[Happy 30th Birthday!] April Fool’s Day (1986)

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Director: Fred Walton

Cast: Deborah Foreman, Griffin O’Neal, Clayton Rohner, Jay Baker, Deborah Goodrich, Ken Olandt, Leah King Pinsent, Amy Steel, Thomas F. Wilson

Screenplay: Danilo Bach

89 mins. Rated R.

 

Of all the interesting holiday-themed horror films to spring up from the success of films like Halloween, April Fool’s Day is probably the most interesting idea. It’s a film idea that, even on the surface, shouldn’t work very well, but this film created its cult following from its smart plotting and playful attitude. It’s only a question of whether or not it holds up after three decades.

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Eight friends of the heiress Muffy St. John (Deborah Foreman, Valley Girl, Lobster Men from Mars) gather for a weekend at her secluded island cabin to celebrate the last year of college. When secrets start to be uncovered from each of their pasts, a cold-blooded killer begins to do away with each of them in turn, but as April Fool’s Day is upon them, the gang can’t tell who’s pranking who, and who’s killing who.

April Fool’s Day may not be the most illustrious of horror films, but it is damn fun all the same. The campiness of pranks (though many involve murder strangely) combined with the horror aspects create a silly but altogether enjoyable film.

It helps to have genre favorites like Amy Steel (TV’s All My Children, Friday the 13th Part 2), Thomas F. Wilson (Back to the Future, The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water) and Ken Olandt (Leprechaun, Power Play) involved as well.

Again, I should point out, this movie wasn’t going to win any awards, but as far as enjoyable film experiences, I just can’t really fault this one. Sure, the characters are mostly stiff and flat, but the dialogue keeps the tension and tone regular. Sure, director Fred Walton (When a Stranger Calls, The Stepford Husbands) isn’t a good director, but he nails it on this particular project.

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April Fool’s Day is a great film to show your friends. It is a great movie-night movie. It is a fun experience best shared with others. Having your group take guesses at just what’s going on is the most fun, and I think that’s what it’s all been about, right?

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

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New The Conjuring 2 Trailer Drops…Price of Adult Diapers Goes Up!

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Hey everybody, I hope you are having a wonderful holiday. Today, I got the chance to view the new trailer for The Conjuring 2, and I have to say, it does a great job of merely setting the tone for this film. The Conjuring 2 has a very “This Time It’s Personal” feel to it, which I like. Even supposedly based on real events, if you want to continue a story, you have to deepen the main character’s emotional impact, which has been done here.

Director James Wan, who brought us the original The Conjuring as well as Insidious, has definitely used his knowledge of action gained through his work on Furious 7 last year to ratchet up the tension nicely here. The trailer works without giving away all the best scenes (hopefully) and Wan’s studious application of cinematography evoking 1970s-style horror films is again very noticeably at play here.

So check out the trailer and tell me, are you going to be in line on opening night? What’s your favorite ghost or haunting film? Let me know!

The Conjuring 2 is documented on film screens nationwide on June 10.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Daddy’s Home (2015)

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Director: Sean Anders

Cast: Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Linda Cardellini

Screenplay: Brian Burns, Sean Anders

96 mins. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, crude and suggestive content, and for language.

 

Will Ferrell (Step Brothers, Zoolander 2) is a polarizing comic actor. To most, he creates comedy gold, but his comedy makes no apologies and doesn’t try to win over his detractors. I, personally, enjoy Ferrell more than chastise him, so what did I think of his newest flick with Mark Wahlberg (Boogies Nights, Entourage)?

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Brad Whitaker (Ferrell) is happy to be a father. Well, er, stepfather. His beautiful wife Sara (Linda Cardellini, TV’s ER, Avengers: Age of Ultron) has two children, and since Brad can’t father his own, he is more than happy to be a surrogate parent to them, but just as Brad is beginning to win them over, the family receives a call from actual father Dusty (Wahlberg), who is coming to town. Afraid to lose his family, Brad attempts to stand his ground with Dusty, but can Brad be the tough guy that Dusty? Can he be the real daddy?

Daddy’s Home is a simple premise, one that is fairly relatable. The problem is that it can’t decide what type of comedy it wants to be. When a film runs on for some time before making me laugh, I had a tendency to count the number of times I actually chuckle. Four. Four times. The movie just isn’t funny. I admire the comedic elements of the script, but they just don’t work for Ferrell’s comedy chops, and Wahlberg falls flat on every joke. There isn’t a ton to like here.

Linda Cardellini is a funny actress, but she has nowhere to play here, and the cast is joined by Thomas Haden Church who appears to pick up his cell and is actually phoning in a performance (okay, not really, but did he even learn his scenes?).

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Daddy’s Home has elements that work; there are just too many other elements that don’t. I want to like it, but the sad truth: director Sean Anders (Horrible Bosses 2, That’s My Boy) just can’t seem to find a funny bone, and the film suffers from it.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Happy 5th Birthday!] Sucker Punch (2011)

 

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac, Jon Hamm, Scott Glenn

Screenplay: Zack Snyder, Steve Shibuya

110 mins. Rated PG-13 for thematic material involving sexuality, violence and combat sequences, and for language.

 

Wow, I remember being very excited for Sucker Punch five years ago. I really enjoyed Dawn of the Dead and Watchmen, both directed by Zack Snyder (300, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) and I couldn’t wait to see what the visual director was going to bring next. Sucker Punch had the right amount of mystery and confidence to carry it for me. Then, it came out. My mind quickly changed. Looking back now, I decided to revisit Sucker Punch five years later to see if it had changed.

Sucker Punch is another one of those movies impossible to fully describe in a paragraph, so I’ll try to make it as easy as possible. Babydoll (Emily Browning, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Legend) has just lost her mother, and her step-father has sent her to an asylum for the mentally ill, which Babydoll sees as a brothel. She meets others there, like Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish,  Limitless, RoboCop) and her sister Rocket (Jena Malone, Contact, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2), and she is introduced to Blue Jones (Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), who makes Babydoll and her friends dance at his club. Not wanting to deal with the cards dealt, Babydoll escapes into a fantasy world where she battles Nazi Zombies, Robot Samurai, and of course, a dragon, all the time attempting to get tools to plot her escape.

If there are two truly great things that came out of Sucker Punch, they are the visuals and the music. This movie is gorgeous looking, and I don’t just mean the talent in front of the camera. Zack Snyder’s constant flair for the screen  is again impressive here. The score and soundtrack, both in the original renditions and songs selected to fit the film, are incredible and rhythmic and a lot of fun. That is where the wins for Sucker Punch end.

I’m not even going to touch on the misogynistic feel of the overall film. The movie just wants to be better than it is. I didn’t feel the emotional impact of much of the film because I knew that what I was seeing was not exactly what was really happening. It isn’t very easy to make a popcorn movie with explosions and scantily-clad woman battling monsters into a total snoozer, but Sucker Punch did just that. Honestly, when I read down the list of components of this film, it should be great, but the poor screenplay from Snyder and Steve Shibuya shines through this film, ultimately making a disappointment.

The film is star studded, also including Jamie Chung (Big Hero 6, Bad Johnson), Carla Gugino (Night at the Museum, San Andreas), Jon Hamm (TV’s Mad Men, Minions), and Scott Glenn (The Silence of the Lambs, The Barber), but unfortunately, the film feels overdone and undercooked, a beautifully confusing mess, a nicely mixed cocktail that tastes like mud. I really wanted to love Sucker Punch, but I just wasn’t in love with it.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, click here.

Garry Shandling Dead at 66

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It is with great sadness that I read about the loss of Garry Shandling. While the great comic actor has recently been out of the public eye for several years excluding a couple appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he was still an important figure in shaping the comedy world in the past few decades.

Not much is yet known, and my thoughts and prayers go to the family. Rest in Peace, Garry.

 

Selected Filmography:

  • It’s Garry Shandling’s Show. (1986-1990)
  • Mixed Nuts (1994)
  • The Larry Sanders Show (1992-1998)
  • Doctor Dolittle (1998)
  • Zoolander (2001)
  • Over the Hedge (2006)
  • Iron Man 2 (2010)
  • The Dictator (2012)
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

New Huntsman Trailer Still Not Entirely Convincing!

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Good morning everyone!

I saw that a new trailer for the upcoming prequel (‘cause why the hell not?)  The Huntsman: Winter’s War dropped, and it has a lot of new in it. I found the trailer to be much better than the previous ones I had seen, but the film still seems like a really nice looking piece of garbage, which is kind of what its predecessor was. This film does have one thing going for it, however: no Kristen Stewart.

In the newest trailer for the follow-up to Snow White and the Huntsman, there is a lot more relationship dynamic displayed, be it from the wicked Ravenna and her sister Freya, or from The Huntsman(who apparently won’t get a name) and his lover Sara. Many of the newest details were interesting, and overall the film convinced me to see it…on Netflix or maybe a Redbox.

This is wholly disappointing because on the whole, I really enjoy Chris Hemsworth, and I keep wondering why Emily Blunt joined this film but we still have no word on Captain Marvel, and also, what would this film have been if director Frank Darabont had stayed on. Lots of questions.

So will you be seeing The Huntsman: Winter’s War? What did you think of it? And what’s your favorite incarnation of the classic Snow White tale? Let me know!

The Huntsman: Winter’s War battles into theaters April 22nd.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Daisy Ridley Decides One Franchise Isn’t Enough: Actress in Talks to Become the Tomb Raider (and How the Internet is Ruining It)

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Daisy Ridley was easily one of the best parts of newest Star Wars installment, The Force Awakens. I enjoyed her subtlety and her strength as Rey, and it would appear that I’m not alone in that belief. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ridley has been in talks to join the upcoming reboot of the Tomb Raider film franchise as Lara Croft (a role previously played by Angelina Jolie).

Sure, the talks are very early still, and there isn’t a completed script, but the news has been met with some great enthusiasm from social media, but on the flipside, a lot of assholes have also voiced their opinions.

Again with the body-shaming. You are either too fat or too skinny in Hollywood, and the social media vultures have again come to eat. I’m so sick of people getting after actors and actresses for their size. Who gives a shit if they can act well and fit the director’s vision? Now, granted, I don’t believe that Tomb Raider has a director, so it is still way too early to assume that Daisy Ridley could fit the role, but enough is enough.

Yes, it is very early to say whether Daisy Ridley could rock Lara Croft, but I would be excited to see her try. Again, I would need to know who the director is and what route he or she wishes to take with the project.

So what do you think? Should Rey become a Tomb Raider? And who is your favorite actor/actress to helm multiple franchises? Let me know!

 

Daisy Ridley returns to Star Wars when Episode VIII drops in 2017.

 

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

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Director: Dan Trachtenberg

Cast: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Gallagher Jr.

Screenplay: Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken, Damien Chazelle

104 mins. Rated PG-13 for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence, and brief language.

 

What is 10 Cloverfield Lane? Is it a sequel to Cloverfield? How is it actually connected? What the hell is actually going on here? Lots of questions circulate the pseudo-sequel, or as J.J. Abrams calls it, the “spiritual successor” to Cloverfield, ever since its trailer premiered in front of 13 Hours after filming was completed without anyone really knowing about it. The idea is brilliant, but it remains with a follow-up question: Was it worth it?

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SPOILER ALERT: A film like 10 Cloverfield Lane has been shrouded in so much secrecy that many would consider any discussion to be spoilery. I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty of the spoiler territory and tread lightly here, but for all you spoiler purists out there, this is a heads up.

When Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Final Destination 3, Faults) wakes up in an underground bunker handcuffed to a pipe, she doesn’t understand what’s going on. It isn’t until she meets her captor, Howard (John Goodman, Monsters, Inc., Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle) that she learns of a horrible truth: there has been an attack on American soil. Everyone else is dead. She meets Emmett (John Gallagher Jr., TV’s The Newsroom, Short Term 12) who backs up the claim but doesn’t have any proof. So the question remains: Is Howard telling the truth? Or is Michelle in more danger beneath the soil? Also, it has Cloverfield in the title, so there’s that.

I spend the entirety of the film trying to tie it to Cloverfield. I’ll tell you right now, the film is tied to Cloverfield, but if you haven’t seen the original film, you could enjoy this one all the same.

John Goodman gives an award-worthy performance as the jealous and tense Howard, and he is met on an almost-equal playing field by Winstead and Gallagher here, as this single-location thriller unfolds. Director Dan Trachtenberg plays the claustrophobia well here, not overdoing it but letting the story dictate when. It’s a tautly-edited film, packed with great set design and excellent dialogue.

This entire film is exactly what it should be with one exception concerning the film’s ending (which I actually really enjoyed, but I also wanted more). I really can’t get too much into it, but I will say this: I’ve heard Abrams discuss a possible third installment, and I cannot wait. Not that this film sets up a sequel so much. I just want to see the next direction the series will take. After the stunning found-footage Cloverfield and the tightly-wound thriller 10 Cloverfield Lane, I just…I want more!

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So there you have it. See this damn movie! It’s the best film I’ve seen this year (so far, of course, but all the same). If you didn’t like Cloverfield or couldn’t sit through the found-footage, that’s fine. Go to 10 Cloverfield Lane. Now.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

 

So have you seen 10 Cloverfield Lane? What did you think? Did you catch the cameo at the beginning? Let me know!

Tom Segura: Mostly Stories (2016)

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Director: Jay Karas, Rami Hachache

Cast: Tom Segura, Gabriel G. Alvarez, I. Elijah Baughman, Brandon Brown

Screenplay: Tom Segura

73 mins. Not Rated.

 

I hadn’t seen Tom Segura before the night I decided to watch his newest stand-up special, Mostly Stories, and I was mostly impressed. Mostly.

I’ll break it down a bit: Tom Segura is funny. His jokes are occasionally too predictable. His storytelling is fine, but it also doesn’t always hit the way it should. He’s a genuinely funny guy, but his comedy doesn’t always land. I loved the early material of Mostly Stories. One of his areas of particular well-done work is his material on body piercings and the way to a man’s heart. He does miss the ball on his story involving Mike Tyson. The story works well until the supposed ending, which falls a bit flat.

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Tom Segura: Mostly Stories should be called Mostly Funny because it is. I’m not trying to fault the guy on his ability to tell a joke, but his less-developed work should be further kneaded before being displayed. I am definitely interested in his unique sense of humor and his dry delivery and would love to see more from him.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Deadpool (2016)

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Director: Tim Miller

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller, Ed Skrein, Gina Carano, Brianna Hildebrand

Screenplay: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick

108 mins. Rated R for strong violence and language throughout, sexual content and graphic nudity.

IMDb Top 250: #86 (as of 3/17/2016)

 

I’m almost in shock that I’m writing a review to Deadpool. I honestly never thought this film would even get off the ground, and many times, it actually didn’t, but due to the nerd-filled world we now live in, we somehow have been blessed with a Deadpool, and not only that, but the Deadpool that we deserve.

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Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds, Green Lantern, Self/Less) is a mercenary and an asshole, or perhaps a Merc with a Mouth, who falls for the beautiful and damaged Vanessa (Morena Baccarin, TV’s Homeland, Batman: Bad Blood) after literally boning for a year. Their love has been sealed, until fate, in the form of cancer, begins knocking on Wade’s door. He enters into a secretive and risky program run by Ajax (Ed Skrein, The Transporter Refuled, The Model), a mutant scientist weird guy. Soon, Wade is bestowed mutagen powers in the form of regeneration which gives him some terrible side effects. He pursues Ajax, the mutant responsible, by killing all of his henchmen, and dons the moniker Deadpool. Also, there are X-Men in the movie.

Oftentimes, when I review a film, I ask myself, what should this film be? How should it feel? How should it look? How should I leave it? Deadpool has the distinction of being almost exactly how this movie should be, a veritable knock-out of a film. Ryan Reynolds is the perfect embodiment of the Merc in just about every way, and what’s better, he cares about the source material, which matters.

Morena Baccarin is hot. She is portrayed as hot. And her chemistry with Reynolds is wonderful. Add to that the perfect casting of T.J. Miller (Cloverfield, How to Train Your Dragon 2) as Weasel, essentially the comic relief sidekick no one asked for but everyone is glad to have.

I also enjoyed the cameo-like appearance of Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand) as members of the X-Men, though in future installments, I feel like the connective tissue between Deadpool and the X-Men can be deeper (this will require great care as the two have very different styles). I was disappointed to find that there was no mention of Wolverine’s DNA and its connection to Wade. One of the few problems I had with the film was that it felt like it was trying to distance itself from the X-Men universe while also sending up references to the MCU. Being a general nerd here, I can ascertain that these are two different franchises, but I don’t think the general movie audience can completely separate the two.

The screenplay, from duo Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland, G.I. Joe: Retaliation) is mostly solid, with the exception being that without the interesting flashback structure, the “origin” story is rather one-dimensional, very much a paint-by-the-numbers tale. Thankfully, structure and style had this fact, but they can’t entirely hide the fact that the villain is rather one-dimensional (Ed Skrein really should’ve thought harder about leaving Game of Thrones).

Lastly, I feel compelled to point out the success of the fourth-wall breaks (they work really well), and note that the Stan Lee cameo in Deadpool is perhaps the best he’s ever had.

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Deadpool: the little Marvel property that could. It survived horrible butchering in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and made it all the way to success in a new timeline thanks to X-Men: Days of Future Past, and it was all worth it. Deadpool is loads of fun, really cool, and it elevates itself above the level of a normal superhero movie. Why haven’t you seen it yet?

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Gavin Hood’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, click here.

For my review of Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class, click here.

For my review of Bryan Singer’s X-Men, click here.

For my review of Bryan Singer’s X2: X-Men United, click here.

For my review of Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand, click here.

For my review of James Mangold’s The Wolverine, click here.

For my review of Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, click here.