Tag Archives: O’Shea Jackson Jr.

Power Couple

Long Shot

by George Wolf

Long Shot‘s first success comes before the opening credits even start rolling. It’s right there on the movie poster: “Unlikely, but not impossible.”

So before you can scoff at the idea of Charlize Theron giving Seth Rogen the time ‘o day, your protest of the premise is a) acknowledged, and b) set aside, leaving plenty of loophole to just appreciate an R-rated romantic comedy that’s brash, smart, timely, and pretty damn funny.

Rogen is Fred Flarsky, a scruffy, sweatsuit-loving online journalist known for cutting-edge exposes such as “F*&^ You, Exxon,” and “The Two Party System Can Suck a D&^%.” When media monarch Rupert Murdoch, er, I mean Parker Wembley (Andy Serkis) buys the digital magazine Fred works for, he quits in protest.

Theron plays Secretary of State Charlotte Field, a graceful, brilliant stateswoman who’s ready to make a run for the Oval Office and could use a speechwriter. Back in her teens, Charlotte was Fred’s babysitter (!), and after they cross paths at an ill-fated fundraiser, he’s brought on to give Charlotte’s speeches a little of that Fred Flarsky feeling.

The surprising (but not impossible!) romance that follows doesn’t thrill Team Charlotte (the slideshow explaining how it might impact her poll numbers is a scream) but credit writers Dan Sterling (The Interview) and Liz Hannah (The Post) for having more on their minds than a dude makeover.

Keeping just enough of that Rogen stoner-comedy vibe, Long Shot skewers Bernie Bros, female candidate double standards, romantic comedy tropes, celebrity presidents and, most pointedly and hilariously of all, Fox News.

Theron and Rogen elevate every bit of it, working as a comedic power couple out in front of an ensemble cast full of standouts, most notably June Diane Raphael as Charlotte’s disapproving Chief of Staff and O’Shea Jackson, Jr. as Fred’s motivational best friend.

Director Jonathan Levine (The Wackness, 50/50, The Night Before) keeps things grounded and character-focused. Just when the parody or implauseability is in danger of running amok, he gets us back in the semi-real world of crowd pleasing entertainment.

And though that does mean a third act that gives in to overt sentimentality, Long Shot has the heart, charm and hilarity to win you over long before then.

End the Fed

Den of Thieves

by George Wolf

They’re back, baby! The star and one of the five writers from London Has Fallen are reunited, and it feels…so much better than you are thinking right now.

This time, writer Christian Gudegast also takes the director’s chair for his debut feature, an ambitious mix of Heat and The Town and maybe a few other heist flicks I’ll bring up later.

Gerard Butler is Big Nick, an L.A. County sheriff who’s a very bad lieutenant. Some cops just got killed in an armored car job, and Nick is pretty sure it’s the work of Merriman (Pablo Schreiber).

He’s right, but the big score is still to come: a master plan to rob the L.A. branch of the Federal Reserve. Amid some surprisingly engaging dialog, Gudegast effectively contrasts the good bad guys and the bad bad guys, slowly laying the groundwork for a final confrontation while getaway driver Donnie (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) openly works both sides.

At 140 minutes, it’s at least half an hour too long, bloated with some futile attempts at character development, and a bit tone deaf on police brutality and some other current events. But there is well-plotted tension, some inventive turns among gaps in logic and an Ocean’s/Logan Lucky¬†inspired wrap-up that will bring a chuckle.

 





Single White Follower

Ingrid Goes West

by George Wolf

Oh, look, some Hollywood elitists want to wag a finger in our general direction and lament how our obsession with social media connections keep us from making real ones. Can’t wait.

Hold on, Ingrid Goes West is smarter than your average wag, and the feature debut from director/co-writer Matt Spicer sports a welcome swagger that holds the film’s satirical bite just when you think it’s going soft.

Aubrey Plaza is Ingrid Thorburn, a shall-we-say “high strung” young woman in Pennsylvania who earns some mental health evaluation after an unsavory incident at a friend’s wedding. Ingrid’s spirits are lifted when she comments on a post by Instagram star Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), and Taylor actually responds.

Uh-oh.

Newly motivated, Ingrid is off to California, where she finds a way to insert herself into Taylor’s perfect life, maybe make a boyfriend out of her Batman-obsessed landlord Dan (Straight Outta Compton‘s O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) and definitely live out her social media fantasies.

Though Spicer freely uses contrivance to set up and maintain his narrative, the comedy is deliciously dark and the characters keep us invested even when they’re far from likable. Plaza (earning another producing credit) easily makes Ingrid an appealing mix of sympathetic and psychotic, while Olsen crafts the perfect embodiment of insufferably attractive hipster.

The metaphors aren’t always subtle, but Ingrid Goes West¬†finds a delicate balance in its travels, one that understands the allure of a volatile facade.

Verdict-3-5-Stars