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Deadpool (film)

I finally got around to seeing Deadpool a few days ago. Now I’m part of the Cool Kids Club again. Let’s start with some backstory before we start talking about the movie. Deadpool was originally created as a blatant rip-off of DC’s Deathstroke. Marvel has never tried to hide this fact, they talk about it openly. They have similar names, costumes, and both are mercenaries. They have different powers and skillsets, but the biggest difference between the two of them is that Deadpool knows that he’s a character in a comic book. He breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the reader. He knows that he’s not real. It’s all very meta.

My biggest fear about the movie is that it wouldn’t be able to capture the tone of the comics. I felt a great sense of relief as soon as the opening credits started to roll. Ryan Reynolds, director Tim Miller, and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick were able to bring the Deadpool to life the right way. They made the film as funny, violent, and raunchy as they could. They took a huge gamble by making it Rated R as opposed to PG-13. The gamble paid off. It’s already the highest grossing R-rated film of all time and it’s been out for less than two weeks. What’s more impressive is that it’s also the highest grossing X-Men movie.

The plot of the movie is pretty generic. It’s an origin story about how a regular guy became a superhero and then the bad guy kidnaps his girlfriend and he has to use his powers to get her back. The story structure is a little more advanced. They start in the middle of the action and then they tell the backstory through flashbacks. It’s as much of a comedy as it is a superhero action flick. The humor was witty and fresh and I was laughing hysterically every couple of minutes. There were also a few touching moments that I wasn’t expecting. It made a surreal character seem real, relatable, and likeable.

As strange as it sounds, I think Deadpool is a great date movie. There’s enough violence for the men, there’s enough romance for the ladies, and it’s funny enough to keep everyone entertained. It’s a solid flick all around. That’s hard to do these days. So go and see it if you were on the fence about it. It’s worth it.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Adventureland

Adventureland is a 2009 comedy about a college grad who takes a summer job at theme park called Adventureland. Jesse Eisenberg stars as James Brennan, who had dreams about going to Europe for the summer and going to Columbia University in the fall, but things fall through and he ends up taking a shitty seasonal job at the local amusement park. He’s the new guy and Joel (Martin Starr) takes him under his wing and introduces him to his coworkers and shows him the ropes. He meets a bunch of new people and starts crushing on a girl named Em (Kristen Stewart). They start hanging out, they share a kiss, but things are complicated because she’s having an ongoing affair with another coworker named Connell. Connell (Ryan Reynolds) is the park technician and an amateur musician, and he pretends to be cooler than he is. James is the only one who sees through his charade, but he never calls him out for his bullshit.

            It’s kind of like a high school comedy, except that instead of being about a high school student, it’s about a college graduate trying to lose his virginity and finding true love in the process. Of course nothing is that simple and hilarity ensues. And no matter how outrageous it gets at times, it’s still honest. It was written and directed by Greg Mottola (Superbad), You can tell it was a personal project for him. It’s period piece set in 1987, around the time when Mottola would be the same age as his characters. It kind of reminds me of Waiting… It’s about a bunch of crazy people working at a crazy place, and Ryan Reynolds plays a cocky guy with insecure tendencies in both. It’s quirky but sincere, and it’s smarter than it pretends to be.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Waiting… (film)

Waiting… is an independent comedy written and directed by Rob McKittrick. It centers on a day in the life of a group of servers working at Shenaniganz (your stereotypical corporate restaurant like Chili’s or Applebee’s). Ryan Reynolds and Justin Long star as two servers that are stuck in a rut and working the dinner shift.

The film explores all the stereotypes of servers. Dean (Justin Long) feels trapped and doesn’t want to spend his life waiting tables. Monty (Ryan Reynolds) has accepted his fate and embraces his future with the restaurant. There’s the bitchy waitress who has been there way too long and the shy trainee. There’s the lesbian bartender and sexy young hostess. There’s the stupid manager who doesn’t know how to manage. There are the lazy bussers, horny Mexican chef, and angry white cook. You recognize all these people if you’ve ever worked in the service industry.

Waiting… could be a documentary. That’s pretty much what it’s like working at a corporate restaurant. Your coworkers are all your friends. You have fun and bullshit your way through each shift before partying with everyone after work. Except for the excessive food-dropping and genital flashing, everything is pretty accurate. It’s a funny movie no matter what, but it’s even better if you’ve ever worked in a restaurant. It should be mandatory viewing for anyone in the service industry. If you’ve seen this movie, you’ve seen my life.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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National Lampoon’s Van Wilder

Walt Becker (Wild Hogs, remember that gem?) directs Ryan Reynolds as Van Wilder in National Lampoon’s Van Wilder. Reynolds plays Van, a collegiate Peter Pan, who has partied for seven years at Coolidge College. Tara Reid plays Gwen Pearson, a reporter for the school paper who has to do an article on Van. Kal Penn plays Taj Mahal, a racist caricature of an Indian foreign exchange student who acts as Van’s assistant.

Van Wilder is the party king at Coolidge College, and one day Van’s dad gets sick of paying for his son’s tuition and stops paying for it. Van starts planning and throwing huge parties to pay for tuition with his friend Hutch, and his assistant Taj’s help. When an attractive reporter named Gwen is assigned to writing an article about him, he thinks it would be more fun to try and steal her from her douchebag boyfriend.

Her boyfriend Richard (Daniel Cosgrove) is on the fast track to being a successful doctor, in direct contrast to the free spirit Van. The two start a prank war (because that’s what happens in cliché college comedies) and the highlight is when Van replaces the cream filling in a box of éclairs with dog semen and Richard and his douchebag friends devour them. There’s a great line, “I think I’ve had these before.”

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So the prank war gets out of hand and Van ends up getting expelled. But he has a chance to clear his name at a hearing, and he asks that they reinstate him so he can get his degree and graduate. And because this is a movie and he’s the main character, they decide to give him a chance. And he succeeds and gets his diploma and the girl. Bet you didn’t see that coming.

National Lampoon’s track record was pretty impressive. In the 80’s. And they had a few scattered hits ever since, but most of their shit is straight to video now. Their plots and characters are not unique. Their humor is lowbrow and dated. They use exaggerated sound effects and use fast motion in a vain attempt to be funny. Van Wilder is no exception, it just benefits from having a likeable lead actor like Ryan Reynolds. He really carries the film, he makes Van fun, cool, likeable, and most importantly, believable. Tara Reid does a decent job playing the love interest, you forget that she used to be kinda hot. This movie is proof of that. And there’s a quick cameo from Aaron Paul from before he was famous as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad.

Shame on Kal Penn. Van Wilder was made in 2002 and he plays the stereotypical Indian exchange student. He is a joke, he is a punch line. He has a ridiculous accent. He is a horny virgin would do anything to please Van Wilder. Two years later Kal Penn would star as Kumar in Harold & Kumar. That movie makes fun of stereotypes and destroys them. And after that, he returned to playing Taj Mahal for a chance to star in a terrible Van Wilder sequel. Have a little self-respect.

This movie has a terrible plot and a lot of crappy jokes that either aren’t funny or don’t lead to anything. But Ryan Reynolds redeems the movie. He carries it and makes it fun. There are a few funny jokes, but only one gag out of three works. It’s a good comedy, but it shouldn’t be your favorite. If it is, you need to expand your horizons. Watch Airplane! or the Naked Gun trilogy. That’s comedy.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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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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