REVIEW: “THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART (2019) Warner Bros.

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The Lego Movie took the much-loved plastic childhood toy and built it into meta-comedy franchise that played equally well for kids and adults. Already spawning a more than one spin-off, including the truly not for kids The Lego Batman Movie, now comes the sequel to the original, The Lego Movie 2, which is fast & frenetic in it’s pacing, even if not exactly fresh.

In truth, this “THE LEGO MOVIE 2” doesn’t stray too far from the original, picking up briefly where its predecessor ended, when the Duplo toys arrived to cause havoc. The story then moves on five years; Bricksburg is no more and now our Lego friends live in Apocalypseburg, a Mad Max-style nightmare, complete with a half-buried Statue of Liberty (nod to Planet of the Apes??!!). Only Emmet (Chris Pratt), our orange-vest-wearing construction worker hero, is his same almost annoying, upbeat self. He’s even built a house for his love, the Goth-clothed Lucy (Elizabeth Banks). But then along comes an alien, General Mayhem (Stephanie Beatriz), capturing all Emmet’s friends and shipping them off to the Syster System to do the bidding of Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish), who wants to get married and zeroes in on Lego Batman (Will Arnett).

Emmet sets out on a rescue mission, but it’s only when he meets Rex Dangervest (also Pratt) – a future version of himself – that he learns to toughen up in this mean world. Once again there is plenty of fourth wall-breaking, plus more pop culture references than you can shake a stick at with everything from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Twilight, to Back to the Future. The cameos even get really weird, with Bruce Willis turning up as a sort of Lego John McClane from Die Hard at one point. The problem with all that, while it might be entertaining for some adults, kids have no idea what these references are and the plot is lost on them, hence they then get bored.

With some cute styled like musical scenes, there are show tunes galore – the best being Catchy Song, which also gets plenty of airtime here. Repetition does weigh it down, with the breakneck pacing ironically causing the film to drag at times, again especially draining for the kids, with Mitchell’s insistence on wham-bam action almost as tiring as Haddish’s talkative shape-shifting Queen.

So all in all, The Lego Movie 2’s insistence on never slowing things down to take a breath can be almost tiring as at times it felt as though there were too many events and gags crammed into a scene. But with Richard Ayoade voicing a talking ice cream, the inventive humour that made the first film special, can still shine through at times. Just probably more for adults than for kids.
Grade: C
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Media Review Screening: Saturday, February 2. 2019 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.
“THE LEGO MOVIE 2: THE SECOND PART” IS OUT WORLDWIDE AS OF FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2019

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REVIEW: “SNATCHED” (2017) 20TH CENTURY FOX

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The premise of SNATCHED is simple. Emily Middleton (Amy Schumer) gets fired from her retail job in an very funny opening scene, then dumped by her boyfriend Michael (Randall Park) in another good comedic scene and convinces her super cautious house-bound mom Linda (Goldie Hawn), to go on this ‘non-refundable’ vacation with her to Ecquador. While on vacation Emily meets James (Tom Bateman), the stunning hot Brit who has some of the funniest scenes with Schumer of this whole hit-n-miss film. As for Emily and her mother, well they fall into in a completely predictable but hilarious tale, that despite a few lulls here and there, will make you laugh for most of the 90 minute run time.

The shenanigans which ensue is what makes this film a comedy, and while it might not match up to Trainwreck, it’s definitely a must see for some good laughs with just enough sentiment added into the mix for Mother’s Day. The rest of the cast features Ike Barinholtz as her mamas-boy brother Jeffrey, Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack as the hysterically funny duo of Ruth & Barb. Add in a couple of essential co-starring roles and you have Christopher Meloni doing a short but oh-so-sweetly-done stint as funny-man, Explorer/Trader Joe’s store manager’ Roger Simmons, and Bashir Salahuddin as State Dept. Agent Morgan Russell who constant hilarious phones calls with Emily & Jeffrey add some good laughs into the mix.

Make no mistake though, this is Amy Schumer’s movie and she defnitely takes center stage in this one and pulls it off – not as completely as say she did in Trainwreck, but still does a commendable job. And yes, you will need to like her brand of comedy to be able to find the fun so to speak. Goldie is well..Goldie, and at one part showing pictures her younger-self just takes you back in time for a moment. Of course there are some completely implausable situations, but for the most part they pull them it off. I will say though, if you’re planning to take your mom for this one and she doesn’t like in your face comedy, you might get grounded as it’s R-rated for a reason. Lastly, director Jonathan Levine along with producers Peter Chernin and Paul Fieg, knew what they were doing here on run-time as they didn’t overstay their welcome and try to make it last longer than needed.
Is this the best comedy you will ever see..no it’s not, but it’s definitely a passable way to spend 90 minutes.

Grade: C
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Media Review Screening: Monday, May 8, 2017 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
NOW PLAYING NATIONWIDE

REVIEW: “SUICIDE SQUAD” (2016) Warner Bros.

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Writer/Director David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad” starts off strong. With a booming, kick-ass soundtrack taking us through the introductions of characters and giving us a bit of the backstory on each so we know at least who they are. Unless you’re a major DC Comics fan, you probably don’t recognize every single character of the Squad. The new action movie teams up a bunch of bad guys as a last resort to take down an even more evil force. For those of us that don’t read the comic books, I found this not only helpful, but gave us some fun sides of the characters to boot.
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We’ve got Deadshot (Will Smith) the assassin who never misses, Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) the aslyum doctor who fell in love with her patient who then gave her shock treatment to make her crazy, Boomerang (Jai Courtney) the Aussie who’s boomerangs are like drones and really doesn’t give a rats ass about anyone but himself, Diablo (Jay Hernandez) in essence a firestarter, Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) is self-explanatory and lives in the underground sewers, Slipnot (Adam Beach) an escape artist of the highest caliber and whilst not really a ‘Squad’ member, we have Katana (Karen Fukuhara) and Archaeologist/Enchantress (Cara Delevingne) and of course our Joker (Jared Leto). You’ve also got the ‘soldier’ side to it all with Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman), Lt. GQ Edwards (Scott Eastwood) and our head honcho who proposes and is responsible for putting the ‘Squad’ together, Amanda Walker (Viola Davis). And yes, along with our bit part from The Batman himself, Ben Affleck, we understand why they are, who they are and where they are.
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Sadly, no one here can save the convuluted mess of a storyline and bad dialague. The characters are so off-balance and poorly acted, most especially I’m looking at you Will Smith & Cara Delevingne. Robbie’s character would have fit much better in a re-make of the 1970’s classic The Warriors (one of my fav. movies btw) and she probably could have made something with it. Here she limps along trying to be funny but falls completely flat. Only the Joker and Boomerang really pull out the stops and make it work for their characters and you know it’s really bad when even Viola Davis strains to pull off her dialogue as even somewhat believable.
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The first 1/3 of this film is definitely worth the watch. Anything after that I can’t guarantee, except of course the ending because it leads us into Suicide Squad Part Deux. I would try to describe the plot, but don’t want to give away how just plain ridiculous it is and really, everyone should just see and judge for themselves anyways as it’s all just CGI.

And just in case you’re really itching to get out of the theatre, you only have to wait until the first set of basic credits is done to get your ending Bat-fix in..not the whole long credit roll. Somewhere in this series is a good movie, so stay, and let’s just hope Part Deux has more to it than this one did.

Grade: C-
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Media Review Screening: Tuesday, August 2, 2016 ~ Courtesy of Warner Bros.
Nationwide Release: Friday, August 5, 2016

REVIEW: “SISTERS” (2015) Universal Pictures

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We’ve all heard the saying “Sisters from another mother”. Well that’s pretty much how Kate Ellis (Tina Fey) & Maura Ellis (Amy Poehler) are here as they look nothing alike and yes, they play/are sisters in this funny at times, throwback to our party days, comedy. Here the parents are Deanna, the fantastic Dianne Wiest and the truly who-knew-he-could-be-funny James Brolin is dad Bucky.

In case I didn’t mention it .. the sister’s are polar opposites. Since her divorce two years ago the responsible straight arrow, Maura, who is beyond do-gooder even in her job as a nurse. On the other hand we have the irresponsible, unable to hold a job or keep a place to live, mess up Kate. She is game for anything yet so childish that her daughter Haley (Madison Davenport), although still a teenager herself, seems to act much more mature than her own mother. But what the two sisters share in is going into complete and utter shock, to put it lightly, when going to visit their parents home they see a “SOLD” sign at the family house in Orlando. Seemingly by not informing or hinting at the fact they have sold it, their parents ask them now to clean out their former childhood rooms before the new owners come in.
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Reluctantly the sister dig through all their old stuff and while the two reminisce over their youth, Kate gets the idea to throw an for old times sake – “Ellis Island” –  one last party as they once were called and with that, one last party IS going down at the parent’s house.

The film definitely hits it’s high notes here as the invitations go out to all their former classmates – including as the scene stealer once again here as in Trainwreck, the how shall we say – robust – drug dealer Pazuzu (John Cena), to whom Kate has got her eye set on in some truly hilarious moments. As for Maura, well she’s got the charming nice guy love interest James (Ike Barinholtz), and they get themselves in the big ‘this-is-so-wrong moment’ of the film. Even high school mean-girl Brinda (Maya Rudolph) appears, although she is most definitely not on the guest list.
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As predicted, the party is soon out-of-control, so much so that the future homeowners might only be left with an entirely demolished home, sinkhole and all. There is mass destruction and a plowed-through dry wall. There’s also more token sad comedy bits than probably needed ending this.

A pre-party moment that stands out for me is a flat out hysterical nail salon visit with Hae-Won (Greta Lee), that had me rolling in my seat. Along with John Leguizamo’s character Dave, who’s never quite let go of his high-school party ways, the notable SNL cast members who do their bits are fun. There’s Bobby Moynihan playing an always “on” never-funny aspiring comedian Alex, who accidentally hoovers up some futuristic combo of blow and heroin and literally goes bananas.
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“Sisters” has a hard time stopping once the party has ended, but when it’s moving as an out-of-control party stacked with people worrying about getting old, it knows how to move. When it’s not, the story becomes a bit lackluster.

Grade: C+
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Review Screening: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Nationwide release: Friday, December 18, 2015