Number 1000!!! – Friday, October 28th - Larry H. publishes his one thousandth movie review 1997-2017
Larry H's Movie Reviews for 2017 (13)       First  Prev  Next          Sort by Title:  Asc   Desc    Sort by Date:  Asc   Desc
Dates are United States release dates
The Boss Baby
March 31, 2017
This movie’s been out since March 31st so many of you have already seen “The Boss Baby.” How do I know that? Ticket sales are over $125 million. And that my friends is a ticket to big bucks.
But how do you make an animation about a baby; a boss baby no less. And what is a boss baby?
First: buy the filming rights to a popular children’s book entitled; wait for it….”The Boss Baby” by Marla Frazee. Then get a bunch of great Hollywood voices under contract and by all means hire Hans Zimmer and Steve Mazzaro to produce and write the music that will cause the audience to flit and fly along this whimsical story about babies, and puppies and love.
Then hire some very skilled special effects guys and set designers and you have a formula for a winning movie for kids. The kids in my audience, and I mean children under six, squealed and screamed with glee and laughed on cue repeatedly which means Directors Hendel Butoy and Tom McGrath know the location of a child’s funny bone. Why two directors? I don’t know.
The voice of Alec Baldwin was The Boss Baby and he brought just the right enough humor and hutzpah with a pinch of charm to a complicated character who arrives as an infant via cab in a tiny will-made suit and tie carrying a briefcase. The rest of the story is irrelevant.
If you own a child or can borrow one from your family or friends, then take a leap of faith and have a “take-a-kid-to-a-movie” experience that will earn you extra points in heaven. This is an extremely hilarious and comical film designed for kids, about kids, and all we need is love.
Bravo to Marla Frazee for having the exquisite understanding and special awareness of the perspective of children and the reason the will laugh and be happy if you tell a good story. And it doesn’t hurt to have a long noodle dangling from the nose of Boss Baby and a few bare butt shots with powder. My kids shrieked with enjoyment and when they laughed, I laughed. It was a hoot. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade: Kids Yes Larry H.
The Fate of the Furious
April 14, 2017
“Dominic Torreto has gone rogue,” exclaims Hobbs, a shocked member of the crew. The “Fast and Furious” crew began in 2001 led by Paul Walker as Brian O’Connor and Vin Diesel as Dom. Tragically Walker died in a real-life car wreck in 2013.
But the crew of fast cars and fast women survived and now consists of the veteran Hobbs played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson; I still like calling him The Rock. Jason Statham as Deckard and Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris as Roman and Tej. With a crew like this, with this much name recognition and muscle-popping hunks, this latest entry of the Fast and Furious franchise will make back its $250 million price tag by early summer. Salaries and special effects alone must have topped $200 million. This is a very high-dollar production.
Director F. Gary Gray, at 46, knows how to make an action movie with a big budget because I just saw him do it. Gray is best known for his award-winning movie “Straight Outta Compton” (2015) when he told the story of the birth of Hip Hop in 1980’s Los Angeles.
Other than the guys on steroids, Michelle Rodriquez returns as Letty; Dom’s love interest. And to further counter-balance the boys, Nathalie Emmanuel reprises her role of Ramsey, the skank with the big Afro. Kurt Russell who played “Mr. Nobody” in Furious 7 joined the fun and brought along “Little Nobody” played by Little Clint. As in Scott Eastwood at age 31. He looks so much like his daddy that it’s spooky; no need for DNA testing.
Charlize Theron begins a new character – Cipher. And she is a super-badass woman with sexy waist-length blond hair with the attitude of a classic psychopath. Let’s just say in deference to the latest vote by the Senate on a US Supreme Court Justice, she goes nuclear.
The story is not important; this is about rock ‘em sock ‘em power cars with big engines and big egos and this film delivers the “Fast and Furious” product; you will not be disappointed if you are a fan. I haven’t seen about the last five so I was merely visiting the shenanigans to see how things have been progressing.
Interesting footnote to the Game of Thrones devotees: Kristofer Hivju, also known as the tough guy (Tormund Giantsbane) with the big red beard from GOT has some serious screen time in this movie and you already have concluded that Nathalie Emmanuel is Missandei from GOT; she’s the hot chick who serves alongside the even hotter Daenerys Targaryen. Can’t wait until the new season begins.
The fate of the “Fast and Furious” stream of consciousness and its ability to sell tickets will remain solid. Some of my audience clapped at the end of the movie; gotta love fans of a movie franchise. They are an extremely loyal group and will keep buying tickets and love Vin “The Voice” Diesel and Dwayne Johnson – The Rock. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 80. Larry H.
The Shack
April 3, 2017
This movie has a great message; it’s just not a great movie. The novel of the same name was written by Canadian William P. Young who originally self-published “The Shack” and then the rest is history after selling about a million copies.
In an interview, Young explained that the title of the book is a metaphor for “the house you build out of your own pain.” Couldn’t have said it better.
Before going to this movie that has been out for several weeks, everyone, and I mean everybody, I spoke to about “The Shack” emphasized that I should “take some Kleenex” because it’s a tear-jerker. And guess what; they were right.
Extremely emotional movie about family, death, grief, blame, guilt, sin, arrogance, and redemption, recovery, and trusting God. And not necessarily in that order, but British Director Stuart Hazeldine understood the delicate balance of a the spiritual journey of a father broken by the murder of his child.
That father, who was suffering from a shattered soul and a fierce fight with God, was played by Sam Worthington. You remember Sam as Jake Scully who fought the good fight in the 2009 movie “Avatar.” He was perfect in this film as Mack Phillips.
And he needed to bring a strong performance because the super-talented Octavia Spencer played “Papa” also known as God. God was actually played by two actors; the other heavenly performance was by none other than 64 year-old Graham Greene who is also Canadian; born on the Six Nations Reserve, Ontario, Canada.
Avraham Aviv Alush, an Israeli-born actor, played Jesus and Sumire Matsubara from Japan played the third part of the Holy Trinity. So, let’s summarize: God was played by an African American woman and a male born on a Canadian Indian Reservation; Jesus was an Israeli soldier turned actor, and the Holy Spirit was played by a 27 year-old Japanese woman. I do not know what this means, but it sure is an interesting aspect of movie-making. Does this mean that God is not blond and blue-eyed? Is there a heaven and where is it?
The couple in AMC Theatre #22 sitting about four seats to my right were crying and sniffling so loudly that I was having difficulty hearing the movie. God bless ‘em. I did not shed a tear. What’s up with that? Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 85. Larry H.
March 24, 2017
This is an above average production based on an extraordinarily simple storyline: six astronauts traveling in the International Space Station (ISS) find the first sign of “life” outside of earth’s atmosphere. And after this magnificently historical discovery of new life, things go badly. And that, my friends, is the plot. I kept thinking that there might be a unique twist or a nuance of mysterious terror, but alas, no.
So what is this new life form? It needs water, oxygen and food to exist. But what is “it?” Well, I can tell you it is from Mars because the trailers make that revelation. Other than that, if you are foolish enough to buy a ticket, then you will find out, but I will not tell you.
If you are suffering from the inability to sleep, and you don’t want to take pills, then this film might be for you.
Director Daniel Espinosa, who was born in Sweden and has reached a modicum of success, was fortunate in casting Jake Gyllenhaal as the lead. Jake G. is one of the hottest good actors in Hollywood. He’s only been nominated once for Best Actor for his 2015 splendid performance in “Nightcrawler” as a creepy news reporter and he should have been nominated last year for “Nocturnal Animals.” And as a reminder, he was not nominated for Best Supporting Actor in “Brokeback Mountain” for the year 2005 for his memorable portrayal of a gay cowboy opposite Heath Ledger. The Academy does not always vote as Larry H. thinks they should vote.
Pretty Boy Ryan Reynolds also stars as one of the astronauts, but we all know that Gyllenhaal is the box office draw. Rebecca Ferguson is the big winner as Miranda North; she’s recently appeared in “Girl on the Train” and “Florence Foster Jenkins” but she was the star of “Life.” Ms. Ferguson, 34, is from Sweden; thinks she knows Espinosa. I think yes!
This film is an example of “Hollywood keeps banging ‘em out” hoping for the big one. “If we can just get a big star and a substantial budget so I can get top-notch special effects guys, I can make it happen,” said the young director to the billionaire from Colorado. But we are a savvy audience and you cannot fool us because we are going to see “The Walking Dead” and “Homeland” on Sunday night. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 76. Larry H.
Beauty and the Beast
March 17, 2017
Disney strikes again! They put $160 million into the production of the classic story of “Love Conquers All.” Is that still true? Are you the beauty or the beast? I’m trending toward beast, but Monique H. still loves me so I guess love does conquer all. Not; maybe. Not sure.
But this is a beautiful movie; the sets are exquisite, music wonderful, costumes splendid, story is simple and engaging. Director Bill Condon has done a couple of the Twilight movies and “Dreamgirls” in 2006 so he was ready to take Disney’s money and run with it. And he ran in the right direction and created a film that will be appealing to all sizes and shapes. This will earn a ton of money for Uncle Walt’s company.
I saw this during Spring Break on a Friday afternoon and there were big crowds and many kids and their parents. Everybody loves a good love story that has a happy ending. Don’t hate on me; we all know that Beauty kisses the Beast.
In this version, Harry Potter’s Emma Watson, 26, is the ideal girl from the small village who loves her daddy who she calls “Papa.” Accent on the second “pa.” One of the reasons that Watson is perfect as Belle is that she is not too pretty and has a charming grin and inviting eyes. Not to mention that the adult Emma Watson is an accomplished actress.
The Beast is played by Dan Stevens and he is too pretty, but not a problem because he spends 98% of the film in the beast costume with curved goat-like horns and covered in animalistic hair. The extravagant costumes were colorful and inspiring. The chorus and dancers were delightful and brought needed energy.
Just hearing the song “Beauty and the Beast” sung slowly with an orchestra gets me misty-eyed. The music is attributed to Alan Menken The Great who you might remember won an Oscar for the musical score in the 1991 version of “Beauty and the Beast.” Menken has won eight Oscars over a thirty-year career.
I’ve always related to Belle’s human suitor Gaston - the semi-good looking chap with a slightly demented attitude who almost gets the girl, but he is a good-timer. And he has a friend, LaFou, that hangs very close to Gaston; too close some believe. Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LaFou were scene stealers and my pick for big winners. That is; other than Disney. And Bill Condon and Emma Watson and everyone in this fun-filled musical that still connects with an audience in 2017. Why? Love conquers all! Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 88. Larry H.
March 3, 2017
I had too much fun partying this past weekend to slow down enough to write a review for “Logan.” But I can tell you that if you like the other ten movies about The Wolverine in the X-Men series played by the hunky Hugh Jackman and his ripped body, then you will probably like “Logan.” The older and wiser super-hero with the long claws that slice and dice the bad guys.
I’ve read only rave reviews about this flick and my friends and family seem to like it, but what do they know. A lot actually, and I’m listening to them. Some film critics start breathing their own air and believe that their opinions are infallible. And I am convinced that my opinions are always accurate; for me. From my perspective. Accurate; if I’m being truthful which is the baseline for a movie critic.
Here’s the truth: I didn’t like this movie; the story was slow, simple, sophomoric, and unengaging. It’s a pretty movie and the acting was believable and Hugh Jackman performed admirably in what he is calling his swan song. “That it’s for me as The Wolverine; somebody else might play the part but I’m out,” as shared by Jackman on “Live with Kelly” last week when he was plugging the movie.
Something worked. Opening weekend box office results: $88.3 million US and $247.3 million globally. That’s some serious jack, Jack.
I blame director James Mangold who is also credited with the story. And that’s the problem, Jimmy Boy. The story sucked and I wasn’t buying what you were selling. I know you were also the director for the equally successful “”The Wolverine” in 2013, so you should have known better. Ok, I hear you laughing all the way to the bank, but I’m still right. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 74. Larry H.
Get Out
February 24, 2017
This surprisingly well-made movie was written and directed by Jordan Peele. Yeah, that same Jordan Peele who created and starred in the TV series of several years ago – “Key and Peele.” So, we know he can be a funny man, and is creative, but can he be the big man at the top of the credits and claim his first film as a Jordan Peele Film? Well, yes, he can.
Throughout much of the movie, I was repeatedly “judging” young Peele. Who does he think he is? Trying to write and direct a big-time movie and even make the flick about race? He’s Jordan Peele – film director and writer who has created a spectacularly original premise for a film that is chock full of outstanding performances by a cast chosen and shepherded by a young talent who turned 38 on February 21st.
Great directors make wise choices. And then those choices of actors hopefully can take direction and fulfil the vision of the writers and directors. And in this case, Peele was the writer and director so his inside knowledge of the full package went unchallenged.
Lucky for us, because this cast ensemble knocked it out of the park. Bravo Jordan Peele. The main cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, and Catherine Keener.
The storyline begins innocently when the audience is introduced to a cute, young couple in love who are going to meet her parents for the first time at the big, swanky estate in the country. She’s white and he’s black. Hello, “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?”
But that’s the end of a meaningful comparison to Director Stanley Kramer’s 1967 classic when the titans of Spencer Tracy and Sidney Poitier explained the racial divide of the 1960’s. This film of the 21st Century sets up race as a backdrop and the stinging edge of bigotry as a tool to develop some of the mystery and certainly the underbelly of the dark humor.
Note to self: I was laughing heartily, at times, when the rest of my Friday afternoon, opening-day audience did not even chuckle. Uh oh, sometimes Larry H. doesn’t get the memo, but I think my fellow audience members were missing the Peele Point. Let me know what you think after you see “Get Out.”
Every cast member is a winner for having the opportunity to appear in this radically unique film, but Daniel Kaluuya, the 27 year old Brit, was the huge winner for his believable performance as the “black” boyfriend, Chris Washington. It looks like to me that Peele decided to give the starring role to a relative unknown and he chose wisely. LilRel Howery was also a bright spot for his part as the caring best friend of Kaluuya’s Chris Washington.
This was an absolute sleeper for me. I love it when that happens. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 91. Larry H.
John Wick: Chapter 2
February 10, 2017
I just witnessed Chapter 2 of the sad saga of John Wick starring Keanu Reeves. The original film was also directed by Chad Stahelski. I saw Chapter 1 on October 24, 2014, a mere 27 months ago and little has improved or changed. The writing is atrocious and tired. The action is average and over-wrought.
The next four paragraphs were part of my review in 2014, and sadly, they are still accurate for John Wick: Chapter 2. That’s beyond sad; that’s downright embarrassing. But to save time and ink, I cut and pasted the next four paragraphs from my review of “John Wick” 2014, and I’m dying if I’m lying, every stinking word is true and relevant.
“Lucky for the world, ex-hitman John Wick, had retired from killing other humans for a living. But that does not mean that John Wick doesn’t still have a large stash of serious weapons and a special set of skills that rivals Bryan (Liam Neeson) Mills. Now let’s get something straight now; I did not say that he had more skills than Bryan Mills, but I am saying that within ten yards, John Wick has superior skills with a pistol – two to the body and one to the head. John Wick’s reloads are a thing of beauty.
Please notice that I am not comfortable calling him “Wick” or “John.” One should always refer to this character as John Wick. You don’t have to call him Mr. Wick and dang sure better not call him “Johnny.” This very uptight John Wick is grieving the recent loss of his wife, and then a Ruskie goes so far as to steal his 1969 Boss Mustang. And I can’t even mention the fate of his adorable puppy. A man can only take so much.
Keanu Reeves competently plays an angry assassin with a stylized beard and near-constant music in the background. The crowds will show up to see Reeves in this homicidal role, but keep your expectations in check. Sadly, this is a mediocre film that will do well at the box office, but Director Chad Stahelski, who is primarily known for his talent as a stunt coordinator, should stick with what he knows best.
Now that I think about it, this movie had outstanding stunts. I’ll give you that, Chad. However, the story lacked intrigue and passion; especially if you don’t count killing more than 40 bad guys at almost point-blank range as passionate. John Wick is set on revenge and felt completely justified for mass slayings. And I repeat: ‘don’t mess with a man’s car or dog.’”
I stand corrected; this time his 1969 Boss Mustang was badly damaged not stolen. Wow, not sure I can handle the excitement and originality.
The laziness in making this movie is gargantuan. I trust K. Reeves got his money up front.
Is there a big winner, Larry H, you ask? Well yes, there is. Common plays a pseudo bad guy that can kick and shoot almost as fast as John Wick. Almost. Common is the 44 year-old who started out as a rapper and has transitioned into a good actor. I first met Common when he co-starred as Elam Ferguson in AMC’s “Hell on Wheels” (2011-2014).
Do not bother to see this retread. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 69. Larry H.
I Am Not Your Negro
February 3, 2017
This is a painful and emotional documentary based on 30 pages of the beginning of an unfinished book by James Baldwin. Baldwin was an accomplished writer, lecturer, and civil rights leader in the 1960’s, and he had begun writing about race through his book “Remember This House.”
He didn’t finish that book before his death in 1987, but Director Raoul Peck, born in 1953, readily admits that he was an admirer of James Baldwin and this film is Peck’s attempt to complete the novel by Baldwin by bringing the story to the big screen.
Baldwin dramatizes the turbulent 60’s through his three murdered friends – Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, and Medgar Evers. This was a time when a sign of “We Don’t Want To Go To School With Coloreds” was commonplace. And these three men were killed before any of them reached the age of 40.
This movie captures the atmosphere, anger, frustration, and deep-rooted fear and resentment of this country’s struggle between Black and White America.
Peck wisely chose Samuel L. Jackson as narrator and masterfully reveals this saga through old photos and archived footage including the music of the times.
As each death was covered, Black children mocked, the photos of police kicking protesters, the burning of Watts, and the graphic lynchings kept rolling through, I wanted to scream “Make it Stop!” But, the explanation of the “Negro Problem” continued without a happy ending.
Well, bravo to Raoul Peck for creating an important historical piece of literature that grabs the hearts of its audience. I watched the whole film, but it was not an experience of joyful entertainment. Rather, it was more a walk on a gut-wrenching journey along the ugly underbelly of the American civil rights evolution.
Who could claim that MLK, Malcom X, and Medgar Evers were their friends? That’s how cool and historically connected James Baldwin had become as he endured the assassination of three men who he cared about. Much of this film covers Baldwin’s speeches, interviews, and lectures. Baldwin’s family and admirers will be pleased in Peck’s revelation of Baldwin’s passion and intellect.
All history buffs must see this movie and anyone keenly interested in the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement should also buy a ticket. I’m glad I saw it once, but I don’t want to see it again. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 88. Larry H.
January 27, 2017
We can’t have a Best Actor nomination for a movie that debuts on January 27th, but Matthew McConaughey sure pushes the envelope in his masterful portrayal of the wild and crazy prospector Kenny Wells. McConaughey gained 47 pounds to play his overweight, hard drinking, chain-smoking, balding Kenny Wells. At his big night at the Oscars in about twenty years when McConaughey wins his Lifetime Achievement Award, the producers will flash a photo of Kenny Wells on the screen and the crowd will roar with applause.
He won’t win anything for this movie, and he also put his money and reputation in this film as a Producer, so he had to sign off on the release date of January. And that baffles me. What is the strategy to release this very well-made and directed movie with a big star, Oscar-winner in January, three days after the Oscar nominations were announced?
That’s a real question as I don’t know the answer and I’m seeking information. Here’s my best guess: they made a mistake and should have held it for a December 18th release with a lot of hype for McConaughey. Mack needs to hire me as his agent. I’m in the phone book.
The story is simple: Kenny Wells is a wheeler dealer gold prospector and is gifted in raising capital for his mining shenanigans. His father played by Craig T. “Coach” Nelson taught him the business. And then Kenny took it up a notch and hooked up with Michael Acosta (Edgar Ramirez) of Indonesia and their partnership was off to the races.
Edgar “Hands of Stone” Ramirez starred as Roberto Duran in 2016 and he also appeared as Dr. Abdic in “The Girl on the Train.” Ramirez is classically handsome and a skilled actor so buy some stock in the Edgar Ramirez LLC. His performance as the get-down-in-the-mud Acosta opposite McConaughey showed that he could provide balance to an over-the-top performance by McConaughey as Kenny Wells.
More on McConaughey’s Kenny Wells: he smoked more cigarettes in “Gold” than he did as the extremely odd Rust Cohle in HBO’s “True Detective” in 2014. That’s almost physically impossible, but McConaughey can suck on a Winston; Kenny Wells favorite filtered cigarette.
At age 47, McConaughey is supposedly at the top of his leading-man game, but he certainly didn’t seem to mind allowing Director Stephen Gaghan shoot numerous close-ups of his beer gut and rib rolls. He took one for the team and claimed on a recent talk show that eating and preparing to get into his Kenny Wells mode was big fun especially when he was pounding milkshakes at midnight.
This is not a great movie, but the acting is great. Not bad for a January movie. Rock ‘n Roll.
Grade 89. Larry H.
Note: if you haven’t seen La La Land, you need to get about it as it garnered 14 nominations and will probably win Best Picture; Larry H. gave it a 95 which is the highest grade possible for an initial viewing.
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