Saw a bunch of movies over the last few weeks (to help break in my new TV) and here’s what I thought…
First up is Hall Pass, the new comedy from the Farrely brothers (creators of classics like Dumb & Dumber, Kingpin, and There’s Something About Mary), starring Jason Sudeikis, Owen Wilson, Jenna Fischer, and Christina Applegate with some great supporting work by people like Stephen Merchant and J.B. Smoove. Hall Pass is about two middle-aged guys whose wives notice them checking out other girls, and decide to give them one free week off of their marriage in order to let them flounder in the social scene and show them how great they’ve got it in marriage. Along the way, of course, comedy ensues.
I was actually pretty entertained by this movie. Aside from a bit of completely unnecessary penis shots (really intense penis shots) and a couple of other quick disturbing moments (one of which happens in the bathroom), this was surprisingly restrained for a Farrely brothers’ movie (which may be due to it being co-written by Pete Jones, of Project Greenlight/Stolen Summer fame). Heck, it was even restrained for any comedy nowadays. I am REALLY not a fan of the recent spate of comedies (and actors) that get their laughs from disturbing situations or increasingly extreme behavior. The Hangover immediately springs to mind, being extremely overrated in my opinion. Also, actors like Zach Galifianakis and Danny McBride. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a completely new thing. Ben Stiller has made an entire career out of it; one that I pretty much can’t stand (I did enjoy Meet the Parents though).
Anyway, enough ranting. The point is, I was very pleased to see a comedy that was a bit more restrained and yet still enjoyable. It wasn’t the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, but it was definitely worth the watch. It may be that I relate to their characters as I get older and still have to deal with the singles scene, but I thought it was a pretty clever idea for a movie. On top of that, I am a really big Jason Sudeikis fan, and I think he really pulled off the middle-aged awkward white guy role perfectly. And the little quips by Stephen Merchant and perfect delivery of J.B. Smoove added some nice little extra oomph to the movie as well. In the end, not a perfect comedy, but definitely worth watching, unless maybe if you’re expecting an over-the-top, gross out Farrely brothers pic.
They’re back!! Next up is 踊る大捜査線THE MOVIE 3:ヤツラを解放せよ！(Bayside Shakedown 3: Set the Guys Loose), the newest edition in the Bayside Shakedown series. This is the first movie in 5 years (7 years if you only count the main storyline) and I was super excited for this.
For those who don’t know, Bayside Shakedown (aka Odoru Daisousasen) was a TV show in 1997 that was followed by a couple TV specials, two movies (now three), and two spin off movies. The story follows the somewhat bumbling local police department in the bay area of Odaiba in Tokyo, focusing more on the goings-on of the station as well as department bureaucracy and politics, with a nice mix of comedy, action, and character development. It follows a young detective, who had previously worked in sales, as he joins the police department in search of action and adventure, only to find out it’s not much different from the corporate world. He then tries his best to balance his ideals of police work with the bureaucratic mess he finds himself in.
Before I say anything about the movie, if you’ve never seen the TV show and previous movies, and have any interest in Japanese TV or movies, do yourself a favor and hunt them down. This is one of my top 3 favorite Japanese shows of all time. Now, on to the movie. Like I said, I’ve been dying to see this since I heard it was being released, and I was not disappointed in the least; the hype didn’t ruin it at all. The story this time centers on the police department moving into a new building, with all the chaos that entails, and a major crime that they have to deal with at the same time. The movie is a lot of fun on its own and it gives a lot of little nods to fans of the series (even featuring a quick little Okamura cameo). It was really great to see all the familiar faces back, as well as a few new ones, including the nephew of one of the most memorable characters from the TV show (Waku), who brought along his uncle’s journal to keep the movie full of his old words of encouragement and knowledge. I would gladly tune in for another full season of the show, or would be completely satisfied with new movies every so often, although this does make for a fairly perfect ending to the series.
Next, new thriller Unknown from director Jaume Collet-Serra (House of Wax remake, Orphan), starring Liam Neeson. The story follows a man, who upon waking from a coma, discovers that his identity has been taken and that no one will believe him. He then sets out to find out why this happened, and to try and prove that he really is who he says he is.
I was really excited to see this movie after watching the trailer, but unfortunately, after seeing it, I have to admit I was largely disappointed. That’s not to say I regret watching it, but it just didn’t really do anything for me. I was expecting a well written mystery type movie, and ended up getting more of an action film with some interesting story bits thrown in. Basically, after setting up the fact that his identity has been taken, the majority of the movie is him being confused, running away from some people while pursuing others, until a 10 minute scene where everything is revealed, followed by a bit of action stuff following his reaction. The first half hour and the last half hour were pretty good, but the 45 minutes or so in the middle were really just completely uneventful.
I really wanted things to be slowly revealed through clues and conversations throughout the movie, rather than waiting for so long to have it all perfectly laid out for me. Now, if it was a great action movie, I may not have minded, but it was only mediocre at best, and I would much prefer to watch Taken again if I want to see a well made Liam Neeson action movie. In the end, not a horrible movie, maybe worth a rental, but it could have been so much more.
Last, but surprisingly not least, is Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules, based on the children’s book of the same name. With this I prove that I will watch movies in any genre. These movies basically follow a less-than-popular junior high student as he deals with life in school and at home with his older bully of a brother. While the first movie followed more of his life at school and of course spent some time setting up the characters, this sequel was all about his relationship with his older brother.
I know these movies are geared towards a much younger audience, but I honestly really enjoy them. It’s nice to see a kids’ movie that isn’t overly saccharine sweet or annoyingly full of attitude and “teenagey”, but just shows a nice family and their daily lives. Someone in another review I read, mentioned the lack of cellphones in the movie and how it helped the movie, and I fully agree; this movie really brought back the feeling of old classic kid movies (like Problem Child or Home Alone). Also, despite not having a brother, younger or older, I was definitely not a popular kid in junior high school and I can kinda relate to the main character. All in all, good clean fun, with some genuine laughs sprinkled throughout. Definitely worth a look if you’re bored and looking for something to watch, doubly so if you’ve got a younger sibling or child around to watch it with.