So how’s everyone else enjoying their Spring? Lots of sunshine and pretty flowers? Well for me it’s been nonstop rain, a tornado warning, and a broken toilet that cost a bunch of money to fix, so things have been just a tiny bit hectic over here. That’s certainly a reason why my movie reviews have been a little late recently, but thanks to streaming services and studios becoming less confident about their theatrical releases, it’s now easier than ever to catch up on stuff in a timely fashion! To wit, I have three movie reviews for your enjoyment and to hopefully distract from the fact that I haven’t seen the new Top Gun movie yet!
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers is owned by Walt Disney Pictures
Directed by Akiva Schaffer
The former stars of the nineties animated show Chip ‘n’ Dale Rescue Rangers have gone through a lot since its cancellation all those years ago with Chip (John Mulaney) selling out and going corporate while Dale (Andy Samberg) trying to make it work all these years later; banking on the nostalgia adults have for his glory days and selling signed photos at conventions to keep himself afloat. To make matters worse, they ended the show on pretty bad terms so they’ve hardly spoken to each other since then, but fate brings them back together as one of the cast members of that show Monterey Jack (Eric Bana) is in deep with the cartoon mafia and gets kidnapped right after calling both of them for help. With their friend’s life in the balance, Chip & Dale must put aside their differences and work together to scourge the LA Underworld (or at least the nostalgic cartoon version of it) to save their friend and perhaps even come back together after being apart for so long.
I’m either gonna be too harsh on this movie because I’m a giant sourpuss or I’m gonna be too nice to this for fear of looking like a giant sourpuss. It occupies a very strange place for me as I do genuinely enjoy a lot about this movie, but I still can’t quite get behind it for reasons that… well probably make me look like a giant sourpuss. Before we get into that, let me just say that I got a decent amount of laughs in this and I was genuinely tickled by a lot of the imagination on display. There are some deep-cut references that certainly appealed to me, and concepts like the putty captain and the puppet chef were well-realized and fun to watch on screen. Heck, I’d go so far as to say that the inclusion of Ugly Sonic has me convinced that he should get his own spin-off series because they were just that funny! It’s almost like the nineties kids finally got the Roger Rabbit sequel we always wanted to see as the movie’s use of nostalgia, however cynical it may be, is at least cleverly realized with some very funny premises throughout. I love the idea of turning the objects of nostalgia that are the lifeblood of the convention scene and making them the literal guests trying to make a few bucks at rickety card tables with tri-fold boards of merch. It’s clear that the creative behind this are of my particular generation, both with the nostalgia for all this nineties crap and the subsequent decades of nostalgia baiting entertainment, so it gets more than a few points for some level of authenticity even if the movie leans far too heavily on it which I guess brings us to what’s wrong with the movie. The thing is that you can only rely on sight gags and nostalgia for so long before the movie has to start standing on its story and this is where the movie just doesn’t work for me. I didn’t find Chip or Dale particularly endearing as characters, nor did I find the plot all that interesting with the mystery being pretty threadbare. Now I could avoid being a giant sourpuss here and chalk this up to being a kid’s movie where a swift pace and lighthearted tone can carry an otherwise simplistic storyline, but I feel the age and density of so many of the references means that it’s aiming a bit higher than it wants to admit. Do kids even know who the Rescue Rangers are? Heck, are kids gonna get any of the Disney Afternoon jokes in here; let alone the references to more adult-oriented stuff like South Park or the general concept of bootleg movies? It’s a movie that clearly wants to have its cake and eat it; setting its targets squarely on a Millennial audience while hiding behind the Gen Z for its immature and simplistic storytelling. Perhaps it splits the difference evenly enough that both groups will get at least something out of this and I can’t deny the moments I enjoyed throughout, so it gets a little bit of a pass from me but this trick isn’t gonna work indefinitely. Millennials will get sick of 90s-stalgia just as everyone got sick of 80s-stalgia about a decade ago, and what is that gonna leave us with? 2000s-stalgia? I mean it’d be nice if I got my Megas XLR reboot, but still…
An American Pickle and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by Brandon Trost
For weeks I’ve been grumbling about the slow drip of releases the last few months, but now I find myself spoiled for choice as I’ve not only got Black is King to still watch on Disney+, I find out there’s a Seth Rogen movie on HBO Max as well! Even with his performance in Long Shot coming off as obnoxious and juvenile, I’ve always had a soft spot for the guy ever since I saw Knocked Up which is a movie I love and have seen so many times that I’d probably put in my top ten comedies ever made. He’s never really reached THAT level of brilliance since then (especially working without Judd Apatow), but I’m always interested to see what he does and he’ll surprise you every once in a while something great like The Night Before and Sausage Party. Does this latest outing from the guy end up being one of his best performances yet, or is there a reason they’re not saving this one until theaters open back up? Let’s find out!!
Herschel Greenbaum (Seth Rogen) is a simple man from the Eastern European village of Schlupsk who moves to America with his loving wife Sarah (Sarah Snook) to start a new life and establish himself and his family as part of the American Dream. He gets a job bashing rats with a stick at a Pickle Factory which certainly pays more than his ditch-digging job back in Schlupsk, and despite the massive xenophobia against Jewish people in this country, things couldn’t be looking any brighter! That is until Herschel falls into a pickle vat mere moments before the factory is closed down and his body is left forgotten for a hundred years until some kids stumble into the factory and open the vat; freeing Herschel who was perfectly preserved in the pickle brine and therefore hasn’t aged a day because of SCIENCE! On the plus side, he now lives in a world with better food, less Polio, and better sticks to bash rats with. On the other hand, everyone he knows and loves is dead. Six of one, half a dozen of the other I suppose, but what might just tip the scales into this being a net positive is that he has one living relative that has agreed to take him in; his great-grandson Ben Greenbaum (also Seth Rogen). With his great-grandson being the last connection he has to the life he had before, will Herschel be able to move forward with his life and find fulfillment in this strange new world? Can Ben help his great grandfather through this challenging time, and are there perhaps challenges of his own that he will now be forced to confront? Does this movie get utterly derailed for no good reason after a while!? You tell me; does a pickle taste good on a hamburger!?
The Lion King and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Jon Favreau
Didn’t I just do this a month ago? Seriously Disney, I know you own basically all of entertainment now, but can you at least change it up a bit from month to month? We JUST got done making fun of the genie in Aladdin; we don’t need another remake this soon! Seriously, if they keep burning through their renaissance films like this they’re gonna have to take another stab at Treasure Planet before 2030, and if they thought that one sunk like a lead balloon LAST TIME… oh who am I kidding? We’ll give it a billion dollars at the box office without a second thought! So until those bleak times are upon us, does this latest remake of a beloved nineties classic live up to the original, or is this a worse idea than Lion King 1.5? Let’s find out!!
Now stop me if you’ve heard this one before! Simba (Donald Glover) is the son of Mustafa (James Earl Jones); king of the Pride Lands and brother of Scar (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who conveniently has a scar on his face to go with the name. Now if the name wasn’t enough to convince you, scar is one EVIL lion that wants the throne for himself but now has to wait behind the little brat for his shot. That is unless he pulls a Hamlet and MURDERS THE KING IN COLD BLOOD, albeit with a stampede instead of a jug of ear poison. Convincing young Simba that he is responsible, he runs off to live in exile while Scar takes the Pride Lands for himself, and the young prince runs into two free spirited do nothings called Timon and Pumbaa (Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen). While Simba is living his carefree life as a slacker, things are not going so well in the Pride Lands under Scar’s quasi fascist rule with the help of the hyenas and so Simba’s childhood friend Nala (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter) runs off to find help, and believing Simba to be dead this whole time… well let’s just say there’s an awkward conversation very soon in their future. Can Simba find the courage to face his fear and his guilt that have defined him for so long? Just how far will Scar go to stay seated on his throne, and does Simba have a chance of defeating him after all this time? Did Disney listen to that “everything the light touches” line again recently and consider that a challenge?
Long Shot and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Jonathan Levine
I love Seth Rogen! Have I mentioned that before? Knocked Up, Neighbors 2, The Night Before, all are great movies that I’ve watched multiple times and showcase just how talented the guy is. Now we’ve got a movie with him AND Charlize Theron, one of the hardest working actors working today with so many great movies under her belt!? Well dang! How had I not heard about this movie before!? Seriously, considering how many times I go to the movies you’d think I’d have seen one trailer but no! I hadn’t even heard of this until about a week ago and I had no idea what it was even about, but hey, when do you watch a comedy for the plot? I’m here to see these two work off of each other and tell some funny jokes! Does this team up manage to knock it out of the park like peanut butter and chocolate, or are we in for an experiment that’s gone more horribly awry than whatever the heck it is Oreo has been pumping out recently? Let’s find out!!
Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogen) is a journalist with a serious chip on his shoulder who’s had a rough time of it recently and Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron) is the Secretary of State who’s had a rough time of it always. Two people from two vastly different worlds who you wouldn’t think would ever meet, but in movie land these two have something of a history as Charlotte used to babysit Fred when they were younger and there was an embarrassing incident between the two of them. Still, fate seems to conspire to bring them back together as Fred loses his job and is brought to an upper class party by his friend Lance (O’Shea Jackson Jr) where Charlotte just so happens to also be. They talk for a bit, Fred makes a fool of himself when trying to confront an evil media conglomerate (Andy Serkis) and you’d figure that life would just keep on going from there. However, Charlotte starts to read some of Fred’s earlier work and comes up with a brilliant idea! See, she plans on running for president as the current guy (Bob Odenkirk) won’t be running for a second term to instead make movies and so she needs a speech writer who can write funny and incisive commentary that she can pepper into her usual rhetoric, so going on quite a limb here she hires Fred for the job despite him being… well a boorish man child who can barely even dress himself. Naturally her staff isn’t too thrilled included her top aids Maggie and Tom (June Diane Raphael and Ravi Patel), but everyone goes along with it and Fred, if nothing else, seems to write decent speeches and the two begin to reconnect once more; possibly with more going on between them than either initially realized. Can Fred be the necessary piece that Charlotte has been missing in her life, and is Fred even capable of being what she needs him to be? What sinister actors out there will try to undermine Charlotte’s campaign, and how will Fred react to the realities of being part of the political machine on such a large stage? Seriously, how did this jacket alone not destroy her political career?
The Disaster Artist and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24
Directed by James Franco
I may not be as over the moon in love with The Room as plenty of other people are, and it has admittedly lost a bit of its charm once you realize just how misogynistic the whole thing is, but it certainly has my respect as being one of the more unique examples of a GOOD BAD MOVIE due in no small part to the auteur himself, Tommy Wiseau. Now he’s far from the only ridiculously cocky creatives out there who write, direct, and star in what they perceive to be their one true masterpiece (*cough* Old Fashioned *cough*), but with Mr Wiseau there’s a genuine sense of mystery about the guy as many details of his origin are STILL unknown to this day (HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE IN THE INTERNET AGE!?) and his… shall we say UNIQUE brand of acting certainly sets him apart from many of the other low rent struggling artists out there. No doubt there is a VERY interesting story to tell about this one guy, his one movie, and his friendship with co-star Greg Sestero, which the wannabe auteur himself James Franco has opted to do by adapting Greg’s book The Disaster Artist into a motion picture; one that he directs, produces, and stars in of course. Will this examination of one of Hollywood’s biggest oddities be a worthwhile exploration of the creative process and what it truly means to be an artist, or are we just desperately trying to milk a novelty that had lost its luster many years ago? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the journey of two men; aspiring actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) and… I guess aspiring actor as well Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). The two meet in an acting class where Greg finds the eccentric weirdo with bad hair and a worse accent rather endearing for his utter fearlessness and ability to throw himself out there in ways that Greg is still struggling to do despite his hopes of becoming an actor. Because of Greg’s admiration for Tommy and Tommy’s love of being admired, the two move in together and work their way through Hollywood; getting small gigs here and there but nothing that will truly set them apart from the thousands of other working actors cluttering the streets of LA. After a particularly rough string of bad luck, Tommy eventually starts writing his own movie and wants none other than Greg himself to be the co-star. The Room is what he titles his masterpiece and he funds it himself with his seemingly unlimited supply of money but things go from awkward to unsustainable as Tommy’s ego and complete inexperience with the process starts escalating tensions with the cast and crew and even with his best friend Greg who’s trying to stick by him but is finding it hard and harder to deal with Tommy’s unpredictable behavior. Can Tommy find it within himself to get past his issues and foster a good working environment for the only people in the world who are helping him achieve his dreams? Will Greg stand by his best friend, or will he realize just how much Tommy is holding him back? WILL THE WORLD EVER UNDERSTAND THE BRILLIANCE OF THIS ONE MAN’S VISION!?
Sausage Party and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Greg Tiernan and Conrad Vernon
I’m pretty sure I’ve been hearing this movie for at least five years and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have been trying to get this made for even longer than that. I’m not sure how it took so much work to get this movie made as both of them are bankable stars and this movie ended up costing next to nothing (ten million is nothing in terms of Hollywood features), but regardless of whatever strife they had to work through, the day has finally come for us to see a movie about dicks, vaginas, and assholes being played by hotdogs, buns, and bagels. Does this movie end up being a classy as fuck masterpiece for the ages, or was all that effort for naught and this is just a giant steaming load of lameness? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the misadventures of several food items in this one grocery store known as Shopwell’s, but for the most part our focus is on Frank the Sausage (Seth Rogen). He’s living the perfect sausage life; namely staying fresh inside his package and praising the Gods every day in the hopes that he will be chosen to leave the store and enter the great beyond! Well he’s also praying that he can nail that hot little number in the bun package, Brenda Bunson (Kristen Wiig), but he’s got to keep those urges in check. After all, the Gods only want FRESH food that isn’t tainted with sin! Now all the food in this store (and presumably all the other stores in the world) seem to all follow this belief system where the humans are Gods taking them to a promised land, but as we all know humans tend to be to total assholes and will end up eating them instead which is SUPER fucked up! The day finally comes for Frank, his other sausage buddies (Carl and Barry played by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera), and Brenda as one of the Gods chooses them and they’re put in its holy shopping cart. Of course, things don’t go quite as planned as the shopping cart runs into another one; splattering a lot of the food in a very gruesome manner and knocking both Frank and Brenda (along with a few other items) out of the cart and into the store… OUT OF THEIR PACKAGES!! Now you may have assumed that the shopping carts collided due to bad luck. Not quite so, as a jar of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) had seen some shit and jumped out of the cart after telling the rest of the food how fucked they are, and that was the cause of the crash. Why is this important? Well there was one person listening the entire time, and that was Frank! So on top of getting back inside a sausage package (along with Brenda who needs to find a bun package) Frank is on a journey to find out the truth and if what Honey Mustard was saying had any merit to it! Can Frank discover the dark secrets that the world outside the grocery store holds? Will this inevitably create a schism between him and Brenda, the latter of which still has faith in the Gods and their divine plan? And what about Carl and Barry!? WHAT THE FUCK IS GONNA HAPPEN TO THEM!?
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
They just couldn’t resist the urge, could they? I guess there was just too much money lying on the table to NOT make another one of these. Sequels to unexpected hits (especially comedies) are almost always underwhelming as it’s like trying to capture lightening in a bottle twice. Caddyshack 2, Ghostbusters 2, Horrible Bosses 2, you could make a neigh infinite list of them. Now the first film was a pretty solid movie that had a bit more to it than you would expect from a movie that’s essentially a prank war. Not only that, but they’re coming into this one with a decent enough idea in regards to how Sororities are viewed by the education system, even if it is a bit ridiculous that the SAME THING happens to these people twice in a row. Can this manage to be the few comedy sequels to NOT be the worst thing imaginable, or is this movie destined to be the worst thing imaginable? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins a few years after the first one ended with Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) still wasting his life away but now doing so as Pete’s roommate (Dave Franco) and Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) planning to sell their house so that they can move to the suburb. There’s a small roadblock though to their plan which is that they ALREADY bought the house in the suburb, but the house they just sold is in escrow which the movie thankfully explains is a thirty day waiting period where the buyers can back out of the deal if something were to change. That couldn’t POSSIBLY happen though, right? Well back on the college campus (what college is it anyway?) the new female freshmen are trying to get into Sorrorities, but three of them (Chloë Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons, and Beanie Feldstein) find the guidelines about not being able to party too restrictive, so they decide to start their own independent Sorority. Well SURELY they won’t end up at the EXACT same house that Teddy’s frat was at, right? Well speaking of Teddy, Pete just got engaged so Teddy has to move out which means he’s lost once again and needs to find not only a new place to stay, but some meaning in his life. Oh look! The house he used to live at! And look! The girls are touring it to see if it works for their needs! An unholy (and tenuous) alliance is born between the girls of the new Sorority (Kappa Nu) and the frat boy looking to relive his glory day, so they rent out the house to the terror of Mac and Kelly who just want to sell their place and move on with their lives. And so the war is on once again as the girls refuse to keep things quite for thirty days and the old people try to keep them from exercising their right to party! Can Mac and Kelly once again destroy the young people who are trying to fuck up their lives? Will the sisters fail in their endeavor to bring about a new kind of Sorority that’s empowering those who want to have fun but don’t want to be objectified? Things can’t get any crazier here than they did in the LAST movie… right?
The Night Before and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Jonathan Levine
Is it too late to declare a war on Christmas? I don’t mind the holidays, but I’ve also worked in retail so I got a firsthand look at the Christmas calendar creep and how NO ONE likes to push this shit in October, let alone November. Thankfully they ALMOST waited until December to start throwing out holiday films with last week’s Love the Coopers and now The Night Before. Unlike that other film though, I was REALLY looking forward to seeing this because I love Seth Rogen and his particular brand of comedy. Not everything he’s been a part of has been great (I thought The Interview was pretty underwhelming), but I always like to see what he does next which this time seems to be pretending he’s in the same age group as Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Anthony Mackie. Wait a minute. HE’S THE YOUNGEST ONE OF THEM!? Huh. Learn something new every day. So will this be the kind of movie to bring out the holiday cheer and break out the eggnog, or will this make everyone feel even Grinch-ier than they already are at this time of the year? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the adventures of Ethan, Isaac, and Chris (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, and Anthony Mackie) on their last big Christmas Eve together before ending their tradition. You see, about fifteen years ago Ethan’s parents were killed by a drunk driver right around Christmas time and so his friends decided that they will spend the holidays with him which soon became a tradition. What also became a tradition is that they would party their ASSES off because they were young when they started it so of course that’s what they ended up doing. However, it’s been going on for way too long and Isaac and Chris have their own things going on while Ethan is still stuck in place, unable to get his life going. Still, he agrees to this being the last time they make this a big party event and even has a surprise for his friends that will make this the best one of them all. There’s a super-secret party that takes place every year (the Nutcracker Ball) that they’ve never had a chance to go to because they could never find out where it was or how to get invitations. Through sheer luck, Ethan finds three tickets for the damn thing at his shitty job and steals them without a second thought so that he and his friends can have the greatest night of their lives! Will this final night be all it’s cracked up to be, or are they just too damn old to keep going the way they’ve been going even for one more night? Will they be able to salvage their friendship despite the changes in their lives that makes it harder for them to find the time? Wait, how fucking deep is this movie about taking drugs and Christmas shenanigans!?