REVIEW: THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU

CAST

Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses)
Tina Fey (30 Rock)
Jane Fonda (Monster-In-Law)
Adam Driver (Star Wars: The Last Jedi)
Rose Byrne (Spy)
Corey Stoll (Ant-Man)
Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms)
Connie Britton (American Ultra)
Timothy Olyphant (Santa Clarita diet)
Dax Shepard (Chips)
Debra Monk (The Savages)
Abigail Spencer (The Forger)
Ben Schwartz (The Other Guys)

Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, and Adam Driver in This Is Where I Leave You (2014)Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) finds out his wife Quinn (Abigail Spencer) has been having an affair with his boss Wade (Dax Shepard) for a year. After he moves out, Judd’s sister Wendy (Tina Fey) calls to tell him their father Mort has died. The Altmans gather for the funeral at their mother’s home where they reconnect with family friends Horry Callen (Timothy Olyphant), and his mother Linda (Debra Monk). Wendy is unhappy because her husband Barry (Aaron Lazar) is too busy with work. Judd reunites with his older brother Paul (Corey Stoll) and Paul’s wife Annie (Kathryn Hahn), who had once been Judd’s girlfriend. The youngest brother, Phillip (Adam Driver), arrives late with older, therapist girlfriend Tracy (Connie Britton) and interrupts the funeral.Jane Fonda and Tina Fey in This Is Where I Leave You (2014)The Altmans’ mother, Hilary (Jane Fonda) tells her children their father wanted them to sit shiva (despite the fact that Mort was an atheist), presided over by the Altmans’ childhood friend, rabbi Charles “Boner” Grodner (Ben Schwartz). Wendy knows about Judd’s discovery of Quinn’s infidelity, about which he avoids telling everyone else. Judd also reunites with Penny Moore (Rose Byrne), a girl who had a crush on him in high school. During a family gathering, Wendy drunkenly badgers Judd to tell the truth about Quinn. Phillip laments being seen as the family screw-up, while also flirting with another girl while Tracy watches. Irritated, Judd blurts out that Quinn was cheating on him and he plans to divorce her. Quinn shows up the next day and reveals she’s pregnant with Judd’s child. It could not be Wade’s child as he is sterile. Phillip finds out about the pregnancy and reveals this to the family.Jason Bateman and Rose Byrne in This Is Where I Leave You (2014)The family goes to temple for a service where the brothers sneak out to smoke joints Judd found in his father’s suit. Annie, upset that she and Paul haven’t conceived, crawls into bed with Judd in hopes that he could get her pregnant, but he rejects her. Wendy visits Horry in his backyard, and expresses her remorse over being involved the accident that caused Horry’s brain injury and then leaving him. A few days later, when her husband leaves for a conference, an upset Wendy sleeps with Horry. Being caught walking home in the morning by Judd, she tearfully confesses she will never love Barry the way she loved Horry. Judd spends the night with Penny, and then spends the day with her. But then Quinn calls him out of fear that she is having a miscarriage, and he admits to Penny that Quinn is pregnant. Judd gets to the hospital to be with Quinn, only for Wade to show up. The baby is fine and is determined to be a girl. Upon being asked to leave by the OB, Judd and Wade get into a fight in the waiting room. When Philip and Wendy arrive, Wendy punches Wade in the face. Upon leaving, Wade tells Judd he’s not ready to be a step-dad and leaves Quinn.Jane Fonda, Connie Britton, Tina Fey, Kathryn Hahn, and Adam Driver in This Is Where I Leave You (2014)The next day, Annie apologizes to Judd, tearfully confessing that she only wants a baby so badly and is so frustrated by her lack of progress with Paul. Judd replies that she should focus and remember the things she does have with Paul, the love they share and not let the need for a baby ruin her marriage. Paul walks in as Judd hugs her and assumes they were kissing. Paul chases and attacks Judd as Tracy leaves Phillip for being unfaithful, resulting in the three brothers fighting. Hillary silences everyone by kissing Linda passionately in front of all the spectators and informs everyone that she and Linda are in love, something Mort was happy with. She admits the Shiva was her idea, in order to come out to all her children at once and get them all to reconnect. The four siblings are shocked at first, but see their mother is happy and accept it.Jane Fonda, Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Corey Stoll in This Is Where I Leave You (2014)One night, when the power goes out in the basement (where Judd is staying), Judd attempts to fix the problem in the power box, only to be given an electrical shock that knocks him out. He dreams of a memory with his father, where Judd had fallen down from his bike as a child, and his father comforted him and pressed his forehead to his, a characteristic sign of affection Mort used for his children. Judd wakes up crying, finally fully mourning for his father. Judd meets Penny at the skating center, apologizing for not being honest. Wendy leaves with her two kids, waving to Horry from the car, tearing up as she lets him go again. The brothers make amends, and Paul offers Phillip a job at their father’s sporting goods store. Judd decides to quietly slip out, and after loading his luggage in his car, steals Phillip’s Porsche 997. The final shot is of Judd driving on the highway to Maine, a place he has always wanted to go.Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Corey Stoll, and Adam Driver in This Is Where I Leave You (2014)This film was actually funny, but not in a slap-sticky juvenile way. It was a comedy for grown ups in that it dealt with themes that are applicable to 30 and 40-somethings, such as death of a parent, fertility, running a business, divorce, etc., but it was not a heavy film in that it was not a dark comedy. The father who died as the premise for it was never presented to the audience, which keeps his passing from being a sad event and allows for the levity at his funeral to be appreciated. The film generally seems to focus the most of Bateman’s character and his relationships with others, but he carries that role well. In fact, I thought this performance was one of his finest in quite some time. Tina Fey was great in it too. I thought she was just a comedian, but she can act too!. Overall, this film is worth seeing and is a powerful yet lighthearted journey in the interplay between siblings and the event that all 30 & 40 somethings will face at some point: the loss of a parent. If this film doesn’t get you thinking about your relationship with your family members, then nothing will. Not to worry, the family in this film has enough dysfunction to make you feel better about your own.

REVIEW: ZATHURA

CAST

Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games)
Jonah Bobo (Around The Bend)
Kristen Stewart (Twilight)
Tim Robbins (Antitrust)
Dax Shepard (Hit and Run)
Frank Oz (The Muppet Show)
Derek Mears (The Flash)
Douglas Tait (Star Trek)

Dax Shepard and Josh Hutcherson in Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)Walter and his younger brother Danny do not get along with each other or their older sister, Lisa. While their divorced father is away at work and Lisa, whom he left in charge, is napping, Danny discovers an old space-themed board game called “Zathura” in the basement. He convinces Walter to play the game with him, the goal of which is to become the first player to reach the final space on the board. Each turn, a player turns a key and presses a button, causing the board to move the player’s piece a random number of spaces and spit out an event card. When Danny’s first turn causes a meteor shower inside the living room, Walter and Danny realize playing the game has altered reality.Kristen Stewart, Josh Hutcherson, and Jonah Bobo in Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)The boys discover their father’s house is floating in space. Lisa, unaware of the situation, wakes up and begins preparing for her date that evening, but is frozen stiff when another card turns the bathroom into a cryonic chamber. Walter concludes the only way to end the game and return everything to normal is to win the game. As they continue to play, Walter and Danny must overcome the dangers presented by the game cards, including the appearance of a defective robot and an attack on the house by a race of reptilian aliens called Zorgons. Another of Danny’s turns produces an astronaut, who methodically eliminates the house’s heat sources and lures the Zorgons’ ship away by ejecting the boys’ father’s couch after setting it on fire.Josh Hutcherson and Jonah Bobo in Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)Walter asks the astronaut to leave, but Danny chooses to let him stay. Growing increasingly agitated, Walter accuses Danny of cheating by moving his piece prematurely; when Walter tries to move the piece back and takes his next turn, the game accuses Walter of cheating and ejects him from the house into the vacuum of space, but the astronaut retrieves him. On Walter’s next turn, he receives a card that allows him to make a wish. The astronaut warns Walter not to make a wish out of anger. Fearing the worst, he is relieved to discover that Walter wished merely for an autographed football. He explains that he and his brother had played the game fifteen years before, and he wished his brother away, causing him to be stuck in the game without a second player.Dax Shepard, Josh Hutcherson, and Jonah Bobo in Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005)Lisa awakens from her stasis, and still oblivious to the situation, turns up the heat. This causes the Zorgons to return and anchor their ships to the house. Lisa finally discovers their predicament, and the four hide upstairs, but realize they left the game behind. The astronaut uses the house’s dumbwaiter to lower Danny to retrieve the game. Danny finds the game aboard one of the Zorgon ships, but is seen by the Zorgons. Walter uses a “Reprogram” card he drew earlier to fix the malfunctioning robot, who attacks the Zorgons instead, and the aliens retreat. Walter receives another wish card; he uses it to bring back the astronaut’s brother, causing a doppelgänger of Danny to appear. The astronaut reveals he is actually Walter, and commends his younger self for making a better choice than he did 15 years ago of his timeline, and the astronaut and the alternate Danny disappear.Astronaut_(Zathura)The Zorgons return to the house with a large fleet, intent on destroying it. Danny makes a final move, landing on Zathura, and wins, creating a black hole that sucks up the Zorgon fleet and the house. The siblings awaken in the house as it was before the brothers started the game, just as their father arrives home. Their bond renewed, and after they leave with their mother, Danny’s bicycle, which had been orbiting their house, falls from the sky.zathura-2005-lizard-zorgon-danny-walter-jonah-bobo-josh-hutchersonZathura is first class entertainment. An under-appreciated gem with lots to enjoy, and a fine example of how one film with an identical plot line can be adapted into something quite different.

 

REVIEW: THE RANCH – SEASON 4

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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)
Casey Sander (The Big bang Theory)
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: EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH

CAST

Dane Cook (Good Luck Chuck)
Jessica Simpson (The Dukes of Hazzard)
Dax Shepard (Zathura)
Tim Bagley (The Mask)
Andy Dick (2 Broke Girls)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Harland Williams (Wag The Dog)
Efren Ramirez (Gamer)
Danny Woodburn (Bones)
Sean Whalen (Superstore)

For years, Zack Bradley (Dane Cook) has been working at the local “Super Club” as a box-boy. He lives with his grandmother and spends his free time with co-workers Lon Neilson (Andy Dick), Iqbal Raji (Brian George), and Russell Porpis-Gunders (Harland Williams). Despite his “slacker” like ways he is kind-hearted, popular and supportive. His coworker Vince Downey (Dax Shepard) earns the Employee of the Month title for the 17th time in a row. Vince is egotistical and rude towards his co-workers, mainly his box boy Jorge Mecico (Efren Ramirez), who he berates constantly. His co-workers dislike him, but he is oblivious to this. When new cashier Amy Renfro (Jessica Simpson) is hired, Zack and Vince fall for her and compete for her affection. Zack is told that Amy slept with the “Employee of the Month” at her last job, so he decides to win the title. Amy has dinner with Vince, but is repulsed when he puts the move on her. Vince doesn’t realize how Amy feels, thinking they had a good kiss and continues pursuing her. Zack steps up his act and becomes a harder worker, giving Vince competition for the title. He also goes on a date with Amy, which takes place entirely in Super Club.Within a few days, with Vince still winning the daily star, Zack realizes that getting “Employee of the Month” is not as easy as he thought. With Iqbal’s encouragement, Zack finds his groove and to Vince’s horror, wins the star the next day. A war of attrition begins, as Vince tries everything he can think of to derail Zack’s string of stars, even breaking into his house to reset the clocks and cause him to be late. Zack barely arrives on time and Vince’s attempt to sabotage him is unsuccessful. Zack takes Iqbal’s shift on the day of a championship slow-pitch game against rival chain Maxi-Mart. However, he leaves to play in the game and Iqbal is fired. Frustrated at Zack’s new attitude, his friends tell him he is turning into Vince and feel his attempt at getting the title is a result of trying to have sex with Amy. Amy overhears the conversation and is disgusted at Zack for his true intentions. Amy tells Zack her last boyfriend, who was Employee of the Month, was conniving, conceited and impolite which was why she requested a transfer because she could not stand being with him.157_4At month’s end, Zack and Vince are tied. On the day of the tie-breaking competition, Zack quits, gets Iqbal his job back and tells him he took responsibility for what happened, making a heartfelt apology to Lon, Iqbal, and Russell. Zack tells them he plans to win the competition, not for recognition or to make an impression, but for pride. When the store manager is about to announce Zack’s resignation, Zack, Lon, Iqbal, and Russell show up claiming Zack never filed the resignation papers. It is revealed Russell bribed the human resources manager with a broken Butterfinger. Zack tries to reconcile with Amy, giving a heart-felt apology and telling her that no matter what, he is a better man because of her. Despite Vince’s protests, the competition, for the fastest checkout, is held. The Employee of the Month Award will be granted to the person who finishes the task first.Employee-of-the-Month-dax-shepard-31245685-2249-1500Vince beats Zack by seconds, but during the award ceremony, Semi (Marcello Thedford), the security guard, brings a surveillance video of the competition that shows Vince throwing items behind his back and onto the belt without scanning them. Vince denies the allegations of under-ringing. The store’s assistant manager, who had just completed an audit of the tills used in the competition, proved the surveillance video was right about Vince giving customers free things and has been doing this for 18 months, costing the store thousands of dollars. When security tape footage is shown and his register receipt totals proved he cost the store money, Vince is fired and required to wear a police tracking device in lieu of jail time. Zack ends up winning the competition having the second most points and Amy’s love. Six weeks after Vince is terminated from Super Club, he is on probation and working at Maxi-Mart, a rival store. Jorge finally learns to assert himself and treats Vince the same as he was treated by Vince. He is still willing to give Vince a ride to the bus stop, knowing that this would put Vince outside the range of his probation leg-tracker.290449-16583-clp-950Great movie, good laughs! I’d watch it again. There are some little twists to some parts of the movies and the end is alright, could be better though. Over all a very funny movie.

REVIEW: WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER: 10 YEARS LATER

CAST

Elizabeth Banks (Power Rangers)
H. Jon Benjamin (22 Jump Street)
Michael Ian Black (Wedding Daze)
Janeane Garofalo (Dogma)
Joe Lo Truglio (Superbad)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Christopher Meloni (Man of Steel)
A. D. Miles (Role Models)
Marguerite Moreau (Easy)
David Hyde Pierce (Hellboy)
Amy Poehler (Free Birds)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Marisa Ryan (Cold Hearts)
Molly Shannon (Bad Teacher)
Michael Showalter (The Ten)
Adam Scott (Krmapus)
Rob Huebel (Baywatch)
Zak Orth (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Samm Levine (Inglourious Basterds)
David Wain (Wanderlust)
Lake Bell (No Strings Attached)
Paul Scheer (Piranha)
Josh Charles (The Ex)
Kristen Wiig (Ghostbusters)
Rich Sommer (Grilfriend’s Day)
Eric Nenninger (Jeepers Creepers II)
John Early (Bad Neighbors 2)
Chris Pine (star Trek)
Jason Schwartzman (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Mark Feuerstein (Once and Again)
Sarah Burns (Married)
Alyssa Milano (Charmed)
Melanie Lynskey (Two and a Half Men)
Jai Courtney (Divergent)
Skyler Gisondo (Santa Clarita Diet)
Joey Bragg (Fred 3)
Anne-Marie Johnson (Suicide Dolls)
Chris Redd (Empire)
Joshua Malina (The Big Bang Theory)
Maya Erskine (Betas)
Marlo Thomas (LOL)
Dax Shepard (Hit and Run)

wet-hot-american-summer-ten-years-later-paul-rudd-marguerite-moreau“Andy, you are 26 years old. What is wrong with you! When are you going to grow up? We can’t be teenagers forever.” That above quote is said to Paul Rudd’s Andy Fleckner as a simple gag. It pokes fun at the actual age of the actors that are playing these characters, but therein also lies the central “flaw” of Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later. As fun as all of these camp shenanigans may be, these people can’t just continue doing this forever. However, this is at least something that the series is well aware of and embraces wholeheartedly. It’s bonkers that Ten Years Later even happened at all. One prequel season was a surprising gift in itself. This is the extra marshmallow in the s’more. If last season was the unexpected reunion tour, then this is the sloppy, drunken after party that follows. Sure, it’s less polished, but it’s all dessert anyway.wet-hot-american-summer-ten-years-later-episode-4-lunch-knife-renata-alyssa-milano-michael-ian-black-review-guide-listMuch like First Day of Camp, this season takes this eclectic group of campers and puts them back into Camp Firewood, only now it’s ten years later as opposed to the beginning of their adventure. First Day of Camp does some glorious dot connecting to David Wain’s 2001 cult classic film, while also pulling off deep inside baseball jokes, like the introduction of Jim Stansel or seeing the birth of the anthem, “Higher and Higher.” Obviously with this new season taking place after everything, there’s little to few dots that need to be connected now, which as a result does lead to the trivial feeling that’s sometimes present through this season. Make no mistake, this is all undeniably a great time, but there’s not the same sort of satisfaction to be derived from the material this time around.ajh6scyuze0gpcrgcjueWhile the last installment was about building connections, this one is very much about breaking them to pieces and starting anew, which is only fitting considering this season revolves around Camp Firewood being literally torn down. The fun is in seeing the radical places that everyone has ended up rather than marveling at their clever origin stories. In that sense, the first episode spends the majority of its time simply introducing everyone and catching up the audience.untitledIn an eight-episode season this might feel like a bit of a waste, but with dozens of characters, what are they supposed to do here? The only real answer it to have a longer season, but with First Day of Camp also being a mere eight episodes, that seems to be the pattern that these guys are following. The season certainly could have used a few more episodes this time though. Similarly, this season—more than last season—really feels like it should be watched in one sitting like a long movie. Doing so would even help some of the material flow a little better, too. None of the many storylines feel rushed and everything is given enough time to breathe. It’s a real delicate balancing act that never shows its hand. The characters deal with the insecurity over who they’ve turned into through the years, however everyone is going through this same problem. At their core, they’re still those ridiculous teenagers from summer camp, and so are these actors, no matter how old they are. That’s sort of the point here.wethotmamericansummer-10yearslater-adamscottTen Years Later also gleefully wallows in glorious ‘90s jokes to make sure that the audience never forgets exactly when this season is taking place. It’s also probably the only place you’re going to hear Laura San Giacomo get brought up any time soon. First Day of Camp had this same sort of fun with the ‘80s, but this season is much more meta than the material’s ever been before. There’s also supernatural weirdness afoot too because of course there is. Elements like hidden nuclear fallout shelters entering the mix are so crazy, yet oddly fitting. This universe slowly stretching its boundaries has allowed for insane developments to seem plausible.1498150156458Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later might spend a little too much time roasting on the campfire, but it’s still an immensely enjoyable endeavor that showcases a bunch of exemplary comedians who have now been laughing together for decades.

REVIEW: WITHOUT A PADDLE

CAST

Seth Green (Family Guy)
Matthew Lillard (Scream)
Dax Shepard (Zathura)
Antony Starr (Banshee)
Danielle Cormack (Xena: Warrior Princess)
Burt Reynolds (Driven)
Liddy Holloway (Hercules: TLJ)
Bruce Phillips (Power Rangers RPM)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Abraham Benrubi (Buffy: TVS)
Rachel Blanchard (Snakes on a Plane)
Christina Moore (Delta Farce)
Susan Brady (Blood Crime)
Morgan Reese Fairhead (Young Hercules)

Twelve years after graduating from high school, three friends, Jerry, Dan, and Tom, find out that their childhood friend Billy has died in a parasailing accident. After the funeral, they revisit the group’s old tree-house and find a map leading to D. B. Cooper’s lost treasure, which Billy had apparently been working on for his entire life. Dan takes a break from his job as a doctor and joins Jerry and Tom on a camping trip to find the treasure. They take a canoe down the river and eventually stop on the riverside for the night. They discover that they forgot to bring food, so Tom goes out to catch some fish. However, the activity attracts a grizzly bear to their position, and the bear chases the group into a tree. In the morning, the group find all of their gear has been ripped up and completely destroyed by the bear.

The trio takes off into the river but are unable to read the map, causing them to go the wrong way. They fall off of a waterfall, and while they survive, their canoe is destroyed. They venture into the woods with a compass and find themselves at a pot farm where two farmers, Dennis and Elwood, mistake them for thieves and start shooting at them. They escape, burning the pot garden down in the process. This enrages the farmers, who decide to hunt them down and kill them. Later, far into the forest the trio meets two hippie girls, Flower and Butterfly, who treat them in their tree. Using a radio the farmers find them, but the hippie girls drop paper bags full of feces at the farmers to distract them while the trio escapes. They are caught by a mountain man who takes them to his hut and provides them with clothes. The man later reveals himself to be Del Knox, Cooper’s partner before his death.

The next morning, the farmers find them and assault the house. The trio escapes while Del shoots at the two farmers with his revolver. The trio stumbles upon the site of Cooper’s crash-landing where they discover Cooper’s corpse and the suitcase that he used to hold the ransom money, and they realize that Cooper burned the money in an attempt to survive. As Dan crawls through a small tunnel to find a way out, the farmers find Jerry and Tom, and a fistfight ensues. Eventually, Sheriff Briggs, who had earlier helped the trio, intervenes, but he then reveals himself to be the farmers’ employer. Jerry arms a grenade taken from Dennis and throws it towards the pot dealers. It explodes, causing a tree to fall on the farmers and the sheriff, who are soon arrested.

In the closing scenes, Jerry, Dan, and Tom split half of the remaining money with Del. Jerry proposes to his girlfriend, Dan starts a relationship with Flower, and Tom becomes a camp counselor for a children’s summer camp where he ends up telling his troop all about the trip.

The odd laugh will definitely turn up, but there are many better comedies around, so unless you’re simply up for an evening of mostly forgettable fun, you might want to leave Without a Paddle wallowing in the shallows.

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: CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN

CAST

Steve Martin (Novocaine)
Bonnie Hunt (Jumanji)
Piper Perabo (Coyote Ugly)
Tom Welling (Smallville)
Hilary Duff (Agent Cody Banks)
Kevin Schmidt (The Butterfly Effect)
Alyson Stoner (Step Up)
Jacob Smith (Troy)
Forrest Landis (Flightplan)
Liliana Mumy (That 70s Show)
Morgan York (The Pacifier)
Steven Anthony Lawrence (The Muse)
Paula Marshall (Veronica Mars)
Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men)
Jared Padalecki (Supernatural)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
Dax Shepard (Hit & Run)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Holmes Osbourne (Donnie Darko)
Alan Ruck (Speed)
Vanessa Bell Calloway (Coming To America)
Rex Linn (Rush Hour)
Tiffany Dupont (9-1-1)
Ted Rooney (Gone)
Regis Philbin (Little Nicky)
Kelly Ripa (All My Children)

Tom Baker (Martin) is a football coach at a small rural college in Midland, Indiana, where he raised twelve children, and his wife, Kate (Hunt), has written about her life story in a book and hopes to send it to her friend to publish it. At the film’s beginning, Tom unexpectedly receives an offer from his old friend and football teammate, Shake McGuire (Richard Jenkins), to coach at his alma mater in Evanston, Illinois. Tom accepts the offer, and he and Kate begin making their plans on moving to Evanston. All twelve Baker children find out and demand the move be put to a vote, although Tom says it would not have any power. Tom loses the vote, even after he and Kate join, but goes ahead with the move anyway, claiming there will be more money and that they will be a “happier and stronger family”. However, the atmosphere at the Bakers’ new house is tense, and the situation at school for the children is even worse, although their new neighbors: the Shenks seem alright, especially the father, Bill and their first and only son, Dylan.

When her book is ready for publication, Kate is told that she must do a national book tour to promote it in New York for three days. Tom thinks that he will handle everything around the Bakers’ house while Kate is away, so he decides to hire his older child, Nora, and her boyfriend, Hank, to manage the children. When Nora arrives at her family’s house to manage them, the children plan to make Hank the target of their prank by soaking his underwear in meat and assisting their pet dog, Gunner, to attack him by chewing on his butt, prompting him to refuse to assist in baby-sitting since they know that he hates kids. As a result, Nora is angry at the children and later drives off with Hank, while Tom berates the children for their prank and cuts off their allowance within a month.

Shortly after Kate departs for her national book tour, Tom realizes that he cannot handle the children on his own after a chaotic night since Kate is told to stay for two more weeks. In reply to this revelation, Tom tries to hire a housekeeper, but nobody is willing to work with a family as large as his, so Tom decides to bring the football players from work into his house for game practicing in the living room to prepare for the Saturday night football game as the children perform chores and their household games. However, the children start causing trouble at school, in which Kyle and Nigel hurt their kindergarten teacher, Charlie and Lorraine continue suffering insults from teenage bullies without any violence involved, and the others stand-up against a group of bullies by fighting them for picking one of their own brothers, Mark and are both suspended from school for the fight after Mark and the others along with the bullies were sent to the principal’s office. Because of these incidents, Tom grounds the Baker children from any fun and games and forbids them all from going to Dylan’s birthday party, although they already have presents for him.Without Tom noticing them, the children sneak out of the house to give Dylan his presents and cause havoc at the party. While discussing the plays, Tom overhears party-goers screaming from Dylan’s house as one of the gifts turns out to be a Brazilian mud viper snake from Mark. Tom sends his players to retrieve his kids while he tries to retrieve his daughter, Sarah, but during a mess, he fails and the bounce house explodes. In all of the commotion, Dylan gets injured by Tom and is later sent to the hospital with a broken arm as his mother, Tina, coldly forbids the Baker kids from ever playing with Dylan ever again. Tom is forced to cancel the game after Shake advises him not to bring the players in his house or the children in the department again.

Kate overhears from the children about the chaos and cancels the book tour to take charge of the situation. Kate’s publisher decides to create an additional promotion for her book by inviting Oprah Winfrey to tape a segment about the Bakers in their home instead. However, Tom finds a letter in his mailbox revealing that Charlie got kicked off the football team as he berates Tom and storms out of the house to rejoin his girlfriend, Beth, back at Midland. Tom is even more shocked to discover Hank having returned and slept over with Nora at home. Despite much coaching from Kate, the Bakers are not able to demonstrate the loving, strongly bonded family that Kate described in her book. When Mark becomes upset that his pet frog, Beans, has died, which Sarah tells him that nobody cares and calls him Fedex once again, a heated fight erupts moments before the segment starts, leading the cameramen to tell Winfrey to cancel it. Afterwards, Mark runs away from home, prompting the Bakers to find him.Tom suspects that Mark is trying to run back to the Bakers’ old home, and eventually finds Mark on a train en route from Chicago to Midland. Reuniting with the rest of their family, the Bakers begin to address their issues with each other. After burying Beans in the garden and performing a kind of eulogy with the whole family there, Tom ultimately resigns from his position at his alma mater and settles for a less-time consuming job. The film ends at a Christmas dinner with the Bakers when the chandelier lamp breaks off and smashes.Directed by Shawn Levy (‘Just Married’ and ‘Big Fat Liar’), the film is not a bad one. It’s not a brilliant one either, but is warmly written, well-acted and contains many physical gags that children in particular will love. Ashton Kutcher is hilarious in the film as the self-obsessed boyfriend who claims he is hounded by the paparazzi for the single TV commercial he has starred in. All in all, it’s well worth a look

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.

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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.