BBB Best of 2016

Finally, we’ve made it! Ricardo Medina, special guest Michael Richards (C.E.O. of Phastraq VFX) and yours truly count down our lists of Best Hip Hop Instrumental Albums, Hip Hop EPs, Hip Hop Albums, Live-Action Movies (VFX), Animated Movies, and the Best and Worst Movies of 2016!

PART 1:

 

PART 2 –

 

PART 3 –

 

– Matthew

BBB PSX Trailers, Fantastic Beasts, Allied, Moana, Norm Of The North, Arrowverse Crossover

With only a few episodes left before the seaosn finale, Ricardo and I talk about some new PSX trailers, as well as review “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, “Allied”, “Norm of the North”, “Moana” and the CW’s Arrowverse crossover TV event “Invasion!”

 

–  Matthew

Main Event Reviews: “World War Z” (2013) vs. “Apocalypse Z (Zombie Massacre) (2013)

In my continued attempt to bring some variety to this blog, I plan to continue the “versus” concept that I incorporated last year into my write-up: “Mirror Mirror vs. Snow White and the Huntsman: The Fairest Fight of them All”. Back then, the title suited that post perfectly as I compared and contrasted the two live-action Snow White films which came out a mere two months apart from each other. But like the Overlooked Movies category that I christened last week, today’s post marks a brand-new category to A Legally Black Blog that I’d like to call “Main Event Reviews”. Here, two movies with a similar theme, similar title or EXACT title (i.e. original vs. remake) do battle for ultimate supremacy. Ties are rare in this competition, but for the most part, there can only be one winner.

 

And now for the MAIN EVENT!

 

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First, from Paramount Pictures, Skydance Productions, GK Films and Plan B Entertainment, with an estimated budget of $190 million, directed by Marc (“I was the guy who directed “Quantum of Solace” – You know,…that ONE James Bond movie that Daniel Craig fans shitted on”) Foster, and starring Brad (“My name’s in the dictionary. Really! Look it up!”) Pitt,  David (“Yo, I got snubbed for that Emmy! Really! Look it up!) Morse, and Matthew (“’Alex Cross’ does not exist! Really! Look it up!”) Fox, it’s the zombie-apocalypse summer blockbuster “WORLD WAR Z”!!

 

 

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And its opponent, from Metrodome Distribution, Event Film, Extreme Video and 8988 Games (Ooookay then), with an estimated budget of….$1,000,000 (WOW!), written and directed by Luca Boni and Marco Ristori (“Either your brains or your signature would be on that cheque. I’m just kidding. That was a Mafia joke. We’re not Mafia, by the way”), and starring Uwe (“Do people really call me the Ed Wood of the 21st century?”) Boll, Tara (“I was an extra in ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua”. Really! Look it up!”) Cardinal and Carl (“I don’t even know what fucking movies I’ve been in. Check IMDB or sum’n”) Wharton, it’s the seemingly-original “APOCALYPSE Z” (a.k.a. ZOMBIE MASSACRE)!!

 

If you haven’t realized it by now, “Apocalypse Z” (or “Zombie Massacre” which is actually the better title) is but one of a large number of Z-movies (or Z-makes as I’ll be calling them throughout this review) that blatantly copy the premises and/or titles of particular Hollywood movies (mostly horror or sci-fi) which either came out in the past or currently generated a lot of Internet buzz, like “Snakes on a Plane” (‘remade’ as “Snakes on a Train” — now that’s fucking original), “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (‘remade’ as “Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies”) and the upcoming  mecha vs. monster sci-fi flick “Pacific Rim” (‘remade’ a few months ago – or should I say, copied the premise from the TRAILER for Pacific Rim before the movie even came out – as “Atlantic Rim”). Now Z-makes shouldn’t be confused with the “XXX parody” (a term which is pretty much self-explanatory). At least those movies are self-aware that they’re making fun of your favourite movies, like “Spider-Man” (parodied as “Spider Babe”), “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (serving as inspiration for “Pirates”) and “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring'” (INFAMOUSLY parodied as “The Lord of the G-Strings: The Femaleship of the String”). Z-makes, from what I’ve observed, are far from intended parody. They’re presented as “legitimate” films made by “legitimate” film companies for a “legitimate” audience (i.e. those over 21 who want to get drunk with some friends on a Saturday night and laugh at a bullshit movie).  Z-movie film production studios hiring smaller-time visual effects studios and washed-up or relatively unknown actors to work on these “center of the Earth”-low budget films is one thing, but giving these films titles that are obvious rip-offs to superior (for better or worse) Hollywood films  is something else altogether. I think the main reason behind this practice is to fool the customer into thinking that the Z-make is RELATED to the Hollywood film, like the aforementioned “Abraham Lincoln” movies. If the “Vampire Hunter” film is inaccessible, then the customer would be inclined to stream (online), rent or (gulp) BUY the “Zombies” film. And just like that, the Z-movie studios make money and/or generate their own Internet buzz.

 

Now I’ve never seen a Z-make before, and I figured that now would be a great time to start, considering the worldwide success of “World War Z”. You know and I know that I’ll HATE the shit out of “Apocalypse Z”, but I am a film buff and as such, I have to be open to a wide variety of movies. And with a bag of popcorn in my hands and my brain on my lap, I’m confident that I will, at least, catch a few laughs with this movie. Besides, I’ve sat through Z-movies before. Just recently, I watched “Super Shark” on the SyFy channel (ONLY because E! TV host Joel McHale poked fun at it on “The Soup” (best show on E! – I’m just saying)) IN ITS ENTIRETY and it was HILARIOUS……LY BAD! Here’s a hilarious video based on the movie. Call it “ringside entertainment”:

 

 

Well, it looks like the two competitors are desperately trying to keep themselves awake. So long intro aside, LET’S GET READY TO RUMBLE!!

 

“WORLD WAR Z” – There’s a lot of zombie movies out there, but not that many with a PG-13 rating.  Like “I Am Legend” back in 2007 (which was, in retrospect,  a very good but not a great Will Smith film),”World War Z” takes a horror sub-genre dedicated to blood, guts and rotting flesh and tells a story that audiences 13 years and over can enjoy. Though it apparently strays away from Max Brooks’ 2006 novel of the same name (I haven’t read the book, and I don’t have any intention to any time soon), Marc Foster’s adaptation succeeds as an entertaining, thrilling and….I shit you not…..FUN zombie movie. Brad Pitt plays Gerry Lane, a former United Nations investigator and family man tasked to investigate a worldwide outbreak of a virus that turns people into zombies. While evading masses of zombies from country to country, Lane learns more about the virus and its effects. It’s this knowledge that can save humanity from the uncontrollable pandemic affecting the world, provided that Lane survives long enough to apply it.  Since Brad Pitt is the only A-list actor in “World War Z”, the film plays itself essentially as a Brad Pitt movie, with the supporting cast overshadowed by Pitt’s own star quality as a result. As expected, Mr. Bradgelina (do people still say that shit?) turns in a solid performance, and you can’t help but root for the guy as he runs away from, dodges and eludes zombies from the Middle East to Europe. The zombies themselves are well-crafted (in terms of both make-up and CGI) and if their twitchy movements and ability to leap onto their victims doesn’t freak you out, then seeing them pile themselves together into gigantic masses WILL.  There are some great jump scares in the film and a lot of holy-shit moments thrown here and there, but unfortunately, there are little scenes of genuine zombie violence.  I blame the rating for that aspect, for had it been a R-rated film, we would have been given the genuine gore that one expects from a zombie movie. But thanks to the film’s quick pace, dark tone and roller-coaster ride approach to its story, “World War Z” manages to elevate itself to a worthy entry into the zombie genre. Don’t go expecting a feature-length version of an episode of “The Walking Dead” and you’ll be fine.

 

“APOCALYPSE Z” – While “World War Z” was based on a novel, “Apocalypse Z” (actual name: “Zombie Massacre”) is based on the 1998  Amiga computer video game of the same name which, according to Wikipedia, was a clone of the CLASSIC first-person shooter “Doom” (which, if you know your video game movie history, was adapted to an immensely disappointing Universal Studios film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson back in 2005). On the subject of video game movies, one name has become synonymous with shitty film adaptations of great video games: Uwe Boll. He directed not one – but FIVE bad video game movies: 2003’s “House of the Dead”, 2006’s “BloodRayne”, 2007’s “In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale” starring Jason Statham, 2007’s “Postal” and 2008’s “Far Cry”.  With that being said, “Apocalypse Z” is a terrible movie. No, I don’t think you get it.  “Apocalypse Z” is a TERRIBLE MOVIE, and not in the ‘so bad it’s good’ category either. The plot is as follows: four mercenaries – 3 gun-toting guys and a woman wielding two fake-ass katanas (along with knives, a handgun just in case and a couple of shurikens….you know….for good measure) are hired by the CIA to infiltrate a Romanian nuclear power plant infected by a virus that…you guessed it….turns people into zombies. The mission is to blow up the power plant before the virus spreads worldwide or some shit like that. “Apocalypse Z” suffers from an abundance of expository dialogue. The main characters explain what the mission is about over and over to each other, and it gets really fucking annoying after the first ten minutes of the film. If the dialogue isn’t hammering a plot point to the viewer’s head, it tries its utmost hardest to develop character. This, however, fails every time thanks to the bad acting by the film’s cast. There are some incredibly ridiculous lines in this movie, the most bizarre of these being“You know what a big pile of shite looks like…with flies around it? I’m going to create a big pile of SHITE! You have to trust me on this one!”,  but none that can you expect to see on an Internet Meme in the future. Like most bad movies, there are some unintentionally hilarious moments. In one scene, one of the male mercenaries (I won’t say who – not like you’ll give a fuck anyway) is attacked by a zombie.  Before he passes away, he shares a homo-erotic moment with his comrade, who’s forced to kill him. The comrade leans over, and in a unconvincingly disenchanted manner, speaks the following: “Brother. So many wars…so many women..we will fight again! We will fight (*FAKE TEARS*) again! Forgive me, my brother!”. Unfortunately, the Oscar-worthy acting doesn’t end there! The acting throughout the film is so stilted and amateur, it’s as if they’re starring in a student film. Like I mentioned earlier, the estimated budget is $1,000,000 AND IT SHOWS! Every time a zombie with a different face (see, every zombie in this movie LOOKS DIFFERENT! They have no distinct facial features, as all look radically different from one another) gets shot with a fake bullet from a plastic gun with obvious After Effects muzzle flair added to it, you can literally see the budget burning on-screen. I expected to laugh my ass off considerably in this movie, but apart from a few corny one-liners, some laughable action sequences and a  performance by Tara Cardinal that would have even the most devoted of cosplay girls yelling at the screen in disgust over how uninspired her character is (her fighting movements….if that’s what they were supposed to be ….were lazy, sloppy and effortless. Even the way she holds her katana is lazy. Check the pic below)….

 

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….. “Apocalypse Z” is an absolute mess and a complete waste of 86 minutes of your life. It’s unexciting, un-entertaining, unoriginal (take a wild guess what this shot reminds you of)…..

 

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….. underwhelming and undeniably a big pile of shite….with flies around it. Unless you really enjoy laughing at bad movies, or you want to educate yourself on how NOT to make a original, low-budget horror/action movie,  do not see this movie. EVER! In fact, you should skip “Apocalypse Z”  altogether and move on to “Apocalypse Now”, since it’s a fucking masterpiece (PERIOD) compared to Uwe Boll’s entire filmography. Oh, and I forgot to mention: Uwe Boll plays the President of the United States. I’m not joking. German-born Uwe Boll plays a (surprisingly) foul-mouthed, bald-headed PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES – and he doesn’t even try to sound American! Good thing you only appear for one minute, huh, Boll?

 

AND THE WINNER IS –  Couldn’t you tell by my long-ass tirade in the previous paragraph? “World War Z'” is the better movie. It’s worth the time and the extra money (Yes, it’s in 3D – and it’s done REALLY well).  “Apocalypse Z”, like the game that inspired it, should, and will be, forgotten through the test of time.  “Super Shark”, on the other hand, will be remembered by me, ’cause that shit was HILARIOUS! Seriously, it was!

 

WORLD WAR Z” – 4 out of 5 stars (“See this movie”)

“APOCALYPSE Z” –  1/2 out of 5 stars (“Burn this movie….literally”)

– Matthew

You got snubbed, yo! – “Seven Psychopaths” & “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D”

Now I know what the two of you are probably thinking right now – when, Matthew, WHEN are you going to review both the films that won Golden Globe Awards last Sunday, and the nominees for the upcoming Academy Awards? Well, my original plan was to review the Best Picture Golden Globe nominees before the ceremony itself, but I found myself watching “Les Miserables” and “Silver Linings Playbook” for the first time, right before the ceremony aired on television. Shame on me, I know! Then I decided to try my luck after the post-Golden Globe hype died down (most of which was based on Argo’s shocking win in the Best Picture category) but that didn’t work due to lack of time. And in case you were wondering, yes. I too was fucking shocked that Ben Affleck’s film won for Best Picture and Best Director (who’d have thought it was able to beat both “Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty”? Wow!).

 

But then I remembered the movies from last year that I haven’t seen, have heard and read good and bad things about (depending on the film, of course) and have been collecting virtual dust on my hard drive for weeks. One of these movies was the second feature film from British playwright, screenwriter and film director Martin McDonagh: the dark comedy “Seven Psychopaths”. Film critics and audiences praised the film, making specific mention to the performances and screenplay. It even managed to find its way onto certain top 10 best films lists. Unfortunately for the cast, crew and fans of “Seven Psychopaths”, the film didn’t even get nominated for a Golden Globe or an Academy Award. Now, I’m not saying that EVERY film that gets good reviews deserves a Golden Globe or Academy Award nomination to accentuate its “goodness”, but it is a shame that “small” films like “Seven Psychopaths” get overshadowed by bigger-budgeted and over-hyped films that become the subject of Oscar buzz and debate (*cough*”Les Miserables” *cough).  So I decided to review this film and acknowledge the fact that it was technically “snubbed” (or should I say blatantly ignored) by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

And then one morning….actually it was last morning…..I noticed a familiar movie title on my favourite torrent site. Like Resident Evil: Retribution, the title was based on a popular, horror-themed video game franchise. And like Resident Evil: Retribution, it was critically BUTCHERED by many reviewers. However, unlike Resident Evil: Retribution (note: legend has it that if you type the title ‘Resident Evil: Retribution’ THREE times in a paragraph, there will be another sequel. Oops.), it wasn’t even nominated for a Razzie Award (i.e. the shitty-movie equivalent of the Academy Awards). Milla Jovovich rightfully earned her nomination for Worst Actress, although many people are “rooting” for The Twilight Saga’s own Kristen Stewart to win (and who can fucking blame them?).  But it is funny – not a shame like “Seven Psychopaths” ….just funny – that the unwanted and unnecessary sequel known as “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” didn’t even get nominated for one Razzie. Maybe it’s because nobody gave a rat’s ass about it initially, or because moviegoers who actually wasted money to see it on the big screen either underwent lobotomies or committed mass suicide.

 

And thus sparked my ULTIMATE IDEA – for this post, that is. I will review a Golden Globe/Oscar snub AND a Razzie snub, and I shall give this post a special ebonics-inspired title: “YOU GOT SNUBBED, YO!”  (not to be confused with “YO, YOU GOT SNUBBED!”). And not to worry, lady and gent, I will review the Oscar nominees very soon (hopefully before the ceremony and not…ahem…afterwards. Shame on me, I know!)

 

So without further ado, it’s time for the first (and probably last, depending on how I feel) episode of “YOU GOT SNUBBED, YO!”

 

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“SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS” –  Los Angeles screenwriter Marty Faranan (played with his authentic accent by Irish-born actor Colin Farrell) is struggling to finish his latest screenplay “Seven Psychopaths” (hey, that’s the name of THIS movie!). As the title suggests, the script is about seven psychopaths (or should I say, serial killers), but Marty finds difficulty in finalizing his ideas due to his regular bouts with alcoholism. As you’ve already gathered, Marty is the literal poster boy for most, if not all, Irish screenwriters. Anyhoo, he finds inspiration in stories about real-life serial killers and, quite recently, a newspaper article on the mysterious “Jack of Diamonds”, a gun-toting killer who leaves a Jack playing card on the body of his dead victim. Marty’s best friend, Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell), an unemployed actor turned kidnapper of dogs just to return them to the owners and get cash rewards for them (BEST…JOB…EVER!), assists him – and annoys him – during his brainstorming phase. One day, Billy, with the help of his partner-in-crime Hans Kieslowski (played by the iconic Christopher Walken), steals a Shih Tzu. They later realize that the dog belongs to Chris Costello (Woody Harrelson), a violently unstable gangster. Chris, of course, wants his Shih Tzu back and he plans to kill the person(s) responsible for its kidnapping. Through his friendship with Billy, Marty becomes entangled in Chris’ violent search for his dog. And so begins Marty’s adventure, involving dogs, psychopaths, the “Jack of Diamonds” and his yet-to-be-completed screenplay, that’s anything but normal.

 

At first glance, “Seven Psychopaths” looks and feels like a blend of Quentin Tarantino’s dialogue-heavy crime films (“Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” quickly come to mind) mixed with Guy Ritchie’s Cockney gangster comedies (like “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch.”). But in its bare-bones essence, the film is actually about screenwriting and the process of brainstorming. Anyone who’s ever written, or tried to write, a script knows that it’s hard to come up with a concrete idea for a film when you have so much related ideas swimming in your brain. And the temptation of putting all of these ideas into one story runs through the mind of many screenwriters. The film’s narrative feels like the subconscious of a screenwriter playing “connect the dots” with ideas related to the story that he/she wants, or should I say hopes, to tell. There’s the story about Marty wanting to complete his script, and that’s connected with the ideas he has for the script (which are periodically visualized in the film with doses of blood, bullets and fucked-up humour), the ideas are connected to the psychopaths (dead or alive) who inspired them and so forth. As a result, the narrative appears to be disjointed and unfocused at times. But that simply adds to the film’s unpredictability, uniqueness and, dare I say, fun.

 

Apart from the film’s concept of a work-in-progress screenplay come to life, “Seven Psychopaths” is a celebration of the psychopaths and serial killers that graced the silver screen (I’ve always wondered if the screen itself is really silver, or is it dingy from dirt, dust and cooking oil from popcorn kernels being thrown onto the screen over the yearsthroughout the years, and a clever deconstruction of the conventions of serial killer-themed films. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen next, and just when you think a character will say or do something that you expect, the film takes a deliberately unexpected turn. This results in an odd mix of humour and bloodshed. Of laugh-out-loud moments and “HOLY SHIT! Did that just happen?!!” moments, Of “Okay, I can relate to him” characters and “Okay, he is really fucked up” characters. And through the careful hand, and creative vision of Martin McDonagh, this mixture works!

 

Martin does a fantastic job writing and directing “Seven Psychopaths”. The story feels consistent and fresh, with an overall neo-noirish vibe. The acting is top-notch, with standout performances by Sam Rockwell (who steals the show as the kooky-ass, outrageously over-the-top Billy Bickle) and Christopher Walken (who acts like a funny and fully-realized character instead of a parody of himself and his distinguishable acting style). Amidst the blood and violence (and there’s a substantial amount of both), the film boasts gorgeous cinematography, a great soundtrack and enough dialogue and hilarity to have you laughing from start to finish. “Seven Psychopaths” may feel a bit too unconventional to the casual viewer, but if you love your movies with great performances, a great screenplay, and a sense of self-reflexivity, then you will find much to appreciate with this film. And if you’re a dog lover, the film has some REALLY cute dogs! And don’t you worry:- none of them were shot, stabbed or incinerated during the making of this film. 🙂

 

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“SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D” –  And now we have “Silent Hill: Revelation in the Third Dimension” or “Silent Hill R3D” or whatever the fuck you want to call it. For those who actually care, it’s a continuation of the first “Silent Hill” film of 2006 which I forgot – and I presume 90% of the world’s population forgot as well. Continuing from the events of the film which I can’t remember, Christopher (played by “Game of Thrones'” very own Sean Bean) and his daughter Sharon (some chick named Adelaide Clemens) are on the run from an evil cult from Silent Hill, a town set in a ghostly alternate dimension. Sharon’s mother Rose (Radha Mitchell) is trapped in Silent Hill, and Christopher seeks to rescue her. Anyhoo, Sharon is burdened by nightmares and nightmarish visions involving Silent Hill’s demonic denizens. Though Sharon has no memory of what occurred in the first film (like I do), Christopher clearly does, and he warns his daughter to never go to Silent Hill. But when her father mysteriously disappears, and a message (“Come to Silent Hill”) is painted on the living-room wall of her home,  she disobeys her father’s warnings (OBVIOUSLY) and heads over to good ol’ Silent Hill. Helping her on her ill-advised quest is Vincent (played by “Game of Thrones'” very own Kit Harrington), a classmate at the school Sharon is shown attending for about five minutes in the film. When the two members of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated arrive at Silent Hill, a LOT of weird, bizarre shit takes place, all of which involves the demonic denizens from Sharon’s dreams, and the cult itself (led by “The Matrix Trilogy’s” very own Carrie-Anne Moss of all people) that already has plans for Sharon.

 

First of all, I don’t remember enjoying the first Silent Hill film. Secondly, I NEVER played the Silent Hill video games (which are hailed as some of the most genuinely SCARY-ASS video games ever made) and I have no intention of playing these games at any point in time in my existence. So I’m not judging “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” as not being faithful to the source material or anything like that. I’m judging it as a film and nothing more. With that being said, “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” is a piece of shit and nothing more!  The story, if any, is weak, poorly written, uninteresting and fucking boring. Yes, I said it! BORING! The film relies too much on jump scares and bizarre imagery to try to disturb (I can’t even say scare) the viewer. And I will admit there is a lot of freaky-ass imagery in this movie. But when you have a story that’s incomprehensible and uninteresting from the get-go, this imagery makes little to no sense. The acting feels forced and uninspired. The talents of Sean Bean, Kit Harrington (who were both excellent in “Game of Thrones”) and Carrie-Anne Moss (who played Trinity in “The Matrix Trilogy” if you already forgot) are completely wasted in this film. There’s even a cameo appearance by Malcolm McDowell (whom older audiences will remember from the timeless dystopian satire “A Clockwork Orange” and younger audiences will remember from the HBO comedy-drama series “Entourage”) that’s incredibly, and ashamedly, awful. In the end, “Silent Hill: Revelation 3D” is a pathetic, lackluster attempt to capture the horrific feel of a now-legendary horror video game franchise and translate it to the screen. And it solely succeeds at becoming yet another example of why video game movies suck balls. Long story short, do not see this movie. Do not even attempt to see this movie, unless you’re a sucker for punishment like I (unfortunately) am. But if you, like Sharon, choose to disobey my order, you WILL regret it. And trust me, you’ll want a lobotomy done to you after you see it. It’s either that or suicide. Take your pick, my friend.

 

MY RATING:

“SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS” – 3 1/2 out of 5 stars (“Worth a look”)

“SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D” –  1/2 out of 5 stars (“Burn this movie….literally”)

– Matthew

A Thousand Words on “A Thousand Words”

 

There was once a man called Eddie Murphy who was literally the funniest African-American comedian since the late, great Richard Pryor.  From the early 1980s (“48 Hrs”) to the mid-1990s (“The Nutty Professor”), he was THE leading black comic actor in Hollywood. But suddenly in the early-2000s, his career experienced ‘technical difficulties’. His appearances in box-office hits like “Dreamgirls” and “Tower Heist” were overshadowed by the critically-panned films in which he played the lead role (“The Adventures of Pluto Nash”, “Showtime”, “I Spy”, “Daddy Day Care”, “The Haunted Mansion”, “Norbit”, “Meet Dave”, “Imagine That”).  How could this happen? Could it be that times were changing, and people were desensitized into accepting black actors dressed in drag (*cough*Martin Lawrence – Big Momma’s House*cough*)? Or maybe he’s getting wiser, and he wants to remove himself from the fast-talking, expletive-spitting brand of humour that made him famous, which is why he picks family-friendly roles in a continuing attempt to stay relevant in Hollywood (*cough*Martin Lawrence – College Road Trip*cough*)? Whatever it is, the fact still remains – HE’S EDDIE MURPHY. The man has a LEGION of fans, and I bet at least one-quarter of them are praying for a film that’ll herald his major comeback.  Unfortunately, “A Thousand Words” is NOT that film.

 

Intended for release in 2008, but delayed for four years (for reasons other than a shitty script), “A Thousand Words” tells the “riveting” story of Jack McCall (cause he’s always CALLing someone. Get it? I don’t either). He’s a fast-talking literary agent with a fancy house, a wife (“Caroline” – Kerry Washington) and son (some kid), and a reputation for talking anyone into doing anything (except maybe watching this movie).  Caroline complains that she feels like a “guest” in their fancy house (whatever that means), and desires to move into a simpler home. Also, he has to cope with his elderly mother’s (“Annie” – Ruby Dee) dementia, which explains why she calls him “Raymond”.  Even Ari Gold from “Entourage” has more fucking character depth than Jack.

 

Anyhoo, Jack’s life changes when he tries to get a book deal from a self-help guru named Dr. Sinja (Cliff “I’m only playing an Indian” Curtis).  Realizing that Jack is trying to scheme his way into endorsing the book, Dr. Sinja curses him with a Bodhi tree that magically (or spiritually, I guess) sprouts from the ground in his backyard.  Every time Jack says a word, a leaf falls from the tree. If he says a thousand words (hence the title), and all one thousand leaves are off the tree, he’ll DIE. He tries to get help from Dr. Sinja, but he quickly hops on a jet heading to Bolivia. He’ll be back in 3 days. Jack is now forced to keep his mouth shut until Dr. Sinja returns. (A lack of) hilarity ensues.

 

If this film was made in the 1980s, I probably would’ve been better able to endure “A Thousand Words”. This film has the cheesy sensibilities of a ‘80s movie, and this is one of its major flaws. Even though the concept of a life-sucking tree is unique, the entire premise of the film (working man put into an extraordinary situation where he learns a lifelong lesson about love and family) is SO FUCKING OLD! This premise has been used and re-used over the years that it’s amazing it hasn’t contracted syphilis yet. The second flaw – ALL the jokes in the film fell flat! I didn’t laugh once. Not even a chuckle.  I just sat there, silent, as I watched a mute Eddie Murphy spend 3 minutes in a Starbucks store ordering coffee, and “unintentionally” causing a series of car crashes to occur while preventing a blind man from crossing a street. In three painfully unfunny scenes, the Bhodi tree is watered by Jack’s Hispanic housekeeper, scurried up by two computer-generated squirrels, and sprayed with pesticide gas. The outcomes of these scenes were: (a) Jack sweating profusely during a business meeting; (b) Jack “dancing” in front of two foreign businessmen; and (c) Jack in a state of euphoria during a business meeting. And they even played Afroman’s stoner anthem “Because I Got High”. Think about that. Jack got high…..off pesticide gas. WHADAFUCK?!  There’s even a scene where Jack uses action figures to answer a phone call. Examples of Jack’s “responses” are: “Yeeeeah Baby!”, “Theyre Grrrrreat!” and “Hasta La Vista, Baby!

 

Among the many questions raised by this film, the easiest is: Why didn’t Jack simply BUY A NOTEPAD and WRITE his responses instead of acting them out? Because that won’t be “funny enough”, and this film is supposed to be funny…enough.  Also, If the movie was filmed in 2008, and released in 2012, why wasn’t Jack’s cell phone ringtone updated to something more up-to-date than Lil Wayne/Kanye West’s “Lollipop (Remix)” (which was a GREAT remix – BACK IN 2008)?  Is the refusal of a husband to “open up” to his wife a viable reason for her to dress in a dominatrix outfit? Well, Kerry Washington did – and that was the only good thing about this movie. (Fuck it. I’m a guy. Sue me!)

 

Finally, what the fuck was up with that third act?! I love happy endings in movies, but this cliched final act desperately tugged at your heartstrings, while trying so hard to make the viewer care about a guy who acted like a complete asshole for 7o minutes. It felt almost the equivalent of listening to 20 minutes of sappy, syrupy-sweet 1980s love ballads! (See how I returned to the “cheesy ‘80s movie” metaphor?)

 

“A Thousand Words” is a film that will be remembered as one of the worst films of any year, be it 2012, 2008 or 1982. When I say “remembered”, I mean “quickly forgotten”. The Eddie Murphy Fan Club will have to wait a lot longer for their hero’s prophetic return to the spotlight. Until then, Eddie will remain in the Direct-to-DVD Club with longtime members Martin Lawrence and Nicolas Cage. Oh, did I mention the film was PRODUCED by Nicolas Cage?!


MY RATING –  1/2 out of 5 stars (“Burn this movie. Literally!”)

– Matthew

Burn this movie. Literally! – Jack and Jill (2011)

With “The Hunger Games” dominating the box office and “Titanic 3D” hitting theaters in the next couple of days, you may be wondering why I chose to write about this piece of rhinoceros excrement. Well, it all has to do with a certain event called the Razzies. For those who think the Razzies is the title of a children’s show created by Wu Tang Clan founder The RZA, it’s actually short for the Golden Raspberry Awards – a movie awards ceremony that celebrates the WORST that Hollywood has to offer. Typically, it’s held one day before the Academy Awards, but this year, the decision was made to push it to April 1st. The results came out today, and I was curious to see who won the award for Worst Picture of the Year. And as I expected, it was “Jack and Jill”. However, I was surprised to see that it won ALL TEN CATEGORIES! Never in the history of the Razzies has one film taken all the awards. Never!

Adam Sandler must be SO proud of himself right now.

And to think, he started off so well as a comedian and actor. Just like his Saturday Night Live predecessors, Adam started off in TV, and then hit the big screen soon after. A slew of successful comedies followed in his wake: “Billy Madison”, “Happy Gilmore”, “The Waterboy”, “The Wedding Singer”(arguably the BEST film he’s ever done) and “Big Daddy”. But then, the 2000s hit, and his films started to switch between the lanes of monotony and utter bullshit: “Little Nicky”, “Mr. Deeds”, “Eight Crazy Nights” (yeah, I said it!), “Anger Management” and “50 First Dates”. He picked up a bit of momentum with “The Longest Yard” and “Click”, and even proved a few times that he can still act (“Spanglish”, “Punch-Drunk Love”, “Reign over Me (UNDERRATED performance)). But then he reached into that stage in a comic actor’s life (*cough* Eddie Murphy *cough*) where you can tell that he’s trying WAY TOO HARD to stay relevant in the changing times of Hollywood (“I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry”, “You Don’t Mes with the Zohan”, “Bedtime Stories”). Even his appearance in the comedy-drama “Funny People” didn’t help.

And then, 2010 hit…. and Adam threw in the towel. Not in terms of retiring from acting for good, mind you, but instead to not give a rat’s ass whether people found him funny or not! Longtime fans of Adam Sandler who grew up quoting his best lines from his best movies ( “And I like Vicki, and she like me back! And she showed me her boobies and I like them too!” is still my FAVOURITE quote from ‘The Waterboy’) had to sit back and cringe as their comic idol desecrated the legacy that he himself created. In that year, he released not one, but TWO SHITTY FILMS: “Grown Ups” and “Just Go with It”. But last year, apart from starring in “Jack and Jill”, he WROTE and PRODUCED “Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star”. If you’ve never heard of this movie, it’s okay. Let’s just say that it’s best that “Bucky Larson” stays unknown….and forgotten.

But enough of the exposition. Time for my review. But first, let me state that I will do my review a little different than usual. My synopsis of the plot will be short, since stating the events of this film will give me, and you, a splitting headache! Also, I will divide the “MY THOUGHTS” section into categories. Each category will be based on one of the awards that “Jack and Jill” won during the Razzies. This is my way of showing you whether the film deserves all the accolades it’s receiving or not. Capiche? Let’s begin.

PLOT

Jack Sadelstein is an advertising executive and a family man. Jill Sadelstein is his ANNOYING twin sister, and she’s still single. Jill visits Jack and his family during the Thanksgiving weekend. Jack tries to get Al Pacino (playing himself) to star in a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial (I shit you not!). Jill tries to get herself a boyfriend.  By some twist of fate (or just by lazy scriptwriting), Al falls for Jill. Hilarity, or lack thereof, ensues.

CHARACTERS

Jack Sadelstein /Jill Sadelstein – Adam Sandler

Erin Sadelstein – Katie Holmes

Al Pacino – Michael Corleone/Tony Montana/Satan (in “The Devil’s Advocate”) etc. etc. etc.

Ted – Tim Meadows

Felipe – Eugenio Derbez

MY THOUGHTS: There’s 10 categories here, so bear with me.

WORST SCREENPLAY:  Written by Steve Koren & Adam Sandler (surprise, surprise) and based on a story by Ben Zook (WTF is a “Zook”?!), the screenplay of “Jack and Jill” goes from generic to mind-numbingly horrible in just a few seconds.  The dialogue is lame, the jokes fall flat and the characters are unappealing. Even Al Pacino, one of the greatest actors of all time, is forced to spit out, and shout out, shitty lines. The ONLY memorable line he has in this film is: “Burn this. This must never be seen by anyone”. You know how a famous line captures the essence of a famous movie? Like “If you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk”, “E.T. phone home” or “I’ll have what she’s having”? Al’s line captures the HERBAL ESSENCE of “Jack and Jill”. Too bad people won’t remember it. Or know about it. And to think “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I” got nominated for this category!

WORST SCREEN COUPLE: Adam Sandler actually won for three worst screen couples: himself and Katie Holmes (who just shouldn’t have been in this film because….she’s Katie Holmes), himself and Al Pacino (i.e. the scenes involving Al, Jack, Jill and in one sequence, Jack PRETENDING TO BE Jill – long story) and himself and himself (that’s pretty self-explanatory). And to think “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I” got nominated for this category!

WORST REMAKE, RIP-OFF OR SEQUEL: Apparently, it won for ripping off the granddaddy of bad movies – the “so bad, it’s good” cult classic Glen or Glenda (which is actually worth seeing if you’re a die-hard fan of cult films – like yours truly). Both films are radically different, but they both involve cross-dressing. And to think “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I” got nominated for this category!

WORST DIRECTOR: Dennis Dugan, the guy who directed six Adam Sandler films in his career…. and now he has this piece of shit to add to his portfolio. Great job, dude! Fun fact: He also won in this category for “Just Go with It”.

WORST SCREEN ENSEMBLE: The entire cast of “Jack and Jill”. Ouch! And to think “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part I” got nominated for this category!

WORST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Al Pacino. We’ll always remember you…. in great movies like “The Godfather Trilogy”, “Scarface”, “Scent of a Woman”, “The Devil’s Advocate” etc. etc. etc. Sniff.

WORST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: David Spade (Adam’s buddy from the SNL days who also evolved into a terrible actor). Here, he plays “Monica”. Yes, he too plays a woman in this film. Which proves once again that SNL actors are more likely to cross-dress than win an Academy Award. And to think the Victoria’s Secret model  from “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” whose name escapes me got nominated for this category!

WORST ACTOR: Adam Sandler – for both “Jack and Jill” and “Just Go with It”. Judging from what I’ve just written, should ANYONE be surprised at this? And to think he beat Taylor Lautner from “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. Now THAT”S saying something!

WORST ACTRESS: Adam Sandler. ROTFLMFAO!!

WORST PICTURE: Yes, it is.

SHOULD I SEE THIS FILM?  AWW HELLLLLLLLL NO!!! “Jack and Jill” is the equivalent of a 90-minute bout of diarrhea! It’s that bad! Not even the cameos in this film, from Johnny Depp to Jared, the Subway Guy, are worth seeing. The only reason I’m giving this a half of a star is because of one scene where Adam is watching a clip of “Scarface” (the famous “Say hello to my little friend” scene) on his laptop. That scene reminded me of the awesomeness that was Al Pacino. And this film best represents how far Adam Sandler has fallen in his career. In short, do not watch this movie. If someone lends you the DVD, burn it. Literally! Like put it on top of a newspaper, pour some kerosene on it, light a match and watch it burn! And then watch “The Wedding Singer” or any other film from Adam’s early film career. Or better yet, watch “Scarface” or any other great film from Al Pacino. At least that’s better than suffering through this shitty movie!

MY RATING – 1/2 out of 5 stars (“Burn this movie. Literally!”)

– Matthew