Film Review: “I Feel Pretty”

I FEEL PRETTY
Starring:  Amy Schumer, Michelle Williams and Lauren Hutton
Directed by:  Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein
Rated:  PG 13
Running time:  1 hrs 50 mins
STX Entertainment

 

Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder?  Why is my nose this way?  Why is my chin that way?  Do other people think I’m pretty?  Or handsome?  They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, which Amy Schumer learns with a vengeance, in “I Feel Pretty.”

Renee Bennett (Schumer) is a fun girl.  But she’s insecure.  She’s a little more “curvy” than some women and, while attractive, doesn’t see herself as pretty.  Some of this self-doubt comes from the fact that she works in the online department of one of the world’s largest makeup companies, whose spokesperson/owner (Williams) is the cover girl.  Renee spends her free time with her friends Vivian (Aidy Bryant) and Jane (Busy Phillips) and, while the three aren’t setting any records with attracting men, they enjoy being together.  One night, while watching the movie “Big,” Renee jokingly wishes she were beautiful.  The next day, at a SPIN class, she falls and hits her head.  When she comes to, she looks in a mirror and smiles.  She IS beautiful.

Though I’m still trying to figure out the message (Beauty is on the inside?  Be careful of what you wish for?  Be happy with who you are?) the film is trying to send, I found “I Feel Pretty” to be a funny film with a little bit of heart.  Now that she’s “pretty,” Renee has the courage to apply for a job as receptionist of her company, a job she’s noticed is normally filled by amazingly beautiful women.  Instead of being the woman who feels she’s five pounds too heavy, she sees herself as one of the beautiful people, giving herself the self-confidence she needs to not only get the job but flirt with the handsome brother of her boss.  But soon she is self-absorbed with the idea of her beauty, abandoning her friends and climbing the social ladder.  She doesn’t realize that it’s not her perceived looks that are getting her places, it’s her confidence in herself, and this is what impresses.

The film is well cast, with Schumer striking all the right notes.  This is not the raunchy Amy Schumer you may be familiar with.  This version is a little tamer, but still fun loving.  A scene where she impulsively enters a bikini contest, hiking her shorts and t-shirt up to expose her stomach, undulating to the music, is a moment of pure freedom.  Williams, with a Jennifer Tilly-esque voice, is also well cast as a woman whose beauty doesn’t allow others to see how intelligent she is.  Rory Scovel is Ethan, a man Renee meets “cute” at a coffee shop who falls in love with Renee the way she is, not the way she sees herself.  And, my God, how is it that 74 year old Lauren Hutton is as beautiful today as she was when I was a teenager??

 

Directors/screenwriters Kohn and Silverstein, who previously gave us “Never Been Kissed” and “He’s Just Not That Into You,” do a fine job keeping the story moving in their feature directorial debut.  I appreciate the fact that, even when she looks into a mirror, Schumer sees what we see – Amy Schumer – and not some high cheekboned model.  Both Renee, and Schumer, are just fine the way they are.

Film Review: “Super Troopers 2”

Starring: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske
Directed By: Jay Chandrasekhar
Rated: R
Running Time: 100 minutes
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Sometimes you shouldn’t give the fans what they want. But the Broken Lizard comedy troupe put themselves in no-win situation by teasing for years and years that they were working on a “Super Troopers” sequel. It became a reality for thousands when they started an Indiegogo fundraising campaign. By the end, they had doubled their original crowdfunding target goal. Now that the sequel has arrived, some of those 54,609 backers might keep their wallets in their pocket next time Broken Lizard comes around.

“Super Troopers 2” isn’t a complete misfire, nor is it devoid of joy or humor. So in some regards, it’s the best case scenario for a comedy sequel that comes 17 years after its predecessors and nearly a decade after the last Broken Lizard film. The way the crew gets into this film’s main plot is a bit odd and unnecessarily lengthy. When we last saw the former Vermont state troopers, Thorny (Chandrasekhar), Foster (Soter), Mac (Lemme), Rabbit (Stolhanske) and Farva (Heffernan), they had quickly shifted into their new roles as immature local police officers. This film begins with the exposition that they’ve been fired and relegated to mediocrity as lumberjacks or home construction workers.

But a new opportunity arises when a border dispute between the U.S. and Canada reveals that Vermont’s border actually stretches farther North, encompasses a small Canadian town. So the five disgraced troopers are brought in by their former Captain, John O’Hagen (Brian Cox), to set up a new patrol station and make sure the town transition is smooth. It’s a complicated and unnecessary set-up, only meant as vessel for cheap Canadian jokes, north of the border sight gags and some bad accents.

As I said, the movie isn’t completely devoid of chuckles. I was pleased to see that the film didn’t pull an “Airplane II: The Sequel” and simply rehash every quotable joke from the first film. They can’t help but regurgitate some of the more memorable jokes, like them saying “meow” and Farva’s “liter of Cola” bit, but they’re so minuscule compared to the deluge of jokes this film throws at you. You’re likely to forget how the writers were along the way. But because the jokes are so relentless, when the film does pump the brakes a little, a lot of the film’s weaker elements blossom.

The first film felt like a cast of goofballs carrying out their wildest pranks in a reality where law and order is still a thing. This film seems to live in an alternate universe where common sense and international law doesn’t exist, as if it’s a fan-made film. There are certain elements that feel more like Indiegogo requests rather than natural comedic beats for these characters. The original also had a semi-realistic plot with a passable villain while this one feels cartoonish and intentionally over-the-top. Within that 17 year timespan, the Broken Lizard game may have lost touch of what made their characters originally loveable to more than just the stoner crowd.

A good comedy sequel isn’t impossible to make. In some regards, it can be better by embracing what works best and improving upon the film’s previous faults. But because “Super Troopers” is inherently a cult classic, it could never really live up to that status. The sequel feels more like “Anchorman 2” or “Ghostbusters 2.” While “Super Troopers 2” may scratch that itch fans have been feeling for over a decade and a half, that itch won’t go away because of how unfulfilling this film is when compared to the original. Even if you enjoy yourself, you won’t be quoting this film 17 years from now or asking for “Super Troopers 3.”

Blu-ray Review “Insidious: The Last Key”

Directed by Adam Robitel
Starring: Lin Shaye, Angus Sampson, Leigh Whannell, Spencer Locke, Caitlin Gerard, Bruce Davison
Distributed by: Universal Pictures (Theatrical)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (Home Video)
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 103 minutes

Film: 3 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

The “Insidious” franchise has never really blown me away after the first film. Oddly enough the first “Insidious” is in my top 5 horror all time, so it’s a shame these sequels never really lived up to the first film. Taking the directorial reigns this time is Adam Robitel, he is the writer/director of “The Taking of Deborah Logan” (which is an amazing film), so I was psyched to see what he could do here. Unfortunately, I just feel like this was another unnecessary sequel. The film just doesn’t deliver anything new at all. I would love a deeper look into The Further and more subtle score led jumps like the first film had and was terrifying. This film, like the previous sequels, just lacks the terror.

Official Premise: Brilliant parapsychologist Elise Rainier receives a disturbing phone call from a man who claims that his house is haunted. Even more disturbing is the address — 413 Apple Tree Lane in Five Keys, N.M. — the home where Elise grew up as a child. Accompanied by her two investigative partners, Rainier travels to Five Keys to confront and destroy her greatest fear — the demon that she accidentally set free years earlier.

The star of the film is hands down, the amazing Lin Shaye. I have to say in this film she definitely gave her performance. She was bad-ass! God bless her, she is 74 years old and the lead of a hugely successful horror franchise. She is one of a kind. But I feel the franchise might need to take a new direction and get back to its roots in future films, which I am sure will follow. I want to see the demon/entity sitting in the corner of the room without knowing that I see it and having it terrify me know that I can’t look over to the corner with the fear that it will know I see it. That is the terror I want from the “Insidious” franchise.

“Insidious: The Last Key” comes stocked as a combo pack with a Blu-ray + Digital copy. It is also solid in the A/V department. The 1080p transfer is crisp matched with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. The special features include an alternate ending and more than 20 minutes of additional scenes. It is worth checking out if you want to see a little more from the film. There is a franchise recap includes as well as three all-new featurettes. The first one “Becoming Elise” dives into the mythology of Elise’s origin story. The next one “Going into the Further” features everyone from the cast and crew talking about the production design and how it differs from the previous films. Lastly “Unlocking Keyface” showcases the new demon in the franchise.

Film Review “Aardvark”

Directed by: Brian Shoaf
Starring: Zachary Quinto and Jenny Slate, Jon Hamm, Sheila Vand
Production company: Great Point Media
Rated PG-13

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

“Aardvark” is not a film that I would normally watch. I was draw to the film simply from it’s cast including Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”), Zachary Quinto (“Star Trek”) and Jenny Slate (SNL, “Obvious Child”). The acting in the film is really superb. I really only know Jenny Slate from her voice work including the new “Muppet Babies”, “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “The Secret Live Of Pets”, so this was a very different film for her. It is a straight blown drama. The whole cast was fantastic and I really dug the film for the first half and then it took a nice dive in the second act and closed out disappointing for me.

Here is the film’s official premise: “Aardvark” follows Josh Norman, a troubled man who has lived in the shadow of his brother Craig for so long he starts seeing that shadow everywhere. After experiencing a series of hallucinations involving Craig – an actor, and the star of a popular TV drama – Josh places himself in the care of Emily, a young therapist. Emily is forced to wade deeper and deeper into Josh’s imaginary world, and along the way forms her own obsession with his famous brother. While Emily and Craig explore a potentially disastrous attraction, Josh begins a relationship with a young woman, Hannah, who might be his soul mate – if only he could be sure she exists.

During the film there are these really interesting hallucination sequences that Quinto’s character experiences. I found myself mesmerized to see what was going to happen next. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who really want to see this but I appreciate where the film went. It was hopefully but I didn’t like the ending and I wanted more fleshed out with Quinto’s character. This is a little art house film that will play very well in those markets I am sure. It has the trendy cast and that art festival feeling to it. I didn’t hate it but I don’t see myself watching it ever again.

Film Review “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare”

Directed by: Jeff Wadlow
Starring: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Hayden Szeto. Landon Liboiron
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 100 minutes

Our Score: 1 out of 5 stars

Blumhouse Productions has been busting out some really solid horror films recently including last year’s “Get Out” and “Split”. “Truth or Dare” is not one of them. I was just telling my wife that I feel like horror is taking the turn again like it did back in 1996 when “Scream” came out and horror became popular mainstream again. I feel like that is happening with the enormous success of films like “IT” and “A Quiet Place”. “Truth or Dare” is bland, boring and not scary at all.

The film stars Lucy Hale from “Pretty Little Liars” and Tyler Posey from “Teen Wolf’. The premise is exactly what you would expect from the film’s title. It features a group of idiotic kids that decide to place “a harmless game” of Truth or Dare only to find out that it is much more deadly! Insert evil laugh here!! Wahhhhaaaa. The friends quickly realize that they can’t tell a lie or refuse the dare as they find themselves deeper in the game than expected. Bored? I am.

As I am writing this I am starting to think that I may be getting too old for these teen slashers. For teens and young adults, this might be your jam because it carries the cheapest scares and packs a “pretty” young cast of kids from various TV shows. Listen, I don’t blame Blumhouse for releasing this movie. It is a smart strategic move. It cost $3.5 million dollars and will easily make 3x that in North American box office alone. Go see “A Quiet Place” instead, it is a movie that requires you to be quiet, patient and wait for a real scare.

Film Review: “Rampage”

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Malin Akerman
Directed By: Brad Peyton
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 107 minutes
Warner Bros. Pictures

I remember several quarter eating games from my childhood. Most of them were first-person shooters like “House of the Dead” and “Carnevil” where it didn’t matter how good you were or if you were a sharpshooter, the game was designed to kill you so you’d have to keep pumping in change. Most other games that I would spend endless hours playing at the arcade were fun for a five-year-old boy to play, but inherently dumb because of its repeating pattern and repetitiveness. There were side-scrollers like “X-Men” and smash and destroy games like “Rampage.”

21st century video games are championed for interactive gameplay and in-depth storytelling. The games of the late 80’s and early 90’s could be crowned as mindless time wasters. That’s “Rampage” in a nutshell. How they made a movie out of that is genuinely impressive. One, because it should be towards the bottom of the list for potential big screen adaptations and second, there’s honestly not much to adapt other than the idea of giant monsters smashing buildings, something that’s already been done multiple times.

“Rampage” is like a melting pot of any Kaiju film, “Mighty Joe Young” and that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson charm we’ve become accustomed to over the past decade. Johnson plays beefy anthropologist Davis Okoye, who relates more to primates than he does his human co-workers at a San Diego wildlife sanctuary. The introverted scientist can fly helicopters, has a military background, and communicates with a massive albino silverback gorilla, named George, like it’s his frat brother.

The movie quickly picks up steam when George is infected with an experimental gas. The mutating fumes are from the remnants of a company space station that was experimenting with DNA. The gas acts like a steroid to all of George’s senses, turning him into a monstrous creature overnight. He’s bigger, stronger and angrier. He’s not the only creature to get hit with a dose of plot as several other canisters of this harmful gas have landed in rural Wyoming and some Florida swamplands, infecting a wolf and crocodile.

“Rampage” is a tad too long, padding it’s runtime with a lot of unnecessary character backgrounds, silly exposition, and a quick shoehorned message about poaching. It doesn’t help that the show stopping fight between all the monsters, in downtown Chicago, feels like it takes forever to get to. The pace that it moves at feels more like a painful tease rather than an actual build-up. Johnson, like he is in most of the other sub-par films he stars in, does give an otherwise limp noodle script a bit of life.

While in 2017, we learned he’s vulnerable to a complete inadequate script (“Baywatch), 2018 seems to prove once again he can do a lot with very little. While everyone merely acts scared of the CGI monstrosity that is George, Johnson brings some warmth to a cold creature and seems to be genuinely interacting with it. Johnson, along with Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Naomie Harris, provide a likeable trio of heroes looking to save lives and the life of George. But after watching scores of service men and women die while civilians flee in terror in the final act, shouldn’t George be lumped in the same category as Superman in “Man of Steel?”

When it wants to be light-hearted, “Rampage” is quite fun, but when it wants to be dark with jump scares, and scenes of death and destruction, it’s off putting to the overall vibe the movie’s trying to establish with George and his nurturing human savior, Davis. There’s fun to be had in “Rampage” as long as you understand that this is a bad movie. But just like the old “Rampage” arcade game I played in my youth, I don’t necessarily feel like I should ever revisit this one or reflect on it as anything more than a cash grab.

Enter to Win a Blu-ray Comb Pack of “Den of Thieves”

To celebrate the Blu-ray Comb Pack of “Den of Thieves”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway a combo pack to one of our fans! If you want to win this great prize, please leave a comment below your favorite movie with Gerald Butler. This giveaway will remain open until April 24th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to our readers in US only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

Den of Thieves is a gritty Los Angeles crime saga which follows the intersecting and often personally connected lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Department and the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as they plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank of Downtown Los Angeles. Filled with gripping, explosive action and an ending that left audiences stunned, Den of Thieves is an electrifying game of cat-and-mouse.

In addition to both the action-packed theatrical version and the extended unrated version with footage not seen in theaters, Den of Thieves on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital also features never-before seen bonus content including an alternate ending, outtakes and deleted scenes, and insightful commentary from the filmmakers.

BONUS FEATURES on BLU-RAYTM, DVD AND DIGITAL

  • Alternate Ending
  • Alpha Males – The cast describes how the tough characters in the film blur the lines between the good guys and the bad guys.
  • Into the Den – Director Christian Gudegast and the cast describe the two brotherhoods within the film, the renegades and the outlaws, and their unique sets of skills.
  • Alameda Corridor – The cast and director discuss filming the intense scene that take place on the streets of L.A. and the extensive weapons training it took to film it.
  • Outtakes and Deleted Scenes
  • Commentary with Director Christian Gudegast and Producer Tucker Tooley
  • Den of Thieves Theatrical Cut

Film Review: “Chappaquiddick”

Starring:  Jason Clarke, Ed Helms and Jim Gaffigan
Directed by:  John Curran
Rated:  R
Running time:  1 hrs 46 mins
Apex Entertainment

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Before I begin I’m going to share something.  I was born in 1960 and the Kennedy family were royalty in our house.  One of the few times I can remember my father crying was the day JFK was assassinated and I can remember my mother doing the same thing in 1968 when Bobby was killed.  My first presidential election was 1980 and I worked tirelessly for Ted Kennedy’s campaign.  So I kind of go into anything related to the Kennedy legend with a very wary eye.  I’m so glad that “Chappaquiddick” did not disappoint.

July 18, 1969.  While the world waits as Apollo 11 heads towards the moon, the mood is festive on Chappaquiddick Island, a spur of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.  It’s a reunion of sorts for the Boiler Room Girls, a dedicated group of young women that campaigned long and hard for Robert Kennedy in 1968.  Joining the women are several members of RFK’s campaign staff, including his younger brother, Ted (Clarke).  As the film’s opening montage tells us, the Kennedy boys, from oldest brother Joe – a Navy pilot who died in World War II, John – our 35th President and Bobby, who died before he could accomplish the great deeds he set out to do, had all died young, leaving Ted to carry the family mantle.  It is something he is reluctant to do, but he is also contemplating running for President in 1972.

Also at the party is pretty Mary Joe Kopechne (Kate Mara), one of Bobby’s strongest supporters.  She and Ted talk for a while and then the two leave the party, get into Ted’s car, and drive away.  Hours later, Ted will return alone and on foot.  He will tell those who greet him “I’m not going to be President.”

A solid film that keeps you guessing on the facts, “Chappaquiddick” is an unbiased attempt to tell the story everyone thinks they know.  The story is helped along by solid direction and a cast that embodies more than imitates the characters.  Clarke does a fine job as Kennedy, nailing the mannerisms and accent perfectly.  As Kennedy cousin (and family fixer) Joseph Gargan (from the Fitzgerald side of the family) Ed Helms gives a fine dramatic performance.  Also so nice to see Jim Gaffigan, who was so great in “Chuck,” continue his journey to dramatic actor as family friend Paul Markham.  And Bruce Dern, in a role that’s almost wordless, is still stern and tough as family patriarch Joseph Kennedy.

The Dike Bridge

As an added bonus, if you’re a fan of the film “Jaws” – and if you’ve ever read my stuff you know it’s my favorite film – you’ll get to see a lot of Edgartown exactly as it appears in the film.  Even the real life area doctor, Robert Nevin, who played the town doctor in the film, rates a mention.

Finally, and this is just a mention, but I’ve been to Chappaquiddick and I’ve driven over the Dike Bridge.  Sober.  In broad daylight.  It’s still pretty narrow if you ask me.  If you don’t believe me, give it a look yourself.  And while you’re there, stop and pay your respects at the grave of Pipit, the dog from “Jaws.”

Pipits Grave. I wasn’t kidding.

DVD Review “Puppy Dog Pals: Going on a Mission”

Creator: Harland Williams
Studio Walt Disney
Product Title: Puppy Dog Pals, Vol. 1
Release Date: 04/10/2018

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Since the birth of my daughter, now 6 years ago, Disney Junior has been a must watch in our house. All of their shows have been fun, even for parents, that is until “Puppy Dog Pals”. This is one show was one that I have not not been able to enjoy..but my daughter does love it. It is created by comedian Harland Williams (“Half Baked”). I have to admit though after watching the DVD this show is definitely growing on me. I see how much my daughter and even my nephew enjoy this show and if they enjoy it, I can dig it.

Official Premise: Fun-loving puppy brothers Bingo and Rolly go on adventures throughout their neighborhood and around the world as a way to help quench their thrill-seeking appetites. The pups’ motto is life is always more exciting with your best friends by your side. For the pugs, those friends include owner Bob, his cat Hissy and his robot dog A.R.F.

The episodes includes are:

  • Hawaii Pug-Oh/A.R.F.
  • The French Toast Connection/Take Me Out to the Pug Game
  • The Go-Long Retriever/Pot O’ Pugs
  • A Pyramid Scheme/Special Delivery

The reason why I am starting to come around for this series is because it teaches lessons about friendship, problem-solving and collaboration and these are values that I want my daughter to have. Plus I am a fan of Williams and he also provides the voice of Bob. “Puppy Dog Pals: Going on a Mission” is the first volume DVD for this show and I am sure will not be the last. I would like to see a little bonus content included in future releases, at least something fun and extra for the kiddies to enjoy. There is still about two hours of content and at a price below $10 bucks, can’t go wrong here.

 

Film Interview: Director Susan Walter talks about her debut feature, “All I Wish”

 

After almost three decades working behind the scenes on other people’s films, Susan Walter has finally gotten to sit in the big chair.  As writer and director of the new film “All I Wish,” she called the shots and achieved a dream.

 

While promoting the film, which is now in theatres and also available on Video on Demand, she took time out to talk with me about finally being in charge.

 

Mike Smith:  Please tell me that Tony Goldwyn isn’t really that bad of a singer. (NOTE:  In the film, Goldwyn tries his hand at karaoke, much to the chagrin of anyone in earshot.)

 

Susan Walter:  (laughs) Tony Goldwyn is a brilliant singer!  The first time I talked to him about that scene, he said to me “you know I can sing, right?”  He wanted everyone to know that he could sing.

 

MS:  Where did you get the idea for the film?

 

SW:  I’m a huge fan of “When Harry Met Sally.”  It’s one of my favorite films of any genre’.  And what I love about it is that it takes these two characters and looks at how the spend time together over a long period of time.  So I thought what would happen if I showed characters that not only got to know each other but got to know themselves over a long period of time.  And I picked each period beginning on a birthday because your birthday is a time when you look at your life.  The stakes are super high on your birthday.

 

MS:  Most people, when they think of romantic comedy, don’t readily think of Sharon Stone, who is more known for tougher roles.  What made you cast her?

 

SW:  Sharon cast herself.  (laughs)  Literally.  She got the script originally when it was written for her character to be in her 20s, and I wanted somebody tough and vibrant to play the mother.  I sent her the script and offered her the mother and she called me and said, “I’m not playing the mother…I’m playing the lead!”  And I got chills all over my body because I knew that she was right.  She felt really connected to the character and she really spoke passionately about why she had to do it.  So that’s the version of the movie that got made.

 

MS:  Which also became a bonus because you got to work with Ellen Burstyn.

 

SW:  We were so lucky that Ellen responded so well to the script.  Sharon was so passionate about having her and when we sent it to her she responded right away.  Though Ellen’s character appears tough as nails in the film she also has a vulnerability that you can feel.  You can feel the love that she has for her daughter and it was something beautiful for me to watch.

 

MS:  You’ve spent decades working behind the scenes until you finally got the opportunity to direct a feature.  Was the experience everything you thought it would be?

 

SW:  I have to tell you, I was totally nervous into the lead-up of the movie.  I was worried.  Could I do the job?  Did I have the energy?  It takes an incredible amount of stamina to direct a feature film.  You’re on your feet all day and you need every corner of your brain to do the job.  I got so much incredible support from my cast, especially Sharon.  They made it effortless.  It was like being weightless.  I entrusted them with their characters.  I was just there as a sounding board if they had a question about a line or a moment.  The experience of directing was almost effortless.

 

MS:  You’ve worked with several name directors in the past, including the late Garry Marshall.  Did you learn anything from them that you used on your set?

 

SW:  The one thing I learned from Garry in regards to actors is to just let them play.  Make them feel safe and let them play.  And when they had an idea, it was always “yes.”  He may not have agreed with it, but he would always say, “let’s try it.”  That was the way he worked and I think some of it rubbed off on me.  I said “yes” a lot to my actors.  We played a lot.  And I think you can feel how free they felt when you watched the film.

 

MS:  What are you working on next?

 

SW:  I wrote a movie with a friend of mine who is an actress and an extremely hilarious human being.  It’s an “R” rated ensemble comedy that we’re putting together now.  Hopefully we can start it soon.  I hope it doesn’t take another fourteen years.

Actor Jimmy Bellinger Talks About His Role In The Film “Blockers”

Jimmy Bellinger is an actor who has appeared in a variety of commercials, films and, television series including “The Middle” and “Parks and Recreation”. In the newly released film “Blockers” starring Leslie Mann and John Cena, Jimmy plays the role of Chad a nerdy yet confident high school student. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Jimmy recently about his character and the film and also about his widely popular Skittles commercial.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us a little bit about the film “Blockers” and your character Chad?

Jimmy Bellinger: “Blockers” is a fun, raunchy sort of coming of age story that follows three parents and their daughters. We first see the girls as young children and then as teenagers getting ready to attend the prom. The girls decide they want to lose their virginity and make a pact to do so. The girl’s dates are not aware that this is set to happen and it turns into this crazy thing when the parents find out and attempt to stop them. My character Chad is sort of a dorky guy but he is very confident. He loves to dance and be a showman. Chad also loves a good fedora!

AL: How did this role come about for you?

JB: It was actually quite a long process. I auditioned a few times over the course of two months before officially getting the offer. Originally I read for a character that’s not in the story anymore. I then went back and read for the role of Chad. I actually did two auditions that day as they brought me back in the afternoon to read with a group of girls auditioning for the Sam role. None of those girls ended up in the film and I didn’t hear anything for a couple weeks until they brought me back to read with a different group of girls. This whole time I was never really sure if I was going to get the role or not because they could have been seeing other people that I didn’t know about. A week or so later I found out I got the part and also that they recast all three girls and the other two guys. I was lucky that I made it and am very happen that things worked out for me the way that they did.

AL: Over that time did the script change in any way?

JB: Yes it did. Originally there was this completely different character in the script and that role had been cut out so there were definitely a lot of changes made from the time I first read the script to what ended up being in the film. Things were added and locations changed but the film is still just as funny as when I first read for it and, that was what interested me in the project from the start.

AL: Were you allowed creative freedom with the character or were you asked to stay to the scripted material?

JB: There was certainly creative freedom. Yes there was a script for the character they wrote but I feel like unless you are playing a real person that existed somewhere in time you bring in pieces of yourself to each role you pay. I feel like most people want you to bring your own traits as an actor to their character. That’s essentially your job. You have ideas and there are scripted pieces so you start there and once you get going you might come up with some other things that help the character and story. The film’s director Kay Cannon is an extremely talented writer so if we weren’t pitching ideas she was coming up with things to try or add. We shot a lot of different versions of each scene so you really didn’t know what will be in the final film until you see it.

AL: The film has a very comedic cast. What was it like on set between takes?

JB: It was fun! Sets are all very similar because the days are long and when you are not shooting you are hanging out with the other cast and crew joking and having a good time. You get to talk with and meet a lot of different people. The cast was great as were the crew and, being that we were shooting a comedy and not a drama or something really serious everyone was just very relaxed and the mood was light.

AL: You also are currently the face of Skittles and appear in the hilarious Skittles-pocks commercial. How did that opportunity come about and, will you be reprising that role in upcoming ads?

JB: That came about much like this film through a regular audition. I went in to read for the part and they paired us up randomly with the girls who were their reading for the other part. I ended up being with the girl who also ended up in the commercial. After the first audition I got a call back and I could tell that they liked me because I read with the first girl again as well as a couple others. When we shot it even though it was such a short spot we tried a bunch of different things. The lines were there but I got to have a lot of fun playing within the confines of them. I had no idea what made it into the commercial until it came out. The ad started on the internet and then they started airing it and then they stopped. That usually happens after some time with commercials but then they decided to renew it and it has been playing non-stop. I am completely fine with it. Some people think it’s funny; some people think its gross or a combination of the two. I think that they are probably all right but I think that’s kind of the appeal of it as it’s weird but quick and easy. It’s just crazy how big it has become and seeing how excited people get amazes me. In terms of reprising the role that really on them however I will happily be paid to wear more skittles on my face. I am fine with that.

AL: Are there any other projects you have been working on that you would like to mention?

JB: There are some things in the works but I can’t really talk too much about those right now however, I did do an episode of the Nickelodeon show “Night Squad”. My episode won’t air until Halloween time but I do want to let people know it will be coming out and when they can look for it.

For more info on Jimmy Bellinger you can follow him on Instagram and Twitter @JimmyBellinger

Film Review: “Blockers”

 

BLOCKERS

Starring: Leslie Mann, John Cena and Kathryn Newton

Directed by: Kay Cannon

Rated: R

Running time: 1 hrs 42 mins

Universal

 

Ah, prom night. A night of magic, music and, if you are three very anticipatory young girls, the night you plan on losing your virginity. Unless your parents find out that is.

 

We first meet Julie (Newton), Kayla (Geraldine Viswanathan) and Sam(antha) (Gideon Adlon) as they arrive for the first day of kindergarten. Though the girls are nervous, they aren’t as upset as their parents. Julie’s mom, Lisa (Mann) is a single mom who has devoted her life to her child. Kayla’s pop Mitchell (Cena) is a sports-loving guy who isn’t afraid to show emotions. And Sam’s dad Hunter (Ike Barinholtz) is never afraid to take a drink, no matter the time of the day. The girls become best pals and before you know it, they’re now seniors in high school preparing for the prom, graduation and college. And sex.

 

A funny film that doesn’t treat the youngsters like, well….youngsters, “Blockers” is the female version of “Porkys” without Buela Balbricker. The young ladies decision is not made in haste. They each have a reason to “go all the way.” One is love. Another is curiosity. And the third is a litmus test. You see, one of them is a lesbian and is afraid to act on her feelings. I won’t give away anything more but I will say that the people behind “Love, Simon” could have surely taken some pointers in dealing with the way her feelings and sexual curiosities are handled.

 

The fun part here are the parents, especially pro wrestler Cena, who is hilarious as he is large. Mann is also strong as the mother who is afraid to let her child leave and Barinholtz as a father trying to reconnect with a daughter he clearly underestimated.

 

The film is well paced and the supporting cast, especially the three “lucky” boys, keep the film moving as well.  If I had any qualm with the film it was the constant reminders of other Universal films that kept showing up on screen.  From movie posters (“16 Candles,” “Love Actually”) on the wall to just random mentions of, among others, “American Beauty” and the “Fast and the Furious” series, it was a little heavy handed to me.  Still, the film is definitely worth a trip to the local cinema this weekend.

Film Review: “Isle of Dogs”

Starring the Voices Of: Bryan Cranston, Koyu Rankin and Edward Norton
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 101 minutes
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Since bursting on to the scene in the mid-90s, Wes Anderson has had a steady and solid film catalogue. Even his average movie has an enchanting whimsical nature to it and is never visually boring. He may have a few blemishes, but none of his films had me believing the film was a complete misfire. So there shouldn’t be any kind of flirting on my end with you, the reader, on whether or not I enjoyed “Isle of Dogs,” because I did.

In Anderson’s alternate universe, a dog-flu virus has spread throughout the population, and not just the canine one. The solution, by authoritarian leader Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura), is to have all dogs banished to Trash Island. The isle is a culmination of man-made disasters, mankind’s carelessness with experimentation, and of course, trash. Making his way onto the island, via a small makeshift aircraft, is Atari (Rankin), who’s looking for his guard dog, Spot.

Helpining Atari around the island is Chief (Cranston), Rex (Norton), King (Bob Balaban), Boss (Bill Murray) and Duke (Jeff Goldblum); a pack made up of alpha dogs with their own individual quirks. Like most Anderson films, the cast is filled with a who’s who of Hollywood’s past and present. Some of the surprising ones are Harvey Keitel, Liev Schreiber and Yoko Ono. While each voice may not seem recognizable at first, their character certainly brings a flash in the pan of joy, humor or bite to the scene they’re in.

While Trash Island is its own visual character, the nearby Japanese city of Megasaki looks like a tourist greeting card. It may be off putting to some viewers because there are no subtitles for our Japanese characters. Sometimes we only understand the human characters because of stylish visual storying telling, or an English translator for the moments of broadcast news (which seems odd that a Japanese TV station would have an English translator, but I could easily be wrong about that). I can’t speak to the authenticity some of the film’s culturally significant moments or the settings, having never grown up in Japan and having a basic American public school system understanding of the island nation.

Even though the stop-motion animation screams “kid’s movie,” it’s not. The deliberate peculiarities in the film add to its charm or help build the sinister undertones running beneath Kobayashi’s leadership. The film’s subtlety mainly makes remarks about unity and loyalty, and how both of those can be good to the extreme, but on the same scope, be used to pursue evil endeavors. As to whether or not that message has been adapted to fit a more contemporary narrative, instead of a universal one, is unseen.

Visually, “Isle of Dogs” is one of Anderson’s best. Narratively, it’s sometimes deflating, but still overwhelmingly charming and loveable. The film’s sentimentality and warmth is thoroughly earned. On a basic level, “Isle of Dogs” is Anderson’s straightforward love letter to man’s best friend. Some of the individual tics for each of the characters are something dog current and former dog owners will pick up on. Even cat lovers might find something to smile at by the time the film ends.

4K Ultra-HD Review “Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Ultimate Collector’s Edition”

Actors: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega. Oscar Isacc
Directors: Rian Johnson
Rated: PG-13
Studio: LucasFilm
Release Date: March 27, 2018
Run Time: 152 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
4K: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I am just going to come out and say this, I dug “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”. I saw it twice in theaters and once on 4K UHD and it just keeps getting better. I don’t think us as fans were expecting the next “Star Wars” film to be like “The Last Jedi” but it was definitely different…much different than “The Force Awakens”. I enjoyed looking at this film from a different angle then what I did when I first saw it theatrically and I discovered that I was able to really appreciate it much more. The “Ultimate Collector’s Edition” is definitely a must purchase for ANY “Star Wars” fan (unless you want this film on 3D Blu-ray, then you need to import). “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” marks Disney’s first title available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc in both Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos immersive audio, so this is a big one!

In the world of high definition, you want to get the best possible when watching “The Last Jedi”. This 2160p/Dolby Vision UHD release knocks it out of the park. This combo really delivers the best transfer possible here with such an increase of detail and color depth on your TV screen. The depth to facial features as well as costumes and landscape environments. sadly this is lost on the Blu-ray disc. The 2160 transfer with Dolby Vision is the way to go for this release, you will be, honestly, blown away from the amount of detail given here. As it delivers a perfect score on video transfer, “The Last Jedi” also hits a home run with its Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The full featured track is perfectly balanced and delivers a perfect viewing experience.

“The Last Jedi” is JAM PACKED with awesome extra content, all of which is on a dedicated third Blu-ray disc, besides the commentary track. There is also a Movies Anywhere digital code is included with purchase, which redeems a 4K digital copy to watch online or on your phone/tablet. The commentary track with Writer/Director Rian Johnson delivers a very full audio commentary given some much needed insight into the film. I am not 100% on board with him but I tried Lucasfilm knows what they are doing moving forward. “The Director and the Jedi” is THE documentary for “The Last Jedi”. It is a feature film length run 95 minutes and dives super deep into the making of the film from every aspect possible! It is a perfect and must watch extra, cannot stress this more for “Star Wars” fans.

Next up we have “Balance of the Force” is more discussion with Rian Johnson discuses The Force and it’s play out with Rey, Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker. Most of this is coverage in commentary as well but in a different format. There are scene breakdowns giving insight into making three of the film’s key sequences – included are “Lighting the Spark: Creating the Space Battle”, “Snoke and Mirrors”, and “Showdown on Crait”. “Andy Serkis Live! (One Night Only)” features Andy Serkis’ performance as Snoke in the motion capture suit before CGI was applied. This is a MUST SEE also! He is amazing. Finishing off the extras are nearly 25 minutes of deleted scenes with optional Rian Johnson commentary. I also wanted to point out a digital only extra, there is score-only version available exclusively on Movies Anywhere for a limited time, check it out!

Film Review: “All I Wish”

 

ALL I WISH

Starring:  Sharon Stone, Tony Goldwyn and Ellen Burstyn

Directed by:  Susan Walter

Rated:  Not rated

Running time:  1 hrs 34 mins

Cinetel Films

 

 

Birthdays.  Every year it’s the one day where everyone treats you nice and you’re allowed to make a wish for your future.  But for Senna (Stone) those wishes never seem to come true.

 

The morning of her 46th birthday finds Senna in bed with a much younger man.  The phone rings, as it has for many years, as Senna’s mother (Burstyn) wants to be the first to wish her a happy birthday.  This will be the highpoint of her day.  A buyer for an upscale boutique, she angers the owner with her choices and is fired.  She then goes to her party, where she meets an attractive lawyer (Goldwyn) who has been invited to meet a woman by a mutual friend.  As he goes on about the blind dates known shortcomings, Senna soon realizes he was there to meet her.  They do part friendly but Senna’s day ends on a sad note.

 

For the next seven years, we drop in on Senna and her friends on this most special day.  We see that she has been able to grow some each year, though she still has a lot to wish for.  Love.  Success.  Making her mother happy.   Quite a list.

 

A very sweet romantic comedy, “All I Wish” is helped by it’s fine casting.  When most people think of Sharon Stone, they think of her as the tough broad from “Basic Instinct” and “Casino.”  But she is also a very gifted comedienne, and she brings that tough to her portrayal of Senna.  Goldwyn is also charming as the man who is in search of his soulmate.  He also gives the worse karaoke performance ever captured on film.  So bad, in fact, that it makes Cameron Diaz in “My Best Friend’s Wedding” sound like Cher.  And you can never go wrong when you have Ellen Burstyn in your cast.  Her appearances are brief but very welcome.

 

The script, from first time director Susan Walter, is strong and her direction keeps the film moving with very little slow spots.  A fine freshman debut.

 

“All I Wish” is currently in theatres and is also available on Video on Demand.,

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