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The Disaster Artist (2017 Film)

The Disaster Artist is a 2017 film based on the book with the same name about the making of The Room, which is widely hailed as the best worst movie of all time. Watching The Room first isn’t required but is definitely recommended. In case you have seen it, The Room is a train wreck of a film that you can’t stop watching. The acting is terrible. The dialogue is terrible. The plot lines are terrible. Yet it’s become a cult classic and beloved by millions.

The Disaster Artist takes you behind the scenes and shows how The Room came to be. James Franco directs and stars as Tommy Wiseau, the real life creator of The Room. Dave Franco plays Greg Sestero, Wiseau’s friend, costar, and coauthor of the book on which this film is based. Seth Rogan produced and also plays script supervisor Sandy Schklair. Every single role seems to be played by somebody famous, that’s how beloved The Room is in Hollywood.

The Disaster Artist could have taken the easy way out and simply make fun of the eccentric Wiseau and how shitty his vision turned out to be, but James Franco makes him sympathetic. He humanize him. You feel for Wiseau. You want him to succeed even though he fails spectacularly. This film celebrates the success that arose from his failure.

I enjoyed every second of this movie. It grabs you from the get-go and never lets go. It is hilarious and fascinating. Spoiler alert: the film ends with a side by side comparison of iconic scenes from The Room that are reenacted by the Francos and friends. I wanted to watch it again as soon as it was over. Instead I had to settle on watching YouTube reviews and interviews. It’s pretty awesome to see how much James Franco and Seth Rogan have grown creatively since Pineapple Express. They still make stoner comedies but now they are Oscar worthy stoner comedies. The Disaster Artist was probably the best movie I’ve seen this year. Go see it so I can talk to you about it.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Neighbors (film)

Neighbors is a 2014 comedy starring Seth Rogan and Zac Effron. It’s directed by Nicholas Stoller, the director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. The film is about a young couple that gets into a rivalry with the frat house next door. Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne) have just bought their first house and have settled in with their infant daughter. They are trying to adapt to their new family lifestyle and seem to be adjusting nicely until the Delta Psi Beta fraternity moves in next door. The Radners introduce themselves to Teddy and Pete (Zac Effron and Dave Franco), the leaders of the frat. The Radners hesitantly ask if they could keep the noise down at night so their baby could sleep and Teddy agrees but asks that Radners call him personally if they are too loud and not to call the cops. A few nights later the frat is being loud and the Radners try calling Teddy, but Teddy won’t answer and the Radners end up calling the cops. The cops show up, the frat finds out it was them that called the cops, and they declare war on the Radners.

The rest of the film is a classic escalating prank war as both sides try to outwit each other. Delta Psi Beta starts to torment the Radners as the Radners try to find a way to get the fraternity kicked out of school by exploiting the university’s three strikes policy. Sometimes the frat is winning, sometimes the Radners are winning. Both sides fight amongst themselves as the stakes and tension rise. There are a lot of funny gags and great lines, and the movie is elevated because the cast is so likeable. Rogan and Byrne make for a great couple, and Zac Effron and Dave Franco are hilarious as well. Oh, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse is in it too. Any movie is automatically better if McLovin is in it. It’s a good movie, maybe not destined to be a classic, but it’s worth watching and you might catch yourself quoting it quite a bit.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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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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