This is the End (2013)

This is the EndRelease Date: June 12, 2013

Directors: Evan Goldberg, Seth Rogen

Stars: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill

Runtime: 107 min

Hollywood is obsessed with a lot of things. One of their current obsessions is the apocalypse. Mostly because, if we survived 2012, why not, right? This is the End is summer 2013’s second apocalyptic movie (or first if you don’t really count After Earth), and it’s a comedy that feels completely fresh. It’s based on Jason Stone’s short film entitled “Jay and Seth vs. the Apocalypse”, set on an ordinary night in Los Angeles.

Many celebrities including Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, and Emma Watson, amongst so many other cameos, are partying it up at James Franco’s mansion. They’re having a good time, drinkin’ beer, abusing cocaine (if Michael Cera doesn’t hog it all), joking around; doing what celebrities do. Soon enough, a huge hole opens up and wah-bam, it’s the end of the world. Half of the celebrities’ cameos end in gory demises, and there’s only a small group left to fend for themselves in Franco’s mansion. They take inventory, and it’s up to Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, James Franco, Craig Robinson, and the trouble-making Danny McBride to wait out the apocalypse.

The only other possibly comparable movie to this is Tropic Thunder.  That movie’s main satire was of big Hollywood productions and those who make them. The main gag at play here is the actors skewering each others’ public personas, and essentially being hilariously mocked, and doing the mocking. They are playing themselves, but at the same time, they aren’t. They’re playing heightened versions of themselves, where some of these character attributes are similar to their everyday selves, but some aren’t. Who could possibly envision the seemingly sweet and innocent Michael Cera as a drug-abusin’, obnoxious loud-mouth? No one could have, but it makes for a simply hilarious character.

That’s the thing about This is the End: it’s insanely funny. Ridiculous, yes, but a sure blast if there ever was one. Each of these characters poke fun at each other and the fun they’re having really shows. They invite us on the ride, and this viewing is truly fun. They make a sequel or two to their best movies (Pineapple Express), and decide not to make one for Your Highness. It’s all good old-fashioned, self-aware bliss. You’re going to love these guys.

This is one of the most effective comedy/horror sci-fi hybrids in some time. I love the balance of gross-out humour and gross-out horror. The premise is very original, and the humour is silly and immature, but the majority of this content will have you laughing and howling the whole way through. It’s quotable, brilliant, immature, and just plain fun. This is the funniest movie some of these guys have ever been in. They sling one-liners every which way, there are a few great startles and you’ll probably love every minute of this.

Though, the pacing is rough in the middle. One usually can’t expand on the traditional end of the world premise, but the writers know what they’re doing and so they give this superb execution. They run with what they know: comedy. The movie just works incredibly well. For the most part, it’s a thin story, but it is effective and admirably written. About 90% of the jokes hit, and the ones that don’t, are mostly said by Jay Baruchel. He’s from my hometown, but the guy isn’t incredibly funny. He has a few good lines, but they’re limited. This could be because he’s written as the straight man, however. There’s also so much product placement that makes this feel like one big commercial for all things Coca Cola, Milky Way, Nutella, and CT Crunch (I could go on, there’s about as much product placement as memorable quotes). This is easily forgiven because it’s set in a real-life celebrity culture. No one’s going to just own No Name brands, especially not rich people who star in movies.

One would expect that this wouldn’t have a huge emotional core. It does, surprisingly, have a better one than the average comedy. This is a buddy comedy of a bunch of guys making the best of their situation, the relationship between Seth and Jay, and the fact that all of these guys need to learn a thing or two about fate, redemption and – most of all – friendship. It isn’t as undeniably sweet as Seeking a Friend for the End of the World is, but I’d be fibbing if I didn’t at least get a few chills at one of the movie’s most effectively awesome, sort-of emotional- and so, so hilarious – moments near the end.

This just shows that a comedy about hanging out with one’s best buds could be a real gem to the genre. Adam Sandler could take quite a few pointers from this comedy. These characters are so easy to love, even Danny McBride who you’ll love to hate. This is one of the greatest ensembles ever assembled, at least for a critically acclaimed flick. It could be called “Comedians Assemble”. It’s one of the most quotable movies since The Hangover, and you’ll want an encore screening the second it’s over, mostly to just learn more quotes, because there are so many. I love all of the obvious nods to popular movies, as well. This is as absolute blast that combines so many favourite genres – comedy, sci-fi, horror… It’s like Neapolitan ice cream. There are more than a few surprises in this fantastic comedy treat.

91/100

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Tyler Perry Presents: Peeples (2013)

PeeplesPeeples

Release Date: May 10, 2013

Director: Tina Gordon Chism

Stars: Craig Robinson, Kerry Washington, David Alan Grier

Runtime: 95 min

The comedy genre produces a lot of stinkers. Peeples is a heartfelt movie about accepting people for who they are, and there are prominent themes of dishonesty and secrets; but this isn’t a secret: Peeples is comedy’s latest stinker.

It’s not that Peeples isn’t a funny movie, because you’ll probably chuckle more than a few times, but this is so familiar, that it should be renamed Meet the Peeples. It’s just what you’d expect; a bland, extremely predictable comedy. The plot follows Wade (Craig Robinson) who crashes the Peeples annual reunion in the Hamptons to ask for their daughter Grace’s hand in marriage.

The thing is, Grace (Kerry Washington) hasn’t told her family about Wade, even though they’ve been dating for a year. Wade keeps trying to ask the father, Virgil Peeples (David Alan Grier), for Grace’s hand in marriage, but there always seems to be some forced situation blocking his way. Lunch is either being called, or Virgil can’t be bothered to talk to Wade, a man who uses songs to help kids with their problems. One of his songs informs kids that they must talk about their feelings, and not urinate on others, a way of seeking attention. (‘Speak it, don’t leak it’ guys.) It’s silly, and it’s not clear if Chism is trying to apply to adults, to make it a theme of the movie. If it’s there for that purpose, and it just isn’t some stupid song, it’s handled amateurishly. I’m sure grown people don’t pee on each other because they can’t communicate well.

The characters are afraid to say what they most desire. This is because the father rules the household with an iron fist. He’s a judge, but he’s also a textbook tyrant. He teaches his family that lying and dishonesty is frowned upon. The whole family is holding secrets, but so is Virgil. He’s the biggest hypocrite of them all, really. Grace Peeples is probably the biggest liar of the kids, and Washington is a likable screen presence, but her character is irritating. She says early on in the movie that she values honesty, but she’s been bending the truth toward Wade throughout their relationship. She never told her family about him. There are about five other big secrets she doesn’t think are worth a mention. Are we, the audience, really supposed to believe that Wade could so easily forgive her for all that? Who could deal with her authoritarian father? It’s not like he’s marrying her father, but… The family is insane, and if she has a hard time being honest, she wouldn’t be able to change so quickly. Some might have to kick this dishonest bitch to the curb, even if she does look mighty fine in a schoolgirl outfit.

The characters are generic, and because of this, it’s hard to care for them. Every occurrence is forced, and very little actually happens. It’s all about Wade trying to reach his goal of marrying Grace. Some of the hijinks enable jokes to produce some chuckles, but you’ll forget them as soon as you leave the theatre. This is a carbon copy of Meet the Parents, just with black actors. At least Robert De Niro is lots of fun and hilarious as the uptight father in Meet the Parents; Grier might seem like a good actor for this role, but his character is unlikable and rarely funny. I don’t think people staring uncomfortably at each other to be funny. The best character is a funny grandfather (Melvin Van Peebles – his last name really suits this role) who wears a cape from his college years. Craig Robinson is thankfully always charismatic, and he makes us laugh a few times – it’s great to see him step into a leading man spotlight, even in a bad film. Washington in a comedy is refreshing, but her straight woman role doesn’t let her have any memorable yuks. Malcolm Barrett (portraying Wade’s brother, Chris) is sometimes funny, and when he isn’t being funny, it’s because the stuff is so ridiculous it can’t force any laughs out of the audience. He should stick to drama because as Chris, he’s a hit-and-miss presence who really might frustrate you.

Some scenes that are supposed to be funny feel too awkward to force any laughs out of any audience. Tyler James Williams is trying very hard as a rapper/kleptomaniac, a character with little substance. The cinematography seems consistently out-of-focus, and I think this is a hard experience to finish. It’s boring, familiar and generic, and your attention might wander to fellow theatre patrons instead of the movie. This means well and it’s trying to be a heartfelt romp, but it feels bereft of sincerity; Chism doesn’t write one quality or genuine character interaction that feels natural.

No one will expect a masterpiece, but apparently writer-director Tina Gordon Chism thinks decent, familiar entertainment is too large of a request. This is a stupid and forgettable farce; every scene is uninspired, not a lot happens, but it might make you chuckle a few times. It’s really a disappointment, because this should at least be a decent time-passer. Chism might give us a poorly-constructed film, but the majority will unfortunately be pointing their fingers at Tyler Perry, the well-known producer who merely lends his name to the flick. Still, he does think movie-goers might actually like to spend 95 minutes of their life watching something they’ve seen eight times before.

Question: Is the title supposed to be some sort-of pun? I mean, it’s spelled pee-ples, and Wade’s main song is about kids urinating on each other…

38/100

Celebrity Birthdays: October 22 – 28

Christopher Lloyd (October 22). Happy 74th birthday to the great Christopher Lloyd, who is best known for his role as Dr. Emmett Brown in the Back to the Future trilogy. I still have to see that series… He is also well known for his role as the main antagonist, Judge Doom, in the 1989 animation/live action feature Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

Sam Raimi (October 23). Happy 53rd birthday to Sam Raimi, who has directed great trilogies like The Evil Dead and Spider-Man. I still have to see Evil Dead, but it seems really awesome.

Ang Lee (October 23). Happy 58th birthday to Ang Lee, director of such great films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain. I haven’t seen anything by Lee, but I just want to tell you guys to check out his upcoming film Life of Pi, that comes to theatres November 21.

Craig Robinson (October 25). Happy 41st birthday to Craig Robinson, who has brought his great comedy styling to such films as Pineapple Express, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Hot Tub Time Machine, and TV’s The Office.

Seth MacFarlane (October 26). Happy 39th birthday to Seth MacFarlane, creator of animation comedy shows such as the great Family Guy, the okay American Dad! and the horrible (except for its theme song) The Cleveland Show. He made his live action feature film debut this year with Ted, which is now the top world-wide grossing R-rated comedy of all time. He’s also going to be hosting the Oscar’s honouring films of the 2012 year.

Other Birthdays: Oct. 23, Ryan Reynolds (36); Dwight Yoakam (56). Oct. 24, Tila Tequila (31). Oct. 26, Dylan McDermott (51); Bob Hoskins (70), Jon Heder (35). Oct. 28, Joaquin Phoenix (38); Julia Roberts (45); Joan Plowright (83).

My favourite Christopher Lloyd films: Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The PagemasterDennis the Menace

Favourite Craig Robinson films: Hot Tub Time Machine Pineapple ExpressZack and Miri Make a Porno

Favourite Dwight Yoakam film: Panic Room.

Miss March (2009)

Release Date: March 13, 2009Directors: Zach Cregger, Trevor MooreStars: Zach Cregger, Trevor Moore, Craig RobinsonRuntime: 89 min.

I watched this a few months ago, and I still get nightmares from this comedy failure. What is Miss March’s problem? It isn’t very funny at all.

Eugene (Zach Cregger) is a young college guy who raises abstinence awareness, or something like that, with his pure girlfriend, Cindi. He decides that he’s ready and he wants to ‘do the deed’ with her on prom night. On the night of prom, Eugene’s best friend Tucker (Trevor Moore), a sex crazy idiot, thought having a few pre-sex alcohol shots would be a great idea. Eugene thinks it’s a great idea to walk into the basement and fall down the stairs and go into a four-year coma. When he wakes up, he gains the knowledge that Cindi Whitehall is now a Playboy cover girl. So Eugene and Tucker set on the road to the Playboy Mansion. Along the way, they’re on the run from the crazed fire-fighter brother of Tucker’s ex-girlfriend.

Jack Torrance called, he wants his axe back.

The appearances of Hugh Hefner (and when he comes in he doesn’t even look like he’s into the project; he’s not even in any of the same shots as the guys) Sara Jean Underwood, poop gags, and an extended appearance from TV’s The Office star Craig Robinson (playing a character called Horsedick.MPEG, but he couldn’t even be funny because of the poor dialogue) couldn’t even save this poorly written flick.

It isn’t funny, it isn’t memorable, the characters are annoying, and I miss the five dollars I spent to buy this garbage. There’s not one solitary good thing about this flick, and is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. If only I could erase this one from my memory; where’s that company from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind when you need them?

It only gets two points for all of the sexy girls.

2/100