Masterminds (2016)

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A night guard at an armored car company in the Southern U.S. organizes one of the biggest bank heists in American history. (Letterboxd)
The plot is just-got-robbed-poor (there’s no heist, fugitive, or character tension to be found), and only a couple of the many jokes land, so two acts in and things are looking bleaker than a corn dog at a hot dog party before the marvelous moustached Mike McKinney shows up and finds his fate to add a jolt of comedy and give the plot a needed twist. The climax lets things down again but by then the continued earnest charm of David Ghantt has at least made him somewhat of an engaging lead.
5.5/10 (Poor)

Dinner for Schmucks (2010)

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When he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their guests, a rising executive questions it when he’s invited, just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest. (IMDb)
Carell’s schuperb schmuck schtick (“I guess you could say I’m an eternal optometrist”) centers this film, contributing to its great odd couple comedy, driving its excruciating Murphy’s law plot (the brunch scene was a marvel of awkward horror), and providing hints of heart too. The potential inspirational message is botched in the messy pivotal dinner scene (Barry’s beautiful dream presentation was overshadowed by the dumb hi-jinx afterwards) but the reunion at Tim’s place was a nice recovery.
7/10 (Good)

 

Between Two Ferns: The Movie (2019)

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Zach Galifianakis and his oddball crew take a road trip to complete a series of high-profile celebrity interviews. (IMDb)
Should’ve called itself “Behind Two Ferns” (I try) and stuck with the effective mockumentary/making-of format of the first act, because what followed was a terribly flimsy attempt at a movie. The premise was pitiful (Zach *owes* Will 10 interviews, so how is he able to negotiate something in return for them?), the plotting pathetic (see the instant reunion at the gas station), and there’s virtually no themes or character development to speak of. It was funny though (deadpan Zach is a delight).
6/10 (Mediocre)

 

A Wrinkle in Time (2018)

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After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings send Meg, her brother, and her friend to space in order to find him. (IMDb)
The dialogue (nay, the whole movie) is like 99% painfully cheesy exposition (with poor performances to boot), though somehow the opening act set-up still manages to confound and frustrate the viewer completely in its vague, contrived nature (so how does Charles Wallace know all these mysterious people again?). After all the fluffy mysticism of the Mrs. it eventually crafts a nice message about self-acceptance and the power of love over evil, but it’s still so damn cheesy. Pine is good though.
4.5/10 (Bad)

 

The Campaign (2012)

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An incumbent congressman embroiled in personal scandal faces a no-holds-barred challenge from a naive newcomer funded by two unscrupulous billionaire lobbyist brothers. (IMDb)
The American political satire has its moments, particularly early on as Brady is introduced (“America. Jesus. Freedom.”) and Huggins learns the ropes, but it quickly wears thin, with only occasional outside relief (see the uproarious Huggins family confessional), as its growing ridiculousness offers more misses (see the CGI baby-punching) than hits (see the popularity-increasing sex tape and shooting), and bland side-characters (see the Motch bros) don’t help. It ends nicely though.
6/10 (Mediocre)

The Hangover (2009)

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Three buddies wake up from a bachelor party in Las Vegas, with no memory of the previous night and the bachelor missing. They make their way around the city in order to find their friend before his wedding. (IMDb)
The “what happened last night?” premise here provides a uniquely engaging and mystery-tinged plot–along with plenty of hilarious “WTF” moments (naked guy in the trunk, tiger in the bathroom, baby in the closet)–for what is in its slowest moments just a seen-before raunchy comedy with hit-or-miss humour. When things are at their most chaotic is when the film is at its best, so the ending is a bit of a come-down (especially the “here’s what happened” credit pics) but it’s still a fun ride.
7/10 (Good)

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)

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Keaton, Norton, and Stone all put forth amazing performances that scream for their close-up shots, while the continuous-style cinematography is mesmerizing and creates an incredible and unique pace for the film, pulling you along like a fish on a line, right with the characters. The ending’s a little cheesy, but the film still stands as a wonderful work of art about artistic integrity and ego that’s only occasionally tainted by a couple of side plots that feel a little unnecessary.
8.5/10 (Amazing)