Monday, July 25, 2016

Movie Review: "Pineapple Express" (2008)

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Movie"Pineapple Express"
Director: David Gordon Green
Year: 2008
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 51 minutes

Process server Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) witnesses a murder while attempting to serve papers to a local drug supplier. After fleeing the scene, Dale drops his joint outside of the drug supplier's house. This joint just so happens to be from a rare kind of pot called Pineapple Express, which only has one dealer in town: Saul Silver (James Franco). Now, Dale and Saul are being pursued by a pair of hit-men looking to take them out after the joint is traced back to Saul.

"Pineapple Express" is directed by David Gordon Green, has a screenplay that is written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and is based on a story by the aforementioned two, along with recent comedy mainstay Judd Apatow. This is an action stoner comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, who play process server Dale Denton and marijuana dealer Saul Silver. Rogen and Franco have have worked together in the past on many projects, including the wonderful, short-lived television show "Freaks and Geeks," and the two have undeniable, fantastic on screen chemistry together. While trying to serve papers to a man named Ted Jones, played by "hey I know that guy but I don't know his name" Gary Cole, Dale witnesses him murder someone in a gross, horrific fashion. Understandably, Dale freaks the F out. While fleeing, he drops the joint he was smoking on the ground and attempts to bail as quickly as possible, speeding away after hitting at least two cars on his way out. Ted also happens to be Saul's drug supplier and recognizes the joint Dale dropped as "Pineapple Express," which is a super rare, highly coveted kind of pot that only Saul sells. Knowing this, Ted puts a hit out on Saul and whoever he is with, who just so happens to be Dale. In order to stay alive, Dale and Saul run about town like chickens with their heads cut off, having no real clue how to actually stay inconspicuous. Their bumbling about leads to a lot of hilarious, memorable moments and confrontations. These interactions happen with the likes of Red, played by Danny McBride, who is also a drug dealer; the parents of Dale's high school-aged girlfriend Angie, played by Amber Heard; a dirty cop named Carol, played by Rosie Perez; and a pair of hit-men named Matheson, played by Craig Robinson, and Budlofsky, played by Kevin Corrigan.

There are a ton of laughs throughout "Pineapple Express." The jokes come frequently and the humor lands much more than it misses. Most of this humor includes the drug-related shenanigans of Dale and Saul as they get high over and over again and try to evade being killed by a bunch of funny, murderous idiots. That being said, "Pineapple Express" is not exactly breaking new ground or highbrow in any way. In fact, most of the time, the humor is much more silly than laugh out loud funny, but it does the job if you let it. We have a hunch it'd be that much more hilarious if you were stoned, too, which is most likely the point. All of this comedy is combined with numerous instances of completely over-the-top, outrageous action, so in this respect, it transcends genres. Seth Rogen does his usual shtick, which works for him most of the time, and James Franco pulls off the oddball stoner with a heart persona very well. Another notable performance includes that of Danny McBride, who we don't always enjoy, but he does a great job as Red in this film. McBride gets a ton of fantastic lines of banter once Saul and Dale show up at his house, and even after being shot halfway through the movie, he's one of those characters who just won't die.

There is a lot of fun to be had during "Pineapple Express," and with a good soundtrack, great acting, and some kick ass action to back it all up, it is a pretty fun, mostly entertaining movie overall.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 68%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!
One year ago, we were watching: "Knocked Up"

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Movie Review: "The Bourne Identity" (2002)

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Movie"The Bourne Identity"
Director: Doug Liman
Year: 2002
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes

A man found floating in the ocean with a pair of bullets in his back is pulled from the water by a passing boat. This man has no memory of who he is or where he comes from. He starts to find clues and unravel the mystery of who he is, where he comes from, and why he is being followed by people who are trying to kill him. Luckily, this man, who is known as Jason Bourne (Matt Damon), still remembers all of his deadly skills from his past life that will help keep him alive.

Directed by Doug Liman, "The Bourne Identity" is an action spy thriller starring Matt Damon as the title character Jason Bourne. Prior to the release of this film, Matt Damon wasn't exactly known as an action star, having been in mostly comedies, dramas, and less action-oriented thrillers. Damon, however, seems to be able to adapt amazingly well for whatever movie he is in, especially the action genre that we're sure by now is second nature to him. You have to start somewhere, and what better place to start than being bad-ass action lead/major butt kicker Jason Bourne? Damon's Bourne starts out this film knowing nothing regarding his current predicament. He has been pulled from the ocean full of lead and has no memory of how he got there. As his journey progresses, he starts to get followed, by who he does not know, and the people following him are also trying to kill him, for what he does not know. Amnesia, right? Along the way, joining Damon is Franka Potente, who plays Marie, a random woman who reluctantly helps Bourne in his quest by giving him a ride to Paris for £20000 so he can visit the address on his driver's license to begin putting the pieces of this puzzle together. Behind the scenes and trying to catch and/or kill Bourne are Chris Cooper, who plays Conklin, the head of operation Treadstone, the secret operation trying to find Bourne, Brian Cox, who plays Conklin's boss Ward Abbott, who may have ulterior motives and cruel intentions, as well as Clive Owen, Julia Stiles, and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

There are a lot of mediocre action movie franchises out there, but the "Bourne" series isn't one of them. "The Bourne Identity" is a solid start to this series, complete with an action-packed plot, a ton of great fight scenes that are choreographed pretty well, and a slew of car and foot chases to titillate you from start to finish. There are also a lot of drawn out, thrilling scenes where Bourne is simply trying to avoid getting captured, even though everyone around him could be trying to kill him. Not everything in this movie is great, though. The speed manipulation on some of the fight scenes give them an unnatural look and can be distracting. There is also a lot of shaky camera work implemented here, and this seems to progress through the series. Luckily, the characters are interesting enough so audiences really get invested in the mystery of Bourne's past and watching him unravel it. It's not a complete waste of time because these elements make the audience think alongside Bourne as he uncovers who he really is. These instances are almost always captivating, but we will admit it feels a little too neat and too been-there-done-that to start. Matt Damon is in his element as the titular character, and we really enjoy his performances in this series. Overall, "The Bourne Identity" is a great introduction to the character of Jason Bourne, one that is a gripping, action-heavy, fun movie most people will enjoy.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 83%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

Weekend Box Office Results: July 22nd, 2016 - July 24th, 2016

"Star Trek Beyond" warps to the top of the charts

Hey, movie lovers! Hope you had a great weekend! Here are your weekend box office results!

The latest flick in the "Star Trek" franchise has claimed the #1 spot at the box offices this weekend. The worthy sequel, "Star Trek Beyond," claimed victory by making $59,600,000 in its opening weekend. "The Secret Life of Pets" has had an insanely good run at the box office thus far. It has been dethroned, and came in second place by pulling in a solid $29,330,275 for a 3-week total of $260,709,020. The "Ghostbusters" reboot is also proving successful as it has consistently been making money since its release last week. It came in third this weekend to the tune of $21,600,000, with a domestic total gross of $86.6 million. The new horror film "Lights Out" came in fourth place with a solid $21,600,000. Finally, the fifth movie in the "Ice Age" series, "Ice Age: Collision Course," stumbled a lot in its opening weekend compared to the other films in its franchise. It pulled in a meek $21 million to claim the #5 spot on the charts this weekend.

Look forward to "Jason Bourne," "Bad Moms," and "Nerve" this upcoming weekend, so stay tuned for those reviews and much more here on Lolo Loves Films!

This WeekDomestic Gross
1 Star Trek Beyond$59,600,000$59,600,000
2 The Secret Life of Pets$29,330,275$260,709,020
3 Ghostbusters$21,600,000$86,856,739
4 Lights Out$21,600,000$21,000,000
5 Ice Age: Collision Course$21,000,000$21,000,000
6 Finding Dory$7,220,000$460,199,119
7 The Legend of Tarzan$6,430,000$115,824,084
8 Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates$4,400,000$40,357,747
9 Hillary's America$3,700,000$3,791,523
10 The Infiltrator$3,293,840$12,239,749

*See you at the movies!!!*

SUN-day Summer Movie Review: "Now and Then" (1995)

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Movie"Now and Then"
Director: Lesli Linka Glatter
Year: 1995
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

While back in her hometown waiting for her friend to have her baby, a writer reflects on her youth and the life-changing summer she and her three best friends have in 1970. 

Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter and written by I. Marlene King, "Now and Then" is a coming-of-age story about four young girls growing up in a small town in the summer of 1970. Each character is played by two actresses, one at age 33 and the other at age 12. It stars Demi Moore and Gabby Hoffman, who play Samantha; Rosie O'Donnell and Christina Ricci, who play Roberta; Melanie Griffith and Thora Birch, who play Teeny; and Rita Wilson and Ashleigh Aston Moore, who play Chrissy. Though the film opens and closes with the older set of women, the primary focus of the movie is on the girls in their younger years as they try their hardest to get money for a tree house. Much like "Stand by Me," "Now and Then" has a writer, in this case Samantha, telling the story about the pivotal summer in the lives of her and her friends. Oddly enough, both films also partially revolve around the death of a young kid that the group wants to investigate, though the way each film handles this is very different. Each of the four girls is unique, offering a relatable character for whatever your personality might be. Samantha is the intellectual who likes to read and write, Roberta is the tomboy who tries to hide her developing body, which the polar opposite of Teeny, who is the glamour and beauty-obsessed one who tries to create a false look of development, and finally there's Chrissy, who is the totally sheltered, goody two-shoes who has no idea about the real world other than the lies her parents have told her. The summer begins with this quest to raise money for their tree house, though this plot line quickly takes a back seat to the obsession and investigation of the death of a little boy who died 25 years earlier, one whose tombstone simply read 'Dear Johnny.' The girls learn a lot about themselves, each other, and the world as a whole through this investigation.

"Now and Then" is a fairly touching, sometimes funny, and as mentioned earlier, wholly relatable movie. All the young actresses do a great job and help create a great, engaging story. As for the older cast, none of them are bad, but this whole section seems superfluous and could have easily be cut entirely. It wouldn't have taken anything away from the context of the film. The only real purpose for these sections is to show that despite two of the girls going their separate ways in life, all four of them remained friends and made good on their promise as young kids to always be there for each other when they needed it...we guess that's something. It also feels like this section is included to have Demi Moore's Samantha narrate the entire thing as an adult, which could have easily been handled with a quick line of exposition explaining how she was merely reflecting on that most important summer in their lives. Still, despite a couple of cheesy instances, this is an enjoyable film and the perfect pick for any of the summer months.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 6.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 19%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
Last summer, we were watching: "Summer of Sam"

Two summers ago, we were watching: "Stand By Me"

Saturday, July 23, 2016

365 Days of Movies, Year 3, Movie #368: "Lights Out" (2016)

Movie"Lights Out"
Ticket Price: $12.50
Director: David F. Sandberg
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 21 minutes
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A ghost that can only appear in the dark has latched itself onto a woman named Sophie (Maria Bello), who is battling severe depression. When the ghost starts to torment her young son Martin (Gabriel Bateman), he seeks help from his semi-estranged older sister Rebecca (Teresa Palmer), who tries to uncover the mystery of this evil entity.

"Lights Out" is directed by David F. Sandberg, who makes his feature film directorial debut by adapting one of his early short films into a feature length movie. It stars Teresa Palmer as Rebecca, a twenty-something woman with abandonment issues due to her father disappearing many years prior. She has trouble getting close to people and won't even let her boyfriend Bret, played by Alexander DiPersia, stay the night. She is also estranged from her mother Sophie, played by Maria Bello, who is constantly battling a deep depression and possibly other forms of psychosis. When Rebecca's little brother Martin, played by Gabriel Bateman, starts to see a woman at his house whenever it is dark, he understandably has trouble sleeping. He seeks help from his sister, who starts to see this woman once she starts trying to intervene. Scared and concerned for the safety of her brother knowing her mother's condition, Rebecca is determined to uncover what is really going on and who this entity, known only as Diana, really is and what she wants.

Hollywood has had a very bad habit of giving audiences a slew of less than mediocre PG-13 horror films that have little to no story, are riddled with clich├ęs and contrivances, and rely entirely on jump scares and loud noises as their only form of terror. They are made because they are super cheap to produce and usually bring in a box office exponentially higher than their cost. Needless to say, we have been a little apprehensive about "Lights Out" because of all of this. Preconceived notions aside, we are glad to report this is one of the better PG-13 horror movies, for the most part. Director David F. Sandberg seems to be great at building tension and creating a creepy environment. This is mostly seen from start to finish, and with a short run time, "Lights Out" almost always feels nail-biting in some way. In addition, Sandberg and screenwriter Eric Heisserer have made a compelling story that puts a slightly psychological twist on the standard entity haunting-style movie. Instead of making throwaway characters the audience will wind up not caring about like most modern horror films, they have created characters we can and do get invested in, taking the time early on to build them up in a way that makes us root for their survival. The acting might not always be great, but with a veteran actress like Maria Bello leading the way, this really makes up for some of the flaws in the movie as a whole. Not everything good about "Lights Out" comes from its writing. Visually, the demon haunting Sophie, Martin, and Rebecca looks pretty damn creepy, but it reminds us of a more "constantly in the dark" version of Samara from "The Ring." The way Diana moves her body and scratches her nails on the ground is eerie, and though this tactic doesn't reinvent the horror movie wheel, with the right mood behind it, it makes for one creepy antagonist. All of this praise is not to say the film is perfect. It does have quite a few cliches and it is a bit heavy on the jump scares accompanied by very loud noises. Not all of these jump scares hit their intended mark, and some miss really badly and become eardrum-piercing instead of scary. Because we get so wrapped up in the mystery, the characters and their relationships, this is only a minor complaint.

"Lights Out" is a solid selection for horror fans craving something to creep them out. It never feels overlong and will keep you interested enough throughout its short run time. The climax of this movie is great with a satisfying final result that serves to elevate the film overall, and has a lot of fantastic mood and tension to go along with it. This is definitely a step above the typical PG-13 horror fare.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~77%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

Movie Review: "You, Me, and Dupree" (2006)

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Movie"You, Me and Dupree"
Director: Anthony and Joe Russo
Year: 2006
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Newlyweds Carl & Molly (Matt Dillon & Kate Hudson) get an extra dose of early marital stress when Carl lets his homeless, unemployed best friend Dupree (Owen Wilson) stay with them until he can get back on his feet. While Dupree makes a mess of their house, Carl faces even more stress at work as his boss/father-in-law (Michael Douglas) does everything he can to undermine Carl and make every workday a living hell.

Before The Russo brothers made the critical and financial gargantuan smash hits "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and "Captain America: Civil War," their beginnings resided in the much different type of film called "You, Me and Dupree." You've got to start somewhere, we guess. It stars Owen Wilson as the titular Dupree, as well as Matt Dillon as Dupree's best friend Carl, Kate Hudson as Carl's wife Molly, and Michael Douglas as Molly's father/Carl's boss Mr. Thompson. This is one of those comedies that is extremely frustrating to watch. Every ounce of humor and conflict revolves around a lack of communication between the characters. In order to fuel these conflicts, when people *do* actually talk to each other, they make sure to do so in the most vague, generalized terms possible, never offering any specifics as to what a problem might actually be until it boils over and becomes an even bigger issue for everyone involved. With one or two lines of dialogue, we wouldn't have had to endure this film. Because our characters exist in the year 2006, it also reinforces the notion and trite old movie cliche that men refuse to talk to their friends and wives about their feelings and problems, opting instead to let things stew and make things worse for everyone, including themselves. It's so tiresome, and it's also not funny, either.

Owen Wilson's Dupree does the typical obtrusive house guest routine that we've seen time and time again and will continue to see time and time again because it's just that, a cliche. Dupree does nearly everything possible to be a pain in the ass, but is simultaneously oblivious to how much of an inconvenience he actually is. The filmmakers hope the character of Dupree is charming enough and endearing enough for us to tolerate his shenanigans, but he's really not. There might be one instance where we thought, "okay, we could get behind this guy," but other than this one instance, he's a total loser and an idiot to boot. The filmmakers and writers would like you to think he is the greatest person walking on the earth, which is how every other character besides his best friend Carl seems to feel about him, which begs the question, why be friends with this jackass at all? At first, Molly seems to hate Dupree, while Carl champions for him early on, until the script flips and Dupree becomes so pathetic that Molly starts to pity him and starts to act like he can do no wrong while treating her husband as if he's bullying the poor helpless Dupree. It's just so stupid! Meanwhile, on the job front, Carl is getting overrun by Mr. Thompson, his boss and father-in-law. Mr. Thompson does everything he can to "emasculate" Carl, which again, could be fixed with just one honest conversation and telling his father-in-law to screw off. None of what Mr. Thompson does is funny in the slightest, it makes him looks like a stalkerish prick of a father-in-law who is obsessed with not letting his very grown, very capable daughter live her own life to the point of obsession, and how Carl reacts makes him look like a petulant pushover. Meanwhile, whenever Carl comes home, he has to deal with Molly fawning all over the hapless Dupree. Even though it's painfully obvious that's something's wrong with him, Molly either ignores Carl or gets mad at him for no reason. Seth Rogen is also in this film as one of Carl's friends, but his screen time is limited and he keeps within his usual shtick.

"You, Me and Dupree" is just too stupid to tolerate. Even with low expectations, you'll still be surprised how bad this it. Not one thing about this movie says "worthwhile," so don't waste your time.

My Rating: 3.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 3/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 21%
Do we recommend this movie: AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!
One year ago, we were watching: "Max"

Friday, July 22, 2016

365 Days of Movies, Year 3, Movie #367: "Hunt for the Wilderpeople" (2016)

Movie"Hunt for the Wilderpeople"
Ticket Price: $6.99
Director: Taika Waititi
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 41 minutes
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Foster child Ricky Baker (Julian Dennison) is a bit of a 'bad egg.' He has been unable to find suitable foster care, that is, until he is taken in by Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and her husband Hec (Sam Neill). Ricky finds himself in a loving home for the first time in his young life. When tragedy strikes, this situation changes, and now child services wants to take Ricky back. Not wanting to end up in juvie, Ricky runs away into the Bush. Hec heads out after him, but after suffering an injury, he and Ricky are stranded until Hec heals. Child services assumes Hec has kidnapped Ricky, and a massive manhunt is unleashed to find the two.

Written and directed by Taika Waititi, who is the mastermind best known for the wonderful vampire comedy "What We Do in the Shadows," "Hunt for the Wilderpeople" is an utterly fantastic adventure dramedy about previously unwanted people finding a connection, as well as finding their place in the world. It stars Julian Dennison as Ricky Baker, a 13-year-old kid who has been bounced from foster home to foster home due to his rebellious nature; it also doesn't help that Ricky envisions and presents himself as sort of a gangster. His last hope for a permanent home before juvie is with Bella and Hec, a married couple living off the grid, played by Rima Te Wiata and Sam Neill. This pair live on a rural farm right outside the vast New Zealand bush. After a little bit of time and a few attempts at running away, Bella and Ricky start to connect and he finally starts to feel at home with her. Hec is another story altogether. He keeps to himself and would rather be left alone. After tragedy strikes, Ricky is told he has to be returned to child services. In response to this, Ricky tries to fake his death by burning Hec's barn and running away one final time. Hec follows Ricky into the vast, lush New Zealand bush, and after a few unfortunate incidents that prolong their stay in the wilderness, child services begins a massive, countrywide manhunt for Ricky and Hec, who they now believe has kidnapped Ricky.

We are extremely impressed by "Hunt for the Wilderpeople." This is a truly spectacular film. From the moment it started, we knew we were in for an absolute treat from a visual, written, directorial, auditory, and acting standpoint. We have to give Julian Dennison props first and foremost. Dennison, a newcomer to the acting game, is excellent in this film. Despite his character Ricky's attempts at being a hardcore gangster with his All Eyez On Me jacket and his affinity for rap music, Dennison's Ricky manages to be wholly endearing and totally hilarious. We root for Ricky because he is clearly so adorable, and we get the sense early on that because of his inconsistent upbringing, he just wants to be loved by someone. As for Sam Neill, he puts on a great performance as well. His character Hec is a grizzled old survivalist and just wants to be left alone in life. He and Ricky couldn't be more different, but through their adventure and after being thrust apart when their lives get turned upside down, they start to reach a mutual understanding and a mutual respect for one another despite their differences. There are some stellar smaller performances as well. Rima Te Wiata is quite good in her more limited capacity as Bella, and Rachel House is fantastic as the persistent and determined Paula. House and Oscar Kightley, who plays Andy, have a ton of wonderful back and forth bantering sessions as they look for Hec and Ricky. Lastly, Rhys Darby, a Taika Waititi mainstay, plays a survivalist named Psycho Sam, who has lived in the bush for 15 years and is, well, a little psycho about the government. All in all, this cast comes together to make one magnificent team.

"Hunt for the Wilderpeople" is a movie that made us laugh a lot, but it's not just a comedy. It's a compassionate, heartfelt drama, too, and it made us cry without ever feeling sappy or forced. Its message is tender and sweet, but it is still able to maintain a balance between the jokes and the feels. This is due in large part to Waititi's attention to detail in his well-crafted script, and in his movements behind the camera. This film kept us completely engaged, and we could not be more pleased with the final product delivered to us on screen. This is one of our favorite movies of 2016. People need to know and become familiar with the name Taika Waititi because he is a tremendous filmmaker. He is quickly becoming one of our favorite directors, and if his last couple of movies are an indication of his capabilities, we cannot wait to see what he has in store for "Thor: Ragnarok."

My Rating: 10/10
BigJ's Rating: 10/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!
One year ago, we were watching: "Self/less"