Tag Archives: Netflix

“The 101 Year Old Man Who Skipped Out on the Bill and Disappeared “

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LOUISA: 3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

In this sequel to “The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared,” (which was ranked #7 on my Top 10 Best Films of 2015 list), a year has passed and our story picks up where the first film left off. It’s Allan’s (Robert Gustafsson) 101st birthday, and a random taste of the very last existing bottle of a delicious 1970s Russian soft drink called Folksoda sets off another goofy road trip filled with chance encounters and amusing exploits.

As with the first film there are several running gags (one involving a monkey and another the desire to go swimming), but nothing reaches the great comedic heights of the original. While part one was based on the novel by Jonas Jonasson, part two has no book on which its based — and the too simple, aimless story suffers. The formula remains the same, featuring more “Forrest Gump” style flashbacks from Allan’s adventurous life as a double agent spy.

If it’s been a while since you’ve seen the first film, it may be helpful to brush up on the events that unfolded. Many characters are back, including Geddan (Jens Hultén), Popov (Georg Nikoloff), and Benny (David Wiberg), and most of their jokes reference the earlier movie.

Fans of the original will probably enjoy this installment enough for a mild recommendation, yet disappointment is most likely imminent. This half-baked sequel never even comes close to touching the brilliance of its predecessor, but it’s good for a few hearty laughs.

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“Sandy Wexler”

LOUISA: 1.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

When an Adam Sandler movie has a runtime of over two hours, it’s a matter of course that it will long overstay its welcome. “Sandy Wexler,” the latest Netflix original film from the former SNL funnyman, runs out of steam very, very quickly. This is the worst kind of comedy: one that’s devoid of laughs.

Sandler plays the titular good hearted yet incompetent talent manager who manages to all but ruin the careers of his clients. The story is set in the 1990s, so get ready for reference jokes about the fashion, music, and entertainment industry during that time (including giant cell phones, the Atkins diet, and Arsenio Hall). He has a rag-tag roster of clients, including a ventriloquist (Kevin James), an unskilled wrestler (Terry Crews), a lousy comedy writer (Colin Quinn), and a stuntman (Nick Swardson). When Sandy signs a theme park singer with stars in her eyes (Jennifer Hudson), he falls in love.

Sandler uses a goofy voice that makes it feel as though he’s doing a subpar impression of Billy Madison and the waterboy. Sandy’s signature laugh is a charming quirk, but there’s no real purpose to speaking in a comedic voice. The long list of random celebrity cameos (set up as a fake roast of Sandy) comes across as more gimmicky than fun, and Hudson truly deserves this year’s Razzie award for the worst acting performance of the year as a Whitney Houston wannabe. Her delivery is so strained and awkward that I could swear she was being forced to read her lines at gunpoint. It’s not a so-bad-it’s-funny performance, it’s just so awful it’s sad.

There’s one major obstacle that the movie can’t overcome, and that’s the fact that it’s simply not entertaining nor very funny. There are a handful of jokes that land and while some of them are quite inspired, most are strained and unfunny. Even the idea isn’t amusing in the least. Thank the film gods for Swardson’s inept daredevil because he’s the only remotely funny aspect of this movie.

As with most of Sandler’s recent work, the story has a sweet and heartfelt tone and ending. It’s not really out of place here, but it also doesn’t exactly feel earned or authentic. In a word, it’s lazy.

“Mascots”

LOUISA: 1.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

“Mascots” sounds like a slam-dunk idea for a Netflix original film. An exploration of the fictional, competitive world of sports team mascots from the master of satire, writer / director Christopher Guest? Yes, please. Unfortunately, this surprisingly unfunny effort from Guest is nothing more than one colossal disappointment.

The film tries to force quirky situations and lackluster humor on its talented roster of actors (including Guest alums Parker Posey, Jane Lynch, and John Michael Higgins, and the usually amusing Sarah Baker, Zach Woods, and Chris O’Dowd), and awkwardly struggles to squeeze laughs out of increasingly unfunny situations. I stuck with it, hoping that the movie would eventually find its groove and start to make me laugh. The laughs never came.

This is a dull retread of the most uninspired jokes you’ve ever seen. There’s no spark, no originality, and a complete waste of a strong premise. As with most of Guests’ films (“A Mighty Wind,” “Best In Show“), this mockumentary is mostly improvised — and it shows. The dialogue is strained and feels inauthentic, and the actors look as if they are uncomfortable (a first for a Guest movie).

The best part of the film is the actual mascot competition for the Golden Fluffy award, where it’s obvious that professional dancers don the mascot costumes and deliver wildly ridiculous routines. It’s fun for a while, but then quickly becomes stale and monotonous.

This is a strained mockumentary that isn’t worth your time.


Matt was unavailable for review.

“Amanda Knox”

LOUISA: 2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Accused murderer Amanda Knox is the subject of the latest flavor-of-the-month true crime original movie from Netflix (the online powerhouse hit it big last year with wildly popular and similar series “Making A Murderer“). “Amanda Knox,” which premiered last month at the Toronto International Film Festival, is just okay as far as documentaries go. I think it would’ve been better suited as a miniseries than a 90 minute movie.

Knox herself kicks off the film while staring into the camera: “Either I’m a psychopath in sheep’s clothing, or I am you.” This opener is strong and effective, but it doesn’t set viewers up for the complete letdown of a film that follows.

The lurid, complex case is fascinating and almost unbelievable. Knox was a supposed jealous, sex-crazed college girl studying abroad in Italy who allegedly stabbed her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, and attempted to stage a crime scene to hide her guilt. Knox was arrested and spent years incarcerated in a prison in Italy (where she was convicted of the murder — twice). She was eventually released when an Italian appeals court found that cops completely contaminated nearly all of the DNA evidence in the case. This story should make for a completely fascinating film, but it’s a lot of information to pack into one short movie and the doc suffers because of this.

The documentary presents no new information and leaves many questions unanswered. Too many details are left unexplored so viewers never get a full, in-depth examination of the evidence and crucial elements of the macabre case. Most of the stories are told in a boring talking head fashion, with visuals of Italian police documents and gruesome crime scene videos.

There could’ve been an entire two hour episode dedicated solely to Nick Pisa, a freelance “journalist” who fell into the tabloid style of sensational reporting and racy headlines that contributed to a worldwide media frenzy. This careless reporting eventually helped lead to Knox’s conviction for rape and murder in Italy — twice. That Pisa shows little regret (expressed through his overly cheerful demeanor when discussing the case) is something I’d love to have seen explored further.

There’s much brought up about the prosecution’s theory of a sex game gone wrong, yet the filmmakers never show us any background as to why that was their case. We don’t see much evidence presented at all, on either side. Italian prosecutor Giuliano Mignini, a Sherlock Holmes fan who fancies himself a shrewd American movie style detective, is another compelling figurehead that doesn’t get enough screen time to make a lasting impact. There are countless missed opportunities like this, and the film is a victim of its own shorter format.

This is a compelling story but it isn’t a well made movie. I wanted “Amanda Knox” to be a riveting exploration of how someone may or may not have been falsely accused of murder, the worldwide justice and media implications the case and appeals have created, or just a basic play-by-play that examined all of the evidence at hand. Instead it’s just another ho-hum true crime documentary that’s not really worth your time.


Matt was unavailable for review.

DVD Roundup: September

Want to know which movies we recommend and which movies you should skip? Check out our newest feature, the DVD Roundup. Each month we’ll be posting a handy review recap of movies that will be released for home viewing. Simply click on the film’s title to read our original reviews and to see the star rating for each movie. Movies that we split on will have the star ratings averaged to find the appropriate category. Films are listed alphabetically in each category regardless of DVD release date. All films below have scheduled DVD release dates from September 1 – September 30, 2016.

“Now You See Me 2”

Highly Recommended

“Money Monster”

Worthy Rentals

“Central Intelligence”

You Can Do Better

“Love & Friendship”

Skip It

DVD Roundup: August

Want to know which movies we recommend and which movies you should skip? Check out our newest feature, the DVD Roundup. Each month we’ll be posting a handy review recap of movies that will be released for home viewing. Simply click on the film’s title to read our original reviews and to see the star rating for each movie. Movies that we split on will have the star ratings averaged to find the appropriate category. All films below have scheduled DVD release dates from August 1 – August 31, 2016.

“The Nice Guys”

Highly Recommended

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War

Worthy Rentals

“God’s Not Dead 2”

You Can Do Better

“Ratchet & Clank”

Skip It

 

“The Do-Over”

LOUISA: 1.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

In the latest made-for-Netflix movie “The Do-Over,” Adam Sandler and David Spade make a great onscreen buddy duo. Their brash and snarky personalities clash in a way that works. The movie is not good and is ultimately forgettable, but it’s also quite watchable, not half bad, and nowhere near as awful as people are going to lead you to believe.

Spade plays pitiful Charlie, a total loser who runs into old high school buddy Max (Sandler) at their 25th class reunion. In an attempt to escape their dull lives and reinvent themselves, the two devise a plan to assume other dead mens’ identities. Turns out those other men are involved in some seriously shady stuff and Charlie and Max now find themselves chased by a team of assassins and paired up with a widow (the reliably horrible Paula Patton).

The evil drug company plot is a little hard to follow but the twists and turns are interesting enough to keep you guessing. The storyline in this film surprised me, and I didn’t see where it was going. There’s not much gross out humor; instead it’s more subdued and some of the comedy is even — dare I say it — inspired. As with most Sandler projects, the movie ends its laughs with a big heart. It’s worth your time if you are a fan of Sandler, but others would be wise to skip it.


Matt was unavailable for review.

“Special Correspondents”

LOUISA:  2 STARS MATT: 2.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Never has a premise gotten so lost in such a poorly written script than in “Special Correspondents,” the new Ricky Gervais directed film that recently debuted on Netflix. What could’ve been a whip-smart satire is instead wasted on this huge disappointment of a movie. It’s stereotypically British in a way: watchable yet bland.

“Special Correspondents” is a remake of the 2009 French film “Envoyes Tres Speciaux.” It starts with a fantastic premise: New York City radio reporter and womanizer Frank (Eric Bana) and his sad-sack sound engineer Ian (Gervais) get assigned to cover a civil war in Ecuador. When a mishap causes them to miss their flight, the pair hide out in a nearby ethnic restaurant and fake on-the-ground audio reports from across the street. After spinning a complex web of lies, the duo eventually get in way too deep and end up faking their own kidnappings. It’s fun to a point — but then gets uncomfortably ridiculous. The idea is a great one, but the characters so poorly developed that the film stalls and ultimately goes nowhere.

Some true moments of inspired greatness come mostly from America Ferrera as the restaurant’s dim-witted proprietor and Vera Farmiga as Ian’s opportunistic wife Eleanor. When Ian and Frank go missing and capture the hearts of Americans everywhere, Eleanor takes to television talk shows, singing her original song: “Dollar for a Hero.” Soon she’s collected a pile of money by exploiting this “tragedy.” This is one of the funniest parts of the film and really shows the meaningful social commentary and satirical greatness this film could have achieved.

Ricky Gervais is fine as a director, simply competent and straightforward. A huge problem with the film is that there is zero chemistry between Gervais and Bana. It’s really, really awful and unpleasant to watch. Most of the performances here are pretty tepid and boring across the board, and the film isn’t as funny as it should be. There’s nothing super impressionable here (it feels like a not so great ripoff of “Wag the Dog“), but it’s still just good enough to make it worthy of a Netflix night.

This new original movie can be viewed exclusively on Netflix.

MATT SAYS:

I love Ricky Gervais. For some reason, his sense of humor generally gibes with mine. So when I found out that he wrote and directed the remake of the French movie “Envoyes tres speciaux” for Netflix, I had to check it out.

“Special Correspondents” is a fun idea: two hapless radio journalists (Eric Bana and Gervais) fake reports that they send in supposedly from a war-torn country, when in reality they are really holed up in an apartment across the street from their radio station. When their bosses demand that they show up at the U.S. Embassy, they fake their own kidnapping to avoid having their lie exposed.

It’s a fun idea with a good cast that, in addition to Gervais and Bana, includes the always-delightful Vera Farmiga as well as America Ferrera and Kevin Pollak. There are some enjoyable bits here, mostly those involving Ferrara’s character and her husband Domingo (Raul Castillo), who are the only ones who know about the journalists’ ruse.

That said, there isn’t much substance here. In spite of the better-than-average cast and the talent of Gervais, this feels every bit a straight-to-Netflix affair that was clearly made with a limited budget and resources. If you’re a fan of Gervais and the rest of the actors, it may be worth a watch. Otherwise, skip it.

“Pee-wee’s Big Holiday”

LOUISA:   4 STARS   MATT:  4 STARS 


LOUISA SAYS:

For those of us who grew up with Pee-wee Herman, this new Netflix original movie will have you jumping for joy. Paul Reubens embraces his odd and slightly creepy man-child alter ego in this very corny and very funny movie. He stays true to the character so long-time fans never fear: you won’t be disappointed. The opening sequence of Pee-wee waking up in the idyllic town of Fairville (a town he’s never desired to leave) and getting ready to go to work is classic. It’s so colorful and inventive and fun that it instantly put a huge grin on my face. From there the film keeps up with its absurdly silly sight gags and corny jokes — for the most part. I am willing to overlook some of the more unsuccessful bits (the alien friend, the flying car) because the ones that work are so great.

Adding to the camp factor is hunky Joe Manganiello (starring as himself), hamming it up with an amusing deadpan delivery. Pee-wee thinks Joe is too cool for words and sets out on a cross-country adventure when he’s invited to his new friend’s birthday party in New York City. Along the way, Pee-wee briefly meets all sorts of oddball folks (if this plot sounds familiar, it is: this film retreads territory covered in the 1985 classic “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure“). But it’s a formula that works. Still, this film could’ve benefited greatly from having actual movie star cameos in all the small roles throughout (guess their budget was too small), but the no-name supporting actors are still enjoyable.

This is a very specific brand of humor and you’ll either find it immensely comical or you won’t crack a chuckle. If you loved any of the other Pee-wee movies or the television show “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” you are sure to adore this latest installment of the grey suited, white loafered, red bowtied character. It’s filled to the brim with sweet nostalgia for the over-30 crowd but is also appropriate for everyone in the family. Parents, this is a great way to introduce your kids to Pee-wee.

This new original movie can be viewed exclusively on Netflix.

MATT SAYS:

Pee-wee Herman is back, you guys! And in a movie! One that you can watch at home, right now, if you have Netflix!

Despite many years having passed since the last time he visited the big screen, Paul Reubens slips comfortably back into Pee-wee’s shoes and it feels like he never left. This story is classic Pee-wee: after a chance meeting with cool-guy actor Joe Manganiello (who plays himself in the film), Pee-wee realizes that he is somewhat stuck in a rut with his job and his life and decides to set off across the country on a road trip to visit Joe in New York City. Along the way, he meets a series of unusual and eccentric characters that help him broaden his horizons and take in new experiences.

This is movie is charming and, at times, extremely funny. One scene in particular had us laughing so hard that we had to rewind and re-watch what we missed. It’s a great choice for family movie night (the movie is appropriate for kids — there are some slightly risqué jokes but they will fly right over kids’ heads) and a great way to revisit a beloved character.

Sundance Recap: “Brahman Naman”

LOUISA:   4 STARS    MATT:   4 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

In what will inevitably be compared to teen classics “American Pie” and “Napoleon Dynamite,” Indian import “Brahman Naman” is a worthy addition to coming of age comedies. It’s a fun premise: a group of loser quiz team nerds in 1980s India are obsessed with sex and girls; the hugely likeable cast, including Shashank Arora (Naman) and Tanmay Dhanania (Ajay) makes this movie soar.

This funny film is part raunchy sex comedy and part educational documentary about the caste system in India. Interspersed with brilliant animated sequences (I wanted more), unusual trivia questions (look for the answer key in the closing credits), and explicit sex jokes involving randy college boys, this movie is simultaneously strange and delightful. There’s lots of smoking, drinking, singing (the story is told partially in classic 80s songs), misogyny, and of course, lots and lots and lots of solo sex (we are introduced to the hero when he appears in the opening scene having sex with the family’s refrigerator).

This movie isn’t for everyone but it’s a fun, refreshing voice from director Qaushiq “Q” Mukherjee. You can find “Brahman Naman” on Netflix.

MATT SAYS:

In the grand tradition of movies like “Weird Science” and “American Pie” comes a teenage sex comedy with a message. “Brahman Naman” follows a trio (and sometimes quartet) of Indian upperclass sex-obsessed nerdy college boys as they drink and fantasize their way through their last year of university.

This movie is not for the conservative or prudish. Let’s just say Jim from “American Pie” — he with his creative use of pastries — has nothing on Naman, who is much more imaginative in his efforts at self-stimulation, to often hilarious effect.

But for all of its lighthearted comedy, there is also a serious political message behind “Brahman Naman.” The underlying criticisms of the caste system in India are hard to miss here, as is the flagrant sexism that informs the way these boys view and treat women. I both laughed and learned while watching this movie, which is not something I can say about the typical sex comedy.