Tag Archives: 2015

EAKER VS. EAKER AT THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: PITCH PERFECT 2 (2015)

Eaker vs. Eaker is the latest “send Alfred to the summer blockbuster movies so that he can curmudgeonly complain” event, but with a twist, cinema fans and friends! For the first time (without even knowing it), you voted to send Alfred and his wife, Aja, to the flicks and have them duke it out, publicly, about each so-called-blockbuster. Everybody here knows all about Alfred’s cinematic savvy, and his cranky-old-dog approach to film critique. Now, you get 2-for-1: Aja is Alfred’s beloved clinical and counseling psychologist partner, who loves to counter just about every cinematic point Alfred makes. And you, kind reader, chose to send us next to Pitch Perfect 2.

Aja and Alfred 366Aja:

Okay, folks, here’s the story. First, we went to see Mad Max: Fury Road, which caused a bit of a controversy in the differing experiences between Aja and Alfred. We just got home from seeing Pitch Perfect 2. And this is literally what just happened six seconds ago:

“I am totally going to nail your ass on the next write up.”

Alfred cackles loudly, “Are you going to tell them about the snoring?”

“Of course!”

“Well, I hated the the first one. But you know, that’s just me,” Alfred exhales a stream of cigarette smoke that betrays him. Yes, it is true. The man I adore stayed fast-glued to freaking Mad Max: Fury Road, which, really, was lame, and during Pitch Perfect 2 Alfred slept—not just slept—SNORED—through 35 minutes of it.

Still from Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)I am certain of only a few things. First, that Alfred was definitely awakened not by the noise of the onscreen dialog, but by my own howling laughter. In fact, I laughed so hard I farted. It was a small squeak, so I am sure that that is not what woke Alfred. Second, Pitch Perfect 2 was awesome, as the talent, dedication, precision, and sheer effort that it takes to perform as a triple threat (sing, dance, act) is one helluva task, and the entire cast nailed it solidly. Third, Alfred does not dance, only sings David Bowie songs in the shower, and only likes acting if his face is painted blue. So anything he tries to diss about this movie, do not, do not, do not listen to him. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

The appearance of Katey Sagal as a former “Barden Belle” singer was a wonderful surprise. Recently, she has taken on the gritty role of biker babe maven mom in the hit series “Sons of Anarchy.” (For the record, I loved SOA until they killed off Opie. After that, forget it, not Continue reading EAKER VS. EAKER AT THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: PITCH PERFECT 2 (2015)

EAKER VS. EAKER AT THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015)

366WeirdMovies.com Proudly, or Not So Proudly, Presents: Eaker vs. Eaker

Aja and Alfred 366Eaker vs. Eaker is the latest “send Alfred to the summer blockbuster movies so that he can curmudgeonly complain” event, but with a twist, cinema fans and friends! For the first time (without even knowing it), you voted to send Alfred and his wife, Aja, to the flicks and have them duke it out, publicly, about each so-called-blockbuster. Everybody here knows all about Alfred’s cinematic savvy, and his cranky-old-dog approach to film critique. Now, you get 2-for-1: Aja is Alfred’s beloved clinical and counseling psychologist partner, who loves to counter just about every cinematic point Alfred makes. And you, kind reader, chose to send us first to Mad Max: Fury Road.

Aja: Ladies first, shall we? Lets.

“What is this thing?” I asked, reluctantly glancing at the poll that sealed our afternoon’s fate.

“Well, dear, they have voted to send us to Mad Max first.”

“Who bestowed this power? Jesus.” I shot Alfred an incredulous smirk. I counted the tallies again. “This is rigged,” I bemoaned.

“Actually, the critics are giving it rave ratings, so who knows?”

This did nothing for my internal motivation to pay money to see this.

On the other hand, it meant spending more time with Alfred, and there was a good chance that we would end up with interlaced fingers for two hours, so okay. “You are going to have to fold the laundry as penance for this,” I plainly announced, “You know, for putting us in this position.”

With his left eyebrow raised in mock indignation, Alfred nodded once and quickly retorted, “I do love and fear my wife,” smiling, “it starts at 4:50pm, and just as consolation, critics are proclaiming it to be highly feminist.” Part of what is so difficult about saying ‘no’ to Alfred is his adorableness. He is frankly beautiful, with long eyelashes and a perfect smile. It gets me every time. Alfred can talk me in or out of just about anything with that look and that flashed, crooked grin. I rolled my eyes like a bratty teen, put on my coat and grabbed the car keys.

“Let’s just get this over with,” I said, calmly and rationally.

“You might actually like it,” he said. Ignoring his verbal petting, I walked out into the rain toward the car.

First, let us set the scene: it was a rainy Friday afternoon and we stood in a long line to get matinee tickets—but since it was an opening day, we had to pay full price. It isn’t that I’m cheap, I’m just fiscally conscious, especially when it comes to the splurge of a movie theater visit. I’m definitely the type to stop at a gas station along the way, pick up Twix and a can of Coca-Cola, and smuggle in my snacks Continue reading EAKER VS. EAKER AT THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015)

READER POLL FOR ALFRED EAKER VS. THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: THE CANDIDATES

With summer just around the corner, it is time for the 366 reader base to vote on which four summer blockbusters to send me to review. The candidates below are listed in order of release. Be sure to view the entire post; you will vote at the end.

Poster for Avengers: Age of UltronThe Avengers: Age of Ultron: Director Joss Whedon has a sense of style, produced the cult fave “Firefly,” and is good at managing an ensemble cast. Of course, it’s going to have , who should be playing all the men in-tights characters (but obviously cannot). The best moments in this film’s predecessor were in its first third, before it began wallowing in its excesses, descending into an out-of-control -styled assault on the senses with floating July 4th black snake thingies chasing people in the streets amidst falling glass. I dread the idea of even one man-in-tights saga, let alone a whole cast full of them.

Mad Max: Fury Road: Director sacked the fascistic , which is a promising start. However, Miller’s last Max entry was thirty years ago. Since then, his work has been confined to kiddie fare. Additionally, this film has been described as one long chase scene, as if we needed more of that.

Tomorrowland has a first rate ensemble cast and an equally first rate director in Brad Bird (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Ratatouille, The Incredibles, and The Iron Giant). This may be the most promising of the summer entries.

Pitch Perfect 2: Features a first time director in Elizabeth Banks, although she did produce the 2012 original, which I have not seen. Although the original garnered some good reviews, the trailer to the sequel looks like a hopelessly adolescent film filled with people all too easy to hate. Unless the film surprises, this may be the nadir of summer releases.

Spy looks almost equally unbearable and obvious. Director Paul Feig was a critical darling with Bridesmaids (2011), but that might prove his one-hit wonder. The Heat (2013) was by the numbers. It starred the female Adam Sandler: Melissa McCarthy. McCarthy, who also was in the insufferable Tammy (2014), returns to collaborate with Fieg.

San Andreas: A disaster film from perennial hack Brad Peyton (Journey 2: Mysterious Island and Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore) starring monosyllabic Dwayne Johnson, who makes  look like a sensitive intellectual actor with range. Has the disaster genre really gone anywhere new since the Towering Inferno (1974)? At least in the Irwin Allen days, one got to see “A” stars burst into flames.

Jurassic World: A third-rate rehash of a film that was not very good to begin with. The plot sounds almost identical to the 1993 Spielberg Continue reading READER POLL FOR ALFRED EAKER VS. THE SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS: THE CANDIDATES

CAPSULE: THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE OUT OF WATER (2015)

DIRECTED BY: Paul Tibbitt

FEATURING: Tom Kenny, , Mr. Lawrence

PLOT: The irrepressible Spongebob Squarepants teams up with an old enemy to recover the stolen recipe for Krabby Patties.

Still from The Spongebob Movie: Sponge out of Water (2015)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: There’s just enough kiddie surrealism here to catch your eye, but not enough to justify awarding it any weird honors.

COMMENTS: For those who’ve been living in a cave far from the nearest ocean, “Spongebob Squarepants” is a popular American cartoon about an emotionally buoyant marine invertebrate who lives in a pineapple in an undersea town by the name of “Bikini Bottom.” His pals include a dimwitted starfish, a dyspeptic squid, and a squirrel from Texas who lives under a dome. The show’s “surreal” (by mainstream standards) humor, which coexists alongside an unironic cuteness, gives it a crossover appeal for heady adults. Hey, Max Schreck made a guest appearance on one episode, so it has to be somewhat hip, right?

Still, the second Spongebob feature-length movie (which debuts a full decade after the first one) caught me by surprise with its trippier aspects. The movie itself is a gimmicky mix of live action, CGI, and traditional 2D animation. It begins with pirate “Burger Beard” (Antonio Banderas) and his talking seagulls in an Indiana Jones-styled prologue, then moves to traditional animation as the story moves under the waves to Bikini Bottom. This segment of the movie, which features antagonist Plankton enacting one of his many schemes to try to steal the recipe for Krabby Patties, feels like an extended TV episode. Things get weirder when the recipe is successfully stolen by a third party, forcing Sponegbob and Plankton to team up to try to get it back as, bereft of its staple cuisine, Bikini Bottom slides into Mad Max-inspired anarchy. Their plan involves the construction of a time machine, and eventually results in their transformation into fish-out-of-water superheroes in an action-packed finale.

In between you get the really weird stuff: swirling psychedelic time-travel vortexes, a trip inside Bob’s saccharine brain, where talking Popsicles and kitty cats travel his candy-coated neural pathways and everyone vomits rainbows, and metanarrative shenanigans as characters magically rewrite the story as it happens. Strangest of all is a cameo from a cosmic space dolphin who, naturally, raps at the end of the movie. His name is Bubbles, he has a British accent, and I suspect he’s a member of the Illuminati. Although the 3-D renderings of the cartoon characters are meant to be the blockbuster highlights, it’s these small psycho moments that give the movie its lovably crazy texture. The semi-rationality of kid-logic is a close cousin dream-logic, and the best children’s films exploit this kinship. Kids laugh at the weirdest things, and you can, too.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…the story is just a pretext for sustained, rapid-fire gags, many of them hysterical, that range from movie parodies to Gary Larson-worthy flights of cartoon weirdness.”–Ben Sachs, Chicago Reader (contemporaneous)

CAPSULE: 88 (2015)

DIRECTED BY:  April Mullen

FEATURING: Katharine Isabelle, , Tim Doiron,

PLOT: A woman wakes up in a diner with a gun in her handbag and no memory of how she got there; she accidentally shoots a waitress and goes on the run while experiencing a series of flashbacks that explain her personality change.

Still from 88

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: 88 is confusing and has some hallucinations, but it never gets really weird (or truly interesting).

COMMENTS: 88 shifts back and forth between two timelines, in each of which Katherine Isabelle has a separate personality—for easy reference, she’s generally a hot-blooded sociopath when she’s in red and a confused innocent in blue. There are also fractured flashback montages to even earlier times within each separate storyline, and a few hallucinations thrown in too (although these are obvious and generally don’t affect the plot). It’s tangled, but you never get the sense the knots are worth working out, a suspicion confirmed in the final reveal. Isabelle is formidably sexy and distinct in her dual roles as Gwen and Flamingo, but neither character is well-written or believable, and as nice as she is to look at we don’t care much what happens to either of her personalities. Christopher Lloyd makes for a surprisingly good heavy and seems to legitimately enjoy playing nasty, but there is only so much he can do as a cardboard villain. The script is pure B-movie contrivances, full of shootouts with magic bullets that mow down extras at will but swerve around principals, only wounding them at plot-specific moments when they’ll have a chance to wheeze out some final exposition with their dying breaths. If you told this story front to back, it wouldn’t be very good; chopping it up hides the narrative deficiencies for a while, but they catch up eventually.

Although the action scenes are ridiculous, director Mullen stages generally competent scenes, especially when doing music video-type stuff like filming montages of Isabelle dousing herself in milk and smoking a cigarette in the shower. Milk is a recurring image—Flamingo is obsessed with drinking a particular brand with a sexy spokesmodel whom she resembles—and the beverage is used to humorous effect at times. Mullen takes a turn in front of the camera in the movie’s worst scene, a side trip to visit a quirky gun runner that looks like it was ripped off from a bad ripoff. This digression feels out of place when the rest of the movie is like a bad ripoff: Memento with a hot chick. Together, Isabelle’s sex appeal and Lloyd’s professionalism—and the general trashy ambiance—keep it just watchable; it would make decent late night pay-cable filler.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…the movie works best in theory rather than execution; it lacks the budget and wherewithal to push things to the envelope, settling instead for something that feels edgy and looks it from a distance but that’s actually rather pedestrian upon closer examination.”–Martin Liebman, Blu-ray.com (Blu-ray)