Ice Cube Weekend – Ride Along 2 (2016)

Director: Tim Story

Writer: Phil Hay, Matt Mandredi (Screenplay) Greg Coolidge (Characters)

Starring: Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, Tika Sumpter, Benjamin Bratt, Olivia Munn, Ken Jeong, Bruce McGill, Michael Rose

 

Plot: As his wedding day approaches, Ben heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law James to bring down a drug dealer who’s supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product.


Tagline – The brothers-in-law are back.

Runtime: 1 Hour 42 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Simple Enjoyable Comedy Sequel

 

Story: Ride Along 2 starts when newly appointed rookie Ben Barber (Hart) ruins his soon-to-be-brother-in-law detective James Payton’s (Cube) latest bust. James must go to Miami to continue the case and reluctantly takes Ben to take him out of his sister’s Angela (Sumpter) hair while she plans the wedding.

In Miami the pair need to remain undercover, which soon seems them going into the world of drug land which sees them working with local detective Maya (Munn) to uncover the truth.

 

Thoughts on Ride Along 2

 

Characters – Detective James Payton is tough talking cop that is dealing with his brother-in-law that is a rookie on the force, he is getting tired of him not following instructions and uses the trip to Miami to hopefully expose his weaknesses to the Captain. He is a good cop that only wants to stop criminals. Ben Barber is the rookie on the force now, he is marrying James’ sister, he talks too much which often sees him getting into trouble. Angela is the sister of James, fiancée to Ben, she is planning the wedding that wants her to see Ben head off for a couple of days. Antonio Pope is the local drug lord who looks like one of the popular businessmen around, he has been making his move to become a bigger dealer in the business, but his action has seen attention drawn on him.

PerformancesIce Cube is always going to do the strong job in the tough guy cop figure, this is no different. Kevin Hart brings his fast talking routine which tends to be a hit or miss with his jokes, but he never relents on them. Tika Sumpter doesn’t get that much screen time which is disappointing really. Benjamin Bratt can give us the routine villainous businessman.

StoryThe story follows the unlikely partnership between a tough talking detective and his soon-to-be-brother-law and fast-talking rookie that investigate a drug dealer in Miami. This does continue to use the idea that the unlikely partnership stumble through case trying to solve the case in a way that shouldn’t be achieved. We know this genre, we know how easily it works the story doesn’t need to be made anything more, but it is hard to still see them fighting between each other.

Action/ComedyThe action in the film follows chases, which are mostly a way of adding the comedy due to the reactions of what is going on. The comedy mostly relies on the fast-talking Kevin Hart, which is hit or miss.

SettingsThe film takes the action away from Atlanta to Miami which brings more sun and sea to the location.


Scene of the Movie –
The video game chase.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Hart’s joke can become too much.

Final ThoughtsThis is a simple and fun sequel that will get laughs, but doesn’t hit the levels of the first because it is often just more of the same.

 

Overall: Simple and fun.

Rating

 

 

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The Upside (2017)

Director: Neil Burger

Writer: Jon Hartmere (Screenplay) Eric Toledano, Oliver Nakache (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies, Tate Donovan, Genevieve Angelson

 

Plot: A comedic look at the relationship between a wealthy man with quadriplegia and an unemployed man with a criminal record who’s hired to help him.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 5 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Laugh Out Loud Comedy

 

Story: The Upside starts as we meet ex-criminal Dell Scott (Hart) who needs to apply for jobs to remain out of prison, his final application sees him appearing at the wrong location for a carer for quadriplegia for Phillip Lacasse (Cranston), Phillip doesn’t like most of the candidates and forces his executive Yvonne (Kidman) to offer Dell the job.

What follows is Dell learning how to care for Phillip and teaching him to enjoy life after the struggles he has been through. The two different worlds collide to teach each other about life and offer the next steps in both their lives.

 

Thoughts on The Upside

 

Characters – Dell is an ex-con who is out on parole, his ex-girlfriend doesn’t want him around their son and with options running down he is forced into interviews, which leads him to apply for Phillip’s carer, he has no experience in this role and shows how he can learn, use his mistakes in his life to move forward in his life. He pushes Phillip into making decisions in his life to continue living. Phillip is the quadriplegia billionaire who is feeling suicidal, he doesn’t like relying on people to care for him, Dell starts to show him what life can still offer, while Phillip shows Dell what he can achieve if he puts his mind to it. Yvonne is the executive that is now running Phillip’s business, she has given up most of her life to help Phillip and doesn’t like the selection of Dell in this role. We do get to see the rest of the household who must work with Phillip to make his life easier.

PerformancesKevin Hart is selected because of his comedy, he does a very good job with the serious scenes, even if he does turn to his comedy routine too often. Bryan Cranston is a great choice for this role, he does have to use his expression to tell the story and pulls of each and everyone required for his character. Nicole Kidman doesn’t get as much time as we did want, she does well with everything she needs to do.

StoryThe story is a remake of ‘Intouchable’ which is one of the best movies you will see, this does follow the same story for the most part with a few changes that come in the final acts of the film. the core part of learning to make the most of life is still here which is the important side of the film still takes centre stage. It does show how giving people a chance can help people who never got one and by the end you will have laughed enough to ignore certain plot holes. While I mentions certain final act changes, for me they don’t work quite as well because they miss the point of the people whose lives this story is really about, but they do work for how these characters are written.

ComedyThe comedy in the film is going to divide the audience because it does have slightly too much on Kevin Hart’s routine, while the original felt like it was a man that wasn’t known to be a funny man making jokes which felt more natural, though the cinema enjoyed this a lot.

SettingsThe film is set in New York this time, which shows how rich Phillip is, though it loses a spark about the location he is living in the original offered.


Scene of the Movie –
Paragliding

That Moment That Annoyed Me Too much Kevin Hart routine.

Final ThoughtsThis is a standard American remake of a much loved movie, it doesn’t do much to be original in its own way, but does have great chemistry between Hart and Cranston.

 

Overall: Standard remake.

Rating

 

 

ABC Film Challenge – Comedy – G – Grudge Match (2013)

Director: Peter Segal

Writer: Tim Kelleher, Rodney Rothman (Screenplay) Tim Kelleher (Story)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro, Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin, Kim Basinger, LL Cool J, Jon Bernthal

 

Plot: A pair of aging boxing rivals are coaxed out of retirement to fight one final bout, thirty years after their last match.


Tagline – Never give up the fight.

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: More Heartfelt Than You Would Think

 

Story: Grudge Match starts as we see the history of two boxing legends Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp (Stallone) & Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen (De Niro) who has two fights and before The Kid got his rematch, Razor walked away from the sport. 30-years-later after an altercation between the two goes viral, Dante Slate Jr (Hart) arranges one more match between the two.

The two get back into training, Razor uses his old coach Lightning (Arkin) while The Kid turns to a new gym he helped fund run by Frankie Brite (Cool J) but it is his unknown son BJ (Bernthal) that knows how to train, the two go through the press campaign giving everyone buzz about the fight between two fighters past their prime and out of shape.

 

Thoughts on Grudge Match

 

Characters – Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp won the last fight between the two, he then walked away from the sport losing his fortune along the way becoming a factory worker. When the chance to make money by returning for one fight however reluctant he is, he must confront the problems which left him walking away from the ring to be ready for his in-ring return. Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen lost the last fight between the two, he wants rematch, but his reasoning behind him losing is the same as Razor leaving the ring. He has his own bar and jumps at the chance of a rematch. Dante Slate Jr is the fast taking promoter that has followed in his father’s footsteps. Lightning is the trainer for Razor he always has been, the old man cliché is all about him in this film. we have Sally who is the woman that got between the two men trying to rebuild her relationship with Razor.

PerformancesStallone and De Niro both have legendary careers where they both appeared in boxing movies, Rocky and Raging Bull respectable, this performance from the both doesn’t mock what they achieved, but does let them have fun at knowing they are older than when those films were part of their highlights. The supporting cast all get to play into their strengths, Hart with his quick talking, Arkin with his grumpy old man persona and Basinger doing the old flame figure.

StoryThe story follows to old rivals in the Boxing ring that get bought back together for the grudge match with the two having one a single match win each. The story shows how rivalries can last for decades and how they both have survived after leaving the world of boxing. We get to see the ‘old man’ in tech heavy world moments as this fight goes viral which works in places but not others. We see how the personal lives of everyone involved has been affected by the rivalry too.

Comedy/SportsThe comedy is solid in most places we get Hart doing his thing most and Arkin do the grumpy old man routine which gets the most laughs. The sports brings us in the boxing world with former rivals.

SettingsThe film keeps the settings in the two boxers home city of Pittsburgh which shows the sport will bring the city together.


Scene of the Movie –
The match itself.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Certain jokes miss.

Final ThoughtsThis is a comedy that was a lot better than I would expect, the jokes can hit and by the end you will enjoy this movie with two boxing legends finally ending their tie.

 

Overall: Fun sports comedy.

Rating

 

 

The Secret Life of Pets (2016)

secretDirector: Chris Renaud, Yarrow Cheney

Writer: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio, Brian Lynch, Simon Rich (Screenplay)

Starring: (Voice Talents) Louis C.K. Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Albert Brooks, Lake Bell, Dana Carvey

 

Plot: The quiet life of a terrier named Max is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray whom Max instantly dislikes.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Disappointing Animated Comedy

 

Story: The Secret Life of Pets starts as we meet Max who life is all about being with his owner Katie who live in New York and have an amazing bond in his eyes but he struggles to deal with her leaving for work every day. With Max living in an apartment he has a neighbour in Gidget and well a host of other pets who get left while their owners go to daily routines.

Max’s life is turned upside down when Katie brings a new dog home Duke who throws Max’s perfect little world out the window as he is no longer the alpha of the apartment.

When the rivalry between Max and Duke reaches new levels, they find themselves taken to the pound only to be saved by Snowball a bunny who leads a gang of abandoned pets. While back home Gidget leads the party to of other pets from the building to look and save Max before their owners come home.

 

Thoughts on The Secret Life of Pets

 

StoryThe story going on here is something that is very much for kids to enjoy, we get a deeper meaning of that pets are for life but this doesn’t become the main part of the story which is disappointing. The adventure the characters goes on feels like it could just be a one off television special gone mad if I am to be honest and borrows so much for more established movies out there.

Animation/Comedy/FamilyWhen it comes to animation it is all good but you have come to expect that from animated film now. The comedy is nearly all slapstick and barely comes off while I do feel the whole family wouldn’t enjoy this as it would be more suitable for just the kids out there.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters are all painfully stereotypes you would think when you see the animals involved which in the end shows the writers just don’t seem to have had animals in their own lives, the voice overs all for the character they are playing by not having the biggest names behind the characters.

SettingsThe film uses New York as the setting which is a scary place for people but just think what it would be like for the animals living there, that is captured in this film well.

Final ThoughtsThis is a very kid friendly film that just doesn’t hit all the marks it should for the potential it had while it ends up being just a slack lazy story telling we have seen before.

 

Overall: Plain average kid film that just isn’t that special.

Ratingcard

 

 

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Director: Jake Kasdan

Writer: Chris McKenna, Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, Erik Sommers (Screenplay) Chris Van Allsburg (Book)

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas

 

Plot: Four teenagers discover an old video game console and are literally drawn into the game’s jungle setting becoming the adult avatars they chose.


Tagline – The game has evolved.

Runtime: 1 Hour 59 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Fun Action Blast

 

Story: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle starts as we follow four teenage high school students the geek Spencer (Wolff), the social media diva Bethany (Iseman), the start American football player Fridge (Blain) and the hard-working studier Martha (Turner) who are all sentenced to detention for different reasons. While in detention they find an old video game, an evolved version of Jumanji, to which they all get sucked into.

In the game the students become the characters they selected, Spencer becomes Dr Smolder Bravestone (Johnson), Fridge becomes Moose Finbar (Hart), Bethany becomes Professor Shelly Oberon (Black) and Martha becomes Ruby Roundhouse (Gillan). Each character they are playing as is completely different to their human characters and now they must use their newly found strength to save Jumanji and return home.

 

Thoughts on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

 

Characters – The students first Spencer is a geek, loner who has lost his once friendship with Fridge because of how they went different direction, he does try to help Fridge with his studies and is a video game expert. Fridge is the star American football player of the school, we don’t learn too much about him other than he is struggling with his studies. Bethany is the diva of the school, she is glued to her phone, not caring about anybody else in the world. Martha is a student that is desperate to succeed in her studies, adding unneeded pressure on herself to achieve as much as she can.

The players, Dr Smolder Bravestone is a born adventurer, strong, fast and full of smouldering intensity, this gives Spencer the physical strength he never had against Fridge. Ruby Roundhouse helps turns Martha into a bad ass fighter, this gives Martha a chance to break out of her shell. Professor Shelly Oberon becomes a nightmare for Bethany, an overweight middle-aged man, a true teenage nightmare. Shelly is the only one that can guide them through Jumanji, this gives Bethany a chance to realize there are people outside of her phone. Moose Finbar is a zoologist, that shows Fridge what life is like from the point of view of someone without muscles, this is one of the only weak points in the movie, that is because we haven’t learnt enough about Fridge before hand and now he isn’t on the same learning level the other three are.

PerformancesThe performances of the four in the game are great, Dwayne Johnson continues to show us why we love him as an actor, he can step into any fun role and make it his own. Karen Gillan had to spend time defending her characters wardrobe, but for the character shows that she is one of the action-packed actresses to watch out for. Kevin Hart is entertaining, but he is too different from his human character. Jack Black is the true star of the show here, he gets the best lines and is the best performance of a teenage girl you will see this year.

StoryThe story does play out much like the original only we enter the game because it has evolved into a video game. We have a Breakfast Club feel to why the characters are in detention and needing to learn that however different they may seem on the outside, inside they are similar in many ways. The story does get plenty of escapes too by being a video game, we have built in characters who only have certain responses because of programming over the idea of poorly written characters, we have lots of fun with how it all unfolds with each stage becoming more difficult as they go on.

Action/Adventure/ComedyThe action does feel like a video game which is fine because it entertains throughout, this plans into the adventure through the jungle for our characters. The film is set with a comic tone which likes to poke fun at body-swapping, which does become a fine balance through the film.

SettingsThe high school settings is what we have seen before, but the jungle becomes a character of its own with the beauty of the landscapes out characters will find themselves in.

Special EffectsThe effects are good for the most part, though we do see the green screen moments and CGI animals too often.


Scene of the Movie –
Introduction to Shelly Oberon and the reaction.

That Moment That Annoyed Me I do feel that Moose is written for Kevin Hart rather than to be an opposite to Fridge.

Final ThoughtsThis movie is a lot of fun from start to finish, you can forget this is a remake sequel because of the nods to the original, you will find yourself enjoying nearly everything in this fun movie.

 

Overall: Truly fun adventure movie.

Rating