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“2 Guns”: In Review

“2 Guns”

MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence throughout, language, and brief nudity

 

Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, and Bill Paxton

 

Running Time: 109 Minutes

 

Release Date: August 2, 2013

 

Moviegoers in search of this summer’s best action-comedy needn’t look further than their nearest box office this weekend. “2 Guns”, which opens for wide release today, follows Naval Intelligence Officer Michael “Stig” Stigman (Mark Wahlberg) and DEA Agent Robert “Bobby” Trench (Denzel Washington) in an action packed, side splitting, adventure.  For most of the movie, the two leads are on the run after a failed attempt to infiltrate the cartel.   Neither character knows that the other is undercover and they try to play each other before eventually discovering the true identity of the other.  Director Baltasar Kormákur did a fantastic job at playing off of the strengths of the two lead characters.  While “2 Guns” incorporates all of your traditional elements of an action packed comedy, what sets it apart is the chemistry between Denzel and Mark.

 

When forming my opinion on a movie, I try to consider what it is trying to be rather than what I might want it to be. “ 2 Guns” is simply trying to entertain, and it certainly succeeds.  The action, though extremely violent,  is thrilling and well done.  Put simply though, this film was only going to go as far as its two stars would take it.  Even though Wahlberg and Washington were each playing characters that were within their wheelhouse, they played off each other surprisingly well and each delivered laughs in their own way.  Wahlberg was the arrogant ladies man, and Denzel was the sarcastic straight-man.  Sometimes, when there is that much star power in a movie, you get the feeling that they are performing beside each other rather than with each other.  That was not the case here, each performance was elevated by the other.

 

“2 Guns” was not intended to be anything groundbreaking or new.  It was following the action comedy playbook but it hit every mark with perfection.  The result is one of the most enjoyable movie experiences of the the year so far.

On my scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is the worst, 5 is the best, and 10 is the worst again, I give “2 Guns” a 5.1257 with an emoticon subraking of “elated face”.

iFamilyKC, Reviews

“The To Do List”: In Review

The To Do List

MPAA Rating: R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic dialogue, drug and alcohol use, and language – all involving teens

Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Bill Hader, Rachel Bilson, Alia Shawkat, Connie Britton

Running Time: 104 Minutes

Release Date: July 26, 2013

The_To_Do_List_film

The raunchy teen comedy is not a new phenomenon.  The To Do List is the latest in a long standing tradition that includes such not so highly regarded films as Porkies, The American Pie series, and countless others.  “The To Do List” is more of the same, but with a female twist.  This twist could have made it just different enough from its thematic predecessors to succeed, however, despite the impressive collection of talent in the cast, the film was undone by inconsistent tone and too many cheap jokes.

Set in 1993, valedictorian Brandy Klark (Aubrey Plaza) wants to shed her uptight image and to that purpose compiles a list of all the adult type activities that she missed out in highschool. In order to complete the list she must solicit help from her friends. Hijinks ensue.

There are many ways to judge a comedy. The most simplistic way is by measure of sheer volume of laughs.  By this measure, “The To Do List” did fairly well.  I did laugh, but they were not joyous laughs induced by clever lines or nuanced performances.  They were awkward and uncomfortable laughs where you can’t really believe what you are seeing and you kind of want it to stop.  There was a lot here that was raunchy for the sake of being raunchy.  There’s nothing particularly clever about a person eating poo (or is it a candy bar? Or is it poo?,….It was poo). 

The other bullet in this movie’s holster is the trusty 1990s reference.  A lot of the jokes were basically, “Ha! People used different slang words back then!” or, “Ha! Look at what people wore in 1993,” or “Hey! I remember that song.” I truthfully enjoyed the trip down memory lane, but there was nothing particularly insightful about the references. They just pointed out a lot of stuff that was considered cool in 1993. 

I think the most disappointing aspect of this movie is the amount of talent that was on display.   Aubrey Plaza is amazing in Parks and Recreation.   Television as a medium has the luxury of slowly developing characters over time, but her character in that show plays very well to strengths as an actress.  She is strong, smart, sarcastic, dark.  She has a tough exterior, but secretly really cares about the people around her.  She is able to make a flawed and often rude character very likable.   Here, she is repressed, naive and extremely Type A.  It is good to see her try something different, but she was not able to make me like her character. 

There were a lot of other talented people here also: Donald Glover, Bill Hader, Andy Samberg and others were all trying very hard but were unable to lift this material to bring anything beyond a few cheap laughs. 

At the end, the movie couldn’t quite commit to what it had set out to be.   For the first 90 minutes this was an unapologetically raunchy film that never met a line it wouldn’t cross.  Then at the end it turned sappy with a heavy-handed lesson that may have been sweet, but seemed woefully out of place.

“The To Do List”, gave ladies the teen raunchy comedy that I would guess most of them never wanted. 

On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being the least, 5 being the best, and 10 being the worst again I give it a 2.25 with the emoticon based sub-ranking of: clutching pearls.

 

 

Culture

Why, Yes. We Did Have An Arrested Development Watch Party!

arrested-development-season-4-poster-2

Every once in a while you come across a television show or movie that is absolutely up your alley. For me, that is Arrested Development. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out that Netflix planned to release the long anticipated fourth season this Spring. We knew, as soon as the official announcement was made, that we were going to host a watch party. Why?! Why not?!

Arrested Development Watch Party

Together with a few good friends, we plowed through the first eight or so episodes of season 4 and are planning to finish the marathon over the weekend. Who needs sleep, right?!  In preparation, I attempted to make frozen bananas (.10 cents gets you nuts). I was out of wax paper. “No big deal,” I said to myself, “I’ll just put them on a plate, right?!” Wrong. In case you’re as much of an idiot as I am (let’s hope you’re not) learn from my mistake: Chocolate covered anything will not easily come off of a plate. By “not easily” I mean not at all. I found myself saying, “I’ve made a huge mistake.” I threw in some Pop Secret and a few other snacks and we were good to go.

If there’s ever an Arrested Development movie that’s released…we’re going to do something extra special in its honor.

Arrested Development Watch Party

I’m curious…what’s your favorite show?!

Arrested Development Hey Brother

Culture, Daily Life, Reviews, Society

The Cable Companies Hate Me…

I am constantly getting mail (like what’s pictured above) from the cable and satellite companies telling me that I’m paying too much for TV. That’s simply not true. Why? Because I pay nothing for my television service. I’m one of those rare breeds of people who don’t have (or want) cable television. GASP! I know…and the cable companies HATE that we cut the cord on television. For years we played the game of overpaying for the luxury of watching TV, having DVR, and avoiding meaningful conversations with others.

Before I gave birth to my daughter in early 2011, I started noticing that the television had become the focal point of our living room. We would host events and, without fail, the television would end up on before the party ended. I came to realize that we’re a product of our society and it seems that our generation (more so with the “current” generation) doesn’t value face to face time as much. With advances in modern technology, Facebook, live broadcasts of sporting events, etc. there are plenty of things to distract us from having deep, meaningful conversations with the ones that we love. I started to miss that and so when C was born we moved the larger television that was in our living room to the bedroom and got a very small hideaway television for the shrunk in our living room. Out of sight out of mind, right?! I started noticing that we enjoyed our time with visitors more when we actually spent it with them (not just with them if you know what I mean).

The next step was to cut out cable television all together. I can’t say that our decision was based purely on the desire to not watch television at all anymore because we do still watch some (I’ll get to that in a minute), we also wanted to cut down on our expenses. When we were paying for cable television and internet service through Comcast, it was costing us around $1500.00 per year. Fifteen hundred dollars each year for cable. As Mr. T would say, “That’s Absoludicrous!”. When I called to break up with Comcast their retention department tried everything under the sun to keep me. They offered me promotional rates, free premium channels, DVR packages, etc. I pulled the whole, “It’s not you, it’s me” and we ended things.

It was hard at first, I’ll admit, but I came to discover in the months that followed that giving cable the ax was one of the best things for our family. We used to be the kind of family (I’m sure many of you can relate) that had the television on simply for background noise but now we watch only one or two shows in the evening after C goes to sleep and I’ll occasionally pull something up on Netflix for her to watch while we’re awake (usually when I want snuggle time).

If you’re thinking about cutting out cable allow me to offer a solution. This is what we’ve done, and it works well for us. We purchased a Roku box on Amazon.com for a one time fee of $60.00. It’s a nifty little device that hooks up to your television and draws from your internet to provide you with TV viewing. There are hundreds (that may be an exaggeration, I’m not actually sure how many there are) of stations that you can get for free on Roku to keep up with news, cooking, health and wellness, learning, etc. In addition, both Netflix and Hulu Plus are available for a nominal monthly fee. Both services both run about 8.00 per month. Including our $29.99 montly internet service (we have 12mbps through AT&T) we spend less than $50 each month for television service (and internet) which saves our family more than a thousand dollars each year.

It’s totally worth it and the cable companies hate it. I am constantly getting offer after offer in the mail from several of the leading cable companies vying for my service. It’s borderline insanity. Given the benefits to not having cable, coupled with the fact that it bothers me to see how much paper they’re wasting to win me over, why would I ever consider going back?

I’m curious to see if there are any other cable free families out there? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler? Buehler?