BB2’s Best, Worst, and Favorite 2014 Movie Reviews

I reviewed nearly 50 movies in 2014. Most got a rating on the Blackometer from 1-10, and some I simply wrote about with a “Top 10” list (or whatever number). Out of all of those, here are my subjective best & worst movies, and my favorite reviews to write. Enjoy!

WORST movies I reviewed in 2014
:
(Only 4…because I can only take so much garbage)

  1. VH1’s Man in the Mirror: I didn’t rate this one, but it gets everything wrong. The biggest thing is that it’s about someone’s life. I wrote this in August and after the Aliyah biopic came out, this somehow got a lot of viewing traffic.

  2. Love Don’t Cost a Thing: One of my earliest reviews. So bad, I had 12 things under ‘what doesn’t work’ and a section called ‘people I missed during this movie’ as well as ‘actual lines from the movie I hated.’

  3. Madea’s Family Reunion (Play): The worst of all of Tyler Perry’s play…and somehow, this was the first one I ever saw as a kid, and I kept watching. I’m glad I kept watching his shows. I’m not glad that this play sucks.

  4. House Party 4: Most pointless thing ever put to film. So bad, I couldn’t even rate it – I just listed the top 20 things WRONG with it. My brother tricked me into watching this, and I haven’t been the same since.

BEST movies I reviewed in 2014:

  1. Dreamgirls: Still one of my all-time favorite movies. SO well done.

  2. Prince of Egypt: One of the best things every put to animation, and it still holds up magnificently.

  3. Into the Woods: Without a doubt, one of the best movies to hit the big screen in 2014. Meryl Streep deserves all the awards.

  4. Beauty and the Beast: My favorite Disney film, and everything is perfect about it. Period. In other news, GASTON.

  5. Pitch Perfect: I wrote about how good this movie is, and why it deserves a sequel. It will probably always be a favorite of mine, and it was one of my earliest ‘I can throw gifs in my posts?! Cool!!!’ posts.

TOP 10 Reviews That were the most fun to write:

  1. Fat Albert (The most viewed post on my site! What an impact this movie has had…I suppose.)

  2. Why Did I Get Married?

  3. Dreamgirls

  4. Beauty Shop

  5. Pitch Perfect

  6. Anchorman

  7. Princess and the Frog

  8. Beauty and the Beast

  9. Madea Goes to Jail

  10. Muppet Treasure Island

Here’s to more movies in 2015!
-BB2

Into the Woods: A Wish Come True


Into the Woods
is one of my favorite Sondheim musicals, and in my opinion, one of the best there is. Sondheim has a special knack for crafting brilliant messages for people, wrapped in complex but genius music. This show has been beloved by many for years, especially with the release of the Original Broadway Cast featuring Bernadette Peters. So of course, this 2014 adaptation for the big screen was met with much excitement, anticipation, and “will this work?”

I’m here to tell you: yes. Yes, it does!

SUMMARY
If you don’t know the plot of Into the Woods already: it combines a few fairy tale characters together to learn a few lessons – mostly, be careful what you wish for, as there is always another side to it. An ugly Witch informs a Baker and his Wife that in order to reverse her curse upon his barren family tree, they must go to the woods to retrieve a few items in three days’ time. As they try to fulfill their wish, Cinderella wishes to go to the ball and learns that the prince is much more than she had bargained for. Red Riding Hood has a difficult time staying focused as she goes to Granny’s house and is deceived by a Wolf. Jack’s mother wishes for riches, which she gets tenfold when he stumbles upon a beanstalk that leads to a giant’s riches. All work to acquire their wishes…and learn just how careful you must be when going into the woods before and after you get them!

WHAT WORKS

  1. MERYL STREEP OWNS THIS MOVIE. Seriously, from the moment she enters, her presence literally plunges into your soul. Her depiction of the Witch seems to be truly brilliant in every way possible. The Witch definitely appears as a haggard, wretched and evil person out to bend others to her will for selfish reasons. But at the heart of it all lies a genuine passion for her [stolen/adopted?] daughter, for whom she simply wants to be a good mother (even if she doesn’t completely know how at times). Streep demonstrates the perfect balance between sincerity and evoking fear, which transcends the Witch into something closer to a mortal – which, I feel, is how Sondheim intended her to appear. Many great have done great things with this character, and Streep certainly makes her mark here in her own way with her commitment and talent. The Witch is the anchor character that holds this musical together, and Meryl Streep is DEFINITELY the strongest part of this film.

  2. The Cast – Great casting all around – there is honestly nothing but glowing things to say about everyone on screen! I loved the drama and trepidation in the Baker (James Corden), balanced by the care and reassurance from his Wife (Emily Blunt). It was fantastic to see Daniel Huttlestone as Jack here after his appearance in the 2012 Les Miserables film; he knocks it out of the park here, and gives it his all. Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) is great, the Princes (Chris Pine, Billy Magnussen) are fantastic and just as hammy as they ought to be (there’s a few great shots during Agony)…what more could you want? This is a stellar ensemble, which helps to makes for a stellar movie. (In other news, Johnny Depp plays a great ‘wolf-as-the-granny-he-just-ate.’)

  3. Anna Kendrick – Hey, how cool was it to see Anna in something like this? I believe musicals is a part of her background before film fame, so this seemed right up her alley. She made a nice little fit as the Cinderella princess, confused by all of her own motives and the actions around her. Pitch Perfect was a good smash hit for her amongst meager millennials & teens, but I thought seeing her in a classic theater production was a fine fit for her as well. Four for you, Anna Kendrick – you go, Anna Kendrick! Anyway.

  4. Music – Obviously, it’s a musical, so having the singing and orchestrations performed exceedingly well is desired for a film adaptation. The good news here, is, this film does not disappoint – in fact, it is tremendous. The singing is all given great emphasis and gateways into appropriate character/story development. Of high importance, everyone in the orchestra deserves the highest of paychecks for doing Mr. Sondheim proud. Seriously.

  5. Visual/Settings – Man, these are good. The woods themselves (where much of the action occurs, as you would imagine) are gorgeous, yet look plenty intimidating as the film progresses. Jack’s giant beanstalk and other things of great importance such as the Witch’s makeup are given a great amount of attention to detail, which shows very well. It’s certainly an impressive looking film, and this goes a long way to create the right atmosphere the director was going for. Speaking of which…

  6. Tone of the Adaptation – This is a big one, as it is the guiding point of this entire project. Whereas the stage production of Into the Woods had plenty of room for some light-heartedness, funny quips and even fourth-wall breaking, the film adaptation takes itself much more seriously overall. There is a stronger emphasis on the drama of everything, from the intensity in the characters to the visual atmosphere created. There is no charm in the woods here – you can only find that from the characters themselves as they take this journey. While there are big changes such as losing the visible narrator, the role of the Mysterious Man is saved only for one perfect moment, and a few others, the source material and heart of the story is still very much in tact. So while it will feel more different than one familiar with the staged version expected it to be, you will still experience the ever-important themes and morals Sondheim delivered through strong characters and timeless music.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK

  1. Stiff at Times – I will say, there were times when a few individual lines felt a little stiff in terms of their delivery. This may be due to the heavy dramatic tone the movie wanted to take, which is fine, but a couple of Red Riding Hood’s and Cinderella’s lines just felt really straight forward and/or flat at times. The staged version, being a little looser, would have allowed them to be a little looser and not quite as overly serious, so perhaps this was something on the direction. It doesn’t take a lot away from the overall experience, but it does stick out.

  2. JDepp’s Wolf Costume: This is entirely subjective on my part…but I just thought it was, well, an interesting choice. He had paws and the tail…why not go full throttle wolf so he doesn’t look like the wrong kind of predator? I mean, he’s great in it…it just felt like they really wanted people to know “that’s Johnny Depp, there he is!” But this very well may be just me. His song, however, definitely gave me Sweeney Todd flashbacks, so…there’s that.

CONCLUSION
Into the Woods is definitely a movie you should see as soon as you are able to! It is easily one of the best films I’ve reviewed (and seen) this year. If you’re a big fan of the stage musical like me, maybe you’ll really love what they’ve done with it, and maybe not – but still check it out and give it a chance, because it was given the effort and good attention deserved to make it great. If you’re not familiar with the stage musical, still check this one out and enjoy it as a very impressive piece of artwork.

BLACKOMETER: 9/10
Let me know what you think!
-BB2

5 Movies You Should Watch Every Christmas

Every year, there are certain movies that exemplify the tradition, entertainment, and heartwarming feelings around the most wonderful time of the year. We all have our favorites; here are mine!

  1. A Diva’s Christmas Carol

I honestly don’t know why more people talk about this movie! It’s hardly on as much as much as the others anymore; but anyway, this is one of the most creative and fun takes on the Dickens’ Christmas Carol story in American existence. Released over 10 years ago as a VH1 TV special (back when it was actually more about the music…), Vanessa Williams plays Ebony Scrooge, a pop diva who forces her band to cancel their Christmas plans to play in her big NYC Christmas show, because she’s all about using the holiday as a big cash-in. She’s stingy, sassy, and selfish to the core, until one of her old singing buddies (they had a Destiny’s Child thing back in the day) returns from the dead to show her the error of her ways. You know the story of course, but the things they do with it are actually pretty fun and interesting! And the writing in almost every line can be hilarious. I highly recommend you check this one out!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPPNk5rQstE

  1. Polar Express

This isn’t one of my personal favorites, but as a Christmas movie, it is rather charming & well done. A little boy is having his doubts about Santa Claus, and is picked up by a magical train ride en route to the North Pole to absolve this for many children. With Tom Hanks as the mysterious lead, an epic ride, and some great visuals, this is definitely a heartwarming Carol to enjoy with family. I do wonder, though, why this movie couldn’t have been more about the little girl instead. She’s far more interesting to watch than this clumsy kid…but whatever, we got a nice Josh Groban song out of this movie, so I’ll take it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Usl3oTsJg88

  1. The Santa Claus

I already wrote about this movie more recently, so you can check that one out for more of my thoughts about it. Really, all three are good, but this first one is the classic that started it all. My only complaint is that Bernard could’ve been consistently as cool in every movie as he is in the original, when he was more of Santa’s mysterious guide…as opposed to an overacting “match” for the Spencer Breslin elf. Anyway, this is a great movie, and Tim Allen is my favorite Santa.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t067u2Jnks0

  1. Home Alone

This is a classic movie that I think most people play in their Homs at least once a year. On the surface, it’s that really funny movie with the two idiots doing pratfalls & falling into trap after trap built by a crafty little McCulkin. The latter third is the most memorable, sure – but what makes this movie is really the heartwarming charm that the movie builds throughout the second third, as Kevin learns just how much he appreciates his family and starts to long for their return as the ultimate Christmas gift. In a world where those who have their families/friends at Christmas vs. those who may not, I think this is a great remind of why we should be grateful for those we have, even if they get on our nerves or forget to count us before the big plane trip. (Watch the first two movies…not the garbage that came afterwards.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7fqaNNXQMk

  1. A Muppet Christmas Carol

I don’t know a single soul who doesn’t love this movie. It’s the single, most charming version o the Christmas Carol that exists. People of all ages can watch it and enjoy it, especially having been created for families to watch together. It’s telling sticks mostly to the original jargon written by Dickens, while still speaking just enough Muppet for you to get plugged into it. You remember all of the songs, even that slow, sad one by Scrooge’s ex-girlfriend that made you cry. You can’t help but smile and be cheerful as Scrooge wakes up at the end and spreads Christmas joy around to everyone while singing Thankful Heart. Michael Cane is a fantastic Eboneezer Scrooge from start to finish, Gonzo and Rizzo keep things entertaining in the Dickens role, Kermit singing One More Sleep Til Christmas will always be one of my favorite things…everything about this movie is just tremendously wonderful. It’s one of the things you look can always forward to being a special part of your Christmas – it’s one of the best Muppet movies ever made, and it’s heart at the center perfectly captures this wonderful time of year.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bpb9EbmvM5M

Enjoy some great Christmas movies as you wrap the season up, but more importantly, enjoy some great Christmas joy and holiday spirit with your loved ones!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
-BB2

Why Tim Allen is Actually the Best Santa Clause

Santa Clause
Tim Allen starred in the hit movie, The Santa Clause, 20 years ago. Since then, it’s become one of the most important things in his acting career (as far as 90s kids are concerned, next to Home Improvement.) Two sequels spawned from this, giving America not one, but two Disney sequels that weren’t cheap, effortless ‘because why not.’

However, there’s something special about these movies. right at the center of them: it gave us what many of us know Santa to be today, through Tim Allen’s interpretation. Those who have grown up with these movies have known Santa to be many things, and I believe that this rendition of Santa in particular may be the best one for you to introduce your children to. Why? Well, here’s a list!

1. Human Aspect: When we meet Scott Calvin in the first movie, he is a workaholic who spends his free time arguing with his ex-wife over their son, Charlie. He’s pretty rude, sarcastic, and thinks he’s always right. Great choice for a Santa, right? Well, this is kind of the point. The transformation he experiences later shows that he has to learn to love through his encounters during the movie. Even during the rest of the movie and the sequels, he can still be his goofy, fun self with the kids and aloof but mannerly with the adults, all while being whatever people need him to be as Santa (or Scott…or a dad.) These things make him more relatable than any other Santa we know – because he wasn’t just sprung-from-the-ground perfect, tender, loving and caring with the heart of gold and all the answers. Sometimes he doesn’t know! 

2. Process vs. Product: So many Christmas/Santa specials for kids just give you the figures we know and they’re either already perfect (Frosty, Elmo, Jack Frost), or they have some journey to go on (Rudolph, an Elf, Justin Bieber). With Santa, it’s usually the former – he’s the hero at the end, which is why we celebrate him and his charity. However, Scott Calvin’s story is just that – a story. It’s dedicated to showing that this job isn’t as easy as it sounds, it’s not just for everybody, and it can transform you into a person who cares for something better than himself. Now there were many routes to do that (I can personally think of a ton related to the Reason for the Season) but as a movie, we have to watch him get there. I think the main idea behind this is that, we as a people can transform into more caring, giving entity if we only so chose. Can we become Santa? I don’t think that’s the takeaway. But we can take a good, cold look at where our heart lies on these matters – look at what Scott did for his new wife during the second movie! From Ms. Angry Paws to Mrs. Claus! (Anyway.)

Santa Clause 2
3. He Can Have Sequels That Don’t Suck. This is actually a pretty big deal. It’s debatable whether you think watching Charlie as a teenager is as interesting as watching Charlie as a child, and if the Scott go through It’s A Wonderful Life it considered fresh material. However, they kept the original actor in each movie, he never looks like he doesn’t want to be there, there’s always something new for him to do, and the sequels never seems like they’re desperately trying to bring the 1994 movie’s magic back. Scott Calvin’s Santa, more importantly, can now be enjoyed by different generations. Speaking of which…

4. For the Whole Family: 10-year-old Tommy can enjoy Scott Calvin’s Santa just like Grandma can. 13-year-old rebellious LaMarcus just might be able to find something in watching Santa deal with his teenage son Charlie in the first sequel, after realizing he may have neglected Charlie a bit. Your 42-year-old Principal Daquanetta Jones (sorry) can learn to love and empathize again from watching Santa get to know and comfort the future Mrs. Claus and give her the love she’s been missing.

5. Neil’s Sweaters – wouldn’t be Christmas without them!

This is truly a Christmas film series that I hope never stays out of the limelight as a family Christmas movie classic (in the sense that, “Oh it’s Christmas, I get to watch this again!”). I also hope that more and more of today’s kids see it as a glimmering hope of what Santa really represents – a person, just like them, capable of becoming kind and loving towards others. If they can embrace this at a young age in today’s world (as well as how to get good grades and get potty-trained and avoid passive-aggressive subtweeting), then I think we can have hope for the future of our world.

Merry Christmas!
-BB2

Madea’s Christmas: A Jolly, Weird Time

 

madea christmas

Time to review some Christmas movies! So why not start with a Tyler Perry production? A Madea Christmas: The Play (2011) was pretty much exactly what it sounds like – a Madea dramedy, but during Christmas. How does it hold up? Is it funny? How’s the story? Are the ‘funny characters’ actually providing comedy as opposed to ‘here’s someone in your family reunion’? Well…on to yet another TP movie review – Christmas edition!

SUMMARY
Chandra Currelley plays a woman on top of the world with her perfect rich husband and their two children, China and Japan. China is bringing home a boyfriend for Christmas and mother is certain to pressure her into marriage with him – so she can also have the perfect marriage. But when China sneakily invites the maid’s family over for dinner (Madea, Aunt Bam & company) – you guessed it – secrets are revealed and shenanigans ensue. Can Madea work her magic for both families, privileged or not?

WHAT WORKS

  1. Music – This play uses a couple medleys of Christmas traditional songs (O Come Let Us Adore Him, etc.) and in addition to a couple other original songs, much of the music is on point in this show. The band is on fire during this show performance, and Tyler cast a great group of singers for these roles. Many of the older plays had good singers who couldn’t really act (I’m looking at you, Madea’s Family Reunion), but when you’ve got voices like Cheryl Pepsi Riley & Chandra Currelly…it’s gonna be a stellar show, even if they sing all 38 verses of Joy to the World (I wouldn’t mind at all).

  2. Madea & Aunt Bam– This duo has great, great chemistry in this show. You know, it’s interesting. Below, I’ll mention my thoughts on Hattie…but I remember not being a big Aunt Bam fan the first couple times she appeared. However by the time this play came out, the material was better, the annoying lines were given to Hattie so it was basically Bam working off of Madea. I pretty much didn’t laugh until they arrived half an hour into the play, which is a long time to wait for quality comedy. Merry Christmas.

  3. Nursery Rhyme Song: I have to give mad props to my favorite secret Christmas song. I don’t even know what it’s called, but it features the father singing about his daughter growing up. The verses start with “humpy dumpy sat on a wall” and “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water.”

  4. Chandra Currelly’s Mother Character: So, I have mixed feelings here. On one hand, she plays the role of snobby, self-centered mother so well. I’m not used to disliking Chandra Currelly’s characters, so I guess she did her job here. But then again, direct statements like “appearances are everything” and “that man should be your future” just seem too ‘this is my character’ handed to the audience. Rather than letting us figure out what the character is all about, the writing (I hate to say it) feels a little lazy as it just dumps the character exposition out in the lines. But the delivery of every line is great, and she does “Chandra shake” while killing it in the solo…so that balances everything out.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK

  1. Hattie – Okay, here’s the thing: I know a lot of people enjoy Hattie the same way the enjoy Uncle Joe in the movies, as they know people very much like them in real life. I, however, cannot stand Joe 85% of the time, and I can’t stand Hattie 98% of the time. Reason begin: she serves almost no purpose here. The comic relief she’s providing isn’t really necessary when you already have Madea and Aunt Bam, who can hold down the comedy fort and balance it with guidance for the other just fine on their own. There’s always the character in these plays/movies who can do both, but the jokes & shenanigans are their hook for the audience to feel them in to the advice they need to hear. Having said that: Hattie is a very unbalanced character here. She’s all gags, and not even good ones. (I haven’t seen the TV show Tyler put her in, and maybe she’s better in that, but here, Hattie just feels like a new character that needs to be fleshed out a few more times before she’s good.)

  2. Transitions  – So, the first good scene we get is when Madea & Aunt Bam show up, unbeknownst to the rest of the family. It ends with Madea & cre storming out when they discover this in comic fashion…then it immediately goes to the father & China’s boyfriend Bobby sharing a sappy song because Bobby hasn’t gotten to propose to the passive-aggressive China yet. (Small complaint, but things like this do grind the story’s action to a screeching…left turn.)

  3. “Pointless George”: Jeffrey Lewis plays George, the son who quietly steals everything. That’s about it. We hardly ever see him until the very end, when he ends the play with a dynamic performance of Do You Hear What I Hear? And…that’s it. That’s why he was cast in this play. I really wish there would have been more of this, and way sooner, because it was a GREAT closer. Why keep him in the background until then? However, his creepy delivery of “don’t worry Madea, we gonna enjoy this.” is the most random, creepiest thing I’ve heard all week.

  4. Bobby the boyfriend – Hahaha, he can’t act. He would have fit in well with the original Family Reunion cast, based on his sadsack delivery of lines like “don’t you love me???”

  5. Interest: This play’s biggest crime is that it’s never consistently interesting. When Madea & Aunt Bam are on screen, the energy elevates whether it’s comedy or serious moments. When they’re not, some of the non-Chaundra Currelly/non-Cheryl ‘Pepsi’ Riley characters can’t keep the momentum going as strongly.

WHAT’S ‘Eh, Okay’

  1. Madea’s Bible Story: This is almost as fun as any other time Madea retells a Bible story to a confused person. However, there’s little to no interaction from Japan as she tells it, which kind of puts it to a halt while Bam & Hattie try to fill in a couple blanks. It just made me miss “peace be still/piece is made of steal” from Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

CONCLUSION
As a Christmas play…it’s fine! It’s not the most amazing thing out there, it certainly isn’t always that interesting, but when it is, there are some pretty fun and heartwarming moments. In some regards, the best things about it can be found in a few other plays…but that’s okay! If you want some holiday cheer and enjoy Madea, this one is okay to watch and you’ll still have some laughs along the way. Those who aren’t deeply-involved Tyler Perry fans may not find much here for them, and that’s okay – there’s plenty of other pieces in the repertoire for you to get into. It’s not perfect, but it’s still got enough charm to leave you with a little something this season.

BLACKOMETER: 6/10

Let me know what you think!
-BB2

Peeples: A Viewing Timeline

Recently, I watched my Dad watch Peeples. As you may recall, it’s ridiculous. Seeing that it said “Tyler Perry Presents”, my Dad had bought the DVD months ago but hadn’t seen it yet – and I knew that watching him watch this movie would be priceless. SO priceless, in fact, that I took a running timeline of the events.

(Time = Movie time)

1:30: Dad made his first ‘WTF’ face at Craig Robinson’s Speak it, Don’t Leak it song
3:30: Nothing’s even happened yet and I’m already tired of these ‘big dick’ jokes. Moby Dick Day, though…seriously?
6:25: Robinson’s “not Dave Chapelle” brother (with the ambiguous vague hospital career) is trying so hard to make my Dad laugh. He remains unamused.
8:15: “So he just shows up at their house…unannounced? Without even letting her know? That’s wrong. Recipe for disaster.” – Dad
10:01: I still can’t stand Kerry Washington’s nervous, aloof character. She runs out of the house yelling “PEANUTS!” and then stands there awkwardly like a middle school girl trying to get attention from a 9th grade boy.
12:16: Dad’s first laugh came from Tyler James Williams’ introduction. Good, we’re on the same side here.
15:56 Dad’s first HARD laugh came from Robinson calling his job “kounseling with a K.’ It got worse from there when he went to perform his song about not keeping urinating a secret. “This was a bad idea.”
18:05: Dad noted that Daphne Peeples’ reaction to receiving the wine bottle/being in AA was “very predictable.”
20:00: The most subtle things Tyler James Williams does keeps my Dad laughing. I’ve assured him that this will be his favorite character. BTW, Williams just stole something in the store.
23:51: Some of Robinson’s improv filler is actually a lot funnier when you’re watching it with other people. I’m almost forgetting that the “you dated somebody old?!” joke is still going. Almost. Dad is still laughing at it, which is making me kind of appreciate it. (But really, I think they just let Robinson riff for a while and chose not to cut ANY of it.)
31:37: At the dinner table, Robinson has everyone exchange things they’re thankful for about each other as a setup for another proposal attempt. Meg says “I’d like to do Gloria.” I never noticed how funny of a ‘subtle’ setup joke this is by itself until Dad laughed while everyone on screen was busy reacting quietly.
43:00: Skip, the old man at the market who previously dated Washington, was her breast surgeon ages ago. Things you should never tell your future man.
45:20: It’s about now we start seeing portions of my FAVORITE scene – Williams’ “Drawers on the Floor” music video.
48:00: Dad came to the same realization I did about Williams’ Simon character: as much as the movie tries to say he’s a mess like the rest of the cast, he is the most normal person here. Especially for being a 16-year-old boy.
53:24: Hey look, it’s Mario van Peebles. Get it?
1:01:03: David Alan Grier is now accusing Robinson of stealing his wife’s watch. I know this isn’t the focus of this scene…but does Meg just live with them? How is no one else figuring out that she and Gloria are a thing?
1:05:30: Robinson’s brother. Who is this guy?! Seriously. He’s a doctor, but not really, because he appears to be a toy fixer, I guess. Robinson doesn’t have a real job, technically, but he’s happy. Both these brother’s can’t really be paying their student loan debt back successfully.
1:23:10: By now, the two biggest climaxes of the film have happened. Dad was too tired to react appropriately and he missed what initially set off Robinson’s explosion at Moby Dick Day. (By the way, the concept of Moby Dick Day could be potentially funny or something if it wasn’t just a lazy ploy for a lazy joke to be repeated.)
1:28:30: So yeah, the ending credits song is both about not holding pee in and not keeping family secrets, and some junk. Congratulations. Mazel Tov. Yeet.
1:29:00: I wonder if Tyler James Williams released Drawers on the Floor as a single in real life. If it supports his breakout career to launch him in better movies, I’d buy a copy. So would Dad.

CONCLUSION
I’ve decided that this is not a movie to view alone – you have to watch it with others for it to be even remotely tolerable or even enjoyable. Now that I’ve re-watched it a bit, a couple small things appear to be funnier than I realized. But I still think it’s just over-the-top. Thanks to my Dad for being a good sport.

Happy Moby Dick Day,
-BB2

Grown Ups: Terrible, Bland, or Charming?


Grown Ups
(2010)
Full confession: I hadn’t watched this movie until this month to review it just for the heck of it, and I went into it expecting it to be pretty stupid. I was…sort of right?

Adam Sandler and the Happy Gilmore film company have a track record of making films in the 200s that were usually filled with overly crass humor matched with no substance or likability. Grown Ups certainly isn’t as bad as other installments such as Jack and Jill – there’s actually a bit of charm to be found here! – but is it worth it?

SUMMARY
Five friends learn that their school basketball coach from 30 years ago passed away, and they all bring their families to honor him at their funeral. They all spend the weekend at a lodge to revel in their childhood nostalgia while learning that times have definitely changed since they were kids. Sandler covers up parts of his wealth and success, such as his nanny and his disdain for how spoiled the children have become. Rock is a housewife who doesn’t feel respected by his wife or family. James’ 4-year-old son won’t stop breastfeeding…oh, and he’s fat. Spade…is a drunken, lonely wiseguy hiding behind jokes. And Ron Schneider is married to his new wife: a vegan old bag.

WHAT WORKS

  1. Interaction with the Kids – The scene where the kids made cup phones was the first truly touching moment in the movie, for obvious reasons. It was like something out of a commercial for “take our product so you can live a longer life and be around for your children” and I mean that in the nicest way. It was kind of neat to see a few spoiled, bratty kids turn into a few appreciative, brave, “let’s experience life a little” kids. – and this, ladies and gentlemen, was where the true charm of Grown Ups truly took place.
  2. Kevin James’ Breastfeeding Son– You know, it’s weird…I didn’t expect this kid to grow on me. For the longest in this movie, he creeped me out like no other. Yet somehow, his cute kid delivery of lines like “mommy, can I try her milk?” eventually won me over. It’s messed up, I know, but what can I say? Kids get away with the darnedest things.
  3. Steve Buscemi – Okay, I have NO idea what Steve was doing here, but boy, was he such a delight. Sometimes it’s actually pretty fun to have that one random character who’s only there to be a different type of goof than the main characters. I almost want a “Wiley’s Playhouse” series. In other news, it was nice (but almost equally random) to see Tim Meadows baldly shouting “boo-yah!” (yes, ‘baldly.’)
  4. Rob Schneider – I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to like Rob Schneider’s character. I had the mentality of “here come Rob Schendier playing another eccentric weirdo for laughs but it won’t be very funny” when the reality was, we all knew (and may have been friends with) this person in school. And yes, the person I knew like this in high school may very easily marry an older woman and make questionable performance choices at a funeral. Plus, it helps that this feels like a more understated Rob Schneider character (even with that nearly offensive Ave Maria performance).

WHAT DOESN’T WORK

  1. Action – The biggest problem, really, is just that the movie isn’t that interesting. I can barely remember the few times when I actually laughed or even came close. At least at some point, the kids became charming. There wasn’t as much shock humor as you would see in a typical 2000s Adam Sandler movie (yes, even with an arrow going through Rob Schneider’s foot), so nothing really stuck out in either a good or bad way. Maybe it’s because I’m starting to grow immune to much more memorable shenanigans in these Sandler films, but it really just felt like a lot of it was “there.” Oh hey, Rob Schneider has two oblivious attractive, daughters and one sweet, Meg Griffin-looking one. Okay. Oh look, David Spade’s naked behind. Cool. Even the breastfeeding mom accidentally hitting Maya Rudolph didn’t do much for me. (Though, don’t let me be around if this happens in real life.)
  2. Kevin James Fat Jokes – You know, Kevin James really isn’t all that big of a guy. It’s pretty lame that all of the jokes directed at this guy (who doesn’t seem to be doing that bad in life other than having a family that’s kind of…off) are simply reduced to a bunch of “oh he’s a big fat guy and he eats, see its funny” jokes. Not even the first one with him breaking the family pool was funny. It gets worse when he starts making fun of himself as if that’s all he can use to make pleasant conversation. “Let’s order 17 hamburgers and 17 fries…that’s all for me, what about the rest of you?”
  3. Chris Rock, Maya Rudolph & Suga Mama – Here’s my problem with this generally “normal” family of characters: they aren’t funny. And I know that’s subjective, but come on – you have Chris Rock, one of the funniest comedians on the planet, as a main character in a movie in which 85% of his jokes run out the door as soon as he says them. And why doesn’t the guy have a job??? And Maya Rudolph is usually either an over-the-top character for laughs (remember her Whitney Houston?) or a little more understated (Bridesmaids) but still funny. Here, a lot of her jokes don’t quite hit either. And Suga Mama (yes, that’s what I’ve named her) is more annoying than funny. It’s like Sandler took what he thought was a funny stereotype of an old black woman, gave it some bunions & farts and said it’ll work. At least she didn’t sing a negro spiritual (this is the only time I’ll ever say that.)
  4. The Jokes – Yeah, a lot of these don’t necessarily work. Or, they do, but they’re not funny enough to be memorable past a few seconds. The result is, I don’t really remember much of what I’m writing about, to be honest. It’s just sad how many genuinely funny people are involved in the main cast and how little comedy actually happened. Many of the passing one-liners felt like cutting-room floor material for a forgettable SNL sketch – not a movie.
  5. Characters – Sadly, as much as I started wanting to know these characters a little better, they either aren’t that memorable or the actors are just playing themselves. Adam Sandler is just playing Adam Sandler, but a “yeah, I’m a dad now and I’m starting to get old, but I can still have a little fun” Adam Sandler. Chris Rock is very obviously Chris Rock, but watered down and given lame jokes that should have been saved for the guy opening for his standup show. Otherwise, Sandler’s wife (Salma Hayek) isn’t very memorable, Kevin James wife is based in one joke…I was about to tell you which characters they actually want you to remember, but this movie is so forgettable, that I forgot right after I started typing that sentence.

CONCLUSION
It’s strange, because this isn’t as bad of a movie as I thought it would be. It’s also not that great or memorable. Originally, my complaint halfway through the movie was that I felt more like I was watching other people joke around and have a good time from the sides, not being in on the joke, rather than enjoying the good times with them. But then the move the kids and the family started to connect, the charm of the characters started to come through and I slowly started to care about what happens to them. But other than a couple of eventually charming moments, it’s a story we’ve seen before watered down with some nuances and jokes you’ll forget about pretty soon. I do like that it was simple enough in its’ premise; I just wish that the execution would have taken things a little further. What else is there to say? It wasn’t a movie trying to be as edgy as possible; it’s just a little 90-minute thing for you to laugh at for a bit (except you might not laugh that much).

BLACKOMETER: 5/10

Let me know what you think!
-BB2

(And NO. I DO NOT feel like reviewing the unwarranted Grown Ups 2.)