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Archives for : May2015

Movie Review: “Aloha” is an Unsatisfying Trip to Hawaii

It’s hard to believe that the man who brought us Say Anything and Jerry McGuire could have made such a disappointing flop. Director Cameron Crowe may not be on any winning streak with his previous films, but they still always managed to convey some kind of genuine emotion that left the audience somewhat satisfied. However, in his recent passion project, Crowe misses the mark completely. Aloha never quite finds its direction and is layered with a mess of undeveloped subplots.

In Aloha, Bradley Cooper stars as Brian Gilcrest, a jaded military contractor who was wounded and shamed by an incident in Afghanistan. When he is given a second chance to redeem himself, he must return to Hawaii and face a past love (Rachel McAdams) and a potential new one (Emma Stone).

Gilcrest is assigned to be looked after by air force pilot, Allison Ng (Stone). The two butt heads for about 10 seconds before they realize their immediate attraction towards each other. Their bickering soon turns into a fest of them giving each other googley eyes. All the while, Gilcrest has reconnected with his ex-lover, Tracy Woodside (McAdams), who is now married with two children.  One of whom strikes an uncanny resemblance to him. Hmmm, interesting? Tracy is married to the non-speaking, John “Woody” Woodside (John Krasinski). His lack of communication is used as a running joke throughout the film, but eventually wears thin as it gradually goes from funny to absurd.

With the quick set up of this love triangle, you would think we’d been introduced to the film’s central focus. But you’d be wrong. Sadly, there is no central focus. This story takes you in so many different directions, that by the second half of the movie you just don’t care what it’s about anymore.

Aloha’s crutch might have to do with its crowded all-star cast. Alongside Cooper, Stone, McAdams, and Krasinski; the film does its best to try and make Alec Baldwin, Bill Murray, and Danny McBride relevant to the story. The movie would have probably worked better if we got to see four people discovering themselves through an appropriate amount of development, but instead it is ruined by unnecessary characters involved in a ridiculous and forced subplot: Gilcrest’s expertise is required for a controversial rocket-launching headed by an eccentric billionaire, Carson Welch (Murray) and General Dixon (Baldwin) of the U.S. government.  Who cares?  Exactly!

Honestly, I would have much rather delved into what seemed like a gut-wrenched relationship between Tracy and Woody. Why doesn’t Woody talk? How are they going to fix their problems? It might have led to similar topics we’ve seen before, but there were a lot of layers within the Woodside family that I would have liked to peel.

There is a silver lining to this wreck of a movie.  What starts out sloppy and confusing does eventually conclude well and ties all loose ends. It’s just unfortunate that any resolution to the plot feels underwhelming, as the audience is never allowed to truly anticipate a climax.

Though Aloha features a strong cast and entertaining soundtrack that blends well with the beautifully captured scenery of Hawaii, the film can’t recover from the disorienting first act and the struggle to find its identity.

Rating: 2.5/5

Aloha opens in theaters May 29.

“Aloha” Official Trailer HD

Movie Review: “Pitch Perfect 2” is an Aca-Awesome Sequel

The Barden Bellas are back and ready to pitch-slap the world’s best a cappella groups!

It’s been three years since we last saw our Bella’s beat out the exuberant Treblemakers for the national title. Since then, they have gone on to be reigning champs. But just before this all female singing group could finish out their college careers with 4 straight national wins, an unfortunate mishap occurs during a live broadcast performance at the White House. This results in the Bellas being banned from competing in the United States. Their one shot at redemption and reinstatement is to win the international competition, in which no American group has ever won. To make matters worse the undefeated champs from Germany, Das Sound Machine, are incredible!

Anna Kendrick returns as Beca, the aspiring music producer, who is now focused more on life after college and is secretly interning at a record label.  Brittany Snow also returns as Chloe, who purposely is failing college every year so that she may remain a Bella. And we are introduced to a new freshman, Emily (Hailee Steinfeld), who desperately wants to become a Barden Bella.

For the most part, Pitch Perfect 2 hits all the right notes. For starters, the film skips straight to the girl’s senior year in college and avoids dragged out year by year sequels. Also, Beca and Jesse (Skylar Astin) are still together and going strong. Nice to see they didn’t have a dramatic break up that would lead to an inevitable reunion. Only problem here is we don’t get nearly enough time with the lovable Skylar Astin. I would have much rather watched more of Jesse’s plan for life after college versus any time spent with newcomer, Emily. I can’t quite put my finger on why Steinfield never clicked with me. Other than her character writing the touching, original song “Flashlight,” Emily is just wasted time that could be spent on the growth of an already beloved character.

Speaking of beloved characters, Bumper (Adam DeVine) and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) are still keeping their love affair under-wraps. It’s a hilarious and unique pairing that audiences will surely enjoy.

Pitch Perfect 2 is definitely flashier than the first film, yet it is also less charming. Under the direction of Elizabeth Banks, the movie focuses on a sort of girl power theme. That isn’t a bad thing, but it would have been nice to maybe see a collaboration between the Treblemakers and Barden Bellas. It’s a performance I still hope to see one day.

Overall I praise the film for its effort in an original sequel.  Instead of recycling story-lines, they allow their characters to develop through new experiences while also highlighting how bittersweet it can be to move on after college.

There is no doubt that fans of the first film will be satisfied with Pitch Perfect 2.  The movie is an extremely fun, comedy packed with awe-inspiring musical numbers to which you can’t help but sing-along.

Rating: 4/5

Pitch Perfect 2 opens in theaters May 15.

“Pitch Perfect 2” Official Trailer HD

Movie Review: “Hot Pursuit” is a Hot Mess that Fails in Every Aspect

Not even the Oscar-winning lead actress can save this pathetic excuse for a comedy.

I’m not really sure why Reese Witherspoon signed on to this film. She certainly doesn’t need the work, and the movie is slightly beneath her. But I guess she felt after her captivating performance in Wild, she would just do a flick that requires much less thought and effort.

Hot Pursuit might as well be this year’s Tammy; a lazy, predictable, disaster road trip comedy that manages to have everything go wrong up until it’s final destination. We’ve seen this formula many times. For the most part, films like these never have any real substance, and the slapstick comedy fails to produce any real laughs. The exceptions are a few rare gems like Dumb and Dumber, Overnight Delivery, and Road Trip (Personal favorites).

In Hot Pursuit Reese Witherspoon plays, Cooper, an uptight, by-the-book cop who is stuck working in the evidence room. She has no life and no boyfriend. She’s too intense and scares guys off. But things start looking up for Cooper, when her boss assigns her to protect a newly widowed drug dealer’s wife, Daniella (Sofia Vergara). She must get Daniella safely to Dallas so that she may testify against a murderous drug lord. Of course, what should be a simple task turns into a road trip from hell. As they race through Texas, they are chased by dirty cops and vicious gunmen. They never seem to catch a break. And in a twisted turn of events, they suddenly become two wanted fugitives.

Oh and if you were concerned about Officer Cooper’s love life, don’t be. She runs into a random man (Robert Kazinsky) who’s had trouble with the law himself, and what do you know? He likes how intense she is. It’s a forced romance that lacks chemistry, intrigue, and in all honesty is completely forgettable.

I wish I could say Hot Pursuit was at least funny at times, but the film uses recycled shticks that are poorly executed. The story-line and jokes have no originality, and I could care less about these characters. That might be the most frustrating aspect of the film. Cooper and Daniella never seem to connect with each other, nor do they “make a good team.” A redeeming factor in a comedy that begins with two people hating each other is the end result of them finally caring for one another. Unfortunately, throughout their journey, Cooper and Daniella never have a genuine moment where the audience can believe that these two would become “real” friends.

Hot Pursuit might as well not even be on your radar this weekend. There are plenty of other great films out that provide a much better source of entertainment. Just go see Avengers: Age of Ultron, or Ex Mchina, or literally anything else.

Rating: 1.5/5

Hot Pursuit open in theaters May 8.

Win a Pair of Tickets to see “Rocky” at B&B Theatre!

It’s Retro Night at B&B Theatre in Wylie and you can win a free pair of tickets to see the original “Rocky” film!  The first two people to either email, message or comment me will be the winner.

Movie Info

SCREENING: May 7th at 7pm

ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE December 3rd, 1976

STARRING Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers and Burgess Meredith


SYNOPSIS Rocky Balboa, a small-time boxer gets a supremely rare chance to fight the heavy-weight champion, Apollo Creed, in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.