Tag Archives: Danny McBride


Halloween Ends

by Hope Madden and George Wolf

In 2018, director David Gordon Green and writer Danny McBride did the almost unthinkable, something often tried but rarely accomplished. They made a good Halloween movie. Three years later they did what a lot of people have done. They made a bad sequel.

But the second film in a trilogy is tricky business. The origin story is out of the way and you can’t kill the villain – everyone already knows a third installment is coming. Some filmmakers thrive in that middle space, but most tread water until the big climax.

Well, that big climax is here. Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney) face off in the final piece of Greene’s trilogy, Halloween Ends.

The bad second installment was better.

Rohan Campbell is Corey, a misunderstood outcast with tousled hair, bee stung lips and a motorcycle. The Strode women take a shine to him, Laure introducing him to granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). But Haddonfield is pretty tough on Autumn romance, and this story is too rushed to resonate, too dull to be truly angsty.

Green has made some really good movies: George Washington, All the Real Girls, Undertow, Snow Angels, Pineapple Express, Joe, Halloween. One of the most impressive things about that list is the way it crosses genres like there is no border from one to the next. His first episode in the series was a mash note to the original. He wisely ignored all the other sequels and reboots and just brought us a clear vision for an Act 2.

Then, in lieu of a cohesive story, Green caves to some desire to pepper a sequel with odes and easter eggs in honor of all the franchise installments. He and co-writers McBride, Chris Bernier and Paul Brad Logan pick up an idea hinted at in two earlier episodes across the full constellation of films. An honest to god original thought would have been better.

It’s a sidetrack that some longtime fans might embrace, but the execution is littered with missteps. The new relationships do not feel authentic, much of the internal logic is questionable, and forget about scary, the film is too tired to even develop effective tension. There aren’t even any good kills.

We do get the final Laurie v Michael showdown that the title promises, which is a welcome return to giving the legendary Curtis some opportunity for badassery. But while Green & company manage a couple late-stage surprises, this is ultimately a disappointing end, with the highest of hopes limping to the finish for only lukewarm satisfaction.

Yes, It’s a Weiner

Sausage Party

by Christie Robb

I was expecting to hate this movie. At worst I was anticipating a series of increasingly forced dick jokes and at best a munchie-induced fever dream. Instead, I gotta say, Sausage Party stands up with the South Park movie as a pretty offensively entertaining animated movie for adults.

The film is set in a Shopwell supermarket where every morning the products sing about their desire be chosen by “the gods”—those big things wheeling the carts—and travel to the Great Beyond (via a song composed by Alan Menken—the guy who co-created the songs from The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin).

Little do the foodstuffs know what terrors await them on the other side of the pneumatic doors. It’s not nirvana. The Gods fucking eat you.

As the Fourth of July approaches, Frank—a hot dog voiced by Seth Rogan—eagerly anticipates hooking up with his honey bun (Kristen Wiig) in the Great Beyond. But after they are chosen, they and a bunch of other products are separated from their packaging and fall to the supermarket floor.

Forced to traverse the enormous grocery, the fellowship has to navigate the aisles to get back to their packages, interacting with their fellow foodstuffs in various ethnic-food aisles, partying in the liquor aisle, and generally trying to evade the villain—a vampiric and increasingly unhinged literal douche.

The movie certainly employs a fair amount of wiener-based humor and a variety of food-centric ethnic stereotypes (for example, the sauerkraut jars are a bunch of fascists bent on exterminating “the juice”, the bagel’s voice is a Woody Allen impression, and a Peter Pan “Indian”-style pipe-smoking bottle of firewater dispenses wisdom), but the movie turns to a surprising exploration of faith vs. skepticism and the extent to which religious belief fosters divisions, hostility, and repressed sexuality.

Although the movie manages to provide enough offense to go around, the majority of the jokes are actually quite funny. The cast is certainly strong. Rogan and Wiig are joined by Nick Kroll, Salma Hayek, Michael Cera, James Franco, Bill Hader, Danny McBride, Edward Norton, Craig Robinson, David Krumholtz, and Paul Rudd, and the sex-positive food porn scene exceeded my expectations of what was bound to happen once the wiener and the bun finally got together.

Seeing Sausage Party ain’t a bad way to pass the time. But, for the love of God, please don’t take your kids.



Anger Mismanagement

The Angry Birds Movie

by Rachel Willis

There have been a number of movies based on video games. From 1993’s Super Mario Brothers to the upcoming Tomb Raider movie, Hollywood has not shied away from mining video games as source material for film.

One of the latest in the video game to movie genre is The Angry Birds Movie, a film that seeks to explain why those birds who love to launch themselves at green pigs with enormous slingshots are so angry.

The focal character of the movie is Red, voiced by Jason Sudekis, an already angry bird living in a community of happy birds. Red’s anger gets him in trouble and he finds himself placed in anger management where he meets Bomb, Chuck, and Terence.

The arrival of a large number of green pigs to the birds’ island sets off warning bells for Red, but the other birds are happy to welcome the newcomers and chastise Red for his quickness to antagonism.

The major problem with Angry Birds is the lack of story. At 97 minutes, the movie has a lot of time to fill, and in the first half, the audience has to sit through quite a few montage sequences that are boring even for the youngest viewer. It isn’t until the second half of the movie, when the pigs reveal their true motives for landing on the birds’ island, that the movie starts to pick up. Where the first 45 minutes of the movie drag, the second 45 minutes make up for it with the action we know and love from the video game. The plot comes together, and children and their parents can both find something to enjoy.

The voice actors are myriad and lend their talents well to the film. Danny McBride as Bomb, and Peter Dinklage as Mighty Eagle, both stand out in their roles, providing much needed humor throughout. Jason Sudekis manages to carry a lot on his shoulders as the leading angry bird, but far too often the jokes he’s given to work with fall flat.

It’s unfortunate that the film isn’t 20 minutes shorter, as it might have been more appealing to both young and old had the screenwriters recognized the limitations of their source material.


Not Quite Dynamite

Don Verdean

by Hope Madden

A self-proclaimed biblical archeologist somehow finds holy artifacts that have eluded the scientific and theological community for centuries – millennia, even – and brings them home to the US of A to help one Utah pastor reinvigorate his flock.

A ripe premise, that. The fact that the archeologist is played by Sam Rockwell, and the pastor by Danny McBride, only heightens the possibilities. On top of that, Don Verdean was directed by Jared Hess, co-written with his wife Jerusha, the team responsible for Napoleon Dynamite.

This should definitely work better than it does.

On paper, Don Verdean is a hoot. Add to the capable leads and a satire-rich premise the outstanding supporting cast. Amy Ryan offers an understated tenderness and humor as Don’s faithful assistant Carol, and Leslie Bibb is a stitch in her too-small role as Joylinda Lazarus, former prostitute, current pastor’s wife.

But Jemaine Clement could face criminal charges for the way he steals scenes as Verdean’s man on the ground in the Holy Land, Boaz.

The pieces are there, but the execution is way off. Hess’s film is too sweetly, compassionately cynical for its own good. What humor the film offers is frustratingly laid back, and far too often a tart comedic set up suffers from weak follow through.

The Hesses don’t seem to have the teeth for religious satire. Is Verdean a huckster or a soft but decent man led astray by Satan’s earthly influence, greed? Or is everyone in the film just suffering from idiocy and whimsy in equal measure?

Most disheartening of all is the misuse of Rockwell, who also executive produces. His performance is so low key as to be sleep inducing.

Rockwell and Clement co-starred in the Hesses’ previous effort, Gentlemen Broncos, which was far weirder than it was funny. For their next film they dialed down the weird a bit, but the comedy itself is even more subdued.

That’s unfortunate, because they may have really had something if they’d known what to do with it.


Dead Man’s Party



by George Wolf


You know what This Is the End made me think of? Dear, departed Father Art from my church.

Stay with me.

Father Art used to surprise the faithful by occasionally dropping Howard Stern’s name into the homily, citing Stern as someone who, underneath the raunch, had a positive message:  do what you’re supposed to do.

This Is The End also has a positive message, stressing selflessness as a key to salvation. Sure, this message is mixed with heapin’ helpings of sex, drugs and profanity, but it’s a combination that produces some pretty funny shit.

Your reaction will most likely depend on how much you enjoy the comedy stylings of Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, seen at their peak in films such as Pineapple Express, Superbad and Knocked Up. Co-writing and directing This Is the End, they’ve expanded their 2007 short Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse into the funniest film of the year.

Seth is Rogan, and Jay is his buddy Jay Baruchel, who comes to LA hoping for a low-key visit. Instead, Rogan takes him to a rockin’ party at James Franco‘s place where, amid plenty of famous faces, the rapture begins.

As the final battle rages outside, Franco, Rogan and Baruchel are joined by Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson and Danny McBride for a star studded celebrity survivor sleepover!

Things get pretty crude (so much so that Rogan has said he expected an NC-17 rating instead of the R they received), but the result is far from dumb humor. Self-deprecation is always endearing, and the gang uses it well, lampooning their films, their images, and the self-absorbed nature of celebrity culture.

It’s a wild ride featuring great cameos (well done Channing Tatum and Michael Cera) and fine ensemble work from a bunch of funny guys who play themselves with undeniable comic chemistry and a sense of camaraderie that makes them fine company for the end of days.

Remember, they have a plan to be among the chosen, and you’ll most likely be laughing too hard to argue with it.