Tag Archives: Stephen Root

Sundance Review: “Get Out”



The classic ‘meet the parents’ weekend is turned on its head in “Get Out,” the directorial debut from comedian Jordan Peele. Peele has created a wannabe thriller about unsettling race relations in the U.S., but overall it’s a “Stepford Wives” style disappointment that lacks any suspense and has very little humor. I predict many critics will proclaim this movie as being a true original, but it’s not. An important social issue doesn’t make it a good movie, and I think some will be afraid to criticize the film and its many flaws because of it.

When white girl Rose (Allison Williams) invites her black boyfriend Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) to go home and meet her mom (Catherine Keener) and dad (Bradley Whitford), something is definitely rotten. Her parents are the perfect picture of the ideal in-laws: accepting, intelligent and kind. Chris gets more than a little spooked when he spots strange and bizarre behavior from several of the household servants, which leads to more disturbing discoveries, a few jump scares, and a forced hypnosis from mom. Of course this turns out to be some kooky white people cult conspiracy that involves kidnapping African-American men (to avoid giving spoilers that’s all I’m going to say).

LilRel Howery plays the “stereotypical black friend” and as is the norm in most mainstream films, his character is the only one who has any funny one-liners. He’s the comic relief that keeps the engine running through this mess (although there’s an unfunny running TSA joke that outstays its welcome after the second crack). Stephen Root as a blind art dealer was enough to elicit a few polite, mild chuckles, but I found little else in the movie funny. It’s not that I expected a straight-up comedy film, but a bit more humor would’ve made the film work better.

It’s clear this race-based film was meant as a criticism of the liberal elite, those folks who think they are above any type of racism, but the film fails miserably across the board. In fact, I’m not sure if this movie aspires to be a parody, a satirical comedy, or conventional horror because it succeeds at none of the above. While trying to find its footing, the film comes across as more divisive and biased rather than clever, and it’s not the best message to be sending out into our post-Obama world and current heated political environment. (And please don’t tell me that I don’t “get” this movie because I’m white: for a movie with substantial and ambitious themes like this, there’s an even greater burden on the writer / director to make it appealing and relatable to everyone).

The film has an unappealing cast of actors, the overall story is lifeless, and it doesn’t help matters that it’s painfully slow to set up. Slow isn’t the correct word — it’s more of a draggy, tedious, exercise that tried my patience throughout the first 3/4 of the movie. I contemplated taking a nap through the majority of the screening because it was such a yawner, but thankfully things picked up a bit (albeit far too late) in the third act.

There’s no doubt “Get Out” was heavily influenced by horror genre conventions, and most of the bloody violence is on point. Peele has a good eye as a director and probably has a bright future behind the lens, but it’s the writing that he just can’t seem to pull together. This movie could’ve been a blazingly original commentary on race relations but instead, there’s no cohesiveness to his intended message. It’s a good idea, but it’s poorly executed.

This film was screened and reviewed at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

“Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates”



The mildly amusing “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” isn’t quite the laugh a minute riot that the previews promised, but there’s still enough funny material to keep things interesting. It’s the perfect recipe when it comes to casting, a flawless pairing of immensely likeable young and funny actors.

When lifelong screwups (and brothers) Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) ruin yet another family gathering with their ‘riled up’ antics, their mom and dad (Stephanie Faracy and Stephen Root) request that the duo find a pair of ‘nice girls’ to invite to their sister’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) wedding. Of course these nice girls eventually turn out to be unemployed potheads Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza). This is a really hilarious idea for a movie. Too bad the premise isn’t full realized.

I’d rate the funny percentage at about 40%. Most jokes rated nothing more than light chuckles from me but there were a couple of scenes that left me in extended laughter. Otherwise, everything else fell flat. Humor is subjective, of course, but I also didn’t hear anyone else in my audience laughing either.

The movie feels too much like a cheap and lazy “Wedding Crashers” rip-off than an outrageously original comedy. This isn’t a bad movie and it’s not completely unfunny. It’s enjoyable enough, but it could’ve been so much more.


Like so many other big R-rated summer comedies before it (with the notable exceptions of 2015’s “Vacation” and 2013’s “We’re the Millers“), “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” starts out fairly strong and then gradually tapers down until it fizzles out.

The idea of the movie is lots of fun: Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) are two twenty-something directionless losers who are the life of every party. But, as their parents note, Mike and Dave always take things one step too far, and those parties always end up ruined. Their sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) implores them to bring “nice girls” as dates to her wedding in Hawaii, which Jeanie hopes will calm the boys down. Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza) – who are very much like Mike and Dave – pretend to be those “nice girls” to get that free trip to Hawaii.

Early on, as we are establishing the characters, the laughs come easily and frequently. Things start to drop off significantly when the group arrives in Hawaii, and the guys gradually start to realize that Tatiana and Alice aren’t quite who they say they are. As the movie reaches its climax, the situations become a little more far-fetched, and it becomes hard to continue caring about what happens next.

This is a movie with a good premise but without heart or a sense of direction. Earlier in life, Adam Sandler and his Happy Madison studio made a career of making movies about loveable losers, ne’er-do-wells that were forced by circumstances to grow up in one way or another. In many of those films (“Billy Madison”, “Happy Gilmore”, “Joe Dirt”, “The Wedding Singer”), we find something to love about the main characters, and we actually care about what happens to them. Those movies endure because they have heart. Movies like “Mike and Dave” will be forgotten in a year because it has none.