A discussion of Red (2010)

RedReleased: October 15, 2010. Director: Robert Schwentke. Stars: Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman. Runtime: 111 min. 

I’m joined by Dave over at Dave Examines Movies for a fairly short discussion of the 2010 actioner “Red,” starring Bruce Willis, Mary Louise Parker, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman, to name a few members of the core cast. It seems that, as an effort to appeal to older audiences, many studios have making movies that appeal to the older audience; like “Hope Springs” or “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” But “Red” is no heartwarming dramedy – it’s an exciting action comedy, that came a few months after the release of Sylvester Stallone’s attempt to launch “The Expendables” franchise. Like “The Expendables,” it isn’t great in the story department – but it’s a truly fun experience.

The story follows Frank Moses (Bruce Willis), a former black-ops agent, who, after his life was threatened, has to regroup his old team in a last effort to survive and uncover his assailants.

Now, for the discussion I had with Dave… (Enjoy!)

Daniel: So Dave, how’d you like the movie?

Dave: I thought it was good, funny, and handled rather well for an ensemble comedy. I had some issues with how memorable it was though, how about you?

Daniel: I liked it, as well. Great fun, at least it’s more memorable than the other Willis geriatric actioner, “The Expendables” – so that has to count for something. What was your main issue with it?

Dave: I basically realized that the story in general was rather forgettable. I have seen “Red” once before when it first came out, and for a film that isn’t even five years old, I couldn’t remember what the premise was even about past a bunch of old guys in humorous action sequences, and yes, a lot of fun. To me, that seems to suggest little focus was actually spent on the story. For what it was, it’s exciting and hilarious to watch in the moment, but there are some things that escape your memory as time passes.

Daniel: Now that I think about that, and even though I only watched for the first time about a month ago, I’m only remembering the premise as Willis is a dangerous retiree who has to survive against a bunch of people who are trying to kill him. And I can’t remember what their motivations really were, to kill him. But do comic book adaptations usually have generic stories? It seems so, but like you say, I find it a blast – it certainly has a rewatchability factor.

Dave: It does, I agree. You can rewatch this for the sheer enjoyability of the thing. This is one of the only instances where I say screw the story, it was presented in such a fashion that you can have a blast watching. In some respect, it reminds me of a humorous version of “The Expendables”, but that’s fine, given the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of “The Expendables.” For Red, you have a great display of chemistry between the characters and a good amount of individual humor shared between them. You might not care about *why* they are doing the things they are doing, but you do care about the characters themselves, and love watching them in action.

Daniel: Definitely! For a movie that doesn’t truly care about the story, I at least don’t have the trouble I do trying to explain the plot of something like that “The Expendables” or, even though they aren’t alike, “Grown Ups“. The characters and the action are what matter, here. The chemistry is on-point. I think the relationship between Willis and Parker is charming. I think Marvin is the best character. Malkovich is so hilarious as that eccentric.

Dave: I just love Malkovich in anything he is a part of. That man is all over the place, and I love it. As for how the movie looks: It set a tone, and it stuck to it. There is never a moment in the film where you feel like something was done out of place. You understand the world the film takes place in, and it remains consistent throughout. Is there anything negative you have to say about it?

Daniel: Agreed, director Robert Schwentke knows what he wants to do with it. Not majorly, no. For an ensemble piece, everyone gets a chance to shine, even if I felt Morgan Freeman wasn’t utilized as well as he could have been. And I was underwhelmed by the antagonists. And, like we discussed, the lack of greatness in the story department. I find when the film doesn’t have the greatest story, it’s more difficult to discuss. Do you feel the need to mention anything about it?

Dave: I would just have to say the lack of a memorable storyline dragged this film to a place it didn’t want to be in. Having that downfall basically made Red a tad forgettable in an area that will hurt them in the end. Years after people watch it, and when it pops up in a conversation, they’ll be saying, “Remember that one funny movie…with the old people…and all the violence?” Well, that could be a number of films. This film is unique in a way, it just doesn’t have the long-term click that makes it fully memorable… Do you have a rating for it?

Daniel: Hahah exactly. I’d give it a 78, because it’s not quite at an 80, lol. And even though I’m not a fan of giving random-ish scores like that any more, I think I have to bend the rules for this one.  What would you give it?

Dave: Close to yours, actually, I gave it a 76, because I see it as better than 75. Thanks for discussing Red with me, and I hope we can do it again sometime soon!

Daniel: Nice! Thanks for the discussion, Dave. I hope so, too! Would you want to discuss the sequel once we both see it?

Dave: I was going to suggest the same thing. Sounds like a plan!

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Grown Ups 2 (2013)

GROWN UPS 2Release Date: July 12, 2013. Director: Dennis Dugan. Stars: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade. Runtime: 102 min.

The mystery of why Adam Sandler has never previously done a sequel has been solved. “Grown Ups 2” is worst than his average movie, but it’s about on par with “Jack and Jill“. (That’s no compliment if you’ve seen “J&J”.) If Sandler has become one thing lately, it is reliable. We can always rely on him to bring us one of the year’s worst comedies. If anyone was hoping for a Sandler movie game-changer with this one, they’ll only receive something familiar. “Grown Ups” is a guilty pleasure of mine, but I don’t know how anyone could find pleasure in this.

There isn’t any plot. If one has trouble describing the plot of this film’s predecessor in casual conversation, they’ll damn well blow a blood vessel trying to explain this film’s plot. Even the people over at IMDb don’t know what this is about. Even the filmmakers don’t know what this one is about! The IMDb plot is this: After moving his family back to his hometown to be with his friends and their kids, Lenny (Adam Sandler) finds out that between old bullies, new bullies, schizophrenic bus drivers, drunk cops on skis, and 400 costumed party crashers sometimes crazy follows you.

Yup. It’s as stupid as it sounds. It just feels like a bunch of comedy skits thrown together. Just because one’s main cast (Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade) is composed of SNL veterans, does not mean it should feel like a long episode of Saturday Night Live. I have been told that SNL sketches range from bad to good to the occasional great. The sketches here are just plain bad.

This film is at its funniest when Sandler channels mannerisms similar to Billy Madison. It’s also funny when Jon Lovitz shows up as a character that is very similar to the pervert he played in “Little Nicky”. Sandler is showing us that he and his friends can still be funny with their observational humour; so why is there so much god-awful, low-brow humour in here? The good moments are hidden in so much utter dreck, that they are cancelled out. At the somewhat funny jokes later on, I wanted to laugh – but I only could bring myself to smirk slightly. I knew that for that one decent joke, there will be twenty-five pathetic attempts at humour. Seeing Sandler’s comic genius in his recent movies is as rare as seeing the sun on a cloudy day; you might see it once or twice, but then again, your mind is probably just playing tricks on you.

“Grown Ups 2” reaches to the bottom of the barrel for its laughs. There’s many jokes including bodily functions: peeing, pooping, vomiting, masturbation, and a running joke about trying to burp, sneeze and fart simultaneously, coined by Kevin James… I’m not sure why anyone would laugh at it. But then again, some of the people in my audience laughed at the mere sight of the deer in Lenny’s bedroom. (Oh yeah. The thought of a deer being in a bedroom instead of the wild is real hysterical. Since he’s not supposed to be there, it’s an odd occurence that’s supposed to make the audience laugh, apparently!) At least the only recycled joke is someone peeing in the pool and a mist of blue shows up. This time, though, it doesn’t make much sense because 1) it’s a myth, and 2) if there was such a chemical, there’s really no need to put it one’s own private pool.

There are a lot of visual gags to “Grown Ups 2”. Markus has a thirteen year-old son (the terrible Alexander Ludwig) who has a beard. The joke seems to be that Ludwig is supposed to be terrible as a 21-year-old playing a 13-year-old; but there isn’t anything funny going on there. He has a bunch of “tattoos” that are practically permanent marker. It’s ridiculous. I’ll have an easier time believing that Maggie Grace can convincingly play an eighteen year-old. There’s also a main gag where the family of Malcolm (Tim Meadows) is all bald. Everyone is losing their hair. His wife and son have noses that look like they’re made out of Play Doh. I get it. They’re funny looking. They say “Whaaaaat?” whenever they get offended. It’s supposed to be funny. But nothing about them is funny. The joke is rather excruciating.

Since there are so many celeb cameos here, it makes me believe Sandler thinks featuring these celebrities in his movie is a punchline. There are many familiar faces; his buddies Nick Swardson and Peter Dante show up. (MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD, BUT THESE CAMEOS HAVE BEEN IN EVERY TV SPOT.) Shaquille O’Neal has an extended cameo. Will Forte, Andy Samberg and Taran Killam, among others, wash Lamansoff’s car, in a scene where you’ll just want to look away. To the sound of Warrant’s “Sweet Cherry Pie”, no less. Taylor Lautner shows up as an annoying Frat boy who barks, flips around, and has a stupid handshake with Milo Ventimiglia. (Even though he’s good on TV’s “Heroes”, I’ve grown to hate him after seeing him here and in “That’s My Boy“.) (END OF MINOR SPOILERS.) Sorry, Sandler, this won’t make many of us laugh. These people are celebrities. Celebrities are in movies, because they’re famous. It’s nothing new.

There is a line of stupidity movies just cannot cross. “Grown Ups 2” crosses it, and then some. I like stupid comedy. You’ll find a lot of stupidity going on in this god-awful film, but only a limited amount of comedy. Sandler’s latest is the poster child for stupid comedies. It begins with a deer pissing on Adam Sandler and ends with a seriously dumb bodily function joke. If that sounds like something you’d find hysterical; well, then, you might have to re-evaluate your taste in movies.

Score: 12/100

I do usually like Adam SandlerI’m considering watching all of Adam Sandler’s movies, and re-watch the ones I can stand to watch again, and review them. In the meantime, here are my reviews of some Adam Sandler films that have received good scores: 50 First Dates” (2004), “Billy Madison” (1995).

Box Office Predictions: 7/12-7/14; Monsters & Robots vs. (Apparently) Funny people vs. the Minions

I say ‘apparently funny people’ in the title because I’m not sure how funny the guys of ‘Grown Ups 2’ will be this time around…

There are two new releases coming out this weekend, and those are “Pacific Rim” and “Grown Ups 2”, the sequel to Adam Sandler’s 2010 box office hit.

Pacific Rim“Pacific Rim” looks freaking awesome (I mean, it’s monsters vs. robots – what’s not to like?), and even though the tracking has been low, I’m staying optimistic. Though, if “Grown Ups 2” wins this weekend, I’ll weep. Movies similar to “Pacific Rim” open to $44.63 million. While this film doesn’t have much leading star power, it has an intriguing and original premise, something for fanboys to feast on, a well-respected director found in Guillermo Del Toro, and supporting star power found in Idris Elba and Charlie Day. Like I said, I’m staying optimistic for this movie’s earnings and even though it’ll be a bonafide hit overseas (mostly in Asia), it’s a little harder to predict it for here, especially since the tracking is so all over the place – so I’m going to predict $45 million. (I have this lower than “Despicable Me 2”, but I wouldn’t be mad if this won the weekend. At all. But I will be mad if “Grown Ups 2” beats this.)

GROWN UPS 2The main competition of “Pacific Rim” is “Grown Ups 2”. And as much as the first “Grown Ups” is a guilty pleasure of mine, there’s only one genuine joke in the trailer. The trailer’s also very lazy to me. I think this will make a good amount of money, but I don’t want it to be… But, audiences do like their audiences simple. Though, the first “Grown Ups” that earned $40.5M in its opening weekend came before his awful films such as “Jack and Jill” and “That’s My Boy”. Sandler has an opening average of $24.95 million. This one looks a lot less funny or fresh than the first, and a lot more noxious (the first was PG and this is PG-13). It looks like the main joke is celebrity cameos from Shaquille O’Neal and Taylor Lautner. I guess that’s the first trick in Sandler’s book: Make Taylor Lautner an obvious presence in the trailer, and attract many female pre-teens. Movies similar to “Grown Ups 2” open to $25.57 million. I’m going to predict this one at $38.5 million.

Here’s how I see the Top 10: 

Title/Prediction

1. “Despicable Me 2”: $46, 350, 000 (Review)

2. “Pacific Rim”: $45, 000, 000 (My review will be up tomorrow or Saturday; I’ll try to post it tomorrow, but I’m way too tired to write it now.)

3. “Grown Ups 2”: $38, 500, 000

4. “The Heat”: $15, 750, 000 (Review)

5. “The Lone Ranger”: $13, 980, 000 (Review)

6. “World War Z”: $10, 900, 000 (Review)

7. “Monsters University”: $10, 600, 000 (Review)

8. “Man of Steel”: $7, 025, 000 (Review)

9. “White House Down”: $6, 900, 000

10. “Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain”: $6, 250, 000

What movies are you seeing this weekend? 

Grown Ups (2010)

Grown UpsRelease Date: June 25, 2010Director: Denis DuganStars: Adam Sandler, David Spade, Kevin JamesRuntime: 102 min.

“Grown Ups” doesn’t have the strongest plot; or any evident plotline, for that matter. It’s really just a movie about… Five guys, who sound like they want to grow up, but they’re really just big kids at heart. They’re reuniting after thirty years because of the death of their elementary school basketball coach. They’re lifelong friends. Sandler plays the big-time Hollywood agent, Lenny; Rob Schneider plays Rob Hillard who has an appreciation of ladies in their mid-70s; Kevin James plays Eric Lamonsoff, who has a four-year old who still breast feeds, and a daughter with anger issues; Chris Rock is Kurt McKenzie, the nice husband with a nagging wife; and David Spade is the bachelor, Marcus Higgins. The female actresses are decent, mostly just Salma Hayek and Maya Rudolph. The kids are annoying.

No matter how many times you might watch this movie, you’ll only remember the names of Marcus, Lenny and Lamonsoff. There’s very little character development and plot. They’re mostly just comedians hanging around. There’s no focus on plot or characters, because it just isn’t so important to Sandler. Since the plotline isn’t strong, it honestly feels like it could end at any point. I can forgive that a bit more than other movies, though, because at least it doesn’t fail in every aspect. It is a funny movie. There’s chuckles throughout, and two scenes that are hilarious. Most of the humour is hit-and-miss, however, because the majority of the jokes are predictable. And the balance of comedic talent and big laughs is uneven. The direction is also pretty bad. It feels as if Dennis Dugan wasn’t on set for a week.

This is mostly just a forgettable comedy that doesn’t have a particularly good plot. It’s decent background noise, regardless. This still gets a pass.

Score60/100

Note: As much as this is a guilty pleasure of mine, I don’t think upcoming sequel looks very funny at all. I laugh once during the trailer.