Entries in Comedy (182)

Wednesday
Dec272017

The Disaster Artist- review

 

“The Disaster Artist” (2017)

Directed by James Franco

Starring James Franco, Dave Franco, Ari Graynor

Running Time 104 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


In 2003 a movie classic was released.  The Oscar went to Rob Marshall’s musical “Chicago”, but that has nowhere near the reverence and following of Tommy Wiseau’s infamous “The Room”.  “The Room” is considered by many to be the worst film of all time, right up their with “Plan 9 From Outer Space”.  What makes those two films legendary ‘must see’ movies is that both Ed Wood and Tommy Wiseau made their film with a heartfelt sincerity that they were delivering something great.  Wiseau personally paid for the film to stay in a movie theater for two weeks so that it could be eligible for the Oscars.  It’s a mind-boggling watch; where a lot of money, $5-6 million of Wiseau’s own money was put up that showcased humans constantly making very inhuman character choices.  To this day “The Room” plays at midnight showings all over the country to sold out audiences, leading Wiseau’s best friend and co-star Greg Sestero to pen a tell all of the production which made it into James Franco’s hands for the effectively very human movie titled “The Disaster Artist”.

 

James Franco plays the mysterious and odd Tommy Wiseau to perfection.  Franco absolutely captures Wiseau’s easter european marbled accent even though Wiseau hilariously claims to be from New Orleans.  “The Disaster Artist” is basically a buddy movie, wisely focusing on Wiseau and Greg Sestero’s (played by little brother Dave Franco) friendship.  Sestero and Wiseau met up in San Francisco in 1998 where a timid Sestero is drawn to Wiseau’s nutty confidence.  They move to L.A. moving into Wiseau’s nice place he hasn’t used in years, and the two unsuccessfully go after their dream of making it big as actors until they decide to make their own movie.  

The film is funniest when the production of “The Room” begins.  Wiseau becomes a tyrant onset, and his lack of experience and normal judgement play out.  The friendship angle was definitely the right angle to play, and James Franco’s performance could definitely get him his second acting nod. I will say, however, I wasn’t blown away emotionally.   Big Franco and the writers do their best to get you to understand what Tommy being Tommy really is, but we simply can’t understand life from another planet.  Lil’ Franco does fine but doesn’t blow me away either as it’s really hard to understand why Sestero puts up with as much as he does from Wiseau. Regardless, “The Disaster Artist” is fascinating as fact is stranger than fiction.

Proverbs 1:15

 

Friday
Dec222017

Lady Bird- review

 

“Lady Bird” (2017)

Directed by Greta Gerwig

Starring Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts

Running Time 94 Minutes, Rated R.

4.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Greta Gerwig is a voice that has stood out to me.  The tall, blonde Gerwig has the uncanny ability to be believable in any situation she’s in which shows talent since she is often in a situation that is way over her head, regardless of whether she gets out of them or not it is entertaining to watch.  Her voice is no longer reserved for acting and writing (“Frances Ha”, “Greenberg”), but now of being a film director and it turns out, one hell of a director at that.

 

In the semi-autobiographical “Lady Bird”, Gerwig tells the coming-of-age story of Christine McPherson played by the already twice nominated and about to be thrice nominated Saoirse Ronan who makes everyone call her by what she states is her own given name Lady Bird.  Lady Bird, a senior in a Catholic high school in the early aughts of Sacramento, longs to go to college in NYC, somewhere her voice can be heard, but whose overbearing mother played by stage veteran Laurie Metcalf thinks that’s for rich people and that she should go to school somewhere local.  Boyfriends come and go, and so almost does her long time best friend Julie (Beanie Feldstein) when Lady Bird gets a taste of hanging out with the cool kids.  Lady Bird is a daddy’s girl whose father is  played by Tracy Letts and waxes philosophical, and even though this is a fierce mother-daughter story he is a fully formed character put on screen.

Gerwig let's Lady Bird, her mother, and other characters be monstrous but makes sure we know that they’re not monsters.  There's real heart and hurt shining through every scene.  When Lady Bird’s boyfriend (played by Lucas Hedges showing some wonderful range) suggests that her mother is really hard on her she quickly replies, “Well, she loves me a lot.”  

I love this movie a lot.

Romans 12:2

 

Friday
Dec222017

Logan Lucky- review

 

“Logan Lucky” (2017)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig

Running Time 158 Minutes, Rated PG-13

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Director Steven Soderbergh is back.  After his short self imposed early retirement, which I didn’t believe in much anyways the Oscar winning director is back and that’s a good thing.  Soderbergh puts a rural spin on his most commercially successful films; Ocean’s 11, 12, and 13 with “Logan Lucky”.  Channing Tatum and Adam Driver are the ‘unlucky’ Logan brothers who decide to take back something for themselves with a heist during the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

 

Breezy is a good way to describe this film, but I would say it’s even better described as cool glass of lemonade on a very hot day.  It won’t do more than quench your thirst for that moment, but for its nearly two hour running time, I was quenched.  Shout out to Daniel Craig playing bigger comedically than I’ve seen him do before. Also, was it just me, or did Tatum put on a few pounds for this role?  That’s commendable commitment in what turned out to be on deaf ears as this film did nothing at the box office.  

Consider yourself lucky and watch this film.

Matthew 5:6

 

Thursday
Dec212017

The Meyerwitz Stories (New and Selected)- review

 

“The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)" (2017)

Directed by Noah Baumbach

Starring  Adam Sandler,  Grace Van Patten,  Dustin Hoffman

Running Time 112 Minutes, Rated R.

4 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

The year is 2002 and Adam Sandler pulls off what Jim Carrey had just just done a few years earlier: going from buffoonery (at the time still awesome buffoonery) to his first critically acclaimed film that was much in part to his also critically acclaimed acting.  That film is Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Punch-Drunk Love”, one of my absolute favorites.  I was so happy for the melding of those two talents that it seemed like a no doubter that Sandler would follow that film with another acting triumph much like Carrey did with “The Truman Show” to “The Man on the Moon”.  Well, a truckload of movies and payday films later, and it didn’t happen; sure “Spanglish”, “Reign Over Me”, and “Funny People” had their moments, but it wasn’t until now that Sandler and another talented director really pulled off that feat.  15 years after “Punch-Drunk Love” Noah Baumbach reminds us that Sandler really can act with Netflix’s “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected).

 

This is my favorite work from Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale”, “Frances Ha”) to date.  Baumbach tells stories about dysfunctional family but he does it with so much love and care for that family.  In this film everything orbits around the patriarch Harold Meyerowitz played by Dustin Hoffman, who hasn’t had a role this good in many years.  Harold, a sculptor, was minor deal in the art world but has a major ego, which has loomed over his kids their whole lives; Danny (Adam Sandler), Matthew (Ben Stiller), and Jean (Elizabeth Marvel). Sandler taps into his sweet and rage persona much like Punch-Drunk, as the son who was all too often pushed aside for Stiller’s Matthew which formed both of their neurosis while Jean wasn’t left out from being bequeathed issues by always being complacent.  

Baumbach’s dialogue is exhausting in all the good ways.  As characters speak over each other, focusing on just what they’re trying to get out of the conversation, especially in Hoffman’s hard to like Harold you can understand how his offspring were eager to please until they weren’t anymore.  

Consider the The Meyerowitz Stories a winner, I just hope it’s not 2032 before Sandler’s next triumph.

John 5:19

 

Thursday
Dec212017

Girls Trip- review

 

“Girls Trip” (2017)

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee

Starring  Regina Hall,  Queen Latifah,  Jada Pinkett Smith, Tiffany Haddish

Running Time 122 minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Hands down “Girls Trip” is easily one of the funniest films of the year!  Can’t name too many outstanding comedies, especially rated R. raunchy comedies from 2017, but this is at the head of the pack.  Super generic story of four childhood friends who try to recapture what they had played by Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and the breakout star of 2017 Tiffany Haddish.  You know they’re gonna have a good time, antics will ensue, they’ll all have a falling out at some point, but then everything works out for everyone in the end and as long as you have the jokes and the performers who can pull them off then baby, you got yourself one funny-ass stew.

 

All hail the coming of Tiffany Haddish. Hall, Latifa, and Smith are at the top of their game here, but it’s Haddish who had me cracking up even before she uttered a line of dialogue, but don’t worry she can handle the filthy dialogue as well.  The four’s chemistry and friendship shines through and I’m sure there’s a Girls Trip 2 already in the works and you can mark me all aboard for that trip.

Proverbs 31:30

 

Friday
Nov032017

Little Evil- review

 

“Little Evil” (2017)

Directed by Eli Craig

Starring Evangeline Lilly,  Adam Scott,  Kyle Bornheimer

Running Time 95 Minutes, Rated R.

2.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

There’s this trend of opening the film with a scene much later on in the film and then working it’s way back to it, I am not a fan.  It’s doesn’t do much except for tell the viewer where we’re gonna end up, so much so that I’m trying to figure out when that scene will come up.  “Little Evil” does that and by doing so starts the film off with a sour taste.  I love the premise; Gary, played very well by straight man extraordinaire Adam Scott marries the love of his life (a pleasant Evangeline Lilly), and becomes the stepfather to her young boy.  It just so happens that the little boy is the antichrist.  Every person who has taken parenthood over a child who they didn’t create must feel like at times they are the spawn of evil so you’d think there’d be so much comedy to mine.  Turns out not so much.

 

Eli Craig can’t replicate the duality of scares and laughs that he achieved in “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” with many scenes falling flat on their face.  “Little Evil” has its moments, but it’s too little too late.  

John 8:44

 

Friday
Nov032017

Goon: Last of the Enforcers- review

 

“Goon: Last of the Enforcers" (2017)

Directed by Jay Baruchel

Starring Seann William Scott,  Alison Pill,  Marc-André Grondin

Running Time 101 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Movie sports classics are hard to come by but are the adrenaline pumping gift that keeps giving.  2011’s out of nowhere raunchy and bloody hockey opus “Goon” is one of those classics, and I will pull your jersey over your head and punch you in the face if you disagree.  The watchability factor on that film is extremely high, I since caught the film more than a few times and the film’s bare knuckle blood gets only sweeter with time.  Co-screenwriter Jay Baruchel agrees with me and saw fit to co-write and sole direct a Goon sequel; “Goon: Last of the Enforcers”.  This film is about as original as a hockey player missing teeth, but regardless it still has same awesome ‘feel’ as the original and that alone makes it worth a recommendation.

  

Seann William Scott is back as minor league hockey player Doug Glatt, who can still beat the snot out of just about anyone while still being as sweet as can be about it.  Honestly, Scott doesn’t get enough credit for this role, every time I see the original it makes me sad he doesn’t work more.  Doug gets the respect of his team and becomes their captain, but this is short lived as he finally gets the snot kicked out of him to the point where he’s forced into retirement.  This comes at the hands Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell), the son of Doug’s team owner.  From there, cue the unoriginality, a whole “Rocky 2” plot plays out with Doug trying to train himself back up but doing it away from his pregnant wife again by Allison Pill.  

What really helps this film get the ‘feel’ from the first one is having all the players from the first one.  The inappropriateness flows like wine, and that made me drunk enough to enjoy the Goon sequel.   

John 15:13

 

Thursday
Jul272017

The House- review

 

“The House” (2017)

Directed by Andrew Jay Cohen

Starring Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas

Running Time 88 Minutes, Rated R.

1.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


It’s kind of startling when you see a film this inept, this bland, this thin.  Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler lose big time by trusting that first time director Andrew Jay Cohen could make “The House” a winning bet.  Ferrell, Poehler, and a lot of their funny buddies are in this film, people that I enjoy a lot, but even though they didn’t get credit for writing it, it sure feels like their improv unsuccessfully did.  That’s what happens when your director/writer can’t flesh out a paper bag.

 

Scott (Ferrell) and Kate (Poehler) Johansen live in upper middle class suburbia and are proud to get their daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) accepted to Bucknell University, but when the town, led by a shady city councilmen played by Nick Kroll (who has way more authority than a councilmen really has), takes away her full ride scholarship, the Johansen’s are forced to run an underground casino in their depressed and recently divorced good friend Frank’s (Best part of the film Jason Mantzoukas) house.  

Sure, why not, we need an excuse for such a wacky vehicle. Although, it’s kind of bizarre who unfunny this film is.  This is part because the characters didn’t have to work too hard to create such an illegal setting and, therefore, the stakes are low.  Also, this film lives in crazyville, where anything goes from one moment to the next to keep the barebones plot together.  Lastly, “The House” is not funny because the jokes are not funny.  A running gag of Poehler’s Kate being addicted to marijuana is terribly lame.  

In fact, “The House” really isn’t a film per say but a terribly lame 88 minute running gag.  

 

Thursday
Jul272017

War Machine- review

 

“War Machine” (2017)

Directed by David Michôd

Starring Brad Pitt,  Anthony Hayes,  John Magaro

Running Time 122 Minutes, Rated R.

3.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

“War Machine” is based off of the book “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Story Inside of America’s War in Afghanistan” about Gen. Stanley McChrystal who lost his assignment as the top U.S. commander in the Afghanistan war after author Michael Hastings’s expose in a Rolling Stone article.  Here, Gen McChrystal becomes the fictionalized Gen.Glen McMahon played with a Kubiak gusto from Brad Pitt.  We see Gen. McMahon newly appointed and ready to go and kick some ass with his American boot and his posse of subordinates who praise the ground he walks on.  All of the best and worst of American tributes are on parade as he tries to win an unconventional war unconventionally but is slowly being taken down like his predecessors before him by a pride that ‘his’ ‘can-do’ attitude is the only thing missing from winning this war.  

 

There is definitely a sloppiness to director David Michôd‘s directing as the tone is very loose so you think the satirical targets would be miss-fired, but for me, it hit all the more.  Michôd gets across a chuckle from something very sad.  Watching the powers above us make the same power driven mistakes over and over and catching a glimpse of how the rest of the world can adore the U.S. for it’s ideologies but also hate us for the same reasons.  There are some tragic scenes; such as Gen. McMahon spending his 30th wedding anniversary with his wife as she calculates that they have spent an average of 30 days together per year for the last 10 years, and where McMahon’s troops/pawns are actually out on the field and the cluster f’ of war bombards us.

“War Machine” snuck up on me making for an oddly enjoyable film.

Ecclesiastes 3:8

 

Saturday
Jun172017

Win it all- review

 

“Win it All” (2017)

Directed by Joe Swanberg

Starring Jake Johnson,  Rony Shemon,  Morgan Ng

Running Time 88 Minutes, Rated R.

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/moviewithmitch.com

 

I’m a Jake Johnson fan.  He has that charming jerk thing with just a touch of being an idiot going for him big time.  Johnson and Zooey Deschanel successfully pulled off the rare ‘Ross and Rachel’ thing in the wonderfully silly sitcom “The New Girl” and I know I’m in the minority on this one, but the flop “Let’s Be Cops” tickled me pink, in great parts to him.  Johnson has a good indie director/writer cohort in Joe Swanberg, who have collaborated on “Digging for Fire” and the very excellent “Drinking Buddies”.  Swanberg and Johnson are back at in Netflix’s ongoing world takeover in the winning dramedy “Win it All”.

 

A film that’s hip without being hipster, “Win it All” uses a plethora of improv actors who can actually play the scene real, moving the story forward and not just looking for a joke.  Johnson plays Eddie, a Chicagonite addicted to gambling who knows he’s addicted that is unless he’s playing, which he then “knows” he’s gonna win.  Eddie has gone broke for the umteempth time, his gambling anonymous sponsor played by Keegan-Michael Key tells him that he’s addicted to losing, and Eddie wants to be cured.  But rock bottom is on the way when one of his seedy acquaintances shows up in his apartment unannounced and promises that while “he’s away” if he can store his duffle bag for six months that he’ll receive $10,000.  

“What’s in the duffle bag”, asks Eddie, to which seedy acquaintance replies “don’t worry about it”.  Well, Eddie gives it a few days, and when he finds out what’s inside, rock bottom is at the end of an underground poker bender.  The film then centers on Eddie trying claw his way back out while understanding where his pattern of life decisions have gotten him.  Joe Lo Truglio as his good sibling and Aislinn Derbez as the girl that’s too good for him but is interested anyways do well filling up the lean 88 minutes of screen time.  

“Win it All” is a film that pays off and if I were you, I would bet on Jake Johnson in the future.

1 Corinthians 10:13

 

Friday
Jun022017

Snatched- review

 

“Snatched” (2017)

Directed by Jonathan Levine

Starring Amy Schumer,  Goldie Hawn

Running Time 90 Minutes, Rated R.

1.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

Amy Schumer is atrocious in this film.  Classic case example, but a ‘not decent human being’ movie character that everyone loves is Phil Connors in “Groundhog Day” played by the one and only Bill Murray.  Murray has the ability to play Phil as a narcissistic jerk who eventually learns from his personality weaknesses but even when he is in early jerk mode he is both funny and interesting to watch.  Amy Schumer does not have that ability.  At least not here in her latest foul-mouthed comedy film, “Snatched”, unlike her last go around in the impressive “Trainwreck”.  Among many problems this film has, one of the biggest is Schumer’s wildly unsympathetic and annoying performance.  Performance is a strong word, let's go with generic caricature.  

Which is a shame because Goldie Hawn absolutely kills it in her first film appearance since 2002’s “The Banger Sisters”.  Hawn has to use maximum restraint with Schumer trying go for big yuck-yucks non-stop, and it’s so much funnier.  This is one of those pretty bad films that happens to have a pretty great performance. Performance is a weak word, let’s go with achievement.  

 

Hawn and Schumer play the mother and daughter combo of Linda and Emily Middleton.  Emily has no direction in life, just got fired from her latest retail job, dumped from her burgeoning rock star boyfriend (the oft-funny Randall Park), and did I mention is annoying AF (am I using that right?).  Linda has been divorced forever, bordering on crazy cat lazy, and still lets her son Jeffrey played by Ike Barinholtz live with her due to his severe agoraphobia and mamma’s boy-itis.  Due to her dumping and purchase of a non-refundable plane ticket, Emily begs Linda to go with her to Ecuador for fun, sun, and as little laughs as possible- sorry that last one was for the audience.  Due to Emily’s idiocy and selfishness, the two get kidnapped for ransom and have to make their way back with wacky raunchy rated R. hijinks.   

Besides a comedy film that’s light on laughs being a problem there is very off sense of tone.  This is definitely a step backwards for on again off again director Jonathan Levine (“50/50”, “The Night Before”).  Weird characters enter the film that play out like alternative sketch ideas mushed into mother/daughter rekindling.  The sketches aren’t actually that bad, but that’s because of the support and not Schumer.  Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack play fellow travelers who are eager to help when the Middleton girls get napped.  Cusack is hilarious and never says a word, I miss her.  

Goldie Hawn is the one that is really missed.  She is a high class treat thrown to the dogs.  “Snatched” should be put down.

Proverbs 23:22

 

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