I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart star in the comedy, “Get Hard.” How come nobody told me about this movie? They should have advertised it on TV or something.
From its juvenile double entendre title to its fascination with prison rape and homophobic humor, “Get Hard” practically announces itself as an offensive, tired and unimaginative comedy in nearly every scene.
And yet I didn’t hate it because Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart had such terrific comedic chemistry.
That said, it almost defies belief that in 2015, we’re still getting comedies that rely so heavily on racial and gay stereotypes, not to mention an endless barrage of jokes about what happens to men who go to prison. They get raped. Isn’t that hilarious?
Ferrell is in prime dimwit blowhard mode as James King, a wealthy financial analyst who has it all. Or so it seems.
Kevin Hart plays Darnell, the hardworking and ambitious operator of a local car wash. Darnell lives in Crenshaw. He has a dreams of making a better life for his family.
After James is convicted of fraud and sentenced to 10 years hard time in San Quentin, he turns to the only black man he knows: Darnell. Darnell’s black, so James assumes Darnell has been in prison. James will pay Darnell to teach him how to toughen up for prison.
So basically, James is a racist and Darnell plays into the stereotype. Great.
Every once in a while, “Get Hard” produces a big laugh, almost in spite of itself. The best moments come when there’s an attempt at turning Darnell and James into real characters, e.g., a silly but sweet dinner scene at Darnell’s house. And I have to admit I laughed at some of the slapstick fight scenes, with Ferrell and Hart (and their stunt doubles) giving it 100 percent in the name of getting stupid laughs.
Those were isolated moments in a sea of cheap jokes that indulge racial and gay stereotypes more often than they mock such outdated thinking. “Get Hard” has the feel of something that was written 20 years ago. Let’s find a better vehicle for these two hilarious guys! I give “Get Hard” a C-.
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I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, an misfit alien and an adorable little girl team up to do amazing animated things! It’s my review of “Home,” next.
The latest animated adventure from Dreamworks has a nifty look and a sweet message, but it feels like we’ve seen this all before in better movies.
The Boovs are proud of their standing as the most cowardly race in all the galaxies. Whenever the evil Gorg determines their location and heads their way, the Boovs run for their lives—this time to the planet Earth, where they relocate nearly all the humans in the world to a brightly colored amusement park in Australia. Let’s it: we’re talking about an alien invasion in which the native populace is relocated to a prison camp. Fun setup for a kids’ movie!
Pop megastar Rihanna does fine work voicing Tip, a seventh-grader who was separated from her mother during the Boovian invasion and will do anything to find her. Tip’s pretty awesome as girl-power role model. She’s smart, funny, sweet and fiercely determined to outmaneuver the Boovs and find her way to her mother.
Tip despises the Boovs, but after a meet-cute with a Boov named Oh in a convenience store, she’s stuck with this particular Boov.
Oh is so named because whenever other Boovians see him, they say “Oh,” as in “Oh,” not him. He’s voiced by Jim Parsons from “The Big Bang Theory.” Parsons is a talent, but every line reading screams, “Hey I’m Jim Parsons!”
Steve Martin is a hoot as the cowardly Captain Smek, leader of the Boovs. He gets some of the movie’s biggest laughs.
One fun feature: the Boovs change colors according tot heir moods. Their “home” color is purple, but they’ll go green or red depending on the situation, while other features shape-shift.
The problem is, the story lacks originality and zest. Tip and Oh banter and bicker and bond and banter and bicker and bond. Anyone over 10 will see the plot twists a mile away. Kids will probably enjoy the goofy Boovs and the rainbows of colors and the music. Call me a traditionalist, but I still say the world was a better place before those darn Boovs invaded. I give “Home” a C.
I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, Academy Award winners Sean Penn and Javier Bardem star in the international action thriller “The Gunman.” I’m pretty sure it’s not a musical! My review right now.
The most shocking thing in “The Gunman” might be that 54-year-old Sean Penn seems to have taken out a membership at The Sylvester Stallone School of Insanely Rippled and Veiny Muscles. With free bronzing sessions thrown in!
No wait. The most shocking thing: two Oscar winners giving maybe the worst performances of their respective careers in the same movie.
Penn plays Jim Terrier, a military contractor and special ops gunman in strife-torn Congo in 2006. It’s dangerous work, but Jim’s having the time of his life, what with all the male-bonding drinking–plus he’s shacking up with the beautiful and exotic Annie, a saintly doctor at the local clinic.
Ah, but Javier Bardem’s Felix is obsessed with Annie. He arranges for Jim to be the triggerman and take out the country’s Minister of Mining. That means Jim has to leave the continent and Felix can swoop in on Annie! Bahahahaha.
Cut to eight years later. Jim’s trying to make amends by working for a relief organization in the Congo. Some of his former colleagues are now businessman in London. Felix and Annie are married and living in Barcelona. Then someone puts out a hit on Jim, and all hell and violence and muddled intrigue breaks loose.
Shootouts, car chases, “Bourne Identity” combat sequences shot with hand-held cameras in extreme closeups.. Where have we seen this before? I know! In a HUNDRED OTHER MOVIES.
Bardem’s Felix is such a wasted opportunity. Instead of being a worthy adversary, he’s a drunken, insecure fool. And the great Bardem hams it up to the point I thought he might grab his chest and keel over.
Meanwhile, Jim keeps finding excuses to take off his shirt and casually flex his pecs. He’s also suffering from post-concussion syndrome, which Penn portrays by grabbing his head in agony and screaming, as his vision goes blurry and his ears ring while he has horrible flashbacks. It’s a cheap and obvious way to portray a very real and very serious condition.
Filled with gruesome violence in which the camera lingers on victims after they’ve been stabbed in the throat or gored by a bull (I’m not kidding) or shot in the heart, “The Gunman” veers dangerously close to camp in the final scenes. If you make it that far without walking out. I give it a big fat D.
I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, Liam Neeson has to go “Non-Stop” before he’s “Taken” and he’ll have to take a “Walk Among the Tombstones.” It’s my review of “Run All Night,” right now.
At 62, Liam Neeson is arguably the baddest tough guy in all of movies. (I’d say the 60-year-old Denzel Washington is his main competition). And even though it feels as if we’ve seen this movie before, “Run All Night” is a stylish and kinetic thriller, with Neeson at his gritty, world-weary best, some of the coolest camera moves in recent memory and a Hall of Fame villain in the great Ed Harris.
Neeson’s Jimmy Conlon, once the most feared hit man in the New York underworld is now a broken-down, booze-soaked joke. He’s allowed to hang around only because of his lifelong friendship with Brooklyn mob boss Shawn Maguire, played by Ed Harris, in a perfectly modulated performance.
When Jimmy’s estranged son Mike happens to witness Shawn’s no-good son Danny gunning down an Albanian heroin dealer, relationships change with the crack of a gunshot.
From that moment, it’s a 16-hour marathon, with Mike reluctantly teaming up with his father to avoid the army of thugs trying to kill them, and the scores of cops who believe Jimmy and Mike have committed murder.
This is one great-looking film. An extended sequence shot in the projects is expertly choreographed. A car chase becomes almost darkly funny when a civilian car is chasing a squad car with its lights flashing. The hand-to-hand fight scenes are brutally effective. A Rangers-Devils game at Madison Square Garden becomes the setting for an innovative escape scene.
Joel Kinnaman was wasted in the unnecessary reboot of “Robocop,” but he shows big-time movie star chops as Jimmy’s son. Vincent D’Onofrio is terrific as a veteran detective who has been trying to nail Jimmy for decades. Genesis Rodriguez does fine work in a smallish role as Mike’s pregnant wife.
Front and center, of course, is our man Liam, who is bloodied, bruised and battered, but keeps on coming. Neeson doesn’t try to win us over or make us believe Jimmy is experiencing a come-to-Jesus moment. He’s a killer at the end of the road, doing whatever he has to do ensure his son doesn’t become his last victim. I give “Run All Night” an A-.
I’m Richard Roeper and you can get all my reviews at richardroeper.com and on YouTube!
I’m Richard Roeper and coming up next, on the eve of March Madness, it’s the original “Cinderella” story. My review next!
Disney’s new live-action “Cinderella” movie is not some reboot filled with irony-laden dialogue, and that’s just fine. Not that your humble male reviewer isn’t a thousand percent in favor of well-told, cleverly updated takes on old-fashioned stories, e.g., “Frozen.” But there’s nothing wrong with a straightforward, beautifully done retelling of this classic tale.
It’s OK for your little girl to see this movie and to identify with Cinderella. She’s six. There’s still time for her to become a doctor and the president of the United States AND wear a fabulous dress on her wedding day.
Director Kenneth Branaugh and screenwriter Chris Weitz have fashioned an enchanting, exhilarating romantic adventure with gorgeous scenery, terrific sets, first-rate cinematography and Oscar-worthy costumes.
Of course, none of that brings the story home if the acting isn’t there. “Cinderella” has a wonderful cast, including Lily James (“Downton Abbey”), who has a marvelously expressive face and sparkles in the title role…Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones”), who takes the rather thankless Prince Charming role and actually gives it a little depth…;the great Stellan Skarsgard as the scheming, manipulative Grand Duke…and Cate Blanchett, who plays the evil stepmother as a cross between Maleficent and Joan Crawford in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” She’s deliciously terrifying.
You know how the story goes, from the death of Cinderella’s father to Cinderella braving the endlessly cruel treatment at the hands of her stepmother and stepsisters, to the pumpkin and the slipper and yada yada yada. It’s all in the telling of the tale, and on nearly every account the live-action “Cinderella” of 2015 is a worthy companion to the classic Disney animated feature from 1950. I give it an A!
I’m Richard Roeper and you can get all my reviews at richardroeper.com on the free RR app available on iTunes, and on YouTube and elsewhere on those Interwebs.
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