Sex Tape

sex-tape4563456Swanner: I’ve been asking for some original material all summer that’s going to be so exciting that I makes this lukewarm summer sizzle…Sex Tape is not that movie. Sex Tape fails in so many different ways, I don’t know where to start. I mean, you have Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal in an R rated sexy comedy, right! Both have done very successful sexy comedies before but even though the two are naked a lot, it never felt sexy. This felt more like a one joke movie that ultimately became a no joke movie.

Judd: Written by Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller and Kate Angelo, directed by Jake Kasdan, who also directed Bad Teacher and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, you would think this team could produce something a little raunchier than what is essentially a family movie. After parents Jake and Annie try to rekindle their sex life with a sex tape, the video gets sent to iPads all over Los Angeles in the most contrived and implausible way ever. The rest of the movie is spent with Jake and Annie trying to recover the tablets.

Swanner: I know Brian won’t remember this but when Segel and Diaz were in Bad Teacher together they had much more chemistry and were far sexier than in this film. I know they were playing a couple who let their lives go when the kids started to show up (another storyline we’ve seen quite a bit) but if all they had before was just really good sexy then that says much more about their relationship then just making the video. When Diaz started bitching about him attending clubs to hear perspective music clients it sounded an awful lot like This Is 40 when Leslie Mann said the same thing to Paul Rudd which was written by Judd Apatow about a couple bored with their lives.

Judd: Segel and Diaz were in Bad Teacher together? You’re right, I don’t remember that! The problem is that between the title and the marketing we’re lead to believe this is going to be a sex comedy, what we’re given is a movie that’s about as sexless as Jake and Annie’s marriage. The worst offence the movie made was including the children in the last-ditch effort Jake and Annie make to recover the video off a web server. I was expecting the Tanners to show up at any moment with Michelle in tow, “You got it, dude!”

Swanner: Is that a Full House reference? Never saw the show and if it’s anything like this…good. I really wanted this to be good because I do like both actors. I was surprised Diaz was only 42, I was sure she was closer to 50 and Segal being only 34 means he needs to get that moisturizing started now. The film has a few funny parts but not enough to call it a comedy. I’m blaming the script on this mess because I’ve seen everyone else do better work. Enough with the bored couple storylines, If you don’t want to give up your old lives…stop having children.

Judd: It also needs to be mentioned that the camerawork was extra horrible. The camera would tilt for no good reason, like screw that held the camera level was loose. There was one scene where the camera was so wobbly, it was actually distracting. I found myself watching the walls and ceiling slowly go out of parallel with edges of the frame. If this were a low-budget indie film, it would be excusable, but instead is was further evidence of how sloppy and shoddy this movie really is.

Swanner: ½ star
Judd: No stars

Planes: Fire and Rescue

4d993bbdf3b6a8cad5933c50e8ad3f260d894126Swanner: After learning he can no longer race because of engine problems, Dusty joins the Fire and Rescue team to learn to fight fires. Not a big fan of the original Planes I was dreading this one but a good story and new characters have turned this sequel into a winner. Dane Cook returns as the voice of Dusty with Ed Harris, Julie Bowen, Curtis Armstrong and John Michael Higgins joining the cast. A new director, Roberts Gannaway, make it work 1000% better than the first one.

Judd: Mathematically speaking 1000 times 0 is still 0, and that’s where Planes lands with me. The characters are forgettable, the story is banal; Planes: Fire and Rescue is an after-school cartoon stretched thin to 85 minutes. While I didn’t leave the theater in a rage, like some horrible movies can put me in, I still felt like I had wasted nearly an hour and a half of my life on some Disney cash grab.

Swanner: Tell us how you really feel. I’m right with you on the original. It felt like someone at Disney wanted to figure how they could make money by drafting off the Cars model. Fire and Rescue is of course a sequel but this one felt less regurgitated. I like the take on the story. It took the character in another direction of helping the community instead of just trying to win a race. I thought the film looked better than the first and it was nice getting away for how stereotyped the original characters were.

Judd: I don’t remember what the first one looked like, and I’ll grant you it was nice to see the planes weren’t total stereotypes, but that’s like congratulating Tom and Jerry for no longer using Mammy Two Shoes. Although, there was a Heap Big Indian Chief helicopter named Windlifter, so maybe in Planes 3 we’ll be treated to an Oriental puddle jumper who’s catchphrase will be “Ah So!”

Swanner: The good news is there isn’t a new one in production. Maybe they’ve squeezed all the blood from this stone. We also have a new Pixar coming out next year. It’s an original story called Inside Out in June 2015. So while Planes can return to TV to fill up Saturday mornings…there are new animated films coming with hopefully new and exciting characters and stories. You just have to wait.

Judd: I don’t see Disney giving up on this cash cow any time soon. We still have to get Trains and Boats out of the way and the merchandising options are limitless. These are the kinds of movies that make me reconsider why we do this; movies that only exist to part fools from their money. Planes: Fire and Rescue is an 85 minute toy commercial.

Swanner: 2 stars
Judd: No stars

The Purge: Anarchy

purge_anarchyJudd: After having to endure the first The Purge by myself, I was glad that Tom was going to be joining me at The Purge: Anarchy. That is until he mysteriously had “other plans” the night of the screening and once again, I was doomed to suffer alone.

The first movie was am 85 minute, low-budget affair that took place in the Sandin home, when a homeless man enters their domicile to escape the night of The Purge – a 12 hour period where all crime is legal and the wealthy use it as an excuse to kill off the poor. The first movie was a toothless thriller that didn’t bother to examine any of the potentially fascinating social constructs. Here we are a year later and writer/director James DeMonaco expands upon the first movie, in both budget and runtime, but not the depth of which he tackles the disparity-of-wealth issue.

A nameless man is going to use The Purge to exact revenge, for what we don’t know. On his way to his target, his car breaks down and he saves a woman and her daughter who’s tenement was targeted by some highly organized purgers, for why we don’t know. As the four of them are trying to make it to safety they run into a young couple, who are also having car trouble and trying to escape some zealous purgers. Meanwhile there’s a militant black man, complete with a kufi (crocheted beanie) and scarred face, pirating the airwaves calling for the poor to rise up and turn the tables on the murdering rich. Oh brother.

While I felt that this movie didn’t pander to liberal guilt as blatantly as the first, the movie still only scratches the surface of the issues it attempts to address. Outside of the political aspect, though, the movie is fairly by the books with stock characters. The Bad Ass, the Junior Revolutionary and her mother, and the couple on the verge of splitting who need something to bring them back together. They travers Los Angeles trying to find safety, while encountering purgers who all seemed to want to announce their reasons for killing, whether it be for God, for Country or for the thrill of it. The direction has some OK moments, but nothing that sets this movie apart, something I would expect from a film that tackles such an interesting topic. Performances are fine, but again, nothing special. No one is going to be recognized for their standout work.

I have a feeling that The Purge is going to become the new Saw franchise. Wealth disparity is always going to be an issue, and finding “survivors” on a night when the whole country goes on a murderous rampage is literally like shooting fish in a barrel. This sequel introduces a revolutionary faction that is sure to take on the “New Founding Fathers” sooner or later. Maybe Tom will be able to join me when The Purge 3 comes out, but I’m not holding my breath.

Judd: 2 stars

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes


Swanner: In 2011, 20th Century Fox decided they were going to try yet another reboot of the Planet of the Apes series with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The film starred James Franco and was a big hit earning nearly $500 million worldwide. This time the series looks like it would go in reverse ending where the 68 original versions started. That being said we are at that transitional moment where we see what’s happened since the first film and where we springboard to the next. The problem with transitional films is nothing really happens and they tend to be a bit boring. Enter Dawn of the Planet of the Apes…

Judd: Cesar is leader of the apes living in Muir Woods off San Francisco and humans haven’t been seen in 10 years after being killed off by the Simian Flu, until one day…  It turns out there is a large human colony still living in SF and they need to power up a hydroelectric dam in the middle of Ape Country. Due to mistrust and general scheming on both sides, war breaks out between human and ape. I think I can tell you who wins, considering what happens to Charlton Heston in the year 3978, however the military is on their way, and will show up in Part III, The Apening.

Swanner: I’d scream spoiler alert right now but if you haven’t figured out where this was going by now you probably need to slap out. Yes the movie is well made and yes the making of the apes is amazing but with today’s technology who knows…maybe it’s really easy and I just don’t know better. I’m thinking it’s the script that must be the problem here, they’ve taken us from point A to point B but they didn’t make it thrilling enough. It was like watching the X-files…Scully and Molder aren’t going to die so there really is no tension there or here.

Judd: The problem is that they didn’t take us from point A to point B, they took us from point A to A ½. After the movie I said it felt like Dawn was comparable to Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), a very weird and out of place movie that only served as a set up for 1973’s Escape from the Planet of the Apes. While Dawn at least stuck to the theme, I felt like we didn’t learn anything new. Cesar has to handle the human threat while still being civil to the peaceful humans, at the same time dealing with dissention in the ranks from those who feel the only good human is a dead human. It’s a very broad and operatic theme, but if the audience is to treat this as part of the Ape canon, it’s something that’s already been addressed.

Swanner: What we have learned here today is that beautiful set and cinematography don’t make up for weak script. Great special effects don’t make up for lack of story either. I’d say it was an easy watch but is really wasn’t. I was shifting in my seat and yawning before Brian and that’s always a problem. The third installment will probably be better because will either go all the way to the 67 original story or they are going to have to create something new. This is Hollywood after all so I wouldn’t bet on anything that takes creativity.

Judd: I think what’s missing from this installment is the sci-fi edge that the original series and Rise contained. The original movies always contained something that was a little fantastical, outside of talking Apes, such as mutants or time-travel. This, coupled with the weak transitional script, leaves us with a movie that says nothing.

Swanner: 1 ½ stars
Judd: 2 stars


maxresdefaultSwanner: Melissa McCarthy plays Tammy, a mess of a person who brings all the bad things in life on to her. Think back to Llewyn Davis, the character who could only make the wrong choices…Tammy is quite a bit like him. After losing her job and coming home to find her husband eating with another woman, Tammy decides to go on a road trip, taking her aging grandmother (Susan Sarandon) with her. From there its 90 minutes of bumbling and pratfalls for cheap laughs.

Judd: I was talking to my (only) friend earlier in the day before the movie, and I was saying that Melissa McCarthy strikes me as the female Will Ferrell; she has the capability of being very funny, but unless she’s kept on a tight leash, she tends to meander and she turns into the Ferrell-esque idiot man-boy (woman-girl?). The first thing I noticed about Tammy during those opening credits, Will Ferrell was a producer. Tammy fells directly into the routine that I feared was coming, and just like in Identity Thief, we’re also treated to McCarthy’s uncanny ability to summon tears at the drop of a hat.

Swanner: We don’t get too many female comics that have the ability to keep trying to be funny ‘til something works like Farrell, but you’re right, that is a big problem here. The other thing is her character is unlikable. If it weren’t for how much audiences like McCarthy this picture would be doomed. She’s likable enough as an actress to counter what’s not working here. She also has her husband Ben Falcone directing and writing the script with her so it really all comes back to controlling McCarthy because she needs it. Her Bridesmaids character was irritating but loveable in a quirky way. Tammy on the other hand is asshole that you wouldn’t want to be around.

Judd: I don’t completely agree, but I can see where you’re coming from. This movie reminds me of the flop, Due Date, which I really liked because it was so mean spirited. Tammy and her grandmother are assholes, but they aren’t really mean, which made them just plain old annoying to me. I think that maybe if they were a little more abusive, or if the movie had more of an edge, it could have worked. Instead it was a dull unfunny mess, that McCarthy and Falcone obviously called in favors to make. The cast also features Toni Colette, Kathy Bates, Dan Akroyd, Sandra Oh, Gary Cole and the Allison Janney as Tammy’s mother – who must have given birth to her when she was five.

Swanner: She was 11 when she had her. I think they were trying to make Tammy around 30 not her actual age of 43. I can see what you’re saying as well. Whichever…this didn’t work very well. I’d really like to see McCarthy play someone more normal. Let her react over the crazies around her the way Kristin Wiig did in Bridesmaids. She can still be funny just pulled back a bit. McCarthy is the star now, and has to realize that some characters can’t sustain a 90 minute movie. I still hold out she can do it. Just not this time.

Judd: Agreed. The movie is a mess, the script wasn’t funny. I hate to see an actress I genuinely admire for her comedic prowess go the route of Will Ferrell and Jim Carrey, and playing stupid and/or irritating characters for cheap laughs. It undermines her real talent and cheapens her reputation. I’m curious to see if her career will be as successful if she does go down this dark path – Women, in general, don’t go for the same kind of stupid humor that some men, unfortunately, are cursed to enjoy. Though maybe I’m wrong, maybe women have been waiting for their own Idiot Hero to root for. I hope not!

Swanner: 2 Stars
Judd: 1½ stars