Stunt Granny Movie Review: Pain & Gain

pain-and-gainSure, this movie debuted April 11 but we didn’t review it so here it comes. It wasn’t worth going to see full price so my lady and I shuffled off to the Marginally More Than a Dollar Theater before it left even there. I’m not sure what I expected from this movie. All I remember reading about it was that some group was angry that they were glorifying criminals who killed someone. I’m quite sure whoever said that didn’t watch this movie. Or they had their eyes open and didn’t get the message of the movie which was Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and Paul Doyle (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) were all incredibly stupid weight lifters who got what they deserved. So spoilers ahead. You have been warned so no bitching.

Daniel Lugo is the main character and ring leader of this crew. I could have done without the ending being at the beginning of the movie because it was a linear story otherwise and didn’t add anything to the movie a la Pulp Fiction. Lugo has big dreams of being a rich guy but the only thing he truly cares about is looking buff while taking copious amounts steroids. It is funny that a rich guy who may have had help from performance enhancing drugs is playing the part. Lugo is a gym trainer who changes gyms to make more money. Unfortunately, after bringing in major business into the new gym his needs aren’t satisfied so him and his best friend Adrian Doorbal hatch a plan to kidnap a client Victor Kershaw, played by Tony Shalhoub, and have him sign over his Scholtzsky’s fortune. I immediately thought to myself “How dumb is this plan?” but because they’re both idiots, no such thought crosses their minds. They feel the need to have a third person in their crew which is where Paul Doyle comes into the equation. He is another ex-convict who can’t get a job anywhere. Lugo convinces John Mese, played by Rob Corddry and the owner of the new gym, to hire Doyle all while planning to add him to the kidnapping crew. Doyle is the only sympathetic figure since he had cleaned up his act after his drug fueled conviction by becoming drug free and trying to dedicate his life to God. His character certainly brought the funny because of his split personality between his old life and new life. Lugo persuades Doyle to join his crew by telling him that it will be easy and no one will get hurt. Only another dumb weight lifter would think that a kidnapping could end without someone getting hurt.

Their incompetence comes in when they attempt to kidnap Kershaw but they fail twice before finally grabbing him on their third attempt when he comes out of his Scholtzsky’s. Keep in mind that these lunk heads thought ninja costumes from your local Halloween store were good costumes. Lugo, Doorbal and Doyle end up keeping Kershaw in an abandoned dry cleaners turned sex toy storage warehouse. The later of which comes into play because Kershaw is beaten with sex toys. After finally breaking Kershaw and getting him to sign over his Scholtzsky’s and money, Lugo runs into the problem that none of the paper work is notarized. John Mese comes into the equation because the gym has leveled off, he needs a sponsor for a body building competition and he just so happens to be a notary public. Lugo promises him a Schlotzsky’s sponsorship in turn for notarizing the documents that will bring him his “deserved” riches. Because Kershaw knows their identity, Lugo realizes that they need to kill him. Their first attempt to drive him into a concrete column fails because his car has an airbag and because Doorbal buckled Kershaw’s seatbelt before sending him on his way. Even Doyle & Lugo contemplate how dumb Doorbal is after that incident. Lighting the car on fire back fired because Lugo poured all of the gasoline on the exterior of the car and unlike every other movie, it didn’t blow the whole thing sky high. Because Doyle is driving the get away vehicle, Doorbal & Lugo convince him to run him over, twice.

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Stunt Granny Movie Review: The Hangover Part III

hangover3-finale-600

The Matrix Revolutions, Spiderman 3, X-Men: The Last Stand, Iron Man 3, The Godfather 3, Jaws 3D

All of these films have the distinction of being the weakest movie in their franchises trilogy and now you can add The Hangover Part III to that list. The movie isn’t bad so much as it is so glaringly different that it is a head scratcher. If you are looking for the over the top lunacy of the first movie or the grim and dirty shenanigans of the second then you are in for a letdown. Sure there is still a decent amount of humor but not as much, well really nowhere near the amount audiences have come to expect from this franchise.

Don’t go in to “The Hangover Part III” expecting the same old same old. The movie is carefully crafted to not resemble the previous two films in anyway. Sure they end up in Vegas but gone are the bachelor parties, drug induced blackouts, ridiculous alcohol consumption, mystery and unfortunately the fun.

Thirty minutes in to “The Hangover Part III” Bradley Cooper’s character, Phil, yells out “What The fuck am I watching?” As Ken Jeong’s, Chang, takes the karaoke stage in Tijuana and starts singing Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” it was hard not to share the same sentiment.  It is a spectacular scene and something the movie needed a lot more of. It was unpredictable, absurd and funny. It ends abruptly and the movie rolls back in to its Fugitive storyline of the hapless trio trying to track down Chang.

The circumstances surrounding this film revolve around the newly escaped Change and his theft of millions of dollars from John Goodman’s character Marshall. After a series of events that you can see from the trailer and numerous television spots The Wolfpack head to Arizona and are intercepted by Marshall looking for a way to get to Chang. He explains the convoluted backstory and insists they find Chang or Doug; yup he gets relegated to nothing again, killed.

This isn’t to say the movie is bad, I enjoyed it, but after two biting and harshly funny movies the abrupt change in theme and attitude is jarring. The anticipation for the first huge laugh wears off after the opening moments that were of course ruined by the trailers and television spots. If you have seen them then you know Zach Galifinakis’ character Alan doesn’t use much foresight and ends up causing a rather large mess on the California interstate. It is funny and built pretty well but it felt unnecessary and forced. It was intended to be the movies big shock moment but having been ruined by previews it doesn’t get the laugh it probably should have.

The Hangover franchise was built on sarcasm, hostility and a real sense of arrogance and it has been wildly successful despite the fact there was really no justification for any other movies. As a standalone film The Hangover was totally different. It was mean –spirited, unapologetic and unpredictable. The second was even more mean spirited if not downright nasty at times but got too cute. This time around the nasty aspect has been replaced by bigger action pieces and an overwhelming sense of finality.

The story lags at points as nostalgia and call backs to the previous films are forced in to the plot. Instead of gong forward there is a concerted effort to fill in history where nothing is needed. Also, in the place of laughs the action grows larger and larger while the plausibility of the events diminishes. This wouldn’t matter much if there were strong comedic patches to cover these flaws. This is goes back to the central issue with the movie. You just don’t know what you are watching. While the effort is there to create something totally different it doesn’t succeed. A straight up action movie would have been fine. It would have messed with the audience in a big way but then no one could complain the movie was the exact same as the other two. This one isn’t at all.

The Hangover Part III contains the same faces and characters of the franchise but nothing quite seems the same. It leaves you unbalanced. Sometimes it works and others it just fails.

On a positive note the Director of photography, Lawrence Sher is top notch. Each set and environment is filmed in totally different ways. He creates totally different characters with the choice of lighting and backdrops. Tijuana is washed in dark, muted tones that create a sleazy environment. The neon street lights off the Tijuana streets barley illuminate the characters while inside the bar lighting reflects off of each of them in unflattering ways.  The close up on Chang singing shows dramatically just what this character is all about. He is a slimy, grimy man. Close ups of his oily, sweating face jump off the screen. You immediately feel a level of discomfort  with Chang and it sticks.

On the other hand Las Vegas is filmed with a shimmer that paints Vegas as the pristine fun palace that it was in the first film. As soon as the city lights are shown in the background they are inviting and comforting. It reminds you of the first The Hangover. Las Vegas was a playground unlike the streets of Bangkok with their dirt and filth. But then The Hangover movies have always had a very particular visual style and are one of the unheralded appeals of the films.

Another stand out of this film is the performance of Zach Galifianakis. While he was largely forgotten in the second movie the third is all his. His emotional range is spot on and despite the reported of ending for the film what he says and how he acts makes you believe his character. As the movie winds down you see a change in Alan and it is all owed to Galifianakis. You can see the sheer joy and happiness in his eyes as he finds a “soulmate.” You see the anger at his dad eulogy even with sunglasses. It was a good choice to give him the bulk of the action as it pays off in spades.

The rest of the actors are just there. This isn’t a negative but after two other movies what else can you do with the same characters and what they have been through. Bradley Cooper is still the dashing mini-van angry husband. Stu is still the nervous dentist looking for validation. Chang is still the over the top drug riddled malcontent. Chang may have been ratcheted up a bit but it is necessary with the amount of screen time he is given.

Look, there have been worse comedies this year. There have been worse action movies this year. The Hangover Part III tries to be too different than its predecessors and it shows. It has a few laughs but nowhere near the amount of the first two films. It illuminates the fact that it is time to wrap this series up and really makes you wonder if it was even needed. – Jeremy

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The Matrix Revolutions, Spiderman 3, X-Men: The Last Stand, Iron Man 3, The Godfather 3, Jaws 3D

All of these films have the distinction of being the weakest movie in their franchises trilogy and now you can add The Hangover Part III to that list. The movie isn’t bad so much as it is so glaringly different that it is a head scratcher. If you are looking for the over the top lunacy of the first movie or the grim and dirty shenanigans of the second then you are in for a letdown. Sure there is still a decent amount of humor but not as much, well really nowhere near the amount audiences have come to expect from this franchise.

Don’t go in to “The Hangover Part III” expecting the same old same old. The movie is carefully crafted to not resemble the previous two films in anyway. Sure they end up in Vegas but gone are the bachelor parties, drug induced blackouts, ridiculous alcohol consumption, mystery and unfortunately the fun.

Thirty minutes in to “The Hangover Part III” Bradley Cooper’s character, Phil, yells out “What The fuck am I watching?” As Ken Jeong’s, Chang, takes the karaoke stage in Tijuana and starts singing Johnny Cash’s version of “Hurt” it was hard not to share the same sentiment.  It is a spectacular scene and something the movie needed a lot more of. It was unpredictable, absurd and funny. It ends abruptly and the movie rolls back in to its Fugitive storyline of the hapless trio trying to track down Chang.

The circumstances surrounding this film revolve around the newly escaped Change and his theft of millions of dollars from John Goodman’s character Marshall. After a series of events that you can see from the trailer and numerous television spots The Wolfpack head to Arizona and are intercepted by Marshall looking for a way to get to Chang. He explains the convoluted backstory and insists they find Chang or Doug; yup he gets relegated to nothing again, killed.

This isn’t to say the movie is bad, I enjoyed it, but after two biting and harshly funny movies the abrupt change in theme and attitude is jarring. The anticipation for the first huge laugh wears off after the opening moments that were of course ruined by the trailers and television spots. If you have seen them then you know Zach Galifinakis’ character Alan doesn’t use much foresight and ends up causing a rather large mess on the California interstate. It is funny and built pretty well but it felt unnecessary and forced. It was intended to be the movies big shock moment but having been ruined by previews it doesn’t get the laugh it probably should have.

The Hangover franchise was built on sarcasm, hostility and a real sense of arrogance and it has been wildly successful despite the fact there was really no justification for any other movies. As a standalone film The Hangover was totally different. It was mean –spirited, unapologetic and unpredictable. The second was even more mean spirited if not downright nasty at times but got too cute. This time around the nasty aspect has been replaced by bigger action pieces and an overwhelming sense of finality.

The story lags at points as nostalgia and call backs to the previous films are forced in to the plot. Instead of gong forward there is a concerted effort to fill in history where nothing is needed. Also, in the place of laughs the action grows larger and larger while the plausibility of the events diminishes. This wouldn’t matter much if there were strong comedic patches to cover these flaws. This is goes back to the central issue with the movie. You just don’t know what you are watching. While the effort is there to create something totally different it doesn’t succeed. A straight up action movie would have been fine. It would have messed with the audience in a big way but then no one could complain the movie was the exact same as the other two. This one isn’t at all.

The Hangover Part III contains the same faces and characters of the franchise but nothing quite seems the same. It leaves you unbalanced. Sometimes it works and others it just fails.

On a positive note the Director of photography, Lawrence Sher is top notch. Each set and environment is filmed in totally different ways. He creates totally different characters with the choice of lighting and backdrops. Tijuana is washed in dark, muted tones that create a sleazy environment. The neon street lights off the Tijuana streets barley illuminate the characters while inside the bar lighting reflects off of each of them in unflattering ways.  The close up on Chang singing shows dramatically just what this character is all about. He is a slimy, grimy man. Close ups of his oily, sweating face jump off the screen. You immediately feel a level of discomfort  with Chang and it sticks.

On the other hand Las Vegas is filmed with a shimmer that paints Vegas as the pristine fun palace that it was in the first film. As soon as the city lights are shown in the background they are inviting and comforting. It reminds you of the first The Hangover. Las Vegas was a playground unlike the streets of Bangkok with their dirt and filth. But then The Hangover movies have always had a very particular visual style and are one of the unheralded appeals of the films.

Another stand out of this film is the performance of Zach Galifianakis. While he was largely forgotten in the second movie the third is all his. His emotional range is spot on and despite the reported of ending for the film what he says and how he acts makes you believe his character. As the movie winds down you see a change in Alan and it is all owed to Galifianakis. You can see the sheer joy and happiness in his eyes as he finds a “soulmate.” You see the anger at his dad eulogy even with sunglasses. It was a good choice to give him the bulk of the action as it pays off in spades.

The rest of the actors are just there. This isn’t a negative but after two other movies what else can you do with the same characters and what they have been through. Bradley Cooper is still the dashing mini-van angry husband. Stu is still the nervous dentist looking for validation. Chang is still the over the top drug riddled malcontent. Chang may have been ratcheted up a bit but it is necessary with the amount of screen time he is given.

Look, there have been worse comedies this year. There have been worse action movies this year. The Hangover Part III tries to be too different than its predecessors and it shows. It has a few laughs but nowhere near the amount of the first two films. It illuminates the fact that it is time to wrap this series up and really makes you wonder if it was even needed. – Jeremy

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Jeremy’s Monthly Movies for May 2013

movie_nightIron Man 3- May 3, 2013

Look Iron Man 2 isn’t nearly as bad as people made it out to be. Yeah it had its flaws but then it also led us right to The Avengers so all is forgiven. The previews have been coming fast and in abundance an each one looks more badass then the next. This is the official kickoff movie for the summer season and looks like it will be well worth the money. I have the tickets already.

The Great Gatsby- May 10, 2013

I have no idea what The Great Gatsby is about and I know I should but whatever. The previews look to be the usual mess of visual and music from Baz Lurhman and that is a good thing. This is clearly geared toward gay men and women as those re the only people I have heard mention this flick as a must see. No shame in that as it will drag in a larger audience this way. It will also benefit from make good ticket sales for men dragging their women to see Iron Man 3 the week before. Possible theatre movie but not set in stone.

Peeples-  May 10, 2013

First off I am not black that I know of; so I understand this movie is clearly not marketed for me. I do liek funny movies and this, well, this doens;t seem to cut it. I remember seeing this preview before GI.Joe and immediately called out that Tyler Perry had his hands in this in some capacity and I was spot on. So, after all of that this movie doesn’t look terrible but it doesn’t look very interesting as well. It is the same basic formula as every other fish out of water movie. The only curious development is that David Alan Grier appears to have abandoned his normal shtick and plays the straight man. So yeah save the cash and wait for TBS.

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