Get Hard

 

Get Hard is a crude, rude equal opportunity offender: Blacks, Whites, Gays, Latinos, etc. Not for the thin-skinned.

Get Hard is a funny movie that gives Kevin Hart almost as high a profile as Will Ferrell. Obviously, the film’s producers are trying to hit the urban market as well as the general market and I’m guessing they’ll have some success.

James King (Ferrell) is an L.A. money trader who is beaucoup rich. He’s engaged to his boss’s smokin’ hot daughter (Alison Brie). Darnell (Kevin Hart) is the hard-working owner of a luxury carwash whose customers include James.

When James is busted for fraud and sentenced to ten years in San Quentin, he hires Darnell to get him hard enough to survive his time behind bars. James has mistakenly presumed that Darnell has been in jail. Since he offers Darnell money he needs, Darnell lets James believe what he wants.

Darnell turns James’s mansion into a fake prison. The tennis court becomes the prison yard, the setting for a memorable scene in which Hart portrays black, Latino and gay prison types. Bravo, Kevin!

This cross-culture journey takes James and Darnell to a gay restaurant, a “crib” in the ‘hood and a white power motorcycle club’s hangout. There are moments that are uncomfortable for James, Darnell or both, as well as for the audience. But, again, there are laughs to be had.

Ferrell’s character is a Harvard grad who knows his way around the world of investments. Still, he is buffoonish in a Burgundyesque sort of way—enough so that he’s the goofy Ferrell we know and love.

As big star Sandra Bullock did with the lesser-known Melissa McCarthy in 2013’s The Heat, so does big star Ferrell allow Hart plenty of room to showcase his strong talents in Get Hard.

If you can handle the offensive nature of much of the Get Hard’s script, you’ll find some funny stuff here.

Also in the cast is Craig T. Nelson and singer John Mayer. This film was directed by Etan Cohen, not to be confused with Ethan Cohen of the Cohen brothers directing team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Home

 

If aliens do ever invade earth, I hope they resemble the Boovs who occupy our planet in the new film Home. The Boovs, represented in the film mainly by the enthusiastic and lovable Oh (Jim Parsons) and the bumbling leader Captain Smeg (Steve Martin), are cute and purple—or red, blue and even green, depending on what they’re feeling.

The Boovs first move upon arriving on our planet is to relocate all the humans to Happy Humanstown, allowing the Boovs free access to all the good stuff left behind. (I thought immediately of the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, but I’d guess most members of the film’s target demo will not make that connection.)

The Boovs manage to transport folks by turning off gravity and, as humans rise skyward, grabbing them to go for a little ride. But one human manages to avoid the Boov move. She’s young Tip, voiced by Rihanna wih her Barbadian accent. Of course, she and Oh meet up and take off in her car.

As Oh and Tip (and Tip’s cute cat called Pig) travel the world looking for Tip’s mom (voiced by Jennifer Lopez), they come to form a solid friendship.

While Home doesn’t approach the level of a Pixar film or other Dreamworks animation efforts like the Shrek, Madagascar and Dragon movies, it’s a decent effort that should satisfy kids and parents looking for harmless animated fun. Not a must-see, but not bad.

Maybe the best thing I can say about Home is that it kept a theater full of kids attentive to what was onscreen. Often, at Saturday morning preview screenings, the young ones get restless and chatty at some point during the movie. Not that they were laughing all the way through, but the crowd checking out Home appeared to be absorbed in the film. That’s a good thing.

 

 

Insurgent

 

Insurgent, as the 2nd film of a quadrilogy, is like a middle child in a family. The eldest and the baby get more attention and certain perks, so the middle children have to work hard to be noticed.

The main task of the second film of a series is to set up the final films. At the same time, there must be a few hooks to give the film an identity of its own. Insurgent manages to hit its marks on both counts.

Insurgent offers cool dream sequences (apparently inspired by Inception) and the addition of Naomi Watts (as a brunette!) to the cast. Not to mention… the two main characters act on their mutual attraction.

To refresh, civilization in this dystopian version of Chicago is based on all people being selected for one of five factions, according to personality testing. Those who crossover into multiple categories are referred to as Divergent. In the 2014 film, Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley), after being pegged as Divergent, chooses the Dauntless faction, where she meets and falls in love with Four (Theo James).

As we pick up the action in the new film, Tris and Four are living on the run, away from the city, where political turmoil is wreaking havoc. Erudite faction leader Jeanine (Kate Winslet) is now in charge. Upon their return to the bombed out landscape of Chi-town, the pair meet up with Evelyn (Watts) who leads the factionless brigade. She is also revealed to be Four’s mother, though their relationship is far from warm.

The film’s highlights include trials conducted by Candor faction leader Jack Kang (Daniel Dae Kim) with heavy doses of truth serum injected before testimony. Later, the sequences that occur after Tris turns herself into Jeanine for more faction testing are fun to watch as Tris’ mind goes through weird dreams. They are even trippier than the effects that present the opening production logos.

Woodley, Winslet and Watts are the acting stars among a large cast that also includes Miles Teller, Ashley Judd and Octavia Spencer.

As a fan of dystopian future settings, I like this one. (Although it seems odd that most of the bombed-out building shells are still standing 200 years after the destructive war.) The POV flight through the dried-up Chicago River bed isn’t quite as thrilling as the zipline ride from the top of the Hancock building in Divergent, but it does present a creative vision.

While Divergent focused on introducing the characters and the scenario, Insurgent seems more concerned with advancing the storyline. The film, which is violent throughout, ends with a bang as a new political coalition stands by to be fully realized in Allegiant—Part 1. That film will comes to theaters in March 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

 

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel does what a sequel is supposed to do. It advances the storylines set in the first film, offers a couple of new tweaks and doesn’t try to reimagine the scenario the earlier movie delivered.

Plus, Second does not contain the high volume of old, corny jokes that were littered throughout the first Marigold.

Why do a Second? Well, 2012’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel grossed over $136 million worldwide (about a third of that in the U.S.). And there are not that many films that are targeted to older moviegoers.

In Second, the crew from the first (Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy, Celia Imrie, Ronald Pickup and Diana Hardcastle) are back at the hotel. After being lured from Britain to India by visions of a paradise and finding a dump in the first film, they stayed and reset their lives. The message of both films is that older people have lives, loves, dreams and libidos.

Meanwhile, hotel manager Sonny (Dev Patel) has visions of adding a new hotel to his portfolio while getting ready to marry Sunaina (Tina Desai). When new guest Guy Chambers (Richard Gere) arrives for a stay at the hotel (and to provide eye candy for female moviegoers), Sonny does all he can to impress him (presuming Guy can help him fulfill his real estate ambitions).

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a bit too long. Director John Madden diagrammed several dance scenes on his telestrator and, while they add some sizzle and color, they add to the fatigue factor that sets in about three-quarters of the way through the two hour film.

I think the best reasons to see this film are Maggie Smith and Judi Dench. These two 80-year-olds (Dench is 3 weeks older) and their characters are just fun to watch. We should appreciate them while they are still alive and gracing movie screens.

Another reason: TSBEMH is a perfect film for the 70-something, 80-something or 90-something in your family. Take ’em!