The Wedding Ringer


Swanner: Nothing puts fear into the heart of Movie Critics everywhere like the thought of January Movies. Traditionally, Studios have released their crap in January to give them a theatrical life in hopes it would help their home video life. So when Sony releases a Kevin Hart movie in January, we all expected the worst. Kevin Hart plays a Best Man for hire for the man with no friends. He’ll be charming and funny and make your bride think she got the catch. Josh Gad plays the groom in this very funny movie…yes, it’s funny!!!

Judd: Between the budget poster art, release date, and D-List cast, I can tell you I was dreading this movie, but surprisingly enough, I liked it too! That’s not to say it’s a good movie, it’s not, but it’s completely passable for January. What I really liked about this standard “Bromance” movie is that it says some really great things about the ridiculous tradition of weddings and the expectations of the stereotypical gay wedding planner. It’s unfortunate that our some of our peers are completely missing the point and calling the movie misogynistic and homophobic.

Swanner: The whole film is very surprising. The script is very good with plenty of laughs that range from high slapstick to fun dialog exchanges. The script was written by the director Jeremy Garelick and Jay Lavender. Both men wrote The Break-up and there’s not much more to their filmology. I mention that because the past few months we’ve been seeing a lot of new people coming into lead positions with great outcomes.

Judd: What’s happening, since Hollywood is increasingly afraid to take chances, they’re taking movies that may not be the best, but certainly not traditional January garbage, and releasing them now because they don’t even want to run the risk of not making a billion dollars on opening weekend. Who knows, maybe in a few years from now January will become the month when all the fresh, edgy material comes out and it will be something to look forward to. January will be like training season for up and comers.

Swanner: If that’s the case then I can’t wait to see what else we have coming up. The first two movies we saw I liked quite a bit. I think I liked this more than you, and I’m okay with that. I’m happy to see Josh Gad doing so well and proving he’s more than just a singing snowman. I do think that Kevin Hart is a full fledge movie star. I hope he has the the right people behind him because so far they haven’t let him down. I’ll tell people to see this in theaters because nothing is better than when you have a very funny movie with a big responsive audience  

Judd: You may have like he movie better than I did, as I said at the start of the review, The Wedding Ringer is not a good movie, but it’s not worthy of being dumped off in January. We’ve seen worse that’s have debuted during Blockbuster Season — and they usually starred Cameron Diaz. I enjoyed The Wedding Ringer for it’s humor, but I enjoyed it more for what it said.

Swanner: 3 stars
Judd: 2 ½ stars



Swanner: Paddington is based on the Michael Bond character about a young bear from Peru who travels to England to find a new home. Once in England he is found by the Brown family to take him in till he can finds his new home. Paul King who wrote and directed the film makes a pleasant splash for himself in this delightful January film.

Judd: When I was a kid I always felt that Paddington was a rip-off of Winnie the Pooh, so as an adult I was curious to see what this Paddington was all about. However, being a children’s film released in January, I was nervous as I was curious. I agree with Tom, that Paddington is a darling film, with humor that plays to kids and adults without being overly syrupy, crude or slap-sticky. It also helps that the film is thoroughly British, who can seem to do no wrong lately, with a great cast featuring Sally Hawkins, Hugh Bonneville, Nicole Kidman, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Matt Lucas, and Julie Walters.

Swanner: The film is really for kids. Its geared and told for the little ones, but adults will find it charming enough to sit through. You’re right about the Brits these days… They have their finger on the pulse of films, and they are all working very well. I though Paddington was a sales toy that Burlington Coat factory or some other store used to sell things. Spuds Mackenzie type merchandising. So i was really charmed with our hero and it’s got me wanting to make my own orange marmalade.

Judd: You said when we left the theatre, and I agree, I don’t know why this movie was held until January. Maybe it’s because the Paddington character is too British and not popular enough here in the states, but Paddington could have held his own against the train wreck that was Annie. Also, the fact that Colin Firth was replaced by Ben Whishaw did not bode well for the movie, but I thought Wishaw’s voice was absolutely perfect for a young bear. I think Firth would have sounded too old and mature, and while he’s a fine actor, I don’t think his voice would carried that innocence that Whishaw’s timid tenor conveys.

Swanner: If Paddington is setting the bar for 2015 film…it’s going to be a good year. While watching the film I remember me finding my inner Brit, thinking to myself how delightful. I was afraid of too much slapstick but there was just enough to make it silly and not irritating. I hope Paddington finds a home in theaters because this one is too good to miss.

Swanner: 3 stars
Judd: 3 stars

American Sniper


Swanner: American Sniper follows the military life of Chris Kyle, An American sharpshooter Nave Seal. The film tells of his many tours and the effect war left on him. Bradley Cooper plays Kyle with 40 pounds added in a really groundbreaking performance from Cooper. The film is directed by Clint Eastwood.

Judd: You fail to mention this is a true story based on the book by Kyle. I had read up on Kyle before the movie, and depending on what I read he was either an infallible American Hero, or he was a lying braggart. I’m sure the truth lies somewhere in between. What I do know for certain is that Clint Eastwood has crafted a superb film with a great narrative that doesn’t get caught up in politics, flag waiving jingoism or our hero’s supernatural skills. In other words, he made the complete opposite of Peter Berg’s Lone Survivor.

Swanner: So much of this film takes place in battle sequences, if the sound of bullets flying near is unnerving to you, you might want to reconsider seeing the film. It’s very raw and scary at times. When Kyle does return home to his wife (Sienna Miller) and his life, we watch every day noises work on this soldier’s psyche as the lawnmower backfires or something on the TV happens. We watch Kyle struggle to find the man he was before he left for war.

Judd: It was this emotional toll that we saw Kyle pay that made this movie so engaging. Unlike Unbroken, American Sniper shows Kyle as an emotional, vulnerable human who happens to be really good at what he does. We learn about him and his fellow soldiers and we got a feel for who those people were, rather than spending an hour with men stranded at sea and not learning a thing. It’s these kinds of Macho-With-Heart films where Eastwood excels.
Swanner: You’re still holding that Unbroken grudge? Nice, I’d figure you’d have forgotten it by now…I have. This is so not my kind of film but I still found myself sucked in to the story. You’re right, the script by Jason Hall, Eastwood’s direction and Bradley Cooper’s Oscar worthy performance make this a must see.

Judd: You’re darn right I haven’t forgotten about Unbroken. Next to The Gambler, it stands as one of those movies that could have been spectacular in the right hands, but Jolie mucked it up. American Sniper is a very enjoyable film, and it’s heartening change; more personal and affecting to see the strain war puts on one man rather than a whole platoon.

Swanner: 3 ½ stars
Judd: 4 stars