REVIEW: American Ultra [2015]

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“We fired the ugly one” When there are only seven basic plots—as the saying goes—to implicitly choose from as a screenwriter, genre-bending homage becomes the sole path towards creativity. So while Max Landis‘ script for American Ultra is The Bourne Identity meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith through a Pineapple Express filter, it’s a damn good […]

REVIEW: The Great Outdoors [1988]

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“Let go of the rope” Most would probably call it lesser John Hughes—he wrote and produced with Howard Deutch taking the director’s chair—but The Great Outdoors will always hold a special place in my heart. If you asked me who John Candy was in 1990 I’d probably have said, “the guy from The Great Outdoors” […]

REVIEW: My Cousin Vinny [1992]

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“I’ve just never actually seen a grit” I watched My Cousin Vinny a lot in my youth thanks in part to it being a cable TV staple. It’s been a while since my last visit with Joe Pesci‘s titular character’s antics, but the appeal of its humor never faded. I’ve continued to quote lines like […]

FANTASIA15 REVIEW: リアル鬼ごっこ [Riaru onigokko] [Tag] [2015]

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“Watch the ripple” If リアル鬼ごっこ [Tag] were any indication of writer/director Shion Sono‘s warped mind, I’d almost believe he films without rhyme or reason besides excess. Based upon the Japanese novel Riaru onigokko by Yûsuke Yamada—coined by some as the Stephen King of Japan—this surreal tale of three girls in one traversing a nightmarish landscape […]

REVIEW: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. [2015]

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“Inside every Kraut is an American trying to get out” Writer/director Guy Ritchie is like that band all my friends dismiss because they think every song in their discography sounds the same to which I reply, “But I like that song.” With the exception of Swept Away—because I’ve never seen any reason to actually watch […]

FANTASIA15 REVIEW: Pos eso [Possessed] [2014]

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“What he did left his teacher speechless” I didn’t know I wanted a horror parody in the style of “Celebrity Deathmatch” until about halfway through Samuel Ortí Martí‘s [Sam] pitch black skewering of the genre Pos eso [Possessed]. His and Rubén Ontiveros‘ script is littered with homage to The Day the Earth Stood Still in […]

REVIEW: Vacation [2015]

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“I’m as hard as a faucet right now” I smelled trouble as soon as Ed Helms was cast in Vacation as the now father-of-two Rusty Griswold. While the perfect surrogate for Chevy Chase‘s bumbling Clark in a remake of the original National Lampoon’s Vacation, he’s a far cry from the character he’s meant to play […]

REVIEW: National Lampoon’s Vacation [1983]

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“Nothing worthwhile is easy. You know that.” You can’t blame the magazine for thinking movie-making was going to be easy after the success of National Lampoon’s Animal House. But does anyone really remember its two follow-ups National Lampoon’s Movie Madness and National Lampoon’s Class Reunion? I didn’t think so. Something about the latter must have […]

REVIEW: Game Changers [2015]

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“That’s not how you use that card” Can a film about twenty-eight year olds be considered a coming-of-age story? I guess when the two men in question were professional gamers throughout their teens it can because that’s exactly what Robert Imbs‘ Game Changers is. And if we really thought about it, that age is a […]

REVIEW: Trainwreck [2015]

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“Monogamy isn’t realistic” Here I thought I could blame the editor for why Judd Apatow‘s films have been lackluster and overlong since The 40-Year-Old Virgin only to discover his latest Trainwreck is the first of his theatrical quintet not in part handled by Brent White. Instead we have William Kerr, Peck Prior, and Paul Zucker: […]

REVIEW: Mr. & Mrs. Smith [2005]

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“Right. Five or six years.” It was the aggressive nature of the stories told to screenwriter Simon Kinberg by friends in couples therapy that inspired Mr. & Mrs. Smith—his MFA thesis turned half billion dollar moneymaker at the box office. The leap from the tit for tat dynamic between bickering spouses to secret lives is […]