Friday, May 25, 2018

Feature Film Face-Off: "Ocean's 11" (1960) vs. "Ocean's Eleven" (2001)

Today, we are here with the first installment in our new series called FEATURE FILM FACE-OFF! In this segment, we will take two movies and pit them against each other in a cinematic battle for the ages! We will break down each film individually, compare and contrast them, and see which one will be crowned the winner.

"Ocean's 8" will be released this June. In honor of that spin-off, our first match-up features Lewis Milestone's "Ocean's 11" (1960), starring The Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr.), versus Steven Soderbergh's "Ocean's Eleven" (2001), starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts. Is the original is always better than the remake? Let's examine each film and see if that's the case.

"Ocean's 11" (1960)

*ACTING/CHARACTERS*
+Stars The Rat Pack, who were very big at the time.

-The main actors are essentially playing themselves. They all stand around acting cool with their same Rat Pack characteristics (e.g. Martin and Davis Jr. get to sing multiple times).

+At least the actors look like they are having a good time filming the movie.

-Characters lack depth beyond "old army buddies."

-No real motivation for the crime apart from greed, with the exception of one character.

*DIRECTING/EDITING*
-The movie is poorly paced and constantly drags, is a bit of a slog to get through.

-Milestone spends too much time focusing on the least interesting parts of the story.

*NARRATIVE*
-Too much time is spent on rounding up members of the crew.

-There are several wasted scenes that never seem to serve any purpose. For example, there's a scene when one of the eleven meets his son and promises to take him to a ballgame that feels random and never comes back around.

-Not enough time spent on the heist itself.

-Their ultimate plan feels far too simple for a town as complex as Las Vegas (it was run by the mob, but they just leave safe doors open when there's a blackout?).

-The story also wastes too much time on the post-heist attempt to get out of Vegas with the money.

*MISCELLANEOUS*
-There's a good number of plot holes in their "perfect" plan, many of which rely on pure luck and/or convenience.

-We wonder why it's called "Ocean's 11" when the heist isn't actually Danny Ocean's idea.

-The humor hasn't exactly aged well.

"Ocean's Eleven" (2001)

*ACTING/CHARACTERS*
+Has a great cast featuring some of the biggest names in Hollywood like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, etc.

-Most the actors play to type and do not go outside of their normal, charming personas beyond the fact that they are playing criminals.

+We get a real feel for each character's personality, abilities, and what their contribution is to the overall plan.

+Danny Ocean has a motivation beyond greed to pull off this particular job.

*DIRECTING/EDITING*
+The pacing is good, and it moves breezily through its runtime.

+The movie is put together well. Soderbergh presents information when it's necessary to make it more engaging and surprising for the audience.

*NARRATIVE*
+The story itself is interesting and has added personal stakes for Danny Ocean. Even if it is as trivial as fighting over an ex, it makes the audience root for him more.

+It doesn't spend too much time on scenes that feel unnecessary to the story.

+The heist itself is very complex. We believe this would be necessary to rob casinos in a security-heavy town like Las Vegas.

+The complexity makes the movie fun and adds tension because there so much could (and almost does) go wrong.

*MISCELLANEOUS*
+The cast looks like they had fun making this movie, and their fun makes the audience have fun, too.

-There are a couple of contrived moments and even a few plot holes.

+Unlike in the original, however, we have so much fun watching this version that we don't really notice these contrivances.

-It has lost a bit of its edge over the years. We find ourselves examining it closer and picking it apart more as techs have advanced.
With a more likable cast, properly fleshed out characters, a more engaging narrative, a much more fun atmosphere, and a faster-paced story that doesn't get bogged down in banal banter, we believe that Soderbergh's remake with George Clooney and company is far superior to Lewis Milestone's original Rat Pack showcase.

WINNER: "OCEAN'S ELEVEN" (2001)

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Movie Review: "Show Dogs" (2018)

Director: Raja Gosnell
Year: 2018
Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

An FBI agent and an NYPD police dog are forced to team up and go undercover at a dog show in Las Vegas to find out the identity of a panda smuggler.
"I'm not an expert in canine mental issues, I'm an FBI agent!" (Image Source)
If the phrase 'from the makers of "Beverly Hills Chihuahua"' doesn't get you excited to see "Show Dogs," nothing will. We really mean that literally, nothing will. This "movie" is directed by Raja Gosnell, who has directed other "films" like "Home Alone 3," "Scooby-Doo" one and two, "The Smurfs" one and two, and the aforementioned "Beverly Hills Chihuahua." Needless to say, he has a lot of experience with talking dog "movies." This "movie" is written by Max Botkin, who was a writer on the film "What Happened to Monday," and Marc Hymen, who wrote "Osmosis Jones." It stars Will Arnett as FBI agent Frank, who is working on a stolen panda case. He is forced to team up with a New York K-9 cop named Max (Ludacris) and go undercover at a dog show competition in Las Vegas where they believe the panda thief will attempt to sell the baby panda he stole.
"I cannot polish a turd, but perhaps I can roll it in glitter." (Image Source)
When we saw the trailer for this "movie," we sat silently in our seats with our mouths wide opened. A "movie" like this could not possibly be released in the year 2018, right? Wrong. It's as if the producers thought to themselves: "what if we took the buddy cop scenario from 80's movies like "Turner and Hooch" and "K-9" and mixed it with the talking animal technology from "Cats & Dogs" and "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" from the 2000s? It will star Gob Bluth, aka the voice of Lego Batman, the prison inmate from "Orange is the New Black," and the rapper from "The Fast and the Furious" franchise. It can't possibly fail!" It does. It did. It will always fail.
"How did you get to be so alpha?" (Image Source)
If you assumed this "movie" was going to be dumb, you will not be shocked to discover that it is unbelievably stupid. Words cannot describe how painful it was to watch "Show Dogs." Many of the jokes involve standard kid's movie fodder and is ripe with toilet humor. Dogs fart constantly, there are jokes about pooping, and there are many innuendos and double entendres thrown in as well, one of which is more disturbing and unnecessary than others. There's a bit of self-aware humor that steps into meta territory as the "script" references Arnett's role as Lego Batman and the fact that Max is voiced by Ludacris. There's also a "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" reference and cameo, as well as a nod to "The Lady and the Tramp." There's a running gag about how it rules to be alpha and that there's no better way to be. We're sure Max wearing a MAGA hat will happen in the "sequel."

Let's get back to the disturbing joke for a minute. This is in reference to a running gag about how Max must learn to accept being grabbed by the private parts and go to find his "zen/happy place" so he doesn't react poorly so he can win Best in Show. Yep, fondling a dog's balls is a major plot point of this "movie." Many articles have been recently written about the sinister meaning of this content. We fully understand that it's actually part of the dog show process to do this to animals in competition, but our question is, why not just change the content of the story to make it more family-friendly and avoid any potential controversy? Let's face it, it's not as if this "movie" is striving for accuracy. THERE ARE TALKING DOGS, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. It's almost as if this running joke was left in the movie to drum up online chatter to get more people to see the "film."

"I'm pretending to know what's going on right now." (Image Source)
Beyond these things, the rest of the humor in this "flick" involves sight gags about how the dogs aren't acting like canines since as they are given humanistic qualities. Just to make it clear, unlike some online summaries imply, this is not an alternate universe with anthropomorphic dogs that talk to humans. Dogs are still dogs and they only speak to other animals like they do in "Look Who's Talking Now" or "Homeward Bound," just with terribly CGI'edfaces.

"Show Dogs" is absolute trash. With that being said, this "movie" is so stupid that BigJ did wind up laughing, not at any of the jokes, more in an "Oh my god, I can't believe this got made" kind of way. This is a "movie" some kids will love when they are younger, but when they grow up, they will realize it is unconditionally horrible and will be forced to apologize to their parents for making them see it. This movie only gets points for the adorable looking dogs.

My Rating: 1.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 2/10
IMDB's Rating: ~2.8/10
RT Rating: ~18%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2018!

Oh, hey summer! You came out of nowhere! This month, we wanted to share a list of films we're looking forward to for the upcoming "summer" quarter, movies that will be released between June 1st, 2018 and August 31st, 2018! Please tell us what YOU'RE looking forward to in the coming months!
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1) "Adrift" (release date: June 1, 2018)
We have enjoyed Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin in many of their past projects. This true-life story looks to be an intriguing and gripping film. Plus, we're looking forward to never having to see the trailer for this movie ever again (it has played before 16 out of 58 in-theater movies this year).
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2) "American Animals" (release date: June 1, 2018)
We have a feeling "American Animals" won't come to San Diego until a few weeks after its release, but we're looking forward to seeing this film because it's MoviePass's first venture into acquiring films for mass consumption. The cast is fantastic and the premise is super interesting.
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3) "Ocean's 8" (release date: June 8, 2018)
Does "Ocean's Eleven" need a spin-off? No, but we've been here for "Ocean's 8" ever since we saw the cast list: Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Paulson, and more. Uhhh, YES PLEASE.
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4) "Hereditary" (release date: June 8, 2018)
A24 has an impressive track record when it comes to putting out amazing movies. Though we have not seen the trailer for "Hereditary," it's hard to ignore the buzz that surrounds this film. We adore Toni Collette and are very much looking forward to seeing what she can do in this horror drama.
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5) "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" (release date: June 8, 2018)
BigJ and I both remember watching "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" as kids, so we're interested in learning more about the man behind the red jacket beyond the little we already know about him. This looks to be one of the year's best documentaries.
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6) "Incredibles 2" (release date: June 15, 2018)
Though we will fully admit that the trailers for "Incredibles 2" have given us only tepid expectations, we absolutely love the original and can't wait to see what Pixar does with these beloved characters in this sequel. We'll be there opening day but will approach it with cautious exuberance.
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7) "Tag" (release date: June 15, 2018)
We know what you're thinking: this is a movie about people who have played the same game of tag for decades, how could you be excited about it? We have our doubts, but the trailer made it look like it was right up our alley. There might be a lot more to this than just a simple schoolyard game of tag.
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8) "Sicario: Day of the Soldado" (release date: June 29, 2018)
The original "Sicario" was one of our top five favorite movies of 2015, and if this sequel is even half as good as the original, it will still be a great movie even if Denis Villeneuve is not involved behind the camera.
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9) "Ant-Man and the Wasp" (release date: July 6, 2018)
 Marvel keeps knocking it out of the park every time it steps up to the plate. Coming off the heels of "Avengers: Infinity War," we are super excited to see how the light comedic stylings of Ant-Man ties into to the dark tone set by its predecessor.
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10) "Sorry to Bother You" (release date: July 6, 2018)
"Sorry to Bother You" promises to be one of the most ambitious films of 2018. The hype behind this film is hard to ignore. With a cast featuring Tessa Thompson, Lakeith Stanfield, Armie Hammer, Terry Crews, Steven Yeun, and Danny Glover, we'll be there opening day if it comes to town.
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11) "Eighth Grade" (release date: July 13, 2018)
Another coming-of-age story from A24, who delivered the Oscar-nominated fan favorite "Lady Bird" last year. This film looks like a compelling story about a young, awkward teen growing up in the image-obsessed, social media age. It could be enlightening, and the trailer promises excellent performances.
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12) "The Equalizer 2" (release date: July 20, 2018)
The first "Equalizer" movie was a huge, unexpected treat. With both Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua back for the sequel, we forsee a lot of name-taking and ass-kicking in this one.
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13) "Mission: Impossible - Fallout" (release date: July 27, 2018)
Ever since J.J. Abrams stepped in as a producer on this series, it has consistently delivered endless amounts of summer popcorn-movie fun. We have no doubt this trend will continue until Tom Cruise is no longer able to physically perform the role of Ethan Hunt. Plus, this one's got Henry Cavill and major arm-pumping!
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14) "Searching" (release date: August 3, 2018)
A late entry to our list, we saw the trailer for this film attached to "Book Club" the other day and were blown away by how gripping it looks. We've seen movies filmed via computer screens before, but John Cho looks to bring the intensity to a whole other level in this missing person mystery.
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15) "The Meg" (release date: August 10, 2018)
Full transparency, this movie looks stupid as hell, but it may be a case of "it's so stupid that it's actually fun," like in a "Sharknado" sort of way. We have to hope that's the case or else it will be insufferable.
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16) "A Prayer Before Dawn" (release date: August 10, 2018)
Another movie by A24? Awesome. It's a boxing movie? Awesome. It has a captivating premise? Awesome. And it's a movie featuring real-life prison inmates in Thailand? Whoa... that's crazy and awesome.
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17) "The Happytime Murders" (release date: August 17, 2018)
Melissa McCarthy teams up with some foul-mouthed muppets looking for a murderer. What could go wrong? Don't be fooled by the muppets: the only trailer released for this project thus far is "red-band," which means you should leave the kiddies at home for this one.
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18) "Crazy Rich Asians" (release date: August 17, 2018)
Representation matters. We haven't read the book yet, but we've heard good things about the stylish, fun looking "Crazy Rich Asians." This one promises to be an interesting romance. Read everything you need to know about the behind-the-scenes goings on about this movie here, there's a lot more than meets the eye.

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Movie Review: "Deadpool 2" (2018)

Director: David Leitch
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes

Deadpool and his team of new allies try to rescue a young abused mutant from a horrible fate.
"I don't bargain, pumpkin fucker." (Image Source)
The 'Merc with a Mouth' and the master of meta-comedy is back in "Deadpool 2." "Atomic Blonde" director David Leitch takes over directorial duties for this sequel, replacing Tim Miller after he had a falling out with Ryan Reynolds. "Deadpool" scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick return to pen this screenplay, though Ryan Reynolds receives an additional writing credit on this installment as well. Once again, the not-so-good-guy Deadpool, aka Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds), is taking out bad guys worse than himself. After a tragedy strikes, Wade becomes reflective of his existence and starts to question what he's doing. With an existential crisis on his hands, he wants to do some genuine good and he believes the way to do that is to really help others. His focus turns to a troubled teen named Russell, aka Firefist (Julian Dennison), who is dealing with anger issues that stem from being abused by those who were meant to take care of him. Wade hopes he can help ease Russell's mind and put him on the right path. Unfortunately for Wade, another man trying to deal with Russell and his anger issues has joined the fray. Cable (Josh Brolin), a time traveler from the future who knows Russell's maximum potential, aims to stop him from ever reaching it by any (violent) means necessary.
"Fuck your rules. Sometimes you have to fight for what's right, and sometimes, I fight dirty." (Image Source)
If you loved the original "Deadpool," you will most likely love this sequel. We get the same style of self-aware, fourth-wall-breaking, pop-culture-reference-infested humor here that we got in the original, but even more so this time around. This is not to say the jokes are recycled because they certainly aren't. The style in which the jokes are delivered feels very similar, but there's enough variation to make the humor seem fresh and new. "Deadpool 2" also has a lot of great situational humor where the laughs stem from what's happening on screen at that moment. There are even a few unexpected moments that we downright loved.
"What did I do to piss off a grumpy old fucker with a Winter Soldier arm?" (Image Source)
As we pointed out in our review for "Deadpool," Ryan Reynolds' sarcastic brand of comedy is perfect for the character of Wade Wilson. We can't think of a more perfect casting for this role. Julian Dennison is also wonderful as Russell, a foul-mouthed youngin who is tired of being abused and mistreated for simply being who he is. We loved Dennison in "Hunt for the Wilderpeople," and we're excited to see what he does next. Another great new addition to the franchise is Domino (Zazie Beetz), who gets to prove that being lucky might actually be a superpower. Domino's presence is a welcomed one, and having her character in this movie leads to many hilarious scenarios for Deadpool and the newly formed X-Force team. There are many wonderful cameos and a few surprise characters and moments that we enjoyed immensely but won't divulge in this review because they should be experienced on their own without spoilers.

We laughed pretty much consistently from beginning to end, and we aren't talking little chuckles, we're talking big belly laughs. Beyond the humor, we actually really like the overall story and the character arcs. We feel like the antagonist in this sequel is much better developed and a bit more nuanced than the one from the previous installment. The story takes some unexpected twists and turns, to say the least, but we still enjoyed the fun, raunchy, self-aware ride.
"Another disgusting mutant off the streets. God bless America." (Image Source)
We went into "Deadpool 2" with moderately high expectations, and we weren't disappointed in the slightest. If you're a hardcore fan of the Merc with a Mouth, you probably won't be dissatisfied with this final product.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: ~8.2/10
RT Rating: ~83%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Movie Review: "Measure of a Man" (2018)

Director: Jim Loach
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 28 minutes

A teen spends his summer at his family's annual vacation spot, only this year, instead of the usual fun-in-the-sun, he is faced with an absent best friend, an incessant bully, lots of hard work, and learning personal responsibility through a summer job.
"This time, I didn't feel like running away from a challenge." (Image Source)
Everyone has dealt with bullies, but some bullies are bigger than others. Some are the best bullies to ever exist. "Measure of a Man" is directed by Jim Loach, who is known mostly for his television work, though he does have one other feature film to his name, the little-known "Oranges and Sunshine." The film is written by "A Single Man" co-writer David Scearce and is based on the novel "One Fat Summer" by Robert Lipsyte. It stars Blake Cooper as Bobby Marks, a teenage boy who, along with his family, spends every summer up at Rumson Lake. Bobby is self-conscious about his weight and is regularly bullied because of it. His best friend Jonie Williams (Danielle Rose Russell), who has similar self-conscious feelings about the size of her nose, is also regularly bullied because of it. Bobby looks forward to spending time with Jonie this summer, but his entire vacation changes when he learns she won't be there most of the season. With little to do and wanting to avoid summer camp, Bobby decides to get a job and finds one working for the demanding Dr. Kahn (Donald Sutherland), who is looking for a caretaker for his estate. Instead of having fun, Bobby now must survive his strenuous job, his attentive boss, and his tormenting bully.
"This place doesn't like new." (Image Source)
Independent slice-of-life character sketches are more common than the cold these days. Some of them are good, some not so much."Measure of a Man" is a coming-of-age story that deals with body image and the bullying that stems from society's views towards physical appearances. Blake Cooper, who is best known as being Chuck from "The Maze Runner," offers a tremendous performance as the likable but flawed and self-conscious bullied teen Bobby Marks. We see his struggles persist as he receives constant criticism from his father (Luke Wilson). We watch him get doubted at every turn from his summer employer Dr. Kahn. We painfully view him getting straight-up tormented at the hands of local asshole Willie Rumson (Beau Knapp, who also gives a stellar performance). We also get to see how his treatment and poor self-image leads to jealousy and a bit of disdain for local hunk Pete Marino (Luke Benward), who is always kind to Bobby despite his unnecessary grudge.
"I don't have time to train a boy with no skills." (Image Source)
We can't say this film is anything new or original. Most coming-of-age flicks are formulaic, and "Measure of a Man" is no different. Still, we found ourselves enjoying this sweet movie about growing up and finding the courage to stand up for yourself despite the odds. We will admit that this message is a little muddled at times. The screenplay tries to add sympathy for Willie even though he is almost always in the wrong. It attempts to show Willie's point of view when it comes to issues he has had with his upbringing, his contempt for vacationers from out of town ruining his city and then returning home, and a couple of other things that are revealed along the way. As members of the audience, we find Willie and his actions so detestable early on that it's hard to give him any kind of pass later no matter what he is dealing with at the time.
"A man who's worth what he's paid shows some initiative." (Image Source)
Despite its flaws and its familiarity, "Measure of a Man" does enough to keep the audience interested, engaged, and rooting for Bobby to learn some valuable lessons and to (hopefully) take down his summer bully. This film might not bring much new to the table, but it is still an enjoyable journey that kept us involved throughout its runtime. It is definitely worth checking out if you get a chance.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
RT Rating: ~48%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Movie Review: "Life of the Party" (2018)

Director: Ben Falcone
Year: 2018
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

After her husband leaves her for another woman, Deanna decides to join her daughter in college and finish her senior year at her alma matter to get the degree she gave up to be a wife and mother. 
"Once a dighead, always a dighead."" (Image Source)
A middle-aged parent goes "Back to School" alongside their college-aged child after discovering their spouse has been unfaithful. Why does this going "Back to School" scenario sound so familiar? "Life of the Party" is directed by Ben Falcone, who also wrote the film along with his wife and star of the movie Melissa McCarthy. Falcone has directed two McCarthy-led flicks in the past, "Tammy" and "The Boss." We think it's safe to say they don't have a stellar track record with their collaborations. McCarthy plays Deanna, a middle-aged stereotypical mom who wears horrible sweaters, awful headbands, and rhinestone-studded smocks. She and her husband Dan (Matt Walsh) have just dropped their daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) off at her sorority house for her senior year of college. On the way home, Dan informs Deanna that he is in love with someone else and wants a divorce. She understandably flips out but comes to the decision that now is the time for her to finally go back to school and finish college so she can get the archeology degree she gave up to become a wife and mother. Of course, this means she gets to have the whole college experience including raucous parties, weed brownies, and sex with frat guys less than half her age. 
"This is a bonafide shitshow." (Image Source)
"Cringe-worthy" is probably the best word we can use to accurately describe the comedy found in "Life of the Party." We cringed so hard and gritted our teeth so tightly and so frequently that we're lucky we didn't chip any teeth. We like Melissa McCarthy, but there's no denying that she's made a name for herself playing a small, unvaried selection of characters. The first character she always plays is the frumpy and stereotypical mom. The second is the sexy cougar. The third is the wild and crass party gal. In this film, she plays a mix of all three of these tried and true characters based on what each scene calls for at the moment. Because of this, we never get a true sense of what Deanna's personality actually is. One moment sees her loudly proclaiming embarrassing anecdotes while wearing the tackiest clothing without shame. Later in the movie, she seems to have a deadly fear of public speaking and freaks out when she has to give an oral presentation as part of her midterm. Immediately after this meltdown, she makes a very public scene at a restaurant full of innuendos and cursing. Midway through the movie, she has sex in a myriad of public places.

The disjointedness of McCarthy's character might have been forgivable if we were laughing hard enough that we didn't notice how sloppily the screenplay is written. Unfortunately, we were rarely ever laughing. It's also evident that Ben Falcone pretty much lets McCarthy do whatever she wants. She gets to riff and ad-lib to her heart's content, and when the movie is done shooting, Falcone has to hope to the comedy gods that something they filmed was funny enough to add into the film. Everything and everyone else takes a backseat to McCarthy's shenanigans. When a character who's only in the flick for about ten minutes is the best thing about it, you know you're in trouble.
"I'm not paddling my mom." (Image Source)
"Life of the Party" made us mildly chuckle a few times, but the laughs were too few and too far between for us to recommend this movie. Instead of having a good time, we found ourselves being annoyed at the choppiness of the story and the lack of funny personalities. Many narrative threads are started but never get resolved. There are also some massive pacing issues to go along with this roughness. We know "for better or worse" is an important part of the sacred vows of marriage, but Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone are not doing their spouse any favors by not telling them the truth: when they work together, they are not very good at what they do. More often than not, their films result in irritating, unfunny comedies with the most basic humor, little to no wit, and jumbled, seemingly unfinished stories that throw plot points at the wall to see what sticks. Avoid this one.

My Rating: 3.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 3.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.5/10
RT Rating: 39%
Do we recommend this movie: No.

Please be sure to check out Lolo Loves Films all over the internet!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Movie Review: "Ocean's Eleven" (2001)

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Year: 2001
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes

Danny Ocean, who has recently been released on parole, rounds up his old crew and a few newcomers to pull off a seemingly impossible casino robbery.
"I only lied about being a thief." (Image Source)
If you went to prison and got paroled, what's the first thing you'd do with your newfound freedom? If your answer involves planning a seemingly impossible casino robbery with a hidden personal agenda, chances are you think a lot like Danny Ocean. "Ocean's Eleven" is directed by Steven Soderbergh, who is known for directing films like "Sex, Lies, and Videotape," "Traffic," and "Erin Brockovich." The screenplay is written by Ted Griffin and is a re-imagining of the 1960 film "Ocean's 11" directed by Lewis Milestone. It stars George Clooney as Danny Ocean, a well-known thief who has just been recently paroled from prison. His first order of business as a former jailbird is to round up his former associates and a couple of new cohorts so they can attempt the impossible: a three casino robbery on the weekend of a World Heavyweight Boxing championship fight. Joining Clooney as members of Ocean's crew are Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Shaobo Qin, and Eddie Jemison. Each of these individuals uses their particular set of skills to attempt to pull off one of the most difficult robberies in one of the most intricate ways imaginable.
"In my hotels, there's always somebody watching." (Image Source)
"Ocean's Eleven" is not the first heist movie to be put to celluloid, but it's one of the few films others in the genre get compared to on a regular basis. Maybe that's because it's so much damn fun. Steven Soderbergh does a great job creating a fast-paced, extremely punchy movie with a wonderful ensemble cast. The characters and the actors playing them all look like they are having a fantastic time. This allows the audience to feel like they are sharing in those good times as well. Sure, the robbery is a super over-the-top Hollywood fantasy heist, but in the early 2000's, it was exactly what we were looking for as moviegoers. If you examine the minutiae of the heist closely,  there are bound to be some unanswered questions and a few plot holes as to how exactly the Ocean's Eleven pulled it off and made certain switches, but honestly, we were too busy enjoying ourselves to notice these elements.
"It's a lot of money, but I'm staying in. I'm calling his bluff." (Image Source)
The acting isn't anything spectacular. George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, and Brad Pitt spend the entire movie being their charming selves without much variation from who they are in their day to day lives. A few of the actors are tasked with playing caricatures, especially when it comes to Scott Caan and Casey Affleck's excessive arguing brothers shtick and Don Cheadle's awfully exaggerated British accent riddled with cockney slang. Ted Griffin and Steven Soderbergh get the audience to root for this band of misfits. We want them to pull off this heist because they are an extremely charismatic bunch despite being criminals. They also add some personal stakes for Danny Ocean in the form of an ex-wife, Tess (Julia Roberts), who is now dating the completely unlikable Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), the owner of the three casinos Ocean and his crew are about to rob (yet another reason we want Danny to come out on top of the situation).

Over the years, many crime movies have come and gone out of the public's minds. We have never forgotten about "Ocean's Eleven." We've watched it on numerous occasions, and though it has lost a bit of its snap over time, it is still an entertaining movie overall.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.8/10
RT Rating: 82%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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