I watched four movies over the long holiday weekend, because I have nothing better to do with my free time; but I don’t have *enough* free time to write four full reviews of these movies… So I’ll just write-up a few hot takes in one big post while I struggle to digest all the turkey and bacon sandwiches I’ve eaten over the last few days. Do TUMS help your digestion, or just bottle it up worse? Welcome to my plight.
What is this? It’s the story of a young boxer in Philadelphia with a gimmicky namesake who gets chosen by a cocky boxing champion to be an easy opponent in order to get high ratings. Little does the champion know, the young upstart has an elderly manager with a weird speaking voice who has turned him from zero into hero with unorthodox training techniques and various film montages. Wait, am I talking about Rocky 1 or Creed? Maybe I’m talking about BOTH. Deal with it, square.
Was… Was it any good…? Yeah, it kind of totally was. It’s super entertaining throughout, and it was made with a pretty good amount of technical skill. There was a fight in this movie that went a full two rounds in a single take long shot. Pretty much won me over right there. The climactic fight was pretty good, too. There’s also something I genuinely enjoy about old Stallone, because he has this sort of earnest, loving respect for the characters he plays in the franchises he still cares about. Nobody in the biz wears a center crease fedora like Stallone. NOBODY.
Yeah, but… Isn’t this the exact same movie as Rocky 1? Kind of, yes. But Rocky 1 is a great movie. So an updated take on it, while still managing to continue the storyline that’s now on its 7th entry, wasn’t the worst idea in the world. It was given the kind of loving sequel treatment that we can only hope the new Star Wars ends up getting for its 7th entry in the franchise. Or even Furious 7. Wow, there was a lot of 7th movies released this year. Way to screw everything up Hateful 8…
But were there any Thanksgiving themes? Other than Stallone’s skin resembling that of a well-cooked turkey, no not really.
So, what’s your score? 87 out of 100 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
THE NIGHT BEFORE
What is this? Advertised as “Brought to you by the producers of Neighbors and Pineapple Express”, instead of by the same director and stars of 50/50 (one of the best movies of the last five years), The Night Before is a modern take on a Christmas fable, where three man-children live out their annual tradition of getting drunk on Christmas eve for the last time; while smoking weed of Christmas past, present, and future. A christmas tale for the modern schlubby stoner, it is.
Was… Was it any good…? Yeah, I guess. It actually isn’t the same kind of comedy that, say, Neighbors is. It attempts to tackle the themes of growing up and growing apart, being in a mature relationship, coping with the fears of your future, and so on. But mostly it’s good because the jokes are funny. Michael Shannon kills it in this movie as the mystical drug dealer / angel. “My quiet intensity often makes people uncomfortable…” That quote should end up on Michael Shannon’s tombstone.
Yeah, but… I gotta say, though, having to actually describe this movie right now makes it seem really lame. In fact, the overall story of this film is pretty weak, and borders on just plain stupid. But it’s the individual jokes that make this worth seeing, because myself and pretty much everyone else in the theater were laughing pretty consistently throughout the whole thing, despite none of us probably being willing to admit that it was a great movie in any way. I don’t know what’s better, a comedy with great jokes and a bad premise, or a comedy that’s a great film but only kind of funny? I think the intention of the movie where Seth Rogen pukes in a church after hissing at a baby during an entire movie long (and pretty great) drug trip was probably going more for the laughs than achieving some kind of filmmaking greatness.
But were there any Thanksgiving themes? Considering the fact that most of our neighbors put up their Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, I think this was an appropriate Turkey week release.
So, what’s your score? 7.8 Michaels out of 10 Shannons.
What is this? Following the critical success of last year’s I, Frankenstein (3% on Rotten Tomatoes), Victor Frankenstein (26% on Rotten Tomatoes) shows us what the Frankenstein tale would be like if a dude tried to copy the style of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Homes movies… …poorly.
Was… Was it any good…? No. And I fell asleep for about 10 minutes in the middle of it. I got woken up by a combination of one of my snores and the sound of thunder as the film’s climax started. Don’t think I missed much. I knew this movie was going to be a failure when I saw it on black friday, and the movie theater by my house was honestly about as crowded as I’ve *ever* seen it, and I had to park in the very back corner of the parking lot for the first time ever, had to wait in line for about ten minutes at the box office; but then when I walked into the Victor Frankenstein auditorium, I laughed out loud when I was only the 5th person to buy a ticket. Sure enough, this movie broke the record for being the worst opening of all time for a movie playing on at least 2500 screens. [makes Frankenstein grunting noises] “MOVIE BAD! ARRRRGGGG! MOVIE BAAAAAAAAD!”
Yeah, but… To James McAvoy’s credit, he gave a legitimately enthusiastic performance in an awful movie. It’s always sad when actors try really hard in something no one cares about. There was no saving this from the start, though, as the screenplay was just awful. Wow, Max Landis wrote this? I kind of liked him up until this point… Now he’s kind of evened out in 2015 between this garbage and the cromulance of American Ultra.
But were there any Thanksgiving themes? Maybe, if the charring of Frankenstein’s monster via electricity reminds you of how your Aunt Marge always burns the bottom of the Thanksgiving biscuits. You had one job, Marge!
So, what’s your score? 3.5 rotting limbs out of 10.
THE GOOD DINOSAUR
What is this? Pixar’s second release this year (after Inside Out) is about a cowardly dinosaur who ends up lost from his farm, and has to find his way home with the unlikely help of a wild human child. Instead of the classic Pixar twist at the end that grabs you by the heart and squeezes as hard as possible after 90 minutes of fun times, The Good Dinosaur is more of a kind of numbing sadness from start to finish. A different kind of emotional pain!
Was… Was it any good…? Yeah, it’s cute. It’s a movie I would watch again with my future kids one day. If anything, the all-wise father character will just make them respect me more than I deserve (suckers…). And hot damn, the animation on this movie is beautiful. Just beautiful. The background environments are insanely good; better than they’ve ever been in any animated movie before. Some of the scenics looked like real life film. You’ll probably leave the theater satisfied on its basic cuteness and stunning visuals alone.
Yeah, but… It’s not one of Pixar’s best efforts. The story is kind of lacking in complexity or layers in its themes, which I know is sort of weird to want in an animated children’s film, but Pixar has set that standard already. They can’t stop doing that now. I know this had a bunch of script problems and was in a little bit of a development hell over the last few years, and it kind of shows. Still, Pixar’s fumbles are as good, or better, than most other animation studios’ triumphs. It made me feel things. All I ask for is to have my human feelings triggered and prove I’m not a replicant.
But were there any Thanksgiving themes? Releasing a high-profile animated film on a major holiday…? Uh, yeah, that’s right in line with a very happy Disney Thanksgiving.
So, what’s your score? 8.3 out of 10 drops of tears welling up in my eyes. But they didn’t fall down my cheeks! Ha! I win, Pixar!