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Movie Review: “Despicable Me 3” Entertains but Lacks Depth

Image result for despicable me 3

In the first “Despicable Me”, Gru (Steve Carell) discovered the meaning of fatherhood and how rewarding it was to care for three little girls who loved him back. In “Despicable Me 2”, Gru discovered love with his romantic interest, Lucy (Kristen Wiig). In “Despicable Me 3” Gru discovers a twin brother, Dru (also voiced by Carell), whom he never knew he had. And somewhere in all these films he takes down an evil villain more diabolical than him.

The franchise sticks with an adequate formula that entertains enough. But unfortunately with each passing sequel, the films seem to be loosing the heart of the story. “Despicable Me 3” begins with the introduction of a new villain, Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), who is a washed up 80’s child star that wants revenge on world that turned on him. After failing to take down Bratt during one of his heists, Gru and his now wife, Lucy, are fired from their jobs at the Anti-Villain League. In the midst, of trying to figure his next step, a strange man visits Gru to tell him about a twin brother he never knew he had who needs his help.

Once Gru, Lucy, and the girls arrive at Dru’s very rich mansion, they discover he is not exactly what they expected. For starters, he has a full head of blonde hair, he has an obsession with pigs, and he’s a clumsy, sweet guy who’s desperate to become a villain like his brother once was. While Gru attempts to reconnect to his old “bad guy” days, Lucy is busy trying to have some mother/daughter bonding time with the girls.

Though the twin brother story-line does offer longer legs for the film’s franchise, you have to wonder if it is worth the stretch marks the movies are beginning to show. The family relationships are excellent factors to “Despicable Me”, but it might be wise for the films to put a little more care and thought into their antagonists. At this point they are meaningless obstacles to whatever Gru is hoping to achieve.

Oh and you’re probably wondering about the minions. Yes, there is plenty of minions in this movie. I found there was a little too much of them. But if you love them as much as little kids do, you’re all set. The minions have their own mini adventure side story that you will either find adorable or an absolute waste of time.

“Despicable Me 3” is an overall enjoyable kids film. We’re given a handful of laughs and a decent amount of tender moments. However, for a film that had such a strong start, I had hoped this movie would leave me wanting more instead of worrying about what’s to come.

RATING: 3.5/5

“Despicable Me 3” opens in theaters June 30.

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Interview: John Magaro talks “The Big Short”

 

John Magaro plays Charlie Geller in “The Big Short”, the new release from Paramount Pictures that continues the movement of socially conscious dramas. This story begins just prior to the financial implosion the mid-2000s that was precipitated by the abrupt end of the housing boom. I sat down with Mr. Magaro to discuss film – and finances.

Interview with John Magaro

john m

Movie Review: “Minions” Continue to Charm in the Adorable Animated Prequel

We all loved the villain-worshiping Minions from the hilarious Despicable Me films, but can the Twinkie-looking creatures succeed in starring in their own animated feature? Parents and children rest easy, because the Minions triumph in their leading roles.

As we see in the beginning of the film, Minions have been around for centuries and were born to serve a “despicable” master. Finding a leader was easy. But keeping one seemed to be a problem, as death would quickly follow them. Eventually the Minions have no one to serve, and manage to live a “normal life” amongst themselves. Unfortunately, not being able to oblige their true purpose in life has made them feel weary and restless.

Though we see ALL the hundreds of Minions (voiced by Pierre Coffin), we focus on the three hoping to save the group from a meaningless life. Kevin, Stuart, and Bob set out to find a new evil master. It isn’t long before they are recruited by the devious, super-villain, Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock). But before they can rejoice in the fact that they’ve found a new master and home for their family, they must complete one evil task. Steal The Queen of England’s crown so that Scarlet may take over the world! Or, if they fail to complete this mission- be destroyed.

Unlike Despicable Me, the plot of Minions is thin and there isn’t much depth to the story. However, they do squeeze a lot of lemonade with the one lemon their given. We’re introduced to many new, fun characters. Some of whom are voiced by Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, and Jon Hamm. And yes, you will see a young Gru and find out just how the Minions met their MOST despicable master.

The simple premise is stretched out for a duration of 91 fully entertaining minutes. Maybe it’s the fast pace story-line? Maybe it’s the laughable, slapstick comedy? Or maybe it’s that these little yellow guys are just so darn cute, you can’t help but enjoy watching them no matter what. I can’t really pinpoint it.

Minions doesn’t offer much besides a good time and some chuckles for the audience. Ultimately, it’s interesting to see the origins of Gru’s ever so loyal Minions and find out how they came to meet. For the parents who want to take their kids to the theater this weekend, Minions is not only a safe choice, but it’s a delightful, fun-loving, animated film.

Rating: 3.5/5

Minions opens in theaters July 10.

“Minions” Official Trailer HD

Special Events: “The Search for the Next Ron Burgundy” Contest

EPIX and Paramount Launch “The Search for the Next Ron Burgundy” Contest 

Live Auditions in 9 Markets and National Submission through Instagram Video 

Winner to Anchor EPIX Red Carpet Coverage of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues Premiere in NYC

New York, New York (November 14, 2013) – Attention Anchorman fans – it’s time to dust off the red blazer and pour yourself a “scotchy scotch scotch!”  Premium TV network EPIX and its joint venture partner, Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom, Inc., are holding a nationwide search for the next Ron Burgundy.  One lucky winner will have the unique opportunity to act as news anchor for the EPIX network and report from the red carpet of the Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues premiere in NYC on December 15, 2013.  As Ron Burgundy himself might say, “It’s kind of a big deal.”

Fans can audition in one of two ways.  To enter online, visit the contest hub IAmRonBurgundy.com beginning November 21, 2013 and watch the “how to submit” video from Channel 4 News Team member Champ Kind (David Koechner). Fans can upload a 15-second audition video via Instagram using the hashtag #IAmRonBurgundy and use the social networking tools on www.IAMRONBURGUNDY.com to campaign for votes.  The entrant who receives the most votes by closing date December 1 will become one of ten finalists.

The remaining nine finalists will be selected from local promotions taking place Thanksgiving weekend across the country.  The Channel 4 News set will be on-site in shopping malls in major cities and fans will have the opportunity to create a “screen test” video and share their video with friends via social media.  The top local finalists will be selected by a local TV news anchor in each market.

“We’re pleased to work with our partner, Paramount, to showcase Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” said Mark Greenberg, EPIX CEO and President. “The legend that is Ron Burgundy resonates with all ages and this contest will give one lucky fan the chance to try to fill the shoes of the anchorman we all know and love in anticipation the Anchorman’s much awaited sequel.”

The Channel 4 News set will be on-site on Black Friday, November 29, for screen tests in the following locations:

o   New York City – AMC Lincoln Square

o   Los Angeles – Westfield Century City

o   Dallas – Stonebriar Centre

o   Seattle – Northgate Mall

o   St. Louis – Chesterfield Mall

 

And on November 30, in the following locations:

o   Atlanta – Mall of Georgia

o   Denver – Cherry Creek Shopping Center

o   Philadelphia/Cherry Hill, NJ– Cherry Hill Mall

o   San Diego – UTC Westfield Shopping Center

The local finalist in each market and the national submission with the most votes will be featured on  www.IAMRONBURGUNDY.combeginning December 4.  From these ten finalists, select cast and crew from Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues will personally choose the Grand Prize Winner, to be announced on the website December 7. The Grand Prize Winner and nine finalists will also receive a Sony Playstation 3 and a 1-year digital subscription to EPIX.

With the 70’s behind him, San Diego’s top rated newsman, Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell), returns to the news desk in “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.”  Also back for more are Ron’s co-anchor and wife, Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), weather man Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), man on the street reporter Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and sports guy Champ Kind (David Koechner) – All of whom won’t make it easy to stay classy…while taking New York and the nation’s first 24-hour news channel by storm.  Produced by Judd Apatow, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Written by Will Ferrell & Adam McKay.  Directed by Adam McKay.

“ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES” opens in theaters everywhere December 20th, 2013.

For official rules and further contest details visit www.IAmRonBurgundy.com.

Having a Rough Day? Here’s 5 Films that are so Entertaining, you’ll forget your Problems

We all have those days.  Work has been stressing you out and you feel miserable.  Your having relationship troubles. Your starting feel insecure about yourself. Overall, your in the dramatic “I hate life” mode.  Anytime I tend to get in this random mood for whatever reason, movies have always been my cure!  When you’re watching a great film, you get to have a wonderful escape.

In this particular mood, I tend to go for films that don’t require heavy concentration. Light-hearted, feel good or even a horror will help.  These are the five films that are so entertaining, you’ll be focusing on the story and the characters’ problems instead of your own for at least two hours or so.

Pitch Perfect

Get Pitch-Slapped!

 

For the Fun: Starring Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow and Rebel Wilson, this film just represents “Glee”fulness.   The musical numbers are hilarious and actually really good.  In case anyone didn’t know, Anna Kendrick got her start on broadway.  After seeing the Oscar nominated actress in some strong, big screen performances, its nice to see her showing off both talents in this surprisingly, fun film.  Pitch Perfect is a happy, colorful movie that everyone will enjoy singing along to.  Throw in some major WTF moments and a cute romance, you will be singing to yourself, “what problems?”

Little Miss Sunshine

What makes you a winner in life?

 

For the Message: This Oscar nominated film is more than just breakout performances and inappropriate humor.  The story about this family of “losers” may start out a bit depressing, but as the movie continues you will find that winning the top prize doesn’t necessarily make you a winner in life.  Having people in your life that love and support you no matter what is often what winners and losers strive for.  It’s the message of this film that will leave you still thinking about it even when it’s finished.

Meet the Parents

You’ll be grateful your name is not Gaylord Focker

 

For the Appreciation: Whatever your problem is, it can’t be any worse than what Gaylord ‘Greg’ Focker (Ben Stiller) goes through in one of the most hilarious films of all time.  As if meeting your girlfriend’s parents wasn’t nerve-racking enough, having one of those parents be ex CIA, Jack Byrnes (Robert De Niro) is terrifying.  There are so many obstacles Greg goes through, including lost luggage, a lie detector test, broken noses and so much more that you will appreciate the fact that you aren’t in his shoes.  Besides feeling ultimate sympathy for Greg in this film, you may also think twice before checking a bag for your next flight.

Tommy Boy

Chris Farley in his little coat

 

For the Laughs: Chris Farley was a comedy genius and paired with David Spade, together they were a dynamic duo.  This slapstick comedy is a laugh out loud riot.  As these two are on a mission to sell an impossible amount of brake pads, they encounter so many ridiculous events from cow tipping to a deer fight.  Tommy Boy is a true underdog story, you root for Tommy and laugh at his pain.  There may be one disaster after another in this film, but there is also heart and friendship.  Just sit back and enjoy the catastrophe that these two characters go through, you will more than likely end still laughing and quoting lines.

Scream

What’s your favorite scary movie?

 

For the Scare:  A good scary movie can cure a lot of problems.  Really any horror flick will do the trick here, but one of my personal favorites is the cult classic, Scream. The opening sequence to this film is one of the best from any scary movie.   You may think all the comedy spoofs for these films will make you unable to take it seriously, but try watching it by yourself in the dark.  Regardless of the cheesy romantic scenes and sometimes predictable murders, it’s just a fun scary movie.  Scream has a great story, good mystery, lots of stabbing and it’s just scary enough for you to still be able to sleep easy after watching.  However, if you would like to have night terrors, try The Exorcist or the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

 

Interview: The Lone Ranger & The Way, Way Back

The Lone Ranger

The man behind the mask wouldn’t be The Lone Ranger he is with out his trusty horse.  Silver, the actual horse from the new film visited the Mesquite Rodeo for a meet and greet with fans.  As Silver was allowing interviews, Bobby Lovgren, his trainer, was there to speak on his behalf.

Bobby is no stranger when it comes to training horses for film.  For over 20 years he has trained for all the great horse films, including Seabiscuit, War Horse, Racing Stripes, Zorro, and much more.  It’s his love for animals that makes his job feel less like work and more like a passion.

The Lone Ranger tells the story of a Native American warrior, Tonto, as he recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.

Out now, the film is sure to be fun for the whole family to watch this Fourth of July weekend.

Click the link below to see the interview with Silver and Bobby, followed by an interview with Academy Award winners, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash on their newest film, The Way, Way Back.

The Lone Ranger and The Way Way Back Interviews

Way Way Back

 

The Way, Way Back

On a scale of 1 to 10, what would you rank yourself?  It’s a question most of us probably ask about other people; but when referring to ourselves, were usually at a loss for numbers.  As you can see from the interview with the Writer/Directors, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, “we’re all on our own sort of journey and there are no numbers.”

Unfortunately for Duncan (Liam James), at the start of the film he has been labeled a “3” by his mom’s arrogant boyfriend Trent (Steve Carell).  Duncan is forced to spend his summer vacation with his mother (Toni Collette), Trent, and his daughter.  Having a rough time fitting in and constantly being belittled by Trent, he finds an unexpected friend in Owen (Sam Rockwell), manager of the Water Wizz water park.  As the film continues Owen offers Duncan a job at Water Wizz.  It doesn’t take long for this awkward, insecure kid to find the confidence within, and realize that he is more than any number on a scale.

Liam James is a new comer among this slew of an all-star cast, including Steve Carell, Toni Collete, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph and many more! But Liam didn’t need any help from his supporting cast.  He shined in his role as Duncan.  During the entire film the audience relates to Duncan.  You feel every moment of pain, embarrassment, and best of all, happiness that this kid is feeling.  It’s incredibly, enjoyable to watch his character develop throughout the movie.

What’s not as enjoyable, is watching Steve Carell as a jerk!  Don’t get me wrong Carell nails his performance as the overbearing, deep rooted, insecure boyfriend.  It’s just odd to be watching one of the most likeable actors in Hollywood playing a role that you can’t root for.  Although Carell’s character isn’t likable, I commend him for proving that there are more layers to this actor than just the nice guy who seems to be clueless with reality (i.e.The Office, 40 Year Old Virgin, Anchorman, etc).

Hands down this film has been my favorite of the year so far.  Not just because the dark comedy genre is usually my preference, but the message is one we should all listen to.  I think we have all met that person that has made us doubt ourselves, and leading us to believe we aren’t as special as we think we are.  Most of the characters in this film feel they need someone’s seal of approval to be happy with the person they are; thinking that there is some sort of norm that we all must follow to fit in.  The Way, Way Back teaches us that, what makes us truly happy in life is the path we create for ourselves.

The Way, Way Back opens in select theaters July 5, 2013.