Tag Archives: Charlie Day

Break Up to Make Up

I Want You Back

by George Wolf

If we’re gonna start talking about I Want You Back, we can’t start at the start, we have to start at the finish. Because no matter what you think about the film’s first 100 minutes, the last five may seriously turn your head.

But before that Linda Blair moment, Emma (Jenny Slate) and Peter (Charlie Day) first meet in the stairwell of their office building. Emma works for an Orthodontist, Peter’s with a retirement home company, and they both just got dumped. Noah (Scott Eastwood, finally doing more acting than posing) left her for Ginny (Clark Backo), Anne (Gina Rodriguez) left him for Logan (Manny Jacinto), and the two new “sadness siblings” are all in their feelings.

So they start hanging out, giving each other enough emotional support to eventually devise a plan. Emma will throw herself at Logan, while Peter (admitting he’s not hot enough to go after Ginny) will make friends with Noah so he can steer him back to Emma. And with that, the Break Up So We Can Make Up game is on!

We all know where this is going, right? If we’ve seen a romantic comedy we do, and once again the trick lies in finding some way to make the characters and their journey to love worth rooting for.

Screenwriters Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger (the writing duo behind the terrific Love, Simon and TV’s This Is Us) pair with director Jason Orley for a solid game plan, but it’s the irresistible chemistry of Slate and Day that keeps this madcap setup consistently engaging.

Slate is such an underrated talent. Once again she’s able to confidently take a character from hi-jinx (like the proposed threesome with Anne and Logan) to humanity (an unexpected friendship with a withdrawn kid) while making us care enough to welcome all of it.

And while Day is basically bringing another variation of his usual schtick, it’s still funny and, when paired with Slate, endearing.

Which brings us back to that ending, one that lands with such a thud I was really hoping it was merely a dream sequence. Any semblance of nuance or modern perspective on romance is suddenly replaced with the easiest, most rushed and shallow wrap up this side of a TV sitcom – with a set design to match.

What happened to that other movie? We had a nice thing going, and then it just ghosted us! Come back, I know it can work!

Hmmm…maybe we should hatch a plan.

Brick by Brick

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

by Hope Madden

Everything is not awesome.

Don’t tell Emmet (Chris Pratt), though. Try as he might (mainly to please the ever-brooding Lucy/Wildstyle {Elizabeth Banks}), he can’t seem to take on the bleak attitudes of those populating Apocalypseburg.

Wait, didn’t that used to be called Bricksburg? It did, but that was before Dad invited kid sister to share in the Lego fun. Since that day, Emmett and his buds live Fury Road-esque in a smoldering wasteland, forever on the lookout for cute but dangerous aliens from the Sistar System.

When said aliens abscond with all the Master Builders (Lucy, Batman {Will Arnett}, Unkitty {Alison Brie}, MetalBeard {Nick Offerman}, and Benny {Charlie Day}), Emmet will have to find some grit to save his friends.

Returning writers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller update their 2014 tale, this time directed by Mike Mitchell (Trolls), with some pre-adolescent angst that surprisingly mirrors the post-Trump revelation that everything really isn’t awesome.

Out there in the Sistar System, Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi (Tiffany Haddish, a hoot) sings in Disney Villain tones that she is definitely not at all evil. Definitely. Not at all. Meanwhile, she manipulates Batman’s inner narcissist to convince him to marry her in a ceremony Emmet is convinced will bring about Ourmomageddon.

Yes, much of the charm of the original has worn thin. To make up for it, the sequel relies too heavily on pop culture references (a good chunk of the film is about funny, chubby Chris Pratt versus chiseled, hot Chris Pratt and his spaceship full of velociraptors). An abundance of live action plus a clumsy Back to the Future gag fail to entertain as much as they do force the story forward.

Still, Lord and Miller nimbly use the “don’t lose your inner child” theme so popular in family films to cast a side glance at the current bleakening of society. Emmet tries harder and harder to lose his sweetness and optimism in favor of the more masculine stylings of his new friend Rex Dangervest (also Pratt, channeling his Guardians co-star Kurt Russell).

Of course, we all pull for the childlike Emmet to survive, just as the film seems to hope that our own positivity can survive our own Apocalypseville.





Readin’, Writin’, Teacher Fightin’

Fist Fight

by George Wolf

At Roosevelt High, it’s the last day before summer break, and the school’s online newspaper gets a breaking story:

WHY MR. CAMPBELL WILL DIE

Seems the meek Mr. Campbell (Charlie Day) snitched on the scary Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube), and you know what they say about snitches. They get their asses beat on the playground while the whole school watches…and they will most likely require stitches at some point.

Fist Fight is often contrived and ridiculous, and has those funny bloopers ready to roll as soon as possible, but ya know, it fills the class with enough likable clowns to get a pass.

The two leads aren’t asked to venture beyond their respective comfort zones, but do display some nice comic timing that bolsters their easy chemistry. Cube pushes his menacing persona and steely glare for all they are worth while Day does the same with the naturally funny pairing of his diminutive stature and high-pitched wheeze. The conflict of their characters is grounded just by these two actors sharing the same frame, giving the film a comic foundation from the start.

Then you have the always weird and welcome Jillian Bell as a guidance counselor who’s really fond of drugs and “that tenis” (teenage penis), Kumail Nanjiani’s by-the-book school security officer and Tracy Morgan dispensing wisdom as Coach Crawford (“You can’t run away! Who is you, Seabiscuit?”) for a steady stream of nuttiness.

Director Richie Keen makes his feature debut after years of TV episodes (including Day’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia), keeping the pace lively and the mood raunchy. He even shows a little theatrical flair once the students’ start spreading rumors of Mr.Strickland’s murderous past, and the fantasies play out with hilarious excess.

Fist Fight offers violence, plenty of sex-fueled gags and the obligatory foul-mouthed grade-schooler. It’s an adult education, for sure, and just funny enough not to skip.

Verdict-3-0-Stars

 

 





Like Your Crazy Uncle Frank

Horrible Bosses 2

by George Wolf

After trying to kill your boss and getting away with it, the sensible career choice is clearly self employment. That’s the plan for the three bumbling schemers in Horrible Bosses 2, a film with scattershot hilarity that can’t quite match the success of the original.

Nick, Kurt and Dale (Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day, respectively) have a great new plan for business success and surprise, it’s legal! Their new “shower buddy” invention looks promising, so all the guys need now is a big investor, and their days of working for someone else will be history.

Things look good when business tycoon Bert Hansen (Christoph Waltz) puts in a big order, but when he pulls out and leaves the boys high and dry, their criminal minds take over. After an inspired brainstorming session, they decide to kidnap Hansen’s obnoxious son Rex (Chris Pine) and hold him ransom for a payback payday.

Hard to believe, but the plan goes quickly sideways, and to stay ahead of the law and out of the morgue, the boys turn to some old friends: Nick’s former boss (Kevin Spacey), Dale’s sexual harasser (Jennifer Aniston) and the trusted criminal adviser “MF” Jones (Jamie Foxx).

Most of the original writing team is back for the sequel, but their script is lighter on laughs and heavier on convention, relying on the cast to just squeeze out laughs whenever they can. With this cast, that’s a safer bet than most. Bateman, Sudeikis and Day are flat out funny, and their wonderful chemistry is anchored by flawless timing that is just a kick to watch.

The supporting trio of Foxx, Aniston and Spacey is nearly as good, and Pine blends in nicely with the stable of returning castmates. Only Waltz seems out of place, his usual greatness wasted in a very limited role.

You know that crazy uncle you still invite over for Thanksgiving because, even though he can be offensive and tedious, he’s still funny and likeable?

That’s Horrible Bosses 2.

Pass the peas (and stay for the credits).

 

Verdict-3-0-Stars

 





Revenge of the Monster Nerds

Monsters University

by Hope Madden

Any mediocre Pixar release feels like a stunning disappointment, which may not be fair. No one bats 1000, and for every Cars 2 the animated giants release three Toy Storys. It’s an excellent swap, and to be fair, Monsters University is not quite Cars 2. Though similarities exist.

First of all, it’s a sequel to one of the studio’s lesser films. While 2001’s Monsters Inc. was imaginative, clever fun, it just doesn’t measure up to, say, Up. It wasn’t a work of groundbreaking, mind blowing, heart wrenching, hilarious genius. It was better than whatever other animators were doing that year, though.

But the competition’s only gotten stiffer in the last dozen years, and Pixar will need another unique and wondrous tale to really stand out. Or, they could just rehash the old Eighties staple Revenge of the Nerds for the 10-and-under set.

You may remember Mike (Billy Crystal) and Sully (John Goodman), two BFFs working the scare floor at Monster’s Inc., where children’s screams are harnessed for the energy to fuel Monstropolis. (Now, see, that’s clever.) Well, as it turns out, back in college the two buddies were actually rivals.

Both were scare majors, but while Sully lazily relied on his natural talents, Mike had to work hard. They didn’t get along, and wound up expelled with only one chance to get back into college: take a rag-tag group of losers and beat the other frats and sororities at a scaring competition. (Less clever.)

Wildly predictable plotting leads to a handful of moderately funny gags, but the film does boast a few genuine strengths.

For instance, Helen Mirren plays the terrifying dean. Helen Mirren is never a bad decision. Other solid voice talent abounds, including Charlie Day, who steals scenes as Mike and Sully’s wrong-headed frat brother.

In true Pixar fashion, the film is also a visual achievement to behold, the monsters offering endless tactile and color opportunities for animators, who appreciated the challenge.

Directed by Columbus College of Art & Design grad Dan Scanlon, making his debut as an animated feature helmsman (he’s previously directed a documentary and a short), the film charms and entertains in a forgettable way. It’s the best solution so far this summer for wee ones, but this isn’t that Pixar gem that will stay with them until they have kids of their own.

Hell, they’ll probably forget it by the time Despicable Me 2 opens.

 

 

Verdict-2-5-Stars