Tag Archives: Danny Trejo

Mellow Yellow

Minions: The Rise of Gru

by Hope Madden

Gru is back, which means more minions. As long as you’re not sick to death of either of those things, Minions: The Rise of Gru is fine, moderately enjoyable family entertainment.

If you are sick to death of any of the above, it’s probably because you are an adult. For you, this second installment of the Minions franchise, fifth overall Despicable Me project, hopes to keep your attention with loads of nods to the Seventies. This probably means they hope the kids are going to theaters with their grandparents.

Why the Seventies? Because we’re watching young Gru (Steve Carell) try to break into the super villain biz. He’s but a wee thing, not yet jaded. Rather than Farrah Fawcett or Starsky and Hutch posters on his walls, though, his bedroom is adorned with The Vicious 6 paraphernalia.

The Vicious 6 are the most notorious supervillains in the world: Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), Jean-Clawed (Jean-Claude Van Damme), Stronghold (Danny Trejo), Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren), and Nun-Chuck (Lucy Lawless).

Other newcomers to the series include Michelle Yeoh and RZA, joining returning performers Julie Andrews, Russell Brand and Steve Coogan.

Damn, that’s a lot of talent behind the microphone.

The animation’s great, too. This movie is gorgeous, especially the 3D rendering of San Francisco.  There’s an eye-popping Chinese New Year parade and a pretty great cross-country motorcycle ride a la Easy Rider that looks amazing.

Writing is a bit of a weak spot, though.

Part of the problem is that all that voice talent is given very little to do because Pierre Coffin (voice of the Minions en masse) gets most of the screen time.

You see, Gru is kidnapped and several of those little yellow pills set off to rescue him. They’re separated. One pulls a Nicholson to RZA’s Peter Fonda. The other three train in the art of Kung Fu with Master Chow (Yeoh).

Minions don’t make great primary characters. They are interchangeable and have no arcs. They’re wildly, suffocatingly popular, yes, but they can’t really carry a film. They’re a hell of a waste of a good cast, though.

Things that Make You Go Hmmm

Donny’s Bar Mitzvah

by Christie Robb

According to Jewish Law, a bar mitzvah is when, at 13, boy becomes a man and can be held accountable for his actions. The film Donny’s Bar Mitzvah seems to have been written by a 13 year-old who needs to be held accountable for his actions.

Seriously. It’s gross.

Ostensibly a found footage VHS cassette, this cinematic gem depicts a 1998 Oscar Night-themed party for Donny (Steele Stebbins) – It’s the The First-Annual Donny Awards! – shot and edited by a hired videographer. There are a few nods to 90s culture that might make the olds smile (remember giant cell phones, pop-up video, the Whassup commercial?).

But writer/director Jonathan Kaufman’s film’s raison d’etre is a celebration of the random, repellant, and pubescent that transcends decade. And like the lukewarm buffet offerings at a reception, it offers a variety of things, none of them particularly done well. You want butt chugging? It’s got it. You want small dick jokes? There’re plenty of  ‘em. Recurrent vomiting? No problem. Tits? There is a pair.

The wooden acting, sometimes bizarre plotting, and sound design reminiscent of ASMR performed by a hot dog and a jar full of lubricant, isn’t quite terrible enough to elevate Jonathan Kaufman’s film to the level of a masterpiece of BAD MOVIEDOM like The Room. But I imagine that with the right people watching it and the appropriate amount of brain cells murdered beforehand, this thing could be fun to watch.

Oh, and I guess Danny Trejo is in it for a little while?

Machete Bores


by George Wolf


So disappointing.

The legend of Machete began in 2007, with director Robert Rodriguez‘s standout faux trailer in Grindhouse. That trailer screamed for an actual feature, and Rodriguez obliged in 2010 with Machete, a wonderful homage to 70s exploitation films.

The original had many things going for it, but Machete‘s secret weapon was what it didn’t have:  comic parody.

Sadly, that is all Machete Kills is interested in offering.

Danny Trejo is back as the titular badass, but this time his exploits deteriorate into an Austin Powers-type mission to thwart the plans of a Dr. Evil-type madman (Mel Gibson). Nothing feels like a hat-tip to the genre, especially the female characters, scripted this time with less fun and more degradation. It is all so incredibly dumb and misguided that an hour and forty minute running time feels like twice that.

Just weeks ago, Kick-Ass 2 failed in a similar fashion, as new filmmakers took over the franchise and completely abandoned everything that made the source film so worthy.

The demise of Machete Kills is a little harder to understand, as Rodriguez is back to direct, and, as in Machete, the screen is filled with wild casting choices (Carlos Estevez aka Charlie Sheen, Cuba Gooding, Jr, Sofia Vergara, Lady Gaga). The screenplay, duties, though, this time fall to newcomer Kyle Ward, which raises some questions.

How old is he? Did he even see the original Machete? Why did Rodriguez accept this travesty?

Machete in space?