Blended (2014)

BlendedReleased: May 23, 2014. Directed by: Frank Coraci. Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey. Runtime: 117 min.

Adam Sandler and co bring us a rom-com that’s heavy on the romance, light on the comedy. Six or seven good laughs throughout the feature is no impressive feat, but is okay for Sandler’s current streak, considering six laughs is around my personal combined tally for how many times I laughed during That’s My Boy, Jack and JillGrown Ups 2 and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. You could say the film is funny on occasion. Sandler portrays Jim, a family guy with no wife and three daughters. He goes on an awful blind date with Lauren (Drew Barrymore), as his first attempt at dating since his wife passed. When Lauren’s best friend Jen (Wendi McLendon-Covey) breaks off her relationship with Jim’s boss, Lauren pounces at the opportunity to take her kids to Africa. Jim does too, and the trip is conveniently a getaway just for blended families! 

Blended is pretty much Just Go With It with a twist: the characters hate each other at first, but everyone’s still just bonding on vacation in an exotic place. Writers Ivan Menchell bring so many components of Sandler’s previous films to get Blended, which is a film that just steals from stronger movies. At least Sandler knows what works to still get work. Some of the laughs that hit are amusing song choices, at least when they’re not completely obvious. Before I get onto what jokes do work, I’ll say what doesn’t make this a family-friendly movie. There are so many sex jokes and some of this is just plain gross. Some of it’s even worse than a deer pissing on Sandler’s face in Grown Ups 2. Take this for example: A giraffe’s very long tongue goes down a character’s throat, practically, when a character is going in for the kiss. This abysmal attempt at comedy is cringe-worthy.  

What work best are some cameos and bit roles. Shaquille O’Neal shows up in a not that funny cameo, because his acting is as strong as his free throwing ability. Terry Crews constantly shows up to sing a song about blended families and whatever else is on the caricature’s mind. He is funny at first, but the film gets a bit desperate to use him so many times during the film. It’s somehow amusing on a minor level throughout, even after his signature titty dance. It’s partly due to his energy, and partly due to the fact that the film gets boring and energy is welcome. I’ll keep the most amusing cameo under wraps. 

It seems to me that Sandler is trying to get laughs by channeling aspects of his comedies that have worked in the past. I counted seven occasions where characters channel aspects from his other films. I guess if it works, many people won’t notice – but those who do, it’s going to seem a bit lazy. Sandler brings slapstick humour and adult-oriented jokes that get the bigger laughs, while parents will think “As if this looked family-friendly.” Kevin Nealon portrays one half of a strange Canadian couple. He channels his character from Happy Gilmore at times. His wife is a bimbo named Ginger; a character who doesn’t get one laugh. She shimmies a lot, which makes Lauren’s eldest son Brandon horny. 

He’s a walking joke; as he resembles Frodo, he’s a masturbating fiend, and he calls his mom hot on two occasions – which might be a subconscious reason for his hostility against Jim. I detect an Oedipus complex. Lauren’s other son Tyler is a temperamental kid who might only have few lonely brain cells left, due to the amount of times his mother hits his head on walls in one week’s span. Barrymore can’t save this because she gets only about two laughs. Her chemistry with Sandler is only able to give audiences so much enjoyment because it’s gotten old. It also doesn’t help that they don’t like each other for the first half. Wendi McLendon-Covey is cast in a lame sidekick role where she can’t exhibit much talent, and Joel McHale portrays Lauren’s ex. He’s been largely unfunny in every film I’ve seen him in thus far. I think he’s funny on TV’s Community, but now that it’s been cancelled – he needs to be picking stronger roles to star in, now more than ever. His schtick seems to be asshole characters, but he’s just not funny as them. 

Bella Thorne’s character Hilary is a tomboy who only sportswear and is nicknamed Larry by her father. Can you tell he wanted a boy? She experiences an ugly duckling arc, which isn’t believable because even with that hideous curly bowl cut wig, she’s still mildly pretty. Put some extensions on her and slap on some make-up, and wow, she now has confidence because no one will mistake her for a boy or an ugly lesbian! The song choices for her transformation are obvious and just not that funny. Sandler’s middle daughter Espn (idiotically named after his favourite network ESPN) has a strange arc: She carries on conversations with her dead mom. Emma Fuhrmann’s performance helps it ring true occasionally, and it adds sincerity to the film, but it’s weird throughout. I guess there’s a big problem when the weird girl’s arc is the strongest. 

Elsewhere, there is sporadic sweetness in the film – but the film’s attempt to tackle realities of today’s day and age are forgettable, and the writers stretch it when they attempt to show that even in nature, families are blended. (A tiger and lion proceed to eat a baby hippo.) For Blended, predictable is fiercely boring and all the extraneous crap makes this run at nearly two hours. Films like these just shouldn’t be that long, unless it’s entertaining.

Score: 45/100

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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? 

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

Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star – A film review by Daniel Prinn

 

Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star

Release Date: September 9, 2011

Director: Tom Brady

Stars: Nick Swardson, Christina Ricci, Don Johnson

Runtime: 97 min

Tagline: There are no small actors. Just small parts.

Bucky Larson is an ordinary loser who lives in the Midwest, and after he sees a nude flick, that his parents starred in, he wants to follow in their footsteps and heads out for the bright lights of Hollywood.

The film fails in all aspects and is painfully unfunny. I never thought I’d ever see a movie even more stupid than Jack and Jill. The plot sucks, there’s little attempt at character development that isn’t very interesting at all, and the acting isn’t good. It feels like a spoof film, and it’s hard to get good acting with this poorly written script.

The film relies on three main unfunny jokes: Bucky’s buck teeth, his small penis, and his premature ejaculation.

The only good thing about this film is the short appearance by Adam Herschman (Glen from Accepted), he wasn’t exactly funny but it was nice to see him in a film again. Like I said, it’s hard to be funny in this flick. The talents of Nick Swardson and Christina Ricci are extremely wasted.

I can’t think of anything funny about this crap. Did someone give Christina Ricci the memo that this was supposed to be a mindless comedy and not a romantic drama?

I don’t know how this is a movie. It’s just horrible and not even fun at all. It’s a chore to watch. It’s a fail in every aspect; and you can even tell by its horrid movie poster.

1/100

Jack and Jill – A film review by Daniel Prinn

Released November 11, 2011Director: Dennis DuganStars: Adam Sandler, Katie Holmes, Al PacinoRuntime: 91 minTagline: His twin sister is coming for the holidays… and it ain’t pretty.

Sandler is back… and it ain’t pretty.

Jack (Adam Sandler) lives with his lovely wife (Katie Holmes), their daughter and an adopted Indian son. Soon enough, it’s Thanksgiving and it’s time for Jill’s (Adam Sandler with a high pitched voice) annual visit. Jill is Jack’s “nocturnal, like a bat” twin sister, and she keeps prolonging her vacation because she’s lonely and she only has her bird, Poopsie, to keep her company; henceforth prolonging this god awful film.

I thought it was rather dull, and the plot was stupid. I could count the memorable gags and one-liners on a hand with no fingers. I wanted this film to “pa-go-go” away. It’s a little better than Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star, but not by very much. Though, the only good thing about this film is the reappearance of Otto, the homeless caddy from Sandler’s  classic, Happy Gilmore. Too bad it’s still not enough to save this train wreck.

Oh Al Pacino, why would you associate yourself with this film? Did you want to play a parody of yourself? Did Sandler hold you hostage and not let you go until you said you’d star in it?

I love Sandler’s earlier work (Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, The Waterboy), so I hope he can redeem himself soon. Though, this film does not help in his road for redemption.

Avoid this one like influenza, boys and girls. It’s utterly crappy.

Score12/100