Full disclosure: I missed the last 10 minutes of Vacation. Last night’s press screening started 20 minutes late, then began without any sound, which lead to a 10 minute delay to correct the technical difficulties. With an unbreakable engagement elsewhere, I had to sneak out right before the very last scene. So take this review with as many grains of salt as you’d like. If you think those final minutes might recontextualize everything that came before to transform a generally miserable comedy into a beacon of transcendent hilarity, so be it. Having sat through the previous 90 minutes, I’m of the opinion that nothing short of the long-lost missing footage from Orson Welles’ Magnificent Ambersons could have redeemed this dreadful film.
Alec Baldwin is just four years older than Tom Cruise. In the mid-’90s, they were both action stars. When the first Mission: Impossible movie came out in 1996, it would not have been inconceivable in the slightest for Baldwin to play super-spy Ethan Hunt; Baldwin was the first actor to play the role of super-spy Jack Ryan in 1990’s The Hunt For Red October; in 1994, he headlined a pair of big Hollywood productions, The Shadow and The Getaway.
Adam Sandler used to make comedies. Now he makes Adam Sandler movies; bland exercises in nostalgia where he hangs out with his actor buddies, cracks a few jokes, and exerts as little effort as is humanly possible to the sounds of early ’80s rock and pop. Pixels is the latest and canniest Adam Sandler movie yet. It mines his older audience’s affection for the classic arcade games of their youth, and his younger audience’s affection for the ideas of video games coming to life. The famous gaming cameos are sure to make Pixels a huge hit, even though it’s just as unfunny as everything else Sandler produces these days.
Marvel is all about bigness. In the last couple years, the comic-book company turned Hollywood goliath has become become synonymous with a certain kind of blockbuster that’s so large it metastasizes beyond its own borders and crosses over into others. Marvel doesn’t make movies; they make universes. But you can paint yourself into a corner by perpetually topping yourself. At a certain point, how much bigger can you get?
Magic Mike was a movie about strippers trying to make ends meet in the midst of the Great Recession, the difficulty of modern romance, and the dangers of drug use. Magic Mike XXL is a movie about strippers stripping. And not a whole lot else.
Max is a movie about a dog who returns home from the War in Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder. It made me cry. A lot.
Amy Schumer has built a sizable fan base thanks to her Comedy Central series, which showcases her specific brand of honest and often subversive sense of humor. There’s no denying her intense relatability — and it’s that quality that serves her well in her debut film, Trainwreck. Written and produced by Schumer and directed by Judd Apatow, the film centers on a fictional version of Schumer. We’ll never know how fictional this Amy is (and we shouldn’t), which makes her cinematic alter ego all the more appealing.
If you want to understand modern Hollywood and how it’s evolved over the last 30 years, all you need to do is look at the contrast between 1984’s The Terminator and 2015’s Terminator Genisys.
It’s funny that the poster for Ted 2 features the title character with his back to the camera and his hands suggestively poised near his crotch above the tagline “Ted is coming, again” because the whole movie revolves around the fact that Ted can’t come, not even once. Ted doesn’t have any genitals or a reproductive system, so he can’t have a baby with his wife. His search for a sperm donor eventually spills into the legal system, where a court case will decide a surprisingly complex question: Is Ted a person?
Second bananas should not become first bananas — even if they enjoy eating bananas and saying “Banana!” and kind of look like bananas. That is the lesson of Minions, which takes the lovably inept sidekicks from the Despicable Me series and thrusts them into the spotlight to punishing effect. In the right context, the Minions can be amusing. But the right context is definitely not a rambling 90-minute feature.