Tag Archives: Worst Rated Films

Jack and Jill-2011

Jack and Jill-2011

Director-Dennis Dugan

Starring-Adam Sandler, Al Pacino, Katie Holmes

Scott’s Review #1,171

Reviewed August 16, 2021

Grade: F

Typically, an actor playing a dual role is a challenging and rewarding experience for the actor and leads to accolades for a challenge well met. While Adam Sandler may have been challenged, it’s the audience who suffers tremendously. I can think of no redeeming qualities to mention during this review.

Anyone who watches Jack and Jill (2011) will be made to ache for the duration of the running time or either scramble for the theater exit or pound the stop button on the remote control.

Jack and Jill (2011) is the worst film Sandler has ever made with a screeching over-the-top performance and terrible writing. The additions of New York and Jewish stereotypes and every other stereotype in the book meant for laughs instead exude annoyance and disrespect.

To make matters worse, Al Pacino appears in a supporting role well beneath him and plays himself. And reaching an assured low, the actor is forced to rap. How embarrassing for him. Poor Katie Holmes has little to do since she is trapped in the one-dimensional ‘wife role’.

Bad decision-making by writers, producers, actors. Perhaps the makeup people enjoyed themselves.

To be fair, the premise offers the possibility that the film could be hysterical or at least partially amusing. Well-known actors dressing in drag and put in uncompromisingly awkward situations is nothing new and has been met with success. Some Like it Hot (1959) and Tootsie (1982) are classics resulting in kudos for Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Dustin Hoffman respectively.

The main issue with Jack and Jill is that the writing stinks.

Never a fan of the Sandler and director Dennis Dugan slapstick collaborations let’s hope this drivel led to better acting choices for the actor. He would later star in the superb Uncut Gems (2019) and miss out on an Oscar nomination by a whisker. I hope nobody saw Jack and Jill and revoked a vote for Sandler though I couldn’t blame them if they did.

Let’s hope Sandler learned his lesson with this film. He must have since his films vastly improved after this one.

Los Angeles advertising executive Jack (Adam Sandler) dreads the Thanksgiving holiday because his overbearing twin sister, Jill (also played by Sandler), makes her annual visit from New York City. When Jack and his sister immediately butt heads Jack feels guilty and the only way to make it right is to invite her to stay through Hanukkah.

When actor Al Pacino (Al Pacino), whom Jack desperately needs to star in a commercial, becomes smitten with Jill, Jack may be forced to extend his sister’s visit even longer to get what he wants. Jack’s gardener, Felipe (Eugenio Derbez) also takes a shine to Jill.

Everything about the film is pretty bad but let’s point out the highlights…..or lowlights.

Sandler plays Jill as obnoxiously as possible and in predictable form, Jack must disguise himself as Jill. Gee, I never saw that coming. Why any man, let alone two (Al and Felipe), would become enamored with her is beyond me. Jack’s wife Erin (Holmes) and kids are as cookie-cutter as imaginable and possess every ‘neat and clean’ characteristic in the books. They are as white bread as wonder bread.

To match the stereotypes why does Felipe have to be Mexican? It’s as if Dugan and Sandler (who co-wrote the screenplay) wanted every cliche imaginable.

Jill conquers Los Angeles with appearances on The Price is Right, attendance at a Lakers game, and a cruise.  The conclusion of the film, after a myriad of expected misunderstandings between Jack and Jill, and Jill and Al, results in a silly New Years’ Eve high school reunion back in New York with classmates and bullies.

To confirm how bad Jack and Jill (2011) is at the 32nd Golden Raspberry Awards, it won all categories, a first in the thirty-two-year history of the annual parody event.

This is a film to be buried six feet under.

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan-1989

Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan-1989

Director-Rob Hedden

Starring-Jensen Daggett, Scott Reeves

Scott’s Review #1,163

Reviewed July 21, 2021

Grade: D+

After eight installments in only nine years of the iconic horror Friday the 13th series fans by this time know what they are in store for. The title of Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhatten (1989) and its accompanying cover art offers a glimmer of originality and intrigue.

If this were 1989 I would be excited at the prospects of what this film could deliver.

Hell, the city of New York was dour and dirty in the late 1980s, filled with grit, grime, and seediness. What a perfect setup for our crazed killer Jason to mix and mingle with the dregs of society. I conjured up images of Jason chasing frightened teenagers through graffiti-laced subways and x-rated peep show theaters in the Times Square district.

We get a few location shots of Times Square but not much more.

Unfortunately for fans, only the final thirty minutes or so of the film is even set amid the Big Apple and for eagle-eyed viewers, much less than that is even filmed in New York City. Years later, director Rob Hedden would blame Paramount studios for severely limiting the budget allowed for on-location filming.

The result is that Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhatten feels like a sham.

Okay, the film is a terrible, cheesy, poorly acted, jaggedly paced film, but on a late Saturday night, it provides some fun and comfort alongside the proper mood and spirits.

A few years following the events of Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (1988) multiple mass murderer Jason Voorhees (Kane Hodder) is resurrected from the bottom of Crystal Lake after an underwater electrical fire.

After he kills a passing boat’s occupants, he stows away on a cruise ship filled with a high-school graduating class excitedly bound for New York City. Strict Biology teacher Charles McCulloch (Peter Mark Richman) is on board with his niece, Rennie (Jensen Daggett), who has visions of Jason drowning as a child. They temporarily escape his bloody rampage, but, when Rennie and Charles reach Manhattan, Jason is hot in pursuit.

Apparently, the ten million other Manhattanites are uninteresting and Jason must kill Rennie and cohorts.

There is an unnecessary side story of Uncle Charles having pushed Rennie into Camp Crystal Lake in a sink or swim moment where she first saw glimpses of Jason. This has nothing to do with the main story nor is it needed.

The rest of the film is exactly as one might suspect with very few surprises. The character development, limited in slasher films like this, is extremely pitiful and uneven. One female character is a rocker chick who clutches her electric guitar and plays it nonstop, practically during her own death scene.

Other unintentionally laughable characters include a young black man who is an aspiring boxer and attempts to spar with Jason on the rooftop building. This proves to be a big mistake when Jason takes one punch at him and decapitates him. The popular blonde prom queen/mean girl, Tamara (Sharlene Martin) decides to throw Rennie overboard after she catches Tamara doing drugs. Apparently murdering a fellow student is a better option than being caught.

Finally, the deckhand played by Alex Diakund is a carbon copy of the Crazy Ralph character from Friday the 13th (1980) and Friday the 13th: Part II (1981) even uttering the famous “You’re all doomed” line.

The stereotypes are rampant. However, unusual in the slasher genre for 1989, diversity is apparent with African-American, Hispanic, and Asian characters. While all are supporting characters and know their purpose is to be bludgeoned, the inclusiveness is at least a slight win.

Other positives are the familiar Camp Crystal Lake setting not being completely scrapped as the title might indicate. There is something nice and familiar with Jason, a lake, darkness, and murder.

Rob Hedden’s idea to take much of the action to an unfamiliar setting like a metropolis is a good one, a city is the opposite of a lake, but the studio screwed the director over royally with their limitations. Still, a wonderful shot of Times Square can easily transplant a viewer watching the film in present times back to 1989 and experience, if only for a minute, what life was like.

That’s worth a small something.

Tag-2018

Tag-2018

Director-Jeff Tomsic

Starring-Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm

Scott’s Review #1,010

Reviewed April 10, 2020

Grade: D

Tag (2018), starring Ed Helms, weakly attempts to re-create some semblance of magic that The Hangover trilogy (2009-2013) initially had, in which the actor starred.

The result is an over-the-top and self-indulgent mess that incorporates the standard gags that raunchy comedies always do and a little more. The characters are caricatures and the film provides no character development or anything fresh to stay with the viewer after the end credits roll.

The most interesting part is post-credits where the real-life figures the film is based upon, appear.

The film gets off to a dumb start as Hogan Malloy (Helms), an established physician, inexplicably gets a job as a janitor at an esteemed corporation to go undercover and “tag” Bob Callahan (Hamm).

The childhood friends, along with “Chilli” Cilliano (Jake Johnson), and Kevin Sable (Hannibal Buress) attempt to pursue and “tag” their other buddy Jerry Pierce (Jeremy Renner), who has alluded to the “loser award” for the past thirty years, given to the member last tagged during May, when their annual contest is held.

The rest of the film piggybacks on this premise as the group pursues Jerry in tired form as adventures ensue. The specifics are running through other people’s apartments, tumbling down fire escapes, impersonating elderly women, and continued use of backflips, stop-motion editing, and nutty situations.

You get the idea.

The least appealing quality that Tag possesses is it feels forced and too derivative of other similar films. The filmmakers try to create a “buddy film” and a camaraderie between the characters that never amounts to much. The reason for this is they embed each with specific qualities that define the character instead of making them fresh or creative in any way.

We meet Chilli as he smokes pot with his father, revealing that he is divorced, unemployed, and a pothead. Bob is uptight, business-like, and the ladies’ man. A token black character (Kevin) is the comic relief. The characters are one-note and uninspired.

Other weak points from a character standpoint are prevalent. Hogan is written as the “straight man”, meaning the most sensible of the group. He is the main character and has a competitive streak that his wife, Anna (Isla Fisher) shares. Her character is most irritating as she has fits of rage then turns sweet. Fisher has been cast in raunchy comedies for most of her career so it would be nice to see her branch out to better roles.

Finally, Hogan’s mother, the local bartender, and a fitness worker are written poorly.

As a bonus, the film chooses to add a homophobic sequence to offend audiences. Meant for laughs, as are most offensives, the male fitness worker is lightly interrogated as the men attempt to locate Jerry. A back and forth involving presumptive oral sex is written as a joke and in addition to being unnecessary, the sequence goes on and on.

Wishful thinking is for genre comedies to finally create something fresh, stereotype-free, or make mockeries of groups of people.

Predictably, the conclusion is silly and trite. The film culminates in a hokey wedding scene when the friends are tricked by Jerry’s fiance who fakes a pregnancy and miscarriage in a gag-worthy effort. A moment of feigned sincerity is followed by a juvenile rapid-fire torrent of “You’re It!” that would make a ten-year-old boy roll his eyes in disbelief.

Tag is not a complete disaster. If one sticks to the entire watch, a couple of tidbits of pleasure espouse themselves. Familiar classic rock songs like Danzig’s “Mother”, Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train”, and “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” by Crash Test Dummies are interspersed throughout the running time.

An added romantic triangle between Bob, Cheryl (Rashida Jones), and Chilli has potential if it were not relegated to a sub-plot with no resolution. Both men have chemistry with Cheryl and possess some likeability.

A film that will certainly wind up in the $1.99 (or less) bargain bin, Tag (2018) might have been a relaxed effort to shoot by the cast of actors, but they must have had more fun than anyone watching it will have.

With big-name stars and an, on paper anyway, interesting premise, the film fails to deliver the goods, embellishes based on a true story to the max, and results in a complete waste of time.

10,000 B.C.- 2008

10,000 B.C.- 2008

Director-Roland Emmerich

Starring-Steven Strait, Camilla Belle

Scott’s Review #988

Reviewed February 11, 2020

Grade: F

10,000 B.C. (2008) is a by the numbers adventure/action hybrid film that attempts to be slick and modern with catchy visual elements and instead bottoms out resulting in an example of terrible filmmaking.

The CGI usurps all other qualities providing no historical accuracy, with a ridiculous 2008 feel rather than the time period at hand. Those involved only had maximum box office returns in mind when the film was created. There is an irritating formulaic quality and poor acting across the board that leaves this one dead on arrival.

Fierce, masculine mammoth hunter D’Leh (Steven Strait) sets out on an impossible journey to rescue the woman he loves, Evolet, (Camilla Belle) from an evil warlord and save the people of his village. While venturing into the unknown and frightening territories, D’Leh and his fellow warriors discover an amazing civilization rife with possibilities.

Predictably, the warriors are attacked and slaughtered, leaving the young man to protect the remaining group while winning the heart of a princess, well above his station in life.

The story is complete schmaltz and easy to predict from nearly the very beginning of the film. Powerful invaders force the hunters of D’Leh’s tribe into slavery and accost the princess in such a fashion that the setup is all put neatly in place for the viewer, providing nothing out of the ordinary. When the young and naive boy has an epiphany and realizes he is the only one who can save his tribe from extinction, it is all too much. The film is riddled with cliche after cliche after cliche.

A tough ask to lead a film with summer blockbuster written all over it, newcomers Strait and Belle do their best, which only enhances how poor their acting is. Clearly cast for their good looks, they can offer little else. Strait is costumed with a bad wig, dripping sweat, and bulging muscles, purely for audience delight. Belle is also victimized as she pouts and sulks wearing skimpy clothing. The result is a standard boy meets a girl, the boy loses the girl, and the boy becomes a man to save the girl’s mess. Inexplicable is how they meet and fall in love before ever speaking or getting to know each other.

If only the bad acting were the only negative the film might be fair to middling, but nothing good is ever offered. All the hunters and tribesmen look like modern people dressed to look from a different time period. The endless battle scenes borrow from the legions of action and adventure films that have come before it. The animals prance across the screen in obvious timed moments providing little in the way of authenticity.

Director, Roland Emmerich, known for films such as Independence Day (1996) and The Day After Tomorrow (2004) has a knack for creating large epic adventures to please mainstream audiences. There is nothing wrong with a conventional film if it manages to teach the viewer something or offer something of merit. With a target audience of pubescent boys and girls yearning to learn, Emmerich misses a golden opportunity to present an imaginative prehistoric moment and provide a lesson.

Complete with a bad story and bad acting, the drivel conjured up is nearly too much to take. 10,000 B.C. (2008) cannot be saved by the over stylish visuals because they are so phony one cannot even fathom any credibility out of them. The good-looking main stars look straight out of a glossy magazine and hardly from the prehistoric era presented. With a little attempt at giving audiences anything of substance, this film is an epic fail and is to be missed.

300-2007

300-2007

Director-Zack Snyder

Starring-Gerard Butler, Dominic West

Scott’s Review #977

Reviewed January 7, 2020

Grade: D

On paper 300 (2007) could have been a good or even a great film under different circumstances, if a historical realism or a message of some kind had existed. Unfortunately, what sounds like an interesting premise is met with a cartoon quality, over-acting, and cheesy testosterone-laden bombast. Little more than drivel, the film is saved slightly by a charismatic lead, male flesh, and potent homo-eroticism, but this is no Magic Mike (2012), and the content fails because it is intended to be taken seriously. The result is a silly affair, with predictability, and cliches for miles.

The story is based on a 1998 comic series of the same name that is a fictionalized retelling of a battle within the Persian War. The flimsy plot revolves around King Leonidas (Gerard Butler), who leads 300 Spartans into battle against the Persian “God-King” Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) and his invading army of more than 300,000 soldiers (hence the title).  As the battle rages on, Queen Gorgo (Lena Headey) attempts to rally support in Sparta for her husband (Leonidas) and conquer the army.

Butler is the only slight positive worth mentioning as he preens and prances in little more than a loin-cloth with chiseled abs during the battle scenes, ferociously bellowing at his enemy. A fine-looking man, he is unarguably charismatic and poised, so the audience is strongly encouraged to root for him, and naturally for the Spartans. Leonidas makes for a powerful leader and is great to look at, but that is where any positives to this film end.

The scantily clad gimmick is not intended to draw female viewers to the film, or at least the intent doesn’t seem to be there unless the marketing was botched. There is enough male nudity to go around and the beefcake and machismo are clear in most of the characters. Laughable is how the Spartans all have washboard abs and appear to be freshly waxed. Did they have access to state-of-the-art fitness centers in 479 BC? The Persians are mostly face-pierced and sneering, the clear enemy, which does nothing to diminish racist overtones. Spartan-good, Persian-bad.

Zack Snyder’s (Dawn of the Dead-2004) motivation seems to be to market this film to pubescent teenage males or the low-IQ crowd so the stereotypes are not the best thing to witness nor will they cause anyone to feel very liberated or united. The characters are either cookie-cutter or grizzled and violent, which is in tune with most of the film- bloody, but without reason, substance or merit. One-note character after one-note character appears through each scene. Most bothersome is the intent to stir a pro-war stance, not helpful given the target audience.

300 was filmed mostly with a superimposition chroma key technique, to help replicate the imagery of the original comic book which does nothing but make the film look like a high-energy video game. The product is quite stylized with gloomy battleground scenes and dire bleakness and derives a graphic novel or comic book approach but lacking any subtle qualities or pretty much anything else interesting from a cinematography perspective.

The battle scene finale is by the numbers and should come as no surprise who the inevitable victor is. The film requires little thought or attention span and one can simply immerse themselves onto a cushion and absorb the nonsense couch-potato style. Battle after battle erupts with cliched earnestness and a bevy of blood spurting wounds and kills. This would be okay if there existed any point or good plot twist. Any character development is missing.

300 (2007) is a weak offering and decidedly boring, a surprise since much of the events take place on the battleground where the action is produced a mile a minute. The experience is forgettable, and a legion of other action-fueled films exist with more meat and potatoes on their plate. The sinister and stereotypical aspects make the resulting film less than fun and the big, loud, dumb product is only marginally cinematic. We can do better.

Girls Trip-2017

Girls Trip-2017

Director-Malcolm D. Lee

Starring-Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith

Scott’s Review #760

Reviewed May 18, 2018

Grade: D-

I am truly baffled by some of the positive reviews of the film Girls Trip (2017), not only by viewers but respected critics.

Attempts to make females as raunchy as the guys in R-rated comedies never works in my opinion (good writing does!) and the result is a largely unfunny, crude, piece of drivel.

The fact that the film which goes for a “female empowerment” theme is directed by a man is as much disappointing as disrespectful, especially given the fact that the writers are female- they couldn’t find a black female director?

At the risk of giving a testimonial, I am fully aware of the importance of creating good female roles in cinema- especially good female black roles.

Unfortunately, the roles in Girls Trip do nothing to further the cause as tried and true, standardized parts commence with nary a well-written character to be found.

In modern films look to Black Panther (2018) or Hidden Figures (2016) for examples of positive black female role models- they do exist!.

The weak plot involves four forty-something lifelong friends who regroup for a reunion after years apart. Famous lifestyle guru Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) decides to take her “Flossy Posse” to a music festival in New Orleans where they will spend the weekend partying like it’s the 1990’s once again.

Ryan is married to a man who cheats on her, Sasha (Queen Latifah) runs a failing gossip site, Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) is a divorced, overbearing nurse, and slutty, aggressive Dina (Tiffany Haddish), who has just been fired from her job.

In predictable form- think 2009’s The Hangover or a multitude of other raunchy comedies since then, the girls get into trouble, drink too much, have sex, and partake in other hi-jinks throughout the weekend.

The central plot is Ryan’s potential investment deal with rigid and uptight Bethany (Lara Grice) and a wisecracking agent in tow. As events unfold a female nemesis of Ryan’s shows up to cause trouble and stir up drama, testing the group’s patience.

Girls Trip is a typical American comedy film (not a compliment!) that offers weak writing and instead promotes stereotypical stock characters.

Many similar comedies have come before it- many more will come after it. Since I disliked the film so much I decided to ask myself a few rhetorical questions as I observed the mess.

In films with a group of women, why is there always a slutty one (Dina)? Why is there always a mousy one (Lisa)? Why is there always a fat one (Sasha)? Why is it deemed funny to watch women pee or suffer bathroom issues?

The only positives to Girls Trip come in one humorous scene when Dina mixes absinthe into the girl’s drinks before a meeting causing them to hallucinate. As the girls begin to imagine themselves talking in deep baritone voices and Ryan imagines a waitress is her arch-enemy the hilarity briefly ensues.

A quick wrap-up speech by Ryan after the film does send a nice message about being yourself and staying true to your loved ones, but why do we have to suffer through two-plus hours of crap to get to the inspiration and point of the film is beyond me.

The success of Girls Trip (2017), which will inevitably produce a sequel leads me to believe that the masses prefer their films idiotic, redundant, and fraught with cheap, crude laughs.

The film’s intention seems to be to push the envelope- not to create great art- but just to make the film as crass as possible. This is presumably to prove that girls can be as nasty as boys, which the film succeeds at portraying.

Bad Moms-2016

Bad Moms-2016

Director-Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

Starring-Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn

Scott’s Review #706

Reviewed December 20, 2017

Grade: D+

Bad Moms tries to do for women what The Hangover did for men and create a raunchy, R-rated party romp that haggard mothers everywhere can relate to and appreciate.

The film’s billboard presents the three main characters boozing it up under a caption of “Party Like a Mother”. Perhaps since I am not a mother I did not fully gravitate towards this film, but despite a smidgen of mild laughs, Bad Moms fell flat for me, mostly because of tired characters, gimmicky situations, and an over-the-top tone.

Not surprising is that the film is written by the same individuals who wrote The Hangover- as it comes across as a direct ripoff with a different gender in the driver’s seat.

The central character in the film is Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis), a thirty-two-year-old mother of two, living a busy life in the Chicago suburbs.

Considered “old” by her hipster boss, and with a porn-obsessed husband, she runs around frazzled and behind schedule most of the time.

After a particularly hairy day, Amy abruptly quits the school PTA run by militant Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and befriends fellow moms, sex-crazed Carla (Kathryn Hahn), and timid Kiki (Kristen Bell).

After she incites Gwendolyn’s wrath, Amy decides enough is enough and embarks on a plot to win the PTA presidency, while dumping her husband and dating a hunky widower, Jessie (Jay Hernandez).

Admittedly, Kunis is very likable as Amy- a cool chick with energy that most would love to befriend -we empathize with her predicaments and juggling schedules.

But this can only go so far in a comedic film, and the setup pieces and the supporting characters are way too plot-driven and lack the authenticity that the result is little more than one root-able character.

Applegate as an actress is quite capable, but Gwendolyn, the clear foil, is largely written as a cartoon character. Her bitchy comments to her underlings, who inexplicably are afraid to cross her, seem too staged.

Jada Pinkett Smith, clearly in need of a paycheck, is disposable as “second in command” crony, Stacy. Furthermore, Amy’s husband Mike (David Walton) is portrayed largely as a buffoon and childlike.

The point of these character examples is to stress that the film contains too many caricatures rather than characters

An irritating quality to Bad Moms that I simply cannot shake is that the film is written and directed by a duo of men! Jon Lucas and Scott Moore are the individuals in question and the mere fact that the film, clearly painted as a female empowerment story, is not written by females is almost unforgivable.

A case in point involves a bathroom scene where the ladies discuss uncircumcised penises- a dumb scene if you ask me- that is retched considering men wrote and directed it. In this day and age of Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment suits bubbling to the surface, the scene seems icky. It should not be this hard to find women to write for other women.

Of the additional trio of females, Kathryn Hahn’s Carla has a few funny scenes but is written as so sex-obsessed that it is impossible to take the character seriously and the same goes for Bell’s Kiki.

When mousy Kiki finally lays down the law and tells her boorish husband to deal with their kids, it is meant to be a rah-rah moment, but instead becomes eye-rolling. Not the best actress in the world, Bell continues to get roles like this in sub-par films.

An attempt by filmmakers to make a girl film on par with male-driven raunchy comedies thrust on moviegoers over the years, Bad Moms comes across as too unoriginal and too desperate for laughs.

Undoubtedly hoping to win over the same audiences who flocked to the last funny female-driven comedy hit, 2011 Bridesmaids, the film falls flat and lacks genuine funnies.

Its score is bolstered slightly by the successful casting of Kunis in the lead role and the sweet romance her character shares with Hernandez’s Jessie.

Why Him?-2016

Why Him? -2016

Director-John Hamburg

Starring-John Franco, Bryan Cranston

Scott’s Review #704

Reviewed December 6, 2017

Grade: D

Why Him? is epic film drivel, starring quite capable actors in a mish-mash of dull, predictable stories, obnoxious characters, and a need to attempt to go raunchier and raunchier for the sake of a cheap laugh.

Why there is a market for films like this is beyond me as no thinking is required (maybe the film will please those fans!), but the film scores slightly higher than a solid “F” based solely on a few chuckles uttered thanks to the only dim bright spots in this mess- Bryan Cranston and Megan Mullally.

In a story told dozens of times before in “slapstick comedy” fare, the premise is tired beyond belief- good girl meets bad boy, they fall head over heels in love and must deal with the aftermath of her parent’s meeting, and hating the bad boy.

The main gimmick is the rivalry between boyfriend and girlfriend’s father- think an unfunny Meet the Parents.  A silly and uninteresting plot point about each character’s business success or lack thereof is mixed in as if anyone cares.

As with all films of this ilk, the story is wrapped up in a neat, tidy, little bow by the time the credits roll and all characters live happily ever after in perfect harmony <gag>.

Cast in one of his most disappointing roles, James Franco stars as Laird Mayhew, a wealthy, eccentric, thirty-something CEO of an upstart video game company. He is foul-mouthed and comically speaks his mind or absentmindedly shows his ass on a skype chat with his girlfriend (Zoey Deutch) Stephanie while her parents are linked to the chat at a birthday party.

Stephanie Fleming (Deutch), a college student,  and girlfriend of Laird decide to invite her parents, Ned and Barb (Cranston and Mullally), along with their fifteen-year-old Scotty for the Christmas holidays.

Predictably, Stephanie’s parents are appalled by Laird and want her to have nothing to do with him. When Stephanie arranges for Ned, Barb, and Scotty to stay at Laird’s spacious home, the antics take off as feuds and misunderstandings erupt.

The main problem with Why Him? is that director John Hamburg (famous for mainstream comedies such as Along Came Polly and I Love You, Man), seems determined to push the raunchy comedy elements further with this idiotic film.

He makes Laird as obnoxious and crass as possible, yet tries to make the character more “likable” by giving him a clueless quality- therefore he is not mean-spirited and should therefore be beloved by the audience.

The character does not work at all especially having seen Franco in some terrific roles- specifically 127 Hours and  Howl. Being a fan of the talented actor I expected more from him, but alas, some performances are only as good as the material written.

If there is a bright spot worth mentioning it is with the casting of Cranston and Mullally.

Two actors are undeniably good at physical comedy, they do as much as they can with poorly written, stock-type roles. Cranston’s Ned, a middle-class small business owner from Grand Rapids, Michigan, is both envious and resentful of Laird, perhaps admiring the young man’s business savvy and regretting not being as successful.

Barb is a one-note, ditzy yet lovable wife- a role made slightly better by Mullally’s goofy portrayal. In one of the best scenes, Barb smokes pot and becomes a disheveled mess in the bedroom.

Ned, trapped on the toilet the next morning, has an embarrassing experience with Laird’s best friend, Gustav. These scenes, while a juvenile, are made better because of the likes of the funny actors.

Suffering greatly from a tired and overused storyline that falls flat, unlikable, and dull characters, the film offers nothing of substance or worth.

Why Him? is entirely plot-driven with no character development or well-written characters to speak of.

The film is a complete waste of time, resulting from a studio hoping to achieve box office success by churning out a poor comedy with wasted talent that will please only those audiences not expecting much out of their films.

Bride of Chucky-1998

Bride of Chucky-1998

Director-Ronny Yu

Starring-Jennifer Tilly, Brad Dourif

Scott’s Review #680

Reviewed September 11, 2017

Grade: D+

Bride of Chucky is the fourth installment in the famed late 1980’s Child’s Play hit franchise. The late 1980s was not the best time for the horror genre in general, but the film was quite the highlight in a slew of duds.

By this time in the series, (1998), the child/victim of the doll premise is dropped in favor of dark humor, thus the series immerses itself more into the horror-comedy arena. A treat is the inclusion of a fantastic hard rock soundtrack led by the Rob Zombie classic, Living Dead Girl, adding some points to the film’s final grade, otherwise have been more dismal.

The film is certainly not great and I find perverse pleasure in reviewing poor films. However, Bride of Chucky does have its place- as a late Saturday night viewing choice amid strong cocktails it contains a certain charm. Not to be taken seriously, the placement of a love interest for Chucky gives the film macabre romantic humor. Still, the film suffers from lackluster acting and quickly turns into drivel by the time the credits finally roll.

The action picks up from where Child’s Play 3 leaves off and the appearance of Chucky is now a weathered, stitched appearance that gives the doll a more gruesome and maniacal look- this works given the elimination of a child lead character.

Left for evidence in a police compound, Chucky is stolen by Tiffany Valentine, played by Jennifer Tilly. The girlfriend of a deceased serial killer, Tiffany is convinced that the spirit of her boyfriend exists within Chucky and she is determined to bring him back to life using a voodoo ritual. When the act finally works, Chucky and Tiffany reunite, but shortly afterward, Tiffany is also turned into a doll and the duo sets out on a killing spree.

The best aspect of the film is the camaraderie between Tilly and actor Brad Dourif, who voices Chucky. The duo has a light, comic banter that is fun to watch, as well as fantastic chemistry. Granted the actors only voice the dolls for a large part of the film, but their back and forth works well.

This is what makes Bride of Chucky tongue in cheek- let’s face it, with talking dolls as your main characters, director Ronny Yu wisely avoids making the killings too grisly or heavy-handed, but rather, frequently uses quips and one-liners throughout the film.

As Chucky and Tiffany slice and dice their way to Hackensack, New Jersey, their motivations are to embody a neighborhood boy, Jesse, and his girlfriend Jade, played by a young Katherine Heigl.

Along the trek, the foursome is faced with ludicrous obstacles, such as the brief introduction of a con artist couple who meet their doom by flying shards of glass after stealing Jesse’s money. The side story of Jade’s overprotective police chief Uncle, played by a miscast John Ritter, does not work at all. His schemes to plant marijuana in Jesse’s van are little more than plot-driven machinations to advance the thin plot.

The characters of Jesse and Jade are trivial and secondary and Heigl’s acting is particularly garish to say nothing of the lack of any chemistry between Heigl and actor Nick Stabile. In fact, Heigl seems to wear a pout throughout the entire film. But, not to worry, these characters are as meaningless as all the others.

The gimmick ending, surely meant to “spawn” yet another sequel is as interesting as it is grotesque and a small highlight in a poor film. Bride of Chucky provides a nice lineage to the history of the franchise, a killer musical score, and decent chemistry among the leads, but also suffers a similar fate of many horror films, especially sequels- poor acting, a silly tone, and no character development.

White Chicks-2004

White Chicks-2004

Director-Keenen Ivory Wayans

Starring-Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans

Scott’s Review #647

Reviewed May 29, 2017

Grade: D

Anything but high art, though at the time of release (2004), seeming like a clever, yet silly, slapstick farce, White Chicks was a film that I found rather enjoyable. Watching the film in 2017, some thirteen years later, however, the film feels dated beyond belief and as dumb as can be.

The film also contains Paris Hilton’s gimmick characters and racial overtones that were lost on me when I first saw the film.

Clearly influenced by the drag comedy (and classic) from 1959, Some Like It Hot, the premise sounds interesting and comical.

Kevin and Marcus Copeland (played by the comical Wayans brothers) are a pair of black,  masculine, F.B.I. agents who bungle an undercover investigation and are given one last chance to redeem themselves before being booted from the bureau for good.

They are assigned the task of protecting the mega-rich cruse-line heiresses Brittany and Tiffany Wilson, who are in town (at the Hamptons) from a planned kidnapping plot over Labor day weekend. Kevin and Marcus don blonde wigs, freakish makeup, and awkwardly pose as the Wilson sisters to save their jobs.

As the story goes on, Kevin and Marcus (as Brittany and Tiffany) develop relationships with various characters including millionaire Latrell Spencer (Terry Crews), who takes an interest in Marcus (thinking he is Tiffany, and white). Other antics occur as the “girls” try their best to formulate friendships with the heiress’s snotty friends as they attempt to foil the kidnapping plot.

Similarities to the classic Wilder hit, Some Like It Hot, are tough not to notice, and director, Keenen Ivory Wayans, is smart to borrow from a film considered one of the greatest comedies of all time. Just as Joe and Jerry (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) go on the lam to escape mafia figures out of desperation, Kevin and Marcus are desperate to keep their jobs, causing both sets of “impersonators”, to suffer from dire circumstances.

Also worth mentioning are similar conclusions in both films as love interest Osgood Fielding III, also a millionaire, as is Spencer in White Chicks, each is not phased by the “big reveal” as the men are de-masked as actually being males.

Clever in 2004, the incorporation of celebrity Paris Hilton, in 2017 now all but faded, seems dated and of the past. In real life being a hotel heiress, characters Brittany and Tiffany (cruise line heiresses) clearly mirror Hilton as spoiled, self-centered, and oblivious to everyone around her.

The aspect was a good idea at the time of the release of the film, but now is irrelevant, not even as a nostalgia gag- perhaps in the year 2037 White Chicks might be appreciated more, but I would not hold my breath.

The overall tone of White Chicks is also fraught with silliness and with one gag after another. Rather than being believable as females, the Wayans brothers look downright frightening and robotic as Brittany and Tiffany. Certainly in comedies suspension of disbelief is required, but the producers should have done a bit more to feminize the characters instead of playing them as goofs.

The ending of the film is no-frills and formulaic with no real twist or surprise ending to speak of. The ridiculous misunderstandings with Kevin and Marcus’s real significant others, foolishly believing the men are having affairs with other women seem forced and amateurish.

Predictably, when the men profess their love for the girls earnestly, they fall for it hook, line, and sinker and the film wraps in disappointing, standard fashion.

Cute and fresh feeling at the time, White Chicks now feels stale and tired with racial overtones, deemed amusing back in the day, but now seeming mean-spirited and unnecessary. The film is an attempt at recreating a classic comedy for a younger audience, but I would recommend seeing the original Some Like It Hot instead- it is much more enjoyable.

London Has Fallen-2016

London Has Fallen-2016

Director-Babak Najafi

Starring-Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart

Scott’s Review #608

Reviewed January 13, 2017

Grade: D

Save for plenty of very interesting, cool London shots- mostly aerial views- London Has Fallen is complete drivel.

The film’s attempt at being a red-blooded, patriotic film, comes across as insulting and racist, with a machismo that is cringe-worthy.

The dialogue is bad and the “us against them” mantra has been done to death in film- mostly the 1980s and 1990s. To quote one reviewer, “London Has Fallen is Donald Trump in film form”.

How the film convinced such a talented cast to appear is beyond me (must have been money), and several’s parts are so small (Robert Forster, Melissa Leo, Jackie Earle Haley) they are nearly glorified extras.

The plot is painfully contrived to say nothing of the ludicrous nature of the entire story.

To retaliate against a drone strike killing a Pakistani leader, terrorists take advantage of the death of the UK Prime Minister to assassinate several world leaders who have gravitated to London to attend the funeral services.

The President of the United States (played by Aaron Eckhart) is naturally in attendance and his murder is thwarted by top Secret Service official, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler)-our films hero.

The rest of the film involves the President and Mike running throughout London attempting to catch the terrorists and bring them to justice while avoiding death.

The London locales are superb, but sadly, mainly appear at the beginning and the end of the film. The London Eye, the Thames river, the Underground, and various metro stations are featured. The numerous London bridges also get some exposure.

The best part is the way the film showcases the vastness of London and not just the up-close shots of historic places like Westminster Abbey or Buckingham Palace.

Certainly, London is known for those gems, but the aerial views give the viewer an appreciation of all that London has to offer- I loved only this aspect of the film.

The supporting roles are abysmal and one imagines the actors cringing as they read the scripts for some of these roles, given the more artistic parts they’ve received in the past.

I hesitate to think what possessed Leo, Forster, and Haley to accept meaningless roles save for a hefty paycheck. Each played members of the President’s staff and were largely reduced to reactionary shots.

Getting more screen time, but being treated to equally uninteresting roles are Angela Bassett as an ill-fated Secret Service Director and Radha Mitchell as Banning’s weary-looking, pregnant wife.

The performances overall are forgettable. Respectable actors Butler and Eckhart merely phone in their vapid, dull lines, failing to make any of it believable.

The film never bothers with character development or anything beyond basic good and bad roles- every character is either 100% good or 100% bad. It is made crystal clear that the Americans are the good guys, and the foreigners (all Middle eastern or Asian actors, of course) are simply the bad guys.

There is never an explanation of what the “bad guys” motivations are and one cheesy line after another is written for the “good guys”.

During the finale Banning professes that “we have been here for thousands of years and always will be”, as he beats a bad guy senseless. Good grief. I’ve seen better dialogue on a network television drama.

And there is never any doubt how the film will end there is an American mole who has used his power to enable all of the assassinations, but when the mole is revealed, it is a character we have never seen before, so who cares?

Surely a film soon to be forgotten for the poor story, cliche-riddled script, and stereotypes galore, but the fantastic London shots were inspiring and lovely to see.

I would have been happy with one hour and forty minutes of those.

Tropic Thunder-2008

Tropic Thunder-2008

Director-Ben Stiller

Starring Ben Stiller, Robert Downey, Jr.

Scott’s Review #593

Reviewed January 8, 2017

Grade: D-

Tropic Thunder was a ridiculous film that I found to be harsh, tedious, and very loud. Attempting to be a satire of sorts, it fails on almost every level. The main issue was with the characters, who are abrasive and unlikable.

The only redeeming qualities are Robert Downey Jr.’s and Tom Cruise’s portrayals, though they both play idiotic characters.

The plot is something of an ode to 1979’s Apocalypse Now, in that the plot throws back to the Vietnam war. A group of narcissistic actors is filming a Vietnam memoir on location in the jungles of Southeast Asia when they are abandoned and forced to fend for themselves amid a group of drug lords.

The film’s attempt at humor fell flat for me. It just seemed like a group of crazed guys running around the jungle acting wild and the film held the little point for me. Cruise’s part was interesting, but way too small.

Directed by, and starring Ben Stiller, who should stick to acting (if that). How Downey, Jr. scored an Oscar nomination for this drivel is beyond me- despite his acting being one of the better efforts in the film.

Oscar Nominations: Best Supporting Actor-Robert Downey Jr.

Date Night-2010

Date Night-2010

Director-Shawn Levy

Starring-Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg

Scott’s Review #481

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Reviewed September 17, 2016

Grade: D+

Date Night is a perfect example of mediocrity in modern filmmaking. We have two current comedic actors here- Steve Carrell and Tina Fey- circa 2010- at the top of their game.

The filmmaker’s idea is to pair these two and make an appealing romantic comedy appealing to the masses.

The main issue with this film is that the result is generic and quite an average offering.

And the entire film is incredibly plot-driven with no character development to speak of. If I am being too harsh, admittedly there is rather nice chemistry between the two leads, but it is wasted because of sloppy writing.

A couple from the New Jersey burbs, Carrell and Fey portray husband and wife, Phil and Claire Foster. Saddled with two kids and their romance reaching dullsville, Phil decides to take Claire to a ritzy Manhattan restaurant.

When they arrive, they cannot get a table but pretend to be another couple (the Tripplehorn’s) to obtain their table after the other couple’s no-shows. This leads to a tale of mistaken identity as the Tripplehorns possess a flash drive that a mobster (Ray Liotta) wants.

This leads to a chase throughout Manhattan to outrun and outwit their pursuers. Wahlberg plays a hunky client of Claire’s, always shirtless, who is meant to threaten Phil and Claire’s marriage. Yawn.

Several other of the current Hollywood elite- Kristen Wiig, James Franco, Mila Kunis, and Mark Ruffalo, make small and somewhat pointless appearances. Specifically, Franco and Kunis as a stoner-type bickering couple are really silly and unnecessary to the story.

Carrell and Fey are actually quite funny as individuals and as a duo- Date Night, though, does not capitalize nor showcase their respective talents. The film tries too hard to come up with scenario after scenario of the two on the run and encountering one problematic situation after another.

As the plot of Date Night wears on, I found myself noticing that each situation that occurs is a measure of convenience.

Conveniently, Claire has a client in town (Wahlberg), who is a security expert. They go to him for help and, predictably, his hunkiness bothers Phil and piques Claire’s interest- though of course, we know full well Phil and Claire will end up together- that is how these mainstream films go.

In another scene. Phil and Claire can break into an office building unnoticed, trigger the alarms, conveniently find a needed file, and escape, miraculously all before the police arrive minutes later.

Very plot-driven.

The lead actors in Date Night are appealing and even charming together, but the silly, inane plot makes it unappealing to watch and the slew of stars that somebody decided would be a great addition to a lukewarm film is odd.

The roles are written had little bearing on the central plot so it was apparent why they were added. Date Night is a film we have seen time and time again with other actors in similar roles.

The Fog-2005

The Fog-2005

Director-Rupert Wainwright

Starring-Tom Welling, Maggie Grace

Scott’s Review #444

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Reviewed July 4, 2016

Grade: D

The Fog is a 2005 remake of the original The Fog from 1980 and it is overall not very good. In fact, it sucks. Why original creators John Carpenter and Debra Hill had anything to do with it is completely beyond me unless they needed some fast cash. It is so modernized that it loses the mystique that the original had.

The credit that it does deserve is for a few good scares and keeping with the same characters as the original had. Otherwise, it is largely a disaster. For starters, the ending is completely changed from the original and contains some ridiculous, silly fantasy elements that simply do not work at all.

An interesting actress in the television series Lost, Maggie Grace, clearly attempting to embark on a film career, is wooden and one-dimensional. In fact, there is no good acting in the entire movie. Not that I expect great acting in a horror film, but it just adds to the mess of storytelling and writing.

A big fail.

Dirty Grandpa-2016

Dirty Grandpa-2016

Director-Dan Mazer

Starring-Robert De Niro, Zac Efron

Scott’s Review #432

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Reviewed June 29, 2016

Grade: D-

It is a sad day when the only interesting aspect of a film is the gratuitous nudity of one of its stars, but that is precisely the case with Dirty Grandpa, as Zac Efron bravely bares all for the sake of art….or a big paycheck, whichever the case may be.

Otherwise, Dirty Grandpa is complete drivel.

It is crass, rude, mean-spirited, and blatant in its raunch. It also aspires (successfully) to be politically incorrect- quite surprising in these times of fairness and equality for all. If the film intends to be outrageous it succeeds in spades.

Unfortunately, there is not much comedy and the film is quite bad, even where dumb comedies are concerned.

Starring one of films greatest talents of all time- Robert DeNiro, one wonders why he would sign on to appear in this film- certainly not the money, perhaps it has to do with playing a role he has yet to do- we will probably never know.

DeNiro plays Dick Kelly, a retired Army veteran, recently widowed after forty years of marriage. Faithful for decades, he embarks on a road trip to Daytona Beach Florida, with his grandson, Jason, in tow. Dick’s goal is to conquer a slutty college girl he and Jason meet while they are eating at a roadside diner.

Lenore, the college girl, is with her friend Shadia, who knows Jason from school.  To complicate matters, Jason is engaged to self-absorbed Meredith. This sets off a chain of circumstances where each pair falls in love, all the while hurdling various trivial issues.

Thrown in are scenes of partying, acting silly, and outrageous crude remarks and behavior. The standard bathroom humor is not spared.

The subject matter of Dirty Grandpa is not unchartered territory as the “road trip/buddy movie” has been done oodles of times in film history.

My gripe is not so much with the film’s raunchiness, but to be blunt it is just not funny. Over the top in raunch comedy has worked many times before- think Pink Flamingos and other John Waters films.

But those films had characters to root for and who was interesting.

DeNiro’s character is the pits- Efron’s not so bad. The motivation of Dick Kelly is to have sex- almost like the guys in American Pie, but with them it was cute- but DeNiro plays a man in his 70’s.

That is fine, but he is so blunt about his need for sex and whines of not having sex for fifteen years because of his wife’s cancer. So, the audience is to think of him as a nice guy because he waits for his wife to die to score on spring break?

Lame.

Efron is my favorite character and as mentioned above- he bears a lot of skin, making it the most appealing aspect of this sorry film.

The chemistry between Efron and DeNiro is not terrible, and I bought them as grandfather and grandson.

Efron is not afraid to poke fun at his beefcake image and kudos to him for this. He has a fantastic, chiseled body, and good for him for showing it off.

Efron has the talent- does anyone recall The Paperboy? He was superlative in that underrated independent gem. His character is the straight man in Dirty Grandpa and the only “normal” character. He is the voice of reason if you will.

The supporting characters are as stereotypical as possible.

It is almost as if the film intends to offend, but with no good reason why. Dirty Grandpa has the dumb jocks, the horny teen girl, the weak, effeminate gay character, the Hispanic drug dealer, and so forth.

Danny Glover’s brief cameo appearance as a horny wheelchair-bound nursing home resident (and old buddy of Dick) is as much laughable (not in a good way) as forgettable. Most characters are thinly written.

Dirty Grandpa appeals to unsophisticated moviegoers who find crude, mean-spirited characters funny, and deem stock characters acceptable. Every other sensible person will dislike this film.

Ted-2012

Ted-2012

Director-Seth MacFarlane

Starring-Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis

Scott’s Review #428

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Reviewed June 21, 2016

Grade: D-

So many times I will watch a comedy deemed “the funniest movie of the year”, or some other touting, and be disappointed in it. This is certainly the case with Ted.

To be fair to the creators, I did enjoy the 1980’s references and the teddy bear had a charming, gruff, witty, crude personality that was funny at times, but that was really it for the positives.

The main storyline (loyal slacker with a successful girlfriend) has been done to death and this was one of the most predictable, sappy movie endings I’ve ever seen so I don’t get why people think it is so great. Think happily ever after, as if the result was ever in question.

Ted was filled with stereotypical characters, specifically the Asian stereotypes, and a myriad of dumb situations. The actors certainly could handle stronger material.

Raunchy comedies need not have a surprise ending, but the sappy love story was too lame to take at times. At least the film should have taken some risks and given an edge to it.  And lord helps us if there is the inevitable sequel.

Oscar Nominations: Best Original Song-“Everybody Needs a Best Friend”

That’s My Boy-2012

That’s My Boy-2012

Director-Sean Anders

Starring-Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg

Scott’s Review #423

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Reviewed June 19, 2016

Grade: D

That’s My Boy is such an incredibly bad film yet there is something that strangely kept my attention. With oodles of stereotypes and either sexist, homophobic, or racist jokes throughout the film, it should have made me angry, but somehow it did not. This movie was so completely over the top that it could not possibly be taken too seriously.

One laughable aspect that I did enjoy was the, albeit odd, cameos by Vanilla Ice and Todd Bridges who seem to have no problem degrading themselves, and the references to the 1980s, otherwise this was pretty rock bottom for filmmaking.

This is not a knock on the dumb comedy genre as there are other recent similar types of films that are well written (This is 40). But, alas, That’s My Boy is not one of those films and will not go down in history as such.

True to form, the ending was predictable and uninteresting.

Celeste and Jesse Forever-2012

Celeste and Jesse Forever-2012

Director-Lee Toland Krieger

Starring-Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg

Scott’s Review #421

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Reviewed June 19, 2016

Grade: D

Celeste and Jesse Forever was a major dud for me. I am not a fan of romantic comedies, but since the film received a nomination for an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay, I decided to watch it. Why this film was nominated for that award I cannot understand. Perhaps someone knows someone who knows someone?

There is nothing impressive about the writing whatsoever. It’s a tried and true romantic comedy formula: couple together, the couple splits, the couple reunites, throw in some misunderstandings for good measure and that is pretty much the film. The central characters and supporting characters are either dull, annoying, or both.

To be fair, there is nothing loathsome about the movie, but rather, it’s your standard by the numbers romantic comedy that warrants no award nominations. Bland.

Independent Spirit Award Nominations: Best First Screenplay

Magic Mike XXL-2015

Magic Mike XXL-2015

Director-Gregory Jacobs

Starring-Channing Tatum

Scott’s Review #290

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Reviewed November 27, 2015

Grade: F

Magic Mike XXL might be the worst film of 2015.

In the follow-up to 2012’s Magic Mike (a predictable yet decent flick), this version has none of the novelty nor the basic storyline that the original contained.

Instead, audiences are treated to a lame mess of nonsense, lack of a story that makes sense or is realistic, plot holes galore, and, to nitpick a bit given the subject matter at hand, scarcely any skin at all.

A stripper road trip kind of movie, I can’t quite decide if the film was targeting frat guys looking for a buddy movie or teen girls and soccer moms looking for escapism.

Even in a less than adequate film, I always try to find something positive to mention, whether it be with the characters, the story, or cinematic elements, but I truly cannot find any redeeming value to Magic Mike XXL.

Fortunately, Matthew McConaughey had the good sense not to sign on to appear in this drivel.  The same is not the case with Channing Tatum as he is the star of this installment. Poor guy. I hope the paycheck was worth it.

The premise is as follows: Mike (Tatum), who is out of the stripper business and now runs a furniture business, receives a call that his former boss is “gone”. Mistaking this to mean he has died, Mike returns to Florida to see his old buddies, who convince him to join a stripper convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to end their careers on a high note.

While on the road en route to the convention, problems, secrets, and past faces resurface to add to the drama.

Mike’s love interest from the first film is barely mentioned and dismissed in a weak story-dictated explanation. This is an attempt for Mike to have a new love interest in the character of Zoe, a photographer headed to New York and played by Amber Heard.

The film is a mess from start to finish, but here are highlights (or low-lights). The silliness in conflict over coming up with a new routine fails miserably.

The character of Richie (Joe Manganiello) slinks into a convenience store and razzle dazzles a brooding cashier, making her burst with delight because she thinks he is dancing for her.

C’mon! Completely juvenile, watered down,  and unrealistic.

The stereotypes simply flow from Magic Mike XXL. En route to Myrtle Beach, the fellas make two stops that are the most ridiculous parts of the film and feature name actresses in silly roles.

When their van breaks down after an accident, clearly a plot-driven way to allow the group to be sans vehicle,  Mike looks up an ex named Rome (a severely miscast and unappealing Jada Pinkett Smith), who runs a weird male stripper house for bachelorette’s in the middle of nowhere.

After a lame strip scene (PG-rated at best) to impress Rome, the boys are on their way again.

What was the point of introducing Rome to the story at all? And there is zero chemistry between Tatum and Smith. It seems like complete filler and the dancing scene is endless.

As if the film wasn’t bad enough already, one of the dancers looks up his love interest and the group winds up at her mother’s house. A fifty-something boozy, sophisticate, played by Andie MacDowell, is the mother Nancy, and along with her group of cougar friends, flirt with the boys and conjures up every negative female stereotype imaginable- a couple of the women are misunderstood by their husbands and are feeling needy and desperate.

And of course, they are all horny and drooling over the guys.

And what is with the lack of nudity or much skin? Is Magic Mike XXL not a stripper film?  Besides  Manganiello’s bare bum in one brief pool scene, there is nothing else and barely any stripping going on. This truly makes the film weak.

Magic Mike XXL is a complete dud of a film and I hope against hope that there will not be a third installment. If the target audience is giggly teen girls, the horrific bad writing does not say much for society these days.

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda- 2015

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda- 2015

Director-Griff Furst

Starring-Robert Englund

Scott’s Review #267

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Reviewed August 16, 2015

Grade: D

To say that Lake Placid vs. Anaconda is a bad film is being generous. It is poorly made, written, and acted.

Containing every horror and comedy cliché in the book, it is not a film to take seriously and is best watched late at night amongst adult spirits.

The premise is ludicrous, the acting way overdone, and all characters are “types” and one-dimensional.

Having seen the original Lake Placid and Anaconda films (and they were not so great themselves), I was unaware that this is the fifth film for both franchises and is a crossover.

Premiering on the Syfy network in mid-2015, it is a made-for-television feature, and the lack of any real gore is apparent for this reason.

Robert Englund and Yancy Butler, stars of other installments of the franchise, make return appearances. Sadly, no Betty White or Jennifer Lopez (stars of the original Lake Placid and Anaconda respectively) in this one.

Lake Placid vs. Anaconda is not trying to be great art or necessarily art at all, but rather an idiotic late-night experience. I did not rate the film a solid F since it knew what it was and did not try to take itself too seriously, which I respect at least.

The story begins in the middle of the woods near Clear Lake, Maine, as an illegal experiment is occurring inside a truck. The serum is being illegally extracted from a sedated crocodile to sell to a giant corporation for profit. Jim Bickerman (played by horror legend Englund) has been paid handsomely to provide information for the plot to happen.

A villainous corporate schemer is on hand to oversee the events. Inevitably, something goes wrong and the crocodile wakes up and gets loose, encountering large anacondas, who are also on the loose.

From this point, we are introduced to other inane characters that round out the film, including a group of bitchy sorority sisters on their way to Clear Lake presumably to pledge and party, and Sheriff Reba (Yancy Butler) and her bumbling team of police officers.

Also integral to the story is one of the sorority sister’s (Bethany) fathers, Will, who attempts to help Sheriff Reba rescue everyone from the killer reptiles.

Side stories include the laugh out loud pledge attempts by some of the sorority wannabees (one is forced to dig a hole in the sand large enough for her to hide in within 20 minutes), a friendship between the only two sensible girls, Bethany and Margot, a high leveled female executive intent on capturing the serum for riches, and a burgeoning romance between Reba and Will.

Silly personified, the film is meant to be goofy and the actors play their roles as they are foolishly written. There is not a shred of realism to the film and none of the characters have any depth.

The worst offender from a character standpoint is humorously my favorite. Tiffani is the comically vicious sorority queen. With her constant berating of the new pledges, she regularly demands that they get in the water and swim for her entertainment.

Ultimately, the girls are attacked by the crocodile in the water, allowing for multiple camera shots of the girls swimming underwater while scantily clad.

Is this a 1980’s low-budget horror throwback? When the crocodile emerges to land the remaining girls flee for safety.

In a hilarious scene, Tiffani and one of her minions are cornered by the vicious crocodile. The minion asks what they should do and Tiffani replies with, “I have an idea”, and promptly pushes the minion towards the crocodile where she is chewed to bits allowing Tiffani to escape.

Later, predictably, Tiffani receives her comeuppance.

I find myself perplexed as to why this film was even made. Made on a shoestring budget, with dated CGI effects, little blood, and a preposterous plot. One is to assume that the franchise’s predecessors were similar ventures.

Laced with one dumb scene after another and tough to take at all seriously, Lake Placid vs. Anaconda is as poor filmmaking as they come, but certainly to be taken with a grain of salt and enjoyed for its campy badness.

Art, hardly, but rather a fluff horror-comedy for a boozy Saturday night.

Neighbors-2014

Neighbors-2014

Director-Nicholas Stoller

Starring-Zac Efron, Seth Rogan

Scott’s Review #229

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Reviewed March 15, 2015

Grade: F

By far one of the worst movies I have seen in some time, Neighbors is a silly, redundant, nonsensical, and plain old bad film. Whoever thought this film was a good idea and green-lit it must have their head examined.

Successful comedies- even raunchy, slapstick comedy, contain perfect comic timing and likable characters that the audience roots for, and at least a shred of creativity and originality- Neighbors has none of these qualities.

Bridesmaids is an example of a modern raunchy comedy that works and is hysterical- sadly, Neighbors is a far cry from Bridesmaids.

Neighbors star Seth Rogan, a familiar face in the slapstick comedy genre, along with Rose Byrne as Mac and Kelly Radner, a married couple in their thirties with a newborn baby named Stella.

Former party animals in their college days, the two live in a college town and attempt to peacefully bring up their daughter in a great neighborhood.

One day, Delta Psi Beta, a fraternity known to be one of the rowdiest of frats, moves into the house next door to the Radner’s and immediately begins causing chaos with their never-ending, rambunctious parties. The frat is led by Teddy, played by Zac Efron.

Initially striking up mutual respect, the Radner’s relationship with Teddy is ruined due to a misunderstanding involving the police being called one night. The remainder of the film focuses on Mac and Kelly’s attempts at getting the fraternity to move out of their house by sabotaging parties and pitting various frat brothers against each other, causing hijinks to ensue and war to develop between parents and college kids.

If Neighbors is an attempt to harken back to the days of delicious college comedies such as Animal House or American Pie, the film fails on every level- it is simply not funny.

It contains a plot that is so unoriginal and the jokes featured to death in similar films (bathroom humor, frat jokes, drug jokes, male and female anatomy jokes) and by this point, if you have seen one Seth Rogan film you have seen them all- he is a one-trick pony and has become what Adam Sandler became- tired and dull.

Rose Byrne’s annoying character had me believing the actress was using a poor Australian accent only to realize that the actress is Australian. This is not a testament to Ms. Byrne’s acting ability by the way.

The protagonists are quite irritating and not likable at all. What is the rooting value? Mac and Kelly are irresponsible parents. They presumably leave Stella at home to visit the frat house and wind up getting drunk and high, stay out late, wake up early the next day when Kelly attempts to feed Stella using tainted breast milk, which leads us to an unfunny scene between Mac and Kelly focusing on Kelly’s vein-popping breasts, which makes no sense anyway.

Other suspensions of disbelief and logic pop up left and right- Why would the police reveal to the fraternity the names of who had called to complain about them and after catching the Radner’s in a lie, tell them never to call the police again?

How unrealistic. Mac and Kelly live in a college town, the risk of a fraternity or sorority being close by never occurred to them? They acted surprised that college students existed at all.

The wonderful Lisa Kudrow is cast in a ridiculous role as the college Dean but is completely wasted in a hysterical, bubble-headed, dumb role.

If I had to give a positive to Neighbors, it would be that Zac Efron does a halfway decent job portraying his character Teddy and Efron does possess a good deal of acting talent (think-The Paperboy), but I am being quite generous and looking for a bright side to a train wreck.

The film is poor.

Bachelor Party-1984

Bachelor Party-1984

Director-Neal Israel

Starring-Tom Hanks, Adrian Zmed

Scott’s Review #163

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Reviewed September 1, 2014

Grade: D

Watching Bachelor Party for the very first time circa 2014, and quite certainly the last time I plan on watching this film, I realized almost immediately how dated it is and at this point can only be presumably enjoyed for nostalgia purposes. I can’t fathom anyone watching Bachelor Party for the first time and thinking it is a great film- it is not.

If not for Tom Hanks becoming a huge star this comedy would be forgotten as there are dozens of like-minded films from the 1980s that resemble it- think Pretty in Pink, National Lampoon films, etc.

The premise is basic- Rick (Hanks) and Debbie (Tawny Kitaen) are engaged and Rick’s friends throw a Bachelor party while Debbie goes out with the girls. Of course, Debbie’s parents hate Rick and scheme, along with her ex, to break them up. Every decade seems to have a similar carbon copy of this party-themed film- Animal House, American Pie, The Hangover though not as entertaining as the aforementioned films.

All the characters are caricatures, one-note, and types. There is a little back story for any of them. The plot is silly, predictable, and the 1980’s look to the film does not hold up well. The film contains every stereotype imaginable- the meddlesome parents, Debbie’s vicious ex-boyfriend who is the film’s foil, various frat boys and sorority girl types, and Rick’s inept siblings. Avoid, unless a trip down 1980’s bad film memory lane is needed.

Tower Heist-2011

Tower Heist-2011

Director-Brett Ratner

Starring-Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy

Scott’s Review #160

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Reviewed August 29, 2014

Grade: D

Tower Heist is completely formulaic, by the numbers comedy with absolutely no surprises or, frankly, creativity.

It tells the story of a luxury high-rise apartment manager named Josh Kovacs, weakly played by Ben Stiller and set in New York City, whose favorite tenant, a businessman named Arthur Shaw, played by Alan Alda is arrested for involvement in a Ponzi scheme.

The entire staff’s pensions have been squandered, thanks to Josh entrusting Shaw with the funds, and he strives to return the money to the rightful owners via a team of staff and an ex-con, played by Eddie Murphy who teams up and attempts to locate millions of dollars hidden in Shaw’s apartment.

If this film was a starring vehicle with Ben Stiller in mind, it was done horribly. He has been much funnier in There’s Something About Mary or Meet the Parents.

Tower Heist has some similarities to the film Ocean’s Eleven- the score is recognizable and mirrors that film and the band of players are similar to that film and the look of it reminds me of Ocean’s Eleven.

Murphy plays a silly, stereotypical role, no chemistry or anything is interesting between the group striving to retain the $$, and no chemistry between Stiller and Tea Leoni, who plays an FBI agent with a phony Queens accent that I found laugh out loud bad.

Nothing worked in this film as it was one tired gag after another and completely predictable.

I will admit that the 2 minor positives in Tower Heist were Alan Alda- always great to see him in films, and the interesting choice of a luxurious high-rise setting with cool, ritzy interiors taken from real buildings in NYC.

Otherwise, this film is a complete dud.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective-1994

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective-1994

Director-Tom Shadyac

Starring-Jim Carey, Courtney Cox

Scott’s Review #106

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Reviewed July 12, 2014

Grade: D-

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective is a silly comedy from 1994 starring Jim Carey as a goofy private investigator specializing in pet rescue.

He is fairly inept but is hired by the Miami Dolphins to find their stolen mascot.

The film is ridiculous on almost every level- bad clichés, bad acting, mostly by the football players, and a dumb plot.

The saving grace of the film is Jim Carey who defined the goofy, slapstick film star of the 1990s and, although over-the-top, is actually quite funny with his weird gestures and absurd mannerisms.

If the writing were only slightly better- think Dumb and Dumber or The Mask, this film would have been almost enjoyable, but it pushes the definition of dumb fun just a little too far and sooner rather than later becomes convoluted and tedious.

A cameo appearance by Dan Marino, obviously a poor actor, just made this move seem sad and desperate.

Sean Young is appealing as the villain.

Easy to Love-1953

Easy to Love-1953

Director-Charles Watson

Starring-Esther Williams, Van Johnson

Scott’s Review #86

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Reviewed July 2, 2014

Grade: D

Easy to Love (1953) is a romantic comedy from 1953 starring competitive swimmer turned actress Esther Williams. Williams plays a (surprise!) swimmer in love with her boss who does not return her affections. She also has two other suitors madly in love with her, so it’s a love triangle type of film with Williams having a side-kick, played by Edna Skinner. They go from Florida to New York on a job adventure.

The main problem with this film is the silly script. It’s a romantic comedy of its day with Williams scampering from one beau to the next. By the end of the film, she has three suitors all vying for her affections, but the viewer hardly cares whom she chooses or which one was meant to be the hero. The endless scenes of Williams swimming around were necessary since that’s what she was known for, but the film is a dud on almost every level.

Williams, hardly known for her acting ability, spends much of the film jet-skiing and prancing around in swimwear while men lust after her. That pretty much sums up Easy to Love (1953). Williams is not a terrible actress, though hardly Katharine Hepburn either. The movie just seems lackluster and quite trivial and not too much fun.