REVIEW: THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS

Starring

Louis C.K. (Trumbo)
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Kevin Hart (Get Hard)
Jenny Slate (The Lego Batman Movie)
Ellie Kemper (Set Tape)
Lake Bell (Man Up)
Dana Carvey (Wayne’s World)
Hannibal Buress (Bad Neighbours)
Bobby Moynihan (Sisters)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Steve Coogan (Alan Partiridge)
Albert Brooks (The Simpsons)
Jim Cummings (Christopher Robin)
John Kassir (Tales From The Crypt)
Jason Marsden (Young Justice)
Jim Ward (Batman Vs Two-Face)

Louis C.K., Lake Bell, and Bobby Moynihan in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)A spoiled Jack Russell Terrier named Max lives with his owner Katie in a Manhattan apartment. While she is at work during the day, he hangs out with other pets in the building: tabby cat Chloe, pug Mel, dachshund Buddy, and budgerigar Sweet Pea. One day, Katie adopts Duke, a large Newfoundland mix from the pound, leaving Max jealous because of her divided focus on Duke. Enraged by Max’s attitude towards him, Duke tries to abandon Max in an alley, but they are both attacked by cats led by Sphynx cat Ozone who removes both dogs’ collars and leaves them to be caught by Animal Control. Duke fears that he will be killed if he goes back to the pound. When Gidget, a white Pomeranian who is not so secretly in love with Max, discovers that he is missing, she decides to find him.Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)Max and Duke are rescued by a white rabbit named Snowball, the leader of “The Flushed Pets”—a gang of feral sewer-dwelling animals who hate humans because their owners mistreated and abandoned them. After Max and Duke pretend to despise humans as much as they do by saying they killed their owners, the Flushed Pets invite them to join. Before they can prove their loyalty by allowing a one-fanged viper to bite them, Snowball learns from the cats that Max and Duke are tamed. The two dogs escape the sewers and board a ferry to Brooklyn, inadvertently killing the viper in the process. Snowball vows to kill them and leads the Flushed Pets after them.Louis C.K. and Jenny Slate in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)Meanwhile, Gidget recruits a red-tailed hawk named Tiberius to find Max, but he mistakenly locates Ozone, whom Gidget coerces into telling what he knows about the dogs. They then enlist Mel, Buddy, Chloe, guinea pig Norman and Sweet Pea. On the way, they meet Pops, an old Basset Hound who helps Gidget and the pets find Max. Gidget and her team encounter Snowball, who vows to kill them as well, and Norman is captured as the rest of Gidget’s team flees.Louis C.K. in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)In the meantime, Max and Duke raid a sausage factory for food. While there, Duke tells Max about his previous owner, Fred, an elderly man who adopted him as a puppy and loved spending time with him. One day, Duke got lost while chasing a butterfly and was caught by Animal Control, but Fred never came to claim him. Max convinces him to visit Fred’s house in a nearby neighborhood, confident Fred will still love him and take him back. When they arrive at Fred’s house, they learn from the resident cat Reginald that Fred has died. Heartbroken, Duke accuses Max of attempting to get rid of him and barks at the new homeowners who have just returned to the house and called Animal Control. The handlers catch Max, but Duke interferes long enough for Max to escape and ends up being captured instead.Albert Brooks, Tara Strong, Chris Renaud, Lake Bell, Bobby Moynihan, Jenny Slate, and Hannibal Buress in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)While trying to rescue Duke as he follows the Animal Control van, Max is attacked by Snowball who tries to kill him. However, when his gang is captured, Snowball realizes that he and Max must work together to rescue them. They drive a city bus into the van on the Brooklyn Bridge, stopping traffic. The Flushed Pets encircle Max, unaware of his partnership with Snowball, but Gidget and her team save him. Upon seeing Gidget using her kung-fu fighting skills, Max starts to fall in love with her. The van gets stuck in scaffolding and the Flushed Pets escape. As soon as Max gets the keys to Duke’s cage, the van plummets into the East River with him inside. Max is unable to free Duke, so Snowball jumps into the river to retrieve the keys, allowing them to escape the sinking van.Louis C.K. and Lake Bell in The Secret Life of Pets (2016)The entire group returns to the apartment block by pig-driven taxi. Max expresses his love for Gidget, who returns his affection. Snowball and the Flushed Pets then come up with a new plan to annihilate all humans, but a little girl named Molly arrives and adopts Snowball and the remaining Flushed Pets return to the sewers. At first, Snowball resists, but gives in and lets himself become a domesticated pet. The other pets return to their homes and embrace their owners, and Max and Duke finally reunite with Katie, sparking a true friendship as brothers. In a post-credits scene, Buddy and Mel show up in costume at a party in poodle Leonard’s apartment, hosted by a now-friendlier Snowball.This is clearly aimed at kids but has plenty of humor that adults will enjoy. I’m in my 50s and laughed long and loud at some of the antics. The script is good and moves quickly. I was never bored.

REVIEW: AMERICAN HUSTLE

AMERICAN HUSTLE
CAST
Christian Bale (The Dark Knight)
Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games)
Bradley Cooper (Limitless)
Amy Adams (Man of Steel)
Jeremy Renner (The Bourne Legacy)
Louis C.K. (Blue Jasmine)
Michael Pena (The Martian)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Alessandro Nivola (Jurassic Park 3)
Elisabeth Rohm (Heroes)
Said Taghmaoui (Lost)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Jack Huston (Outlander)
Anthony Zerbe (The Matrix Reloaded)
In 1978, con artists Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) have started a relationship and are working together. Sydney has improved Rosenfeld’s scams, posing as English aristocrat “Lady Edith Greensly”. Irving loves Sydney, though is hesitant to leave his unstable and histrionic[8] wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), fearing he will lose contact with her son Danny, whom Irving has adopted. Rosalyn has also threatened to report Irving to the police if he leaves her.
FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) catches Irving and Sydney in a loan scam, but offers to release them if Irving can line up four additional arrests. Sydney opposes the agreement. Richie believes Sydney is English but has proof that her claim of aristocracy is fraudulent. Sydney tells Irving she will manipulate Richie, distancing herself from Irving.
Irving has a friend pretending to be a wealthy Arab sheikh looking for potential investments in America. An associate of Irving’s suggests the sheikh do business with Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner) of Camden, New Jersey, who is campaigning to revitalize gambling in Atlantic City, New Jersey, but has struggled in fundraising. Carmine seems to have a genuine desire to help the area’s economy and his constituents.
Richie devises a plan to make mayor Polito the target of a sting operation, despite the objections of Irving and of Richie’s boss, Stoddard Thorsen (Louis C.K.). Sydney helps Richie manipulate an FBI secretary into making an unauthorized wire transfer of $2,000,000. When Stoddard’s boss, Anthony Amado (Alessandro Nivola), hears of the operation, he praises Richie’s initiative, pressuring Stoddard to continue. Carmine leaves their meeting when Richie presses him to accept a cash bribe. Irving convinces Carmine the sheikh is legitimate, expressing his dislike of Richie, and the two become friends. Richie arranges for Carmine to meet the sheikh, and without consulting the others, has Mexican-American FBI agent Paco Hernandez (Michael Peña) play the sheikh, which displeases Irving. Carmine brings the sheikh to a casino party, explaining mobsters are there and it is a necessary part of doing business. Irving is surprised to hear that Mafia overlord Victor Tellegio (Robert De Niro), right-hand man to Meyer Lansky, is present, and that he wants to meet the sheikh. Mafia man Tellegio explains that the business needs the sheikh to become an American citizen and that Carmine will need to expedite the process. Tellegio also requires a $10,000,000 wire transfer to prove the sheikh’s legitimacy. Richie agrees, eager to bring down Tellegio, while Irving realizes the operation is out of control.
Richie confesses his strong attraction to Sydney but becomes confused and aggressive when she drops her English accent and admits to being American. Irving arrives to protect Sydney and tries to stop their deal with Richie, but Richie says if they back out, Tellegio will learn of the scam and will murder them all, including Rosalyn and Danny. Rosalyn starts an affair with a mobster, Pete Musane (Jack Huston), whom she met at the party. She mentions her belief that Irving is working with the Internal Revenue Service, causing Pete to threaten Irving, who promises to prove the sheikh’s investment is real. Irving later confronts Rosalyn, who admits she told Pete. She agrees to keep quiet but wants a divorce.
With Carmine’s help, Richie and Irving videotape members of Congress receiving bribes. Richie assaults Stoddard in a fight over the money and later convinces Amado that he needs the $10,000,000 to get Tellegio, but gets only $2,000,000. A meeting is arranged at the offices of Tellegio’s lawyer, Alfonse Simone (Paul Herman), but Tellegio does not appear. Richie records Simone’s admission of criminal activities.
Irving visits mayor and friend Carmine and admits to the scam, but says he has a plan to help him. Carmine throws Irving out and the loss of their friendship hits Irving hard. Irving and Sydney meet with Amado, Stoddard and Richie. The feds inform Irving that their $2,000,000 is missing, and that they have received an anonymous offer to return the money in exchange for Irving and Sydney’s immunity and a reduced sentence for Carmine. Richie accuses the duo of theft. Irving suggests Richie either has the money or is incompetent for losing it. In fact, he reveals, they never met with Tellegio’s lawyer. Instead, Irving had a friend, Edward Malone (the host of the party where he met Sydney) pose as Simone to con Richie. Amado accepts the deal and Stoddard removes Richie from the case, which effectively ends his career, dropping him back into obscurity. Irving and Sydney move in together and open a legitimate art gallery, while Rosalyn lives with Pete and shares custody of Danny with Irving.
David O. Russell has had a good record of making extremely enjoyable films, and many of them display a great sense of artistic achievement. in “American Hustle” he excelled himself in juggling his superb cast in a perfectly integrated ensemble. This is certainly a film that no film lover should miss.

REVIEW: ROLE MODELS

CAST
Paul Rudd (Anchorman)
Seann William Scott (American Pie)
Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games)
Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick-Ass)
Jane Lynch (Paul)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Ken Marino (Veronica Mars)
Kerri Kenney (New Girl)
Joe Lo Truglio (Superbad)
Amanda Righetti (Friday The 13th)
Louis C.K. (American Hustle)
A.D. Miles (Wet Hot American Summer)
Matt Walsh (Ted)
Carly Craig (American Housewife)
Keegan-Michael Key (The Predator)
Danny (Paul Rudd) and Wheeler (Seann William Scott) are two energy drink salesmen who promote a drink called “Minotaur” to school children, and encourage kids to stay off drugs. Wheeler loves the job, but Danny hates it, viewing it as a mindless, dead-end job. Danny’s pessimism results in the collapse of his relationship with lawyer Beth Jones (Elizabeth Banks), after he impulsively proposes to her. After one presentation the duo find that their Minotaur truck is being towed, as they were parked in a no-parking zone. They try driving the truck away from the tow truck, damaging the tow truck, nearly running over a security guard (Louis C.K.) and crashing into a statue. They are arrested as a result.
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Beth strikes a deal with the judge in which they have to log 150 hours of community service over the next 30 days, in lieu of 30 days in jail. The judge selects for their community service a big-brother style program called Sturdy Wings, led by Gayle Sweeny (Jane Lynch), a recovering addict. Gayle instantly dislikes the two and warns them that if they fail to carry out their tasks she will have them imprisoned. Wheeler is paired up with Ronnie Shields (Bobb’e J. Thompson), a foul-mouthed streetwise miscreant obsessed with breasts, who has driven away all the other “Bigs” he has been paired with. Danny is assigned Augie Farques (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), a nerdy teenager obsessed with medieval live action role-playing games.
Danny is unable to find common ground with Augie. Ronnie takes virtually no interest in Wheeler. Danny considers choosing the jail sentence, but Wheeler insists that if they go to jail, they will get raped, which Wheeler is strongly against. They gradually bond with their “littles”. Ronnie takes an interest in Wheeler’s favorite band, Kiss, and discovers that Wheeler shares his obsession with breasts, which Wheeler teaches him to control. Danny and Augie bond when they realize that they are both involved in the Sturdy Wings program against their will, and as a result Danny joins Augie’s live action role playing game, “LAIRE” (Live Action Interactive Role-playing Explorers). Despite their successes, Danny attempts to reconcile with Beth, but to no avail (Beth must commit to the break-up, stating that it is for the best). However, their success is cut short. When Augie manages to sneak up on the King of LAIRE, Argotron (Ken Jeong), the King lies and tells everyone that he killed Augie. Danny, backing up Augie, shoves the King, and gets himself and Augie banned from LAIRE forever. Later, Danny insults Augie’s mother and stepfather for refusing to support Augie’s hobby, earning their animosity. As soon as Augie’s parents kick Danny out of their house, Danny retorts, “I’d be psyched if he were my kid.” Meanwhile, Wheeler takes Ronnie to a party and leaves him unsupervised, resulting in Ronnie walking home alone and a series of angry messages from his mom on Wheeler’s cell-phone. Ronnie and Augie’s parents ask Sturdy Wings for new mentors, and Danny and Wheeler are removed from the Sturdy Wings program, thus failing to complete their community service. Beth says that she will defend Danny and Wheeler in court, but cannot make any promises, as they will eventually be sent to jail. Danny and Wheeler argue and go their separate ways.
Danny convinces King Argotron to allow himself and Augie to fight that afternoon in the much-awaited Battle Royale. Wheeler gets permission from Ronnie’s mother to hang out with Ronnie after he gets out of jail, and earns Ronnie’s forgiveness. However, the King secretly warns the other members of Augie’s LAIRE “country” of Xanthia that allowing Augie to fight with them will lead to severe retribution in the game. They call Augie to tell him he’s too much of a liability and he has nowhere to turn. To form a new LAIRE country, Danny and Augie need four members and matching costumes. Danny asks Wheeler and Ronnie to join them. They arrive with Wheeler’s Kiss costumes and a Kiss-themed Minotaur truck, naming their new country “Kiss-My-Anthia”. After a betrayal by his former Xanthian allies, Augie finally duels with the king, defeating him. A hidden player, Sarah (Allie Stamler), who goes by Esplen in LAIRE, then attacks and defeats Augie; she is crowned the new queen and chooses Augie as her king-consort. Augie’s parents forgive Danny.
Impressed with having seen that Wheeler and Danny do care for the children and not simply themselves, Sweeny clears their names with the judge. Danny serenades Beth with a rendition of the Kiss song “Beth” and they finally reconcile.
A brilliant film that wil make you laugh and cry a great viewing for all comedy fans!