Theater Roundup: Hail, Caesar!, Deadpool, and Zoolander 2

theater roundup february header

I haven’t had a lot of time to write as much as I’d like to lately (I mean, I guess I am getting married this weekend…), but I still managed to sneak in a few movies recently, and if I don’t spit out some speedy reviews right now, I don’t think I’ll have another opportunity to do it until like two weeks from now, after our honeymoon.  So here are my sloppy, drastically under-thought reviews of Hail, Caesar!, Deadpool, and Zoolander 2!

 

hail caeser

HAIL, CAESAR!

Give me a brief synopsis:  Josh Brolin plays a 1950s Hollywood studio “fixer”, who amidst trying to juggle all of the studios problems on a daily basis, now has to deal with one of their biggest movie stars (played by George Clooney) on their most expensive movie getting kidnapped.

Dude, even briefer:  Coen Brothers movie, set in 1950s Hollywood [comedy, not drama].

What was good about it?  Obviously, the cast is incredible.  Like, 100% good.  They even brought Jonah Hill in for a two-minute scene for some reason.  But Brolin traveling from set to set; letting the Coen Brothers do these amazing renditions/spoofs of a whole bunch of classic Hollywood genres, was gold, Jerry!  Gold!  It’s not essential Coen Bros, or probably even in my top 10 projects they’ve been involved in, but it’s also nowhere near the bottom.  I found it fun, and funny; but maybe most people won’t, though (see below).

What was bad about it?  Maybe it’s kind of just a collection of fantastic set pieces that don’t really all fit together into one great story…?  Perhaps…?  Also, if you’re not a film history aficionado, maybe you won’t understand most of the references.  I could definitely picture someone who hates old movies on principle being tricked into seeing this by the funny commercials, and wanting to tear their eyeballs out.

Audience reaction:  I distinctly heard an old person say “That was WeeeEeEEEeEEEeeird” in a comical old raspy lady voice as I was exiting the theater.  And if you go on the Fandango app and look at the reviews, they are 90% negative based on people wishing they had seen a funnier movie than it actually was, because they were tricked by the commercials.  Problem with these people’s expectations was that they were hoping for 1950s Paul Blart, and they should have been expecting a freaking Coen Brothers movie.

Bonus points?  I didn’t know who Alden Ehrenreich was before this came out, but he was mind blowingly good as the mush-mouthed cowboy Hobie Doyle in this movie.

Grade:  B-

 

deadpool 1

DEADPOOL

Give me a brief synopsis:  Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) is a “bad guy who gets paid to beat up worse guys” (or something like that, I probably shouldn’t have used quotes), but then he gets terminal cancer.  An evil agency offers to cure his cancer, which they do, but they torture him on the reg and turn him into a boil-covered freak.  He gets revenge over the course of a very violent, very funny series of events; in an action movie that really tries hard to earn its R rating, and succeeds.  In addition to that, 20th Century Fox makes good on their corporate synergy, and gets the X-Men involved.

Dude, even briefer:  4th wall breaking Marvel super anti-hero.  Has blood.  Had swearing.  Has boobies.

What was good about it?  It’s really funny.  It’s really violent.  It makes fun of itself, and comic book movies, in a genuinely interesting way.  It’s just, like, really fun!  You don’t like fun?  C’mon, you like fun…  I haven’t read many bad reviews of it yet, because I haven’t looked very hard, but they seemed to just hate the character of Deadpool and what he is supposed to do.  I mean, hating this character for turning towards the camera and talking to the audience would be like hating Spider-Man for flying around the city with his webs.  I don’t even read Deadpool comics and I understood what he was about pretty easily.  You can bash the comedy if you really didn’t like it (that’s fair), but I don’t see any reason to watch this movie not expecting exactly what the marketing laid out for you.  And that marketing was *everywhere*.

I’ve also read a couple of think pieces and articles that talk about how this is Ryan Reynolds’ “big break” or something.  Uhh, this guy has been a major movie star for like 13 years.  This is less a “big break” than it is finally a “good choice” for the guy.  I’m happy he finally got this made, because he’s great in it.

What was bad about it?  Maybe it tries a little too hard?  Some of the jokes don’t really work out so well.  When there’s just a rapid fire spray of one-liners over the course of 2 minutes, and they say 15 jokes, a few of them are going to stick and a few of them won’t.  This is a funny movie, but you can tell it’s trying *really* hard to be the funniest movie you’ve ever seen.  Like, it *wants* you to think it’s the funniest movie ever made.  And it’s probably not, but it is still a very funny movie.  And then the trailers and commercials ruined a ton of good jokes, as well.  For example, T.J. Miller’s “you look like an avocado had sex with a slightly older avocado” joke is significantly less funny the 10th time you hear it.  And then other jokes like “you’re going to leave me alone with slightly less-angry Rosie O’Donnell?” wasn’t funny the first of the 10 times you heard it.

Also, just on the subject of poking fun at a standard superhero origin story with a meta, R-rated take on comic book movie; I thought Kick-Ass did that more effectively than Deadpool.  That’s just my two cents on that, and you probably disagree with me, but I also don’t care.  I liked both of those movies, so shut up!  Leave me alone!  [slams bedroom door]

Audience reaction:  Went to a near sold out show opening night, the audience really loved it.  Lots of uproarious laughter.  The kid sitting next to us (in his early 20s I assumed?) was legitimately losing his mind during the entire movie.  He was leaning forward and clenching his knees and gasping the whole time.  Very excited.  In retrospect, he might have been on drugs.  I don’t know.  I just remember during the post-credits scene when they announced the villain for the next movie, he literally covered his mouth with both of his hands and went “OHHHH MY GAAAAAHHHHHD”, which made me laugh.  Seems like everyone had fun.  However, the audience clapped (CLAPPED!) at the Stan Lee cameo.  Like, multiple, maybe even dozens of people did.  At this point, clapping for a Stan Lee cameo is like clapping when a waitress brings you bread at a restaurant.

Bonus points?  The soundtrack is great, and the animated credits sequence was hilarious.  Also, this was an IMAX movie that wasn’t in 3D.  I mean, was it so hard to just go back to giving us regular movies with a big screen and great speakers?  Why did it take this long?

Grade:  B+

 

zoolander 2

ZOOLANDER 2

Give me a brief synopsis:  Derek Zoolander gets called in by a government agency after living years as a recluse as the result of his wife dying in a tragedy at the School For Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Want to Do Other Stuff Good Too, in hopes to save, uh, models from getting killed?  Holy crap, I saw this movie like two days ago and I already completely forgot the basic plot.  Mugatu is back, and teamed up with another fashion supervillain (played by Kristen Wiig), and they try to do something to kill off the other fashion designers or something?  Wow.  I’m not just being a jerk right now, I honestly don’t remember most of this movie.

Dude, even briefer:  The sequel to Zoolander.  That movie from 2001.  Remember that, at least?

What was good about it?  I think I only laughed out loud twice; once from a drawn out car crash visual gag, and another during Will Ferrell and Kristen Wiig’s open-mouthed scream kiss.  I was probably amused several other times, but I couldn’t tell you specifically what they were.  Oh!  I liked Kyle Mooney’s fashion designer character, Don Atari, for the five minutes he was in the movie.  I think he was the only thing that didn’t feel completely outdated or run into the ground or just a rehash from the first movie.

What was bad about it?  Derek’s son was an annoying character.  Hansel (Owen Wilson) didn’t do much of anything exciting.  The whole thing was kinda boring.  Like, I was physically getting weaker sitting through it.  It’s not the worst thing in the world, and makes a few funny jabs at the expense of millennials or whatever, but damn.  They weren’t trying very hard.  This was definitely not a labor of love.  This was an “OK, let’s do it, I guess” kind of project.

Audience reaction:  There were probably only like six people in the theater, including myself.  This middle-aged gentleman with a huge soda and large bag of popcorn sat in the same row as me, and was laughing really loud and saying “Oh, god!” during the trailers.  Just loving life in general.  He even laughed boisterously during the first act of the movie itself.  But at a certain point he just stopped laughing.  Somewhere around 30 minutes in is where the laughter died for this man who just loved to laugh.

Bonus points?  Despite evolution in comedy films and styles over the past decade-plus, they managed to make a 2016 movie really feel like a crappy early 2000’s comedy.  Impressive.

Grade:  D-

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3 thoughts on “Theater Roundup: Hail, Caesar!, Deadpool, and Zoolander 2

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