REVIEW: THE HANGOVER – PART III

CAST

Bradley Cooper (Ameircan Sniper_
Ed Helms (Cedar Rapids)
Zach Galifianakis (Up In The Air)
Justin Bartha (Gigli)
Jeffrey Tambor (Dr. Dolittle)
Ken Jeong (Couples Retreat)
John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Melissa McCarthy (Ghostbusters)
Heather Graham (Say It Isn’t So)
Mike Epps (Resident Evil: Extinction)
Sasha Barrese (Let Me In)
Gillian Vigman (Deck The Halls)
Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch)
Sondra Currie (Alien Nation: Dark Horizon)

Two years after the events in Bangkok, Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong) escapes from a maximum security prison, using a riot as cover. Meanwhile, in the United States, Alan Garner (Zach Galifianakis) causes a 20-car freeway pileup after he purchases a giraffe and accidentally decapitates it on a low overpass. Alan’s father Sid (Jeffrey Tambor), angry with Alan for his immature antics and never owning up to his mistakes, dies of a heart attack in the middle of a lecture. After the funeral, Alan’s brother-in-law Doug Billings (Justin Bartha) informs friends Phil Wenneck (Bradley Cooper) and Stu Price (Ed Helms) that Alan has been off his ADHD medication and is out of control. The group attends an intervention in which Alan agrees to visit a rehabilitation facility in Arizona where he can seek treatment, as long as “the Wolfpack” takes him there. On the way to Arizona, Phil’s minivan is rammed off the road by a rental truck and the group is taken hostage. They are later confronted by mob boss Marshall (John Goodman) and “Black Doug” (Mike Epps), his head enforcer.He tells them that a few weeks after their shenanigans Chow hijacked half of a $42 million gold heist and, seeing how Alan has been the only one to communicate with Chow during his imprisonment, deduced that the Wolfpack could locate him and retrieve the gold. Marshall kidnaps Doug and gives the others three days to find Chow, or else Doug will be killed. Alan sets up a meeting with Chow in Tijuana, Mexico, where Stu and Phil will hide and attempt to drug him. However, Alan seemingly, accidentally (but really on purpose) reveals their location and Chow forces them to confess that they are working for Marshall. Chow explains his plan to retrieve the stolen gold from the basement of a Mexican villa he previously owned. Stu, Alan and Phil break into the house and successfully retrieve the gold, but Chow double-crosses them by locking them in the basement, rearming the security system and escaping in Phil’s minivan. They are arrested but mysteriously released from the police station. They are picked up by a limousine and taken back to the villa, where they meet up with Marshall.They learn that Chow had lied to them; the villa was never his. In fact, it was Marshall’s own villa and the gold they stole was the other half Chow didn’t get from Marshall. Marshall forgives them for their mistake but kills “Black Doug” for his incompetence and reminds them of their now two-day deadline. The group tracks Phil’s phone, which was left in the minivan, outside a pawn shop in Las Vegas. The pawnshop owner, Cassie (Melissa McCarthy), tells them that Chow traded a gold brick for $18,000, far less than its usual sell rate of $400,000. Using Stu’s former lover Jade (Heather Graham) as their contact, they learn that Chow is barricaded in the penthouse suite of Caesars Palace. Phil and Alan sneak into his suite from the roof, but Chow escapes, jumping from the balcony and parachuting down to the strip. Stu catches up to Chow and locks him in the trunk of the limo that Marshall lent to them. They take the gold and meet with Marshall, who releases Doug back to the group. Although Marshall initially promised not to harm Chow, he shoots through the trunk of the car, presumably killing him. However, Alan had given Chow the means to escape from the trunk through a backseat compartment just moments earlier.Chow emerges from the limo and kills Marshall, allowing the Wolfpack to live because Alan saved his life. He offers Alan a bar of gold as a gift, but Alan turns him down and trolls Chow by pretending to end their friendship because of Chow’s unhealthy influence on the group (but pulls a fast one on Chow when he takes his hand back from a handshake) and Chow tells Alan he is “…cold as ice”. As Chow sadly watches them leave, they go to retrieve Phil’s minivan from the pawnshop and Alan makes a date with Cassie. Six months later, the two marry. Vowing to stop with his antics, Alan regretfully resigns from the Wolfpack but would still like for the gang to hang out on occasion. As the four walk to the ceremony, a montage of clips from the previous films play.In a mid-credits scene after the wedding, Alan, Cassie, Stu, and Phil appear to have staged another wild party that they cannot remember. Stu emerges from the bathroom wearing panties with breast implants and Alan remembers that the wedding cake was a gift from Chow; who emerges from the next room naked, laughing, holding a bottle of whiskey and wielding a katana. Crystal the capuchine monkey then jumps on Stu before the scene cuts to black.The jokes are a little hit & miss in some places, but they’re is some consistency with the laughs & situations they get into, from small subtle nuggets to in your face hilarity as Alan’s & Chow’s eccentric humor takes the front seat with Phil (Bradley Cooper) & Stu (Ed Helms) chipping in to good effect. The celebrity appearances by John Goodman & Melissa McCarthy add well to the film, Goodman’s larger than life menacing baddie heightens the threat element & McCarthy’s larger than life comedy injection rapport with Zach Galifianakis (Alan) is brilliant, although i may not eat a lolly again.

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REVIEW: THE HANGOVER – PART II

 

CAST

Bradley Cooper (Ameircan Sniper_
Ed Helms (Cedar Rapids)
Zach Galifianakis (Up In The Air)
Justin Bartha (Gigli)
Jeffrey Tambor (Dr. Dolittle)
Ken Jeong (Couples Retreat)
Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch)
Mason Lee (Super Express)
Bryan Callen (Ride Along)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Sasha Barrese (Let Me In)
Sondra Currie (Alien Nation: Dark Horizon)
Gillian Vigman (Deck The Halls)
Yasmin Lee (Red Ice)
Mike Tyson (Mike Tyson Mysteries)

Two years after the events of the first movie in Las Vegas, Stu Price, Phil Wenneck, Alan Garner and Doug Billings travel to Thailand to celebrate Stu’s upcoming wedding to Lauren. Much to Alan’s dismay, they are joined by Lauren’s younger brother, Teddy. At the rehearsal dinner, Lauren’s father’s reveals his disapproval of Stu during a toast. Later that night, Stu hesitantly joins Phil, Doug, Alan and Teddy for a beer. Sitting at a campfire and roasting marshmallows, the group toast to Stu and Lauren’s future happiness.The next morning, Phil, Stu and Alan, along with gangster Leslie Chow – whom Alan befriended after Las Vegas – and a chain-smoking capuchin monkey, awaken in a dirty hotel room in Bangkok. Stu has a face tattoo (a replica of Mike Tyson’s) and Alan’s head is completely shaved. They cannot find Teddy, and discover only his severed finger. Chow begins to relay the events of the prior night, but he seemingly dies after snorting a line of cocaine. Panicked, the trio dispose of Chow’s body in an ice box.Through a tip from Doug who is still at the resort (he left the campfire earlier than the others), they go to a police station to pick up Teddy but are given a wheelchair-bound elderly Buddhist monk, who knows more about what happened; however, he refuses to reveal anything, having taken a vow of silence. After finding a business card, they travel to the smoldering ruins of the business. They enter a nearby tattoo parlor where Stu got his tattoo, and they learn that they started a fight that escalated into a riot. The trio returns the monk to his Buddhist temple, where they are encouraged by the head monk to meditate. Alan is able to recall that they had been at the White Lion strip club, where they learn that Stu was sodomized by a kathoey prostitute named Kimmy. Upon exiting, the trio are attacked by two Russian mobsters who steal the monkey, and one shoots Phil in his arm.After Phil is treated at a clinic, Alan confesses that he had drugged some of the marshmallows from the previous night with muscle relaxers and ADHD medication in order to sedate Teddy but accidentally mixed up the bags. Phil and Stu become furious that Alan drugged them again. Stu blames Alan for ruining his life and attacks him. Phil breaks it up and tells them that they have to stick together. They notice something on Alan’s stomach: an address and a time for a meeting. They meet a gangster named Kingsley, who demands Chow’s bank account password by the next morning in exchange for Teddy. They return to the hotel to try to find Chow’s password, only to discover that he is still alive. They steal the monkey (who had the code given to him and put inside his jacket for safe-keeping by Chow) back from the Russian mobsters through a violent car chase, during which the monkey is shot and injured. After taking the code and leaving the monkey at a veterinary clinic, the group completes the deal with Kingsley. Suddenly, Interpol agents appear and arrest Chow. Kingsley turns out to be an undercover agent, who tells the trio that the police had used the information that Teddy had disappeared to arrest Chow and Kingsley actually does not know where Teddy is.Desperate and out of clues, Phil calls Doug’s wife Tracy to tell her they can’t find Teddy. Stu decides to call off the wedding and live in Bangkok and say that Teddy died. While Alan is playing a game of PAC-MAN the power goes out again. Stu suddenly realizes where Teddy is. The trio rushes back to the hotel to find Teddy who is in the elevator unharmed (albeit still missing a finger). Teddy had woken up in the middle of the night to get more ice for his severed finger (after the first bucket of ice had melted) but became trapped after the power went out. The four use Chow’s speedboat, the Perfect Life, the keys for which were in Teddy’s pocket, to travel back to the wedding reception.Arriving on land just as Lauren’s father is about to cancel the wedding, Stu makes a defiant speech where he rejects being boring and instead states that he is in fact quite wild. Impressed, Lauren’s father gives the couple his blessing. After they exchange their vows, Alan presents Stu with a special gift at the post-reception dance: a musical guest performance by Mike Tyson. Teddy later discovers that he had taken many pictures during the night on his cell phone. The group, along with Tyson, agree to look at the pictures together once (some of which reveal Teddy lost his finger playing the knife game) before erasing the evidence of their exploits once again.Since The Hangover Part II is basically a repeat of the first film, it ups the R-rated humor to get a leg up. The jokes are dirtier, and the nudity is less shocking than tedious. The Hangover Part II  is funny. At least some of it is, thanks to Cooper, Helms and Galifianakis, who have a damn good thing going.

REVIEW: GROWN UPS

CAST

Adam Sandler (Jack & Jill)
Salma Hayek (Dogma)
Kevin James (Paul Blart)
Chris Rock (Rush Hour)
David Spade (8 Simple Rules)
Rob Schneider (The Hot Chick)
Maria Bello (Secret Window)
Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids)
Colin Quinn (Trainwreck)
Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)
Tim Meadows (Son of Zorn)
Jamie Chung (Sucker Punch)
Norm MacDonald (Dr. Dolittle)

In 1978, five childhood friends win their junior high school basketball championship. During their celebration at a rented lake house, the friends’ coach, Robert “The Buzzer” Fernando (Blake Clark), encourages them to live their lives in a similar way to how they played the game.30 Years later in 2008, Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler) is an ambitious Hollywood talent agent who is married to fashion designer Roxanne Chase (Salma Hayek), and has three children—one daughter Becky (Alexys Nicole Sanchez) and two sons, Greg and Keith (Jake Goldberg and Cameron Boyce); his sons have become very spoiled much to his annoyance.Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James) claims he is now a co-owner of a lawn furniture company, is married to Sally (Maria Bello) and has two children, Donna and Bean (Ada-Nicole Sanger and Morgan Gingerich). Much to Eric’s chagrin, Sally continues to breastfeed Bean.Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock) is a stay-at-home father who is married to Deanne (Maya Rudolph), the primary breadwinner of the family, and has two children, Andre and Charlotte (Nadji Jeter and China Anne McClain). Deanne is pregnant with another child and her mother (Ebony Jo-Ann) also lives with the family. Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider) has been divorced three times and has daughters Jasmine, Amber, and Bridget (Madison Riley, Jamie Chung, and Ashley Loren) from those marriages. His current wife, Gloria (Joyce Van Patten), is 30 years older than him.Marcus Higgins (David Spade) is a slacker and lothario. All five friends regularly harass each other in comedic fashion throughout the film: Lenny for being rich; Eric for being overweight; Kurt for being skinny and not being more useful; Rob for his way of saying “Maize!” and for having a much older wife; and Marcus for being sexually juvenile.When the five friends soon find out that Buzzer has died, they all reunite for the first time in three decades and later return to their hometown with their families to pay tribute to Buzzer at his private funeral. Lenny rents the lake house for the 4th of July weekend for his friends to stay at. However, Lenny cannot stay for the whole weekend because Roxanne has a fashion show in Milan. While at the lake house, Lenny is annoyed in which their kids would rather play video games than spend time outdoors, so that he and the other friends are forcing their kids to play outside during their stay instead. At a local restaurant, Lenny talks to his old nemesis, Dickie Bailey (Colin Quinn), who is still upset at Lenny because he allegedly had his foot on the outside line, in which his shot should not have been counted. Dickie challenges him and his friends to a rematch, but Lenny declines after noting that Dickie is decidedly out of shape. The next day, the five friends spread Buzzer’s ashes into the woods. Rob becomes depressed during this event, lamenting his failed marriages, and later says his three daughters from the past marriages are coming. After having to deal with Jasmine, Rob goes and hangs out with his friends, who were fishing. After making some jokes on Rob, the others elect to cheer him up with a game of arrow roulette. Rob remains in the circle the longest, making him the winner, but the arrow hits directly through Rob’s foot. When Gloria tries to use a maize-covered poultice, Rob snaps at Gloria. Lenny gets the kids interested in talking on cup-phones and Roxanne accidentally tells Becky that she is the “Tooth Fairy”. Happy that they are enjoying the same kind of fun he had as a child, Lenny installs an extensive cup-phone network in the house.Roxanne ultimately figures out that it is more important to stay at the lake house than going to Milan. The five friends decide to go to a water park, where Bean learns to drink milk out of a carton and Marcus flirts constantly with Jasmine and Amber, having bought them skimpy bikinis. Rob kicks a ride attendant down a water slide when the latter insults Bridget for being less attractive than her sisters. Eric ignores Donna’s warning about a chemical in the kiddie pool that turns urine blue, and chaos results when he and his friends urinate in the pool. The spouses try to attract a muscleman, but he is laughed off due to his high-pitched Canadian accent. Later, Lenny and the group go to the zip line and meet Dickie again, this time with his own group of friends and former teammates, including Wiley (Steve Buscemi), who is hospitalized when he slams on a shopping kiosk instead of landing in the swimming pool after sliding down the zip line by his feet. Lenny teaches his son how to shoot a perfect shot during basketball. Afterwards, the friends end the night by sharing their dance with their spouses. The next day, Roxanne picks up Lenny’s phone and confronts him on lying about canceling their flight trip before she agreed on staying for the family instead of going to Milan. Eventually, everyone starts to tell the truth about their feelings and lives. On their final day at the lake house, Lenny and his buddies are challenged once again to a basketball rematch by Dickie. At the game-deciding shot, Lenny purposely misses in order to allow Dickie and his team to win. Before the end of the film, Marcus plays another game of arrow roulette, this time with an entire crowd of people, and everyone takes off with Wiley accidentally getting his foot impaled by the arrow.Pretty funny, a bit puerile in places, but generally an easy way to spend a rainy afternoon.

REVIEW: SUCKER PUNCH

 

CAST

Emily Browning (Sleeping Beauty)
Abbie Cornish (Limitless)
Jena Malone (Donnie Darko)
Vanessa Hudgens (Spring Breakers)
Jamie Chung (Once Upon A Time)
Carla Gugino (Watchmen)
Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens)
Jon Hamm (Mad men)
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Monique Ganderton (Smallville)
Peter Bryant (Dark Angel)
Patrick Sabongui (The Flash)
Chrstine Willes (Dead Like Me)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)

Like many men, when I saw the trailers appear for the film a number of things caught my eye immediately. First and foremost was the cast of hot scantily clad young women with cool sounding names like Baby Doll, Sweet Pea, Rocket, Amber, and Blondie. The next thing noticed was that it seemed to blend fantasy with a lot of ridiculously over the top action that involved zombie Nazis, fire-breathing dragons, robot samurai, and other entirely bizarre and irrational things that would surely only come out of the imagination of a weirdo who has a strong affection for anime, video games, and everything else considered genuinely bizarre: this was not the kind of thing I expected to see for a big-budget spectacle showpiece. The end result was that Sucker Punch ultimately looked to me like something that would only appeal to young men looking for thrills or pop-culture junkies. It seemed like it would have plenty of pretty images and little substance whatsoever. What could possibly be worthwhile about the film beyond some mere thrills.

Sucker Punch hero

Sucker Punch begins with what essentially adds up to being a music video stylized opening that aims to bring audiences into the start of the story. Prepare to see a lot of this throughout the entire experience. I actually embraced it because it’s in part the kind of thing I always felt Snyder should be doing: making music videos or commercials. By placing an emphasis on the music and striking imagery I felt allowed to have a visceral experience that actually grabbed on to me and wouldn’t let me go. We discover early on that the girl we would soon know as Baby Doll (Emily Browning) was being sent to a mental institution by her stepfather. It’s no fault of her own mental health – she witnesses the murder of her younger sister who I presumed was also raped beforehand. The stepfather doesn’t stop there as he tries to rape and murder them both, and when Baby Doll fights back he somehow arranges it so that they believe the murder of her sister was why she was being committed into the mental institution in the first place.

Upon entering the mental institution Baby Doll enters a fantasy-world she creates where the storyline of Sucker Punch allows her to enter a dream within another dream state of mind (and this really made me wonder if this had anything to do with why Christopher Nolan picked Snyder for the Superman reboot). She visualizes the mental intuition as actually being a dance hall – but the truth of the fantasy is that the director of the asylum, Blue (Oscar Isaac), is really trying to prostitute the girls out to clients in his role as the owner of the dance hall. The doctor of the mental institution, Dr. Vera Gorski (Carla Gugino), is now seen as the dance instructor and every time one of the characters ‘dances’ they are actually entering a deeper fantasy world where all of the crazy video-game/anime like qualities truly step in to play (such as the dragons and robots – oh my!). The dancing in the film is never visualized in the way most men probably want or expect – there isn’t a lot of ‘sexy moves’ on display in these moments and to my disappointment I have heard some complaints about this as a detractor. The dances in this movie are not ordinary dances at all but are in fact moments when Baby Doll enters her deeper fantasy state.

Baby Doll has met the other girls Rocket (Jena Malone), Amber (Jamie Chung), Sweet Pea (Abbie Cornish), and Blondie (Vanessa Hudgens). Eventually, the girls team up in each of these sequences. During the first ‘deep dream’ sequence Baby Doll encounters a seemingly wise old man (Scott Glenn) while alone. He informs her that in order to become free she must collect five items: a map, knife, fire, key, and another item that she must discover on her own. He also gives her a handgun and sword that can be used while inside her dream world. Over the course of the story, Baby Doll convinces the other girls that following this plan of action is the only way for them to escape. Some of the girls are on board with the idea while others (mainly Sweet Pea) seem against it.

Sucker Punch background
I realized at some point that there began to be a correlation between the first layer of the fantasy world and the second one. Actions taking place within the dream-world fantasy affected the other. Characters died unexpectedly and the result was their death and removal from both of the fantasy plot-lines taking place. Towards the end of the film the items gathered are used for the last surviving girls to escape and they are used in the film . In concluding the story, Baby Doll realizes that the fifth thing needed for her to escape was simply her, and then she helps one of the other girls to find freedom while she stays behind. Upon entering into the reality of the situation – in the mental hospital – we find that Baby Doll is about to have a lobotomy. Dr. Gorski enters the room and talks to the man performing the lobotomy (Jon Hamm). She questions why such a thing is happening, and soon realizes that a forgery was done of her signature for someone to make the lobotomy occur. Yet it was already far too late as the operation had just been completed.

Baby Doll is led away by some guards to a room where Blue awaits her. He tells her that he can now do anything with her that he wants to do. The guards seem reluctant; saying something about being sick of letting him do what he wants to these girls. Dr. Gorski breaks into the room and stops whatever was about to happen. In a scene that appears as an epilogue thereafter, we see the lone girl who escaped get onto a bus with the same old man from Baby Dolls dream world as the driver.

The audience just got sucker punched. The conversation held between Dr. Gorski and the man performing the lobotomy revealed that Baby Doll had actually done some of the things the audience witnessed in the fantasy world she created. In other words, the film blends reality and fantasy in a way that makes it hard to state what moments were real and what moments weren’t. Some will call this a cop out. I actually disagree for once. It had my own imagination going rather wild.