REVIEW: THE RANCH – SEASON 4

MV5BODEyNTAwMTcyMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDIyMjI2MTE@._V1_

MAIN CAST

Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men)
Sam Elliott (Ghost Rider)
Elisha Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door)
Debra Winger (Rachel Getting Married)

Megyn Price and Dax Shepard in The Ranch (2016)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Dax Shepard (Chips)
Megyn Price (Rules of Engagement)
Kelli Goss (The Young and The Restless)
Jim Beaver (Breaking Bad)
Wendie Malick (American Housewife)
Kurtwood Smith (That 70s Show)
Kathy Baker (Picket Fences)
Grady Lee Richmond (Dirty Girl)
Barry Corbin (Anger Management)
Josh Burrow (Shoot Me Nicely)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Debra Jo Rupp (That 70s Show)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Bret Harirson (V)

Ashton Kutcher and Elisha Cuthbert in The Ranch (2016)There’s going to be a lot of chatter over the way Netflix has decided to end the latest part of “The Ranch.” While this is the fourth season, it’s actually Part 7 of 8 parts in the show’s storyline, with Brad Paisley songs gracing the names of each episode in this part. Coming back to the world of the Bennetts can feel like a family reunion, both fun and bittersweet. This new chapter again features the particular humor the series is known for but with dark reunions and a final, cryptic act. It is this part’s closing moment that is quite bold in many ways.Sam Elliott in The Ranch (2016)Picking up where the last season ended, Colt Bennett (Ashton Kutcher) has been left by his wife Abby (Elisha Cuthbert) over him misleading her about the potential sale of his livestock. Now Colt is on his own and even barred from the Bennett family ranch by his father, Beau (Sam Elliott). Colt’s cousin, Luke (Dax Shepard) has meanwhile gone off to tie the knot in a hasty Vegas wedding with Mary (Megyn Price), who everyone knows has a serious drug problem. When Luke returns he realizes the wrongs he’s done and tries to rebuild a bond with Colt. It’s a moment of crossroads for the family as Colt wonders if he and Abby are truly over, Luke realizes it’s time to actually grow up.Ashton Kutcher and Dax Shepard in The Ranch (2016)“The Ranch” has never lost its homey feel during its four seasons. There have been grand, dramatic moments, like wildfires and the disappearance of Colt’s brother, Rooster (Danny Masterson), but for “Part 7” the writing becomes reflective. The storyline focuses more on where each character is situated and how they will face the future. Colt must face up to the lies he told, not out of malice but because he genuinely believed he was on the cusp of a big business deal. Most of this season finds him doing a delicate, emotional dance with Abby, openly pining for her, giving her alimony and jumping at the first chance to prove his loyalty. Worried about her image as a teacher at a new school, Abby asks Colt for his help in attending a school event so she won’t look like a separated spouse. He almost does it thinking it means they could get back together. As a comedy “The Ranch” has always delivered, but it’s in the subtle drama where it works best. Colt’s feelings towards Abby aren’t funny, but sad and endearing. Yet the show never gets predictable with this storyline and it is refreshing how it treats a breakup without dreamy romanticism, it soberly knows that some couples simply never get back together.Ashton Kutcher and Elisha Cuthbert in The Ranch (2016)The same goes for other relationships, like Luke and Mary’s, which in any other sitcom would be a gag for countless jokes. Instead it leads to real consequences such as Mary having to face the chaos of her existence, and how it affects her daughter, Heather (Kelli Goss). Heather is a bit underused this season, but she has strong scenes where she needs to pick up Mary at the hospital after an overdose, and telling Luke to get lost then accepting his sincere help for paying the mortgage. Luke’s character this season also becomes a person trying to make amends. He buys Colt’s cattle at the auction block, in order to prove he truly wants to be partners with his cousin. Beau is making plans for his new life with fiance Joanne (Kathy Baker), but must first make amends with Colt. It’s family dysfunction written with a particular kind of heartfelt drama, where no one screams or shouts but just say what they honestly feel. When Beau tries to advise Colt on how to treat a potentially ill cattle Colt takes it as an insult, and this is indeed how families actually do argue.Sam Elliott, Kathy Baker, Ashton Kutcher, Megyn Price, Dax Shepard, and Kelli Goss in The Ranch (2016)Colt runs into one issue after another trying to make his ranch sustainable, but he won’t go down easily. In one crisis he tries to buy a new bull to impregnate his heifers from Neumann’s Hill Ranch, who have repeatedly been trying to purchase both Cole’s and Beau’s Iron River Ranch. In another pivotal moment, Cole strikes back at Neumann’s Hill when they try to play dirty. Ashton Kutcher again delivers some of his best work, turning Colt into a man full of both many faults and heart. The great Sam Elliott also elevates the material with that calm demeanor that hides a powerful presence. What Elliott does here with Beau is begin to soften the hard exterior of the patriarch. Now that he has found the love of his life in Joanne he is opening himself to new experiences, like a proposal by Joanne to go to Spain.Sam Elliott and Kathy Baker in The Ranch (2016)In the previous season we saw how he had changed to the point of contemplating selling the farm for the good of his family and in this season he does just that. Even Luke acknowledges he is happy to have met this Beau, a man with an iron will for sure, but now with a more loving outlook, even if at first he still gives Luke a stern talk for his behavior. Essential to Elliot’s performance is the warm presence of Baker’s character, Joanne. With an alzheimer’s diagnosis her character’s engagement to Beau transcends the usual sitcom’s twilight years romance. It’s treated like a special bond between people who have been through much, and are prepared to go through more, together. This is the season where Joanne becomes an even more present and essential character that completes Beau’s life while in a sense completing the Bennett family.Ashton Kutcher and Dax Shepard in The Ranch (2016)While some episodes in season 4 just mosy along, it must be said this is never a boring season. We love to watch the Bennetts deal with their inner traumas and hassles because they feel real. Colt’s predicament with Abby is relatable to anyone who lets a good thing go, Luke embodies the wild child who can prove he’s not a screw up. This is a worthy season for “The Ranch.” The Bennetts grow and reconcile while enduring new challenges. To revisit these characters is like walking into a living family portrait, where everyone has good and bad memories.

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS (MOVIE)

CAST

Kristen Bell (Frozen)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Francis Capra (heroes)
Percy Daggs III (Izombie)
Chris Lowell (Enlisted)
Tina Mojorino (Santa Fe)
Enrico Colantoni (Powers)
Gaby Hoffmann (Wild)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Martin Starr (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Amanda Noret (City Guys)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Duane Daniels (Murder on Vine)
Lisa Thornhill (Rush Hour 3)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens)
Justin Long (Mom)
Dax Shepard (Hit and Run)
James Franco (Spider-Man)
Eddie Jemison (IZombie)
Jessica Camacho (The Flash)

Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)The world of cult TV is a peculiar one. Television shows are canceled all the time, but through the world of DVDs, Netflix, and Amazon, shows pulled from network schedules before their time now have the opportunity to grow a loyal, faithful audience long after the grass has grown over their graves.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2014)Those fans often wonder if they’ll ever see their favorite characters again, and every once in awhile that wish comes true. Seven years after it was canceled, Veronica Mars, which became a cult phenomenon since it premiered its last new episode on The CW in 2007, returned for one more mystery, this time on the big screen. As any true fan can tell you, Veronica Mars was a witty, one-of-a-kind teen noir series that tackled everything from rape and murder to class warfare.A social outcast after her sheriff father (Enrico Colantoni) wrongfully accused a very rich, very powerful man of murdering his daughter (who was Veronica’s best friend and the sister of Veronica’s boyfriend), Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) was largely on her own in a town full of obnoxious and privileged children of movie stars and CEOs. But the Southern California town of Neptune was divided along class lines. Veronica didn’t fit in with the popular kids, known as the 09-ers, after her father’s wrongful accusation, but she didn’t fit in with the working class either on account of her former association to those same 09-ers. She became a fierce, independent teen whose weapon of choice against her enemies was her mind, her wit, and the occasional stun-gunning. Each episode of the series tackled a new mystery for Veronica to solve, while an overarching larger mystery unfolded over the course of the entire season. It’s not every day a series like Veronica Mars shows up on TV, and so it makes perfect sense that Veronica Mars in its film incarnation be as unique as the series from which it was born.veronicamarsFunded by fans via a Kickstarter that broke several records and reached its goal of $2 million in less than 12 hours, the Veronica Mars film was a labor of love for all parties involved. The movie, which looked great despite not having had the funds it would have had if it had been completely backed by the studio, felt like an extended episode of the TV series. Some people might look at that and see a failure, but to any Veronica Mars fan, that’s the highest form of praise. Instead of an ending, the movie felt like a brand-new chapter recently discovered at the end of a favorite book.Series creator Rob Thomas has always been cognizant of the fact that the film would not exist if it weren’t for the fans, and has said on more than one occasion that it was imperative that they make a film that would do right by the fans who donated their hard-earned cash to bring this beautiful work to life. And that’s what he did. He created a film that he knew the fans would love. And he should know, because he’s probably the series’ biggest fan outside of Kristen Bell herself. Without Thomas and Bell keeping alive their dream of one day shooting a film, fans might have given up hope of ever returning to the seedy seaside town of Neptune, California.Kristen Bell and Ryan Hansen in Veronica Mars (2014)By the time Veronica traded in her pin-straight hair and fancy New York lawyer duds for the jeans, jacket, and beach waves uniform she wore for three seasons, it was clear Veronica was never going to go back to the seemingly perfect life she had in New York with Piz (Chris Lowell). It doesn’t matter if everyone knew going in that she’d end up choosing Neptune over New York and ex-boyfriend Logan (Jason Dorhing) over Piz, because it’s exactly what the fans wanted to see. It’s what the fans paid upfront to see. It’s the open-ended ending the fans waited seven years for. In short: The film delivered.rs_560x415-140311131242-1024.Veronica-Mars-Kristen-Bell.ms.031114_copyThe movie, which followed the first case Veronica had worked since she transferred to Stanford after one year at Hearst College, and which happened to coincide with her 10 year high school reunion, felt exactly like that: A reunion. Because Thomas wanted to please the fans, the movie attempted to bring back as many original cast members from the series as possible, from the still-bitchy Madison Sinclair (Amanda Noret), to the dirty and shameless Vinnie Van Lowe (Ken Marino), who might actually be living in a van now, to the effortlessly charming Deputy-now-detective Leo (Max Greenfield). The movie was a parade of familiar faces, but to fans of the series, it felt a bit like home. Each time a character appeared on screen, it was a wink and a nod to fans.Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)It makes sense that the person to pull Veronica back to Neptune and the private eye world was Logan. He’d been part of the reason she’d left town and their self-proclaimed epic love story was left unfinished. If I take issue with anything in the film, however, it would be the way in which it portrayed her relationship with both Logan and the job of being a private investigator as a drug. Over the course of the series, it was clear her relationship with Logan was toxic, but Logan has grown up and matured considerably in the nine years since we last saw him. Yes, he was quick to resort to violence when Veronica’s sex tape played at the reunion, but that doesn’t change the fact that Logan has come very far since his self-destructive days. He joined the navy and became a pilot. He became a stabilizing force for his girlfriend, Carrie Bishop, whose murder was the central mystery of the movie.Kristen Bell and Jason Dohring in Veronica Mars (2014)Keith’s vocal opposition to Veronica leaving New York and the opportunities there felt real and were grounded in reality. He’s a father who only wants the best for his daughter. But it was never going to happen. The mystery of who killed Carrie Bishop wasn’t the most exciting or intricate case Veronica has ever tackled, but once again, the movie had to find a way to work in a case that would draw Veronica back to Neptune, as well as find a way to work in the cameos fans desperately wanted to see in a short, finite amount of time. Revealing Martin Starr’s new character Stu “Cobb” Cobbler to be Carrie’s murderer made sense, because having it be someone fans knew and loved would have been crushing to the audience. The fact that Dick really never knew the truth about what happened to Susan Knight on that boat was in line with the Dick that fans have come to love or come to love to hate. In short, everything that happened in the film felt just right.Success in this industry will always be measured by how much money a film makes, and there is a special dollar amount the movie must bring in to warrant a sequel, but to fans of the series, none of that really matters. It was never about the money, it was about seeing Veronica, Logan, Keith, Wallace, Mac, Dick, Weevil, and Piz again. Veronica Mars’ success will never be measured in dollar signs, but in whether or not the film made fans happy, and to that end it definitely succeeded.

REVIEW: THE BOSS

CAST

Melissa McCarthy (Ghosbusters)
Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Ella Anderson (Henry Danger)
Tyler Labine (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Kathy Bates (Misery)
Cecily Strong (The Bronze)
Kristen Schaal (Toy Story 3)
Dax Shepard (Hit & Run)
Margo Martindale (Mike & Molly)
Ben Falcone (New Girl)
Robert Pralgo (The Vampire Diaries)
Cedric Yarbrough (Meet The Fockers)
Parker Young (Arrow)The story follows Michelle Darnell (Melissa McCarthy), a titan of industry who is sent to prison for insider trading, denounced by her former lover, Renault (Peter Dinklage). After doing her time, Michelle emerges, ready to rebrand herself as America’s latest sweetheart, but not everyone she steamrolled is so quick to forgive and forget.With nowhere to go and no one to scam, Michelle is forced to move in with former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) and her young daughter, Rachel (Ella Anderson). Now at her lowest point, Michelle wastes no time in devising a winner-take-all plan to rebuild her empire.
This film is hilarious. It has a good level of humour throughout the whole film. Melissa is delightful. Some of the one liners had me in tears. Really a great nice watch. And a sword fight to remember! There is also a well played emotional side to comedy. A good balance of emotions and a lead character you will care about.

REVIEW: HIT AND RUN (2012)

CAST

Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
Dax Sheperd (Zathura)
Tom Arnold (True Lies)
Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies)
Michael Rosenbaum (smallville)
Jess Rowland (The Princess Diaries 2)
Bradley Cooper (Joy)
Joy Bryant (Bobby)
David Koechner (Anchorman)
Ryan Hansen (2 broke Girls)
Beau Bridges (Stargate Atlantis)
Jason Bateman (Identity Thief)
Sean Hayes (Will & Grace)
Steve Agee (Superstore)

Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) is enrolled in the Witness Protection Program, staying in Milton, California under the supervision of incompetent U.S. Marshal Randy Anderson (Tom Arnold). Charlie’s girlfriend Annie Bean (Kristen Bell) is a professor at Milton Valley College and has a doctorate in Non-Violent Conflict Resolution from Stanford University, a major she created herself. Annie’s supervisor Debbie Kreeger (Kristin Chenoweth) calls Annie in for a meeting, where she tells her that the University of California is starting a Conflict Resolution program and is interested in interviewing her. The interview is scheduled for Wednesday in Los Angeles at 4:00; Annie balks at the idea saying she needs to talk to her boyfriend about it first, until Debbie tells her to live for herself instead of boyfriends, and that she will be fired if she does not make it to the interview. A perplexed Annie returns home and tells Charlie of the job interview, upsetting him since Los Angeles is the area he lived in prior to enrolling in Witness Protection and can’t return to. Charlie insists Annie interview for the job for her own sake, even though he would be unable to follow her, but Annie instead returns to the college the next day to beg to keep her job. While she is gone, Charlie decides he would return to L.A. after all, and picks up Annie in his souped-up, restored Lincoln Continental, promising to take her to her interview.
Before they leave town Annie realizes that the teaching certificate she needs is at the home of her ex-boyfriend Gil Rathbinn (Michael Rosenbaum). She had previously told Gil that Charlie is in Witness Protection, and he urges Annie not to go with Charlie, who he is certain is a criminal who will chop her up. Annie blows him off and leaves with Charlie; Gil memorizes Charlie’s license plate and asks his gay police officer brother Terry (Jess Rowland) to look up the plate, who finds that the vehicle is registered to “Yul Clint Perkins” — Charlie’s real name. Gil uses the name to look up Charlie’s past, discovering he is a former getaway driver who testified in an ultimately unsuccessful bank robbery case against his accomplices, one of whom shot the bank guard. Gil finds the Facebook page of one of the defendants, Alexander Dmitri (Bradley Cooper), and leaves a message saying he knows where Yul Perkins is for the next 24 hours.
Meanwhile, Randy calls Charlie after discovering he is not home. Charlie tells him he is returning to L.A., and Randy insists on accompanying him per Marshals Service policy, leaving Milton in order to pursue Charlie. A short time later Charlie and Annie discover Gil following them in his vehicle. Charlie pulls over, intending to beat up Gil, but instead tries to non-violently resolve the situation at Annie’s insistence. Gil is unmoved, and reveals that he both knows Charlie’s real name and has Alex Dmitri as a “Facebook friend”. Charlie and Annie then flee from Gil in the Continental, in the process running Randy off the road as he arrives, but ultimately losing Gil. Elsewhere, Alex sees Gil’s Facebook message, gathers his fellow bank robbers Neve (Joy Bryant) and Alan (Ryan Hansen) and heads to meet Gil.
Annie and Charlie gas up the Continental, where the vehicle’s engine is admired by a redneck named Sanders (David Koechner). The two then make their way to a motel, where they are unknowingly followed by Sanders. In the morning, Charlie tries to start the vehicle, only to discover that the engine has been stolen in the night. Gil arrives shortly after, ambushing Charlie with a golf club, but Charlie distracts him and knocks him out, placing him in his vehicle. He quickly discovers that Gil was also accompanied by Alex’s crew, who are at the front desk. Charlie grabs the VIN Number of a Corvette in the parking lot, makes a duplicate keyless entry for the vehicle using the former tools of his trade, and then leaves with Annie, Gil and Alex’s crew in hot pursuit, with Randy joining the chase. During the chase Annie and Charlie argue over his past, where he reveals that he was a getaway driver who participated in 13 bank robberies, and that Neve was once his fiancee. The two ultimately escape their pursuers again.
Afterward, Annie demands Charlie pull over, where she confronts him for lying to her about his past. She decides to proceed to L.A. without Charlie; Gil arrives shortly after, and agrees to take Annie the rest of the way. A short time later they are run off the road by Alex, who takes Annie hostage and calls Charlie, telling him to meet at a nearby diner. Charlie arrives and Alex demands money in exchange for Annie, then argues about Charlie’s betrayal, cut short when Alex reveals that he was raped in jail and blames Charlie for it. Charlie agrees to take him to a hidden stash of bank robbery money located at the home of his estranged father Clint (Beau Bridges). While in transit he surreptitiously places a call to Randy, now in the company of Terry (who’s attracted to Randy) and his partner Angela Roth (Carly Hatter), and gives Randy his father’s address. The three pick up Gil along the way.

MV5BMTIwMzE2MjM4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjA1OTY3._V1_

At Clint’s house, Charlie digs up a bag of money he hid in a pasture with his father, at the same time reconciling with him. His father carefully mentions he owns a Class 1 Off-Road racing vehicle; shortly after he knocks Alex down with a shovel, then fights with Alan as Charlie and Annie make their escape. The two get in the racer and flee just as Gil, Randy, Terry and Angela arrive. Alex and Neve attempt to follow, but Randy manages to shoot Alex as the latter fires at Charlie, forcing them to stop and placing the two under arrest. Two Marshals (Jason Bateman and Nate Tuck) later arrive and take Alex and his crew into custody, complimenting Randy and Terry on their work. After their escape, Charlie tells Annie he is committed to getting her to the interview still, wanting to keep his word despite the fact that she no longer loves him. Annie responds that she still loves him, and the two reconcile before continuing the trip. Charlie makes it to the University of California campus in time for Annie to make her interview. Before she leaves, Charlie offers to spend the rest of his life with her, which Annie accepts. The final scene cuts some months in the future, showing Randy and Terry, now in a relationship, giving each other a brief pep talk before heading to take the Marshals’ exam.

In a stinger segment, Annie makes her interview with Professor Sandy Osterman (Sean Hayes), interrupting him as he is smoking from a bong. After a rough start due to Osterman’s embarrassment at hotboxing his office and confusion at him not being a woman as Debbie had described, Osterman reveals that Debbie is his sister and she has jokingly called him a girl since he was 9. Annie expresses sympathy for how this must make Sandy feel, earning his approval and an immediate job offer, which she accepts.MV5BMTIwMzE2MjM4MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwNjA1OTY3._V1_The action is fun, the characters are  terrific to spend time with, and the ending is satisfying. If you just go with it and let it surprise you, you’ll have a great time.

REVIEW: KNOCKED UP

 

CAST

Seth Rogen (Bad neighbours)
Katherine Heigl (27 Dresses)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Leslie Mann (17 Again)
Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother)
Jay Baruchel (This Is The End)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Martin Starr (Veronica Mars)
Charlyne Yi (Cloverfield)
Harold Ramis (Year One)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Kristen Wiig (Zoolander 2)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Craig Robinson (Zack and Miri Make a Porno)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
J.P. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
Paul Feig (Spy)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Steve Carell (Evan Almighty)
Andy Dick (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
James Franco (Spider-Man)
Eva Mendes (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Dax Shepard (Hit and Run)

Film Title:

The 40 Year Old Virgin took more than two hours to get its main character laid. In Knocked Up…? Fifteen minutes flat. It’s not that Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) was on the prowl or anything; fate just kinda got hammered and passed out in his lap. See, Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) landed a gig as on-air talent at E!, and after celebrating a bit too hard, she wakes up the next morning to Ben’s hairy, pasty, bare ass poking out of her bedsheets. Ali groans to her sister (Leslie Mann) about making such a shameful mistake, while Ben darts home to brag to his stoner roommates as they slowly get their topless celebrity database off the ground.

Writer/director Judd Apatow doesn’t use Knocked Up as an excuse to toss in whatever dick jokes he’d been stockpiling for the past couple of years. He genuinely likes and respects these characters, and so much of what happens is drawn from his own experiences as a father-to-be that as hysterical as the movie often is, it also feels surprisingly real and sincere. Knocked Up treats pregnancy with quite a bit of gravity, and the way its characters fight — particularly between on-screen husband and wife Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann — can be unflinchingly cruel. Most filmmakers would water down the less glamorous side of love, romance, and parenthood or use them as a springboard for cheap, easy laughs, but Apatow is sharp enough to deftly balance the comedy with the drama.

The movie is perfectly cast. Katherine Heigl is a buxotic Amazon cut from the Russ Meyer cloth, sure, but she’s also sweet, somehow sympathetic no matter how much her character’s hormones may be raging, and sharp enough to hold her own with the rest of the cast. Seth Rogen joins a small army of Apatow regulars — name just about any project the prolific producer has shepherded over the past decade and chances are at least six people from it are in here somewhere — and it’s a breakout role for him. Ben is slovenly but kind of endearing at the same time, enough so that I could almost buy someone with Heigl’s good looks succumbing to his charms. His jaunt into adulthood feels natural and believable too, not just something in a montage penned by a screenwriter collecting a seven figure payday. There’s something about the fact that Ben’s roommates are played by actors who are all friends in real life that gives their loose, improvisational energy that much more spark.MV5BMTU3MTIzOTU3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTM3ODc2._V1_Knocked Up didn’t strike me as the sort of instant classic so many people heralded it as, but I did enjoy it, and I’m kind of left with the impression that the movie will grow on me more and more its viewed.