Saturday, August 27, 2016

War Dogs

So as I was out seeing a late movie on a school night, I couldn’t help but notice that standing in front of me in the concession line were two high school students that were clearly on a date. Now I don’t know what movie they were there to see but whatever it was couldn’t have ended before midnight; and from what I remember in high school, all movie dates ended with at least a little bit of fooling around in the back seat of the car, for what I like to call a quick little night cap. Now staying out all hours of the night means nothing to me as I am essentially a black vampire who never actually sleeps once the moon becomes visible, but here we are, only two days into the new school year, and kids are already making poor decisions.

First, if they were there to see the movie War Dogs like I was, then that was an awful choice by my man if he had any designs on getting laid afterwards. I know that in high school you can get hard if the wind hits you the right way but after two hours of seeing how much of a whale Jonah Hill has become, there is no way he or his girl would’ve been in the mood for anything but a Slim Fast shake and perhaps a bulimic purge or two out back by the dumpster. I mean seriously, Hill looked like the real life version of the Penguin from the Batman movies as he is clearly shopping in the Big n Tall section of Dillards these days.

Now that doesn’t mean he’s no longer funny or that he can’t act when given a role that basically fits his personality but it does mean that every now and then you are taken out of the story whenever you notice him laboring to get out of a seat like a pregnant woman would. I really don’t mean to sound harsh as I actually like Hill, it’s just that I’m very concerned about his long term health. Maybe it’s time for Brad Pitt to arrange another intervention for him.

Well before he eats himself to death like Pizza the Hut did in Spaceballs, hopefully he’ll continue to turn in some good performances like the one he gave us in Dogs. In this film, he plays Efraim Diveroli, a cocky young gun salesman who has just moved back to Miami after a bad breakup with his business partner in LA. He runs into his best friend from high school David Packouz (Miles Teller) who really doesn’t have anything going for him outside of his unbelievably hot and pregnant girlfriend Iz. And David is a bit stressed out because he has no clue how he’s going to be able to support a baby when he gets the majority of his income from giving messages to Miami’s elite.

Efraim notices this and decides to bring David in to be his partner in his new gun running company AEY. Together they start off small by bidding on all of the government contracts that no one else really wants or even considers wasting their time on and as a result they wind up winning the majority of them and forming a successful little small business for themselves. But one day, David somehow lands a game changer of a deal when he convinces an army general who is stationed in Iraq to let them supply his need for a large shipment of Berrettas.

Everything seems to be going great until their shipment is help up in Jordan and they are left with no other alternative but to fly over there and make the delivery themselves. Now as I’m sure you can imagine, this little story turned out to be one of the film’s funniest and most thrilling moments as two Americans driving a truck full of guns through war hungry Iraq is definitely no day in the park. But they somehow survived that ordeal and things started to blow up (no pun intended) for them, so much so that they found themselves bidding on government contracts that typically only go to large arms dealers. And it’s from this point on that things get a little hairy.

Director Todd Phillips (Hangover, Old School) does an excellent job of making this already unbelievably interesting story also funny as he routinely puts the focus on Efraim’s weird quirks like his Eddie Murphy esque laugh or his penchant for hookers. But whenever guns and large amounts of money are involved, you’re also going to have your fair share of drama all throughout. After Nic Cage gave us Lord of War, I didn’t think we really needed another movie about gun runners but I’m happy to say that War Dogs certainly proved me wrong and I would strongly suggest that you pop in; if for nothing else, to see Jonah Hill before he becomes the next John Candy.

I give this film a rating of pretty FRESH!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Why is that HBO stars aren’t able to take advantage of their fame once their popular television series officially comes to an end? Every girl that’s ever lived (slight exaggeration) loved Sarah Jessica Parker and that stupid show and all she could get once Sex and the City was finally over was a terrible Rom-Com with Matthew McConaughey back when he was still getting stoned and beating bongos in his front lawn. And you had to think that poor Steve Buscemi would finally escape the awful land of type casting with the success of Boardwalk Empire but sadly he’s back to being the creepy old dude who only pops up in random Portlandia episodes from time to time. Heck, even James Gandolfini, who became the Godfather of our generation, was reduced to playing a has been low level wannabe mafia guy in The Drop before he died. And don’t even get me started on the poor forgotten guy from Dream On.

Well looking at all the examples I just laid out, it should come as no surprise that Jack Huston completely fell off the Earth once his character died on Boardwalk. Sure all the young professionals out there, who spend the majority of their time practicing yoga, instantly fell in love with him but that didn’t translate into success once he was able to show his entire face again. The only thing of significance he found himself attached to was the latest remake of Ben-Hur; which to be honest had to sound appealing since the studio was somehow able to get Wanted director Timur Bekmambetov and the Planet of the Apes’ Toby Kebbell to be a part of it. And given the recent success of Christian based movies, they had to hope for more of the same here.

Well ultimately what the studios eventually came to learn is that Christians aren’t stupid; they know garbage when they see it. And even though Wanted made a ton of money, no one wanted to see a movie where Jesus was throwing crosses at people that somehow defied the laws of physics and bent through the air at odd angles to take out evil Roman soldiers one by one. Wait a second, what am I talking about? Who wouldn’t want to see this? Well unfortunately that’s not what happened in this film.

I know what you’re thinking, Charleston Heston’s version of Ben-Hur didn’t feature Jesus, it focused on him being a wealthy Jewish prince who was betrayed and sold into slavery by his adopted Roman brother. And yes that is exactly what happened in this film too. Huston was betrayed when his brother Kebbell returned home from war and decided to show his allegiance to the Roman empire over that of his adopted family. The brothers were always close when they were growing up but rising tensions between the Jewish zealots and the Roman Empire caused them to grow further apart. And once Kebbell sold Huston into slavery and sentenced his mother and sister to death, the only thing Huston had on his mind was revenge; and it certainly didn’t matter who or what was in his way, he was going to get it even if it meant he could no longer be with his still living wife.

Now early on you could tell that Bekmambetov was struggling with trying to condense a three and half hour movie into two hours; so a lot of the plot seemed a bit rushed. And the choppy editing made you feel as though you were watching a glorified grad student film made by some scrub who was just coasting by towards the end of the semester. But once Huston hooks up with Morgan Freeman and starts training with his horses to embarrass and kill his brother at the all-important Roman games, things pick up a bit.

This is where you meet Jesus who is transforming a nation’s (including Huston’s wife) way of thinking and this is also where you see Bekmambetov’s prowess as an action filmmaker start to shine. The final battle scene provides you with some of the coolest shots you’re ever going to see in a historical epic. Ok, so that was also a slight exaggeration but after I nearly fell asleep in the first hour, seeing some hair raising action was definitely a breath of fresh air. Be sure to watch for the horse that escapes and wreaks havoc in the stands on the coliseum.

This movie isn’t close to being good but it’s also pretty far from being awful; so with that in mind I give it a rating of pretty WEAK. Check it out on a lazy Sunday afternoon on Netflix.

Kubo and the Two Strings

Nothing says welcome back to school like seeing a depressing cartoon involving a kid who is forced to live a life of hiding in a cave on a secluded island after he has just lost his eye and basically both of his parents to his vengeful grandfather. But I guess after some parents unwittingly took their children to see Sausage Party, a story with a talking monkey and a half man/half beetle will at least start the road to recovery for these kids after they were exposed to a bagel licking the sacks of a pita in an all-out grocery store orgy.

Although looking back, I don’t know what’s more depressing, the fact that I may have learned a new move or two from that movie (Party) or the fact that I was surrounded by drunken college kids on a Sunday night to see a cartoon where the main hero is a kid. Keep in mind that I don’t have any children of my own to force me into seeing these types of movies, so this decision was totally voluntary. Oh well whatever, I live in a city where it’s perfectly acceptable to play on the swings of a playground at the age of 40 just as long as you’re not on one of those despicable lists that’s made available to all of the homeowners in that particular neighborhood.

So with that in mind, I was excited to finally see an animated film that didn’t have the name PIXAR attached to it. Now Kubo is pretty much the film I described in my opening but unlike my dark portrayal of it, there actually is some hope for our young hero. If Kubo is able to find the magical armor that his father once wore, he should be able to defeat the treacherous Moon King (his grandfather) and finally lead a fairly normal life outside of his depressing cave. But along the way he must avoid the evil twin daughters of his grandfather who have been hunting him down ever since he was a newborn. And the only help he has available to him comes in the form of a sassy and overly protective monkey and a former samurai turned half beetle who has lost his memory and for the most part all of his intelligence. So as you can see, the outlook for poor Kubo appears to be pretty grim.

But as we learn along the way, Kubo has a few magical powers of his own as he has the ability to make paper come to life with the use of his shamisen (guitar) and sometimes even his dreams. Now initially he only uses his powers during the only time that it’s safe for him to be outside (the day) and that’s only to entertain the locals and to provide money and food for him and his sick mother; but as he begins his journey, these magical creatures eventually become his guides as they help him in finding this magical armor. And as they get further into their journey, Kubo’s magical powers continue to grow stronger. But will he be able to fully develop them before the twins catch up to him?

Now I am by all accounts pretty much done wasting my money on 3D films but in hindsight I kind of wished I had shelled out the few extra bucks to experience this movie in 3D. Don’t get me wrong, it’s breathtaking at times even in 2D but seeing the opening scene in its originally filmed format could’ve been one of the best visual experiences I’ve had in a theater this year. The first few minutes alone immediately draw you in as you can’t help but feel that you are in for something special the second you see Kubo’s mother fighting off the gigantic waves with her shamisen in an attempt to protect her and her newborn child. And the fighting sequences that take place between the twins and the monkey rival some of the scenes I absolutely loved in one of my other favorite action cartoons, The Incredibles.

The beetle (voiced by Matthew McConaughey who was given you his best George Clooney impression) provides the majority of the film’s funniest moments. And Kubo with his cool hair and his mysterious eye patch is certain to be a Halloween favorite of quite a few kids this year; that is after all the Captain America and Ironman suits sell out.

Thankfully the writers caught on to the fact that a lot of the material was fairly dark and depressing, so they wrote in some uplifting themes involving redemption, the importance of family, and the power that exists in our memories to help lighten things up a bit. It’s just that you wish they had done their lines of coke BEFORE writing the first two acts of the film so we could smile just a little bit more earlier on in the story. I loved Kubo and I think that you will too. Although I would just be a bit careful when it comes to exposing some younger children to this as you don’t want to be the cause of any early cutter tendencies in your pre emo kids' lives. I give Kubo a rating of very FRESH!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hell or High Water

I had a girl tell me on a date once that when she read my writing it made me seem like I was a douchebag (ok so this has happened more than once) but that when she was actually around me in person, I came off as one of the sweetest people she’s ever met. And that got me to thinking, am I the Tucker Max of movie reviewers? When women read my writing do they see a gym selfie taking, cold sore cream purchasing loser? Man I certainly hope not! I can’t afford cold sore cream…I kid, I kid!

I guess the reason I write the way I do has to do with my love/hate relationship with small town Texas living. All the things I love about small town Texas just happen to be all the things I hate about it too. I love that it’s slow paced and quiet with open air and fish fries on the weekends but I also hate the fact that unless you’re married by the age of 10, there’s absolutely nothing for you to do but get drunk and wait for said fish fries or for football season to roll around. I spent 18 years of my life hiding this fact and I have just now found a creative way to get these feelings out without being ostracized or being hung from a tree by some local who’s wearing a Jerry Jeff Walker tee shirt!

Well watching a film like Hell or High Water brought back some of those old feelings of nostalgia when it comes to my small hometown of Victoria because it highlights everything that’s right and wrong about life in the Texas country. In it we meet Toby (Chris Pine) and Tanner (Ben Foster) Howard, two brothers who go on a bank robbing spree to help save their family’s farm in West Texas. But what’s so great about their plan, outside of the obvious, is the fact that they are only robbing the branches of the very bank that’s trying to take their land.

Toby is a divorced father of two who has just buried his mom after moving back to help take care of her in her final days. His brother Tanner is fresh out of jail for killing their abusive father but it seems as if rehabilitation hasn’t worked on him as he still appears to have a wild and self destructive streak in him. He is played by one of my favorite actors in Foster and he also provides some of the film’s funniest and most thrilling moments with his quick temper and sharp tongue. In response to his brothers request that he needs to be sober for that day he replies "Who the f*& gets drunk off of beer anyway?" Now that’s Texas through and through. Pine does an adequate job with his Texas accent but he really shines when it comes to quietly showing Toby’s pent up anger and desperation.

Now all the while they’re out there getting away with their amateur bank robbing, soon to be retired Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) is using his experience and savvy to help track them down. He’s so good at what he does and he’s done it for so long that it’s really the only thing he knows how to do at this point in his life. And he’s so dedicated to his work that he’s only comfortable when he sleeps outside so that he can be closer to the action. Bridges is great as he exudes everything there is about being an old grizzled Texan; he’s charming, polite, and determined but he’s also annoying in that he drops racist (but with no true ill will) jokes constantly to his poor tolerant Indian and Mexican American partner. The jokes are all hilarious by the way.

So naturally the race is on for Marcus to find Toby and Tanner before things get out of hand. You must remember that in Texas there is the open carry law, and people certainly do take advantage of that, especially those who live in small towns. At one point in the film, a few so called do-gooders even tried to track down Toby and Tanner themselves, that was until Tanner broke out an AK and started unloading on them. This of course led to me and my idiot friend coming up with joke that the film temporarily turned into the horror flick Hick Follows (snare drum, snare drum, cymbal). But moving on…

I loved this film as everything in it was just so genuine to me; from the small town Texas feel to the desire of everyone to get over on the shady bank system that’s in place, there just so much about it that was endearing. The scam the bank was running on their family is very real and has happened to a few people that I know personally, so I found myself cathartically rooting for the Howard brothers with the hope that they would finally stick it to the man (pause). And after walking out of the theater, I found myself falling back in love with Texas and based off of that, I can’t help but give it a rating of very FRESH!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sausage Party

After my date cancelled on me at the last second, I was ironically forced to see a movie called Sausage Party in a dark room that was full of overweight dudes who had probably scarfed down three or four sausages themselves before coming to the theater that night. And while I had planned on seeing this movie at some point anyway, I was desperately hoping that none of these overzealous fans of dirty cartoons would get too excited and start grabbing their own sausages during the infamous food orgy scene.

But as I sat there in fear, I slowly began to realize that I am only a few years and a few more Fatburgers away from being one of these lonely miscreants myself. So perhaps it’s time I face my eventual reality and get fitted for a full length brown overcoat now. Does anyone know if London Fog has a sale going on? I have a feeling I’ll be one of those guys who likes to masturbate in a high end artsy theater, so I may as well dress the part right? Why am I being more disgusting than usual you ask? Well it’s because I believe it’s the perfect intro to my review of such a raunchy and juvenile film.

I don’t smoke weed but in spite of that fact, I will say that I have still somehow managed to enjoy most of Seth Rogen’s movies. He does get on my nerves from time to time but overall he’s a pretty funny dude. I got what he was trying to do with Pineapple Express and if I was blazed out of my mind I would’ve thought that it was the funniest thing ever. But I wasn’t, so I walked out of the theater wishing that I had waited to see it on Netflix so I could pause it and go on a beer run when necessary.

Well when I first read about him and Evan Goldberg working on an adult cartoon called Sausage Party, I thought it was going to be more of the same; but once I saw the preview and it looked like it could legitimately be a Pixar film, my interest was piqued a bit. Now I knew all along that this wasn’t going to be a family film by any stretch of the imagination but the preview gave me some hope that it would be more than just 90 minutes of cum and weed jokes; which is basically Rogen’s go to every time he’s on screen.

But sadly the first 45 minutes of the film is just that. They do try their best to a bit "clever" by poking fun of some age old racial stereotypes and ethnic tensions that have been around centuries; most notably the ongoing battle between Muslims (Pita) and Jews (Bagel), but overall the first half of the film relies too heavily on the fact that there’s cartoon grocery items cursing and talking about sex. Don’t get me wrong, the first few times you hear them drop the f bomb it’s cool but after a while you’re hoping that there’s more to the story than a sausage just biding his time until he can enter a bun.

And thankfully by the time the secret was out that the gods (humans) actually cook and eat them once they leave the grocery store, the story picks up a bit. Rogen is on a mission to get proof of this so he can warn everyone in the store and along the way he has some pretty interesting trips to the liquor aisle as well as the Mexican food aisle. But the clear highlights of the film (outside of the orgy of course) belong to the special guest appearances of Meatloaf and Stephen Hawking (gum). Trust me when I say you have to see it for yourself.

I do have to say that I found myself laughing out loud more than once and really in the end that’s all you can ask of a comedy. So I, along with the entire theater of people who absolutely wreaked of weed, would give this film a rating of barely FRESH!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Austin City Limits Weekend 1 Friday Preview

As another sweltering summer comes to a close, it’s now time for us to turn our attention to what every kid and every teacher with a slight drinking problem has been dreading for the past few months; the possibility of a chance encounter with one another at this year’s ACL. Can you imagine the look of horror on a kid’s face the second they run into their old Biology teacher and see them drunkenly making out with some stranger during the breakdown of LCD Soundsystem’s All of My Friends? Or even worse, the look of an administrator seeing a 15 year old puffing and passing the biggest blunt they’ve seen since last year’s Marley Fest? Trust me when I say that these things actually happen.

Well while this is entertaining in and of itself, you may actually want to walk away from this year’s fest having discovered a cool band that you would have never otherwise seen outside of this amazing weekend. And that’s why I am here; to help break down five or six bands not named Radiohead for you to check out while grabbing a cold microbrew.

First up is the Georgia native Raury, who at the age of 15, already had some experts in the industry calling him the next musical prophet. Now I’m not quite sure what exactly he’s supposed to be prophesying but I do have to say that God’s Whisper definitely caught my attention. Who knows, maybe he’s here to provide some hope for a generation that literally has the world at its fingertips but for some reason lacks the initiative or the drive to do something truly incredible with it. Well unlike his counterparts in the industry, Raury utilizes every advantage that’s available to him to make innovative music that’s nearly impossible to categorize. His music is hip hop, it’s indie, it’s soulful, and even a little folky at times; and what’s so great about that is because he’s so diverse everyone can truly find something to identify with once he brings his talents to the main stage. I’m excited to see him still going strong and I give him a rating of FRESH! Homeaway Stage 1:00

Next up is Ron Gallo. If you miss the glory days of stripped down rock n roll and you like the sound of fuzzy distorted guitars, you should definitely give Gallo a shot. He looks and sounds like the lead singer of Wolfmother but trust me when I say that that is actually a good thing. At the very least you should pop in on his act as he is apparently playing in a tent; so this will give you the opportunity to take a break from the heat and listen to some pretty strange songs about break ups and bad medicine (and no I don’t mean like that terrible Bon Jovi song). I give him a rating of kind of FRESH! Tito’s Homemade Vokda Stage 1:15.

After Gallo you should make your way on over to check out the pop duo Prinze George. Now I’m not too high on these guys but I can definitely see girls wanting to listen to them while putting on their makeup just before they head out for a night out on the town; that is in between listening to Beyonce and Rihanna of course. I rate them as sort of WEAK but you should pop in and give them a shot anyway. Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage 2:15.

Next up you should check out Frightened Rabbit. I find myself falling in and out of love with this Scottish Emo/Indie band but to be honest with you, falling in and out of love is the perfect description of their songs. Their lyrics paint a depressing picture of heartache and turmoil and it’s all set to the backdrop of booming guitars and spastic drums. And now that I’m actually typing this out, I can’t believe I’m not more down with this band than I currently am; depressing topics is usually right up my alley. But it’s only because they’ve been around for about a decade that I’ll give them a rating of barely FRESH! Miller Lite Stage 1:00.

But moving on, I don’t see how anyone can pass on checking out this next act. I mean even if it’s just out of pure curiosity you have to pop in and see the latest superstar collaboration of Paul Banks and the Rza. Banks and Steelz represent two of my favorite acts of all-time; Interpol and the Wu Tang Clan. Now I have to say that when I initially heard these two were making music together, I was unbelievably worried. I remember the days of the awful Judgement Night soundtrack and believe me when I say they weren’t pretty. But I am happy to say that their two styles seem to perfectly blend together. Their sound definitely has a distinctive New York feel to it and their music, as you would expect, just naturally leans towards the darker side of things. And now after hearing their new record, I can’t believe that it took them so long to finally get together. I rate them as FRESH and you should definitely start your day off the proper way by heading to the Samsung Stage at 2:00

The last guy on my list for the day is Torey Lanez. I give him props for trying his best to be the ghetto representative of Canada but it’s hard for me to buy his act since I’ve been to East Vancouver and saw some of the scariest white heroin fiends I’ve ever seen in my life. Their bum rushing me for my McDonalds was by far scarier than any of this guy’s neck tattoos but he does manage to rap and sing like fellow Canadian Drizzy, so he does have that going for him. The one true knock I have is that he falls into trap music hell one too many times for my taste but he does have a propensity to keep the party going, so I would suggest popping in on him if you have the chance. He’s barely FRESH! HomeAway Stage 5:00.

Ok so I’ll give you one more for the road. Flying Lotus gets honorable mention because he’s a legend when it comes to blending jazz, hip hop, and soulful beats. The only problem is I’m not so sure that this is such a great live act to see at a festival. Samsung Stage 6:00.

"Avoid the clap" Jimmy Dugan

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bad Moms

With the return of 1990’s MTV this past month, I have once again been reacquainted with the days of my youth. Watching classics like Nirvana’s Unplugged or seeing old reruns of Matt Pinfield’s 120 Minutes brings back that feelings of excitement I had when I first saw my favorite band’s music video randomly pop up in a show. I also remembered what it was like to discover some random underground band who would never actually make it big but still managed to put out quality music during that time. For only the second time in my life I actually felt cool when I watched these shows; the first time being when I used to dress up and dance around like Bobby Brown did at my junior high dances.

But after watching reruns of Janeane Garafalo’s high school years, otherwise known as Daria, I realized that I have become the old male version of this cynical cartoon character. I make fun of almost every situation I’m in, I wear big nerdy glasses, and the only chance I have of having an exciting sex life is if my tall lanky female friend gets drunk and decides to randomly go down on me one night. How did it come to this? Am I destined to live a life of eating tubs of ice cream while I sit on my couch and pet my evil cats who are secretly plotting my demise? I certainly hope not! My only chance of avoiding this is to go out and tear up the town while I still can! So with that in mind, I’ll see you suckers at the hangover brunch this coming Thursday morning! I’ll be the one in the corner who’s wearing dark sunglasses and contemplating whether or not I should OD on Percocet before the noon rush comes in.

Well speaking of weirdly shaped women who get drunk and cause trouble; I decided to check out the movie Bad Moms this past weekend. Now why would I see movie that has a title like this and isn’t rated XXX? Well because Mila Kunis is in it, that’s why! I will watch her sit in a dumpster and read 200 pages of the boring Great Expectations if she decides to do that as her next passion project!

Now I must say up front that this film is basically the wet dream of every mom that’s ever existed, so you have to go in expecting some fairly unrealistic scenes. Such scenes include Kunis and her newfound friends getting drunk and basically having the best time ever in a local grocery store while swigging bottles of alcohol and scarfing down boxes of food without getting arrested. And then of course there’s the fact that every male in the movie, with the exception of the supposedly sexy Jay Hernandez, is a total pussy or a complete moron. Ok so maybe half of that is realistic. But the fact that they had a super evil PTA president in the form of Christina Applegate was just a bit too much.

I mean I get it, you do have to have an antagonist in the story and she did basically did represent every single pressure packed situation house moms or working moms have to deal with on a daily basis, but at some point it was just a little too over the top (see her planting drugs in a little girl’s locker). But having said that, I do think the writers did an excellent job of showing just how much mothers have to deal with when it comes to raising children in today’s society. And they also showed that if moms aren’t allowed to let loose every now and then, then trouble is definitely on the horizon for everyone who crosses their paths.

I thought it was fun when Kunis and company had a rager with wine at her place or decided to throw away their grandma bras to go out and hunt for men. Although you have to admit that there is NO way it’s that hard for Kunis to find someone to sleep with her. I mean seriously, she could sound like Billy Bob Thorton from Sling Blade while snot is pouring out of her nose and I’d still hit it! Without any hesitation!

Now again this film isn’t Shakespeare by any stretch of the imagination but if you’re a mom who needs a break from the monotony or you’re just a girl who hopes to have kids one day, you should definitely pop in on this film to see how to bring a little balance to your life. I give this film a rating of barely FRESH!