CVIndependent

Tue07172018

Last updateWed, 27 Sep 2017 1pm

Charlize Theron goes on a tear for the ages in Atomic Blonde, placing another pin on her action-hero lapel after her ferocious turn as Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road.

As Lorraine Broughton—an undercover agent on a mission in Berlin as the wall begins to fall in the late 1980s—she showcases her ability to kick people through walls with the best of them. She also knows how to use a freezer door as a weapon.

Directed by David Leitch, one of the directors of the original John Wick and the future director of Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde pops with the same kind of kinetic energy that Wick did when the bullets and kicks were flying. Also a legendary stuntman, Leitch knows how to make a hit look real, and he choreographs action scenes that stand as some of the year’s best. When Charlize lands a blow in this movie, you feel it.

Based on the graphic novel The Coldest City, the film does drag at times, especially when Lorraine does the standard interrogation-room scenes, with Toby Jones and John Goodman drilling her for answers. Atomic Blonde could’ve used some tightening in the edit room; instead, one must wade through the shallow parts.

Lorraine tells her story in flashback as she hunts for a list containing nefarious info about her and her fellow agents—a list that could continue the Cold War for decades to come. Her hunt includes interactions with unorthodox agent David Percival (James McAvoy), somebody who mixes his espionage with partying—and trafficking in the black market for Jordache jeans.

Theron and McAvoy are good together onscreen, and their dialogue scenes are some of the best scenes that don’t involve teeth getting broken. As for the bone-crunching action, there’s a sequence in this movie that rivals a Logan scene as the best of the year thus far. Leitch coordinates a battle that starts in a building and culminates with a car chase, viewed as if it were all done in one shot. It’s an exhaustive exercise in how to keep fighting while falling down stairs, getting shot and getting your face kicked in. Even if the rest of the movie consisted of Theron and McAvoy gardening and sipping herbal teas while listening to a ballgame on the radio, Atomic Blonde would still be worth seeing for that scene. It’s classically good.

McAvoy, having a great year with this and Split, has elevated him himself from amusing curio actor to heavy hitter in 2017. He’s a nut in this movie, as was the case in Split. He’s an actor who is willing to take some risks, and they are paying off. He also might win the award for Best Strained Dialogue Delivery While Keeping a Cigarette in One’s Mouth Through a Major Ass-Kicking.

As good as he is, you won’t go to Atomic Blonde to see McAvoy. This is Theron’s vehicle, and she owns it. Theron, an Academy Award-winning actress who can dramatically spar with the best of them, is a physical performer in league with the best. In this movie, she’ll convince you that neither Conor McGregor nor Floyd Mayweather would stand a chance in the ring with Theron.

Late ’80s playlists are sure to spike on streaming services thanks to the film’s soundtrack, which includes David Bowie, Queen, Falco, ‘Til Tuesday, The Clash and, quite notably, George Michael. (His “Father Figure” is put to astonishingly good use in that classic scene I mentioned above.) Leitch and company find great ways to make the music part of the film, and while I probably never needed to hear “99 Luftbalons” again, the presence of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Cities in Dust” is much appreciated.

The summer movie season is coming to a close, and while Atomic Blonde isn’t one of the summer’s best, it does have a couple of the summer’s best scenes. I’m not sure if there’s enough here to warrant another Atomic Blonde movie, but there’s definitely room for more movies with Theron hitting people in the face with freezer doors. She’s quite good at it.

Atomic Blonde is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

Transformers: The Last Knight gets the dubious distinction of being the worst in the series.

That is a major accomplishment. It’s not the easiest thing to look at this collective pile of movie manure and decipher which of the five is the worst. It’s like going to a frat house during the first week of a semester at Dickhead University, and trying to pick out the dumbest, drunkest douche in the place. All of the qualifiers are terribly, criminally lame.

I’m giving Transformers: The Last Knight the award of Franchise Worst, because it’s clear that every participant in this enterprise, from director Michael Bay right on down to the production assistant who smeared glycerin on Mark Wahlberg’s pecs, is jaded, tired and played out. Nobody really wants to be in this thing. The stink of, “Who gives a shit … just pay me!” hits your nostrils with Wahlberg’s first line delivery.

Yes, Wahlberg, who has the honor of being Shia LaBeouf’s stand-in, returns for his second go-round, and he looks embarrassed. He should be embarrassed. He’s publicly declared that this is his last Transformers movie, and his performance and demeanor indicate that he checked out the day cameras rolled on this mess.

Also along for the ride is the formerly acclaimed Anthony Hopkins, acting all nutty, like he did in Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula—with the big difference being that this is a Michael Bay film, as opposed to a Coppola film. Acting all nutty in a Michael Bay film offers the impression that you have given up and thrown any kind of reason to the wind.

I can’t really explain what happens in this flick. I know Optimus Prime was floating toward his home planet all frozen and shit, and he gets sucked into some sort of scheme to betray his race and all humans. His part is kind of like Vin Diesel’s in the last Fast and Furious movie—that of the pawn in somebody else’s evil scheme who probably won’t go rogue for the entire film. The big difference here is that Optimus Prime doesn’t get to mush his mouth all over Charlize Theron. However, it goes without saying that Optimus Prime has a greater acting range than Vin Diesel.

The best part of this movie happens when Hopkins inexplicably goes to Stonehenge to witness a robot battle, and then gets blown up, leading to the silliest death scene ever. Yep … I just issued a spoiler: Anthony Hopkins dies hilariously in this movie. I hope this spoiler pisses you off so much that you don’t go see the movie. Be mad at me for the next 10 years, but I know I did you a favor.

Other around is John Turturro, whose, “I’m in a Transformers movie, but it’s OK, because I’ve sold out in an unorthodox, hip sort of way!” shtick got tired four films ago. Meanwhile, the film features the voices of John Goodman and Steve Buscemi. That’s actually three-quarters of a The Big Lebowski reunion. I’m surprised they didn’t throw some money at Jeff Bridges to deliver a few lines. That would’ve been the most novel thing in the movie. Eh, they probably needed the cash for Mark Wahlberg’s tanning and body-hair-removal bills.

Transformers: The Last Knight plays like a Worst of Michael Bay sizzle reel: It’s 2 1/2 hours of things smashing into each other in fast-cut fashion, accompanied by bombastic music and lots of crane and slo-mo shots. In other words, it’s exactly what we’ve come to expect.

Picking a time to go see a Transformers movie is like picking a time to have dysentery. Protect yourself, and your innards, by choosing to do something better, like punching yourself in the face until your eyes pop out.

Transformers: The Last Knight is playing at theaters across the valley, in a variety of formats.

Published in Reviews

The King Kong cinematic machine is cranking again with Kong: Skull Island, an entertaining-enough new take on the big ape that delivers action, but lags a bit when the titular gorilla isn’t onscreen smashing things up.

Of the Kong incarnations, this one has the most in common with the 1976 take on the classic story, basically because it’s set just a few years before, in ’73. While there is a beautiful girl on whom the big guy gets a small crush (Brie Larson as a photographer), the story eschews the usual “beauty and the beast” Kong angle for more straight-up monster vs. monster action. Unlike the past American Kong films, this one never makes it to Manhattan, and instead stays on Kong’s island—thus the title of the film.

Kong himself is portrayed by motion-capture CGI, and he’s a badass. He’s also tall enough to be a formidable foe for Godzilla, a mash-up already announced for 2020. In the few scenes in which he interacts with humans, Kong seems like an organic creature rather than a bunch of gigabytes. He blends well with his human counterparts.

There hasn’t been much mention of those human counterparts yet, because, with the exception of John C. Reilly as a fighter pilot stranded on the island during World War II, most of the humans are bland. Tom Hiddleston might make a decent James Bond someday, and he’s a lot of fun as Loki, but he just doesn’t work here as a rugged tracker/action hero. His presence constantly suggests that his character might turn bad mid-mission and feed his friends to the monsters—or, alternatively, that he might stop for tea and biscuits every 5 minutes. He’s too much of a pretty boy for the role.

Reilly, on the other hand, gives the film the bursts of humor it needs. His castaway is a wild card, like Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now. Actually, the whole movie, with its post-Vietnam setup and Nixon-era themes, plays like Apocalypse Now meets King Kong. When Reilly is onscreen, it plays like Apocalypse Now meets King Kong meets Talladega Nights.

Samuel L. Jackson plays the psycho military commander who still holds a beef about the war, while John Goodman is on hand as the explorer who thinks “something” is on this strange, uncharted island. He’s essentially this film’s Carl Denham (one of the main characters from the 1933 original and Peter Jackson’s remake) without being named Carl Denham. The likes of Shea Whigham, Jason Mitchell and Richard Jenkins round out the cast.

As for Hiddleston and Larson, one gets the sense their parts were supposed to be bigger, but then director Jordan Vogt-Roberts looked at a first cut and realized they sucked, so he replaced a lot of their screen time with Kong action. Indeed, Kong gets plenty of time to destroy things. He battles helicopters, strange dino creatures and, in one of the film’s greater moments, a giant octopus that results in an eating scene that’s a direct homage to Oldboy.

How does this stack up against past Kongs? I’d say it’s the weakest of the American Kongs. (I am a sucker for the ’76 Twin Towers/Jeff Bridges/Jessica Lange one.) Oh, wait, it’s better than King Kong Lives, the ’86 sequel to the ’76 Kong, during which he got the heart transplant. That’s actually one of the worst movies ever made. It’s so bad that I’d mercifully forgot it existed until this paragraph of this very review. Kong: Skull Island is also better than the loopy, strangely enjoyable Japanese Kongs, although it owes much to those films in spirit.

As you must do with Marvel films now (with the exception of Logan), stay through Kong: Skull Island credits. There’s an initial sequence during the credits that I won’t give away, and a scene after the credits that I also won’t give away.

Kong: Skull Island is a shallow enterprise, but a fun one. It’ll be interesting to see how they bridge the time gap between this excursion and the present-day Godzilla. Kong ages well, so they’ll probably just leap over a few decades and get to the good stuff.

Kong: Skull Island is now playing at theaters across the valley in a variety of formats.

Published in Reviews

The new collaboration between director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg, Patriots Day, is not only a valuable tribute to the victims and heroes of the Boston Marathon bombings; it’s a solid, meaningful, gritty look at what it took to take down the terrorist Tsarnaev brothers.

Wahlberg plays Sgt. Tommy Saunders, one of those fictional composite characters that often show up in historical dramas. You will forgive the two Bergs for this kind of artistic license, because the goal of Patriots Day is to take you through the entire drama, from the bombing itself, through the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Alex Wolff) inside a boat in somebody’s backyard. There wasn’t a single person who was at all of the events leading up to the ultimate capture of the final living suspect in the bombings, so it’s best to just view the Wahlberg character as a representation of the heroism and diligence that led to that arrest.

The film begins with Saunders bitching about being on street-security detail for the Boston Marathon, as he serves out a probationary period on the Boston police force. He shows up in the “clown suit,” takes some ribbing from fellow cops and detectives, and generally sports a good attitude, doing the gig with an admirable level of conviction. The marathon itself gets his spirits up a bit—and then, as runners are crossing the finish line, the bombs go off.

The film doesn’t shy away from the carnage caused by those bombs—and it shouldn’t. It earns its R rating. The movie dives into the bombing aftermath, then straight into the investigation and tense standoffs that occurred in rapid succession.

Wahlberg has done some of his best work in Berg films (Deepwater Horizon and Lone Survivor), and this film represents the apex of their collaborations. True, the character he’s playing isn’t totally real, but it’s an honorable deviation.

Wolff is on target as the baseball-cap-wearing douche who doesn’t know how to say no to his brother. There’s nothing sympathetic about the portrayal of this certain brand of evil in this movie. He’s a cold-hearted, ignorant villain, and Wolff captures that essence. As Dzhokhar’s older brother and bombing mastermind, Tamerlan, Themo Melikidze delivers a chilling depiction of radicalism and psychotic egotism.

Michelle Monaghan is effective as Saunders’ wife, as are John Goodman as police Commissioner Ed Davis and Kevin Bacon as FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers. J.K. Simmons is hard-edged and a little bit funny as Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese, who took part in the showdown that claimed the life of Tamerlan. Jimmy O. Yang is memorable as the man the brothers carjacked.

This is definitely one of 2016’s better ensemble casts. (While the film is getting a wide release now, it got a limited release last year to qualify for awards.) Berg, like Jeff Nichols (Midnight Special, Loving), had two good movies in 2016, with this and Deepwater Horizon. He’s no stranger to historical drama. Ever since Berg nearly derailed his promising directorial career with the abysmal Battleship, all of his big-screen films have been historical dramas: Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and now Patriots Day, all Wahlberg collaborations, are based on real life events. Much to Berg’s credit, all of those events are represented with great detail, emotional honesty and integrity. They are also very entertaining. Right now, he’s kicking Steven Spielberg’s ass in the historical-drama department.

The film is about heroes—the heroes who worked to find the perpetrators, and the selfless, persevering heroes who were standing close to explosive devices when they went off. You’ll walk away from this movie thinking that Berg, Wahlberg and co. did all of these good people justice with Patriots Day. Most importantly, it’s a moving tribute to those who lost their lives.

Some might say “too soon” for the existence of a film such as this one. I say it’s never too soon to honor the good people of Boston and their ability to recover from such a horrific day.

Patriots Day opens Friday, Jan. 13, at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

Just as he did with the first Cloverfield, producer J.J. Abrams has again managed to sneak a movie into multiplexes under a shroud of secrecy and mystery: With a little more than a couple of months’ notice, a film shot under the code name Valencia became 10 Cloverfield Lane.

What’s the significance of the word “Cloverfield” in that movie title? Abrams is calling this film a blood relative to the original found-footage monster movie. This new film is not a found footage film, thank god, but after seeing it, I can tell you the title is not misleading—although you shouldn’t go to this thinking you will see the monster from Cloverfield laying waste to middle America. It’s a much different kind of movie.

The film starts with Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) on an urgent phone call with somebody. She grabs her keys, hits the road and drives for what appears to be many miles out of the big city and into the cornfields. After stopping for some gas, her car crashes for mysterious reasons. She wakes up from said crash with an IV drip—and her leg cuffed to a bar.

Shortly thereafter, she meets Howard (John Goodman). Howard seems a little bit anxious and tells her that she needs to hydrate and practice using crutches. And, oh yeah, the end of the world is nigh. No one really knows why, but the air is now contaminated, and they must reside in his emergency bunker for what could be years.

There’s another inhabitant of the bunker: Howard’s soft-spoken neighbor Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.). Emmett allegedly helped Howard put the bunker together, and he’s not really sure why the world is ending, either. All of this leads the beautiful Michelle, in the captive hands of two questionable strangers, to be suspicious. She wants to be outside, even if the world is dying.

Is the world really ending? Howard seems to think so, citing nuclear war and alien invasion as possibilities. Emmett, meanwhile, does not necessarily seem all that worried about it. He just seems happy to be around Michelle all day, putting puzzles together. Is it just a grand plan for two creepy guys to imprison a beautiful woman for their perverted means?

First-time feature director Dan Trachtenberg does a nice job of keeping the audience guessing. I went into 10 Cloverfield Lane with my own guesses, based on the trailers, regarding how everything would play out, and how the film would tie into the “Cloverfield Universe.” My guesses were, for the most part, confirmed—although there were a few deviations.

Winstead is an acting treasure who doesn’t get enough opportunities to shine; see her performance in Smashed (2012) for proof. She’s equally good here, playing a strong-minded hostage justifiably brimming with paranoia. She’s very easy to root for, even when the screenplay tries to tilt sympathies toward Howard and Emmett.

In his meatiest role in years, Goodman is golden as the “maybe he’s a monster; maybe he’s a savior” survivalist. There are nuances in his work that will keep you guessing every second he’s onscreen. As for Emmett … this is no knock on Gallagher, but his character seems tacked on.

The film is a slick thriller with a few plot holes that might nag you afterward. For me, it offered few major surprises—although that has much to do with me seeing so many movies, and being savvy to many directorial tricks. When the movie did “get” me on occasion, it did so competently.

Above all, 10 Cloverfield Lane is an impressive acting exhibition for Winstead and Goodman, who play really well off of each other. As more mysteries about Howard and the outside world are revealed, the tension ratchets up, and Trachtenberg proves himself a fine handler of all the elements.

I’m guessing 10 Cloverfield Lane is not the last movie we will see with “Cloverfield” in the title. Think of the Cloverfield movies as an anthology series with a few plot machinations tying things together. Two movies in, it’s proving to be a fine endeavor.

10 Cloverfield Laneis playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

Movie studios are getting ready to release big holiday products like sequels to The Hunger Games and Star Wars, as well as surefire Oscar contenders such as Spotlight and The Revenant.

Still, there will be a week or two when studios try to squeak by with meager offerings. Well, this is one of those weeks, and Love the Coopers is one of those meager offerings.

I’ll say this for the movie: It is jam-packed with talent. Diane Keaton, Marisa Tomei, John Goodman, Anthony Mackie, Alan Arkin, Amanda Seyfried, Ed Helms and even the voice of Steve Martin all show up in this holiday film. However, if you are looking for a Christmas movie to add a little joy to your holiday season, this will not do the trick. If you are looking for something weird, dark and unfunny, this one might please you.

Love the Coopers obviously has a lot of characters played by those aforementioned performers, and a lot of plot lines to go with them. It gets a bit tiresome trying to follow all that is going on.

Charlotte (Keaton) and Sam (Goodman) have been married for more than 40 years. Their marriage has hit the skids, and Christmas looks like it could totally suck. Charlotte has been refusing to travel to Africa with Sam for many years—and that’s the final straw: As the family gathers for Christmas Eve, Sam is planning to leave his wife shortly thereafter. All cups of eggnog will be tainted with that sour taste of despair.

One of the more prominent subplots involves Charlotte’s sister Emma (Tomei) being arrested for shoplifting and getting a stoic police officer (Mackie) as her escort to the police station. Of course, Emma manages to successfully decipher all of the officer’s life issues from the back seat; perhaps she learns a little about herself, too.

Another storyline has Charlotte’s wayward daughter Eleanor (Olivia Wilde) meeting some Army dude (Jake Lacy) at an airport on her way home. She invites him to be her boyfriend for the weekend to trick her mom, even though the two can’t stand each other. It’s the sort of thing that only happens in stupid movies like this. Still, Wilde and Lacy are cute enough to make their screen time almost tolerable. Will they eventually make out? I think so!

The dumbest of the subplots involves be Charlotte’s dad, Bucky (Arkin), having an odd relationship with a diner waitress (Seyfried). They aren’t screwing or anything, but he does lend her movies, and she serves him coffee with sad, forlorn eyes. Developments later in the film suggest Seyfried’s character could wind up with Bucky’s son (Helms). It’s all a little creepy and uncomfortable.

Throw in a crazy aunt who doesn’t remember anything (June Squibb) and farts a lot, and a gangly teenage boy learning to kiss his girlfriend under the mistletoe, and you have just the right ingredients to make a movie-goer violently throw up.

Director Jessie Nelson, whose last directorial effort was the assault on humanity that was I Am Sam some 14 years ago, sabotages her own movie with crazy left turns and wild moments. It’s actually a shock that Seyfried and Arkin don’t make out, because that sort of weirdness would be right at home in this flick. Nelson seems determined to make this an anti-holiday holiday movie. I can respect the effort to be different, but she messes it up—in a big way.

The final twist, involving the origin of Martin’s voice, is probably the best thing in the movie. Since that final twist is sort of lame, that does not saying much for Love the Coopers.

Love the Coopers is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

I missed the latest Mark Wahlberg extravaganza—a remake of the 1970s James Caan movie The Gambler (NOT the Kenny Rogers TV movie)—when it ran in theaters early this year.

Wahlberg lost a lot of weight to play Jim Bennett, an author-turned-college professor who hates life, for some reason. The film never really delves into why Jim is so miserable, and why he has developed such a nasty gambling problem.

His problem is so bad that he can’t resist gambling even when his rich mom (a strong Jessica Lange) takes out a large loan to bail him out with criminal types. He just takes the loan and gambles some more, spiraling further downward.

John Goodman has a couple of good scenes as a loan shark who has no tolerance for weakness. Brie Larson gives a strong performance as the student who inevitably pulls Jim into a relationship, and George Kennedy makes a brief appearance as Jim’s dying grandfather.

This is a good showcase for Wahlberg, who takes his character into quite a dark place. Bitterness oozes from Jim’s pores—and I like how the roots of that bitterness remain a mystery until the end of the film. The ending is a bit predictable, but it doesn’t take away from the work of Wahlberg and Lange—two pros who make The Gambler worth your while.

Special Features: There are a bunch of behind-the-scenes featurettes and some deleted and extended scenes.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

Director George Clooney’s war epic about historians racing to save art from the Nazis looks and feels like it was taken out of a time capsule buried in 1958.

The Monuments Men is quite breezy for a war movie, and is peppered with laughs provided by a strong cast, including Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and John Goodman, as men trying to thwart Hitler’s plan for a giant museum.

The film has one of those whistle-infused soundtracks, and it doesn’t hurt that Clooney and Dujardin remind of Errol Flynn and Gene Kelly. The movie moves briskly—in fact, it may be a bit too weightless for a movie with such heavy subject matter. It also has a useless subplot involving characters played by Damon and Cate Blanchett that was deserving of the cutting-room floor. When they are alone on screen, the film comes to a dead stop.

Still, Clooney has a great command of the camera here; the ensemble (especially Murray and Goodman) shines; and the film is fun to watch. This is an interesting piece of World War II history, and it’s good that somebody has made a decent movie to cover it.

Initially, this was expected to be a big awards contender last year. However, the release date got moved, with producers claiming they needed to do some more special-effects work. They may have taken a look at it, realized they had a good but not great movie, and decided to give it a less-competitive opening date in 2014. The film wound up taking in $154 million worldwide on a $70 million budget, so things worked out just fine on the money front.

Special Features: A relatively meager gathering of supplements that includes deleted scenes and some short making-of docs.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

Director George Clooney’s war epic about historians racing to save art from the Nazis looks and feels like it was just taken out of a time capsule buried in 1958.

The Monuments Men is quite breezy for a war movie, peppered with laughs provided by a strong cast, including Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and John Goodman. They all play men trying to thwart Hitler’s plan for a giant museum. The film has one of those whistle-infused soundtracks, and it doesn’t hurt that Clooney and Dujardin look like Errol Flynn and Gene Kelly.

The movie moves briskly, and is perhaps a bit too weightless for a movie with such a heavy subject at its heart. It also has a useless subplot involving Damon and Cate Blanchett that is deserving of the cutting-room floor.

Still, Clooney has great command of the camera here; the ensemble shines (especially Murray and Goodman); and it’s fun to watch.

This is an interesting piece of World War II history, and it’s great that somebody has made a decent movie to cover this chapter of Hitler’s insanity.

The Monuments Men is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

I had high hopes for The Hangover Part III, the conclusion to director Todd Phillips’ trilogy about a group of guys who get into a lot of R-rated trouble after ingesting bad stuff.

In retrospect, I feel like a major idiot for having such high hopes.

The Hangover franchise, as it turns out, should’ve never become a franchise at all. With the first film, Phillips and his gang of actors captured comedic magic when an awkward bearded man drugged his buddies at a bachelor party, which led to sordid acts including the kidnapping of Mike Tyson’s tiger.

The Hangover Part II was a carbon copy of that film, shipped from Las Vegas to Thailand. It had about 15 percent of the original’s laughs; however, it wasn’t a complete loss, even though it was a supreme disappointment.

Alas, Part III is total garbage, a film lacking any sense of purpose and woefully lacking in the laugh department. Phillips tries to make a completely different sort of film with his final chapter—and he succeeds, in that this movie has just one, or maybe two laughs.

It doesn’t even come off as a comedy. It’s crime thriller/kidnap movie—which is not a scenario we need to see the Wolfpack (Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms) going through.

The movie starts with a giraffe beheading that contains one of the film’s laughs. It then moves into an intervention, where Galifianakis’ Alan is told that he will be going away for a little while. Alan does some very awkward crying; I laughed a little more.

Then the boys hit the road … and the laughter stops cold, as if some sort of movie demon sprung from the ground and smacked the film over its head with a sledgehammer.

An evil crime lord (John Goodman) forces them off the road and introduces the moronic plot thread: the search for Mr. Chow, played by the increasingly annoying Ken Jeong. The trio embark on a search for Chow—and regrettably find him. This leads to some nonsense involving stolen gold, a return to Vegas for a cocaine party, and some surprisingly violent moments involving guns.

This Hangover film has a pretty big body count, and that’s not something I expect from a Hangover film. I expect people humping tigers or Helms’ Stu comically removing his pancreas with tweezers while on heroin.

There’s a sequence atop Caesars Palace in Vegas that looks cool, and Melissa McCarthy shows up in a not-altogether-terrible cameo. However, Galifianakis seems to be the only one really trying out of the trio, and most of his shtick falls flat here. Cooper still plays an OK straight man, while Helms seems lost.

Phillips makes the mistake of thinking we actually have some sort of sentimental connection to these characters. I like these actors a lot, but the characters themselves? I didn’t need three films full of them doing the same thing over and aver. Make another comedy, and cast these actors if you want, but do something new with them. The Hangover was a unique premise that should’ve been one film and out.

What started as a good idea got unnecessarily revisited, and then got pummeled into the ground until it became unrecognizable and ugly. The Hangover Part III is Hollywood greed at its worst, and has no redeeming value. But if you must go, stay for the credits and a sequence in which Phillips gets truly desperate and goes for last-ditch laughs that can’t save his crap movie.

The Hangover Part III is playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews

Page 1 of 2