Tag Archives: Nat Faxon

Cinema Dispatch: Downhill

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Downhill and all the images you see in this review are owned by Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Nat Faxon & Jim Rash

Let’s see… I don’t remember seeing any trailers for this, I didn’t know it was coming out until the day before I saw it, and I haven’t even seen Veep yet.  Yeah, not sure what to say about this one going into it, especially since Sonic The Hedgehog took up all my attention last weekend.  But hey, I’m sure SOMEONE out there is excited for this film, right?  It made it to Sundance!  Did SONIC make it to Sundance?  I think NOT!  Yeah okay, it’s got a good cast but Will Ferrell hasn’t been on the best of streaks lately so I’m giving this about a fifty-fifty shot at being any good.  Does it manage to beat the odds and be the surprise hit of the weekend, or will the only thing people remember about this is that it’s the film that tried to take on the Blue Furball on his opening weekend?  Let’s find out!!

Pete and Billie Staunton (Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) have taken their sons Finn and Emerson (Julian Grey and Ammon Jacob Ford) to the Alps for a family vacation which frankly Pete really needed as his father died a mere eight months ago and he’s been shaken up about it ever since.  You know how these things go however; the kids would rather just be on their screens all day, the busy schedule means everyone is tired, and all this extra effort and tension is bubbling up repressed negativity in unexpected ways.  Perhaps the MOST unexpected way though is what Pete ends up doing that puts a huge damper on things for the rest of the trip!  At one point the family is enjoying their lunch on the patio when an avalanche starts to approach, and like what any of us would do (what, you WOULDN’T do this?) Pete grabs his phone and skedaddles while Billie clings to the kids and hopes that they don’t all die in the snowfall.  They don’t of course, but darn it if Pete running away didn’t become the biggest buzzkill of this entire trip, and it calls into question quite a lot about their lives, their relationships, and where this family is headed.  Will Billie and Pete find a way to come back together after this bizarre event has torn them apart?  Will their kids be able to cope with the fact that their dad left them for dead and is barely even acknowledging this fact?  Seriously, what kind of excuse could Pete POSSIBLY come up with to explain that?  At that point you might as well just drop a smoke bomb and disappear for the rest of your life.

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“Hey, where were you guys?”     “WHAT!?”     “Yeah, I was over there waiting for you.  What, you didn’t get my text?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Charlie’s Angels

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Charlie’s Angels and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Elizabeth Banks

I’ve never seen the Charlie’s Angels movies from the early 2000s, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the original TV series either.  Heck, I’m pretty sure the closest thing I’ve seen to it was Totally Spies, and while that has its fans, it’s pretty much been dropped into the memory hole with dozens of other 2000s shows that you don’t remember.  So if nothing else, I can at least come into this series with a relatively fresh perspective, and I’ve got to say that I’ve been pretty interested in what we’ve been shown so far; particularly the cast which looks to be amazing and the fact that it’s being directed by Elizabeth Banks who has been gaining some momentum as a voice behind the camera as well as in front of it.  Does this reboot of the seventies classic bring the franchise into the twenty first century; at least for the second time?  Let’s find out!!

Elena (Naomi Scott) is a scientist working at some business company on some new technology that will revolutionize the power industry through… I guess computer coding?  The invention in this case is called Calisto which is a little box the size of an Echo Dot or a Google Home that can somehow power entire rooms and even buildings.  However, there is ONE itty-bitty flaw with it in that it can cause people to have brain aneurisms through some sort of bug that Elena is SURE she can fix, but her misogynistic boss (Nat Faxon) won’t let her because they have to get it to market and he wants to take all the credit for it.  If only there was an agency that understood her plight as a woman in tech and could help her stop a supervillain plot at the same time.  Oh wait!  There is!  The Townsend Agency consists primarily of Bosleys and Angels; the latter being the agents who go on missions and the former being the ones to coordinate the Angels.  The two angles who got assigned to Elena’s case are Sabina and Jane (Kristen Stewart and Ella Balinska) and it should be a straightforward Exposé of company documents, but when an assassin (Jonathan Tucker) shows up and takes out one of the Bosleys (Djimon Hounsou), things have clearly escalated to a point far more seirous than Elena had ever imagined.  With the help of a new Bosley (Elizabeth Banks), the three women team up to try and take () back from the evil company and find out just what it is they plan on doing with it in its current deadly state.  Will Elena prove herself to be a true Angel in the making despite a lifetime of being under the thumb of patriarchal and woman unfriendly industry?  What are Sabina and Jane’s story, and will they find excuses to clash with one another when they really should be working together to save the world?  Most importantly of all, does this succeed in empowering women to be in silly spy movies just like men can!?

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“Why does SHE get the gun?”     “Do you know how to use a gun?”     “I mean… it’s the principal of the matter.”     “WHAT principal!?”     “Uh… feminism?”     “Yeah… no.”     “You’re right.  My bad.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Ready or Not

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Ready or Not and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett

Has it been a bad year for horror films?  There have certainly been quite a few misses like the Child’s Play remake, Ma, and whatever the heck Brightburn was supposed to be, but we also had fun stuff like The Intruder and even a genuinely great horror film like Us, so the year isn’t a TOTAL miss as far for these kinds of films.  Still, we could always use a few more quality flicks here and there since it’s becoming one of the few reliably bankable genres now that Disney Remake has become its own ginormous slice of the pie and pretty much everything else is heading towards the streaming model to stay afloat.  Wait a minute… this is a Fox Searchlight movie which means it’s STILL DISNEY!  HORROR SHOCK!!  Anyway!  Does this grotesque spin on the children’s game of Hide and Seek end up being a new classic for the genre, or will we regret ever looking for it in the first place?  Let’s find out!!

Grace (Samara Weaving), who I can only assume plays a professional Margot Robbie impersonator in this movie, is getting married to Alex Le Domas (Mark O’Brien) who is an heir to the VAST Le Domas fortune which was made through board games and other such ventures.  The family seems pleasant enough despite being a collection of old money weirdos, but things take an… interesting turn when on their wedding night at the gigantic Le Domas estate, the family requests that Grace take part in a tradition of their where the newest member of the family has to play a game at the stroke of midnight.  The head of the family Tony (Henry Czerny) explains that this MYSTERIOUS box given to his great grandfather by their original benefactor will spit out a card with a game printed on it, and they will play that game which will officially bring her into the family.  Will it be chess?  Parcheesi?  Do the Urkel?  No, the game turns out to be Hide and Seek which seems a bit childish, but Grace is up for it if it means getting along with her new family who mysteriously went quiet just now.  Anyway, she runs and hides, gets bored and starts wandering the halls, and then Alex brings her into a room to explain that the rest of those mo-fos are going to kill her if they find her because of reasons that… well he doesn’t quite explain there and I’m not about to spoil it here.  The point is that she’s got to find a way to avoid detection and even fight back if the need arises while Alex tries to find a way for them to escape, and as the night goes on the family starts to get more and more desperate as there seems to be quite a bit at stake here.  Can Grace manage to escape this house with her internal organs, as well as her marriage, intact?  What is the family hiding that could possibly explain why a game of hide and seek has turned into the home version of The Most Dangerous Game?  Is it just me, or do these rich jerks seem WOEFULLY unprepared for this?

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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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