As entertaining as it is flawed, ‘American Ultra’ is sure to divide audiences with its haphazard mix of ultra-violence and heartfelt romance. A gleefully-belligerent experiment in style that thumbs its nose at your expectations.
Audio Reviews (Comedy)
Nostalgia oozes from every cinematic pore of ‘Pixels,’ as director Chris Columbus weaves these videogame relics into a modern landscape. Unfortunately, rather than fully committing to his elegant premise, Columbus gets bogged down in unconvincing character development. Sandler fans and little kids might enjoy this rollcall of ‘80s game icons, but everyone else should just rent ‘Ghostbusters’ instead.
To put it bluntly, this is probably the best issue of Looking for Group that has been published by Dynamite to date. As expected, Sohmer works plenty of D&D and MMORPG tropes into his script along with a larger dose of comedy, but it is DeSouza’s artwork that truly stands out in this issue. His rendering of Hcitb, Richard, and Little Dick take Sohmer’s funny script into realms of hilarity. Even those comic readers not normally into the sword and sorcery would enjoy this issue for the comic relief alone. Hopefully, once they are snagged that way they will give the rest of the LFG series a shot, because it is a truly good book as fans of the series already know.
Get Hard is an episodic comedy that seems determined to botch its ‘can’t miss’ premise. No amount of riffing from Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart can overcome a script that’s obviously cobbled together from multiple projects. Director Etan Cohen’s feature-length debut lacks the big-ticket gags to overcome its flawed execution. Ultimately, this is a ‘star vehicle’ that should have stayed in the driveway.
“This shit’s pretty flat, bro.” So sayeth the rudest man in the world, who just happened to be sitting behind me at the screening for Hot Tub Time Machine 2. He began the evening sitting in front of me; deliberately stealing a seat marked ‘Studio Representative’ so he could talk to the beautiful publicist. Shockingly, she rebuffed his drunken advances. “Whatever, bro,” he dismissively burped, and then ambled to the seat behind me. Yes, he’s the guy who calls both men and women ‘bro.’ He’s also the guy who talks through the entire movie, eats handfuls of popcorn with his mouth wide open (ostensibly, so he can still breathe), and kicks the back of the seat like a bored child. In other words, he’s the target audience for Hot Tub Time Machine 2. It’s a bad sign, then, that he laughed a grand total of two times during the entire film. That was exactly two more times than I laughed.
The new documentary Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon takes us back to the birth of the ultimate problem child, the National Lampoon magazine. Arrested development and controlled substances aside, the Lampoon crew shepherded comedy from its antiseptic television roots through the youth counterculture and back into the mainstream again. It was unfiltered anarchy; vulgar, subversive, and hilarious. Get ready to laugh, feel ashamed for laughing, and then laugh some more.
The D Train starts as a predictable buddy-comedy, only to swerve into a completely unexpected direction. It’s a movie that might have lived comfortably in the ‘80s, alongside other raunchy R-rated comedies that never forgot to bring a little heart. Jack Black continues to evolve as a comedic actor, learning when to turn on his persona and when to disappear into character. The writing is sharp, smart, and determined to give us something unpredictable. Most importantly, it’s funny as hell.
With each new inferior romantic-comedy, you come to appreciate the delicate brilliance of When Harry Met Sally just a little bit more. Sleeping with Other People is a particularly egregious offender because it borrows so heavily from the classic. Though it tries very hard (too hard) to please, it can’t overcome its faulty premise, miscast leads, and ill-conceived gags. This is a rom-com with very few laughs and even fewer romantic sparks.
While audiences and critics are still debating the unbridled ambition of Nolan’s Interstellar, an equally-madcap film (finally) makes its way into North American theaters this weekend. Japanese auteur, Shion Sono, unleashes his demented ode to cinema, Why Don’t You Play in Hell?, which might be the most uncanny take on filmmaking since The Player. Armed with inspired gags, impassioned characters and enough blood squibs to drown Tarantino, Sono delivers a visual feast that’s destined to be a cult classic.