Tag Archives: Jim Carrey

Movie Review: Dumb and Dumber To (2014)

dumb_and_dumber_to

I had a lot of trouble deciding which Oscar-nominated film I should watch next, so I did what any reasonable person would do: I watched Dumb and Dumber To instead.

Hard to believe, but it’s been 20 years since the Farrelly Brothers brought us the original Dumb and Dumber (it was actually their first movie), a comedy that has its fair share of critics but has somehow withstood the test of time with many die hard fans still able to recite the film’s famous lines. I’m not sure if I had even hit puberty when the original was released, but I do recall it being largely forgettable albeit with a couple of huge belly laugh moments.

The sequel starts off strong, with Harry (Jim Carrey) having been in a vegetative state and relegated to a mental institution since pretty much the end of the first movie after his romance with Lauren Holly fell apart. It’s a brilliant way to allow the film to pick up right where the first one left off after 20 years, and reminds the audience just what kind of nitwits we are dealing with.

It is then revealed that Lloyd (Jeff Daniels), who had been looking after Harry all this time, might have a hot young daughter named Penny (Rachel Melvin), whom he conceived with an old girlfriend (Kathleen Turner). And so begins a wacky adventure cross-country to track this long lost daughter down at a KEN Convention, while an evil duo (played by Laurie Holden and Rob Riggle) tries to get their hands on some priceless invention created by Penny’s adopted father. Trust me, it’s a lot less complicated than it sounds.

If you’ve seen the original, you’ll know what type of humour you’re in for. Most of it is really stupid, juvenile stuff most people won’t find funny, though like the original there is the occasional moment of genuine wit that harks back to some of the Farrelly Brothers’ best work. I admit I laughed a good half a dozen times, the rule of thumb for an acceptable comedy. However, it remains to be seen whether there are any iconic scenes in this film that people will still remember years down the track (I don’t think there are). There were of course many more misses than hits, but because they came so fast and furiously it was easy to just move on to the next one.

Carrey’s career has tapered off, but he is in his best form as Harry. It’s like he hasn’t missed a beat. As for Daniels, it’s great to see him being a moron again after witnessing his Emmy-winning turn in The Newsroom. Kathleen Turner is surprisingly good too, while Rob Riggle is always a welcome addition to any comedy ensemble.

My guess is that Dumb and Dumber To will probably enjoy the same fate as its predecessor. Those who love it will love it and watch it over and over, while those who don’t find the humour endearing will think it is the worst thing ever. I do feel, however, that it is the type of film that people will tend to remember for the handful of classic gags rather than for all the other failed or lame jokes.

3 stars out of 5

PS: I was surprised to discover that the Farrelly Brothers have actually had a very stellar career (perhaps it was the atrocious Movie 43 that threw me off, though that POS was only produced by one of them so it doesn’t technically count). They have obviously fallen from their peak since 1998 after There’s Something About Mary, but even7 their worst effort, most likely the remake of The Heartbreak Kid, is just below average by today’s lowly comedy standards. The original Dumb and Dumber is arguably their second or third best film — depending on your thoughts of Kingpin. As for Dumb and Dumber To, I’d like to think it falls somewhere around the halfway mark if you were to rank all their films in order.

Movie Review: Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

kick-ass-2-characters-poster-slice

The original Kick-Ass, released in 2010, was a breath of fresh air amid the cascade of superhero movies that continue to rain down upon us to this day. It was edgy, ultra-violent, and contained a lot of swearing, and it didn’t apologize for all the insanity one bit.

Three years later, the long-awaited sequel, Kick-Ass 2, attempts to relive that magic by continuing the story with roughly the same formula. It’s not a bad film if you enjoyed the first one, as the story is a natural progression from how it ended, and there are still lots of over-the-top violence and uncomfortable moments to satisfy your sick urges. That said, the freshness and edginess of the original are gone, and what we’re left with is just a pretty stock standard comic book movie that will satisfy some but leave others disappointed.

Dave Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), Kick-Ass, has decided to hang up his green suit and secret life of being a crime-fighting vigilante after the events of the first film, which culminated in the death of his mentor, Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage). Big Daddy’s daughter, the lovable Hit-Girl (Chloe Grace Moretz), is still doing her thing, but she has been forced to pretend to be “normal” by attending Dave’s school under the guidance of her new guardian.

Kick-Ass then meets Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey), who has set up a kind of Avengers initiative/support group for fellow vigilante crime-fighters, which finally makes Dave feel like he belongs. Meanwhile, Kick-Ass’s former partner in crime, Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), continues his progression towards supervillain by renaming himself The Motherf*&#er and collecting a team of baddies to take down anyone that dares to stand in his way.

If you were writing a sequel to Kick-Ass, what I just summarized above would probably be the most obvious plot you could come up with. This is one of the reasons why Kick-Ass lacks the punch of the original.

Another reason is because Kick-Ass was full of dark humour, one brutal hit after another, whereas Kick-Ass 2 shifts away from that somewhat and towards a more conventional coming-of-age story, especially the arc about Hit-Girl trying to fit in with the school’s mean girls. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but it’s just not as titillating. I didn’t like all the jokes in Kick-Ass, but I found it funny enough for the most part. Kick-Ass 2, on the other hand, had more lame jokes and was probably more “amusing” than genuinely funny.

When it comes to the fighting sequences, however, Kick-Ass 2 still delivers, complete with crazy blood splatters and thudding sound effects. It’s probably a little less stylized than the shocking violence from the original but there are a few cool comic-book sequences that will have fanboys spraying their shorts. A guaranteed crowd favourite would have to be the female Drago from the baddies gang, Mother Russia.

For all its flaws, I still had a good popcorn time with Kick-Ass 2, partly because I had low expectations given its lukewarm reception from critics. Hit-Girl is still very cool, even if Moretz looks a lot more grown up than she did three years ago, and Mintz-Plasse was surprisingly solid holding up the baddie end of the movie. Taylor-Johnson impressed me by managing to look like a high school dork again after his unrecognisable turn in last year’s Savages, though I felt like he lacked the charisma he had from the first film. If they do decide to make a third film (depending on the box office performance of this one), it will need to be drastically different for it to be worth it.

3.25 stars out of 5

ATJ in Kick-Ass 2 (left) and Savages (right)
ATJ in Kick-Ass 2 (left) and Savages (right)

Recent Movie Reviews: Part I

My furious rally continues. Here are a bunch of 2013 movies I have yet to review, four at a time. Here is the first wave.

The Call (2013)

call

Ever since Catwoman I have been wary of anything Halle Berry does. The Call, about a woman at an emergency call center, did not sound very appealing to me, but positive word of mouth got me to change my mind.

I’m glad I watched it in the end because The Call is a thrill ride that manages to keep up the suspense for the majority of its 94-minute running time. Berry, the call center worker, is haunted by a previous call which resulted in the death of a young girl. Months later, she takes another call, this time from another teenager played by Abrigail Breslin (she’s growing up real fast), who has been abducted by possibly the same guy.

Much of the film follows Berry on the phone as she tries to figure out how to keep the girl alive and how to track down her kidnapper. I was impressed with how director Brad Anderson (The Machinist) kept coming up with different ways to keep the ball rolling without making it seem repetitive or too ridiculous.

That said, I was really irritated by the stupidity of Breslin’s character and her incessant screaming and whining (all to her detriment) — and a part of me really wanted her to get killed — though to be fair if she wasn’t so stupid she probably would have been rescued in about 20 minutes and there would be nothing left to film.

On the whole I really enjoyed The Call, which was on its way to being a huge surprise hit for me until the moronic ending that made absolutely no sense whatsoever and downgraded my rating by at least half a star.

3.5 stars out of 5

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013)

The-Incredible-Burt-Wonderstone-Poster-005

I was one of those kids who loved magic growing up and bought magic kits and had dreams of becoming a magician some day (like David Copperfield). So while The Incredible Wonderstone looked pretty awful from the posters and trailer I was willing to give it a go. Besides, it has Steve Buscemi, the greatest actor of all time.

Well, it wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t disastrous either. Steve Carrell and Buscemi are best buds and old school magicians performing in Vegas, but their act is getting old and their thunder is being stolen by new “street” magicians such as Steve Gray (Jim Carrey) — an obvious caricature of douches like Criss Angel and David Blaine.

There are a few decent jokes in Burt Wonderstone, but most of them come courtesy of the crazy antics of Carrey, who is the best he has been in a very long time (considering his last few live action films were Mr Poppers Penguins, I Love You Philip Morris, Yes Man and The Number 23 — yikes). The late great James Gandolfini and Alan Arkin are also excellent in supporting roles, but Carrell is just not very likable and Buscemi’s talents are completely wasted. And Olivia Wilde is painfully miscast as the love interest who is just too young for Carrell.

In the endBurt Wonderstone just isn’t consistently funny enough to make it a good film and completely fizzles as it enters the final act, which is a shame because it started off quite strongly.

2.75 stars out of 5

Now You See Me (2013)

now-you-see-me-poster1

Another magic movie, but Now You See Me, unlike Burt Wonderstone, actually received good word of mouth despite lukewarm reviews from critics.

As for me, I have mixed feelings about it too. I think it is a fantastic concept — four magicians of diverse skills (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco) are brought together by a mysterious leader who gets them to perform otherworldly but legally questionable acts, while a detective (Mark Ruffalo) is hot on their feels trying to figure out how the stunts were carried out so he can arrest them. It’s an alluring premise for a caper movie and the magic tricks, some of which are explained, are fun to watch and debunk.

On the other hand, the film is kinda rough around the edges and suffers from a lack of precision. There is almost no character development and the dialogue is atrocious, giving the film a B-grade feel and a sense that the talents of the all-star cast are being wasted. All the effort was put into the the style but not enough attention was paid to the substance.

The film relies on its twists and turns to keep audiences intrigued, but for me the big reveal was rather predictable (maybe I’ve seen too many movies). Still, I had a good time with it, though it was so unmemorable that I had totally forgotten to review it until now.

3.25 stars out of 5

Warm Bodies (2013)

warm_bodies_ver9_xlg

A zombie movie from the perspective of a zombie sounded like it had potential for some great laughs. And the first few moments of Warm Bodies were indeed promising as we watched zombies wander around aimlessly and trying to communicate through a series of hilarious grunts.

But Warm Bodies is really a romantic comedy masquerading as a zombie movie, which is a good thing because the zombie gimmick gets old pretty quickly. It has obvious allusions to Romeo & Juliet, as our protagonist zombie (arguably the best looking zombie in movie history), Nicholas Hoult, is named “R”, while his love interest, Aussie Teresa Palmer, is “Julie”.

To make the film work as a romantic comedy, many fundamental rules we know about zombies are bent, if not broken. I didn’t have a problem with that per se because it was important to look at the zombies as the “good guys”, but I didn’t think it was necessary to create another breed of zombies, known as “Bonies”, so we are clear who the real “bad guys” are.

So Warm Bodies was just OK for me. It had a great premise and a few early laughs, but as a romantic comedy it wasn’t particularly romantic or funny once the zombie gimmick ran its course. It’s not a bad date movie because it is sweet and has charm, but I think it falls way short of the cult classic status it was perhaps aiming for.

3 stars out of 5

PS: That’s four very average movies.