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Wed09302020

Last updateMon, 24 Aug 2020 12pm

The Hunt, the little B movie that can’t seem to catch a break, finally got released to theaters … in the midst of a national emergency.

The results: Not surprisingly, very few people risked COVID-19 in an effort to see it sitting next to people!

Originally set for release last year, the film was postponed until 2020 due to its violent nature—and the fact that a cluster of mass shootings had occurred at the time. So the studio picked the safe haven of March for a release, only to have those plans foiled by Mr. Beer Virus.

Straight up, this is a fun B movie, but it certainly would’ve benefited from a limited release or Netflix opening. It’s got its virtues, but you probably made the right choice by staying home and watching Disney+. It’s good, but not great.

Now, when Tenet comes out, I don’t care if this emergency is still going on: I need to watch that one on IMAX.

The film starts with group of hardcore liberals on instant messaging, goofing around about the idea of hunting deplorables for sport, à la The Most Dangerous Game. Was it a joke? Will they actually hunt? What is the name of the movie?

As things turn out, those who voted for Trump will soon be in the cross-hairs: A group of non-liberals wake up in a field, find a case of weapons, and are immediately met with gunfire and arrows.

Oh my god … sounds pretty controversial, right? Nah, not really. The point of this movie is that too many people are acting like total assholes when it comes to political ideology. (Hey, I count myself as one of those assholes from time to time.) So just about every character in this film behaves badly, regardless of political affiliation. The movie is a satiric take on our current political attitudes, and how things are getting a little out of hand on social media. It’s also at times funny, bloody and suspenseful—and it contains a great kitchen fight in its closing minutes.

There are moments in the script when the movie is almost saying, “Hey, we were just ragging on Republicans, but now we will rag on Democrats! So, don’t get too mad at us!” Those obvious “balancing act” moments drag the movie down a little bit.

The hunt is masterminded by Athena (Hilary Swank). You don’t see her for a large swath of the film, but she shows up eventually and is one of the folks engaged in the above-mentioned kitchen fight. The movie primarily belongs to Betty Gilpin (Glow) as Crystal, who winds up on the hunted side—and that’s not good for the hunters. Betty can throw down, and there’s little that scares her. Gilpin has all the makings of becoming the next great cinematic action hero. She’s got a great deadpan delivery to punctuate her smack-downs, she comes up with some facial expressions that I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen before: She’s a sympathetic hero with depth behind her eyes. I’d say at least 80 percent of the reason I like this movie is because of Gilpin.

Some familiar faces do show up in the movie, including Ike Barinholtz, Ethan Suplee (looking good, Ethan!), Emma Roberts and Amy Madigan. Granted, don’t get too attached to anybody, because the cast thins out fast. Swank, a two-time Oscar winner, shows that she can bring the funk whether she’s working for Clint Eastwood or Craig Zobel, the director of this one. She creates a memorable, sinister villain in Athena. In other words: This film, despite its shlock factor and obviousness, is a good time thanks to Gilpin and Swank. They embrace the nonsense and take it to fun levels.

The Hunt probably deserved a debut on a streaming service rather than the big screen—and streaming, it will be, in the near future. When it hits the TV screen, watch it if you are in the mood for a good B movie.

Published in Reviews

A trio of deranged parents (Leslie Mann, John Cena and Ike Barinholtz) discovers a pact by their three daughters to lose their virginity on prom night, so they stalk them on their special evening in Blockers. This sounds like the basis for a crap movie, but as things turn out, it’s one of the year’s funniest.

Directed by Kay Cannon, the movie pushes the boundaries, pouring it on thick with (very funny) profanity and frank talk about high school seniors heading into sexual activity (not to mention drug experimentation and drinking). It handles its subjects in a surprisingly mature and even sweet way in the end, with the teenage daughters (Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan and Gideon Adlon) having their acts together far more than their bumbling parents.

The always-reliable Mann gets a chance to really shine here; she is one of the best comic actresses in the game. Barinholtz gets a lot of laughs as the movie’s most messed-up character, while Cena continues to prove that he has the comic chops to hold his own with some of the best. This is one of those rare comedies that get consistent laughter from the opening scene until the end.

Blockers is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

Some 15 years after her last movie (the terrible The Banger Sisters), Goldie Hawn has been coaxed back onto the big screen, opposite Amy Schumer in Snatched. It’s great to have her back—and it would’ve been super-great had the movie been worth her time.

Hawn and Schumer play Linda and Emily, mother and daughter, in what amounts to a series of decent dirty jokes, dumb dirty jokes and a lot of flat jokes, powered by a plot with no real sense of purpose. Hawn and Schumer work hard to make it all fun, but they are ultimately taken down by the mediocrity of the film around them.

When Emily is dumped by her rocker boyfriend (the always-funny Randall Park), she has no traveling partner for an upcoming, non-refundable trip to Ecuador. In steps Linda, a crazy-cat-lady mom who rarely leaves the house. Just like that, the two wind up sleeping in a king bed in a lavish resort, with Emily constantly taking selfies to impress her Facebook friends; meanwhile, Linda is covered up with scarves by the pool.

After Emily meets a hot British guy (Tom Bateman), she ultimately winds up on a sightseeing trip—with Mom along for the ride. Mom and daughter wind up kidnapped and held for ransom, with nobody but their nerd son/brother (Ike Barinholtz) to save their asses.

Director Jonathan Levine (50/50) isn’t afraid to take things to dark places—Emily’s attempts to free her and mom has a body count—and the film earns its R rating with raunchy humor, Schumer’s specialty. Some of the gags are good, including a bit involving a scorpion, an ill-fated attempt to swing on a vine, and a tongue-less former special ops soldier (Joan Cusack) flipping through the air like Spider-Man.

Hawn and Schumer make a convincing mommy-daughter combo, and Snatched has value for putting the two in a movie together. They rise above the material often enough to make the film somewhat forgivable, especially if you are a fan of both (and, really, why wouldn’t you be?). The problem is that the scenario—two women being kidnapped—is about as unfunny as you can get, and writer Katie Dippold (who co-wrote the awful Ghostbusters reboot) doesn’t come up with a series of events that feels original. As the Ghostbusters movie did, Snatched drops some comedy mega-stars into a played-out plot, and expects the whole thing to stay afloat, given the screen talent employed. Hawn and Schumer wind up sort of neutralizing the movie, making it a little less dark than a straight kidnapping caper. The resulting vibe is one of flatness.

Given the relative failure of this endeavor, I hope Goldie Hawn doesn’t get discouraged by it. Let’s hope this movie is the first of many more for one of the greats. Truth is, she still has it, and she manages to make a lot of potentially stale moments earn at least a chortle. It’s a weird thing to ponder that she’s been away for a decade and a half, because her timing is spot-on.

As for Schumer, she has a way with gross-out humor that allows you to keep rooting for her—no matter how gross she gets. She’s just as funny as Hawn; it was an inspiring idea to put the two together in a movie.

Leaving Snatched, my general feeling was, “Yeah, I just saw that,” and not much else. I’m happy as heck to see Goldie again, and I enjoy Schumer’s shtick to an extent, but Snatched feels more like something for Adam Sandler and his Netflix cronies than a vehicle for Goldie Hawn.

Snatched is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews