Not much to see this week as the movie studios try to hide their films from critics. But we did see Hitman: Agent 47. And we were not impressed. So instead we talk about other good August releases to remind us the end of summer doesn’t have to be a crapfest.
Why do studios send their bad movies to die in late August? Here are a few movies that broke that mold:
The Iron Giant – One of the best animated movies ever. We love Brad Bird.
Better Off Dead – (And a tribute to all the movies that came out in the Summer of 1985, especially August ’85, one of the best of which is this.) A lesser known John Cusack movie about a bad breakup. The side characters! The 80’s cliches! Happy birthday! You came out 30 years ago TODAY!
Fort Tildenwon the Grand Jury prize at SXSW and there’s a reason for that. It’s hilarious and a great commentary on the whole hipster/bohemian/millenial thing. Two girls living in Brooklyn try to take a trip to the beach at Fort Tilden. And hijinks ensue. Watch the trailer. Available on Video on Demand and in theaters in limited cities. Andy gives it 7/10.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is Guy Ritchie’s take on the 1960’s spy tv show of the same name. He nails the period piece aspect and the stars have amazing chemistry with each other. Andy wishes it was more Guy Ritchie-y, gives it 7.5/10. Adam liked it even more: 9/10.
Straight Outta Compton is awesome, but falls prey to a lot of the same problems of the biopic genre. The “Big 3” playing Dre, Cube, and Easy-E are amazing. Why does he look so much like Ice Cube? Play another type of character, Paul Giamatti! Both Andy and Adam give this 8/10.
Stick around to the end to hear Andy rap. And then some dude named Jiminy Glick interviewed Ice Cube.
The Gift – Joel Edgerton wrote, directed and starred in this creepy thriller. Jason Bateman is a douche. Andy has a Fruedian slip and calls Rebecca Hall “Allison” (he was distracted by Allison Brie). Tense, slow burn, but ambiguous ending. Andy and Adam both give it a 5/10. Read Andy’s full review here: http://bigshinyrobot.com/59077/gift-should-be-returned-store-credit/
Ricki and the Flash – Directed by Jonathan Demme and written by Diablo Cody. Meryl Streep wants another Oscar and she’s gonna sing! Good story for the first hour, then takes a weird twist. Why is 20 minutes of the movie Meryl Streep doing karaoke? We know you can sing– we saw Into the Woods and Mamma Mia. 6/10
Shaun the Sheep – Soooo good. Aardman Animation Studios doing stop motion. There is zero dialogue. Everything Fantastic Four gets wrong, this gets right: great villain, great character development, family, humor, adventure, and understanding the nature of your IP. 9/10. . . but with a caveat that it might only seem better because of Pixels and F4.
Fantastic Four – Adam never gives things 0, but this is awful. Andy was too bored to hate it that much, but ended up at 3/10. Movies that have a better rating on Rotten Tomatoes and if they’re better or worse than this. Adam’s full review here: (you really should read it!) http://bigshinyrobot.com/59072/fantastic-four-review/
Recommendations? Mondo steelbook BluRays are available at Target.com in limited quantities. Andy thinks you should visit Austin for MondoCon if you’re into Mondo.
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – This is the 5th movie in the series and by no means the worst. Maybe not as good as some of the other movies. Amazing stunts. Tom Cruise — still got it. His co-stars are great, too, especially Simon Pegg. The villain is weak, though. Still, go see it on the biggest screen you can. Adam gives it 8/10 (his full review here) and Andy gives it 7/10.
Vacation – a sort of reboot, sort of sequel. Rusty’s all growed up. Let’s go to Wally World… and hijinks ensue. “Do Anything Debbie.” Special spirit son keeps playing Seals and Croft. Cameos, cameos, cameos! Chevy Chase is the worst. These guys are writing the next Spider-Man movie. Adam gave it 8/10, Andy gave it a 7/10 (his full review here).
We review Paper Towns, Southpaw, and the abomination that is Pixels. Warning: the Pixels review contains some NSFW language and plot spoilers, but, seriously? Pixels was spoiled long before we started talking about it.
Paper Towns – Good high school coming of age story as Quentin tries to follow clues to find Margot, but the real movie kicks in with the story about three friends going on one last adventure before high school ends. Andy thought there wasn’t anything new here not done by a half dozen John Hughes movies or Me and Earl and the Dying Girl earlier this year, plus this has obvious Millenial-pandering. Adad can forgive that because it’s still a great story about friends. Our favorite part involved the Pokemon theme. Andy gave it 6.5, Adam gave it 7/10.
Southpaw – Jake Gyllenhaal got YOKED for this movie playing boxer Billy Hope. Predictable storyline as Billy goes from on top of the world to losing it all to fighting his way back to the top, but the acting and direction make up for it. Andy gave it 8.5, Adam gives it 7.5.
Pixels – Adam hated it. Andy refused to directly review it, instead summing up his feelings with clips from other, better Adam Sandler movies. Lots of nit-picking about how terrible and lazy this movie is. A STUNT DOUBLE FOR WHAT?!?!? It’s racist, it’s sexist, it’s just awful. Adam gave it 1/10, Andy gave it 0.
Songs from this episode (and the movies’ soundtracks:)
Trainwreck has all of the problems most Judd Apatow movies suffer from: somebody get that guy an editor. Really funny. Amy Schumer is awesome. LeBron James and John Cena try to steal the movie. It’s a role reversal of a rom-com. Adam gives it 7/10, Andy is 6.5/10.
Ant-Man is awesome. Andy has a man crush on Paul Rudd. Funniest Marvel movie ever. This might be Brooke’s favorite Marvel movie. Michael Pena was awesome. Edgar Wright vs. Peyton Reed. Paul Rudd and Adam Mackay’s script rewrites. Hank-Hope-Scott are like a little family– and it’s going to be split by Civil War.
The Gallows – A high school play production is haunted by the ghost of a cast member who died in the same school 20 years earlier. Andy was bored the first hour, think they didn’t do a good job as a found footage movie, but liked the last 20 minutes. Likes it was done in a high school auditorium. 3/10. Adam thought they earned the found footage and loved what they did with this. He was genuinely scared in some parts and the ghost itself was super scary. 7.5/10
Self/less – What is this movie? Sci fi? Action? How did it become a chick flick for a minute? Who would enjoy this? 3/10. Andy thinks this sounds par for the course for Tarsem Singh.
Minions – The plot and lead actors weigh down the movie. Andy and Adam’s opinions diverge on whether or not you can enjoy this movie as a series of skits and gags or whether you think those are boring. Andy says yes: 7.5/10 Adam says no: 4/10
Prequels: We’re getting a Han Solo prequel– what Andy doesn’t want to see and why that’s what makes a bad prequel. Good prequels deepen character and build the world. Star Wars prequels. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Godfather Part II. You don’t even know they’re prequels!
Andy’s prequel: X-Men: First Class.
Adam’s prequel: Prometheus
Fassbender is the common denominator. Because he denominates.
Magic Mike XXL – Andy says it’s a pale imitation of the original. Anyone who wants to see this movie should just go watch Magic Mike instead. 4/10
Best review ever from Brooke: “Well, that’s worth the $1 rental from Redbox…” A movie about male strippers with only 4 dance scenes in it?!!? 3/10
Terminator: Genisys –
This thing gets totally retconned. Adam likes it and how it resets the timeline– like X-Men: Days of Future Past. 8/10
This made Andy’s head hurt. He’s too close to the other movies and they didn’t explain well how they were making time travel and alternate timelines worked. They missed out on exploring the coolest parts of the movie an the best part of what makes a Terminator movie. 6.5/10
Brooke’s never seen a Terminator movie, so it was ok, but she was missing something. She saw a lot of missed opportunity, especially with Sarah Connor. Did not like the ending. 6/10
Brooke: Blue Crush. It’s like Magic Mike with surfer girls and surfer guys.
Andy: Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
It’s like the Muppet Movie in reverse. Don’t tell my wife about Eliza Dushku in a skintight leather catsuit. Mark Hammil!
Adam: Orgazmo Trey Parker and Matt Stone from South Park made a movie about a Mormon missionary who accidentally becomes a porn star. We could watch every day and laugh at it. It’s rated NC-17 for dialogue, but there is almost zero female nudity. Lot of dudes’ butts, though.
Max – 2.5/10 – The weirdest, worst afterschool special ever. The good? A boy and his dog. Robbie Ammell fighting in Afghanistan. Lauren Graham. The bad? Thomas Haden Church’s wooden acting. The ridiculous plot about the gun smuggling. Andy’s longer review here.
Me, Earl and the Dying Girl – 8/10 – Won ALL THE AWARDS! at Sundance. Lots of great stuff in here for cinephiles. Not a typical love story, but very touching and smart.
The Overnight – 6/10 – Lots of fake dong. This movie is the Venn Diagram of Funny + Awkward. Duplass Brothers executive produced– makes sense. Andy’s “longer” review (or is it a prosthetic?) here.
Ted 2 – Adam: 3/10; Andy: 5/10 – Seth Macfarlane is just ripping off his own jokes. Ted was funny. Ted 2 is not. Some funny nerd humor and easter eggs, but it felt a little mean-spirited. Seth Macfarlane can’t do smart political/ethical satire necessary to carry this plot.
Dope is about young Malcolm growing up in Inglewood, Los Angeles, as a self-proclaimed geek who is into “white shit” like skateboarding, Game of Thrones, manga, his trip-hop punk bank named Awwreoh! and getting good grades and going to Harvard. Through a series of misadventures, the day before his fateful alumni interview that could determine his future, he gets a bunch of drugs planted in his backpack and then is placed in circumstances where he has to sell them. Sorry for plot spoilers– that’s not the point. Lots in here about racial identity– what it means to be black and expectations based on your race. There’s also a strong commentary about drugs and how the impoverished African-American community deals with the violence and problems of delivering drugs to white folks.
Strong performances by main cast, a GREAT soundtrack (which you can stream here) and lots of laughs and real drama. 8/10
Inside Outis Disney/Pixar’s return to form after not having an incredibly spectacular movie for a while. Perfect cast. The purpose of Sadness. Bing Bong.
Our childhood imaginary friends.
What is the purpose of criticism or critics?
Ratatouille – the main message here was Gusteau saying that “Anyone Can Cook.” Remy was challenged by knowing that a critic was coming in to eat their food, and he made something to blow his mind.
Chef – Jon Favreau and Oliver Plat get into it on social media over a bad review. Chef says critic doesn’t understand how to cook. Critic says his dishes are uninspired. So chef gets fired, gets inspired with a food truck, and critic ends up wanting to financially back his restaurants. What what what?!?!
Critics are chefs’ friends– they demand more, and point out where things can be improved. What do you need to be a critic? Anyone can cook, so anyone can critic– just use critics as a lens or filter, not infallible arbiters of good and bad.
Birdman – theater critics are way mean. Why are they so broken? We wanted to like TMNT. Really. Sometimes a movie is just escapism. The law of large numbers and critic aggregation sites.
Agree with us, disagree with us– let’s have a discussion.
Closing song is from Lava, the short that played before Inside Out. We forgot to review it, but it is excellent and worth the price of admission alone.
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