21 and Over (2013)

21 and OverReleased: March 1, 2013. Directed by: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore. Starring: Miles Teller, Justin Chon, Skylar Astin. Runtime: 93 min.

Since I’m turning 19 today, I thought this would be an okay film for the occasion. I’m not turning 21 anytime soon, but the legal drinking age in Canada is 19 – and I don’t think there are any movies out there called “19 and Over, Eh?” This was on my PVR so I thought I’d give it a watch. Even though this is from the writers of “The Hangover,” it’s still a bit more like “Project X” – so that’s a misstep. At least this movie has a half-decent storyline and isn’t shot in the found footage format.

Jeff Chang (Justin Chon) is turning twenty-one years old, and two of his high school best pals, Miller (Miles Teller) and Casey (Skylar Astin) are hell-bent on giving him the night of his life, all on the eve of a big medical school interview. They take him out and show him a good time, just like they intended to do; but when Jeff passes out, neither Miller or Casey can remember his address to get him home. And his father is a total dick(tator), so if they don’t get him home in time, someone’s gonna get hurt real bad. The two friends go on a charade of finding someone who might know where Jeff lives, but it’s going to prove to be harder than they thought.

Friends are made during; Casey gets a love interest named Nicole (Sarah Wright), and an eccentric character called the Chief, who looks kind-of like Chris Elliot. Friendships are also in-genuinely tested. Ridiculous villains surface, like a person who Jeff accidentally hits with a dart; and a fraternity of Latin college girls, and how they become villains is somewhat amusing but predictable.

It’s a little bit disappointing that Jeff is passed out for a fair majority of the film, because he’s sorta funny while he’s drunk. The sight gag while he’s half-streaking is a little priceless. He has a bra on and a teddy bear glued to his privates. What happens later is a bit disturbing regarding that. It’s sort-of another sight gag taken out of the “Harold and Kumar” franchise’s handbook, and that isn’t the only thing. Jeff mirrors Kumar; they both have medical interviews the next day, and their dads play heavy influences in their lives to become doctors.

The film analyses the true stresses of university fairly well, and that’s something one doesn’t see very often in stupid college movies. And this movie is very stupid, too. It’s also disappointing that Jeff is passed out a lot, because he’s only likeable character in the movie (other than Nicole). You won’t be forgetting Chang’s any time soon, because Casey and Miller combined annoyingly say his name at least fifty times. They never say a simple ‘Jeff’, it’s always his full name. It would be a decent drinking game for people who want to get wasted  if you take a shot every time they say his name. Oddly enough, Casey or Miller don’t even have last names that get revealed to us!

I chuckled occasionally during, and laughed out loud probably about five or six times. (The first laugh-out-loud moment comes in the form of urination twenty-four minutes in.) But that isn’t enough to keep me satisfied during this film because the plot’s just very silly and a waste of time. Miller is occasionally racist and very unlikeable and he swears a lot, and there’s a running joke of him (a what, 21 or 22-year-old) where he wants to screw Casey’s sixteen-year-old sister. I don’t mind constant swearing in comedies – but it has to make me laugh or be occasionally amusing, but once a film just swears just to swear and the jokes constantly miss, it becomes bothersome.

Casey’s likeable sometimes but he still doesn’t treat his friend with much respect and I didn’t really care for him – the friendships just aren’t believable. Astin as Casey doesn’t have many memorable lines, and he is extremely bland. His performance in “Pitch Perfect” must have been a fluke because he is so boring here. Miller might be unlikeable because he doesn’t give a crap about Chang’s future because he forces him to go out that night, but he does have a few memorable lines. He’s one of those lazy characters that doesn’t apply himself. The character arcs are just lame.

The whole movie’s lame, really. At least “Project X” had a lot of boobs, this has three pairs and they’re all forgettable and very quick, but a funny spanking scene might just make up for it. There are lame bar montages and some disgusting sight gags, but the funny ones make up for one gross slow motion one. There’s a scene where the film shows some potential in a series of drinking games but the film falls flat again. Some occurrences don’t make sense and are just random to keep the film going. Anyway, If you liked “Project X”, you might like this, because it’s a bit stronger than that crappy party movie – but if you didn’t like that film, just avoid this one, too.

Score38/100

The Hangover (2009)

Hangover, The

Release Date: June 5, 2009

Director: Todd Phillips

Stars: Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms

Runtime: 100 min

Tagline: Some guys just can’t handle Vegas.

Doug is getting married. So by tradition, him and a few friends go to Vegas as a bachelor party.

In this wolf pack there is Phil, the practical leader of the group; Stu, the smart dentist, and the newcomer to the group, Alan the guy with the one man wolf pack, and who is like a gremlin because he just comes with so many rules. After a night of partying, they wake up to the hotelroom trashed, a tiger in the bathroom and a baby in the closet. And Doug is missing. They must find Doug by using clues from their pockets like receipts and notes (with that sounding so reminiscent of Memento, think of this as that film with a comedy twist to it) and get him home to the wedding in time for the “I do’s.”

Alan is the scene-stealer of the group, and (inarguably) the funniest. Ken Jeon is great in the small role of Leslie Chow. It occasionally becomes silly and really predictable, but only every so often. Alan is easily the most memorable part of the hilarious comedy. It’s just a surprise gem for the comedy genre.

The rest of the characters are generally likeable, as they can be pretty funny; well, with the exception of Stu’s potential fiancé Melissa who’s just straight-up rude and needs a nice smack to the face. She is easily one of the most annoying female characters in cinema history (that crown would probably go [out of the ones that pop into mind] to either Carolyn Burnham of American Beauty, Amy Sumner of Straw Dogs or Heather Donahue of The Blair Witch Project) or at least comedy history of recent decades. She’s not a flaw of the movie, though, mostly because she’s written that way. 
This is one of those rare comedies with solid comedic momentum throughout. On initial viewing this film is hilarious, but after about four or five views it starts to feel a bit worn out. It does have high must-see status as far as comedies go. It’s generally really enjoyable upon its first few viewings.

80/100

The Hangover Part III (2013)

The Hangover 3

Release Date: May 23, 2013

Director: Todd Phillips

Stars: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis

Runtime: 100 min

Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms star in an original tale of bad decisions and mayhem. The movie I’m talking about is 2009’s The Hangover. The first sequel has a severe case of sequelitis (exact same thing as the first). We now arrive at The Hangover Part III, a movie that suffers from a far more common and simple occurrence: bad movie syndrome.

The movie opens at the prison where Mr. Chow (Ken Jeong) is now escaping, under the cover of a prison riot. He crawls in the sewer, but comes out clean on the other side. It then changes tone to follow the wolfpack. After the death of Alan’s father, the wolfpack take Alan (Zach Galifianakis) to a mental hospital to get his problems sorted out. On the way there, they are assaulted and Doug is kidnapped (again). They must find Leslie Chow and bring him to Marshall, Doug’s kidnapper, in order to save Doug.

This isn’t able to cut ties to the original or the first sequel. The plot afoot, where Marshall (John Goodman) kidnaps Doug (Justin Bartha), in consequence to what Chow did in the first. They go to Las Vegas, again. There’s a trade-off in the desert, again. The filmmakers don’t keep some of the best components: Stu singing a song, Mike Tyson, good comedy, and worst of all, a hangover. These guys are never drunk during the movie! Frankly, these sober guys aren’t so fun to watch. Todd Phillips is so terrified of making the same movie three times; he changes the overall tone. Viewers who are expecting to cry from laughter will be sorely disappointed. It has some funny scenes, because you might laugh at Alan being his idiotic self; but most of the content is so dark, it can’t be considered funny.

Doug (Justin Bartha) has always been a secondary presence, since this Princess Peach-esque character is kidnapped so much. Black Doug (Mike Epps), honorary wolfpack member, has always been the better Doug. He is a star of one of the only hilarious scenes in the entire movie. The other humour suddenly becomes tired because we’ve seen it in the trailers already. One joke that becomes exhausting is when Alan pretends to give someone a high five, but it’s a sike-out and he grooms his hair instead. It’s a little funny the first time; and since it’s not so funny the second time, it sure as hell won’t be funny the third freaking time. Stu (Ed Helms) is relied on to make gagging noises at disgusting parts. The only characters that have should-be funny dialogue are Alan (of course), Chow and Black Doug.

The problem is, both Alan and Chow become more and more irritating as the movie progresses. Alan is more moronic than ever, and Chow is more sociopathic than ever. The hilarious content is limited. The fact that thinking of a truly funny scene in a comedy movie, especially one of The Hangover franchise, is a huge issue. This one is memorable for all the wrong reasons. The first produces a laugh-a-minute, almost, but here you’ll be lucky to laugh every ten. This is truly the most bizarre out of the three; and the plotting is ludicrous, even if if there is an evident plot.

The humour is mean-spirited and, often enough, downright despicable. These sociopathic and passive-aggressive characters only seem to care about retrieving Doug. Alan, an overweight toddler with an awesome beard, has a bit of a heart because he begins to realize his actions have a very negative outcome, and he tries to fix it. Phil is still the calm and collected one, but he’s generally unfunny, here. This will be remembered as that one movie that broke Bradley Cooper’s hot streak.

Do you want to know some really despicable and enfuriating humour at play here? (I’ll tell you anyway.) In the trailer, Alan’s car goes under a low bridge, but the giraffe doesn’t. Todd Phillips shows the giraffe’s severed head crashing into a windshield. At a later moment, Phil says, “I think it’s kinda funny. It’s a giraffe, who the f*ck cares?” Of course this is all for shock, but Phillips is definitely receiving angry calls from PETA this weekend.

This has a few forgettable laughs, but its dark tone makes this memorable for the wrong reason. This really should be excellent, because the trailers make this look promising. Optimistic fans of the franchise will not find a bigger disappointment this summer season. If you are disappointed, don’t make the same mistake I did by walking out of the theatre right when the end credits start to roll. Apparently, there’s a hilarious scene part-way through the credits. This movie is like a cruel, sad little man with a cold, sociopathic heart. The filmmakers give making a good movie the old college try; but giving something ‘the old college try’ shouldn’t mean it will feel like it’s written by mentally disturbed college students.

25/100

The Campaign (2012)

The CampaignThe Campaign

Release Date: August 10, 2012

Director: Jay Roach

Stars: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis

Runtime: 85 min

Tagline: May the best loser win

After Cam Brady (Will Ferrell) accidentally dials the wrong number and leaves a sexual message on a stranger’s answering machine, his local likeability plummets. Two CEOs, Glenn (John Lithgow) and Wade (Dan Aykroyd) Motch, see this an opportunity to oust the long-term candidate and gain further influence on this North Carolina district. Brady, a man who usually runs unopposed, meets his biggest match yet: the extremely naive and all-too-kind Marty Huggins (Zach Galifianakis).

 
This is a decent political satire. It may be offensive to some – but it was usually very funny. However, the humour can get very obnoxious. The character of Cam Brady gets a little lame, as all he really cares about is sex and power. Granted, what else can you really expect from a Will Ferrell character? Usually, his characters are funny – but the writing just makes him come off as rude and, worst of all, usually unfunny. However, he does have his moments, and when those come, they’re pretty awesome – because we’re seeing Ferrell shine again. Brady’s campaign advisor, Mitch (Jason Sudeikis), is also rather unfunny. The only really funny characters are Marty Huggins, sometimes Tim Wattley (Dylan McDermott) and Mrs. Yao (Karen Maruyama), Raymond Huggins’ Asian maid who gets paid extra to talk in a 1960’s black maid voice.

 
While only half the characters are usually funny, the plot isn’t all that amazing. It’s decent, but the political battles are pretty boring. Also, Marty’s change of attitude starts to get irritating after a while – since his life and his family life gets enveloped by the campaign. He doesn’t have much time for his family any more, and he starts to act a bit like the obnoxious Brady. That’s isn’t good, as I have not subtly expressed my dislike of Brady. He is most likeable when he’s enjoying life with his family. Especially near the beginning, one of the funniest scenes is the Huggins’ dinner table confessions. After that, it resorts to a few lame jokes like punching a baby in the face. That scene may have been more effective if they hadn’t shown it in the trailer, because it would have added to the comedy shock factor. It got to a point of tastelessness because it was done in a slow-motion, boxing fashion. However, when a dog gets punched by Brady – that’s hilarious. Does that mean I’m a dog hater? No, that punch was simply done much better because it wasn’t as overdone.

 
The idea of two great comedians – Will Ferrell (who has brought us classic characters like Ricky Bobby and Ron Burgundy) and Zach Galifianakis (more commonly known as Alan from The Hangover because his last name is just so bothersome to spell) – working together on a rude comedy like this is so much better than the end product. And (partly) because of this, the film is not satisfying enough. The Campaign turns out to be a usually funny, but sometimes boring and lame, political satire. There are some scenes that make it worth the watch, but mostly, it’s nothing to recommend wholeheartedly. Regardless of all that, you all better vote Marty Huggins so Chinese factories can be kept out of North Carolina!

60/100

21 Jump Street (2012)

 21 Jump Street

Release Date: March 16, 2012

Director: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

Stars: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube

Runtime: 109 min

Tagline: The only thing getting blown tonight is their cover.

  Schmidt and Jenko are two new young looking police officers, whose boss feels that they don’t have what it takes to be on that force. He then transfers them to 21 Jump Street, a task force made for young looking cops to infiltrate crime rings, and Schmidt and Jenko are going to have to go back to high school and take down a drug ring.

 It’s actually a really funny film, and does a really great job of keeping comedic momentum. Some of it can get pretty silly, but I really enjoyed the film – as it had great comedy and pretty sweet action sequences. The only thing I disliked about it a little is how it took a turn for the predictable at times, but only on a few occasions – and other than that it was very great.

The whole cast is really just a great ensemble, and they each bring something special to the film. I didn’t think Tatum could be this funny, and he surprised me in this. Hill is also one of my favourite young comedy actors.

This film stars Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Dave Franco, Ice Cube, Brie Larson, Rob Riggle and Ellie Kemper.

It’s one of the greatest comedy films of this year, one of my general favourite comedies, and the best action comedy mash-up I have seen this year. It’s in the same league as comedy film greats such as The Hangover and Superbad. 

90/100

Review written on: August 4, 2012 by Daniel Prinn