Ben Stiller Weekend – Dodgeball (2004)

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Writer: Rawson Marshall Thurber (Screenplay)

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Christine Taylor, Ben Stiller, Rip Torn, Justin Long, Stephen Root, Joel David Moore, Alan Tudyk, Gary Cole

 

Plot: A group of misfits enter a Las Vegas dodgeball tournament in order to save their cherished local gym from the onslaught of a corporate health fitness chain.


Tagline – Grab Life by the Balls 

Runtime: 1 Hour 32 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: One of the Best Sports Comedies

 

Story: Dodgeball starts as we meet the two gym owners, White Goodman (Stiller) who is obsessed with perfection with bodies only accepting beautiful model like members, on the other side of the street we have Peter La Fleur (Vaughn) owner of Average’s Joe a gym that is open to all, with the regulars and staff including Justin (Long), Gordon (Root), Owen (Moore), Dwight (Williams) and Steve the Pirate (Tudyk).

When Average Joe’s is facing a financial crisis with lawyer Kate Veatch (Taylor) preparing to close them in 30 days with White Goodman wanting to buy it and demolish it. The only plan is to train and enter a dodgeball competition where the prize is the money they require, only problem is, White has made his own team of super-athletes to stop Average Joe’s winning.  

 

Thoughts on Dodgeball

 

Characters – Peter La Fleur is a gym owner, he is laidback and willing to let anybody join at their own pace, this mentality has left him facing financial crisis and he reluctantly accepts entering a dodgeball tournament, he can bring the team together as he gives the whole team hope. White Goodman is the owner of Globo Gym he only accepts beautiful people in his gym even offering cosmetic surgery for his members. He is completely over the top believing he is God’s gift to women with his success coming from his family’s money, he will do anything to eliminate Average Joe’s. Kate Veatch is the lawyer that is assigned to study the finances of Average Joe’s, she becomes the love interest for both men even though she has no interest in White, she joins the team to help eliminate Globo Gym. Patches O’Houlihan is the dodgeball expert, he trains the Average Joe’s to help become competitive in the competition. The rest of the cast include the Average Joe’s members Justin, Gordon, Owen, Dwight and Steve the Pirate that each have their own stories behind their characters to help motivate them to compete.

PerformancesVince Vaughn is one of those actors whose comedy can go either way, it is a laidback style which work perfectly for his character here, because he brings us a real person compared to Ben Stiller. Stiller on the other hand nails his completely over the top character that you are meant to be laughing at with everything he does and says. Christine Taylor is good in her role which like the rest of the cast shine, we get a mix of different comedies from the supporting cast which blend together to show the different styles of real life people.

StoryThe story here follows to rival gyms going to compete for a dodgeball tournament to help keep the little gym with no money a chance to stay afloat before the global franchise closes them down. The story does botte down to a simple underdog story which is fine we can all enjoy a story about an underdog, we do get moments in the film from the Average Joe’s characters that help them learn to become more than they are which is the whole point of a gym, to improve yourself in your own way and everything Globo Gym shouldn’t be. If you want a simple fun sports comedy to watch, this is going to be the one for you without a question.

ComedyThe comedy in this film comes from many different levels, we get moments of slapstick with the dodgeball scenes, we get over the top characters in White Goodman and his team and finally each member of Joe’s team has their own quirky to make them funny.

SettingsThe look at the different gyms helps the settings because it shows how people can be intimidated by certain gyms over others, when we head to Vegas for the tournament the competition feels are authentic as you would imagine.


Scene of the Movie –
Most of the dodgeball scenes.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Lance Armstrong scene is awkward now.

Final ThoughtsFor a sports comedy this has laughs, heart and quality performances from the whole cast, this is one that will stick with you for years to come and I hope to see everyone else enjoy it.

 

Overall: Sports comedy done to near perfection.

Rating

 

 

Dragged Across Concrete (2018)

Director: S. Craig Zahler

Writer: S. Craig Zahler (Screenplay)

Starring: Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Jennifer Carpenter, Michael Jai White, Don Johnson, Laurie Holden

 

Plot: Once two overzealous cops get suspended from the force, they must delve into the criminal underworld to get their proper compensation.


Tagline – Those Who Can’t Earn A Living Must Find Another Way To Provide.

Runtime: 2 Hours 39 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: More like Drags Long Concrete

 

Story: Dragged Across Concrete starts with Henry Jones (Kittles) released from prison, returning to the world he knows to sort out his life. We move onto Brett (Gibson) and Anthony (Vaughn) a couple of police detectives completing their latest bust, who can go over the top when it comes to completing the job which ha gained the attention of their captain LT Calvert (Johnson).

With the pair suspended, Brett starts to think about the future and the fact he wants to move his family out of a rough neighbourhood, because his wife Melanie (Holden) in ex-officer who is sick and teenage daughter are attracting the wrong attention. The pair decide to turn to a life of crime by taking on drug dealers to make the money they deserve.

 

Thoughts on Dragged Across Concrete

 

Characters – Brett is an older police officer, he hasn’t gotten the promotions his former partners have in the past, his wife is an sick ex-cop, he has a teenage daughter and gets rough on his cases. He needs to find enough money to move his family out of the neighbourhood, which sees him take on a potential drug dealer for money. Anthony is the younger partner, preparing to propose of his girlfriend, he is loyal to Brett, which seems him wanting to help Brett during their suspension. Henry is the ex-con that has returned to the life of crime with no option, but to. Biscuit is the connection for Henry, he gets the jobs they can go on together. Kelly is the new mother facing her first day back at work, she is struggling with separation she is facing. LT Calvert is the man forced to suspend the to officers, he was once the partner of Brett and challenges him on why he has never gotten higher up the system.

PerformancesMel Gibson is perfectly cast in this role, he is an older cop that is left with no option, he gets to preach about problems that have affected his own career too. Vince Vaughn doesn’t do anything wrong in his role, showing a much more serious side to his abilities.  We do have a big cast here, each actors do what is needed for their roles.

StoryThe story here follows two suspended cops that turn to a life of crime, an ex-con looking for one big score and the big score that is done by the psychotic gang. The idea of a cop turned to a life of crime is one we have seen before and works, the idea an ex-con will do one more job to escape the life has been done before, in fact the whole basic concept of this film has been done before. The problems with the story here comes from the pacing, we might have some clever dialogue, but we get a lot of seemingly pointless scenes too, which just drag for way too long. The story being as simple as it is, doesn’t need to be two and half hours long, there is one character who get introduced for no apparent reason that waste a good 10-15 minutes of the story too.

Action/CrimeThe action in the film comes from just how this director tends to us the style of explosive body parts, the crime side follows the one incident which takes out character on their mission in search for what they want most in the world.

SettingsThe film puts us in the big city which shows the divide in the neighbourhoods, it shows how each side of the city the people have come from.

Special EffectsThe effects used are what we have seen from the director before, they look for explosive weapon injuries.


Scene of the Movie –
Showdown.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This movie is about 50 Minutes too long.

Final ThoughtsThis is an overly long action crime film, that just goes on way too long for what is a simple story.

 

Overall: Just too long.

Rating

 

 

Fighting with My Family (2019)

Director: Stephen Merchant

Writer: Stephen Merchant (Screenplay)

Starring: Florence Pugh, Lena Headey, Dwayne Johnson, Vince Vaughn, Nick Frost, Stephen Merchant, Jack Lowden

 

Plot: A former wrestler and his family make a living performing at small venues around the country while his kids dream of joining World Wrestling Entertainment.


Tagline – A Comedy About a Family That Fights a Little Differently

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Funny & Inspiring

 

Story: Fighting with My Family starts as we meet the Knight family, father Ricky (Frost), mother Julia (Headey), children Zak (Lowden) and Saraya (Pugh) who are wrestling family, they have their own gym where they put on the shows, train the children from the local area of Norwich. Zak and Saraya both have a dream, that dream is to become WWE superstars and champions.

When the WWE offer them both a tryout with coach Hutch (Vaughn) only Saraya gets offered a place in the developmental brand NXT. Saraya will need to move to Florida at the age of 18 to follow her dream, where she must learn the difficulties of the training and adapting to life in another country, while Zak starts to spiral out of control after seeing his own dream shattered. Can both put their lives back on track to be a supporting and successful family?

 

Thoughts on Fighting with My Family

 

Characters – This is based on the real Knight family, while certain performers and coaches tend to have their names changed. Saraya is the youngest member of a wrestling family, she has been in the ring for years and at 18 she gets her chance to try out for the WWE, getting the job, moving across the world, isolated and alone, she is different to the rest of the other women selected, she has a wrestling background, while they have an athletic or modelling background. We see how she must learn to grasp her chance to follow her dream, which would see her lead a revolution in women’s wrestling. Zak is her brother, he has been working in the ring longer, dreaming that he could make it, he has a child on the way and is the main teacher at the wrestling school, he is left shattered by the idea he can’t follow his dream, closing off from the world, ready to follow in his step-brothers violent reaction to not making the cut. He needs to learn to enjoy his sister’s success and live his own life where he is achieving amazing things nobody else is. Ricky and Julia are the parents that fell in love over wrestling, they turned their own lives around to make something of themselves and push their children to succeed in the ring. Hutch is the coach that selects the potential talents, he is strict with the candidates and knows his decisions will make or break dreams. Dwayne Johnson is playing himself in this film, he gives the speeches where needed and shows that he is the good guy we all know.

PerformancesFlorence Pugh has made a big impact in her short career and this showed her puling off another role that required a lot of physical training to go with the emotional side of the story. Jack Lowden impresses here too, his character deals with the lose of the dream and he shows us this in every scene as the look of disappoint grows as time goes by. Lena Headey and Nick Frost show wonderful chemistry through the comedy of the film, while Vince Vaughn is strong in the coach role, which must be the calming pushing presence. Dwayne Johnson is mainly playing himself and isn’t in too many scenes that you haven’t seen in the trailer.

StoryThe story follows the career of WWE superstar Paige, from her wrestling family in Norwich through the life changing opportunity to be part of the WWE developmental brand NXT, while her brother much deal with the fact he didn’t get selected and must focus on living a life where his dream doesn’t come true. This is based on the real family, the real journey, the real moment bought a tear to my eye watching it live. This does bottle down to the idea of t chasing the dream, taking the chance given to your movie, which is the Saraya side of the film. I did however think the Zak side of the story is handled well because seeing him dealing with losing his own dream and seeing his life feel like he is worthless, his hard work was for nothing shows just how hard the news can be. This does feel like a feel-good story of inspiration dreaming.

Biopic/ComedyThe biopic side of this film shows how hard the family has worked to be successful in the wrestling business, it shows the life changing decision being made. The comedy will have you laughing at every joke, with many being British humour.

SettingsThe film does show the different worlds, the small-town Norwich wrestling which could see people falling into the wrong side of the law, to the big glossy heights of the WWE, it shows how you can start at the bottom to reach the top.


Scene of the Movie –
Training.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Skipping the success Paige has in NXT.

Final ThoughtsThis is a feel-good inspirational story that will give you a smile, even if you do know how the story ends, both in the film and the years after.

 

Overall: Delightfully funny biopic.

Rating

 

 

Malin Akerman Weekend – Couples Retreat (2009)

Director: Peter Billingsley

Writer: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Dana Fox (Screenplay)

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Faizon Love, Jon Favreau, Malin Akerman, Kristen Bell, Kristin David, Kali Hawk, Tasha Smith, Jean Reno

 

Plot: A comedy centered around four couples who settle into a tropical-island resort for a vacation. While one of the couples is there to work on the marriage, the others fail to realize that participation in the resort’s therapy sessions is not optional.


Tagline –  A comedy about a vacation in paradise they’ll never forget

Runtime: 1 Hour 53 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Nice Well Casted Comedy

 

Story: Couples Retreat starts as we meet the four couples at the different stages of their relationships, Dave (Vaughn) & Ronnie (Akerman) who have infant kids, Joey (Favreau) & Lucy (Davis) who are about to see their kid go off to college, leaving them to go their desperate ways, Shane (Love) who has just separated from his wife and dating 20-year-old Trudy (Hawk) and Jason (Bateman) & Cynthia (Bell) who are struggling to conceive and want the support of their friends by going on the tropical retreat.

Once the couples arrive on the island they learn they all must take part in the exercises, which isn’t what they signed up for and we are left to see which couples will make it through under the guidance of Marcel (Reno) and his theories.

 

Thoughts on Couples Retreat

 

Characters – We have a lot of characters here, we are going to go through the couples first, Dave is a video game designer who has a young family, married to Ronnie, he is the most reluctant to go because of the age of their kids. Ronnie is similar to Dave, the kids are taking their time, taking away from their free time. Jason & Cynthia are the couple that request the help on the holiday, they want children and are two people that are almost identical with their planning. Joey & Lucy have accepted they are going to separate once their daughter goes to college, they are both looking for options on the island because they have been together since high school. Shane has separated from his wife already, he has fallen into a relationship with a 20-year-old in Trudy as part of his mid-life crisis. Trudy is a youngster of the group always unhappy that Shane can’t keep up with her.

PerformancesWe do have a very good cast here, Vince Vaughn gives us his normal comic idea, which is something I enjoy watching, it goes well opposite Jason Bateman’s slightly uptight style. Jon Favreau is good in his role and the most unknown f the four men is Faizon Love that keeps up with the rest well. The women get to focus on the different stages of life too, the thing is they could all be interchangeable in their roles if we are being honest. Kali Hawk is the stand out of the women performers.

StoryThe story follows four couples at different stages of their relationships, this is important because friends will need to learn from their friend’s positions and see where things could go. While this doesn’t always give each relationship, the time required to show where things are going for the couples, but this unleashes more comical moments in the film. While not overly loved by everyone, I feel this does work for the people that will enjoy a simple comedy movie.

ComedyThis comedy does work in most places, we have couples moments and solo moments which work to keep things flowing.

SettingsMost of the film is on the tropical island which gives us the beautiful backdrop for the events.


Scene of the Movie –
Clashing with employees.

That Moment That Annoyed Me We have the man problems, but we don’t see enough of what the women problems are.

Final ThoughtsThis is an enjoyable comedy that hints more often than it misses and has good cast working towards their strengths.

 

Overall: Enjoyable throughout.

Rating

 

 

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)

Director: S Craig Zahler

Writer: S Craig Zahler (Screenplay)

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Carpenter, Don Johnson, Marc Blucas, Tom Guiry, Rob Morgan, udo Keir

 

Plot: A former boxer-turned-drug runner lands in a prison battleground after a deal gets deadly.

 

Runtime: 2 Hours 12 Minutes

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Brutal as They Come

 

Story: Brawl on Cell Block 99 starts as former addict Bradley Thomas (Vaughn) loses his legit job and learns his wife Lauren (Carpenter) has been cheating on him, after getting through their differences the two are now expecting a baby and Frank is working as a runner for drug dealer.

When a deal goes wrong Bradley ends up in prison serving a 7-year sentence for just trafficking drugs, this is just the beginning of the time in prison when Bradley gets blackmailed by the drug lord which escalates the time Bradley must face and strict warden Tuggs (Johnson) doesn’t make things easy for him.

 

Thoughts on Brawl on Cell Block 99

 

Characters – Bradley Thomas is a former alcoholic, he has cleaned himself up trying to live a straight life, but that becomes difficult to make enough money, he starts drug trafficking knowing it can cover the money needed and his build should put off trouble. When he tries to do the right thing during a deal gone bad he ends up in prison, here he must use his boxing training to pay back the man who is blackmailing him. He comes off like a patriot, an honest guy that if you don’t cross he would be a good guy to have around, but you mess with him, he will become your worst enemy. Lauren Thomas is the wife of Bradley, they have been through some rough times, but now they are on better terms expecting a baby, she becomes the victim in the battle between the Bradley and his former employers. Warden Tuggs runs the prison with an iron fist, not willing to let his prisoners have any freedom.

PerformancesVince Vaughn is unlike you have ever seen him before, emotionless while still have moments of wise cracking, but it doesn’t fall into comedy, this could be a career best for Vaughn and easily the right path for a change for him. Jennifer Carpenter is good in her role and it is good to see her on the big screen. Don Johnson enjoys this role where he plays it out wonderfully in the supporting role.

StoryThe story follows one of the traditional ones we know, a good guy doing an illegal job ends up having to use his skills to do a job which involves leaving a pile of bodies behind him to get out of the criminal situation he finds himself in. The pacing gives us enough time to develop Bradley to a level we understand each motive he has and the blackmail put on him is the most twisted I think we have ever seen in a film.

CrimeThe crime involved is centred around the idea that Bradley does break the law and ends up in prison, here the violence starts as we see how things go from calm to violent in a blink of an eye.

SettingsThe settings are used brilliantly because we see the normal life struggle, the illegal life and the two different prisons that Bradley ends up going too.


Scene of the Movie –
Delivery of the blackmail.

That Moment That Annoyed Me How easy it was to swap prisons with one moment of violence.

Final ThoughtsThis was a brutally violent movie that checks the boxes for everything he needs to be, Vince Vaughn gives a career best performance and the director follows up Bone Tomahawk perfectly for his fans.

 

Overall: Wonderful brutal movie people should be seeing.

Rating