Theater Roundup: Money Monster, Neighbors 2, and The Nice Guys

01 nice guys

I’ve taken a bit of a writing hiatus as of late because of an increasingly busy work schedule (I won’t complain about that), but now I’m back for a minute to give you some speedy reviews of a few of the movies that you probably haven’t seen in the last two weekends.


02 money monster


What’s this?  The drunken fever dream of a fanatical Bernie Sanders supporter.  A working class truck driver holds one of those dumb stock broker shows hostage (it’s spoofing Jim Cramer), and while the WHOLE WORLD is coincidentally watching basic cable at the same time in the middle of a weekday; he totally exposes a greedy, rich corporate guy of wrongdoing, and becomes the blue-collar hero who will go down in history as the guy WHO SHOWED THAT THOSE RICH GUYS ARE BAD AND STUFF.  YEAH!

Why should I care?  I guess it’s relevant, kind of, in a dumb way.  But who really doesn’t already think that rich corporate dudes are evil in one way or another?  From an entertainment standpoint, the movie has decent pacing, and it’s sad to admit that I as engaged the whole time.  It’s like watching a bar fight.  You don’t want to look away, but you don’t necessarily want to encourage it, either.  Julia Roberts (NO RELATION) probably has the best performance of her’s I’ve seen since…  Wait, what was the last Julia Roberts movie I watched?  Wow, I think it might be Ocean’s Twelve from 2004…  But even so, she basically does a less compelling version of Rene Russo’s character in Nightcrawler.  I did like at the end how they kind of implied after it was all over that no one really cared about what happened.  Pretty accurate.

What’s not good about it?  One glaring issue for me was that it kind of paints the person it’s spoofing, Jim Cramer, in a better light than he deserves.  I mean, George Clooney?  Really?  This should have been Paul Giamatti, and no one can deny this.  Anyway, the babbling fraud of a host character in this movie ends up becoming a hero in himself, turning over to the “good guys” team, and eventually displaying an overall aura of snarky confidence.  What would happen if someone pulled this on Jim Cramer’s actual show?  There’d just be a lot of crying and sweating.  I guess I’m saying that the stupid TV show that was part of the problem to begin with ends up being more enlightening than it should have been.

Another big problem with the overall script is that this working class terrorist/hero doesn’t even expose a giant conspiracy within the government that the whole country can rally behind.  He just exposes the shady business practice of one individual (played by McNulty).  The build up to the resolution on this one leaves plenty to be desired.  If this movie really wanted to swing for the fences, they should have gone full cliche and had an evil vice president character trying to blow up the midwest.

And lastly, the star of this movie, “Jack O’Connell”…  He’s Anton Yelchin, right?  They’re the same person.  I refuse to believe otherwise.

What’s it going to do for us in the long run?  Here, let me give you an example of the impact this movie has had on me.  When I sat down to write this review post, I said “Ok, there were three movies to include this time, right?  I know I saw Neighbors 2 and The Nice Guys, but wait, what did I see last week again…?”  I sat there for 30 seconds trying to think of all the movies I’ve seen recently, until I finally gave up and opened my Fandango app to see what came out recently, and I finally noticed Money Monster existed and remembered that I saw it a week ago.  Wow, what a lasting legacy this movie will leave in my brain…!

Grade:  D+


03 neighbors 2


What’s this?  It’s the not-so-hit sequel to the hit film Neighbors, which was about a fraternity moving in next to a young family, and causing trouble.  Except now it’s a sorority causing trouble.  Look for the logical progression in 2018 when a wild and crazy ROTC program moves next door to Seth Rogen, and boy howdy, do they cause trouble!

Why should I care?  To its credit, this is a comedy sequel that for the most part doesn’t just try to repeat all of the exact same jokes from the first one.  Granted, they do a few times (airbag gags, some similar weed jokes), but the majority of the jokes were fresh bits.  That commendable, right?  Remember Zoolander 2?  I’m sure you didn’t see it, but it was 75% call back jokes from Zoolander 1, and it was a pile of crap.  So, in general, the writers of this movie at least put forth the effort to not just give their minimal effort.

And the jokes are funny in general.  If you liked the first Neighbors, you’ll probably at least consistently chuckle through this one, too.  There’s some quality throwaway jokes I laughed at that no one else in the theater seemed to enjoy, like when Ike Barinholtz’s notably stupid character says “Hold on, babe!  I’ve got to get this tweet out!  How do you spell Trump?”  That’s just great, quick commentary on stupid people, right there.

What’s not good about it?  The aforementioned repeat jokes.  Even though I was pleasantly surprised that there were so few of them, the ones that were in there were still pretty lazy.  The story also kind of loses steam by the end.  But it’s not like anyone has ever walked into a movie like Neighbors 2 thinking “THIS IS GONNA BE SO GREAT!”  We got what we paid for: a middle of the pack, decently humorous comedy.  There’s nothing groundbreaking here by a long shot, but it’s still way better than an Adam Sandler movie, or when Zac Efron tries to do comedy without Seth Rogen.

What’s it going to do for us in the long run?  If you asked my wife how many times I have watched the first Neighbors  on HBO nonchalantly, or in the background; she’ll probably let out an audible sigh and say “way too much.”  It’s a guilty pleasure movie!  Considering that this sequel is probably an exact equal to the first one, I’m sure I’ll be watching it on HBO a bunch of times as well.  Don’t judge me!  Shut up!

Grade:  C+


This image released by Warner Bros. Entertainment shows Ryan Gosling, right, and Russell Crowe in a scene from "The Nice Guys." (Daniel McFadden/Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP) ORG XMIT: NYET943


What’s this?  The newest film from Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3), about the power team of a professional intimidater (Russell Crowe) and a corner-cutting private detective (Ryan Gosling) trying to find a missing pornstar in 1970’s California.  Listen here, buddy…  This is a funny, well-paced, original screenplay released in the summer.  It’s a unicorn.  You should stare at it while it’s still around, and possibly harvest its meat for your sustenance.

Why should I care?  The last few years have been good for the action comedy genre, and The Nice Guys strengthens that trend.  It’s legitimately hilarious, and full of memorable scenes and pretty good one-liners.  The violence can be slightly brutal at times, but it plays nicely next to the jokes.  Crowe’s tough guy character, for example, still pukes after he sees a dead body, and does a pretty awesome spit take before that.  It adds a sense of comical realism.  Imagine a Liam Neeson older years revenge movie where he’s not just a stoic, depressed killing machine; that’s kind of how Russell Crowe is in this.  It’s easy to play the brooding thug, it’s a lot harder to play the brooding thug that makes you actually care about him.

What’s not good about it?  There were a couple of times when Ryan Gosling does his wacky schtick a little too much.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s pretty good at it, and it’s mostly funny.  But, for instance, I remember one part where he’s driving in the car with his daughter and he’s singing along with the radio for about eight seconds and really hamming it up just for the sake of hamming it up, and I was like “Ok, tone it back a notch, Baby-G.  We get it, you’re the funny guy…”

What’s it going to do for us in the long run?  I’ll probably buy it when it comes out on Blu-ray, and watch it a bunch more times.  It’s fun.  It’s no masterpiece by any means, but it’s the kind of movie I would screen for other people if we were having some drinks and looking to watch something funny and violent.  Or they can just watch me play video games.  I’m a bad host.

Grade:  B+

One thought on “Theater Roundup: Money Monster, Neighbors 2, and The Nice Guys

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