Grown Ups 2 (2013)

What was the plot of the movie? I never found one but in my defense I’m
not sure the movie ever had one. Adam Sandler just paraded a phone book full of entertaining people from different entertainment industries around the screen but never really did anything with any of them. I don’t even know what Sandler’s target audience is anymore. The jokes, and I use the term jokes lightly, were predictable and boring almost the entire movie. Now I said almost the entire movie, I did appreciated the two slightly humorous moments that brought a smile to my face. That’s two more than the disaster that was Jack and Jill. Oddly enough, people went to Grown Ups 2 and it did well enough for a third entry into this sad series. I didn’t hate the first one but unfortunately for Sandler, the mild success the first one had on me couldn’t be duplicated.

Come back to us old Sandler. This is turning into an abusive relationship and for some reason I haven’t packed my bag and left yet. Give me something to care about or believe in again. Please…

Rating – D

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Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Two great performances by two actors that completely dissolve into their roles to an unrecognizable level. Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto vanish from the screen to an award-winning level. They are the stars of the Dallas Buyers Club, which is based on the true story of a homophobic, rodeo loving, electrician named Ron Woodroof. Ron’s carefree attitude for towards life involves drugs, alcoholic and unprotected sex. Ron’s life takes a sudden turn when it’s discovered that he has HIV and given 30 days to live. At the time, 1985, there were very few methods of treatment for HIV patients. The FDA had only approved one drug for human testing which was AZT.

Ron quickly begins taking AZT but finds his health worsening, no thanks to his recreational drug use. During this time he is hospitalized and meets Rayon, an AIDS positive transgender woman also using AZT. Just as fast as he began taking AZT, Ron stops and begins studying his death sentence. Through a couple of chance meetings with foreign doctors, Ron finds his own plan for treatment and partners up with Rayon to start… the Dallas Buyer Club.

This movie is fantastic and one of my favorites of the year. The acting is amazing all around and the story is very interesting. It’s my opinion that McConaughey and Leto made this such a great movie, but as the story and script stands alone, it still would have been very good.

Rating – A

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Martin Scorsese’s latest film The Wolf of Wall Street, takes on the true story of Jordan Belfort, a young stockbrokers rise and fall from power and wealth. The story has been called crude, over the top, and vulgar. It hits all those marks and then some but only in a good and funny way. Yes it was little extreme and could have been cut down from the 3 hours but I was interested from beginning to end and didn’t notice the length until it was over. All signs of a great movie, which The Wolf of Wall Street was.

Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jordan Belfort and gives another great performance in what we have come to expect from this great actor. Jordan Belfort, is a drug and sex addicted stockbroker who is solely focused on wealth and power. He partners up with Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) to start a brokerage firm called Stratton Oakmont. With the help of some criminal activity, the firm quickly grows into a successful money making criminal empire. The spending is endless, the parties are crazy, the houses and cars are expensive, and the yacht is huge.

Great performances all around but if you can’t laugh at crude and despicable behavior, this movie might not be for you. Jordan and his stockbroker buddies are not good people but make for interesting character studies. Again, could have been cut down a little but the length wasn’t a deal breaker at all. Go see it.

Rating – A

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Frozen (2013)

Part of the charm for animated kids movies for me is the comedy. I don’t expect a deep storyline or intense drama for obvious reasons but I do expect to laugh. Whether it’s a joke geared for all ages or the semi adult humor that gets sprinkled in occasionally. That didn’t happen much here.

My son is too young to enjoy these movies but I still make it a point to see as many nominated movies as possible from all categories. Frozen has Oscar nomination written all over it and for good reason. The music is perfect and reminds you of the classic Disney movies I watch as a kid. The song “Let It Go” will be remembered for a long time like so many other Disney songs have been. It’s very well done and my pick for Best Original Song.

The story is weak and like I already told you I wasn’t expecting something deep, just keep me interested. Pixar is just on such a higher level of story telling. They have this ability to tell stories that children can comprehend and keep it interesting enough that adults enjoy and care about what they are watching. I really didn’t care much about what I was watching with Frozen. It looked good, the snowman character Olaf made me laugh a few times, and the music was good. So the movie isn’t bad and deserves the praise it’s getting from others, but for me it was very average.

Rating – C

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Monsters University (2013)

Mike and Sullivan are back in one of the two big animation sequels released this year, Monsters University. This time we learn the story behind the one the scariest duos at the power company known as Monsters, Inc. and find out where it all began for them. This leads us to Monsters University, the school for scaring. Mike Wazowski (Billy Crystal), the nerdy underdog in the scare program, who is just looking for a chance to prove he can be a and James P. Sullivan aka Sulley (John Goodman), the lackadaisical popular party animal who has had everything handed to him being the son of a scaring legend.

I liked Monsters, Inc. a fair amount and I think if I reviewed it at the time, I would have given it a “B” as well. In saying that I would say I enjoyed Monsters University just as much, which is rare for sequels. The two main characters are fun for all ages and the story is strong enough to keep kids and parents both interested. Definitely worth a watch if you saw the first one.

Rating – B

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Lone Survivor (2014)

I am so proud to be an American and I could never thank the men and women who fight and protect this country on a daily basis enough. Movies have depicted the devastation and horror of war for years and Lone Survivor takes us down another dark road. Lone Survivor is based on the amazing story of four members of the Navy SEAL’s that are sent on a mission to capture or terminate a ruthless Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd. The mission is compromised a short time after beginning and our four heroic SEAL members are placed in an extremely dangerous position of being completely surrounded with no way out.

Unfortunately I watched a CNN interview with Marcus Luttrell before seeing the movie, and I only say unfortunately because I would have preferred to see the movie first and then a documentary style telling of the actual story later. The movie is very close to the actual story from what I understood from the CNN interview but I found myself thinking “oh, this is where this happens.” As a movie goer this frustrates me but this is a me issue and has nothing to do with the film.

What these men went through, is beyond something I could ever handle or even begin to comprehend. I am forever grateful and I am honored to have seen the story of these men. Their parents as well as every citizen of these United States should be proud. A strong start the to 2014 movie year.

Rating – A

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2013-2014 Winter Movie Preview

Winter preview time! It’s time to look at what has already came out this Winter and what else is on the way. Here are my most anticipated movies for December, January, and February.

 Top 5 Most Anticipated Winter 2013-2014 Movies

5. Anchorman 2, December 18th

– The long awaited comedy sequel is finally here. He is… Ron Burgundy? The cast is back but can they hit the same home run they hit the first time? I don’t think they have to but they at least have to hit a triple… Odd are low but hopes are high.

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4. Lone Survivor, January 10th

– The heroic story of Marcus Lattrell and his team from a June 2005 compromised mission, during  a search for a ruthless al Qaeda leader. Where four soldiers have their backs up against the wall, will they be able to overcome the odds? I love war movies and this looks like it could be one of the best in recent years.

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3. The Wolf of Wall Street, December 25th

– Martin Scorsese is back with The Wolf of Wall Street, the story of Jordan Belfort. Fast cars, wild parties, even wilder women, and drugs… lots of drugs. Jordan Belfort rise and fall from the top of the stockbroker world. Looks fantastic, plus you can’t go wrong with Marin Scorsese. He never lets his audiences down.

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2. The Monuments Men, February 7th

– A World War II platoon assigned to a mission to retrieve stolen art masterpieces from the Nazis before they are lost forever. Looks like it has some comic relief along with some pretty good action. The cast is full of heavy hitters, all led by director George Clooney. High hopes but early rumors of why it was pushed back aren’t good.

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1. American Hustle, December 13th

– The story of a con man, his “British” partner, a wildcard FBI agent, a Mayor, and the mafia. David O. Russell is back and fresh off Silver Linings Playbook, my favorite movie of 2012, and The Fighter, a fantastic movie from 2010. I can’t wait to see what he brings to the table next. Love the look of the trailer and again it’s fully loaded with a great cast!

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5 Honorable Mentions

  • Inside Llewyn Davis, December 6th
  • Saving Mr. Banks, December 20th
  • Grudge Match, December 25th
  • Her, January 10th
  • The Lego Movie, February 7th

American Hustle (2013)

A con man, “British” partner, untamable FBI Agent, a Mayor, and the mafia? Wow, David O. Russell is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. He has consistently put out great stuff that has peaked my interest. It all started for me with The Fighter, followed by Silver Linings Playbook, and now American Hustle. All great movies that I had to buy or pre-order immediately after seeing. Which is a high compliment in an age of digital media like iTunes, Hulu and Netflix, compared to the graveyard of past years like DVD and Blu-ray.

Christian Bale and Amy Adams commanded the screen with their great performances that were award or at the very least nomination worthy. The movie starts with Bale’s character Irving Rosenfeld putting his hair piece on in a very strategic way and it is captivating. It was as if David O. Russell was showing you part of Bale’s transformation into his character. A character that completely absorbed Bale and made him unrecognizable alongside Amy Adams. Amy Adams is such an amazing actress and proved it again in American Hustle.

The leads were amazing but that doesn’t short change the rest of the cast by any means. Jennifer Lawrence should be nominated for best supporting actress for her role as Irving’s wife Rosalyn Rosenfeld. She is such a giant talent and I hope everyone else is stalking her work like I am. If she is in it, I will see it at this point. Bradley Cooper and Jeremy Renner were also great as FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Cooper) and Mayor Carmine Polito (Renner.) Just an awesome cast with great performances by all.

American Hustle has it all, especially if you’re into cons or scheming type movies that manage to blend in comedy seamlessly with some raw drama.

Rating – 9/10

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Out of the Furnace (2013)

Out of the Furnace flew under the radar for me until the release date came up. I remember marking it down when I went through my giant list of 2013 movies but that was about it. When I noticed it was to be released soon I of course checked the trailer out and loved it. The cast combined with a small town factory peaked my interest.

My new found anticipation was met with a movie and cast that exceeded expectations. Christian Bale plays Russell Baze, a factory worker who once had dreams of bigger things but proudly works his job in hopes of providing a better future for him and his girlfriend. I feel like Christian Bale is overlooked for how great of an actor he is. I know he was recently up and won for his role in The Fighter but he has done so much great work over the years.

Adding to his great performance are Woody Harrelson and Casey Affleck. Woody’s character, Harlan DeGroat, was terrifying and threatening. He was such a wildcard and made every scene he was in full of tension. Casey Afleck’s character, Rodney Baze Jr, was the main focus for the plot. He is Russell’s younger brother and a soldier who has recently returned from a couple tours in war torn countries. He refuses to work at the local factory, while chasing dreams of a better life, while always looking for the quick cash no matter the cost. When Bale’s character Russell is sent away for a period of time, Rodney takes a job with some suspect people and goes missing. Russell vows to find his brother and takes justice into his own hands.

Rating – 8/10

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A Good Day to Die Hard (2013)

Let me start by saying I’m a huge Die Hard fan. I enjoyed all of the past movies which obviously led to high hopes for A Good Day To Die Hard. Such high hopes that the mountain of bad reviews couldn’t derail my anticipation. Why was I so excited though? The trailer was a typical Die Hard trailer with tons of explosions and a cheesy tag line of “Yippee Ki-Yay Mother Russia.” Maybe it was the addition of John McClane’s son, I mean what could be better than two renegades. Honestly, I think it was just the fact that Die Hard never failed me before. I was always enjoyed the sequels, even though none of them could compare to the original Die Hard. They were fun and over the top which is exactly what I asked for from this series.

Never been so blindsided by a movie that I was willing to be so forgiving of. The room for error was near endless and I still struggled to get through it. I was bored and uninterested the entire movie. The plot was boring and the action felt repeated. Bruce Willis looks too old to play this character. This was the brutal death to one of action films great characters…. John McClane.

With nothing nice to say, I will end with this… RIP Die Hard series.

Rating – 2/10

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