Announcement for Sandlerthon

Adam Sandler 11I’ve decided to have an Adam Sandler marathon. I think I’ve been a little harsh on the guy lately (but he deserves it, amirite?), so I’ve decided to go through his whole filmography to show that I do like some of his movies. I’ll be watching twenty-nine of his movies throughout the first two weeks of August, and posting the reviews throughout the second half of August. (Maybe earlier.) I am going to still be wathcing as many other movies as I can muster, but I’ll get through the twenty-eight. The eight movies I’ve reviewed out of his filmography, I won’t be reviewing again. Out of those eight movies, I like four of them (“50 First Dates,” “Billy Madison,” “Grown Ups,”   “The Hot Chick“). And I can’t stand to watch the other four ever again (“Airheads,” “Grown Ups 2,” “Jack and Jill” and “That’s My Boy“). A good amount of the movies I’ll be reviewing I’ve seen before (20 out of 29, but I only remember 14 out of those), so that might seem a little strange, but I’ll review it as both a re-watch and a new experience, if that makes sense. I just want to watch all of his movies so I can say I’ve made it through his torturous flicks and his best. Hopefully I don’t get too tired of the egg-headed comedian! I’m also a fan of his early career. So here’s what I’ll be watching on each day:

Day 1: The Wedding Singer, Just Go With It. (Romantic Sandler.)
Day 2: Going Overboard, Shakes the Clown. (Early Career.)
Day 3: The Animal, Pauly Shore is Dead, Dirty Work. (Non-starring roles.)
Day 4: Little Nicky, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. (Distinctive Characters.)
Day 5: Deuce Bigalow: European Gigalo, Zookeeper. (Non-starring roles.)
Day 6: The Longest Yard, Mr. Deeds. (Inferior Remakes.)
Day 7: Click, Bedtime Stories. (Family-friendly Sandler.)
Day 8: Happy Gilmore, Anger Management. (Angry Sandler.)
Day 9: Coneheads, Mixed Nuts. (Non-starring roles.)
Day 10: Bulletproof, I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. (Random.)
Day 11: Eight Crazy Nights, Hotel Transylvania. (Animated Sandler.)
Day 12: Spanglish, Funny People. (Non-Happy Madison Productions.)
Day 13: Punch-Drunk Love, Reign Over Me. (Critically Acclaimed Sandler.)
Day 14: Big Daddy, The Waterboy. (Legitimately Funny Sandler.)

Adam Sandler

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The Smurfs (2011)

The SmurfsReleased: July 29, 2011. Director: Raja Gosnell. Stars: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jonathan Winters. Runtime: 103 min.

This is not my type of movie. I watched it because I wanted to see how bad of an animated movie many people say it is. It’s torture, in all honesty. I feel bad for all the parents who get dragged to this. Some of it’s really amusing to kids and I even got a laugh out of it at one point; but that’s it. The story’s terrible, as is the villain, Gargamel (Hank Azaria). The story is this: When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they tumble from their magical world into New York City. It’s okay how the writers show that the smurfs are in an odd land, but it isn’t even worth a giggle most of the time.

I don’t think I watched the show much as a kid; but I can tell that all the charm and magic of the original show has been squandered in the money grabbing way Hollywood turns that ’80s classic into a visually great CGI-live action mash-up. However, the movie is more annoying than charming. There’s just nothing going on. Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays do their best. It’s also cool to hear so many celebrities voicing the smurfs (Katy Perry is Smurfette, George Lopez is Grouchy, Anton Yelchin is Clumsy, etc.). But it doesn’t feel like they are the characters so many adults loved as kids, because many are just versions of the actor voicing them. At least those celebrities are more for the adults than the kids, because the kiddies won’t know half of those celebrities from Adam.

The movie just doesn’t do anything for the animation genre and it is torture for adults. It’s up there with “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked” as one of the worst animated movies ever. Though, animated movies are usually pretty good, so it’s not the worst statement in the world as the movie is still getting a 38.  “The Smurfs” is just tedious. The little blue things substitute the term ‘smurfing’ for whatever word they want, so this feature becomes smurfing irritating really smurfing quickly.

Score38/100

August 2-4 Box Office Predictions

The Smurfs 2“The Smurfs 2” is being released two days early to beat the rush. Now, that worked wonders for “Despicable Me 2,” but didn’t do anything for “Turbo.” After families have emptied their pockets out on legitimately good animated movies like “Monsters University” and “DM2,” their budgets for movies are running on empty (as shown by the soft first weekend for “Turbo”). (That’s okay by me — because this and the summer’s last animated movie, “Planes,” don’t peak my interest.) Movies similar to “The Smurfs 2” open to an average $25.96 million. 2011’s “The Smurfs” opened to $35.6 million. Two years between the original and the first sequel isn’t so bad. Families might have grown a bit wiser in that time – though. For the three-day weekend, I’ll predict this at $26.5 million; and for the five-day frame, I’ll predict it at $39.34 million.

2 Guns

“2 Guns” is the other major release this weekend. It’s an action comedy starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, so it already has an appeal with the cast. The last major buddy comedy, “The Heat,” was aimed at women; so now it’s time to show that men still like their action comedies. This still has an appeal to women, as well, because buddy comedies usually do well. “The Heat” had an $39.115 million debut, so this actioner should open roughly in the same neighbourhood, maybe a bit lower since this film’s marketing campaign wasn’t as aggressive as the campaign of “The Heat.” And since “The Wolverine” will have a good holdover, my prediction is $33.8 million.

Title: Prediction
1. “2 Guns”: $33.8 million
2. “The Wolverine”: $27.15 million
3. “The Smurfs 2”: $26.5 million (Five-day: $39.34 million)
4. “The Conjuring”: $12.85 million
5. “Despicable Me 2“: $10.1 million
6. “Turbo”: $8.56 million
7. “Grown Ups 2“: $6.96 million
8. “Red 2”: $5.26 million
9. “The Heat“: $4.844 million
10. “Pacific Rim“: $4.035 million

Pontypool (2008)

pontypoolReleased: September 6, 2008. Director: Bruce McDonald. Stars: Stephen McHattie, Lisa Houle, Georgina Reilly. Runtime: 93 min.

When a film opens with sound waves moving up and down, and a man with a soothing voice talks about a missing cat, and some sort-of conspiracy behind it all, one knows they’re in for a different type of movie experience. Hell, when a movie is called Pontypool – it’s pretty clear the movie’s going to be unique. I watched “Pontypool” for the reason of receiving it in a Not-So-Secret-Santa blogathon ran by Nick over at the Cinematic Katzenjammer. I’m glad I did receive this film, because it would have never landed on my radar if I hadn’t – and no, not only because it has a name like Pontypool.

Mostly because I hadn’t heard of it before – and, even though I do like the occasional lethal infection sort-of movie – I might not have picked it out. The movie has a satirical way about it, and there are more than a few laugh-out-loud moments, even if none are entirely memorable. I like the message of how English media may turn citizens into mindless beings who are destined to repeat themselves, stuck in an everyday routine. This pays homage to zombie movies and viral infection movies, as well as taking influence from H.G. Wells’ radio play, “War of the Worlds.” This very much feels like a radio play, throughout the first half, at least.

notsosecretsanta2

Grant Mazzy (Stephen McHattie) is an average everyday radio personality who is front and centre throughout this feature about a small Ontario town plagued by some sort-of sickness, that begins with violent behaviour and quickly escalates.

The reason I have kept the synopsis of the film so brief is because that’s how it is for the first half of the film. Taut and vague. It is a masterwork in tension building. We are outside briefly with Mazzy before he gets to work – where he encounters a strange woman – but when he gets to the radio station and closes the front doors, we are right there with him. As well as the radio show’s producer Sydney Briar (Lisa Houle) and a tech gal, Laurel-Ann (Georgina Reilly). That is the primary cast, and Reilly is competent, as is Houle, but McHattie’s the real star. We only know as much as Mazzy and co. do, only hearing about the going-ons outdoors from eyewitnesses and Ned in the Sunshine Copter. We never really know whether or not it’s a virus or a zombie film until the action comes.

And that’s one of the smartest things about the movie: it keeps us in the dark. Some movies have great tension-building and horrible pay-offs, but that isn’t completely the case with this. It has some great tense scenes in the third act, and some great thrills. But the first half of it is superior, much like most modern horrors. It wouldn’t be completely horrifying for most because there aren’t huge scares (but then again, I don’t think the film-makers were going for huge scares), but it’s a bit spookier for me, since the setting of Pontypool, Ontario is right in my province and four hours away from me. It seems to make it a bit more real for me, than it might for others.

“Pontypool” is a unique horror/thriller that has fun with its premise and creates a taut atmosphere in the process. Since it gives us limited knowledge in the beginning, it allows us to try to piece the puzzle together, without being too vague or too obvious. The tension building is the most memorable aspect of the movie.

Nick wants us to be creative with our reviews — so I’ll make a haiku of the movie to finish things off:

Pontypool: clever,

scary and taut with good cast

and funny title

Score: 80/100

Box Office Results July 26-28. (I can’t think of a clever title.)

The Wolverine“The Wolverine” did good business this weekend, but not nearly as great as everyone thought it would be. While it was tracking for a $70 million opening, it was only able to nab a $53.114 million opening. This opening should be attributed to the fact that the disappointing “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” disappointed many, so it kept some people away, and audiences are probably just fatigued of this superhero craze and all the explosions. (That makes me question how well “Kick-Ass 2” might do?) Since “Wolverine” did receive an ‘A-‘ Cinemascore, that should say it’ll have good legs. More good news: It’s already earned back its $120-million budget with its $139.2M worldwide tally.

As for the holdovers, “The Conjuring” continues to scare everyone as it had a drop of -46.9% to $22.2 million. That is a great hold for a horror film, where they traditionally face drops over 50%. (“The Purge” faced a drop of 76%!) “Turbo” also held well, dropping 35.5% to $13.74 million. Its box office performance will be thrown off pace when “The Smurfs 2” gets released on Wednesday, and it will be killed by the competition of “Planes”, come August 9th. It’s a very competitive market for animated movies, as “Despicable Me 2” is still going strong with a weekend gross of $16.4 million. “Grown Ups 2” was also in the Top 5 this weekend with $11.6 million, and it’s the 14th Adam Sandler movie to gross over $100 million. That isn’t exactly music to my ears, since I have such a low opinion of “GU2.”

“Fruitvale Station” found its way into the Top 10 with $4.59 million this weekend. “The Way, Way Back” earned $3.44 million and Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” made $612, 064 at just six theatres, marking a career best Per Theatre Average for Woody Allen, and the best PTA of the year so far. Finally, “The To-Do List” grossed a miniature $1.58 million at 591 theatres, which is surprising considering I’ve basically seen the trailer before every comedy I’ve seen for the past month.

What did you all see this weekend? I didn’t get out to the theatre (well, I did last Thursday to see “White House Down”) this weekend, but I’m planning to see “The Way, Way Back” and “Much Ado About Nothing” this week. Maybe “2 Guns” on the weekend. I won’t be seeing “The Smurfs 2.” I just couldn’t take it. I’ll see what happens. I’m thinking of going through a comedian’s full filmography throughout the first half of August and posting the reviews throughout the second half. I’ll make an announcement post soon, but in the meantime, you’ll have to wonder who the comedian is. (Note: Half of their filmography is torture, and half of it I like. So I’m watching half of the comedian’s filmography for your entertainment, and half of it for mine.) Anyway, here’s how much I was off by for each movie in the Top 10:

Title: Result/Prediction/Difference

1. The Wolverine: $53.114M/$69.825M/$16.711M over
2. The Conjuring: $22.208M/$24.258M/$2.05M over
3. Despicable Me 2: $16.424M/$16.2M/$224, 000 under
4. Turbo: $13.74M/$13.5M/$240, 000 under
5. Grown Ups 2: $11.6M/$10M/$1.6M under
6. Red 2: $9.337M/$12.5M/$3.163M over
7. Pacific Rim: $7.703M/$7.8M/$97, 000 over
8. The Heat: $6.915M/$5.6M/$1.315M under
9. R.I.P.D.: $6.071M/5.5M/$571, 000 under
10. Fruitvale Station: $4.59M/$5.2M/$610, 000 over

For the one new release, I was off by $16.711 million.
For the nine holdovers, I was off by $9.87 million.

Remember to get your predictions in at Box Office Ace! You can get your prediction in for 2 Guns here, and your prediction for The Smurfs 2 here.

Remember to

White House Down (2013)

White House DownRelease Date: June 28, 2013. Director: Roland Emmerich. Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Runtime: 131 min.

Apparently infiltrating the White House is so easy, everyone’s doing it! (And they just finished re-building it, too!) All you have to do is rally up a bunch of people who are angry at the government, spend a day planning, synchronize your watches, and go to town. But be careful, there’s going to be a highly-decorated police officer of some kind standing in your way.

John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a Capitol police officer on tour of the White House with his daughter Emily (Joey King). He is also interviewing for a spot on the Secret Service, protecting President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). On that very day, because the President issued an international Peace Treaty, a paramilitary group invades the White House; now John must save his daughter, the President, and the country.

Whether it be Channing Tatum vs. a 25-person paramilitary group or Gerard Butler vs. North Korea’s entire 300 person army, both action guys are forces to be reckoned with. “Olympus Has Fallen” had to face comparisons to “Die Hard” back in March, so compared to this, it is living on easy street. Now, this has to face comparisons to both “Die Hard” and “Olympus.” Will it stand strong through all of it? Probably not.

“White House Down” is the better movie in some ways – but “Olympus” has the benefit of being released first. The former is superior to the latter in the CGI-effects department, the higher-profile director, and the cast. Even against the likes of Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart and Melissa Leo; once you have Tatum, Foxx and Maggie Gyllenhaal and then add the extra oomph of James Woods, Richard Jenkins and Jason Clarke; there’s no competition. But “Olympus” wins in many other aspects.

“Olympus” embraces its over-the-top brutality and the insane premise of a terrorist group taking down the most heavily protected house on Earth in a matter of minutes. That movie is a lot of fun. This is only mildly fun. It has fun with the premise, but its aspirations of becoming a great buddy action comedy feel forced. This feels too serious at times, which doesn’t work to the film’s benefit with so many frustrating “Okay, that’ll never happen!” moments. Granted, this premise will never happen – but if it does ever happen, we should all hope that the actual John McClane is taking a tour of the White House that day.

The antagonists’ motives are explained well for the most part. Cale’s motivations to stay at the White House to save his daughter are evident as well, even if those motivations are cookie-cutter. But that isn’t bad for this type of movie, because audiences are there for the action. There just isn’t enough of it.

The build-up takes too long, and this type of movie needs to have tension building that doesn’t take forever. There’s a lot of drama there, and we just want the action. And the bits of humour. Thankfully, there’s quite a lot of that, too. One of the members of the paramilitary group (the amusing hacker, Jimmi Simpson) has a lot of charisma, so he is the best antagonist in the movie – even better than the boss man (who I won’t reveal, even if (s)he’ll be blatantly obvious). There’s a prominent buddy comedy aspect, and even if the jokes aren’t so memorable, they provide big laughs at the time.

“White House Down” is familiar and forgettable, but it’s not a horrible way to pass 131 minutes. It just doesn’t bring enough to the table to be noteworthy. Since it’s so familiar, there are few surprises hiding away, and the antagonists are obvious from the get go. Apparently, if you’ve seen one Die Hard in the White House movie; you’ve seen them all.

Score: 58/100

R.I.P.D. (2013)

R.I.P.D.Release Date: July 19, 2013. Director: Robert Schwentke. Stars: Jeff Bridges, Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon. Runtime: 96 min.

A recently slain cop joins a team of undead police officers working for the Rest in Peace Department, that hunt Deados (ugly spirits who slipped through the cracks of the system and are now rotting on earth), and tries to find the man who murdered him.

It isn’t truly fair to compare films; but with “R.I.P.D.,” it’s nearly impossible to not make comparisons to the “Men in Black” franchise. They’re both buddy action comedies. Cops from both films battle otherworldly beings. The characters are similar, even if the character arcs are different. (More on that later.) There is one fundamental difference: The “Men in Black” franchise is smart, funny and fun; while “R.I.P.D.” is only one of those things. (Note: The “MIB” comparisons stop here, for the most part.)

Unoriginality and laziness are a few of the main problems that plague this film. The story is a basic save-the-world narrative. The story also isn’t enthralling, and there are few surprises in this safe feature. At one point, when the film seems to be holding a potentially awesome reveal for the end, it cowers away and restrains itself. The movie is never boring because there’s a lot going on and it’s loud. Its goofy tone helps it to be moderately fun. It’s never downright hilarious because, as much as The Dude and Van Wilder try, the writers don’t write many great jokes for them to deliver. The last time director Robert Schwentke made a comic book a movie (“Red”), it ended being a great success. This movie can’t be a great success, because this moderately entertaining time-waster is insanely disposable.

A fair deal of the content is chuckle-worthy throughout and the fact that the movie doesn’t take itself seriously is welcome. There’s only one laugh-out-loud moment, delivered by Jeff Bridges. Bridges is the most amusing part of the film, playing a cop who thinks he is the best lawman to ever live and die. He’s doing his best impersonation of John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn. He is the most memorable part of the movie – because for audiences, it will be fun to impersonate his impersonation of Cogburn. Ryan Reynolds is okay, his character’s arc is interesting; he hasn’t yet come to terms with his unexpected death, because he didn’t get closure with his wife (Stephanie Szostak). However, this thought-out arc almost feels strange in such a silly movie.

“R.I.P.D.” is just forgettable. It’s hard on the eyes, because the darkly tinted glasses make the ugly 3-D effects even worse. (If you do end up seeing this, do yourself a favour and watch it in 2-D.) The Deados are also hard on the eyes because they’re so damn ugly, and not in the awesomely ugly way some creatures are, like in “Pacific Rim.” They’re all a bit too similar, too, even the underwhelming leader. One of the coolest things about the movie are the guns. However, they look like they’re stolen from the set of “MIB.”

It’s amusing when we get to see the avatars of Reynolds and Bridges. Reynolds appears to the real world as an Asian man (James Hong, “Balls of Fury”) shooting a banana, instead of a gun. Bridges appears as a supermodel (Marisa Miller) who, appropriately, everyone gawks at while Marvin Gaye plays over the soundtrack. (Those scenes are chuckle-worthy, and it’s where the writers show shades of cleverness.) It would be welcome to see entire sequences with the characters’ respective avatars, rather than only the bit-sized periods of time they are on-screen. It’s distracting to constantly see the characters go from Bridges to Miller; from Reynolds to Hong.

If you see “R.I.P.D.,” you might or might not like it, but you surely won’t care if you ever see it again. Suffice to say, you could see worse this summer (“Grown Ups 2“), but you could see so much better. Or you could even re-watch “Men in Black.” This movie will struggle to linger in the mind, because it will be known as that one movie that’s a lot like “Men in Black,” but isn’t “Men in Black.”

Score50/100