Thursday, January 14, 2016

#JustaQuickiePlease: Hotel Transylvania 2 Review

As far as I am concerned, Sandler has had three credible hits in his repertoire; The Water Boy, The Wedding Singer, and Hotel Transylvania.  So, I was naturally hyped for this much-anticipated sequel, hopeful that it would complement the originality of its predecessor, but worried that it would fall flat like most of Adam's recent jokes.  I am pleased to inform that the sequel is not only thoroughly entertaining and endearing but it effectively recaptures all of the charm, humor, and emotion of the first.  The full cast is back as big and vibrant as ever, with a few newcomers that energize all of the already over the top performances.  I mean, it’s pretty hard to lose when any comedy adds Mel Brooks, animated or not.  The story is simple but fun and engaging and its fast pace will keep both young and old riveted while taking just enough time for those heartfelt moments to have an impact without becoming overtly sappy.  Genndy Tartakovsky should direct all of Mr. Sandler's films; he might find a renewed success as opposed to his latest run of nonsensical excess and box office poverty.  3 out of 5 Kernels: finally a Happy Madison production with some bite.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

#JustaQuickiePlease: The Visit Review

I once thought that M. Night could and would be the next Hitchcock and his first three films seem to validate that in their tone, sweep, and feel.   Then a slew of cinematic disasters followed culminating in a near career-ending tragedy with his horrifyingly sub-par live-action adaptation of an animated Nickelodeon series; which will remain nameless so we all may forget.  So, when I became aware of the hype regarding this indie horror flick directed by Mr. Shyamalan, I was slightly intrigued but expected nothing less than the current legacy he has defecated all over the silver screen.   I was only minorly surprised to discover that this isn't a bad flick, nor is it particularly good, just somewhere in between. With a now overused novelty, POV filming, a decently written script, and a mixed bag of both authentic and stale performances, this picture never meets its full potential but strangely achieves an effective eeriness and a solid "twist" (said in Robot Chicken's Shyamalan fashion) by credits end.   Although much of the suspense feels forced, I found the journey to its somewhat terrifying conclusion quite well done.  The humor is annoyingly clichéd and M.Night might want to brush up on what is current, as some of his pop culture references are outdated considering his young cast.  Overall, it's worth the cost of Red Box but maybe not an Amazon rental.   2 out of 5 Kernels: this might be the first step in a very long way back for a director who, for one brief moment, could have revolutionized modern cinema.               

Sunday, January 10, 2016

#JustaQuickiePlease: Tomorrowland Review

This is a disappointing effort from the director of one of Pixar's finest feats; the Incredibles.  A confused little film that is hard to adequately dissect because it is, even more, difficult to categorize.  If this was to be a Science Fiction flick, it lacks the substance and seriousness to quantify it as such.  If it was supposed to be a family-friendly fantasy, some of the surprising violence and overall confusing message and morality, earn it a well deserved to fail.  Finally, if the goal was to create a melodrama, it just doesn't possess the script or performances to provide the quality to do so.   So, what is it?  Your guess is as good as mine.  The only definitive is that it is a poorly acted, written, and developed piece that tries to be pro-environment but ends up vilifying the very same proverb it works to craft.   0 out of 5 Kernels: A Utopian tale that, sadly, has a dystopian effect.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

#JustaQuickiePlease: St. Vincent Review

I have a penchant for a good indie movie: films with humanity, skipping all the trappings of Hollyweird's "prim and proper-ing."  Movies that feel authentic, with sincere humor and emotionally charged, believable drama; where seasoned actors are pushed beyond their limits and typecasting into a realm of raw originality.  It is a rare thing to find any cinematic experience that meets such criteria but there are a few that come dangerously close.  With that said, brand spanking new director, Theodore Melfi, takes a big risk with two big names and crafts an amazing story that gives me renewed hope that quality work still exists out there in Tinsel Town.  Despite some improbable plot points and the detestable ideas that all heroes must be reduced to the lowliest state for us to be able to relate to them and no one is truly the "bad guy," the overall tone, feel, and impact of this flick is remarkable.  The three leads; Murray, McCarthy and, the young, Lieberher bring a finely contrived script to gloriously depressive and yet surprisingly hopeful life.  And I just realized what a wonderfully artful actress McCarthy is when she is not spewing relentless f-bombs or partaking in incessantly nonsensical "Stooges" like slapstick.   She is both endearing and warmly funny.  Murray does the impossible for such an iconic comedian; he successfully and quite masterfully separates himself from his irrefutable imagery to deliver, what I think, is the performance of his recent career.   But it is Lieberher who steals every scene he is in, not because of his convincingly charming naiveté but his genuineness and absolute dedication to his role.   The remaining cast is equally impressive no matter how brief their time is on screen.  This is what indie films should be; an amply told tale, rich with credible characters that truly connect with the audience while avoiding all the precociousness and pretentiousness that is annoyingly common in this genre.  4 out of 5 Kernels: Thank God for small miracles and St Vincent is one I am truly grateful for.