Tag Archives: STX Entertainment

Cinema Dispatch: Hustlers

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Hustlers and all the images you see in this review are owned by STXfilms

Directed by Lorene Scafaria

Have I mentioned before that BASED ON A TRUE STORY is a tagline that fills me with dread and anxiety?  Yeah, it’s never fun having to be historian of sorts (or even just read a few articles) to make sure that you aren’t being unfair to a movie because you don’t know everything around it, and frankly they tend to have rather unimpressive endings because life rarely ends on a BANG.  Still, the premise looks interesting enough and I don’t need much of a reason to enjoy seeing rich people get screwed over, so maybe this will turn out to be a fun time even with the FACTS OF THE STORY hanging around its neck like an albatross!  Maybe it’s a NICE albatross!  You ever think of that!?  Anyway, is this piece of late stage capitalism bashing yet another cathartic bit of enjoyable escapism, or is the only good thing that’ll come out of this movie the awesome dance moves that Jennifer Lopez learned while making it?  Let’s find out!!

Dorothy, AKA Destiny (Constance Wu), is a stripper who has just started working at a big club in New York City, but despite the promises of big money she finds that she’s not quite fitting in with the clientele and that management is taking out HUGE chunks of her paycheck for various “services” that let her keep working there.  If only there was an extremely talented stripper there who can show her the ropes and make her into a star, but what are the chances of THAT, am I right!?  Oh wait, what about Ramona (Jennifer Lopez)?  Yeah, she makes a bunch of money and makes it look totally effortless in the process!  With her tutelage, Dorothy does manage to find her niche there and makes more money than she ever had before, but the plot twist here is that this is all ACTUALLY taking place in 2007 and the big financial crash that wiped out this entire country is about to hit their industry hard; especially since their big paying clients are Wall Street guys who are now broke.  Well not BROKE broke like everyone else, but they’ve become rather stingy with their dollars and now no one can make money in this business which is particularly bad for Dorothy who has an elderly grandmother to take care of as well as a kid she’s raising by herself.  Once the dust settles from the crash, Dorothy eventually goes in on a scheme that Ramona has set up along with fellow co-workers Mercedes and Annabelle (Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart) to drug these rich penny pinching punks with stuff that’ll make them happy, pliable, and forgetful so they can then run up their credit cards on all sorts of services that they get a kickback on.  Sounds like a great plan if you ask me, especially since none of these jerks went to jail for tanking the housing market, but a good thing can never seem to last and so things start to unravel over time as Dorothy starts to question whether Ramona is truly looking out for all of them or just for herself.  Can Dorothy get enough money to take care of her biological family while ALSO keeping her new family safe and away from inquiring eyes?  Just how much do they plan on getting away with before someone will eventually catch on, or are they hoping to steal back every penny these investment firm jerkwads took from the American public?  Does anyone else think these ladies should be in line for the next Captain America?  Taking money from these guys seems to me about as patriotic as apple pie and The Cheesecake Factory!

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Jennifer Lopez 2020

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Cinema Dispatch: UglyDolls

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Ugly Dolls and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment

Directed by Kelly Asbury

So are Ugly Dolls even a thing?  I feel like it HAS to be a thing for this movie to even exist, but I’ve never heard of them and frankly the first thing that annoyed me about the trailers is how decidedly UN-ugly all the dolls were supposed to be.  What, are big eyes fuzzy skin on a doll all of a sudden outside of societal norms?  There’s no room in the world of the beautiful for dolls of non-humanoid proportions!?  See, this is the kind of thinking that gave Sonic straight human teeth, the portions of an Olympic runner, and the eyes of a soulless monster!  Say what you will about that Garbage Pail Kids movie, at least they knew what ugly meant!  Okay, that’s PROBABLY not the best grounds to dismiss an entire movie on, but with only the occasional trailer and buzz leading up to its release, it certainly doesn’t seem like this is gonna be the sleeper hit of the year.  Does it manage to defy expectations and be a really great movie despite how lacking the marketing has been, or are we doomed for yet another animated disaster in a year that already gave us Wonder Park?  Let’s find out!!

In the happy town of Uglyville, everyone is happy and always partying which is easy to do when so many of them are inexplicably great singers and love to narrate their lives through song!  One such resident is Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) who enjoys her simple life in this unassuming town of ugly dolls, but dreams of something more!  She wants to be part of OUR world, by which I mean she wants to be a doll for a kid and… I guess she’s just waiting around for it to happen?  Every morning she sings that THAT day will be THE day that she’ll get her own kid, but then just hangs out in Uglyville where no kids every come by.  Eventually Moxy realizes that this is probably not the BEST strategy, so she convinces a few of the other residents of Uglyville, Ugly Dog, Wage, Lucky Bat, and Babo (Pitbull, Wanda Sykes, Wang Leehorn, and Gabriel Iglesias) to accompany her on a journey to outside of town.  The only way out is also the only way in as there’s a giant tube in the side of a mountain that shoots out an ugly doll every once in a while to join the town, so she figures that they’ll climb up it and see where it goes.  It turns out that it goes to a town called Perfection which is full of Barbie knockoffs that have to go through rigorous training before being allowed to go through the pearly gates which… I guess is where they’ll be packed into plastic boxes and sold on store shelves to hopefully wind up in a kid’s hands.  The mechanics are a bit unclear, but the point is crystal!  Moxy and her friends will face these challenges that all the other dolls have to go through in order to PROVE THEIR WORTH and pass through the gates themselves!  However, the leader of Perfection named Lou (Nick Jonas) isn’t happy about these UGLY creatures fouling up his perfect little community and will do whatever it takes to stop them from achieving their dreams!  Can Moxy and her friends find a way to not only pass the ridiculous tests set before them but perhaps make a positive change in Perfection in the process?  Who is this doll named Mandy (Janelle Monáe) that keeps trying to help them, and what is her reason for doing so?  Is it just me, or is this an overly complicated version of college frat comedy?

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“UGLY HOOOOOOOUUUSE!!”     “Cheese it!”

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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: I Feel Pretty

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I Feel Pretty and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment

Directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein

You know, I should really watch Trainwreck at some point.  I mean I have it RIGHT here on blu ray, and yet I’ve never found the time to pop it in and see what it’s all about which would HOPEFULLY give me a bit of perspective on Amy Schumer because after seeing precisely one of her movies, I’m not sure if I get the appeal.   Now that’s not to say I’ve written her off yet, especially when the premise of THIS film seems rather intriguing if they can pull it off, but my rather limited track record with her has left me feeling a bit cold whenever she comes up.  Still, this does seem like a film that can play to her strengths while also having a positive message about self-esteem and body positivity, so let’s hope this is the one where I finally get it and become a fan!  Does this manage to live up to its rather clever premise without falling into the obvious pitfalls it sets up for itself, or will this fall flat on its face as it trips over its good intentions and lands smack dab into offensiveness?  Let’s find out!

Renee (Amy Schumer) is a typical middle of the road white woman in the big city.  She’s got a decent job, good friends (Aidy Bryant and Busy Phillips), a nice place, but she’s still unhappy with her life and is constantly searching for ways to fill that gnawing sense of emptiness that keeps us all up at night.  Her solution?  LOOK PRETTY!  She spends all her time trying to learn beauty tips, experimenting with her makeup, and working out to try and lose weight which I’d say are doing their job just fine, but she’s bought into the unobtainable beauty standards that society has pushed on us, and so no matter how good she looks she’s still not happy about it.  If only this were more like THE MOVIES where you could wish for a better life and POOF!  It just happened!  Well… it kind of does here!  During one of her spin classes, she falls off the bike and smacks here head which I guess isn’t the IDEAL way of initiation a body switch, but there wasn’t a Zoltar machine nearby so they had to go with plan B.  When Renee wakes up, she looks exactly the same, but every time she looks in a mirror she sees PERFECTION!  The body she’s ALWAYS wanted is staring right back at her and she couldn’t be happier!  She’s so happy in fact that she applies for the job she always wanted as a receptionist at a cosmetics company run by Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams) and gets the job due to just how confident and pleasant she is in the interview despite not having the body type they usually hire for that position.  Things get even better from there as she starts helping Avery with her upcoming “regular folks” line of product (Renee being a FORMER normal person gives her insight into what average consumers are looking for in their makeup products) and she even meets a guy (Rory Scovel) who loves her outgoing and fearless personality!  Still, how long will she be able to keep up this momentum before society inexorably tries to knock her down a peg for not being the perfect body type?  Will she ever find out the truth and learn to accept herself for who she is rather than the fantasy she’s built up in her mind?  Who’s to say that her beauty wasn’t on the inside the whole time!?  And on the outside too!  She looks pretty great as far as I can tell!

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“I AM sexy, and I know it!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Gringo

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Gringo and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios and STX Entertainment

Directed by Nash Edgerton

Hey, if Netflix is gonna try to produce feature films, then why not Amazon too!?  Heck, they’ve had a pretty good track record with distributing films like The Handmaiden and The Big Sick, and some of the original programming on their video service has been pretty decent too!  Hopefully they can translate that success into this wacky comedy which has a PRETTY good trailer but not a whole lot of buzz, though it’s not entirely their fault considering how much Black Panther and even A Wrinkle in Time have dominated the national discussion around film; leaving films like this to just kinda slink in wherever they can.  Does Amazon have a great film on their hands that’s unjustly falling under the radar, or should they have sent this straight to their storefront where no one will ever actually buy it?  Let’s find out!!

Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) is a well to do middle management corporate drone who is incredibly content with his current life living with his wife Bonnie (Thandie Newton) and working for Richard and Elaine (Joel Edgerton and Charlize Theron) at a pharmaceutical company he very much likes.  The problem is that at every turn, the people in his life continually disrespect him and see him less as a valuable asset and friend, and more of an errand boy that also functions as a doormat.  Eventually Harold gets wise to this during a trip that he along with Richard and Elaine take to Mexico in order to inspect one of the facilities, and the straw that breaks the camel’s back comes when Bonnie decides to divorce him; something that she tells him over skype.  Having something of a nervous breakdown, Harold takes a bus to a small town in Mexico and fakes his own kidnapping once Richard and Elaine are back in Chicago.  Little does Harold know however that the Cartel is after him due to his connection to the pharmaceutical company, so his little ruse might turn out to be more of a prophecy!  On top of that, we’ve got a couple trying to sneak drugs from Mexico back to the US (Amanda Seyfried and Harry Treadaway), a mercenary who may be able to get Harold out of the jam he’s in (Sharlto Copley), and like four other subplots that are going on at the same time as Harold’s misadventures in Mexico.  Will Harold be able to bilk his employers out of a crap load of money before he gets captured by the Cartel?  What was Richard and Elaine doing that got the eye of the Cartel in the first place, and what will they do to get Harold out of the mess he’s in?  Most importantly, HOW DID THEY MANAGE TO MAKE A STORY LIKE THIS SO BORING!?

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“Hello?  Has anyone seen the plot?  I can’t find it anywhere!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Den of Thieves

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Den of Thieves and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment

Directed by Christian Gudegast

You know, after The Commuter turned out to be a giant pile of nonsense, I don’t know if I’m up to getting even more of it shoved directly into my face with yet another gritty Cops and Robbers story that looks about as good as a January dump job would.  Maybe I’m wrong though!  Maybe my expectations are so low after seeing Liam Neeson fight The Illuminati on a train that something much more grounded will be a welcomed change of pace!  I highly doubt it, but if last year taught us ANYTHING, it’s to not give up hope even if everything is telling you that THINGS ARE ONLY GONNA GET WORSE FROM HERE!!  Does this manage to be the cinematic oasis in the crappy wasteland known as January Releases, or is this sucker yet another mirage that crush our spirits and keep them crushed until around March?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the theft of an armored car by a bunch of BAD ASS criminals led up by Ray Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber) whose crew of Merry men includes Levi (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson), Bosco (Evan Jones), Mack (Cooper Andrews), and the new guy Donnie (O’Shea Jackson Jr) .  The crime is investigated by a crew of BAD ASS sheriffs led u by Nick Flanagan (Gerard Butler) whose posse of shitty lawmen includes… uh, okay I don’t think any of them other than Gus (Mo McRae) got a name, BUT THEY’RE BAD ASS!!  They’re so BAD ASS in fact that they break a WHOLE lot of civil liberties in the process of tracking down Ray’s crew and finding out what they’re up to.  It turns out that Ray wants to rob the Federal Reserve of all its discarded money that is set to be shredded, but with BIG NICK breathing down his neck, the plan becomes that much more dangerous; even if they’ve got an armored truck to work with.  Can this den of thieves pull off a scam that no one has ever been able to pull off, especially if they’re being watched the whole time?  Will Nick and his pals put their dicks back in their pants long enough to do some ACTUAL police work and arrest these guys at some point?  You know, come to think of it… why should I care about ANY of them!?  They’re all bad!  Wait… what if… the title of the movie… IS REFERRING TO BOTH GROUPS!?  MOVIE SHOCK!!

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WHAT A TWIST!!

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