Tag Archives: hollywood

It (2017 Film)

In this era of Hollywood there is an abundance of sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots and most of them suck. But every now and then a seemingly unnecessary reboot comes out and steals the thunder from the original. Mad Max: Fury Road comes to mind. It is one of those films as well. Most people grew up with the beloved 1990 miniseries starring Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. It was scary, but lots of things are scary when you’re five years old. The miniseries was tame. They didn’t have the budget to do anything spectacular. It was made for TV so they had to censor things and leave stuff out. The movie has an R rating and they run with it.

Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise was iconic. Bill Skarsgård had some big shoes to fill. He filled them, and then had to get bigger shoes because his feet were too big to fit them. He Heath Ledgered it. Skarsgård’s portrayal is terrifying and mesmerizing. He’s unpredictable and makes you feel uneasy. The only way to keep your sanity is by reminding yourself that it’s only a movie.

The movie stars a bunch of kids. Movies that rely on child actors are hit or miss. It only takes one shitty actor to ruin the whole film. The entire cast is solid. Jaeden Lieberher does a great job as Bill Denbrough, the main character. If he sucked the movie would suck. All the kids in the Losers Club are good. Finn Wolfhard, aka the kid from Stranger Things, adds another classic child horror story to his resume. Jeremy Ray Taylor plays Ben, the fat new kid. He’s actually overweight, not the usual version of Hollywood’s stereotypical fat kid. He adds to the realism. Jackson Robert Scott plays Georgie, the film’s first depicted victim of Pennywise. He’s the youngest actor and has some of the creepiest lines. 

Director Andy Muschietti has created a blockbuster. It is already the highest grossing horror film of all time. It is also the highest grossing film to be released in September. That’s pretty impressive. It deserves all the hype it is getting. Right after I saw it, I went home and watched the opening scene from the miniseries and from the movie on YouTube to compare them. Watch it now, see for yourself. It’s night and day. It made me realize how cheesy the miniseries actually is. 

In conclusion, go see It.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

You’ll Float Too!

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Nude Scenes in Movies

I had a lengthy conversation with a couple of strangers at the bar today. We didn’t talk about sports or politics. We discussed nude scenes in movies. More specifically, which sexy Hollywood actresses were naked in a movie, which movie(s), how much you see, and what was depicted in those scenes. I don’t know how the conversation started, but we talked for a long time. We learned from each other. We kept naming different movies and actresses and what to watch on Netflix as soon as possible, but never once did we mention anything about the cinematography. And we knew surprisingly little about the plot details of the movies we were mentioning. That’s what happens when you only watch a few select scenes I guess. The next time there’s a lull in the conversation you should bring up nude scenes in movies. Awkward silence avoided. You’re welcome.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young


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Hollywood Classroom Cliché

Have you ever noticed the Hollywood classroom cliché? The bell rings, the students enter the classroom, sit in their seats, the teacher comes in a second later, writes something on the board and starts their lecture (which is always relevant to the plot), one or two students make comments, the bell rings, and the teacher shouts out the homework assignment as the students scramble out the door. The class only lasted five minutes, and nobody seemed to notice or care. What kind of school are these kids going to? And how do I enroll? I would love to go to a school where the lesson is always important, classes are only a few minutes long, and the teacher knows all the students by name.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young


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The Lone Ranger (film)

The Lone Ranger is a 2013 Disney movie about a masked vigilante and his Indian friend. The Lone Ranger is a classic character appearing in radio serials, comic books, and TV shows. Disney brings him back to the big screen for the first time in 32 years. But this is 2013, and nobody bothered to tell them that nobody cares about such an outdated character. This movie just came out and the studio is already admitting that it’s a box office bomb. I don’t know how they finally realized that it sucks. I could tell from the trailer that it was going to suck. The sad thing is that hundreds of people wasted years of their lives working on this film and not one of them realized that it was simply a terrible, terrible idea. I don’t even know anybody who saw it. I didn’t even see it. I just know that I don’t like it.

Armie Hammer “stars” as the Lone Ranger, but he doesn’t even get top billing. He doesn’t even get his own poster. Instead the studio advertised the film as The Lone Ranger staring Johnny Depp as the Lone Ranger’s Indian friend. I can’t believe that major Hollywood studios are still making movies with white actors playing minorities in 2013. It’s pretty racist and it’s pretty insulting to the audience. Johnny Depp is again reunited with Gore Verbinski, the director of Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3 and Rango. Does Tim Burton know that Johnny Depp is cheating on him? And making inferior movies?

So it’s not really fair for me to write a review about a movie that I didn’t see and probably will never see, but I had to write about something. If you liked this movie, I’d be shocked. Not because of your awful taste in movies, but because you actually paid money to watch it.

Critically Rated at 3/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Overnight (documentary)

Overnight is a 2003 documentary about the fast rise and quicker fall of Troy Duffy, the writer and director of The Boondock Saints. It’s almost like a real life episode of Entourage; you get to see how Hollywood works. And there’s a whole lot of backstabbing and ego trips. Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith take you behind the scenes to show you the dark side of movie making.

Troy Duffy was a virtual unknown, just a bartender from Boston that played in a band and wrote on the side. Somehow Harvey Weinstein and Miramax found out about him and a script called The Boondock Saints. They bought his script, they named him the director (despite never making a movie before or going to film school), and even gave his band a recording contract. Troy Duffy became one of the biggest sensations in Hollywood overnight.

But then the politics and reality of filmmaking start to present themselves. Making a Hollywood movie is not easy. And Troy Duffy is a difficult guy to work with. He is arrogant and argumentative and grows more and more frustrated as preproduction keeps getting delayed. His business and personal relationships start to flounder as he spirals out of control; he goes from being the toast of the town to the butt of jokes. Eventually his film gets made, but both him and the movie are blacklisted from Hollywood. You can achieve success overnight, but you can lose it all before breakfast time. This documentary about the making of The Boondock Saints is more memorable and entertaining than the film that inspired it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man 2 is the second installment of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy. It’s among the best superhero movies to date, both critically and commercially. Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco all reprise their roles and Alfred Molina joins the cast as Dr. Otto Octavius/Doctor Octopus. The film is about Peter Parker struggling to juggle his responsibilities as Peter Parker and as Spider-Man. He’s got relationship problems, a friendship on the rocks, and a crazy villain to deal with.

The first Spider-Man movie was pretty good. It was a decent origin story about a fun character with serviceable action scenes, but the sequel takes Spidey to new heights. It does everything that you want a sequel to do: the story is more interesting, it references the original, there’s more action and more elaborate special effects. You don’t have to introduce the main characters; you can just jump right into the story and have fun.

My biggest gripe with the movie is that Doc Ock can take an awful lot of punches. His mechanical limbs don’t give him super strength. I’m pretty sure that Spider-Man’s punch would shatter his skull. He’s still the best villain in the series though, even with Alfred Molina’s saggy man tits. The subway sequence was almost too awesome and exhilarating. It made the climax look lame by comparison. And something about Kirsten Dunst repulses me slightly.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Amazing Spider-Man (film)

Hollywood has a thing for unnecessary reboots and remakes of popular franchises. So I was more than a little doubtful about seeing a new Spider-Man movie with a new cast and director. I thought it would just be another origin story about Peter Parker’s transformation into Spider-Man. Marc Webb made an already established franchise seem new and fresh, and Andrew Garfield plays a great Peter Parker.

Garfield’s Parker is not a loser, he’s shy, kind of quiet, but he rocks a skateboard and wears contacts. He gets picked on by a bully named Flash Thompson, but Flash is an asshole and no one else bullies Peter. He’s a regular kid (smarter than average), and that’s what makes his transformation more exciting.

Peter gets bitten by a magic spider and he gets spider-like powers. One inevitable day, his beloved Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) tries to stop a robber and gets shot and dies on the street. Peter uses his new abilities to try to track down his uncle’s killer. He goes around dark alleys and streets, searching for his uncle’s killer and attacking anyone who matches his description.

He eventually starts wearing a mask, and later a spiffy spandex spidey suit. He also wears some artificial web shooters and he becomes an icon around the city. He gets more confident and asks out his crush, the beautiful and smart Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone). Her dad is the chief of police and thinks that Spider-Man is a dangerous vigilante who needs to be stopped.

While Peter is busy playing hero and fighting crime and saving people, Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) is busy trying to regrow his stump of an arm and turns himself into a giant lizard and goes on a rampage. Peter is able to figure out that Connors is the Lizard, and that Connors wants to improve humanity by turning them all into lizard monsters. Peter has to stop him because he has the power to stop him.

Then there’s an exciting climax where Spidey fights the Lizard and things break and people die. Then they resolve some unresolved plot issues and drop some hints about the sequel and you leave the theater feeling content.

The movie is called The Amazing Spider-Man. It should really be called the Amazing Peter Parker. There is a lot of emphasis on the man under the mask. He takes off his mask to save a kid, when he’s fighting the lizard in the school, and when he pleads to Chief Stacy to let him stop the lizard. The Spider-Man suit is just a costume, it doesn’t make Peter a hero. Peter is already a hero. Before Peter even gets bitten, he stops a bully from picking on a kid, and gets his ass beat as a result. He was a hero way before the spandex.

When you watch this movie, you can’t help but compare it to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Raimi’s version is campy, it’s childish, it’s like the ‘60s Batman TV show. Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man is more realistic; it’s more like Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, just not as dark. Spider-Man is a fun character, he says witty things and wears a colorful suit and wants to be in the spotlight, not in the shadows.

Marc Webb is a great director. He creates genuinely emotional moments between the characters, and he is also able to create amazing and inspiring action sequences. When Uncle Ben dies, he pretty much just lies on the ground and is gone. There are no sentimental last words of advice, no “With great power comes great responsibility” hoopla.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield have a great dynamic. They play off each other well. They have a lot of memorable moments, like when he asked her out with out asking her out, how he revealed he was Spider-Man to her, and how he gets her back in the end with a subtle whispered comment in class.

Emma Stone and Andrew Garfield Star in The Amazing Spider-Man

The movie does a lot to establish itself as the foundation for a new series. A large amount of the movie takes place at OsCorp. Dr. Connors is working for the mysterious Norman Osborn, who you never see but often hear about. Peter never catches his uncle’s killer. You find out that there’s more to the deaths of Peter’s parents than what was revealed.

Spider-Man 2 used to be one of my favorite comic book movies. The Amazing Spider-Man just usurped that spot I think. It’s the best Spider-Man movie, without a doubt. Go see it and agree with me.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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District 9

Neill Blomkamp’s District 9 is the best South African sci-fi film ever made, I’m pretty sure of that. In March of 1982, a huge alien spaceship arrives over Johannesburg. It’s filled with a bunch of sick and dying aliens, and they are forcibly relocated them into District 9, a government camp where they can live in squalor and poverty. A guy named Wikus is tasked with relocating the aliens to a new camp, but things hit a snag when he gets infected by a mysterious fluid and starts mutating into an alien


The aliens of District 9 are humanoid insect looking things called prawns. They have their own language, but can understand English. They have a thing for cat food. The South African government hired a private military company called Multinational United to remove the aliens from District 9 into a new ghetto called District 10. Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copely) works at MNU, and while he’s in the middle of serving up eviction notices in District 9 he gets sprayed by a weird black fluid. Before long his hand and arm start mutating, becoming prawnlike.

MNU finds out, and they start experimenting on him. His newfound prawn DNA makes him the only human who can use alien weaponry. Wikus escapes from MNU and goes back to District 9 to find a cure.

He returns to the house where he got sprayed. It’s owned by a prawn named Christopher Johnson and his young prawn son. Christopher tells him that the fluid is spaceship fuel, and the prawns need it to go home, but it will also revert Wikus back to human form. Wikus and Christopher launch an attack on MNU headquarters, grab the fuel and try to reactivate the spaceship.

In the climatic battle, Wikus and Christopher are getting shot at by MNU soldiers and Nigerian gangsters. The best way to end a movie about alien racism is to have a shootout. It’s logical, it’s practical, it’s the only reasonable way to end the movie.

District 9 has a lot of political undertones. It’s a commentary on racism and bigotry. Wikus is an asshole in the beginning. He sees the prawns as inferior. He just assumes that he is better than they are. As he starts to become less human, he becomes more humane. He starts to care about the prawns, and at the end he sacrifices himself for them.

This is a cool movie. There are no big name actors. It’s shot like a documentary, with lots of interviews, hand-held shots, and pseudo-found footage. The CG prawns look realistic and the action scenes are pretty intense. It was originally a short film called Alive in Joburg, and it was expanded into the flick that it became.

District 9 proved that you can make a successful sci-fi movie without any stars, an established director, or a huge budget. All you need is a cool concept and an explosive over the top ending where people blow up and splatter blood everywhere. It’s a good movie with a mediocre ending. But it has a great concept and that’s what makes the movie worth watching.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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Independence Day (film, not the day)

Before Roland Emmerich went crazy and started spewing out ridiculous disaster movies like The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, he made an awesome disaster movie called Independence Day. This was one of the best summer movies of the ‘90s. It had it all: a sweet cast, amazing special effects, and good action scenes. Plus Vivica A. Fox plays a stripper.

The movie stars out with a bang. It starts on the moon and a giant shadow creeps across its surface, steadily heading for Earth. Before long, giant spaceships are hovering over 36 major cities across the world. As we learn about the threat, we are introduced to the main characters. Jeff Goldblum plays David Levinson, a genius who discovers a hidden code that indicates the aliens are going to attack. He goes to Washington, D.C. to warn his ex-wife who works for the President of the United States. Bill Pullman plays the President, a former combat pilot.

Will Smith plays Captain Steve Hiller, a pilot for the Marines. He wants to become an astronaut, and he has a stripper girlfriend named Jasmine (Vivica A. Fox). Randy Quaid plays Russell Casse, he’s a pilot too. Seriously, the whole world gets destroyed, but half the survivors are pilots. If you wanna survive Independence Day, you should start taking flying lessons.

The hidden code that David finds turns out to be valid, and the ships attack simultaneously across the world. Millions of people die, but if you jump into a storage closet in a tunnel, you’ll be fine. That’s how Vivica A. Fox survived. She plays a stripper in the movie by the way.

So the world’s been half destroyed, and we have no idea how to stop them. Will Smith flies around and gets one to crash and then he punches it in the face and welcomes it to Earth. And then he and the alien body get a ride from Russell Casse and his family to Area 51. And the President is there, along with David and all the other people who haven’t died yet. The alien turns out not to be dead, and we find out that they want to take over the world and they want us to die. So we decide to nuke them. And it doesn’t work, and we don’t know what to do. And we seem pretty fucked.

Then David gets an idea. He’ll simply use his Apple laptop to upload a virus to the mother ship to disable all the other ships, while simultaneously the survivors across the world will launch a global attack on the alien ships. Will Smith and David fly to the mother ship, and the President and Russell Casse and all the other survivor pilots take to the skies in a desperate attempt to save mankind.

Not to spoil anything, but we won. We beat the aliens. And David takes up smoking. He probably stops recycling too.

This movie came out when I was ten years old. It was the movie of the summer. It was like my Star Wars. It was an event. And when we went back to school we shunned the ones who didn’t see it.

There are a lot of funny moments and lots of great one-liners. There are also some touching moments, like when the President has to tell his daughter that mama ain’t coming back. Some of the actors do a great job, like Judd Hirsch as Julius, David’s father. Some of the actors do a terrible job, like James Duval as Miguel Casse, Russell’s son. He looks like he went to the Keanu Reeves School of Wooden Acting. I think Bill Pullman’s speech with the bullhorn is one of the best fake president speeches of all time. Oh, and Vivica A. Fox plays a stripper.

Of course there are lots of plot holes (like where’s the Secret Service?) and poorly written characters, but the movie is exciting and fun and entertaining. I like being entertained, it’s fun. I think it’s weird how everyone laughs at Russell whenever he mentions being abducted by aliens ten years earlier. They know that aliens exist now. They should be apologizing for having doubted him.

Independence Day is a cool movie. It was the first time Will Smith saved the world. He does that every other summer now. This was back when it was still special. Seriously if you haven’t seen this movie you missed the ‘90s and I feel bad for you.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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The Avengers

It’s very refreshing to go to the movies and pay a shit ton of money and know that you are going to be entertained. Very few films come with that kind of guarantee. The Avengers is one of those movies. It has everything you want in a summer blockbuster: a great cast, a great director, great characters, great special effects, and great story. Joss Whedon knows how to direct large ensemble casts, and every character gets adequate screen time and at least one memorable moment. The Avengers kicks off the summer blockbuster season, and it’s going to be a tough act to follow. The world is in trouble and the Avengers must assemble, and it takes a while, but they learn to overcome their differences and become a team (and a family), and save they New York City and the world.

There is a huge cast. Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Samuel L. Jackson all show up. And they all get their moment to shine. There is no lead, but Robert Downey, Jr. wants you to think it’s him. Quick props to Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson. He has no powers, but he was no doubt a hero. He inspired the Avengers to become the Avengers, with a little manipulation from Nick Fury.

It might be helpful to first watch Iron Man, Iron Man 2, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger but it’s not necessary. I never saw Captain America, and I don’t feel like I had to. I understood his role and position on the team, and each Avenger gets ample screen time to establish or reestablish characters. Hawkeye and the Black Widow each get a good introduction scene; you learn their personalities, their capabilities and get a sense of who they are.

Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America all have dramatic entrances. You know the real heroes have arrived when they show up. The first half hour to 45 minutes kind of drags, but it’s important for the plot and it’s never really boring. As soon as the Helicarrier gets attacked and Banner transforms into the Hulk, the movie kicks into overdrive and never gives up. The action is intense and overwhelming. It’s sensory overload like Transformers, but unlike Transformers you are aware of what’s happening. You know who the villains are, who the heroes are, and what’s at stake.

Some of the funniest moments happen in the midst of battle. The Hulk in particular had some great moments (throwing the ejected pilot, sucker punching Thor, beating the shit out of Loki). Mark Ruffalo became the best Hulk with the shortest amount of screen time. BTW, Lou Ferrigno voiced the Hulk, a little nerd knowledge for you. Each hero has their share of quips though. It’s very reminiscent of comics: some spectacular display of violence followed by a witty remark.

Comic book fans will jizz in their pants. There are so many hidden Marvel moments to get excited about. Everyone loves a good Stan Lee cameo, but there are so many references to the Marvel Universe that your geeky head will explode. There is too much to take in, and you have to see it multiple times and talk about it to people nerdier than you are just to calm down a little. It makes you feel like a little kid, asking who that was, or what this was about. It’s rare to be excited about a movie these days. Don’t take it for granted.

I saw it in 3D. I was a little skeptical, because most films shot in 2D that get converted to 3D look terrible. The 3D is shoddy and the characters look like cardboard cutouts. A simple test is to take off your 3D glasses: blurry means that it is 3D, unblurred and in-focus means you wasted your money. This movie is actually 3D, and it’s worth paying a few extra bucks for the full experience. The cinematography alone is impressive, so seeing it in 2D is not missing out on much. Everybody wins. There are some great shots in the NYC battle. There’s a rapid shot where the camera is looking through the shattered rear window of a cab. Another great shot shows Captain America’s reflection in an overturned motorcycle’s mirror.

So this movie has already been ridiculously hyped. It has made over $207 million in its first 3 days in the US. It’s made over $1.008 billion. It’s already the #11 movie of all time. It wont be Avatar status, but it’s going to be in the top ten for sure. This isn’t the best movie of all time. But it will be a lot of people’s favorite movie. And you can’t fault them for that. This movie is a great blockbuster. There are a lot of great characters, funny moments, and jaw-dropping special effects. And it has heart.

Joss Whedon compares the Avengers to a family. They don’t always get along. They fight and bicker and argue with each other. But they come together when the need to. They work together and they save New York City. And saving New York City is always good.

This movie appeals to everyone. I saw it with three lesbians and an old man. We all had a blast. This is an awesome movie and I can’t wait to see it again. It is one of those movies that you geek out over and you do your best Iron Man and Hulk impressions to try and recreate the magic. Just see it already. Don’t be the only one left out.

Critically Rated at 15.5/17

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Green Lantern (film)

The Green Lantern is an iconic DC comic. The Green Lantern Corps is an intergalactic police force that patrols the DC universe. Each Green Lantern has their own sector to protect, and each Green Lantern gets a power ring and power lantern that lets them harness their willpower to control over the physical world. There are a bunch of different Green Lanterns, but this movie is about Hal Jordan. Sorry Guy Gardner. Ryan Reynolds plays Hal Jordan and Martin Campbell directs.

Most superhero movies really play up the origin story. As if you can’t enjoy Superman until you see Clark Kent growing up for an hour. This movie doesn’t do that. They give you a little background on the Green Lantern Corps, and you spend a little bit of time with Hal Jordan, but it jumps into the main plotline pretty quick. An evil alien named Parallax fought a Green Lantern named Abin Sur. Abin Sur escaped to Earth and passed his lantern and ring on to Hal Jordan. Parallax somehow comes back and takes infects Hector Hammond’s brain and makes him the antagonist.

Hal and Hammond fight a few times. Hal quits the Green Lanterns for a little bit. Hector Hammond gets more and more powerful. Hal has a change of heart and rejoins the Corps, just in time to beat Hammond and save the world from Parallax.

Hollywood likes to make big blockbusters. But just because you have a $200 million budget and an established character with a built-in fan base doesn’t mean you will have a hit. A decent script is way more beneficial for box office success. The special effects in this movie are sometimes slightly awesome, but they don’t mean anything. It’s just eye candy. And you actually feel bad because everything looks great but sounds stupid because of the half-assed script. It’s not a terrible as you might think, but when you have good comic book movies like the Dark Knight and the Avengers it makes this translation seem even worse.

There is a decent supporting cast. Blake Lively plays the love interest. Peter Sarsgaard plays Hector Hammond. Angela Bassett and Tim Robbins also show up unnecessarily in supporting roles for some reason. Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clark Duncan lend their voices to a couple of CG Green Lantern aliens. Ryan Reynolds should stick to comedies. He’s just not cut out to be an action star.

This movie had a lot of potential. And it was pretty shitty. It’s not the worst superhero movie ever made, it is just really disappointing. You wonder how they blew $200 million to make such a mediocre movie. There are no memorable moments that stand out. No director will ever look upon this shit for inspiration. It’s just a really expensive exercise in futility.

Critically Rated at 8/17

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Boogie Nights

Paul Thomas Anderson directs Mark Wahlberg and a great supporting cast in Boogie Nights. This tells the tale of Eddie Adams (Mark Wahlberg) who enters the adult film industry and becomes the legendary and fictional Dirk Diggler. A great supporting cast and a great soundtrack help to carry this film from being a cult classic to a cinematic necessity


Mark Wahlberg is a legitimate actor. This role cements his legacy. Dirk Diggler could have been portrayed by a dozen or more actors. Mark Wahlberg takes control of the flick and makes Dirk Diggler a real person. Stupid as fuck, but real. His only goal in life is to make use of what he was given. He was given a large cock. And he embraces it.

Every character in this movie views sex in different ways. Sex is the theme, but it destroys people. Heather Graham plays Roller Girl, and she is always down to fuck. She doesn’t consider herself a whore or a slut thought. She has pride and respects herself even if others don’t. Julianne Moore plays Amber Waves, an aging porn star that is protective of Mark Wahlberg and desperately wants to regain custody of her kid. She’s a bad mom, knows it, and hates herself for it. Burt Reynolds plays Jack Horner, a director with delusions of grandeur. He considers himself an actual director, involved with story and plot but he’s a porn director and not much more.

Don Cheadle and John C. Reilly join the cast as washed up porn stars. Don Cheadle wants to be a cowboy and wants to start his own electronics business. John C. Reilly is constantly trying to prove himself and acts tougher than he is. He wants to be a magician, but he’s a straight up mimbo. William H. Macy plays the assistant Little Bill. He’s married to a porn star/swinger who is constantly cheating on him. It becomes a running gag. Sex isn’t casual for everyone, and he reaches the breaking point. There are a lot of other great supporting cast members. Philip Seymour Hoffman has a bizarre man crush on Dirk Diggler. Luis Guzman plays a sleazy nightclub owner who is always trying to break into the industry.

If you’re a dude you probably feel inadequate after watching this movie. You aren’t the only one. I’m sure there are support groups available. Just remind yourself that Mark Wahlberg had to use a prosthetic.

Boogie Nights is less about the porn industry and more about the amazing time that was the 1970s and ‘80s. Porn just happened to be a hot topic at that point. All the people involved in the porn industry are trying to make themselves appear legitimate. They want to be presentable to society. They are all trying to be something else. Only Mark Wahlberg as Eddie Adams wants to fully embrace the lifestyle. He wants the glory and infamy that comes with the territory; sex is the only thing that sets him apart from the crowd. He wants to be the best at the only thing he is good at… it just happens to be a taboo subject.

The industry seems exciting and glamorous at first, but it gets darker and darker as the film goes on. It destroys careers and lives, and only a few people are able to escape it. Sex is awesome, but sometimes it is a curse. This movie shows both sides of the coin.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Ghostbusters II

If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! I’m not trying to be clever, who else would you call? Who else is even a possibility? Harold Ramis, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson and Bill Murray are the Ghostbusters, and they’re back in their second film, again directed by Ivan Reitman. The first film is a classic; there is no denying that. But this is a great sequel, and I know a lot of people consider this blasphemy, but I think it is on par, or maybe even better than the original. That doesn’t mean it’s better, it means it’s more Ghostbustery.

The first film of a franchise generally spends a lot of time introducing and establishing characters. In sequels, you already know the main characters, so you can just jump right into the story. That’s how Ghostbusters II starts. It begins five years after the events of the first movie, and the Ghostbusters are no more. But this is a sequel, and the stakes have to be higher. Right of the bat, pink slime is creeping out of cracks in the sidewalk and Dana Barrett’s baby goes for a wild ride in his carriage. She goes to Egon and Ray for help, and the Ghostbusters reunite to find out what is going on.

What is going on is that the soul of a 17th Century tyrant is slowly regaining power and is threatening to take on a physical form and take over the world. That’s pretty shady. Vigo the Carpathian is a much more formidable opponent than a giant marshmallow man. I think that a scary painting that comes to life (who also controls a river of slime) is a little bit scarier than a demon that lives in a refrigerator and a giant candy mascot. Vigo uses Dana Barrett’s boss, Dr. Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol), to try to kidnap Dana’s baby, Oscar. Oscar is going to the vessel, the body that Vigo will take over.

Naturally the Ghostbusters have a problem with this, and since Dana Barrett is a paying customer, they have to take him down. They discover a river of slime running underneath New York. They find out that the slime is a psyscho-reactive substance, a manifestation of negative emotions, and that it feeds off of angry, surly New Yorkers. The more pissed off and negative they are, the more powerful Vigo and his slime gets, and that in turn releases more and more ghosts. The Ghostbusters find out a way to use happy, positive emotions to control the slime, and use technology to animate the Statue of Liberty in order to fight the ghosts, because that makes total sense. Janosz successfully kidnaps Oscar, and the Ghostbusters have until 12:00 on New Year’s Eve to save the world.

There are a few reasons why this sequel is as good or better than the original. First off, everybody likes Slimer. And Slimer had a decent intro in the first movie, but he is actually helpful in this movie. He drives Louis to the museum, which was pretty important to advancing the plot. Slimer is the ghost mascot of the Ghostbusters, he was hardly in the first movie, but was featured prominently in the cartoon show and this sequel. There are better and more elaborate ghost-catching montages. Rick Moranis is awesome. And his character, Louis Tully, is expanded and has a lot more lines and scenes. He even gets some loving from Janine, the Ghostbuster’s secretary (who also has a bigger and better role to play). Even Ernie Hudson gets more screen time as Winston. Remember that there are four Ghostbusters, and Winston only showed up halfway through the first movie and didn’t do anything really. Winston is there from the get-go and has a cool first scene with Ray as they work a birthday party, establishing that they are now failures. He’s still not quite a lead, but his character actually involved in the plot now.

Vigo the Carpathian is a terrifying villain. He’s a creepy painting that slowly becomes more and more powerful throughout the film. The first movie uses demons named Zuul and Gozer, but you hardly see them. The destructor arrives in the form of the gigantic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. I know it’s comedy, but that shit’s absurd even for the ‘80s. Vigo is scary. He even turns the comical Janosz into a disturbing henchman for the underworld… the scene were his eyes become headlights will forever be etched into my memory.

The first movie had great moments. It will always be a classic. But I think that this sequel did more to establish Ghostbusters as a franchise. There are a lot of iconic Ghostbusters moments in this one…. The Statue of Liberty, Slimer the Bus Driver, more Winston, more Louis, the river of slime, the courthouse ghosts, baby-eating bathtubs… the list goes on and on.

Ghostbusters is a great movie. Ghostbusters II is a great sequel and a great movie. They celebrate that they are back, and you are glad they are. And Bill Murray is reason enough to watch this movie. So watch it.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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For Love of the Game

Kevin Costner did a lot of baseball movies. Over fifty-seven by some estimates. In this one he plays an aging pitcher throwing the last game of his career. Sam Rami directs it, and it is really down to earth, especially considering some of the crazy stuff he’s done in the past. The film flashes back and forth between fictional Detroit Tigers pitcher Billy Chapel facing the New York Yankees and key moments in Chapel’s relationship with his on again/off again girlfriend, Jane.

John C. Reilly plays Gus, Billy’s reliable catcher and friend. J.K. Simmons plays the Tigers manager. Brian Cox plays the owner. Jena Malone plays Heather, Jane’s daughter. And the always sexy Kelly Preston plays Jane Aubrey, the sexy love interest.

The baseball playing is really just a trick to lure guys into watching this film. It’s really a chick flick. It’s bearable because of the baseball to an extent, but this is a love story. There is way more about love and relationships than there is cool stuff about baseball. And there’s no nude scenes, so the love story part isn’t that cool.

Vin Scully plays himself. For some reason he is announcing a game between the Yankees and the Tigers. It doesn’t matter that he’s the announcer for the LA Dodgers. Whatever. It’s dumb to get permission to use real teams from the MLB and then have the wrong announcer from the wrong side of the country calling a game for the wrong league.

I’ve seen a lot of Kevin Costner baseball movies. This one probably isn’t even in his top twenty. If you see it while channel surfing, it’s ok to watch it. Just don’t go out of your way to see this movie. You aren’t missing much.

There are worse chick flicks than this. But just remember that it is a chick flick pretending to be a baseball movie. That’s manipulative Hollywood marketing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Oh by the way, he pitches a perfect game and gets the girl. Life is great sometimes.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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Full Metal Jacket

Stanley Kubrick is responsible for some other cinema’s greatest films. Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, A Clockwork Orange… and Full Metal Jacket. Matthew Modine, Vincent D’Onofrio, Adam Baldwin, and R. Lee Ermey turn in amazing performances, but the Vietnam War is the main character.

There are a few films about the Vietnam War that are required viewing to call yourself a film buff. Oliver Stone’s Platoon is one. Francis Ford Coppala’s Apocalypse Now is another. But Full Metal Jacket is the best of the bunch.

The film starts with a new group of Marines arriving for basic training. The two main recruits are Joker (Matthew Modine) and the bumbling Gomer Pyle (Vincent D’Onofrio). Pyle isn’t cut out for the Marines; he is fat, slow, and lazy. To make matters worse, their Drill Instructor, Sargent Hartman, has it out for Pyle. He targets him, humiliates him, punishes him, and tries to break him. Nothing works, so he makes Joker responsible for training him, and for a while things get better.

Pyle keeps fucking up, and eventually Hartman decides to punish the other Marines instead of Pyle. This causes the other Marines to start hating Pyle, and they let him know that he sucks. Pyle eventually becomes a model Marine, but suffers a nervous breakdown. In a disturbing scene, he shoots and kills Hartman and then turns the gun on himself. And just like that, two of the main characters are gone.

Joker ends up reporting for Stars and Stripes, and goes to Vietnam in time to experience the Tet Offensive. Joker meets and interviews a bunch of Marines and they all have different views on war and combat and life in general. During a patrol a single sniper begins picking off the Marines. They track down the sniper and discover it is a teenage girl. Talk about a mind fuck. Joker kills her out of mercy, and he gains the thousand-yard stare of a man who has seen war.

Full Metal Jacket shows what war does to a man. It can make him, or it can break him. Joker made it, he became a good Marine, he saw war, and he survived. Pyle didn’t make it. He wasn’t ever cut out for the Marines, and lost track of who he was. He went crazy, and his descent into madness is one of the most memorable moments of this movie.

Props go out to R. Lee Ermey. He isn’t even acting; he is a real life drill instructor that they hired as a technical advisor. You can’t contain him. He spews out poetic insults like Shakespeare pops out beautiful sonnets. Half the stuff he says is improvised, and Kubrick was a control freak, so you can’t deny his talent.

This movie doesn’t have a strong plot. It kind of meanders around loosely, but that adds to the theme of the movie: that war is pointless. Pyle and Hartman die halfway through the film. But the movie doesn’t end, just like the war doesn’t end just because someone died.

Full Metal Jacket is a classic. You owe it to yourself to experience this film at least once. Kubrick is a great director, and this might not be his best flick, but it is definitely his best Vietnam War movie.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Coming to America

John Landis directs Eddie Murphy in Coming to America. This is Eddie Murphy’s best movie, hands down. Eddie Murphy plays an African prince who comes to America in search of a bride. He brings his faithful manservant along, and hilarity ensues. Contrary to popular belief, Eddie Murphy does not play every single role in the movie. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall each play four characters though. That’s a lot of comedy.

Murphy plays Prince Akeem. Arsenio Hall plays Semmi, his servant and friend. They come to Queens and land jobs at a McDonald’s clone called McDowell’s. Akeem falls for his boss’s daughter, but she already has a boyfriend. He keeps his regal status a secret, and eventually Lisa begins to notice him.

She gets rid of her boyfriend, and Akeem and Lisa start a relationship. Akeem’s parents show up, she finds out that he’s a prince, and she gets mad that he lied about being a goat herder and breaks up with him. Um, ok, why not? He goes back to Africa, and has to take part in an arranged marriage. When he lifts up his mystery bride’s veil, he sees that it is Lisa! Oh, what a happy ending.

This is a good movie with a good cast. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall are at the top of their game, each playing multiple characters, and each one is funny. Eddie Murphy carries the movie, but it wouldn’t have been half as good without Arsenio Hall. They play off each other well; they should have made more movies together. James Earl Jones plays Akeem’s father, the King of Zamunda. Samuel L. Jackson, Louie Anderson and Cuba Gooding, Jr. have cameos. Shari Headley plays Lisa. She’s stunningly beautiful and I wonder why her career didn’t take off.

Eddie Murphy gets credit for coming up with the story, and David Sheffield and Barry W. Blaustein wrote the screenplay. Or did they? A guy named Art Buchwald wrote a script treatment for an Eddie Murphy vehicle in 1982. It went into development hell for a few years, and eventually was shelved. And then they made it in 1988 and Buchwald sued them. They settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. Pretty shady, but I think the studio is more to blame than Eddie Murphy.

This is a cult classic. It gave the world Sexual Chocolate and Soul Glow. It gave Eddie Murphy the idea he could do anything. It gave you a reason to forgive Eddie Murphy for shit like Pluto Nash and Norbit, and that’s saying something.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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The Quick and the Dead

Sam Raimi (Spider-Man, Evil Dead) directs Sharon Stone as The Lady, a deadly female gunslinger The Quick and the Dead. Sharon Stone enters a quick draw dueling competition in a small town run by Gene Hackman. Raimi directs an all-star cast and using every single cowboy movie cliché imaginable to create an original and entertaining period piece.

The Quick and the Dead pays homage to the early cinematic westerns that AMC used to show before they became a real TV network. They have the saloon and an evil sheriff and a hired gun and a reformed criminal and a trick shot expert and a clock tower and honor and redemption and revenge. But they also have a pretty diverse competition. There is an Indian, a black guy, a woman, a Swedish guy… pretty much anyone can enter if they want. And that’s nice and democratic.

There are a lot of stars in this movie. Some of them were still up-and-comers at the time, but some were established. Sharon Stone is the main character and Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Gary Sinise all play supporting roles. There are also a lot of character actors that you will recognize from a bunch of different movies.

It’s not the best western, but it doesn’t try to be. It is more of an homage to cowboy flicks than an attempt to be serious. It is very stylized, and there are a lot of elaborate sequences that are very distinctive of Raimi. You can recognize his style a mile away. It’s a B movie with a budget. It has heart. Being made with love makes it better than it is.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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