Entries in Jonah Hill (8)

Saturday
Jun212014

22 Jump Street- review

 

“22 Jump Street” (2014)

Directed by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Starring Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Ice Cube

Running Time 112 Minutes, Rated R.

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

 

More of the same.  I’ll take it.

Mid 2014 is still a time when you could state that directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have done no wrong. “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, this year’s mega smash hit “The Lego Movie” where everything was awesome, and their Jump Street saga included.  Saga might me a strong word, but the two savvy auteurs have totally nailed resurrecting an old forgotten tv show just to make fun of the fact that so many tv shows get movie treatments.  Besides the meta, “21 Jump Street” combined the perfect deadpan delivery of Jonah Hill with the burgeoning comedic talents of Channing Tatum with a film that actually delivered on it’s action genre as the climax came to a close.

“22 Jump Street” is almost exactly the same as the first; riffing on how sequels just try to build on the same old same old that worked in the original, but getting laughs on the fact that we know that’s what they’re doing.  The meta comedy plays hard, but at the same time you do realize that can only take you so far.  Jokes about budget constraints referring to sequels get their laughs, but it was hard for my laughs to get past the meta layer at times.    

 

As promised at the finale of the first film Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) film do go to college. There, they are assigned to achieve the same success as the first; bust a new crazed drug ring while keeping their bromances alive through the ups and downs.  This time Jenko finds more popularity as a football jock than Schmidt does in the art house circle, although Schmidt does find companionship with someone near and dear to their very angry police boss, Captain Dickson (very angry Ice Cube).  

You know what happens; after reminiscing and getting lost in their covers, the two police their way out of a paper bag and choose after hardships to keep their very heartfelt and well acted hetero adoration together.  

I came. I saw.  I repeated what I came and saw and still very much appreciated it.

I repeated what “this” came and saw and still very much appreciated it.

Hebrews 13:1

 

Tuesday
Dec312013

The Wolf of Wall Street- review

 

“The Wolf of Wall Street” (2013)

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill

Running Time 179 Minutes, Rated R.

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com


There’s a hollowness to Martin Scorsese's fifth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”.  

The story at hand, an adaptation (from "Boardwalk Empire" creator Terence Winter) of Jordan Belfort’s unapologetic and unashamed autobiography that captures the corrupt whiz kids conquest of Wall Street with more money, drugs, and sex than you can snort through a rolled $100 bill is but only one minute shy of a three hour running time.  Belfort, himself a hollow shell of a human being motivated by the most carnal of desires, transformed the infamous brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont he founded into nothing more than a high rise Caligula that ended hurting a lot of innocent people.  I can’t tell if Scorsese is celebrating this depravity or pointing out the emptiness of this person and the greed centered era of his surroundings (if it is the former, the steam runs out long before the credits rolls), or an indifference to both of those ideas simply telling the story how the author of the source material wrote it.  Either way, there’s still a hollow feeling at the end that doesn’t make for entertaining storytelling.  Too bad, DiCaprio’s performance squashes all of those negatives to make for one heck of a portrayal that’ll blow you away.

DiCaprio magically makes the nefarious Belfort into a Zach Morris/Gordon Gekko hybrid.  The charm with the ability to talk to the camera that somehow disarms us into not loathing this person.  The story moves clunkily from one ‘there’s no way that that could happen’ moment to the next, but DiCaprio fires on bigger than life cylinders than he’s ever shown before.   

Other performances pick up the film’s dragging bloated screen time.  Jonah Hill transforms into the equally terrible Donnie Azoff, who is to become Belforts waspy best friend and colleague.  Belfort and Azoff egg each other on into who can out top the previous shallow shenanigans.  Sometimes this pays off huge, and other times, its just more sin kindling for the bonfire.  A scene where Belfort must drive himself home after taking quaaludes that have triple the usual strength and stop Azoff from running his quaalude motored mouth is a scene that pays off very huge.  

At the end of the film I asked myself what’s it all for.  DiCaprio’s performance was reason enough.  

“This” was reason enough

 

Monday
Jun242013

This is the End- review

 

“This is the End” (2013)

Directed by Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

Starring James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen

Running Time 107 Minutes, Rated R.

4.5 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/movieswithmitch.com

It’s been a pretty disappointing year for movies in general but more specifically for comedies.  The Burt Wonderstone’s and Identitiy Thief’s of 2013 haven’t really done it for me, so thank you Seth Rogen and pretty much everyone else who’s ever crossed paths with Judd Apatow for not only delivering easily the best comedy so far of 2013 but also in quite some time before that.  

If you’re tired of Seth Rogen always playing himself then maybe this isn’t the film for you because Rogen quite literally plays himself, as does everyone else in This is the End, or at least a heightened douchey version of their Hollywood personification.  From a pretentious James Franco (who lets you know that everything is art right down to your Subway sandwich maker), to a Hollywood fake nice but smug Jonah Hill (who when he prays, lets God know it’s John Hill- from Moneyball), to the unreasonable party hard prick that is Danny McBride (who generally masturbates wherever he pleases), and more.  Jay Baruchel and Craig Robinson round out the main players and there’s a bevy of cameos from people I enjoy.

This is the End is almost like this generation’s Ghostbusters; except instead of catching ghosts it’s the Biblical apocalypse being unleashed, and instead of PG rated dialogue, it’s hard R. with many, many penis jokes.  Judd Apatow must be a proud comedy pappa watching Rogen and his Superbad co-writer write and first time direct this laugh out loud extravaganza.  It’s a top-notch hilarious riffing that goes super blue but also is wonderfully self deprecating with just as much jabs at Hollywood.  On top of that, the end of the world material is both funny and at times scary- Baruchel trying to exercise a well endowed demon out of Hill brought the house down, and the special effects are surprisingly not just serviceable but excellent.

I haven’t laughed this hard in a long, long time.  This is the end is great all the way through and boasts an ending that’s heavenly (you’ll get the pun when you see the film).

(you’ll get “this” pun when you see the film).

Matthew 24:36

 

Monday
Jul302012

The Watch- review

“The Watch” (2012)
Directed by Akiva Schaffer
Starring  Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill
Running Time 101 Minutes, Rated R.
2 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

Akiva Schaffer is one of three members of the Lonely Island comedy trio.  They’re the guys who do the digital shorts for SNL.  Members include Schaffer, Jorma Taconne, and the more famous Andy Samberg.  Their comedy is crude and way off the center, just the way I like it.  

Their stuff isn’t for everyone, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you like it, then good for you, if not, then no offense taken.  Schaffer previously directed the oddly superb “Hot Rod”, starring Samberg and Taconne, and if you’re a fan of that than you and I could be very good friends.  For most it’s not their cup of goofy tea, but “Hot Rod”, much like Taconne’s directed “MacGruber”, that also has started to pick up a cult following, was consistent in its beat of a different drum throughout, and that’s what makes those two films extra funny to me.  

The sin with the all-over-the-place-but-humour- “The Watch” is that it wants to be goofy weird, but it’s big league Fox Studios and hefty 68 million dollar budget doesn’t allow for that.  “The Watch” is more watered down than a Houston resident’s front lawn, and more confused about how to handle itself than a chicken in a pillow factory.  Not coming close to the R rated “Ghostbusters it wants to be, “The Watch” meets its umpteenth quota of Costco and genital jokes. This film makes it hard at times to engage comfortably in this film’s title.    

Ben Stiller plays the control freak Evan, a Costco manager who spends his time starting clubs and confusing the members with friends.  When one of his employees is killed by, and the trailer gives it away, extraterrestrials, Evan starts a neighborhood watch.  Evan may take it seriously, but the joined members Bob (Vince Vaughn) looks at it as a buddy club, Franklin (Jonah Hill) wants to work out some mental issues, and Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) is newly divorced and looking for adventure.  Stiller, Vaughn, and Hill you know, but it’s the British comedian Ayaode, who directed last year’s stellar “Submarine”, who gets to be the odd Zach Galifianakas like comedy breakout here.  

“The Watch” bounces all over the place, and rarely results in big laughs due to a lowest common demoninator script that comes from none other than Seth Rogen.  Lots of sit down scenes of the four shooting the excrement. You can see them struggle, almost aimlessly throwing comedy darts and missing the board all together.  There was a time when Vaughn’s rapid fire did it for me, but here he’s amped up higher than usual on some sort of Vaughn steroids.  I know it’s his thing to interrupt, but for goodness sake Vince, let Ben get out a line or two.  At times Vaughn hijacks the film, and I suppose he bullied Schaffer into letting him be the heavy at times.  

It’s not that each of these successful comedians doesn’t get a laugh or two, but for my ticket of admission price it was Will Forte in a much smaller part who got a laugh from me every time he was onscreen.  This isn’t nearly enough to win anyone over.  Rosemary DeWitt, who just came off of the splendid “Your Sister’s Sister” is wasted as Stiller’s wife, and so is Billy Crudup as Stiller’s peculiar neighbor.         

I came, I saw, and I watched a disappointing film drown in inconsistency.

I came, I saw, and I watched a disappointing “this” drown in inconsistency.

 

Monday
Mar192012

21 Jump Street- review

“21 Jump Street” (2012)
Directed by Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Starring Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum
Running Time 109 Minutes, Rated R.
3.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”  We need a street, 21 Jump Street to be precise.

The timeless story of reliving past time has been a frequent purveyor of film and reliving one’s high school days is the street most commonly traveled upon.  From one of the greatest films ever in “Back to the Future” told through time travel to some of the worst movies ever, like “Dream a Little Dream” told through body swapping, high school gives a reflection back to such a unique time in one’s life.  Like those two 80’s films, actor and producer Jonah Hill has found his travel back to high school vehicle using the same straight laced 80’s cop show for his latest R rated comedy.  I won’t give it “Back to the Future” praise but wonderfully enough, “21 Jump Street” provides good buddy cop action, an actual sensitiveness to their fish out of water characters, and not to mention delivers big, big laughs.  

It’s been seven years since high school for Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum).  Back then the nerdy “not-so-slim-shady” Schmidt was tormented by the popular dumb jock Jenko.  When the two meet up in police academy, they become besties with smarts iron sharpening physically fit iron.  Underachieving as boring bike cops, they finally get their chance to prove themselves when they get transferred to go undercover posing as high school students.  

Their mission is to track down a new deadly drug called H.F.S (crude but hilarious explanation) by infiltrating the dealers and finding the suppliers.  These orders are given by Captain Dickson played by Ice Cube, who explains why he’s an angry black police captain.  This is another excellent example of how Michael Bacall‘s (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) spot on script has it’s characters get their genres laughs but also be people too.  

Jenko and Schmidt’s ideas of the high school hierarchy have totally changed.  Jenko’s ‘not caring’ attitude is no longer cool, and “granola kids with causes” are where it’s at now.  Making funny funnier, Jenko screws up and takes the wrong identity, enrolling him in science classes while Schmidt has track and drama.  Crippled with the stings of high school rejection, Schmidt ends up being the cool one for the first time in his life and earns the affections of fellow drama mate Molly (played by the adorable Brie Larson).

From the directors of the imaginative Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Phil Lord and Chris Miller reign in the improvisational masters for a balanced fun flick.  Jump Street is no “Superbad”, as that film never missed an opportunity.  I wish more was made of Schmidt and Jenko being both denied of their high school prom, and even though a trailer shows off Tatum’s dancing abilities, those sweet “Step Up” moves were nowhere to be seen.  Dancing bummer.  

Jonah Hill will have a long career (duh!).  Hill takes some of the biggest chances of his Apatow crew.  Indie acting vehicles like “Cyrus” to Oscar nominated performances in “Moneyball” to taking chances on adapting old silly TV shows genuinely into sincere action comedies.  “21 Jump Street” is in good hands, and it’s up to you to go to the theaters and get your butts into some good seats.

Get you butts into some good “this”.  

 

Monday
Dec122011

The Sitter- review

“The Sitter” (2011)
Directed by David Gordon Green
Starring Jonah Hill, Ari Graynor and Sam Rockwell
Running Time 81 Minutes, Rated R.
4 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

“The Sitter” is probably one of those ‘3 out of 10’ films, where only three out of ten people will enjoy it, it just so happens that I am one of the three.  I’m not a big laugh out loud guy, but if you were one of the people in the theater I was in, there was no Hyena, that was me.  “The Sitter” is a dumb movie... and I loved it!  Jonah Hill and Sam Rockwell use their stellar comedic talents in a crudely weird misadventures mayhem gem.    

Jonah Hill plays Noah Griffith, an irresponsible jobless young adult still living with his mother.  His mother (Jessica Hecht) guilt's him into a last-second babysitting job.  Within the first hour on the job his so-called girlfriend (Ari Graynor) ,who likes to receive but not to give, guilt’s him onto a drug-run for her.  

The children he’s watching are forced to come along.  The eldest Slater (Where The Wild Things Are Max Records) is all too aware at his age of his anxiety disorders.  Blithe (Landry Bender)  is described by her mother as a celebutaunt who refers to The Bible as “one hot book”.  Adopted Rodrigo (Kevin Hernandez) acts out with breaking things and an unhealthy knowledge of homemade bombs.  The children are a perfect storm of youthful mischief pitted up against Noah’s misgivings, and I found it to be a hilarious blend at a break-neck pace.

Funny gets funnier when the GREAT Sam Rockwell enters as a coke dealer whose hideout is a gay nightclub/ gym that’s filled with muscle bound thugs and effeminate rollerskating patrons.  When you need weird and very funny Sam Rockwell is my number one choice, you know every one of his resume's characters are worth even watching them read the phonebook. He and most everyone else make the film's laughs contagious, and by the end its a full-on epidemic.            

Director David Gordon Green has his stamp all over “The Sitter”.  His drug comedy schtich with strong touches of realistic violence reign in the absurd laughs, along with some very “choice” music placement.  In one scene with Hill’s Noah freaking out, a man on a segway drives by.  I’d like to think that Green called for that segway to be added just as they were shooting the scene just because it’s ridiculous, cause it is.  Green’s Pineapple Express is one of my favorite comedies from the last 10 years while “Your Highness” is one of the worst films of 2011, so it’s good to see “The Sitter” sitting in the more favorable position.

Jonah Hill has a gradual endearment and charm about him.  Through all the shenanigans, Hill’s Noah wants nothing more than to get home and hear how his mother’s date went.  Noah builds others up and doesn’t put them down. and that goes a long way when putting three children in life and death peril.  Some will say Hill is just doing his usual delivery, but I like his delivery so count me in.   Films “Cyrus” and “Moneyball” showcase his dramatic skills more to the forefront, but it’s clearly here in this farce as well.  Looking forward to watching that talent improve.

Looking forward to watching “this” talent improve.  

 

Monday
Sep262011

Moneyball- review

“Moneyball” (2011)
Directed by Bennett Miller
Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill
Running Time
3.5 Mitch’s out of 5
Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

Let me ask you if this gets your engines all hot.  It’s the bottom of the ninth, two outs, and your favorite baseball team is mounting a serious comeback.  Your manager decides to bench the SS who’s great with defense but has a weak OPS and a penchant for keeping players LOB so he subs in the usual DH to pinch hit who’s your best option for a XBH to get that winning RBI.  Well that forces the opposing team to bring in their middle reliever lefty specialist  who has an a impressive K/BB and a fantastic WHIP only because your normal closer on the DL.  Your wondering if they're gonna send your runner on first, but even though he’s known for his SB% it’s early in the season and your not sure if he’s yet 100% from last years torn ACL.             

What, you mean you didn’t understand a word I just said?  Now to me, that’s some good ol’ fashioned pillow talk, but it’s a good question to wonder if a niche-behind-the-scenes-stats-heavy-baseball movie would translate to onscreen entertainment wise to the laymen.  A big reason I didn’t like “Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps” (besides Shia Lebeouf) is that the film asks you to have a decent knowledge of that environment's jargon understood, and if you saw my bank account you’d know I didn’t understand a darn word they said.  So worry not non-baseball fans, as for the most part Superstar Brad Pitt and “Capote” director Benett Miller succeed with a script co-written from Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) and are able to transcend a lesser known aspect of baseball into a respectable human yarn in “Moneyball”.

General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), comes into the 2002 season losing three of his biggest players to free agency.  One of the those players, Jason Giambi, goes to the Yankees (the evil empire), whose payroll at that time was a staggering 114 million dollars compared to the A’s paltry 39 million.  So in an unfair game Billy Beane aims to compete with the big boys by going maverick and putting everything on the line by changing the way game has been played for over 100 plus years.  Billy does this when he hires Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), an economics major from Yale who’s computer analysis formula  finds players on the cheap who can do the most important thing- score runs.  

“Moneyball” is a good film, not a great film, as it often plays out like the calculating equation it’s commenting on.  A story that chooses mind over heart keeps you interested in the trials of Billy Beane, but it’s hard to root for.  You’re not on the edge of your seat like this month’s earlier superb “Warrior, although one of the better scenes that has  Beane and Brand working a trade over the phone is exciting and fascinating.  The formula is preached a little too hard at times.  Did you know, sports nerds, Billy Beane and the film covet that stat OPS (on-base plus slugging), so highly, but the A’s were only seventh highest in 2002 and were actually just the third highest in their division.     

Pitt, who only gets better with age, is very strong as the hot tempered GM who still carries the doubt from the failure of his big league days when he was once himself a highly touted prospect.  Hard-nosed and charming all at once, Pitt shows a man who doesn’t really change through the course of the films events but he does change the environment around him.  I’m not sure if Jonah Hill played Brand terrified for character sake or if he just realized he was acting next to Pitt, but it worked either way.  A tip of the cap to Philip Seymour Hoffman for his even harder-nosed portrayal of the A’s skipper Art Howe who butts heads with Beane throughout.    

“Moneyball” scores enough to come out a winner.

“This” scores enough to come out a winner.

 

Monday
Jun072010

Get Him to the Greek- review

“Get Him to the Greek” (2010)

Directed by Nicholas Stoller

Starring Jonah Hill, Russell Brand

Running Time 109 Minutes, Rated R.

3 Mitch’s out of 5

Mitch Hansch/ movieswithmitch.com

“Get Him to the Greek” is a movie that in a more seasoned director’s hand could have been great, like “Tropic Thunder” or “Hangover” great. Instead it turns out to be just good enough to recommend mainly because of the performances of Sean (P. Diddy) Combs, Jonah Hill, and Russell Brand.  Brand turns in something truly special here with one of the better acted performances, comedic or otherwise, put on screen in the first of half of 2010. 

We al have that one favorite music artist that we’ve dreamt of hanging out with.  My Lord only knows how many nights I’ve spent praying for the chance to hang with Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block (I just know we’d be the best of friends).  That’s exactly the opportunity that an eager to please music intern, Aaron Green (Jonah Hill), gets when he’s charged with bringing rock legend Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) in for the 10th year anniversary show at the famed Greek Theatre.  A hero-worshiping Aaron has 72 hours to deliver the severely off-the-wagon Aldous from London to Los Angeles.  Aldous’ career is heading downward after his last album, “African Child”, is labeled the worst thing to happen to Africa since apartheid.

Russell Brand reprises the role of Aldous Snow, which was hilariously introduced in one of 2008’s better comedies, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”.  Jonah Hill, who was also in “FSM”, gets a new more relatable character then the weird stalker waiter he played to offset Aldous.  Hill does his shtick effectively although missing the mark with the physical comedy and angry rants from time to time.  In the most surprising-in a good way- performance of the year, Sean Combs plays Sergio, Aaron’s boss.  Combs, poking a little fun at his bigger than life persona, plays Sergio with a forceful goofiness that may not reach the heights of Tom Cruise’s nut-job movie producer in “Tropic Thunder” but does deliver a lot of big laughs.

The real gem in this movie is Brand.  He is dynamite as the heavily flawed lead man who masterfully seduces his way through life while hating himself on this inside the errors of his ways.  Brand is so charming that he sweetly pulls off a phone conversation with his baby’s mamma’s nether region (hilariously played by Rose Byrne).  On a dime he’s just as effective in the more dramatic moments showing us that we might think we’ve made a new friend but you’ll often lose out when you get between an addict and his supply.   With help from song composer Lyle Workman, Brand owns the stage and had me bopping along to more than a few well-crafted, crude songs.  Brand just earned himself my price of admission to his future films, and that’s even if Queen Latifah or Ashton Kutcher are in them.

Nicholas Stoller who “FSM” returns for “Greek”.  Stoller suffers from not having Jason Segal’s writing on this project.  Sure, Stoller puts in plenty of dirty bits that work (a Vegas party that goes up in smoke and several well placed cameos) but almost as many that don’t (Hill’s numerous vomiting scenes and Hill’s entire relationship with the talented but wasted Elizabeth Moss).  Now, in any Judd Apatow touched (produced) film, the recipe is male-orientated raunchy gags with relationships that go through a great transformation.  Stroller’s “Get Him to the Greek” works a lot more as the road trip film that is the first two acts than the self-discovery-redemption film it is in the last act when it forgets the funny.  He piles so many misguided life issues on Brand’s Aldous to resolve and stresses so much importance on getting clean (which of course getting drug free is) that unfortunately he takes away all the film’s hi-jinks. 

With all of its flaws “Get Him to the Greek” earns a pass on Brand’s performance alone.  Here’s hoping this isn’t Aldous Snow’s farewell show and that he rocks on.

Here’s hoping “this” rocks on.