Tag Archives: Charlie Day

“I Love You, Daddy”

LOUISA: 1 STAR


LOUISA SAYS:

As a critic, I try to distance myself from an actor or filmmaker’s personal life because I find it unfair to punish all of the other cast and crew who worked tirelessly on a film, but the subject matter of the Louis C.K. co-written and directed “I Love You, Daddy” makes it damn near impossible. The Orchard (the studio behind the movie) hastily pulled it from theaters, and now I can see why they made this incredibly good move.

The film feels like a disturbing prophecy of Louis C.K.’s recent unmasking regarding his admitted abuse of power and sexual harassment of women. There’s an ugly, icky, and cringe-worthy undertone to the project now, its story existing in the heavy shadow of the director’s own scandal. Perhaps you can say that C.K. writes what he knows, with tone-deaf gags that objectify women, a character with a penchant for dating underage girls, and several lines encouraging people not to believe sexual predator rumors (yes, really). In what was likely meant to be a provocative, brutal look at the entertainment industry instead comes off and downright gross and appalling given what we now know about the man.

The story centers around television producer Glen (C.K.) and his spoiled teenage daughter China (Chloë Grace Moretz). Glen idolizes legendary film director (and reported pedophile) Leslie (John Malkovich), but he starts to worry when China insists on spending time with the man. The supporting cast is largely female, including Glen’s ex-wife Aura (Helen Hunt), ex-girlfriend Maggie (Pamela Adlon), movie star Grace (Rose Byrne), and his production partner Paula (Edie Falco). Charlie Day shows up as sarcastic actor Ralph and has one of the most disturbing scenes in the entire film (again, due to what we now know about C.K.’s behavior), as he pantomimes exactly what C.K. has admitted to doing in his office in front of women. Yuck.

The characters are insufferable, a gaggle of rich and privileged white people who crack jokes at the expense of Jews and African-Americans, and try to wring inappropriate laughs out of sexual harassment antics and animal cruelty. The film is packed with irritating insider Hollywood references too, making it the type of film that Hollywood types love: arty black and white cinematography, mentions of the business side of the entertainment industry, and the pet project of a (formerly) hot comedian. Oops.

Content aside, the film is technically a misfire. Instead of presenting an original vision, C.K. comes across as a wannabe Woody Allen with a copycat score and monochromatic cinematography. The film is poorly directed with sloppy camera movements too, like he took a master class in bad sitcom directing.

Misogyny rears its ugly head throughout, and there’s a particularly unpleasant riff on feminism and female empowerment that just plain makes me angry and makes my blood boil to think C.K. himself penned it. By the end of the film, Glenn eventually apologizes to all of the women in his life but for them (and for me), it’s far too late.

“Fist Fight”

LOUISA: 3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

“Fist Fight” is one of those movies that’s not exactly great, not exactly awful, but settles comfortably in the “just good enough” category like a straight “C” student. It’s a little lazy in its storytelling and bouts of crude sexual comedy, but the movie tries really hard — making it good for more than a few hearty laughs from the comedic strengths of its two remarkably charismatic leads.

When tough history teacher Mr. Strickland (Ice Cube) accuses mousy English teacher Mr. Campbell (Charlie Day) of getting him fired on the last day of school, he challenges the man to an old fashioned fist fight in the parking lot after school. It’s “Three O’Clock High” but with teachers and a Millennial social media sensibility (#teacherfight).

There are some really funny moments leading up to the big brawl, courtesy of a menagerie of eccentric colleagues. There’s an oddball coach (Tracy Morgan), stressed out principal (Dean Norris), indifferent security guard (Kumail Nanjiani), unhinged French teacher (Christina Hendricks), and a wayward and wildly inappropriate guidance counselor (the scene-stealing Jillian Bell with her dry, deadpan style on full, glorious display here).

Teachers in particular will probably get a real kick out of this one because there are loads of educator jokes that are universally funny but will take on an extra special meaning to those in the profession. Yes, we do eventually get to see the final showdown but with all its talk of violence and promises of bloodshed, the film has a sweet (and pro-education) ending.

No doubt this film could’ve been funnier, especially with such a simple yet amusing premise, but its high points are entertaining and amusing enough for a mild recommendation.

“The Hollars”

LOUISA: 4 STARS MATT: 3.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

The oft-maligned genre of the ‘dysfunctional family dramedy’ is given new life in “The Hollars,” the sophomore directorial effort from actor John Krasinski. There’s not much new territory covered story-wise and some will undoubtedly call the film predictable, but even though you may have t.v. sitcom deja vu, the film rarely feels clichéd. I have to admit the film is weighed down by a very conventional and slightly cheesy final 20 minutes, but the rest of the film is so delightful and insightful that I’m able to overlook it.

When struggling New York artist John Hollar (Krasinski) gets a call that his mother Sally (Margo Martindale) is in the hospital with a sudden emergency, his pregnant girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick) immediately sends him home to Michigan. This is where the ‘been there, done that’ elements of the story kick in: there’s the resentful, divorced older brother Ron (Sharlto Copley) living in their parent’s basement, nearly-bankrupt dad Don (Richard Jenkins), and overeager ex-fiancée Gwen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) whose new husband (Charlie Day) is also John’s mother’s nurse. The premise may sound like your garden variety sitcom, but the amusing, lively and heartbreaking script from Jim Strouse walks that fine line between humor and tragedy with a bittersweet finesse. This glimpse at love, loss and family somehow manages to remain remarkably relatable and genuine.

I give major credit to the talented cast for creating such a credible onscreen family. These are people you’ll feel as if you know, reminding you of friends or even members of your own family. Much has been said about how incredible Martindale is in this movie, and everyone is right: she is absolutely brilliant and her performance is more than worthy of the considerable acclaim. She’s so great that it’s easy to overlook the brilliant, heartbreaking turns from Jenkins (a true standout as the family patriarch who just can’t cope with his wife’s illness) and Copley (finding perfect balance of tenderness and regret as a compassionate older brother). Krasinski and Kendrick add an air of authenticity as a couple facing their own fears of parenthood, and Day provides a natural comic relief through his trademark relaxed sarcasm. Even Josh Groban, cast as a youth pastor and new companion for Ron’s ex-wife, is more than a little convincing.

This is a small, charming, and awfully touching movie about generations coming together in a crisis. It’s a lovely story about lovely people and delivers a raw, realistic look at the nature of our relationships with our family.

MATT SAYS:

Director John Krasinski‘s sophomore effort in film direction, “The Hollars”, is a huge step forward and a vast improvement on his first directorial outing, “Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.” Although Mr. Krasinski will forever be known as Jim from “The Office,” movies like this one remind us that he is a man of many talents. His direction is confident and his work is insightful. This film is worthy of your time and notice.

Krasinski plays John, the youngest son in the Hollar family, which is comprised by dad Don (Richard Jenkins), mom Sally (Margo Martindale), and older brother Ron (Sharlto Copley). The Hollars’ world is rocked when the family learns that Sally has a brain tumor. John rushes to his hometown to assist, leaving his very-pregnant girlfriend Rebecca (Anna Kendrick) back home in New York.

Sally is the rock of the family; she’s the one that has held the Hollar men together. Each of the men is going through a crisis, either driven by loss of a job, loss of a relationship, or in the case of John, crippling fear that he will fail Rebecca and their baby once it is born. The Hollar family — each one too proud or stubborn to admit it — needs one another, and it takes Sally’s illness to help remind them of that.

“The Hollars” is an intensely honest look at family, love, and friendship that only rarely rings false. Each of the characters is raw and real in a way that is all-too-familiar. It works because (for most of the film) it doesn’t try to wring false drama out of situations or become saccharine in creating phony situations that lack authenticity. I say “for most of the film” because in the last 5-10 minutes it does make a sharp left turn that feels badly out of place when compared to the rest of the film. That said, the rest of the movie is so well done that I can forgive the detour.