REVIEW: “DADDY’S HOME” (2015) Paramount Pictures

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In this the second collaboration between Wahlberg and Ferrell, “Daddy’s Home” gives us Brad Whitaker (Will Ferrell), a mild-mannered radio executive who is trying his damndest to become the best stepdad to his new wife Sara’s (Linda Cardenelli) two children. But some big complications are coming his way when their fun, free-wheeling, free-loading real father Dusty Mayron (Mark Wahlberg) arrives, forcing Brad to compete for the affection of the kids.
At this point is of course where the fun starts as father and step-father challenge and begin competing with one another for the love of their children for the position of being called “Dad”.
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The film spends its first ten minutes working to establish Brad as a character, as the over-eager, almost irritatingly, sincere step-father who found himself left impotent after a dental mishap. In contrast, we have Dusty Mayron. Dusty is Sara’s ex-husband and the biological father to Brad’s two step-children. Dusty is an eccentric larger-than-life type of guy, basically the walking and talking embodiment of all of Brad’s insecurities he seems to swagger around with his own soundtrack of AC/DC’s Thunderstruck playing in the background.
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Sara is the mother who watches as both these men in her life engage in a rapidly escalating game of one-upmanship to win the love of her children and while she is completely wise to what is going on and doesn’t try to stop it, she plays against neither character.

The supporting cast – The wonderfully accented fertility specialist Dr. Francisco (Bobby Canavale); Thomas Haden Church as Leo Holt, Brad’s boss, is as always sheer comedy gold. Taking me back to his WINGS days here with his delivery of stories and one-liners. And the man who seriously MUST re-consider his lively-hood in the pro-wrestling arena and become the hysterical supporting actor in every comedy film made.. John Cena. Hannibal Buress as Griff, the handyman extraordinaire, all do well, but director Sean Anders does struggle somewhat to keep the laughs coming.
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While I had a few really good belly laughs at this one – take note- it’s not a kids movie as even the littliest of kids swears some, it’s PG-13 rating is true to form here. All in all, Daddy’s Home has a solid premise and a talented cast. It just doesn’t manage to do much with either.

Grade: C-
@pegsatthemovies

Review Screening: Saturday, December 19, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Paramount Pictures
Nationwide release: Friday, December 25, 2015

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REVIEW: “SPY” (2015) 20th Century Fox

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With the release of “SPY”, 20th Century Fox is putting out it’s second spy genre film of 2k15 with the first being the hugely entertaining ‘Kingsman:The Secret Service‘. But Melissa McCarthy’s latest jaunt into comedy had me contemplating if it was just going to be another one where she wears out her welcome by playing the same character-type once again. I’m pleased to report this is not the case and you will find yourself laughing your way through this one. Not only because of the fact that McCarthy is more or less doing character assassinations on most of those stereo-typed characters of her past, but it’s with a strong supporting, hugely funny and entertaining cast which really pulls this film all together.
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McCarthy plays “Susan Cooper”, a deskbound CIA analyst acting as the eyes and ears for expertly named-and-trained field agent, “Bradley Fine” charmingly done here by Jude Law, with whom she is clearly head over heels for, this fact being advantageous for him. When Fine goes missing and the agency is compromised, CIA spy-team leader “Elaine Crocker” (Allison Janney) gives the unassuming Susan a shot at her first field mission to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer. Needless to say, things do not go as planned. Not only does she have to deal with exotic uber-vixen “Raina Boyanov” (Rose Byrne) who has a hilariously homicidal lack of tolerance towards her own henchmen, but her own fellow on-the-outs disgruntled agent “Rick Ford” (Jason Statham) who is essentially part Rambo, part bumbling Inspector Clouseau.
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Every scene between McCarthy and Byrne sparkles and both play their roles spot on, particularly when they are both aggressors. Not content to be mere supporting actresses, both Byrne & Janney have some of the funniest lines in the movie. The jokes come so thick and fast that you’re likely to miss some of them simply because they’re drowned out by your own laughter along with the audiences. Statham is hilarious and is one of the reasons I wanted to see this film so much as seeing him skewer his tough-man persona, swearing poetically and prat-falling left and right in the most unpredictable spots is just one of SPY’s fun delights. My only beef with his part is I wanted more.
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Spy would not be funny if it were simply Susan/McCarthy bumbling from one scenario to another. It helps that her characters here have vulnerabilities; it works because McCarthy is adaptable to every situation she finds herself in and is able to hit all her marks without a miss. There’s a sense of witnessing a woman empowered and it’s a hoot to see McCarthy given the space she deserves here. The other is watching Rose Byrne vamping it up as Rayna Boyanov, along with Miranda Hart, who is a constant surprise as Susan’s coworker “Nancy“. And then we have 50 Cent, as himself, having a grand old time being, yes, dare we say it, a tad bit funny..
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Director Paul Feig has gathered a game cast here who are more than committed to the faintly ridiculous material they’ve been given which will make Spy likely to be one of the funnier films of the year. There are films with stronger action sequences, but that won’t be your concern when watching as again, you’ll probably be to busy laughing.

Grade: B-
@pegsatthemovies

Screening at AMC Century City 15, Tuesday, April 21st, 2015 – courtesy of 20th Century Fox & LAFTV
“SPY” – Opening nationwide Friday, June 5th, 2015

RATINGS SCALE: A = OSCAR-WORTHY; B = ABOVE AVERAGE; C = AVERAGE; D = NOT RECOMMENDED; F = SKIP IT ENTIRELY (+ OR – GIVES IT AN EDGE UP OR DOWN)

‘Cinderella’, ‘Insurgent’, ‘Danny Collins’, ‘Jauja’, ’71’, ‘The Salvation’, ’50 Shades of Grey’

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So I’ve seen a bunch of films lately that have all been pretty average or just plain bad..with one I really liked!! And as sometimes we all feel like a bad film has just sucked it out of us, I didn’t even feel like giving some of them a review..but then decided to suck it all in and just put them all in one with a few bits about each and let everyone make up their own minds to see them or not.

I’m starting with the one that actually surprised me out of the group because I actually did like it…not love it mind you, but a good ‘like’ is pretty much all I’m looking for now-a-days from a film!
So let’s begin:
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CINDERELLA (2015) Disney Studios – Every little girl knows this story by heart growing up..it’s truly a little girls fantasy that no matter how crappy things are, you have the chance of one day meeting your ‘prince’. We all bank on it somewhat that it could actually happen. And then you grow up. ha! What surprised me was how much I liked revisiting this version of the story. Richard Madden as “Prince Kit”, (whom I loved and miss as Robb Stark), really made a very believable Prince and Lily James is a quite wonderful “Cinderella”. Cate Blanchett as the wicked stepmother was perfect, and it’s always nice to see ‘Daisy’ from Downton Abbey (one of my fav. characters of that show) Sophie McShera “Drisella” and Holliday Grainger “Anastasia” doing a fun spin on the wicked stepsisters. Throw in Stellan Skarsgard as the “Grand Duke” and Derek Jacobi as the “King” and you have a well-rounded out cast that brings some new blood & life to this story. And that’s what I liked best of all about it. Told in a little bit more updated version, though not time-wise, but tale-wise, brought it all to life in a really nice wrapped up gift. Was it super fantastic and the best Cinderella story ever told..nah..but it certainly was a nice breath of fresh air and a decent enough way to spend an afternoon reliving the little girl inside of me.

Grade: C+

Next on the list:
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INSURGENT (2015) Lionsgate/Summit Ent.
For this one I actually looked back at my review of “Divergent” from back in March of 2014. https://peggyatthemovies.com/2014/03/26/peggyatthemovies-review-of-divergent-2/ .

Basically I could just repeat it almost word for word except for a few minor things.. Like first off how this one was worse, second of all; bad bad casting decision on Naomi Watts as “Evelyn”, Four’s mother. And yes, the lovely Theo James reprising his role here, though annoying enough he kills the best character they had of all as I noted in my Divergent review also, “Eric” (Jai Courtney) this time round. You know my motto, you’re only as good as your villain and Courtney played a good villain.
Miles Teller as “Peter” steps it up some this time, but after you’ve seen him in Whiplash, it’s hard to take this performance seriously as you now know what he’s truly capable of. Ansel Egort “Caleb” is pretty non-existent both in character and performance, and Shailene Woodley coming back as “Tris” is annoyingly bad…again. I mean in an opening scene she decides to chop off all her hair for a new look.. now we know with the hack-knife that she’s using there is no way this is coming out well.. but oh no..not with Shailene..it’s perfectly coiffed hair cut. Please. Stop it.

I didn’t hate the first one, but I liked this one even less and losing a good villain and not adding anyone of consequence..I think I might be out of town, or ya know, busy washing my hair for the next one.

Grade: D

Moving on—
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DANNY COLLINS (2015) UNIVERSAL

Sigh. I j’adore Al Pacino. I always have. I’ve met him a few times, sat next to him at a movie at Sony once and he shared his candy with me and is truly one of the nicest guys ever. He’s also Al freaking Pacino!!! I mean… enough said right.

Well here he plays “Danny Collins”, an aging rock star who’s manager & best friend “Frank Grubman” (Christopher Plummer) discovers 40 years after the fact, that John Lennon wrote him a letter telling him to basically stay true to himself at what he was doing at the time. Clearly he didn’t and now decides to change his life and sit down and write the songs that were true to him back then, thinking his now-aged audience will want to hear them. They don’t. There is a back story here that I won’t even get into because it’s so passe’ but I will say that Bobby Cannavale as his son “Tom Donnelly” is refreshingly good and I don’t think gets enough credit for his work ever. Annette Benning “Mary Sinclair” as the hotel manager whom Collins is trying to woo into having dinner and maybe more, with him, of course carries herself. Jennifer Garner “Samantha Donnelly” as Tom’s wife holds her own in this company. There are a few really nice, fun moments and as you see them coming a mile away, a few harder ones also, though you pretty much can see in sight what the ending is. In December I went to a screening with a Q & A with Mr. Pacino afterwards of “The Humbling”. This film is almost a cover version of that one except here he is an aging rock star vs. an aging actor.
But ya know what.. no matter as I will always go see an Al Pacino film.

Grade: C-

Neeexxt…
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JAUJA (2014)
I will be deadly honest with you all here. I am not completely sure what this film was even really about. I went because I was invited to a screening with Viggo Mortensen doing a Q & A afterwards and as I am a big fan of his, I thought “sure I’ll go”. Huh.. I think it’s basically a journey of a father, “Gunnar Dineson” (Mortensen) and daughter “Ingebord” (Villbjork Malling Agger) thru a desert though I’m not sure where they are going exactly, and the daughter runs away with her boyfriend in the middle of it, though there is another person they are hunting, or is he hunting them?? And then he meets a witch in a cave while searching for her.. or does he really?? again, completely confused. And then BOOM! all of a sudden it’s present day and it’s the same daughter living in a nice house but without the father. The whole film switches between Danish & Spanish speaking and let’s just all agree to say that I didn’t get it and call me completely lost on this one.. like ‘we have to go back to the island’ LOST. 🙂

I will say Viggo was an absolutely wonderful guy with a lot to talk about. I think he could tell that I might be a little confused by the film and offered to have me to stay for the second screening they were having later. I told a white lie and said I had plans..which I kinda did. They involved me watching the Malaysian Grand Prix a little later. 🙂 And we ended up talking mostly about football aka soccer, as he brought it up when speaking and it turns out we like the same teams. So there ya have it.
Movie grade: D
Conversation with Viggo grade: A 🙂 Viggo

71
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Being a fan of Jack O’Connell‘s I saw this film a few weeks back and while for the most part, I liked it, and liked his performance as “Gary Hook” the somewhat dis-oriented British soldier who during a riot on the streets of Belfast during the height of the Irish Catholic/Protestant war i.e., 1971, gets left behind by his unit.
What follows was a bit of a convoluted story for me of him being chased down, beaten up, shot, and surviving a bomb attack all in a matter of what..48hrs. I dunno.. a lot of it just seemed a bit implausible for me. And what’s with him always constantly getting the crap beat out of him in pretty much every single film he’s ever done!! ha! Sorry..sorry.. I know I shouldn’t even be commenting that because this is a serious film..but hey. I call it as I see it.

The side story here is of course religion and how much these people hate each other over it..once again..I’m never that great with these story lines because I’m not religious and can’t imagine killing someone over it. But it’s gone on for thousands of years, and as we all know in Ireland, it was really heavy duty for about 30+ or so years until the ‘peace treaty signed about 17 yrs ago, with this time period truly being the height of it all. There is also a nice sub-plot of crooked police detectives “Sgt. Leslie Lewis” (Paul Anderson), “Capt. Sandy Browning” (Sean Harris) helping both sides in a way and the rest of a good supporting cast including Sam Reid as “Lt. Armitage” who is O’Connell’s commanding officer and seemingly the only person really looking out for him & on his side to find him. This is a rough movie, not altogether great, but it will keep you watching till the end.

Grade: C

Almost to the end..

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THE SALVATION (2014) IFC Films

Since this just came for a one week run here in L.A. a few weeks ago, I had the chance to catch it on at my favourite art-house theatre, the NuArt. But whoa.. what a film. I mean if one more thing happened to Mads Mikkelson’s character here. Well I just don’t think it would be humanly possible. To put it lightly..this is a dark dark film (yes pun intended) that just takes you places that I probably never want to visit again.

It’s a Western, but not like one you’ve ever seen before because it’s not just Cowboys & Indians here. It’s really like how it must have truly been because there were tons of immigrants coming from all over and settling in as cowboys, though in every Western you’ve ever seen, they just pretend that suddenly everyone was just a regular old southern boy without an accent drifting out West. ZZZzzzzz

Well this one is 1870’s America, the gold rush is on, and this peaceful Danish settler “Jon” (Mads Mikkelson) has been separated from his wife & son for 7 years and finally brings them out to be with him. Literally within an hour of being here, they are kidnapped, his wife raped & murdered & young son also murdered by two degenerates, one of them being a character named “Paul” (Michael Raymond–James). Jon sets out, with his brother “Peter”(Mikael Persbrant) to avenge their deaths and hunts them down and kills them, which then leads to the unleashing of notorious gang leader “Delarue” (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) coming after them as Paul was, unbeknownst to Jon, Delarue’s brother. The really weird townspeople then desert him in his hour of need because they don’t want to die, ends up most of them do. Eva Green is thrown in as a character named “Madelaine” who has her tongue cut out so she doesn’t speak..which doesn’t matter as she really can’t act anyways.. and then comes some really hard core horrible death scenes and basically anything that can go wrong for Jon does, until of course it doesn’t.

This isn’t a great film, it a super depressing one to be honest, but it’s also not horrible. Mads is quite good as a cowboy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan even better possibly as the villain, though you know my motto, you’re only as good a your villain..yeah that doesn’t apply here. Jonathan Pryce “Keane”, Eric Cantona “Corsican”, Sean Cameron Michael “Lester” and Jose Domingos “Raul Delgado” all offer good supporting characters. This film was definitely a mixed bag for me.

Grade: C

50 shades
50 SHADES OF GREY (2015) Focus Features/Universal Pictures

What was the big deal here is all I kept thinking about while watching this film. I thought I was going to be watching the second coming of Deep Throat or some really trumped up S & M film or something the way everyone was going on about it..and all I got was an actually very tame, quite badly done film about this guy, “Christian Grey” (Jamie Dornan) wanting to control this girl “Anatasia Steele” (Dakota Johnson). She’s a literature student who works in a hardware store (of course she does) and he’s a tormented handsome, self-made millionaire businessman..ZZZzzzz oh sorry I drifted off there for a minute just telling with that ridiculous storyline. They are like the new Twilight couple featuring some S & M sex vs. vampires & wolves. Control in the way of having her sign a contract before sex, because he doesn’t spend the night with anyone or have relationships..blah blah blah.. of he does end up doing so, she ends up letting him take her to the ‘The Red Room’ and with some reeaaally bad dialogue thrown in and possibly worse acting, you have the story in a nutshell. I don’t think two people with less chemistry together have made a movie about sex so badly before. And truly, there wasn’t anything hardcore about this. Why all the fuss?? So the guy has a dungeon like room full of sex toys.. a few sex scenes that seriously weren’t that far out there at all. I feel like I must have missed something..but if I did, that’s okay because I will probably miss the next few ones in the trilogy also unless they up their game and their acting ..a lot.

Grade: D

So now you see why I just threw them altogether in one review. I like some, but didn’t love any of them. And now I’m caught up, back and ready to go! 😀
@pegsatthemovies
peggyatthemovies.com

(See grading scale)

“Blue Jasmine”

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‘Blue Jasmine’ is a full on Woody Allen movie..It’s like you can always tell a Woody Allen movie even if no one told you he wrote & directed it.. He just has a certain style..and I’ve always liked it. Was it his best..nah..I think it’s been awhile since there has been a fantastic Allen movie..but it was really good. It had it’s moments of laughter, sadness, quirky & kind of a message dare I say… Cate Blanchett is stellar as always, but who REALLY shocked me was Andrew Dice Clay of all people in a supporting role.. and did a really good job!!! Grade: B – #peggyatthemovies