R.I.P.D.: The Dude vs. the Dead

Originally published on Television Without Pity.

It was with cautious optimism that I went to see R.I.P.D. I’m not normally one for action movies — which, in the age of Transformers, have become heavy on the explosions and light on the everything else. But, R.I.P.D. does have a few things going for it. It stars Jeff Bridges and it has an intriguing premise, based on a comic book by Peter M. Lenkov. It also does not feature a talking snail… like Ryan Reynolds’ other movie that’s opening this weekend.

I ended up finding most of the film pretty entertaining. R.I.P.D. won’t become a classic of either the action or sci-fi genres, but it provides enough excitement and laughs to justify its ticket price.

Reynolds plays Nick, a Boston cop who recently got his hands a little dirty when he and his partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon) stole some gold from a group of criminals they busted. Despite this momentary lapse in morality, Nick is a good guy who’s just trying to find a way to make a better life for himself and his wife, Julia (Stephanie Szostak). Early in the film, Nick, Hayes and the rest of the Boston PD are called to a warehouse, where a wanted offender is hiding out. For some reason the warehouse is also on fire (or maybe just filled with explosions, it was hard to tell). In the ensuing chaos and fighting, Nick is shot and killed.

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Grown Ups 2: Nothing Will Ever Be Funny Again

Originally published at TelevisionWithoutPity.com

I just want to make it clear I have never voluntarily seen a Kevin James movie before I watched Grown Ups. I feel it’s important that I disclose this in order to maintain my integrity as a movie buff and as a human being.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: How could I have missed Paul Blart: Mall Cop, or that historically important gay rights film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry? Unfortunately, digging through James’ past oeuvre is a bit above my pay grade, so let’s get right to Grown Ups 2, a film that made me want to shoot myself in the face.

In the first Grown Ups, five middle-aged men (James, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider) reunite at the funeral of their old basketball coach, and decide to spend a weekend reconnecting at Lenny Feder’s (Sandler) lake house. They all bring along their wives and children, and various lame gags and general poor taste ensues. The sequel takes place three years later. All the characters — except for Schneider, who apparently had the decency not to inflict himself on the poor souls who already had to watch him in the original — have now moved back to their home town to spend even more time being not funny together.

Read the full review at TelevisionWithoutPity.com

Pacific Rim likely to squeak by Despicable Me 2 for weekend’s top spot

Originally published at Film Journal International

pacific rim

This weekend marks the seventh year in a row that Warner Bros. has opted to release a big-budget tentpole in mid-July. All the others (a mix of Harry Potterand Christopher Nolan films) were huge hits, and the company is hoping monster-movie Pacific Rim will reach similar box-office scores. However, Pacific Rim does not have the built-in fan base that Warner’s previous July releases benefited from, nor does it have any big-name actors attached. Charlie Hunnam, Charlie Day and Idris Elba are all somewhat recognizable from TV (“Sons of Anarchy,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “The Wire,” respectively), but none have yet emerged as bankable film stars. Additionally, Pacific Rim (which chronicles the epic battle between giant sea monsters—Kaiju—and the robots humans have created to fight them) is quite CGI-heavy, meaning the stars are barely visible in the trailer, which consists mostly of larger-than-life battles and carnage.

Read the full article at FilmJournal.com

Back When They Were Funny: The Cast of Grown Ups 2 on SNL

Originally published on TelevisionWithoutPity.com

Adam Sandler

In hindsight, 1990 was a particularly momentous year for the cast of Grown Ups 2. That was the season that Lorne Michaels made Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and David Spade regular cast members on Saturday Night Live, the show that launched each of their careers and made them household names. Rob Schneider was also cast that season, but since he doesn’t appear to be in this sequel, we are more than comfortable forgetting about him.

Many other Grown Ups 2 players are also SNL alums: Maya Rudolph, Colin Quinn, Andy Samberg, Bobby Moynihan and Taran Killam all show up in varying capacities. That probably makes it pretty awkward for Kevin James, who has never appeared on the show. Sorry, Kevin.

Of course, for many of these comedians, SNL marked the highlight of their careers, and some haven’t been all that funny since. Let’s take a look back at their best moments from the sketch-comedy staple, and try to forget how far they’ve fallen in the years that have passed. We can’t promise that watching these clips will make you forget about That’s My Boy, but it couldn’t hurt.

Notes to Maya Rudolph and Andy Samberg: You guys are still funny. Just stop taking meetings with Adam Sandler’s agent. Chris Rock, you’re on probation. Maybe you should give Kevin Smith a call. You were awesome in Dogma.

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Cult horror film Jacob’s Ladder to get a 21st century update

jacob's ladder

Originally published by Film Journal International

Jacob’s Ladder, a psychological horror film that came out in 1990, scored a respectable 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, but grossed a dismal $26 million domestically. It has achieved far greater success, however, in the years since its release. Since 1990, Jacob’s Ladder has developed a cult following, spurred by a DVD release in 1998 and a Blu-ray release in 2004. The Hollywood Reporterannounced Friday that the studio LD Entertainment has agreed to finance aremake of the film.

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Brilliant But Cancelled – Why We’re Still Mourning Southland

southland

 

Originally published on TelevisionWithoutPity.com

This week, we honor the bravery of our founding fathers who, over two centuries ago, fought a war against an empire so that we could have the freedoms we enjoy today. And what better way to celebrate American exceptionalism then by watching a made-for-TV movie about aliens? Syfy is airing its latest flick, Independence Daysaster, starring Tom Everett Scott on June 27. Scott’s character, Sam, must defend the planet from invading extraterrestrials along with a team of “rogue scientists.” Scott, as you may well remember, played Detective Russell Clarke on Southland, the guy who was kicked off the force for selling pictures of a celebrity crime scene. Independence Daysasterlooks like quite a step down from the critically-acclaimed Southland — though who knows, maybe this alien flick will reinvigorate the entire genre. Whatever the case, this momentous occasion provides a great opportunity for us to take a look back at Southland, which was just cancelled in May after its fifth season finale.

There are dozens of cop shows out there. None of them are as good as Southland was at its best (that’s right, this post contains bold declarative statements). Shaky-cam filmmaking and descriptors like “gritty crime drama” have become pretty ubiquitous as of late, but Southland was more than just a tough look at the LAPD and the criminals it works to put away. The show had some truly awesome acting, morally complex plotlines that made the audience question even their favorite characters, and a finale that I’m still thinking about (for reasons both good and bad). Let’s go over the reasons why the show was so exceptional — which are, conversely, the reasons why it never found a huge audience, and was inevitably taken off the air. (And for the record, massive budget cuts along the way, and a switch from NBC to TNT after its first season didn’t help Southland‘s longevity, to say the least.)

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DiCaprio plays another rich criminal in The Wolf of Wall Street

Originally published by Film Journal International

Paramount has begun building hype for Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest project, The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese. The first trailer for the film, slated to hit theaters November 15, released on Sunday. The Wolf of Wall Street is based on Jordan Belfort’s 2007 memoir of the same name. Belfort, a hedge fund manager, made hundreds of millions of dollars in the 1980s and ’90s through his brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont, until it was discovered that the firm was inflating stocks and committing fraud, as well as perpetrating other financial crimes. Belfort was arrested and spent nearly two years in prison.

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