Even though things have been hectic the past few months, I’ve managed to watch some movies. I’m happy that I’ve been able to get to the theater more often and there are a slew of upcoming titles that I’m excited to see. Part of my issue reaching my goal is that I find myself turning on cable and sitting through a movie that is already partway done. While this counts towards watching more movies than tv shows, I’m not counting them on my list unless I’ve seen the whole thing. So here’s the list of movies I’ve watched in their entirety in the past month. I’ll try to be brief…
#31: Hell and Back – Ok, so this movie is really immature, but it succeeded in getting me out of a rut and watching stuff for sheer entertainment value. I laughed more than I cringed, which counts for something. I remember being somewhat intrigued by the trailers for this stop-motion adult comedy, but then I never heard anything else about it. I can see why. While there are some great comedic voices in the cast (including TJ Miller, Bob Odenkirk and the polarizing Nick Swardson) much of the delivery is lacking. I found myself wondering how they got Susan Sarandon to agree to this. The movie really tried to stretch the “they just went there” type of comedy, but it was more distasteful than funny a lot of the time.
#32: Hardcore Henry – The main complaint people have with this movie was that it was like watching someone play a video game, but isn’t that why Twitch exists? Because people enjoy that? I was interested in seeing how a first-person action movie would play out on the big screen and, once I got over the nausea, I was happy to see the first attempt at it. Sure, the plot made like no sense, but I liked how the audience is thrown into the action from the beginning just like Henry. I was actually surprised by the twist, though I’m sure a more attentive viewer will pick up on it quicker. Two things I did enjoy: the parkour sequence and the many iterations of Sharlto Copley’s character. That’s about all I can say without spoiling too much, in case anyone ever plans to watch this.
#33: Keanu – Look at the kitty! It’s so cute! No sarcasm at all, that kitten was unbelievably adorable. I kept wondering how on earth they managed to train a cat, or if they just kept the camera rolling with the hopes he would do what they wanted. Anyone who’s ever owned a cat knows they rarely do what you want. Enough about the title cat, though. The movie was really funny and everything you would expect from the comedy duo. The trailers actually didn’t give away too much of the plot, which was refreshing. I expected Key and Peele to go on a John Wick-type rampage, but that’s not really the case. Instead, they create different personae and infiltrate a gang in the hopes that they can get Keanu back from the gang’s leader. The result is some hilarity and surprisingly real consequences. It’s all good stuff. And the almost mandatory cameo is very well done.
#34: Get Hard – Can you tell I’ve been on a comedy kick lately? I watch movies for the escapism and comedies provide the easiest means of that. I liked the movie – it delivers everything you’d expect from Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell -, but I have a huge problem with the main conceit. So Ferrell’s stock-trading protagonist assumes Hart’s character has done time in prison solely because of his race? He even goes as far to explain his rationale and it in no way adds up. Putting aside the lack of comedy in racism, the resulting dynamic is amusing enough. Even better is when some actual gangsters are thrown into the mix. The all-around great cast makes for a better movie than this premise probably deserves. In light of recent tragic events, I would argue that T.I. should just stick to acting. Type-casting aside, he always does a fine job.
#35: Special Correspondents – Netflix continues to release movies that aren’t nearly as high quality as it’s original television series. This movie is pretty forgettable (I watched it not long ago and am struggling to remember key details), but it makes for a decent watch on a night with nothing else going on. Ricky Gervais and Eric Bana play news radio employees who, when unable to go on location to a conflict in South America, make up stories from literally across the street from the New York-based station. It should be noted that Gervais also wrote and directed the movie. His personality is very hit or miss for me. In this case, he leaves behind his more smug characteristics to play an underdog the viewers actually want to root for. It’s a nice change of pace and lends well to the satire of the news industry. I wouldn’t call this a must-see, but I found myself invested in how the story would wrap up all the same.
#36: Money Monster – I had wanted to watch this since the first time I saw a trailer for it. I’ve never seen a real investment advice/talk show, but the premise of a hostage situation on live television appeared to be more thrilling than what the genre has put out lately. It had me on the edge of my seat, straining to make sure I heard every line of dialogue. Better yet, it didn’t go the easy route of making a political statement about one-percenters or anything like that. The direction it did take was far more interesting, and frighteningly plausible. According to my husband, who is far more interested in economics and the stock market than I am, the financial mumbo-jumbo (that’s the technical term, I believe) mostly holds up. I would definitely recommend this movie and I’m keeping an eye out for future Jack O’Connell leading roles (also going back to watch Unbroken). He commanded attention while acting against the likes of Julia Roberts and George Clooney. Not an easy task at all.
#37: Focus – Here’s how I described Focus to my husband, trying to convince him he’d enjoy it: “Will Smith is a con-man and he’s training this lady to con, but you don’t really know who’s conning whom.” His reply: “So it’s like Matchstick Men?” Well, after watching it, the two aren’t on the same level, but I was mostly right about the basic plot. We found ourselves debating how it would unfold while we were watching. The actual outcome wasn’t nearly as complex as we both had thought. The movie was oddly funny; odd because it seemed so out of place with the overall tone. It also dragged considerably in places (which gave us time to debate without missing anything). I’ve been wanting to watch this for a while, but I get now why there wasn’t much hype around it (despite its advertisement being ubiquitous for a while last year). A con movie is supposed to keep you guessing at all turns, but when the answers in your head are more appealing than the ones the movie provides, it’s a little disappointing.