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Hot Rod (film)

Hot Rod is a 2007 comedy starring Andy Samberg as Rod Kimble, an amateur stuntman desperately seeking approval from his dying stepfather. Rod spends his days doing various jumps and stunts with his inept crew, which includes his friends Rico and Dave (Danny McBride and Bill Hader) and his half-brother Kevin (Jorma Taccone). He finds out that his stepfather will die unless they somehow get $50,000 to pay for his conveniently priced surgery. Rods vows to save him so he can smash his face in and finally earn his respect. He starts doing stunts to raise money, with the ultimate goal of jumping fifteen school buses in front of a sellout crowd. There’s also a subplot involving Rod trying to get the attention of Denise (Isla Fisher), the girl next door. She’s stuck in a relationship with a douchebag (Will Arnett), but she can’t deny her attraction to Rod.

The whole movie is pretty ridiculous. It’s reminiscent of Judd Apatow movies, in that it’s character driven and highly quotable, but there are many fantastic, over the top moments. Like when the inspirational march to the final jump spontaneously erupts into chaos. Hot Rod was a box office bomb when it came out. I think the world wasn’t ready for it. It’s becoming a cult classic; some would argue it already is.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Your Highness (film)

Your Highness is a 2011 stoner comedy/fantasy parody film. It’s almost like a follow-up to Pineapple Express. It has the same director (David Gordon Green) and two of the main actors (Danny McBride and James Franco). But it’s not as funny, not as solid as Pineapple Express. It’s still one of the best sword and sorcery stoner films though.

Danny McBride stars as Thadeous, a lazy prince who is jealous of his older brother Fabious. Fabious (James Franco) is the cliché prince/brave knight, going on quests and rescuing princesses and whatnot. He returns from one such quest with the virgin Belladonna (Zooey Deschanel) from the evil warlock Leezar. Leezar kidnaps her back, and Thadeous is forced to help Fabious on his quest to kill Leezar and get her back. They go on a quest and meet pedophilic wizards, naked nymphs, horny minotaurs, and Natalie Portman.

Your Highness has its moments, but a lot of jokes fall flat. The whole movie is based on a weird concept. It would play better as an SNL sketch as opposed to a full-length feature. They run out of gags and the plot is already stretched too thin. It’s a funny movie and it might be worth watching, but it’s not worth owning.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express is a stoner action film staring Seth Rogen, James Franco and Danny McBride. David Gordon Green directs and Judd Apatow produces. It’s about a stoner who witnesses a murder and gets wrapped up in the middle of a drug war. I hate when that happens.

Seth Rogen is Dale Denton, a 25-year-old process server who dreams of being on the radio someday. He smokes weed and buys from a smalltime dealer named Saul (James Franco). Saul sells Dale some rare weed called Pineapple Express, and Dale goes back to work. He’s waiting to serve a guy named Ted Jones (Gary Cole) ,and he witnesses Ted and a cop (Rosie Perez) kill an Asian guy. Dale freaks out, tosses his roach and goes to Saul for help.

Saul buys his weed from a guy named Red (Danny McBride), and Red buys from Ted. Pineapple Express is really rare and Ted is the supplier, so he is able to trace it back to Saul and Dale.

They go on the run. They spend the night in the woods and have a little bonding time. The next day they go to visit Red and find out if he’s told Ted anything. And he did, because he was threatened by two henchmen (Kevin Corrigan and Craig Robinson). Dale and Saul get in a clumsy stoner fight with Red, and they escape before Ted’s henchmen come back.

They go to warn Dale’s high school girlfriend (Amber Heard) and her family that they might be in danger. And even though her dad tries to kill Dale and Saul, he’s able to convince them to hide out a hotel.

Dale and Saul have a fight, and Dale says that they were never friends. Saul gets caught by Ted’s men and Dale decides he has to save him. He gets Red to help, but Red bails at the last minute and Dale confronts Ted’s gang alone. He gets captured pretty quickly and is reunited with Saul in a cell.

They chose a pretty good night to get captured, because Ted’s rivals, the Asians, stage a raid of Ted’s base. Saul and Dale manage to escape and they are killing their way out, while the Asians are killing their way in, and Ted’s guys are killing everyone. Even Red comes back to kill some people.

Dale, Saul, and Red all manage to survive. And they celebrate by getting breakfast and deciding to be best friends.

If you are a fan of quality entertainment, you might recall a show called Freaks and Geeks. Judd Apatow developed that show and Seth Rogen and James Franco starred in it. It’s good to see them working together again. Even Kevin Corrigan guest starred in an episode.

This movie has a few cool action scenes, but it never forgets that it’s a comedy. So the fights have gags in them. Saul and Dale don’t know how to fight and it shows. The car chase scene was completely absurd and it was really fun to watch,

As with a lot of Apatow movies, the dialog seems to flow. Everything seems improvised. James Franco and Seth Rogen are perfect for this movie, but Danny McBride steals the movie as Red. He has so many great lines. And he can’t die.

Pineapple Express is a solid comedy. People will still be quoting it in twenty years. It doesn’t take itself too seriously… that whole subplot with the Asians feels pretty tacked on and I’m sure that it’s intentional. All things considered, it’s a fun film and comedies should be fun.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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Kung Fu Panda 2

Kung Fu Panda was a surprisingly good film, and this sequel takes everything good about the first one, and expands it. It is a deeper and more complex film but is just as entertaining as the first one. Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson directs and Jack Black reprises his role as Po the Kung Fu Panda. It’s a cool CG movie with lots of action, comedy, and heart.

Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, David Cross, Seth Rogan, Lucy Liu, and Dustin Hoffman all return for the sequel, and Gary Oldman, Michelle Yeoh, Danny McBride, Dennis Haysbert, and Jean-Claude Van Damme join the voice cast as well. Props must be given to Jennifer Yuh Nelson for directing the highest grossing movie ever for a woman. Being a Korean American, she respects Asian culture and it shows on screen.

The main villain of this movie is an evil peacock tyrant named Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) who fears that a panda will one day defeat him. So he kills off all the pandas in China, except for one… the one who would grow up to be Po the Dragon Warrior (Jack Black). Po is living with his goose dad, Mr. Ping, and he begins to question his origins. Ping explains that he found Po in a radish crate when he was a baby, and he adopted him.

Po’s teacher, Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman) continues training Po, saying that he still has to achieve inner peace. Shifu soon finds out that Lord Shen has returned to power. Shen has a powerful new weapon that is capable of wiping out Kung Fu. It’s up to Po and his animal posse to stop him.

They have a few battles with Shen, and they lose when Po’s past catches up with him. Shen and Po fight and it looks like Shen kills Po. But Po is the Kung Fu Panda and the franchise wouldn’t work without him, and so Po comes back and saves the day, having finally achieved inner peace. Inner peace makes you a more violent and efficient fighter. The movie ends on a cliffhanger, setting things up for a third chapter.

Kung Fu Panda was a fun movie. Kung Fu Panda 2 is a fun movie that is about self-discovery. Po is questioning who he is. His past comes into play. It references the first film while preparing you for the next one. It is the perfect second act in a trilogy. I have high hopes for the next one.

The animation is pretty good. It’s not as impressive as Pixar’s animation, but it serves the story well. The story is improved over the first one. It explores more themes and delves into more complex issues than the first movie.

Jack Black pretty much plays Jack Black in all his movies. When you hear Jack Black but see a fat panda, it is more enjoyable. He has a face made for voiceover.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is on par or perhaps exceeds the original. DreamWorks will never be Pixar, but they still know how to entertain.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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Eastbound & Down

Danny McBride is Kenny Fucking Powers, a washed up major league pitcher. He had it all and lost it all. He is brash, arrogant, and hilarious. He has a lot of talent but no work ethic, and blames everyone else but himself for his problems. He’s the jock who never grew up.

The first season is about Kenny moving into his brother’s house and working as a gym teacher. He’s hit rock bottom and knows it. He tries to adjust and rekindle a relationship with an ex-girlfriend who is also working at the school. But April is also engaged to the principal. You gotta have a love triangle or there’s no drama, right? Kenny’s old acquaintance/new assistant Stevie helps Kenny on his mission to get back to the majors.

Season 2 finds Kenny in Mexico. He is even more lost and pathetic than he was in the first season. He is trying to forget about his old life, but he can’t forget about April and the lure of pitching in the big leagues. Stevie shows up to help him get back on track, again. In Season 3 Kenny is Myrtle Beach and pitching for a minor league team. April runs off and leaves Kenny with their baby, and hijinks ensue.

Kenny is rude and selfish, but you still want him to succeed. He wasted his talent, but at least he tries to redeem himself. He’s a selfish dick and embraces it, which makes him likeable somehow. HBO lets him get away with everything, so there tons of swearing and nudity. Will Ferrell, Craig Robinson, Gary Cole, and a bunch of other actors make appearances. If you like Judd Apatow movies, you will love this show. It’s hysterically funny, with a little heartfelt drama from time to time, and great characters with great jokes. Danny McBride is awesome.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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