Rush vs Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 vs Don Jon

Kenny D September 27, 2013 0
Rush vs Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 vs Don Jon

It should go without saying which movie will own the box office. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 will demolish its competition. But is it the best movie this weekend? This week it takes on dueling racers, a Jersey shore porn addict and Metallica. Read on to find out what the best movie of the weekend is.

Rush

rush movie, rush 2013, chris hemsworth, daniel bruhl, racing moviesWith Rush, director Ron Howard takes some time off from adapting Dan Brown stories and directs his first drama since 2008’s Frost/Nixon.

Rush tells the true story of the classic rivalry between James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) on the Formula One race circuit in the 1970’s. Both racers started racing from a modest beginning but quickly climbed the ranks as they become the most skillful drivers around. Hunt is the natural playboy always looking for the next female admirer, while Lauda’s passion leaned more towards logic and the numbers behind effective racing. For the better part of a decade, the two racers sought to beat the other and reach the goal of winning the Grand Prix.

As the movie starts off, it follows each character and chronicles their beginnings. After getting a clearer picture of Hunt, you like him less and less. His personal life reflects upon his racing career and it’s hard for him to get sponsorships. Just in time for you to be sick of Hunt, the movie changes its focus to Lauda and keeps him front and center for the duration of the movie. If you’re seeing this movie to see Thor race cars, you’ll get plenty of that. But the emotional center is Niki Lauda.

It takes a while for the movie to show us actual Formula One racing action, but when it does, it becomes a thrilling experience. During that time, Formula One was hazardous to your health. For these two racers, death is always a possibility, but they continue to race to not only get the world title, but also to beat the other racer.

I recommend that you don’t read the backstory for these two racers. Go in blind and the movie will be a far better experience. Even if you don’t like racing, you’ll be caught up in the competitiveness between Lauda and Hunt.

This is not a perfect movie, far from it. Every detail of exposition is told through newspaper clippings and by TV sports announcers. Also, I would have liked to see the two leads interact in more scenes. The few scenes where just the two of them bicker back and forth are great.

In the film, it’s said that men love cars, even more than they love women. For Niki Lauda and James Hunt, that could not be more true, they just approach their passions differently.

While this movie may turn people away from every wanting to be a Formula One racer, it is better than your average sports drama. Rush is worth seeing during a matinee show. If you want a great racing documentary, go check out Senna. It’s one of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen.

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

meatballs, cloudy sequel, animated films 2013The first Cloudy movie was a major success, not just financially, but critically as well. It found the rare formula of finding the target of appealing to both kids and adult.

The movie picks up immediately after Flint Lockwood (Bill Hader) and his pals stop his uncontrollable food-making invention. Their island home is still destroyed and basically looks like a Golden Corral buffet line. Almost immediately, Flint’s idol Chester V (Will Forte) lands on the island. His character is essentially a maniacal Steve Jobs and gives Flint the chance to work at the “world’s coolest company” Live Corp. However, after the clean-up crews on the island start disappearing, Chester V recruits Flint to find his invention on the island, because it has started back up and is creating food-animal hybrids, which are seen as a threat to the world. So Flint, Sam, Tim, Brent, Earl, Manny and Steve all head back to the island in a Jurassic Park-style journey to stop Flint’s invention yet again.

Now, if you liked the first Cloudy movie, as I did, it’s time to remove most of your expectations. This movie, which I was quite excited for, is little more than a cash grab. This lazily-titled movie shows about how much effort was put into the quality of this flick.

Instead of going for a fun romp back on the island covered in food, it seems that the writers spent 90% of their time coming up with punny names for the food-animals and 10% of their time writing a script that appeals to all ages. Don’t get me wrong, I love puns. I’ve long been accused of telling only dad jokes. But, puns only have so much staying power. If you’ve seen the commercials or previews, you’ve seen the extent of the puns. (i.e. Leek in the boat, Taco-dile, Watermelephant…) I heard adults laughing a few times at the ridiculous puns, but that was the extent. The kids in the crowd were silent, except for a “cut the cheese” joke followed by flatulent noises.

This movie wants you to know how clever it is by repeating every pun at least 3 times. There’s dad humor to be had, it just doesn’t leave much for replay value.

This is the definition of unnecessary sequel. The first movie (adapted from a childrens’ book) came out of nowhere and ended up being one of the best animated movies of 2009. In a year crowded with animated flicks, the Cloudy sequel will disappear in the pack and be forgotten. Though, parents do like electronic babysitters, so I’m sure it will make enough money to justify Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3.

Terry Crews takes over for Mr T. as the machismo-riddled Earl. But the difference isn’t noticeable. He does provide some of the biggest laughs due to his Rogaine-inducing teardrops. The voice actors all do a fine job, but there is just not much for their characters to do.

I’m giving this movie a rental, because it’s not embarrassingly bad, it’s just mediocre. Your kids will be able to sit through it because it’s colorful and there is enough happening on screen to keep them from being bored, like a CheeseSpider (where’s the pun on that one?) attack. It’s an average movie in every way.

Don Jon

don jon movie, joseph gordon-levitt, scarlett johansson, addiction movieIt’s no secret that I have a non-sexual male crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I just think we could be pretty great friends, that’s all. Despite a few odd career choices (Premium Rush), I like nearly every project he’s involved in. When I heard he was writing and directing a Sundance movie, I couldn’t have been more excited.

Jon (JGL) is a typical Jersey guy who loves working out and clubbing with his D-bag buddies at night, while trolling for trashy women who meet their number-rated expectations. His buddies call him “Don Jon” because he’s so lucky with the ladies. But there’s a big problem with Jon. Even though he gets plenty of action, he is addicted to porn. Early on, he meets a “dimer” in Barbara (Scarlett Johansson). Instead of being just another one-night-stand, she makes him work to swoon her. Even with a perfect girl in his life, he still can’t let go of the internet porn because the fantasy of it is far better than the reality of sex with random girls.

Now before you give Jon’s character any unnecessary credit and think that his addicton plays a very small part in the movie, you should know that it is the theme and centerpiece for the entire movie.

I’m a guy who believes in the film-making technique of “less is more.” I think that horror and comedy work best with that mentality. The less you see of a scary movie monster, the better. If a comedy is subtle and not begging me to laugh, I appreciate it more. In the case of Don Jon, I think it’s fine if the movie shows exactly what Jon thinks about in certain situations, but it should have been used to establish his character in the beginning and not overused throughout the movie.

In his directorial debut, JGL shows plenty of promise. He has a nice grasp on pacing and how to frame a scene. His direction actually keeps you from realizing that there is essentially no story in this movie. The writing is very funny, but also relies too strongly on Jersey cliches and is too predictable.

JGL shows that he can disappear into character again. He stood out as the strength in the acting, especially when he acts against Scarlett Johannson in one of her worst performances in recent history. Her accent is really grating and I didn’t buy her as a tough-as-nails Jersey girl. Julianne Moore appears halfway through the movie as a grieving woman whom Jon meets in a night class. She plays a twisted voice of reason that helps Jon realize he may actually be addicted.

This movie has very clever callbacks (A Macbook startup sound that triggers Jon’s addiction and the sound of computer trash being emptied), but once again, they are used to the point of exhaustion. Also, Don Jon never quite finds its message. During the intro, you are shown commercial and movie clips from the past 30 years of pop culture that have taught boys of all ages how to view women, as … objects. At that point, I thought this movie was going to going to do its best to dispel how media crafts mens’ brains about women. Instead, you get scattered shots of low-budget porn flashing on the screen for an entire hour. Even when Jon learns how true dedication to a woman is a better feeling than watching smut, he still seems to have a bizarre motive of sleeping with a woman he has no plans to end up with.

Don Jon will make you laugh, but it’s one step above a raunchy comedy. Unless you can handle the content, I do not recommend this movie. Feel free to skip this one. But hey, Tony Danza plays Jon’s dad, so it has that going for it.

don jon movie, tony danza, jgl, joseph gordon levitt, first time director

“Heyyyy, Angela…”

Bonus Review – Metallica Through the Never

metallica movie, concert movie, metallica concert movie, through the neverI have a confession to make… I may have snuck into this movie late last night. I know that Metallica doesn’t endorse stealing, even though that’s what their music makes me want to do.

Metallica Through the Never is only playing on Imax 3D screens and is a concert movie to end all concert movies. This movie is billed as a concert movie with a running narrative. That narrative depicts Trip (Dane DeHaan) as Metallica’s roadie, who is sent to fuel up one of the band’s stalled delivery trucks that holds a mysterious package the band needs. On a seemingly normal night, the city becomes an alternate world filled with violent riots and rabid gangs that would fit right into a Mad Max movie.

Don’t be fooled by the ads prominently showing the storyline. The narrative only takes up 10% of the movie. The other 90% of Metallica Through the Never shows Metallica playing on a grand stage in front of a huge, adoring meathead fanbase.

This movie puts you right on stage and in the middle of the pyrotechnic action so much that you feel like you are there. I’ll be honest, I’ve never owned a Metallica CD, but as a music fan, I almost couldn’t miss this movie. Metallica puts on quite a show and when it’s translated to HD on an Imax screen, it’s kinda glorious in a heavy metal way.

Don’t put too much stock into the story. It’s essentially a quest to find a macguffin. But it’s city-wide mayhem, that clearly keeps the same tone as the music, that makes it interesting. I would have liked if there were at least 20 minutes more of the mini-film set to Metallica’s music.

If you don’t like Metallica or loud music, then you probably aren’t reading this review, but if you are a Metallica fan or want to see a concert movie that will rock your socks off, go see this movie. I hope this does well and Muse takes a cue and releases a half narrative/half concert film.

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