Larry H's Movie Reviews for 2016 (46)
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“CG 36-500 proceed to rescue…Copy that.” The setting of this true story is February 1952 off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. An unusually powerfully snowy storm has enveloped the area and wreaked havoc on vessels caught at sea. The US Coast Guard is tasked with making rescues of ships in distress and in this case the high winds and surging waves have caused a large tanker to “split in two.” But what if it’s too dangerous to even mount a rescue attempt?
The film begins with a sweet love story between Bernie and Miriam played by Chris Pine and Holliday Grainger. We all remember Pine from his portrayal of Captain Kirk in the 2009 Star Trek movie, and some of you will recall Ms. Grainger as Lady Chatterley in a TV movie last year. With a 1950’s backdrop, the adoringly awkward couple had just become engaged when Bernie Webber is ordered to command a very small Coast Guard boat with a crew of three to challenge the treacherous waters off Cape Cod in blinding snow, wind and forty-feet waves. Their mentality is “…we’re the Coast Guard and that’s what we do.” Hmmmm, but is that a good idea.
The story develops from the perspective of our brave members of the Coast Guard and also from the eyes of the desperate crew of over 30 who are trying to manage a ship that is literally rudderless and near powerless while fighting the elements of a horribly ferocious and freezing storm with gale-force winds. Time is of the essence.
The tanker’s crew has already lost its captain so someone has to step up to lead the men to attempt to salvage the ship and buy enough time for somebody, somehow to rescue them at sea.
Casey Affleck, 40, as Ray is that leader to the crew of the ship and his performance was the shining light in a film full of cold darkness. Hopefully, this movie will separate him even further from his older brother, Ben.
Director Craig Gillespie spends a lot of time and money in creating spectacular sets worthy of the viciousness of the storm and the almost constant fear generated by the story, but his editing was disjointed and lacked the character empathy that was begging to be achieved in this disaster movie. He missed the boat. Oh no, I said it.
Gillespie’s last movie was “Million Dollar Arm” starring Jon Hamm and it was a lightweight, too, grossing $36 million on an estimated budget of $25 million. Cutting it kind of close there, Craig. “Finest Hours” sales will probably not set any records either. This is the season for movies that are competing for Oscars and all the other chumps are fighting for scraps. This movie is not ready for prime time. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 79. Larry H. www.larryhmoviereviews.com
“These boys are inseparable; but we only want to adopt one of them; I’ve been searching for my baby brother for 28 years.” This is yet another movie by the mad genius Sacha Baron Cohen. Yeah, that’s the guy – “Borat, Bruno, and The Dictator.” I give him credit for being a genius because his brand of comedy, dare we say entertainment, is so far out there that his ticket sales have made him a very wealthy 44-year-old Brit.
“The Brothers Grimsby” directed by Frenchman Louis Laterrier (“The Incredible Hulk” and “The Transporter”) allows Cohen to exhibit his magical touch of bizarre funniness and crassness extraordinaire. Actually, this movie version of Cohen, rather than the mockumentary format is, believe it or not, not as vulgar as I feared. Sure, the two brothers get caught hiding inside the privates of a wild elephant who is about to mate with a suitor, but who among us has not tried to fade to black to escape harm.
Star and co-writer Cohen feels compelled to take it to another zany level to gain the upper hand in his in-your-face style of shock humor. In this spoof on James Bond and the British MI6, he reserves his barbs for “fat people” rather than his go-to targets of race and politics.
But he has no boundaries. Rebel Wilson as Cohen’s wife and Gabourey Sidibe, Banu the Cleaning Lady, were certainly good sports to allow themselves to be the butt of the joke for being large women.
Mark Strong is extremely adequate as little Grimsby brother, Sebastian the Spy, who is involved in an assignation attempt of an international philanthropist (Penelope Cruz) and unfortunately must enlist the partnership of his idiot brother, Nobby (Cohen) while trying to save the world. Let the madness begin.
I predict that the producers, including Cohen, and directors thought “The Brothers Grimsby” would be a box office hit and they would all get rich by riding the coattails of screwball Sacha Baron Cohen. Problem: this is not a very funny movie, character development is nonexistent and the action/silliness is spewed all over the screen without a witty course for the would-be heroes.
There were only four patrons at my noon showing on Opening Day. According to my semi-scientific calculations, this will be a dud. Only the hardcore Cohen fans will bother to buy a ticket and the rest of you normies should wait for Showtime or at least don’t go without a parent or guardian. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 79. Larry H.
“We’re clear for takeoff…runway 4…this is US Airway Flight 1549…” said Captain Chesley Sullenberger. I’d want to be called “Sully” if my name was Chesley; what was his mother thinking? But we all love Sully for his heroic landing of an Airbus on a New York river after losing both engines as result of a large flock of birds. The “Miracle on the Hudson” as it was quickly referred to in the news.
The safe landing of a commercial jet on a waterway and that iconic photo of all 155 souls on the wings of the plane as they await rescue is burned into our collective memories, and Director Clint Eastwood presents this film, based on Sullenberger’s book, assuming that the audience has at least heard of the story and has a basic understanding of the events. This monumentally upbeat story occurred in 2009 and 86 year-old Eastwood expects his audience to hang on for takeoff and “prepare for impact” and puts us in the cockpit with Sully and First Officer Jeff Skiles effortlessly portrayed by Aaron Eckhart.
That’ right; I said that Eastwood was 86! That boy made a deal with the devil. I’ve been a seriously devoted fan of Clint Eastwood since we were cowboys together on “Rawhide” in 1959-1965; he was Rowdy Yates and I was a young boy learning how to ride and rope in Bay City, Texas. Eastwood has only won four Oscars; the biggies are for his direction of “Unforgiven” in 1992 and “Million Dollar Baby” in 2004. “Go ahead, Punk, make my day.” His career is legendary; thanks Clint.
So, when Clint called Tom Hanks to ask him to play Sully, the two-time Oscar winner saw “Malpaso Productions,” on caller ID, he took the call. Hanks was superb as Captain Sully; his body language, facial expressions, hair and mustache, and spoken dialogue were classic Tom Hanks. His body of work is so superior that his magnificent performance as the heroic pilot under intense scrutiny by the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) will go unheralded, but Larry H. hereby grants Hanks with the “Box of Chocolates” Golden Award for performance by a male actor who keeps knocking it out of the park consistently thus his Oscars have dried up since 1994.
Enough of Eastwood and Hanks, pretty-boy Eckhart was an ideal match for Hanks’ Captain Sully and he even made the First Officer’s 1970’s mustache look good.
And I was thrilled to see Anna “Breaking Bad” Gunn distinguish herself as one of the NTSB Board Members. Way to go, Anna!
This is an Eastwood film; I could feel his touch throughout the peculiar sequence of presenting this endearing story yet never getting away from telling a tale that is uniquely American. Not Oscar-worthy but ticket-worthy. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 90. Larry H.
This movie begins with “House of the Rising Sun” as background music of opening scenes. What a marvelous start and then shortly we heard Mick Jagger banging out “Sympathy for the Devil.” I was feeling good; got a DC Entertainment Extended Universe movie cookin’ with Will Smith starring as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn who is one of the baddest women characters ever to appear on the big screen, and then the movie started heading South.
The plot by screenwriter and director David “Training Day” Ayer had the right idea – gather up a heard of Super Villains led by Smith and Robbie with special powers to combat the evildoers of the world supported by great costumes and makeup not to mention fantastic special effects; heavy on CGI and the go-to theme in today’s big-budget films: bombs and bullets.
But Ayer tried too hard. This film was crushed by over development and back stories that went on and on. I was not sure who the bad guys were. I was confident that I was pulling for Will Smith with his six-pack abs and his band of wackos that ranged from a man who could shoot fire out of his hands to a crocodile man (Killer Croc), but none of the characters were very likeable.
The boss of this operation and the spunky, spooky government agent was played by Viola Davis; this film is not her fault. None of the blame falls on the actors. David Ayer, on the other hand, and his $175 million budget came in second in a two-man foot race. Ayers is only 48 and he’s a gifted writer, but Suicide Squad, unfortunately, will not be his blockbuster breakout.
Credit Ayer for attracting some huge talent. Oscar winner from “Dallas Buyers Club” Jared Leto was over-the-top memorable as The Joker; Joel Kinnaman had a big role as military guy Rick Flag. We know Kinnaman from “House of Cards” and Netflix’s “The Killing.” My man Common was Monster T like no other. And one of my new favorite actors, David Harbour, from The Duffer Brothers “Stranger Things” played an assistant to Viola Davis. And need I name drop Scott “Little Clint” Eastwood had a co-starring role as Lt. Edwards. Good cast; bad movie.
As a reminder, when grading a movie, an “S” for “sleep” is added after the numerical grade if Larry H. is found dozing for more than a moment. The over and under for the nap during “Suicide Squad” is 10 minutes. There is no concrete scientific proof for this allegation, but near the end, there are a handful of scenes that cannot be accounted for.
Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 69S. Larry H.
This Star Trek is beyond the predictable feel-good plots that have served the franchise well over the last 50 years. The original series debuted in 1966 and ran three years on NBC and birthed a cult following known as Trekkies. Okay, Trekkers, we all know that Star Trek freaks are also known as Trekkers but I prefer Trekkies. This is when you Trekkies hold up your hand forming a V between your third and fourth finger. We see you; so it’s okay to sit down now.
Captain James T. Kirk, brilliantly played by Chris Pine, and the crew of the USS Enterprise are still looking for new horizons in interstellar exploration as part of the 23rd Century United Federation of Planets – The Federation for short. And the gang has returned to an entertaining story that finds the crew forced out of their beloved starship and required to fight for their lives.
Director Justin Lin, originally from Taiwan, has been primarily known as a producer including this movie, but he’s an accomplished director probably best known for “Fast and Furious 6” and some work on shows like “True Detective” and “Community.” The money boys trusted him with $185 million for this film and he did a magnificent job in putting together a beautiful, action-packed film.
This was made easier by a clever script led by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung coupled with the wizardry of bodacious CGI. Gene Roddenberry, the creator of “Star Trek” would turn over in his grave if he could see the complex digital effects of modern movie-making that relies so heavily on the artistic skills of computer geniuses who make it possible for us to go anywhere to explore new planets and slice through nebulas. And put us literally in the driver’s seat or in the middle of an explosion or on a sharp turn as Kirk spins out on a space cycle to create a diversion. I recommend 3D or IMAX.
Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban as Commander Spock and Doctor “Bones” McCoy re-create their witty, fragile relationship and take it “beyond” their usual repartee that enhances both of their characters. Thanks Pegg and Jung.
What would happen if the logical thinking, unemotional Spock was wounded and Bones had to take care of him? I’m not saying.
And what would happen if Spock was sweet on Lieutenant Uhura (Zoe Saldana); say it ain’t so. Not saying.
As lead writer and starring in his reprisal of Montgomery “Scotty” Scott, Simon Pegg is The Man. Okay, Trekkies, this is when you make your sign and shout “beam me up, Scotty.” And then there’s the new federal statute that requires all cool movies in the year 2016 to include a starring role or voiceover for Idris Elba. Check for “Star Trek Beyond” as the hot Brit appears as Krall the Evildoer. He’s in heavy makeup and freakish costume but that Elba voice is unmistakable.
Even though J.J. Abrams stepped aside as director for this version, he was a producer and I felt his presence and was confident that he had a guiding hand on the shoulder of Justin Lin. This Star Trek team pulled off a winner and I had big fun at Theatre #6 in Odessa’s Regal Entertainment Theatres.
Stop right there and tell us what the heck you were doing in Odessa, Texas. I don’t have time to tell the whole story, but suffice it to say that I was on my way home from the wedding of my dear friends, Joe and Renee Stewart, who had a destination soiree in the resort of LaJitas which is nestled in the mountains of Big Bend. Their wedding production was fantastic and so is “Star Trek Beyond.” Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 91. Larry H. www.larryhmoviereviews.com
This is a fascinating film about a mother and her five-year-old son who are held captive in a room. For years the “room” is their entire world. This space is small with the bare necessities of a bed, toilet, kitchenette, and bath and the only link to the outside world is a skylight. Jack’s entire life of five years has been spent in the confines of the area that he and Ma affectionately call “Room.”
Bizarre is a kind word for this setting and the austere group dynamics of two is equally disturbing. Such a peculiar story originally came from the novel by the same name and this screenplay was masterfully adapted by Emma Donoghue who has been nominated for an Oscar for her work. Speaking of Oscars, this little-known movie has earned three more for Best Direction by Lenny Abrahamson, Best Actress for Brie Larson as Ma, and much to my surprise, Best Picture.
I felt deep sadness during the character development of Ma and Jack; especially watching little, naïve Jack live in squalor and complete deprivation of a full life. Ma was loving and protective but there’s only so much a mother can do in these pathetic circumstances. But Brie Larson as Ma gave an effort that only a mom could produce and a brilliant young actress could bring to this story of love and survivorship.
Jacob Tremblay appropriately plays five-year-old Jack with shoulder-length hair and big, entrancing eyes. At times, I was memorized by a small male child having long, flowing hair that had not ever been touched by a barber. Director Abrahamson created an aura of mystery and mystique on a stage that was about 10 by 12 feet. That directorial challenge alone probably garnered enough empathy votes from fellow directors to warrant his Oscar nomination. I agree.
Brie Larson, born in 1989, has already been tested as a child actress and singer and has a very good agent; she is currently co-starring in “Trainwreck” which is still playing at some of your local AMC’s. Lest you think her Oscar nom for Room is overrated, she has already won the Golden Globe for Best Actress for her compassionate role as the kind-hearted lioness, Ma, who will do anything to protect her young.
This is one of those odd movies that is extremely well done in spite of its lack of box office appeal, but will forever have bragging rights that it was nominated for Best Picture. It won’t win, but getting the biggest Oscar nomination that exists will be worth a bump to everyone involved. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 89. Larry H.
Nocturnal Animals is way too scary and depressing for me. Not so fast Movie Breath. When watching this movie, I was on the edge of my emotional seat and was almost ducking scenes when the vengeance and blood was at its worse …or do I really mean at its best.
This movie debuts on December the ninth so start getting yourself mentally prepared for a work of art that will work you over. Emotionally that is. Director Tom Ford keeps his foot on the gas while seemingly sneaking up on the next big scene when one of the protagonists points a gun in somebody’s ribs or face.
I was not too hot on this film until hours after I’d seen it and I started to “warm” up – I slowly concluded that Ford and his outstanding cast had produced an excellent film with great performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Amy Adams and a break-out performance by Michael Shannon who we call a character actor. You’ve seen him a million times but you can’t think of his name.
Shannon plays the local law enforcement officer who has advanced stage lung cancer and chain smokes cigarettes to take his mind off his cancer. And Shannon’s Bobby Andes is focused on apprehending the bad guys even if he has go off the reservation to solve the crime.
This film is billed as a “story within a story” involving an ex-husband and a manuscript and reality becomes fuzzy, but don’t let that confuse you. This is a splendid example of movie-making so props to Tom Ford who has not directed a film since “A Single Man” in 2009 where Colin Furth was nominated for Best Actor.
Go see “Nocturnal Animals” but save some of your spending money so you can buy a ticket to “La La Land” which comes out on December 16th staring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in one of the best movies of the year; we’ll talk next week.
Grade 91. Larry H.
“Welcome to Phi Lambda – sororities aren’t allowed to throw parties in their own houses…welcome to Kappa Nu; we party. And smoke a lotta weed. Old people don’t know anything…they’re using their sexuality as a weapon…what are we gonna do?...we’ll never sell our house next door to a sorority!”
Well, that wraps it up. End of show; end of meaningful dialogue. Seth Rogen returns as Mac Radner in this dreadful sequel as the married cool guy next door to a sorority this time instead of a fraternity as the original “Neighbors” (2014). Rogen knows a thing or two about “smokin’-a-little-weed” humor from firsthand experience crammed into his brief, but super-successful career at age 34. He’s not credited with writing in the original film, but in this sequel Rogen joins four other knucklehead screenwriters who were desperately searching for new material that could match the modicum of success of Neighbors One.
That search for fresh comedy was not fruitless because there were times during my 92-minutes when I chuckled with unenthusiastic glee. Almost an embarrassing, fake merriment. I think that such a sound of mild hilarity is spelled “hehehaha…uhuhuh…nono.”
Does Zac Efron return as the extremely immature Teddy Sanders? Of course, he does. And his shirt comes off often as well it should. That 28-year-old boy has been working out and has some serious guns. Everybody likes Zac Efron and Seth Rogen so this movie will survive and everyone will get paid and there probably will be a Neighbors 3, but don’t blame me. I’m pulling my investment from this franchise; Seth and the boys can go smoke it somewhere else but I’ve had enough of “I-can’t-stand-living-next-door-to -college -coeds.” Can’t we all just get along?
Bad as this movie is, and it’s depraved and immoral with little or no social redeeming value, I suspect that many will enjoy a dose of debauchery and decadence. Target audience: teenagers 13-16; girls not boys. My teenage girls in Theatre 21 loved this movie and squealed with utter delight at all the right places.
The stock for Chloe Grace Moretz, 19, will soar after her performance as Shelby, the bimbo blond originator and founder of Kappa Nu. Another winner is this tawdry little sequel is Rose Byrne who resurrects her character as the pregnant Kelly Radner. Her Kelly is as big a space cadet as Rogen’s Mac. That makes for a charming, yet flawed, couple who only want to move into adulthood by selling their house without interference from those scantily-clad college girls. Darn the luck.
If you are feeling adventurous and/or you are a 15-year old girl, then contribute to the Seth Rogen Foundation and buy a ticket. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 73. Larry H.
This is an Eddie Murphy movie but he’s not the usual funny guy that we’ve come to expect since his dominance on Saturday Night Live in the early 80’s. Murphy is the sweet, tender and extremely layered Mr. Church who cooks for a single mom who is dying from breast cancer and her ten year-old daughter Charlie (Britt Robertson). The setting is 1971 Los Angeles; the mom and daughter are white so the combo is unusual but they need each other to survive and find love.
Henry Church is committed to helping these two females through a very tough time in their lives and he is an extraordinarily talented cook who prepares all of their meals in their home, cleans up, and then walks home each evening. Where is his home? Mom and daughter do not know. There is a valid reason for this arrangement, but let’s save that part of the story for those of you who buy a ticket.
The power of this movie is in the sugary story by Susan McMartin who has written for successful TV shows “Two and Half Men” “Mom” and “Californication.” Gotta respect that collage of plots and silliness. Oh yeah, she’s also credited with four episodes of writing for “Another World” in the mid 90’s.
I had forgotten who wrote the screenplay as I watched “Mr. Church” but there was an unmistakable motherly touch so I was confident that a woman was in control of the details of this made-for-Hallmark movie. And speaking of tender, Director Bruce Beresford has made a few tear-jerkers in his day and his most famous work is “Tender Mercies” (1983) starring Robert Duvall and Tess Harper.
But this is not a TV show on the Hallmark channel; it should be. The plot is simple and syrupy but not particularly uplifting. The characters were blasé and predictable even though I liked Natascha McEIhone’s wispy performance as the beautiful cancer-ridden mother who always referred to Murphy’s character as “Mr. Church.” Let’s keep an eye on McElhone as she will be the First Lady in the new TV series “Designated Survivor” opposite Kiefer Sutherland. That should be a great gig for her.
The 26-year-old Britt Robertson as Charlie is also worthy of some praise but in this mawkish, mushy movie, her star is not bright. Murphy, on the other hand, was able to show a measured and dignified side of his career that will go a long way in demonstrating that he is an accomplished thespian. Good choice Eddie. I’ve always like Eddie Murphy and still do. I would definitely like for Mr. Church to cook for me and so will you. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 84. Larry H. www.larryhmoviereviews.com #995
This movie is not about a monster and only funny money is a currency. Perhaps there should have been a monster with a long tail, big red eyes and scales over its 40-foot body for protection in its home in the ocean. Not so lucky, this bad guy, nee monster, is a befuddled young man named Kyle (Jack O’Connell) who has lost his entire savings of $60,000.00 in a one-time investment recommended by Lee Gates (George Clooney) on his glitzy TV show that is part song-and-dance, literally, and part snake charmer.
Oh, wait a minute, maybe somebody else is the “monster.” Doesn’t matter. This movie doesn’t matter. Julia Roberts is the director of this corny television show and guess what? Julia and George have a bit of sexual tension and we’re not sure if they have been lovers, but that doesn’t matter either.
The Great Jodie Foster is the director of this film and she must have been hoodwinked by rich Hollywood big-shots and shady screenwriters. There’s no way that Foster could hire Clooney and Roberts to play characters on a live TV show when a wacko with a bomb and a pistol takes over the streaming of that show and that film be a flop. No way. Way.
Let me count the ways that this Foster Film went South. The writing. They were selling a complicated financial plot that caused the mysterious loss of $800 million in one day. Problem: they were selling, but I wasn’t buying. Throughout the movie, I repeatedly thought – “ that’s not the way it would happen…that character’s reaction is not believable…and, I don’t like any person in this show except the cameraman named Lenny.”
One saving grace: occasionally there were very funny lines and startling gags. Just enough to trick Jodie, not Julia, into believing that she had created a winner. The same Jodie who has won two Oscars for Best Actress and who played Iris at age 15 in “Taxi Driver” opposite Robert DeNiro. Not to mention that she has also directed episodes of “Orange Is The New Black” and “House of Cards.”
How did this happen? Stuff happens and this was full of stuff. Five men are credited with the screenplay and story. Perhaps five is too many.
I attended this movie at The Fountains AMC; the one with the plush lounging chairs that go all the way back. That’s fun. And Ma and Pa set next to me. Excuse me. I should say that they were lying next to me. Ma had a white blankie to keep her warm and Pa had a cough; cute couple. Cuter than this movie. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 74. Larry H.