A nice collection of vignettes on the power of the stories we see and show (highlights include Uncle Boris’ rant on family and art and the confrontation in the school hallway–“Why’d you make me look like that?”), not to mention some fun looks at the ins and outs of filmmaking (see the perfect–well, eventually–final shot). Amidst the compelling family drama, though, the central character arc could’ve used a few more incising elements like that shot where he imagines himself shooting his own life.
Scieoclean!! You won’t see its competitors drink their product unless they wanna shit blood on TV! Yeah, it’s a bad sign that Andy’s first successful sales pitch in the third act is the first real engaging bit in the film (the rest of the rote road trip fodder is pretty weak; Rogan and Streisand have good comedic chemistry but the drama often feels forced–see the sudden hotel blow-up), but it’s at least followed up with a uniquely poignant emotional climax with sister Joyce in San Francisco.
Continuing his “legendary adventures of awesomeness”, Po must face two hugely epic, but different threats: one supernatural and the other a little closer to home. (IMDb)
As colourful and creatively animated as always (see the unique multi-panel training montage, trippy climactic trip to the spirit world) but with heightened humour (“Even Master Chicken’s going in, and he’s a chicken!”) and emotion (the two-dad arc is a touching one: “Dads!”) this time around, often taking place within the same wonderful moment (see the two-dad fighting combo; chi circle: “You taught us to be who we were meant to be. A dad” “A friend” Granny panda: “A lethal fighting machine”).
7.5/10 (Really Good)
Po and his friends fight to stop a peacock villain from conquering China with a deadly new weapon, but first the Dragon Warrior must come to terms with his past. (IMDb)
Like the first, the fat jokes fail (do we really need a “boing” sound every time something hits his tummy?) but the wild action sequences are heaps of fun (see Po’s cart ride with the wolf through town) and the animation delights (see the lovely 2D bits). Elsewhere, the villain’s good, the “who am I?” pathos is unremarkable, and the non-fat-joke humour lands (see the snarky old Soothsayer); ultimately, the colourful, lively anthropomorphic animal world carries this through any inconsistencies.
A process server and his marijuana dealer wind up on the run from hitmen and a corrupt police officer after he witnesses his dealer’s boss murder a competitor while trying to serve papers on him. (IMDb)
A stoner and his dealer get caught up in a drug war and the comedy’s exactly what you’d expect–a combination of “that’s gotta hurt” slapstick (Red is the obvious champ in this area) and loud swear-laden and weed-infused riffs of dialogue. Doesn’t break much new ground but Franco’s dim Saul and Rogen’s straight man Dale have good chemistry and keep you engaged in spite of the mediocre plot. An uproarious improvised epilogue at the diner makes up for the over-the-top gun-happy climax.
A woman transformed into a giant after she is struck by a meteorite on her wedding day becomes part of a team of monsters sent in by the U.S. government to defeat an alien mastermind trying to take over Earth. (IMDb)
You can see it coming from a mile away thanks to the douchey Derek, but the character arc for Susan is a nice one (“I’m not going to shortchange myself ever again!”), adding substance to the bare-bones plot, while appreciably not feeling the need to pair her off with someone else at the end. A great gaggle of quirky secondary characters, meanwhile, keep the chuckles coming quite consistently (Rogen’s dimwitted blob monster is a standout: “I think that jello gave me a fake phone number”).
A sausage strives to discover the truth about his existence. (IMDb)
The puns are okay, but the creative anthropomorphic food premise is funniest in its extreme plays on humanity’s physical aspects; namely, death (see the flour shell-shock scene, kitchen massacre) and sex (see the outrageous ending orgy). It swings and misses everywhere else, moving from a promisingly hilarious opening musical number to a swear-overloaded script with nary a clever joke, and a religion-related thesis just as lacking in subtlety. The meta-ending also felt silly and unnecessary.
Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution, to paint a portrait of the man at its epicenter. The story unfolds backstage at three iconic product launches, ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac. (IMDb)
Artfully filmed, the pre-product launch setting blends nicely the personal and vocational aspects of Jobs’ life (though it does start to feel a little contrived the third time around), adds a thrilling sense of urgency to the proceedings (highlighted by a barrage of whip-cracking dialogue), and makes for a uniquely and appreciably focused biopic that aims to capture his character instead of his whole life story (it certainly hits its mark, but its focus is compromised a bit with the flashbacks).
7.5/10 (Really Good)
A troubled teenager is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident. (IMDb)
Carried by snappy dialogue and a memorable soundtrack is this mesmerizing mix of poignant teenage drama (the one-take high school montage is fantastic) and strange pyscho-horror (wait, the rabbit is real?), with undertones of eerie sci-fi, with Gyllenhaal excelling as a brilliant but tortured youth with a penchant for rebellion that comes to the forefront in his trance-like late-night escapades. The meaning of it all isn’t totally clear, but the film still manages to resonate and feel cohesive.
Two co-dependent high school seniors are forced to deal with separation anxiety after their plan to stage a booze-soaked party goes awry. (IMDb)
Hill’s uninhibited diatribes and Cera’s patented awkwardness highlight relatable high-school comedy here that soon explodes into a wildly eventful booze-filled, sex-inspired Friday night romp with hilarious one-off characters and a juicy side-plot featuring two drunk cops and the unforgettable “McLovin”. To the film’s added benefit, hints of mature teen-culture commentary are subtly laced throughout the raunchy humour, coming to the forefront in a surprisingly mellow and endearing final scene.
7.5/10 (Really Good)