REVIEW: Jumanji: The Next Level [2019]

Wherever they may be. The first cinematic adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg‘s Jumanji brought the board game’s wild jungle environment to its players’ quiet suburbia for a crazy survival adventure. Jake Kasdan and company could have easily done the exact same thing again with their reboot/sequel hybrid Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle due to over twenty years having past since its predecessor’s release, but they chose to breathe new life into the property instead. And it worked beautifully to earn critical, creative, and financial success. They revamped board and dice…

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REVIEW: The Secret Life of Pets 2 [2019]

Was the world always this dangerous? Illumination missed the boat on The Secret Life of Pets because the way they’ve told these stories thus far make them a lot more conducive to television than cinema. If that first film’s sprawling character list devolving into wild schemes and pratfalls barely adhering to the flimsy plot beneath wasn’t enough to prove it, composing The Secret Life of Pets 2 into three very disparate subplots forced together at the climax is. Moving to a long-form narrative format would supply breathing room to focus…

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REVIEW: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle [2017]

Find the missing piece. The end of Jumanji shows Alan and Sarah chaining up the board game before throwing it over a bridge into water. Later we see it washed ashore on a beach, buried in the sand with chains removed as people walk by speaking what sounds like French. So we wonder how long after the main plot this Planet of the Apes ending is set. Did it cross the Atlantic? There’s real fun to this abstract epilogue with infinite possibilities, especially since the unlikely sequel Jumanji: Welcome to…

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REVIEW: The Secret Life of Pets [2016]

“Liberated forever, domesticated never” Illumination Entertainment’s latest film The Secret Life of Pets has an amazing hook: what do our pets do while we’re gone? We could obviously pay Comcast Xfinity to supply cameras and discover the answer to that question—why use product placement when you can show a commercial before the film that uses its characters as shills—but it’s more fun to imagine the possibilities ourselves. If you’ve seen any of the trailers you’ll know this is precisely what Ken Daurio, Brian Lynch, and Cinco Paul have decided. Their…

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REVIEW: Central Intelligence [2016]

“You can’t look a guy in the eye and say something like that” Writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber is finally back to the zany, off-the-wall, and over-the-top antics that made him a hot commodity back in 2004 after the release of Dodgeball. He took a genre (the underdog sports tale), brought it down from its lofty pedestal of true life historical pedigree and had fun lambasting the tropes in as juvenile a way possible while still retaining the smarts to remain satire. His last film, We’re the Millers, lacked that flair…

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REVIEW: Get Hard [2015]

“Have fun with it” It was only a matter of time before Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart paired up. The former’s fading critical success is in need of an injection of freshness to work alongside his tired shtick and the latter’s firmly planted star atop Hollywood couldn’t hurt from a little face time with a fanbase that may not have fully transitioned over to the new guy. On paper Get Hard should be a resounding win-win as a result both financially and creatively. Just think of the comedy gold that…

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REVIEW: The Wedding Ringer [2014]

“Sock on put” The writing team behind The Break-Up is back nine years later with their latest comedy The Wedding Ringer. While not a slog like their first feature—I found it painful at times—Jeremy Garelick (who also directs) and Jay Lavender‘s increased entertainment value unfortunately comes at the price of the whole being a complete mess. Jamming in as many comedy tropes as possible to create this genre Frankenstein’s monster, you’ll find yourself laughing at Wedding Crashers-level raunch one moment, wading through a flipped The Wedding Planner-esque plot full of…

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Posterized Propaganda February 2014: ‘RoboCop’, ‘The LEGO Movie’, ‘Non-Stop’ & More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. February is here, January dump month is over, and 2014 is officially ready to take control with only a few more festival holdovers from last Fall. A couple summer-caliber flicks…

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REVIEW: Ride Along [2014]

“Congratulations. They know we have a dirty household.” Are you a fan of Kevin Hart? Saying yes means you’ll probably be satisfied with Ride Along if only to enjoy the antics he’s saturated Hollywood with these past couple years. It’s a run-of-the-mill buddy cop comedy that hits every note in the formula book thanks to two sets of rewrites over a four-year gestation, but none of it truly matters when Hart is there to amp up the funny each time he opens his mouth and ceases to shut it. The…

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REVIEW: Grudge Match [2013]

“This is not the behavior of old men, man” Someone had the brilliant idea of putting Rocky Balboa and Jake La Motta in the ring together at the ripe old comedic age of seventy and their Hollywood surrogates agreed to no one’s surprise. Not only that, but the actors also found added pleasure in playing these latest roles as somewhat of a parody on themselves with Robert De Niro‘s Billy “The Kid” McDonnen being all about the easy financial score (see the two-time Oscar-winner’s trajectory the past two decades) and…

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Posterized Propaganda December 2013: ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ ‘Her,’ ‘American Hustle’ & More

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. Is the industry overcompensating a bit with almost every film in December having character sheets? And I’m not even talking about Fox’s Walking with Dinosaurs (open December 20)—the one that…

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