The quiet life of a terrier named Max is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray whom Max instantly dislikes. (IMDb)
It’s probably good I let this sink in a bit before rating it; it’s one of those films that as a whole is just okay (the plot’s a mash of storylines and undercooked themes and the characters either don’t develop or do so rapidly) but has lots of great moments–mostly comedic (see the sausage factory trip, Hart’s hilarious Snowball: “Ricky!”) or musical-including a good feel-good final montage set to some scrumptious throwback R&B. Desplat’s excellent jazzy score elevates a lot of other scenes.
Four teenagers are sucked into a magical video game, and the only way they can escape is to work together to finish the game. (IMDb)
The in-video game premise is clever and fun (see the NPCs) but the stakes feel low, despite the limited lives and creepy (crawly) baddie, and the emotional arc is pretty weak too. More importantly though, the adventure-action is good, and the comedy is great (even if it slows down the pace a little too much at points); the four leads excel in their high-school personality roles and bring lots of laughs (Black as the stereotypical popular girl is a highlight, but they all have their moments).
When millionaire James King is jailed for fraud and bound for San Quentin, he turns to Darnell Lewis to prep him to go behind bars. (IMDb)
Grossly unfunny; repetitive jokes about dicks and prison rape aim for the uncomfortable extremes but they can’t make up for their severe lack of cleverness, creativity, and comedic timing. Racial and social class stereotypes abound in a script that on occasion seems to be trying to make some sort of serious statement, but mostly just comes off as stupid and tasteless. A childish plot (the detective-work final act is very weak) and made-for-TV quality camerawork solidify this as an awful film.