before eventually joining the team, as does Kevin Beckman (chris Hemsworth) who becomes their secretary because no one else bothered to apply for the job. While all this is going on by the way, there’s some creepy dude named Rowan (Neil Casey) who seems to be setting up devices that amply the strength of ghosts that are already haunting various places in NYC and is clearly planning something much bigger. Can the Ghostbusters find out Rowan’s evil plan before it’s too late? Will the world even accept them as anything more than frauds and Ghost Hunter knock offs? Is there ANY chance that those determined to hate this movie will feel any different by actually watching it? I’m gonna guess no on that last one.
“Is THAT what people have been saying about us!?” “Yup.” “Wow…”
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!
“I have a plan.” “Does it involve surrendering?” “No.” “I don’t like it then.”