Tag Archives: david spade

Movie Review: Tommy Boy

Image result for tommy boy movie poster free useI recently watched Ace Ventura: Pet Detective for the first time, one of the 1994 Jim Carrey trifecta (The Mask, Dumb and Dumber) that spawned the comedian’s career in film. In it, you see what happens when a mind of humor is let loose like a dog off a leash. Carrey helped write the screenplay for Ace Ventura, allowing him near complete control of his character and surrendering to him near ultimate authority in the investigator’s portrayal. It worked quite well. Ace Ventura is a true work of stand-up comedy put to film, one that deserves a second viewing before being talked about.

Pieces like Ace Ventura do not come around often. Producers play a far larger role in the industry then they are meant to, leading to corporate heads telling artists they are restricted in their works of freedom. That is what is beautiful about art: it holds unlimited potential. It is genuinely free. An artist, through willpower, creativity, ingenuity and diligence forms an idea, one that was once amorphous and now has a visual element. Art is never finite. It always has something more to say if you but only take the time to look upon it.

It’s also important, however, to state that one must have the talent and ambition necessary to put all those pieces together. It is yet another portion that makes a movie’s success that much more impressive: there are so many people who help create a film. Moving pictures require hundreds of people.

Tommy Boy is what happens when too much independence is given to an actor, or perhaps not enough. Tommy Boy is one of comedian Chris Farley’s brainchilds. He’s the lead, asked to carry the story forward through charisma and spontaneous off-script meandering.

If you’ve watched Ace Ventura, you know there is a minimal weight placed on the plot. The story arc is not why we’re watching and in the grand scheme of things is rather meaningless. Jim Carrey is why anyone starts that picture, as well it should be, and the Canadian-American lavishes in front of the camera, deploying all the eccentricities and chimerical wit he can muster.

Tommy Boy is what happens when you force a narrative onto a comedian rather than allow him to form his own. Chris Farley is a treasure of the 90’s, one of the best that Saturday Night Live ever churned out. He excelled at the short skit, bringing an overbearing presence so animated actors often struggled to keep straight faces through his routines. Farley put a premium on making his audience laugh and always felt his fellow compatriots were a part of that group.

While we see from the get-go that Farley’s character is the capitulation of absurdity, we also notice a rather convenient restraint of that free spirit emblematic of the film’s chief character flaw: funneling. The creative juices seem bottlenecked rather than poured over the script. A character is only allowed to go full auto if the script says such. In few of his routines did I ever find Farley underwhelming and yet here he clearly is and given the enthusiasm he displayed during his entire career, it’s hard for me to believe he phoned it in here. It seems more likely producers didn’t want the film to go over the handlebars.

David Spade, who I’ve never been a fan of, is asked to bring a guided hand to Farley’s plot-appointed erratic character. While given some dry humor, Spade gets few barbs in himself, directing more of the audience’s attention toward Farley in the hopes he pulls another masterful routine.

Feature films were never Farley’s forte, however. Perhaps he would have gotten better with more practice, but it never seemed that was where his talent lied. His films did fine at the box office because of his popularity as an entertainer, not because of those films’ quality.

Tommy Boy might be a cult favorite, but it doesn’t offer anything substantial to write home about. There is a sales pitch scene that is quite good, seemingly taken right out of an SNL episode, and a few small moments that might warrant a brief grin, but nothing that warrants a second viewing aside from the nostalgia that comes from watching Farley perform again. Vintage Chris Farley is SNL Chris Farley, when he was one of the bad boys of Saturday Night Live, starring alongside Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider and Spade. Film Farley is only memorable because of the loose connection it has with the golden days of 90’s SNL. Each movie he signed up for was another chance to strike silver, but none ever panned out. If we’re going to remember Chris Farley the comedian, let’s remember him at his height, not for things like Tommy Boy.

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. (Death NoteTrue Memoirs of an International AssassinThe Great WallRobin HoodUnderworld)

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. (The Snowman, Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

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 Tommy Boy: 50.

Tommy Boy is a comedy that’s remembered that is honestly better off forgotten. No meaningful impressions were made during it and there’s little reason to revisit it.

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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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Movie Review: The Ridiculous 6

For a solid decade, one could argue Adam Sandler was the best name in comedy. From 1995 through 2005, Sandler had a big hit film nearly every year. Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, Big Daddy, Mr. Deeds, Anger Management, 50 First Dates, The Longest Yard and in 2006, my personal favorite, Click.

With the exception of Just Go With It in 2011, Sandler has failed to hit comedy gold for nine consecutive years. Instead, audiences have been gifted with fool’s gold like Bedtime Stories, Grown Ups, Jack and Jill, That’s My Boy, Grown Ups 2 and Blended.

What happened to the Brooklyn boy we used to know and love? I can’t answer that but I admit I ask myself that. Where did the greatness go? In athletes, age plays a role, but what plays a role in acting?

So when I saw Netflix spamming The Ridiculous 6 everywhere on their home page as their latest original film and saw Adam Sandler’s face, I knew I was gonna have to watch this.

To Sandler’s credit, I watched The Cobbler over the summer and found some entertainment in that. It got destroyed by critics but The Cobbler was decent compared to his last few projects. At the very least, The Cobbler avoided the immature humor that has become a mainstay of Sandler’s colossal failures. I had a smidgen of hope for this, I really did. I had no right to, I understand that, but I want to believe everyone has a chance at redemption. Except you, Shyamalan. I’m done with you. Go back and sit in the corner.

The Ridiculous 6 is a western, a genre Sandler hadn’t managed to soil yet if I’m correct but I guess he was bound to find it eventually. In comes his character, nicknamed “White Knife” and a bizarre assortment of characters to form a ragtag team of brethren to go on an “epic” journey.

That was probably the pitch without the script. When the script’s brought into the equation, you may or may not bat an eye. Depends on if you’re still offended by Sandler’s lack of talent these days.

There’s simple comedy and then there’s not-even-trying comedy. The Ridiculous 6 features the latter.

The problem is the film’s clearly compromised nature and its need to lean on this stilt again and again. If you want your films to be targeted at elementary school kids, Sandler, you’re doing a great job. Otherwise, let’s grow up, shall we?

I’m unsure if Sandler’s forgotten how to phrase things in a humorous manner or if his heart’s not in these projects, but something’s been wrong with the guy for a long time and I think it’s about time the guy sits down and decides what he wants to be known for. I hate to say one decade of mediocrity eliminates one decade of elevated comedy, but I’m starting to wonder because there’s only so much of this nonsense I’m willing to put up with before I stop watching, too, as I’m sure some of Sandler’s loyalists already have.

There’s no wit or charm in Sandler’s productions anymore, two things I believe should be inbred in a work of laughter. The characters aren’t appealing; instead they’re excessively moronic, with Taylor Lautner being the largest bumbling idiot that all of Hollywood has probably seen this year. There’s a morsel of enjoyment to be had given that Twilight-infamous Lautner is playing the role, but in the spirit of the Grinch, that morsel is even too small for a mouse and when you have a large platter of unappetizing entrees as we have here, a morsel that small doesn’t aid in the entertainment process whatsoever. Stupid is stupid and just because we have the ability to pick on an actor for picking up a stupid role doesn’t make it any less stupid.

As Sandler and crew once again parade themselves across the screen and give cameos to Vanilla Ice and Blake Shelton, we’re left wondering when the torture will end and this failed product will run its way out of town.

The cast is bare bones and even Terry Crews, the legend of Old Spice, feels out of his element here and when a guy’s that funny and he’s in a comedy, that shouldn’t happen. With no lines worth noting or character building worth mentioning, there’s not much to say about The Ridiculous 6 other than what I’ve already said. It’s watchable and you could do worse, but I expect more than mediocre and bearable and you should, too.

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. (Avengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe BabadookInterstellarChappie)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (CreedScouts Guide to the Zombie ApocalypseCrimson PeakThe MartianBlack Mass)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2Beasts of No NationTerminator: GenisysBlack SheepTwisted)

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. (EverestHerculesThe SentinelMad Max: Fury RoadBlitz)

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. (The Lost BoysZombeaversCrankErasedI, Frankenstein)

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. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The VisitThe Fantastic FourThe Boy Next DoorThe ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale)

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 Ridiculous 6: 40.

Like a pinata waiting for you to smash the life out of it, The Ridiculous 6‘s material begs for a beating and by film’s end, critics like myself will have all the ammo they need to unleash hellfire upon it.

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