Tag Archives: 2016 netflix movies

Movie Review: True Memoirs of an International Assassin

Image result for true memoirs of an international assassin movie poster free use“Why would an actual assassin write a book about being an assassin? It’s beyond stupid.”
“Or is it so beyond stupid, it’s brilliant.”

I love this line. I really do. It’s the type of insert that slithers its way into comedies, presenting a line of thought that causes a burst of joy and also drops a trinklet of apparent wisdom into the minds of its viewers. You have to take a double take and think. Would it really be stupid or is it jaw-dropping how genius it is?

True Memoirs of an International Assassin is a Netflix original that from the beginning, demonstrates this same wit and charisma.

Sam Larson, an accountant who’s dove into the cobwebs of assassination and writing, has created an alter ego for himself, one in which he feels he truly gets to live. Mason Carver is everything he’s ever wanted to be. And unknown to him, that chance at a more exotic lifestyle has arrived.

The introductory phrases of Jeff Wadlow’s Netflix special deals with vicariousness and journalistic integrity, offering both food for thought regarding ethics and some life advice that, while endlessly cliché, doesn’t seem to ever be heard by some. Do something worth your time. Live life.

These points are accompanied with a quiver of writing jabs and a parlance for dialogue that has the versatility to be both thought-provoking and worthy of a gigglefest. It’s whimsical but also odd in an amusing enough way that you’re willing to put up with it.

That’s generally the basis for Kevin James videos, to be honest. How much are you willing to endure?

You can see the prototype for Kevin James’ career in Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Is it a good movie? Hell no, but like Sandler has come to do, it tiptoes the trapeze of the funny and the galatically stupid. It hits and misses and at the end of the run, it’s up to the viewer to decide if the shooting percentage was worth their time.

What you see with True Memoirs of an International Assassin is a film that shows signs it wants to take itself seriously but then quickly retracts and goes back to being the fun, silly movie that certainly attracts younger audiences, but dampers the chords trying to be played.

This is what holds it back. Its insistence on keeping a younger audience engaged prevents it from being a tempting thriller, showcasing what can happen when life steals you away from your comfort zones and your routine that affords you the peace of mind you desire. In some ways, its failings are similar to Sandler’s The Do-Over, creating an appetizing adventure and possessive writing style that’s forced to run concurrently with ill-timed humor, interrupting the pleasant balance the film is trying to maintain. As the movie proceeds, True Memoirs of an International Assassin becomes more of an slog through comedy tropes than it does that endeavor we signed up for at the beginning. There is a direct rift between the first and second halves of this piece, one that allows its drama and personality to run freely, unleashed, and the one that feels the need to act like someone other than himself. That second part can only be viewed sympathetically for so long before the damn breaks free and that’s what comes here. Its flamboyance downplays the narrative drive and its continual detours for quick ad libs from James and crew do not provide the productivity that would warrant them. It leaves it in a run in pig slop or a tractor trying to mull through the fields after a downpour. It’s a mess and requires too much effort for too little gain. Difference is, True Memoirs of an International Assassin didn’t have the effort either.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (SinisterOlympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the Sun)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Doctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadBatman Forever)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The Great WallRobin HoodUnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: Apocalypse)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsport)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Most Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the Apes)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for True Memoirs of an International Assassin: 57.

While certainly containing its own batch of cleverness, I can’t help but wish this was a film that took itself seriously.

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Movie Review: The Do-Over

Breathe…breathe it in. It might be the best Sandler ever gets.

In my review of The Ridiculous 6, the first of four films Sandler has to complete with Netflix, I questioned Sandler’s relevance. It’s been a while since the Brooklyn boy delivered comedy gold. 2011’s Just Go With It was fun, but exclude that and you have to go to 2006’s Click before you find the talent that Sandler used to deliver like alcohol at a frat party. I went so far as to say there’s only so much nonsense I’m going to put up with before I stop watching, as I’m sure some Sandler loyalists already have.

The Do-Over has lit the embers in me again, my fire for Sandler. It’s solidified my status as a Sandler loyalist for life.

Funny thing is, The Do-Over isn’t good. It’s still plagued by Sandler’s familiar missteps: catering to the drunk college crowd, being unnecessarily sexual and parading childish jokes that have frankly gotten so redundant I can probably write them verbatim for Sandler’s next voyage.

And yet a part of me likes this film. Some scenes accomplish nothing and should have been cut, but there are other sections that I can’t help but smile because it reminds me of why I used to love Sandler. The running gags that don’t quit and yet still stick, the trinkets of dialogue that have enough shine on them that I can’t help but grin. I remember how rambunctious all his films used to be. They were ebullient.

What Sandler used to do was remind people of what it was like to be a kid again. He allowed us to reminisce. Sandler doesn’t do that anymore, not until The Do-Over. I haven’t laughed at a new Sandler film for five years. I can safely laugh now.

It makes me glad to know the well hasn’t dried up just yet but also leaves me a little distraught because it confirms that Sandler will never return to what he was. He’ll never produce the material that glistened off the page again. I’ll never shed tears or utter silent laughs from gasping for air. I don’t think I’ll ever fully see the old Sandler again. Potential will continuously be squandered and promise skipped over in favor of potty jokes or poorly timed one-liners. This film confirms to me that the Sandler we knew and love isn’t coming back.

I take solace knowing he’s still around and that I can wring out a couple droplets of joy from his films. The luxury I used to enjoy is aplenty no longer but still exists if I’m willing to stick around. For those few drops, I’ll stay.

Here, Sandler conquers another genre that he hasn’t managed to get his hands on in all these years: action comedy. You would think with his expertise he would have done one of these but I’ve looked through his filmography and can’t find any. While the western intrusion of The Ridiculous 6 was unwelcome and essentially void of just about everything, the action comedy feels better suited to Sandler’s talents. Where dead air, buzzards and vultures were circling the script of The Ridiculous 6, The Do-Over is a story we’ve all seen before: an underappreciated guy who’s taken advantage of meets an old friend/stranger who causes him to reach an epiphany: life doesn’t have to be like this. I can stand up for myself. I don’t have to put up with this crap. I can start over. Sound familiar?

It’s not an atypical plot. I can think of two films off the top of my head that meet this criteria. Films with cookie cutter storyboards rely on the singularity of their specific adaptation and the connectivity of their characters. The Do-Over struggles with both these options. A plot that takes a few too many u-turns in its attempt to separate itself and characters that can’t breach the field of originality, The Do-Over doesn’t carry well nor does it ask us anything aside from, “Are you really living?” not that Sandler’s films have ever been known for strong motifs. No, Sandler’s new trick is randomness. How much random, unconnected material can we smash together to create some laughs? I imagine Sandler in a brainstorming session crashing handfuls of Play-Doh together, desperate to make something out of nothing.

Sandler takes the sidecar to make room for David Spade as our bumbling, socially awkward and purposeless shut-in. Spade as well as Sandler aren’t personalities so much as they are themselves. Actors are supposed to pretend to be other people. Instead, our characters seem keen on acting like Spade and Sandler.

Remove the same childish joke plugs that Sandler must have written in his contracts these days, however, and you find some natural sunlight peeking through the cracks of monotony. In what is by far the best scene in the film, a fight scene is laid over top of Madonna’s “Crazy For You”, a combination so unusual and yet so fitting that I found it impossible not to enjoy. I’ve watched this scene at least five times now. It’s too funny, too stereotypical Sandler not to smirk.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The Running Man10 Cloverfield LaneCreedScouts Guide to the Zombie ApocalypseCrimson Peak)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The CrowHardcore HenryBatman v Superman: Dawn of JusticePride and Prejudice and ZombiesThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (X-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantineRaceEverest)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Batman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6The Lost Boys)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (The Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemption)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for The Do-Over: 51.

The Do-Over‘s score reflects its too often plodding pacing, lack of production from its characters and loosely controlled plot but I also can’t go without saying there is some material that’s worth looking at even though you have to wade through the polluted run time to find the cream of the crop.

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