Entries in Comedy (171)

Monday
Mar272017

On the Rocks- review

 

“On the Rocks” (2017)

Directed by Ariel Gardner,  Alex Kavutskiy

Starring  Chase Fein,  Nichole Bagby,  Kate Freund

Running Time 90 Minutes, Rated R.

1.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


A comedy of misery shouldn’t make the viewer miserable, but this one did.  To quote the great Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

The writer/director team of Ariel Gardner and Alex Kavutskiy seem to be so focused on making their characters as annoying as possible that I wonder if they ever stopped to think about how annoying “On the Rocks” is to watch.  The acting, for the most part, is pretty decent, and I’m sure both Gardner and Kavutskiy knew it as well and ran with it as much as they could. This strength, however, ultimately fails the viewing experience since this is a character piece, and we are relentlessly exhausted with grating banter and nauseating human interactions.

I don’t use the word ‘literal’ lightly.  “On the Rocks” gave me a literal headache watching it.  It’s not easy to produce an actual physical reaction in me watching films, but congrats cause I immediately swallowed 1000 mg of Ibuprofen once the credits rolled.

Dallas (Chase Fein) is a nice enough guy who lets everyone in his life run over him and run over him they do. From his bipolar demanding wife Karen (Nichole Bagby), her bossy older sister Krystal (Kate Freund) and provocative younger sister Kaitlynn (Audrey Whitby), to his scamming boss, and just about everyone else our lead crosses paths with. Dallas is mentally pulverized by the people in his life, and that eventually takes a toll on him physically.

 

I got to give it up to actor Chase Fein as the sad sack Dallas.  Fein really does have the gift to pull the viewer in and be invested enough to want this guy to get the hell out of Dodge from these crazies.  Fein doesn’t play Dallas as the perfect guy either, his flaws are there, but the actor makes him easy to root for.

To reiterate, this is an endlessly annoying affair.  I kept thinking, what is the filmmakers objective here? Because laughter couldn’t have been one of them.

It’s almost a tie between who is more annoying; Bagby’s bonkers wife Karen or Freund’s worst person on earth older sister Krystal.  And again, I’m looking more at fault to the director than to Bagby.  Seriously, Bagby’s character screams 75% of her lines (aforementioned headache), and I’m betting she was coerced into that.  

You know I said it was mostly the director's fault and that the acting was pretty decent, well not so much with Freund’s performance.  While the tone is always hectic and heightened, there is smidge of sense of reality throughout but not with Freund’s choices.  Didn’t believe in her character for a second.  

You put all of this crap together with longhand scenes that scream I have a problem with my stream of consciousness.  I’m sure it was a choice to have no filter and craziness keep going and going, but I think it was a poor choice.  I was worn out 15 minutes into the film.  “On the Rocks” sure felt a lot longer than it’s 90 minutes running time.  

After viewing “On the Rocks” I washed those Ibuprofen down with a stiff drink.

 

Monday
Jan022017

Hunt for the Wilderpeople- review

 

“Hunt for the Wilderpeople” (2016)

Directed by Taika Waititi

Starring Sam Neill,  Julian Dennison,  Rima Te Wiata

Running Time 101 Minutes, Rated PG-13

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


Taika Waititi’s “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is much like Sam Neil’s very rough around the edge’s character Hec’s description of the vast New Zealand bush, “Magestical”.

You may not know this but this offbeat comedy is New Zealand’s highest grossing locally produced film of all time at $5.2 million.  After some quick research on Boxoffice Mojo that ranks as the #146th film released in just 2016 and 5,313th of all time; do with this what you will.  Taika Waititi, who cool film nerds will know for directing himself and Jemaine Clement in both “Eagle vs. Shark” and the fantastic “What We Do in the Shadows” (2nd highest grossing film in New Zealand) has crafted a wonderfully weird, wonderfully feel-goody film that shows the wonderful pleasure of incomplete people coming together for completion.  

 

We’re introduced to foster child Ricky (young Julian Dennison crushing a sneaky challenging role) who is labeled as “a real bad egg” who in a very funny montage, has been charged with counts of spitting, kicking, throwing stuff, and my personal favorite loitering.  Ricky is a big boned kid and speaks in gangsta slang and is thrown a curveball when he is sent to a remote cabin with an ‘all the love in the world’ Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her ‘stay out of my way’ grizzled husband Hec.  After some adjusting Ricky takes to his new setting, but when tragedy strikes he takes off getting lost deep in thick country bush.  Hec finds him, and after a fractured leg and a misunderstanding that makes Hec seem like a pedophile, Ricky and Hec are on the run in a nation wide manhunt for the two.

Look for Taika Waititi showing up with a great cameo as a Minister, and a message about Jesus and doors.  The climax and a foster agent played by Rachel House got a bit too cartoony for me, overstepping the groovy reality edge that Waititi straddles perfectly for the rest of the film, but besides that, “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is a real gem.  If you’re in a downer of a mood just pop this in and that will wash away real fast.

Ephesians 1:5

 

Monday
Jan022017

Don't Think Twice- review

 

“Don’t Think Twice” (2016)

Directed by Mike Birbiglia

Starring Keegan-Michael Key,  Gillian Jacobs,  Mike Birbiglia

Running Time 92 Minutes, Rated R

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


The art of sho-cruelty and its business.  When things are going just ok or even less than ok with creative type performers, and one of your peers starts doing better than ok, that’s when when the truth comes out.  

Mike Birbiglia’s love letter to the art of improv is a comedy slash drama or a drama slash comedy that either way works.  Spending so many of my previous years in the improv world I’ve seen so much of this before; the waiting tables while you hurry off shift to get to a gig, the team dynamics of both crushes and feuds, the ego’s that are juggled and tested when one climbs higher on the ladder’s rungs.  As I am not on SNL, you can tell which side of the coin my comedy fate fell upon, and that’s why I thought this film, with all the people I love (even Chris Gethard who was killing it at the UCB while I was taking classes there), would hit harder to home for me, but it didn’t.  Birbiglia’s directing does a more than fine job balancing the the live and die aspect of team improv as well as the cutthroat selfishness performers can tend to have, but “Don’t Think Twice” was ultimately a mild hit for my heart; laughed with, not at, and appreciated.

 

Birbiglia also plays Miles, a forty year old improver who leads a well liked group called ‘The Commune’.  Miles still holds out for a spot on the coveted “Weekend Live” sketch show but is jolted when that honor goes to the younger Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) who nails the audition and gets the job.  Friendships are tested and life keeps on chugging.  “Don’t Think Twice” captures the pursuit of your dream and all the bs that’s in between.

2 Timothy 2:7

 

Thursday
Dec222016

La La Land- review

 

“La La Land” (2016)

Directed by Damien Chazelle

Starring Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

Running Time 128 Minutes, Rated PG-13

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

When Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling smile at each it’s enough to make one sing and dance.  Turns out it makes them sing and dance as well.

Damien Chazelle dazzled everyone with his critical darling debut “Whiplash” earning him a screenplay Oscar nomination and winning J.K. Simmons the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.  With that momentum, Chazelle did not rest on his laurels but instead went bigger in scope, bigger in music, and bigger in stars.  His latest, “La La Land” an MGM musical that is both a love song to the grandiose musicals of yesteryear and the City of Angels itself with its transports that dream of stardom.

 

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling pair up for the third time and better than ever. The two’s natural chemistry is unparalleled in young Hollywood, and they don’t disappoint here.  Gosling is a brooding Jazz pianist with dreams of reigniting the dying genre and opening his own club, while Stone has left her small town of Colorado to make it big on the big screen and show them all that she’s got ‘it’.  Their characters find each other and fall for each other, and when that rough patch hits it’s Chazelle’s snappy crisp dialogue and our leads impeccable talents that transcend the love stories you’ve seen countless times before.

Oh, and let’s not forget that this is full blown musical that is actually made like they used to be, and the result is a grin from ear to ear for its viewers.  Watching Gosling tap dance as Stone belts her notes out makes for a wonderful return to the musical genre that captures that great nostalgic feel while not just depending on nostalgia to get by.  It makes you remember the classics while still feeling, looking, and sounding bold and fresh.  While Gosling is strong and proves to be also incredibly funny instead of just great looking and dramatically talented, his character pales in comparison to the depth that Emma Stone delivers upon.  This is her movie and she nails it.  

Romance is in the air in Chazelle’s latest, and it’s infectious.  “La La Land” is lovely.

Proverbs 16:3

 

Thursday
Dec152016

Bad Santa 2- review

 

“Bad Santa 2” (2016)

Directed by Mark Waters

Starring Billy Bob Thornton,  Kathy Bates,  Tony Cox

Running Time 92 Minutes, Rated R.

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

Before there was Deadpool there was Bad Santa.  13 years ago Billy Bob Thornton donned a red suit, with the filthiest mouth around, and was able to regenerate from any wounds (physical or emotional) with his superpower of being able to consume great amounts of anything alcohol.  Thornton’s sexfiend, booze swilling, kid cursing, safe cracking mall Santa is now a Christmas classic.  I’ll never look at an Advent calender the same.  Many Christmas’ since it has often been on my wish list for a “Bad Santa” sequel.  Problem was, I forgot to also ask that it would be worth it.

Willie Soke (Thornton) is back.  Convinced to uncoil the toaster cord off of his neck and come out of retirement by his double crossing elf partner (Tony Cox) that tried to kill him last time around.  They team up with Willie’s even filthier mom played by Kathy Bates and aim to heist a homeless children’s charity for one more big score.

A toast to Billy Bob Thornton.  He’s in a bit a career upswing, and that’s a good thing because that means more...you guessed it...more Billy Bob Thornton.  Thornton is such a good actor that his down and always out Willie Soke breaks our heart when he goes off about the reasons and moments that made him a whiskey glass all empty kind of guy. It’s just too bad the film’s direction and script can’t match Thornton’s deranged heart.

 

The first film’s well placed deranged heart is seriously lacking in #2.  Johnny Rosenthal and Shauna Cross’ script can’t hit the bigger notes.  The only time they come close is with Thornton’s interaction with the first film’s Thurman Merman (Brett Kelly) character who is 21 years old now and considers Soke the only family he’s got.  Soke’s family reunion is less than moving.  Things really hit home in the first film because of Soke’s hitting rock bottom and Thornton portraying it really never gets that bad for him. Here, Rosenthal and Cross are more focused on saying nasty dialogue.

The nasty dialogue isn’t anywhere as funny as the writers think it is.  It mostly just comes off mean.  Maybe it’s the time we live in now; I recently just watched all of “Arrested Development” again (oh, good for me), but a lot of that dialogue, especially the ill-gotten Netflix season, just felt a bit cringeworthy.  Same here, as where the nastiness of Deadpool pays off, here they’re just trying to cram in as many ‘I hate women’ and little person jokes as they can to fill space.

Tony Cox’s character return isn’t really needed in the film at all and serves no good purpose but for to expel as many little people jokes as possible and to set up a Mexican standoff for the film’s climax.  It’s not a very layered character, nor is Tony Cox the caliber actor that Thornton is, so maybe they felt forced to give him less to do.  He plays angry offended well, and that’s all his character is really used for.  

“Bad Santa 2” is a Christmas wish gone bad.

Isaiah 63:2

 

 

 

Thursday
Oct062016

Bridget Jones's Baby- review

 

“Bridget Jones’s Baby” (2016)

Directed by Sharon Maguire

Starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey

Running Time 122 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Turns out, I never got around to watching the second installment of the Bridget Jones’s saga, and I’ve been informed that that was the smart play on my part as it is widely considered just rubbish.  Still without seeing the middle entry, I feel like with this third that I’ve been front row to an exciting life of a very flawed, yet very fun person that is irresistible not to root for.  I know I sound cliche, but my heart is richer for having known this character, I can draw on my own life, relate, and cheer for Bridget- these films are a dying breed, but “Bridget Jones’s Baby” gives the genre a healthy pulse!

Renee Zellweger is back and chugging cheap chardonnay better than ever.  Zellweger’s Bridget, now in her 40’s has the ideal career and ideal weight that she’s always wanted which is enough to take her mind off the fact that she doesn’t have her ideal man, maybe.  When Bridget’s 30-something colleague tricks her into going to a hippy rock concert festival, she has a drunken one night fling with Jack, played by Patrick Dempsey with more charm than an irish bracelet, who unbeknownst to her is a multimillionaire who made his money deriving an actual mathematical formula for finding love.  Less than a week later, Bridget hooks up with the ever proper and restrained Mark Darcy for which Colin Firth is also returning for the third time.  After a short time, Bridget comes to realize why she has been gaining weight, as she figures out she’s pregnant, or as her doctor who is played beautifully British by Emma Thompson (who helped out with the screenplay) puts it- has a ‘geriatric pregnancy’.

 

Why she’s getting fatter she knows, but who exactly is responsible for that, Jack or Mark, she does not.  Bad decisions are made, and hilarity ensues, but Zellweger’s great comedic strength is that as crazy as shenanigans get, Bridget always feels like a real person and you can’t help but relate.  Sharon Maguire returns to direct from the first film and does a splendid job.  I could have done without the preachiness claiming that both Bridget’s elders and juniors are out of touch, making it so only 30-40 year olds really are cued into what’s right, but besides that, I laughed and cried and then laughed some more.  Good romantic comedies are hard to come by, especially with 40-plus leads so enjoy ‘em when you get them.

 

Psalm 127:3

 

Thursday
Oct062016

Hello, My Name is Doris- review

 

“Hello, My name is Doris” (2016)

Directed by Michael Showalter

Starring Sally Field,  Max Greenfield

Running Time 95 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Sally Field has two Oscars for a reason, but you wouldn’t have realized that from the last 15-20 years of her filmography.  Michael Showalter’s “Hello, My Name is Doris” reminds you real quick like as the 60 year-old actress runs away with her chance to shine and shine bright in this quirky but not too quirky indie dramedy.  

Field is the film titled lead, Doris.  Doris is a horder who is on her own for the first time with her mother having just passed.  Her brother, Todd (Stephen Root), wants her to sell the house and is a bit nicer about it than his snooty wife Cynthia (“Bridesmaids” Wendi McLendon-Covey).  Doris’s life is built on repetition, but she breaks out of it when she is hit hard with the crush bug for her several decades younger new co-worker John, played by a very charming Max Greenfield who doesn’t get too splashy of a role but proves he can bring a smooth restraint separating himself from his hyper-hilarious role in tv’s “New Girl” (yeah, I’m a fan).

 

Doris loses control with her affections, a bit of facebook stalking, but that’s too be expected with her lack of experience.  Eventually, the two form a friendship as Doris is working hard on the benefits, romantically that is.

This is Showalter’s second time directing, his first effort “Baxter” is a hidden gem that is way more leaning to his “The State”, “Stella”, offbeat comedic sensibilities.  Showalter can’t help but lean a little too hard on dream fantasies with Doris, but for the most part this a very funny grounded film that gives the lead to a senior female character played with the serious talents of Sally Field with her best work in years.

 

Tuesday
Aug302016

Sausage Party- review

 

“Sausage Party” (2016)

Directed by Greg Tiernan,  Conrad Vernon

Starring Seth Rogen,  Kristen Wiig,  Jonah Hill

Running Time 89 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

It’s a good gag.  Take the sweet natured Pixar prototype of animals or inanimate objects that gives them human characteristics and an adventurous journey of rescue as well as self discovery, and then, turn that upside down with the most lewd, crude, and nasty jokes you can squeeze in per minute.  And there you have “Sausage Party”, a Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg joint (“This is the End”) told from the point of view of all the products sold in a grocery store with the crookedness of three-wheeled shopping cart.

“Sausage Party” opens in a brightly lit supermarket chain where everything that can be sold is alive and eagerly awaiting being chosen by the gods (grocery store customers) and taken to the “Great Beyond”.  It’s almost 4th of July, and Frank the hot dog (Seth Rogen) and Brenda the hot dog bun (Kristen Wiig) are in love and want to do more than just touch tips when they get to the “Great Beyond”.  Destiny awaits as they’re selected into someone’s shopping cart together, but among the other ‘chosen’ is a nihilistic honey mustard voiced by Danny McBride who does freaking out angry better than any other human or condiment alive that warns them that he’s seen what truly is beyond, and that it’s hell.

 

Eventually, the truth is discovered that they are all lambs to the slaughter, you’ll be haunted by baby carrots being eaten alive.  Rogen and Goldberg use the Pixar setup to basically say there is no god (don’t agree), but they do so in a manner that shows how man warps religion. A lavash voiced by David Krumholtz and a Jewish bagel voiced by Edward Norton doing an meh Woody Allen have been at odds for as long as they can remember.  It also, and I appreciate this, shows how you just can’t tell someone they’re stupid for what they believe.  Rogen/Goldberg always strive for the deep hard questions (usually religion- “Sausage Party”, “This is the End”, “Preacher”) and cram it with as many dick jokes as possible, and you know what, I love that.  

The film isn’t as deep as it always wants to be, but it is as deviant as they hoped for.  A food sex orgy at the end is extravagantly perverse, and you know what, I love that.

Romans 1:20

 

 

Wednesday
Aug032016

Ghostbusters- review

 

“Ghostbusters” (2016)

Directed by Paul Feig

Starring Melissa McCarthy,  Kristen Wiig,  Kate McKinnon

Running Time 116 Minutes, Rated PG-13

1.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

The new “Ghostbusters” doesn’t suck because it’s an all female cast.  I am very much in the camp that if you’re gonna take on the 1984 classic (one of my top 20 favorite films of all time, a classic) then why not shake it up with an awesome female cast.  Their female cast is awesome.  I love Melissa McCarthy, I strongly like Kristen Wiig and Leslie Jones, and I’m absolutely smitten with Kate McKinnon who is not only one of the funniest women in the world but also people, place, and thing for that matter.  Love me some Kate McKinnon, but this female cast although awesome, isn’t awesome in 2016’s biggest ecto-turd of the year, Paul Feig’s disastrous “Ghostbusters”.

Here’s why it does suck.

- Feig and writers made both of their leads insanely boring.  It’s like they didn’t want to go too closely to the original blueprint with the alpha male that Bill Murray so cockily played (which both McCarthy and Wiig could knock out of the park) so they made them both Dan Aykroyd’s character, and that made the film so so boring.  

- The villain sucks.  I enjoy Neil Casey, he’s one hell of an improviser, but he’s just an imprint of the sucky villain in Ghostbusters 2 which is the biggest reason why that movie wasn’t good.  But still better than this film.

- Brutally unfunny.  These amazing females don’t come across so amazing, and I was wowed by that.  Chris Hemsworth who takes over for the Annie Potts secretary, is played as super handsome and super dumb, which is funny at first; however, his character is so dumb, and he plays it so broad that it’s a looney tunes cartoon. The first film had their characters rooted, even Rick Moranis’ nerdy accountant, Louis Tully, never played it so far as completely unbelievable, but Hemsworth’s character doesn’t only proverbially slip on the banana peel, he picks it up and uses as a phone, and then mistakes it for it’s long lost brother.   Fine, so Hemsworth isn’t a comedian, but you know who is, THE REST OF THE CAST!  Even McKinnon just comes off stilted and weird, the only one who comes off good here is Leslie Jones who actually gives the film some gravitas.  

 

- The Fall Out Boy/ Missy Elliott wannabe Ray Parker hit absolutely blows.  Fall Out Boy/ Missy Elliott… enough said.

- The special effects are cartoony and stupid.  They are more for spectacle than pushing story forward in any way.

- Most sad of all are the cameos.  They made me cry and throw up a little.  The only thing Feig pulled off with the film’s supernatural theme is how eerily unfunny he made the original icons be.  

Notice the credits where a huge costly dance number was dumped after being cut in a third act that proves your previous query to why it felt so choppy and broken.  Also, notice the credits as your cue to get the heck out of this suck fest as you might be paralyzed with disbelief with how bad this film is.  

Ephesians 6:12

 

Wednesday
Aug032016

The Fundamentals of Caring- review

 

“The Fundamentals of Caring” (2016)

Directed by Rob Burnett

Starring Craig Roberts,  Paul Rudd,  Selena Gomez

Running Time 97 Minutes

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

“The Fundamentals of Caring” feels like a film that was released in a few city markets theatrically, but was never destined for more than a payable streaming device.  And that’s what Netflix has released with this very generic and very paint by the number dramedy that I very much admit mildly works because of its heart tugging with a sarcastic toughness.  What this film does have, is the 5-tool actor Paul Rudd who if it was allowed by the government, we could print off his charm as viable U.S. currency.

 

Through a slow-rolling of a personal tragedy we learn why Ben (Paul Rudd) has taken a six week course $9 dollar an hour job to be a caregiver.  Ben interviews with Trevor (Craig Roberts) a darkly dry-witted British 18 year old who suffers from muscular dystrophy and teen angst.  Both of their down and out jokey outlook on life makes them instant friends.  Trying to help Trevor actually live a little, the two embark on a road trip to the world’s biggest pit because Trevor finds it’s depressiveness very funny.  Along the way they pick up potty-mouthed riff raff runaway Dot (Selena Gomez).  

The three all have daddy issues but all in different regards, and so they all connect as by the book road trip movies tend to do with their characters.  Most of the common routes that your mind easily projects early on are traveled down upon as where a few other streets paved with predictability only to end up being a dead end. Those delightful dead ends along with the glory that is Rudd is enough to make you care for this film.

Philippians 2:4

 

Monday
Jul112016

Central Intelligence- review

 

“Central Intelligence” (2016)

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber

Starring  Dwayne Johnson,  Kevin Hart

Running Time 107 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

 

Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, Kathyrn Bigelow, or even Martin Friggen Scorsese please listen up!!!! Not three exclamation points for that last sentence, nay, four of them.  Please cast Dwayne Johnson is one of your films.  I was telling the wife the other day that Tom Cruise and Will Smith are the only living movie stars in today’s cinema, but I’d be willing to squeeze in someone that you can put up against scissors any day.  Dwayne Johnson is mandatory opening weekend viewing in my books, and his latest, a low IQ action comedy “Central Intelligence” only proves my point.  He puts every less than par film he’s cast in in the ‘very watchable’ category, just imagine if Spielberg worked some of that old magic with the high proteined charm factory that is Johnson... it would be legendary.  

 

Johnson plays Bob Stone, an aggressively teased high school student turned a Bond/Bourne  government agent on the run trying to prove his name clean while using the accounting skills of Calvin Joyner (Kevin Hart against type, sorta) who was his high school’s most likely to succeed and the only one to stand up for Bob.  Accounting wasn’t the bright future Calvin imagined for himself, but the two get mixed up in a half-assed black ops plot where the two get to right the wrongs of the past and the present.

This film works only because of Johnson and Hart’s chemistry that bounces off each other like two positively charged ions, one being crazy huge and buff and the only really tiny and fast talking.  Johnson once again stretches his comedic range by going super broad with his super happy Bob and it crazy works.

“Central Intelligence” doesn’t crazy work but Johnson and Hart do.

 

Saturday
Jun112016

The Lobster- review

 

“The Lobster” (2016)

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring Colin Farrell,  Rachel Weisz,  Jessica Barden

Running Time 119 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

I yearn for this sort of dangerous filmmaking.  Director Yorgos Lanthimos who is coming off the equally dangerous “Dogtooth”, has a knack for audacity, and that is a rare commodity in today’s cinema.  His english language debut, “The Lobster”, hearkens back to the beautiful misery that is “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, and while it doesn’t achieve that film’s consistency and masterpiece, this is a film that is but a few wrong turns away from it, and that’s fine by me.

If you become single at any point in your adult life, whether it be from getting dumped, getting widowed, or even both, you have 45 days to find another life mate or you are turned into an animal of your choice.  David, played by a fantastically drab Colin Farrell who put on 40 pounds for the role, has become single and is put up in a posh country club in a world that is monotonically void of joy in every sense of the word.  David has chosen to be a lobster for reasons that will break your heart.

 

Later David breaks free of the singles club where he becomes a fugitive and takes up with those who have also chosen to break the law (society) and be single, hiding in a forested commune lead by a very cold Léa Seydoux (“Blue is the Warmest Color”).  There Dave meets and falls in a mutual but secret love with a woman that also shares this short sidedness (they both don’t see too well) played by Rachel Weisz who is of course billed as Short Sighted Woman because our common traits are of course what defines us, right?

You’re damned in this culture if you’re single by choice or not.  Both schools of thought harvest intolerable people who know their way of life is right and look down on you with disdain for choosing the other.  Lanthimos loses the film’s tight grasp of it’s satire in the third act as it drags, but he still gives you so much to chew on afterwards that is highly rewarding and rare in itself.  Just be sure to have some melted butter to dip in before you do chew.  

2 Corinthians 6:14

 

Saturday
Jun112016

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping- review

 

“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” (2016)

Directed by Akiva Schaffer,  Jorma Taccone

Starring Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer,  Jorma Taccone

Running Time 87 Minutes, Rated R.

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

“Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” comes from the comedy music trio Lonely Island led by by Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer (the former two wrote and directed this movie) who deliver a movie with at least a joke a minute, which comes to at least 87 by my calculations, and there’s just enough that do work to make you forget about the plenty that don’t.  

If you’re gonna do a music parody, “This is Spinal Tap” showed you the best way is to go documentary, and Lonely Island smartly abides.  Samberg plays a Justin Bieber type popstar who is dropping his latest album and about to start his world tour: CONNquest. He insists he wrote all 17 tracks that needed 100 producers in total. Conner is trying to get out of the spotlight that his old Beastie Boyz type rap trio named Style Boyz, which Jorma and Akiva fill but is having the many problems that face someone who has had nothing but ‘yes men’ his whole life.

The parody songs that they come up with are hilarious, a sexy track title “Finest Girl” about a girl that wants to get F’d like the U.S. F’d Bin Laden, or “Mona Lisa” trying to figure out what the big deal is about the ugly chick in that famous painting, or “I’m so humble (feat. Adam Levine) which hopefully you can get the humor in that. After a while, the film forgets about the hilarity of the music.  I personally would have liked to have seen the film transition more into a rock concert film ala “Purple Rain”, but that’s just me.  Props for using cameos so much better than say, “Zoolander 2” which just felt gross and misused.  

At times Popstar does stop never stopping, or star stopping I guess would be more correct, but the rapid fire of jokes get to start back upping enough.  Or something like that.

Hebrews 13:5

 

Saturday
Jun112016

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising: Review

 

“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” (2016)

Directed by Nicholas Stoller

Starring  Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron

Running Time 92 Minutes, Rated R.

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

“Neighbors” was a box office hit that succeeded in giving Zac Efron his first hit outside of musicals set in a high school, tying Seth Rogen to a younger crowd cause I guess the Judd Apatow crew is old school now, and once again letting Rose Byrne shine brighter than everyone else.  The movie also succeeded in showcasing Efron’s six-pack ab wonder emporium, and while “Neighbors 2” does that just as well, it does not duplicate the previous accomplishments with it’s much-missed opportunities of a sequel.

 

The Radner’s (Rose Byrne and Seth Rogen) are back with mal-parented daughter Stella and, once again, getting into a turf war with hard-partying college kids… but this time it’s war with college girls (mind blown!), hooray for 2016 equal rights (where’s my sarcasm font when I need it).  Director Stoller and returning cast know it’s the same film but with the Y chromosome, and they poke fun at themselves with good jokes.  The girls in question are lead by Chloe Grace Moretz who thinks it’s super not cool that only guys can throw parties in frat houses (she’s got a point) and so makes some college besties and does her best to break the male shackles of throwing parties while the Radner’s need them to blow town or they’ll lose their escrow on their sold house (some pretty decent housing bubble jokes are made).  The tie that binds is Efron’s under achieving Teddy who is once again soul searching when his best mate played by James Franco has nicely kicked him out of the apartment to make room for his gay fiance.

All too often jokes are made and then dropped; roofie jokes keep showing their face, which aren’t funny, which Stroller and his four other screenwriters come to and then drop.  There are a lot more themes this go around, which some stick, but most don’t. Their biggest theme being sexism even gets a bit hypocritical at times- like in a scene where Rogen and Efron are locked in a garage, and Byrne just waits for them not doing anything letting them save the day.  Laughs are missed as well when poor direction doesn’t capitalize on the the film’s action comedy sequence and wastes a good Beastie Boys song.  

Don’t waste Beastie Boys songs, sure as heck don’t waste Rose Byrne, and don’t waste your time on this almost good enough - but not - sequel.   

Proverbs 7:4 

 

Saturday
Jun112016

Nice Guys- review

 

Nice Guys” (2016)

Directed by Shane Black

Starring  Russell Crowe,  Ryan Gosling,  Angourie Rice

Running Time 116 Minutes, Rated R.

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch


Delivering smaller non-event films that somehow feel more like an event-film than most of what the studios are putting out, Shane Black, director of the impeccable “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang” and the very profitable “Iron Man 3” is back at the helm doing what he does best.  

Set in the lush 70’s L.A. scene amidst the gas panics and daily smog alerts, “Nice Guys” stars Russell Crowe as Jackson Healy, a Bronx born street tough who earns his wages by being hired to beat people up, not sure how you put that in your W-2’s.  Healy savors the gigs where he gets to put the hurt on men who fool around with underaged girls.  Not the smartest, although he does try to learn a new word a day, what he does know is that he feels that his life is being wasted, and what he really wants is to be useful.   

Ryan Gosling is Holland March, an ex-police force now scheming private investigator who when his wife passed hit the bottle, and his 13-year-old daughter Holly (Angourie Rice) now takes more care of him than he does for her.  Bumbling and stumbling, March can’t even break through a door window pane without putting himself in the hospital.

Healy and March, after a painful first encounter for March, end up teaming up on a case that starts with tracking down an already dead pornstar named Misty Mountains to eventually getting tangled up in conspiracy that goes as deep as the head of L.A. law enforcement (played by Kim Basinger), auto emissions, and the Big 3 car makers.   

Shane Black knows how to do buddy cop films, the man wrote “Lethal Weapon” for goodness sake.  He mines that genre’s tropes for all it’s worth with his fantastic leads, and just like in “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”, he just absolutely rocks it with a very funny and very compelling detective story.  

It’s nice to see Crowe doing comedy again, because he can, and even if he’s let himself go, (adding about 60 pounds since the last time he worked with Basinger in “L.A. Confidential”) he hasn’t let his acting chops go.  I’m so happy to see the much younger Gosling able to have his pulse on taking parts that don’t suck (forgiving of course “Gangster Squad”).  A gem is the young Australian actress Angourie Rice who does very well playing the film’s moral center.

Black specializes in dumb characters in smart movies, and “Nice Guys” is no different.  I love it when you can see a filmmaker having fun.  The lush backdrop of both the 70’s and L.A. during that time makes the film pop all the more and the quirky dialogue, including an angry rant on ventriloquists that I particularly enjoyed, don’t hurt the viewing experience either.

I will say that as much as I did enjoy “Nice Guys”, it doesn’t hold up to “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”.  FYI, you can thank that movie for the Marvel Universe we all enjoy today.  When Kiss Kiss came out Robert Downey Jr. was on the outs in Hollywood just coming back from his latest drug rehabilitation.  Without Kiss Kiss, Downey Jr. never gets cast as Iron Man, and then somebody else is cast, way less charismatic, and who knows if it ever catches on (talking to you Henry Cavill).  But I digress, the script is much more snappy and awesomely frantic in Kiss Kiss and Kiss Kiss in my opinion holds up as just a perfect little film.

“Nice Guys” is a very, very good little film that again, feels like such a bigger film than it is.  A treat no less.

Friday
May202016

Keanu- review

 

“Keanu” (2016)

Directed by Peter Atencio

Starring Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele

Running Time 100 Minutes, Rated R.

2 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

That’s gotta be disappointing.  Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele of their well deserved “Key and Peele” sketch show fame are coming off that show’s run with some major swag and just flat out ability to call their own shots.  So instead of going all Babe Ruth calling out his home run for a dying kid, the two very funny comedians basically decided to call out an inning ending double-play for a kid with above average attention deficit disorder.

 

“Keanu”, is an incompetent dud, in large part due to Peter Atencio’s misshapen directing, but it didn’t have to be.  Here’s a comedy where Key and Peele’s talents should shine through; playing two clean-cut mild mannered black citizens who end up in a gang drug war just to get their cute little kitty back.  As to point out what black culture is, what’s expected from it, and the stereotypes seen from both sides of the equation.  And while good satire shines through from time to time, the jokes most certainly do not.  “Keanu” is the classic 3 minute sketch that was forced into a 100 minute film, and by my calculation that makes this film 33 times too long.

P.S. Sign of film that doesn’t trust itself that it’s funny.  A scene where Key and Peele walk up to bar called Hot Party Vixen and the bar sign out front is abbreviated HPV, funny joke by itself, but Peele’s character has to verbally point it out so that we MAKE SURE you got it.  Way less funny the second time, and sadly “Keanu” is way less funny than it should be the whole time through.  

Genesis 40:15

 

Tuesday
May102016

Everybody Wants Some!- review

 

“Everybody Wants Some!” (2016)

Directed by Richard Linklater

Starring  Blake Jenner,  Tyler Hoechlin,  Ryan Guzman

Running Time 117 Minutes, Rated R.

5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


Linklater just makes it all seem so effortless.  Richard Linklater’s latest, “Everybody Wants Some!” (exclamation point well earned), has been dubbed by the eclectic director as a ‘spiritual sequel’ to the cult classic “Dazed and Confused”.  Where the predecessor hit the pitch perfect points of the insecurities of high school, “Everybody Wants Some!” captures the joyful reckless abandon and self exploration that is college.  Here is a film perfect in it’s slice of time, killer soundtrack, super talented unknown cast that shouldn’t stay unknown, and perfect in it’s easy going swagger.  “Everybody Wants Some!” is my first perfect 5 star rating of 2016!

 

It’s 1980, three days before the fall semester starts at a Texas college, and Jake (Blake Jenner), recruited for the University walks into his campus house where he meets his fellow teammates/roomies and begins to sniff out the new territory.  The boys are all so super competitive and muck with his freshmen status, but even though he’s a pitcher, Jake is batting 1.000 by holding his own.  We follow Jake and the squad as they smoke, drink, and get laid as much as possible but still leave time to wax intellectual about Pink Floyd.  Linklater uses the era’s ever changing music scene literally to not put them in an identity crisis, but yes as an ever adaptive species that go from a disco house playing “Give Up the Funk”, to a honky tonk bar line dancing to “Cotton Eye Joe”, to killer punk cover the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song.    

“It’s gonna be one of the best days of my life, until tomorrow.” Spouts the alpha male not in a condescending way but not in an aggressive way either, just calmly calling it like it is.  I just loved how perfectly relaxed this film is.  There is a lot of humor in playing it cool.  

You definitely want some of “Everybody Wants Some!”

 

Monday
Apr042016

Pee-wee's Big Holiday- review

 

“Pee-wee’s Big Holiday” (2016)

Directed by John Lee

Starring Paul Reubens, Joe Manganiello

Running Time 90 Minutes

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

The last time Paul Reubens’ iconic Pee-wee Herman got the movie treatment it was 1988.  That’s a whole slew of ex-presidents and also electing the first black Commander in Chief , grunge rock, the Red Sox broke the Bambino’s Curse, gay marriage and marijuana became legal, a little thing called the internet caught on, and Star Wars returned both very bad and very good.  That’s a lot of change in almost 30 years, but you know what hasn’t changed a bit- Pee-wee, and that’s a very good thing.  

 

Another thing that changed is streaming tv and movies, and Netflix has released the very fun and very Pee-wee “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday”.  This time Pee-wee is a fry cook who has never ever ever left his quaint perfect little town of Fairville.  He’s content to stay until the super cool tv and movie star Joe Manganiello (playing a Hollywood jazzed up version of himself and having a hammy blast at it) enters Pee-wee’s diner, and they bond over their love of root beer barrel candies becoming instant besties.  Joe invites Pee-wee to his birthday party less than a week away, but it’s in New York City, and so Pee-wee takes his first holiday in a cross country road trip to the Big Apple.

Not every joke sticks, but everything feels very Pee-wee and that’s high praise.  Reubens and co-writer Paul Rust (writer/star of Netfilx’s awesome “Love”) bring the one-of-a-kind character back and throw him in a wonderful grab-bag of odd endeavors and meetings.  Boiled down, “Holiday” does what Pee-wee does best, meeting all different walks of life and making friends with them.  Reubens has such a gift for bringing out a basic childhood wonder to his storytelling but with just the right bit of edge to it.    

Glad to have you back Pee-wee.    

Proverbs 18:24

 

Tuesday
Feb232016

Deadpool- review

 

“Deadpool” (2016)

Directed by Tim Miller

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller

Running Time 108 Minutes, Rated R.

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

If you’re a Ryan Reynolds fan, and I am, you’ve been waiting for the “Deadpool” movie for just about forever. Not the Deadpool character itself, if you remember correctly, Reynolds got a shot at that character with a supporting role in my number one worst film of 2009, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”.  The problem certainly wasn’t being given a crack at being the lead in a superhero film, as the extremely dismal and void of humor “The Green Lantern”.  What we’ve been waiting for is a film to tap into Reynold’s uber sarcastic filthy wit with his uber ripped action figure body type, and no, “Blade: Trinity” doesn’t count.  “Deadpool” is that perfect Ryan Reynold’s film, now we have that movie that allows him to take a bullet up the butt while incessantly dropping the f’bomb.  Finally.

Reynolds plays a former special-forces soldier named Wade Wilson who now is a hired low-rent dirtbag to stop worse dirtbags.  Wilson patrons the bar of fellow hitmen/vigilantes where the bartender Weasel (a perfectly casted T.J. Miller) runs a deadpool where obviously Wilson gets his superhero tag from.  Wilson becomes the red masked Deadpool after meeting and falling in love with Rebecca (Morena Baccarin), the escort of his dreams who shares his love of filth, finding out he has terminal cancer, and taking up an offer to find a cure at a murky experimental mutant making facility.

 

Through a very long torturous montage, Wilson receives the mutant power of Wolverine-esq healing but is deformed to the point as Weasel later puts it, looks like an avocado that had sex with a much older avocado. Too afraid to confront Rebecca, Wilson goes full vigilante as Deadpool looking for vengeance which tells the story in a much smaller scale making for a nice change of pace.

The real change of pace in this superhero film is tone.  “Deadpool” is hard R, and Reynolds kills it.  Crude as can be Deadpool also has the super ability to break the 4th wall, calling out the fact that he’s in a movie itself talking to the camera and making references that call out the X-Men film universe he lives in- when someone brings up Xavier, Deadpool asks Stewart or McAvoy.  Writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick make racy/sarcastic joke after another but still know when to stop and smell the serious roses so we actually give a crap about the love story that this film essentially is.  

Yes, the tone is something you haven’t seen at the superhero megaplex, and that’s very refreshing but the story is still what you’re very accustomed to.  The villains aren’t all that mind blowing, and you basically know how it is all gonna play out but that’s o.k. because it’s a lot of fun getting there.  

you basically know how “this” is all gonna play out but that’s o.k. because it’s a lot of fun getting there.  

Proverbs 26:18-19

 

Tuesday
Feb232016

Zoolander 2- review

 

“Zoolander 2” (2016)

Directed by Ben Stiller

Starring Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz

Running Time 102 Minutes, Rated PG-13

1 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

This is what I waited around 15 years for?!!  

I’m a big fan of the original, still quote it to this day.  So it comes with much frustration to see Ben Stiller’s return to his cult moronic supermodel Derek Zoolander fall so incompetently flat.  Basically, “Zoolander 2” can go ahead and Derelick my balls.      

 

Writers Ben Stiller and Justin Theroux don’t even come close to recapturing the satirical zaniness of the original.  After another model assassin plot is achingly set up, this time infinitely more convoluted, Stiller and Theroux decide to substitute jokes with an annoying amount of wasted cameos.  From Kiefer Sutherland, who is a part of Hansel’s (Owen Wilson) orgy family, to Benedict Cumberbatch as a he/she whip-handling model, to a myriad of pop stars, to every major fashion designer that can’t act (which is all of them).  Not even Billy Zane could brighten up the day.

A lot of the original's gags are forced back with diminishing returns.  In fact, only Will Ferrell got the memo that “Zoolander 2” was supposed to a comedy and not a reminder that long gestated sequels can’t hold a candle to their predecessor (“Dumb and Dumber To”, “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”)     

“Zoolander 2” is really, really, ridiculously unfunny.

“This” is really, really, ridiculously unfunny.

1 Peter 3:3