Movie Reviews: Magnificent Seven, Storks, and Wiener-Dog


Another week has passed and more movies have come out.  This time we look at another remake, another cartoon, and another entry into the “I don’t know what this is” category.




Explain it to me:  This is a gritty new remake of Adam Sandler’s Ridiculous 6, which if you youngsters born in the 2000s aren’t aware of, was a remake of the classic Akira Kurosawa film 13 Going on 30.  I think?  I’ll be honest, I haven’t brushed up on my film history in a few years.  Also, I think I smell a gas leak.

Yeah, and was it good?  It’s oooooooookaaaay.  It’s really nothing special.  But if you’re looking for some escapist entertainment, and you have an allergic reaction to watching a 56-year-old western or an even older black and white Japanese movie; then sure, it might blow your mind, I don’t know…?  It’s a good story worth telling, which is why they’ve done it a few times.

This version has very likable actors (note, I didn’t say *characters*), and it has some action choreography/editing that will cater to modern audiences.  It also has a violence level that leads me to believe the MPAA doesn’t really care at all about violence when it comes to PG-13 movies.  And you get to hear Vincent D’Onofrio talk in a funny voice!  Ha!  It is a perfectly watchable, very un-challenging movie.

So, what was wrong with it?  I think in an effort to cater to #diversity (which FOR THE RECORD I think is a good thing in most cases), they kind of sacrificed the opportunity to create interesting characters with back stories just so they could include a variety of one-note cliché caricatures.  The mysterious Asian, the savage-ish Native American, the tough Mexican fugitive, etc.  I’m not sure if the director was aware of it, but the introduction of Denzel’s character was kind of exactly like a not-as-good written couple of scenes from Django Unchained.

Some other small negative notes I had on the movie:

-Nothing about the cinematography was very innovative.  I wondered why several shots of the movie weren’t done with longer takes, therefore making them interesting?

-If the chain gun worked as well as it did, why didn’t the bad guy just fire it like four times into the town before sending his army of men in?

-The inevitable fight between the two Native American characters was ultra non-climactic, and sort of really badly filmed.

-There were a handful of shots that had (what I think was unintentionally) soft focus.

Jeez, anything else?  When I got home from the movie it just so happened that the 3:10 to Yuma remake was on TV, and I watched it again for like five minutes.  And just in those five minutes I noticed a kind of sincerity in the filmmaking that was somewhat absent in the Mag 7 remake.  So, I’m just letting you know that I think some modern western remakes work out better than others, for what it’s worth.  Go watch 3:10 to Yuma.

Grade:  C+




Explain it to me:  Storks used to deliver babies, but now they deliver packages for an online delivery company.  No, wait!  It’s not as bland as it sounds!

Yeah, and was it good?  It was for the most part.  With a text description of the movie, I could see why it would get eye rolls.  But after I saw the trailer a few times before other movies, I was legitimately cracking up at some of the jokes.  Then after I finally saw the actual movie, there is definitely a ton of jokes that got genuine out-loud hearty laughs from me at the theater (like when they did the first “mind-explode” sequence out of nowhere).  Phil Lord and Christopher Miller had a hand in producing this movie, and while I’m not sure how much involvement they actually had, Storks definitely had the same level of spazzy-funny energy as The Lego Movie did.

In more specific praise, I thought the voice acting was really good (from Andy Samberg, Kelsey Grammer, Key & Peele, and whoever did the voice of Pigeon Toady) and the quiet penguin fight was hilarious and probably the best scene.

So, what was wrong with it?  There’s a side story involving a family preparing their house for a new baby from the storks, that plays parallel to the main storyline the whole time, and I kind of just thought it was ok.  When I think of the best jokes in the movie, none of them are from that side story.  I get why they included it, but in my opinion, it didn’t do much for me from a comedy or emotional standpoint.  I think they had enough good stuff going on with the main stork storyline, personally.  Also, Ty Burrell isn’t a very good voice actor in this as the dad.

Anything else?  I guess I wouldn’t recommend this to random people who don’t have kids or don’t compulsively go to the movies all the time.  But I thought it was good.  Also, there was a pretty funny, pretty original Lego short film before the feature.  It has a chicken!

Grade:  B




Explain it to me:  From experimental-ish filmmaker Todd Solondz (Happiness, Welcome to the Dollhouse) is another weird ensemble piece telling a series of different stories about people who come into possession of the titular wiener-dog.

Yeah, and was it good?  I have a little debate going on in my head about this movie…  To take this movie at face value, it is undoubtedly bad.  Buuuuuut…  If this is just Solondz trying to troll film festival audiences and critics with a spoof of indie movies, then it’s kind of good…?  I mean, there’s either something really funny about Solondz trolling the audience with a (literally) 45 second panning shot of a sidewalk covered in dog poo, and a 20 second shot of Ellen Burstyn chugging a drink; or he really thinks that he’s being genuinely funny and he’s totally not?  And it’s really hard to tell.  I think based on the other two movies I’ve seen from Solondz, he’s probably trying to be genuine in one way or another.  Either that, or he’s the less edgy Harmony Korine.  And I hate Harmony Korine.

The only moderately enjoyable segment was the one about Danny DeVito as a film school professor.  And that was probably only enjoyable to me because I went to film school.  And even so, it wasn’t that enjoyable of a segment.

So, what was wrong with it?  The first story is unwatchable.  The acting and writing are so bad that I felt embarrassed for everyone involved.  The second story with Greta Gerwig and Kieran Culkin starts off bad, and then gets slightly more interesting, but ultimately drags on big time.  The DeVito story is watchable as I said earlier.  And the final Ellen Burstyn story is kind of just bad once again.  The whole movie is dull.  Also, there was a clear transitional storytelling element to getting the wiener-dog from story 1 to story 2, and then after that they would just fade to black and start the next story with the dog somewhere else with no explanation.  Solondz couldn’t even keep up with the basic premise of a dog fluidly moving from one story to the next.

Again, I can’t tell if this movie is supposed to be intentionally bad, or if it’s just legitimately bad?  In the end, I’m moving on with my life not ever knowing (or seeking out) the truth, and that’s probably where Solondz is going to fail the most with this film.

Anything else?  I never want to watch this again, and I recommend it to no one.

Grade:  F+


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