Jonah Hill

July 1, 2014

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 26): June 2014

 FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY

The end of June brings another edition of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.  This month the boys discuss Batman’s out of control property damage, play a game of Word Association, berate Chelsea Handler, swoon rather uncomfortably over Fargo, Godzilla’s tail and Eva Green, then promote the Patrick Dempsey 80s classic Loverboy.  Yes, we are using “classic” loosely.  All that and more on a dog days of Summer edition of the Simplistic Review Podcast.

Show Notes:
Loverboy
DJ’s Hidden Eli Wallach Reference
Mad Max Reboot
Pacific Rim 2 Announcement
Cloud Atlas Valleyspeak
Gary Oldman Apology
Jonah Hill Apology

Music Notes:
Birds & Brass By Sort Of Soul

June 24, 2014

22 Jump Street

COMFORTABLE
22 Jump Street – Comfortable
Taking a chance on a film that really doesn’t need to be made is one thing, but taking a chance on a film that was a surprise success is another thing entirely. In there lies the beauty of “22 Jump Street,” a film that is so comfortable with how good it is it’s willing to take itself entirely unserious (a word?) during its entire run-time. I usually would save this for the end, but this will possibly be the best comedy of 2014.

“22” once again stars Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as Detectives Schmidt and Jenko, respectively, as they try to stop a new(er) designer drug called “WHYPHY” being spread across college campuses. Basically, it’s “21 Jump Street” with a different drug….in college….and a bigger budget. The film’s self-awareness and the chemistry between Hill and Tatum are once again the highlights of a film that could have easily been a mockery and easy cash-in, but both Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who were also responsible for stellar “Lego Movie” earlier this year, find just enough originality and heart to make this sequel equal, if not better, than it’s predecessor.

What differentiates “22” from “21”is also the pacing and the use of ancillary characters from the first film. You have some great cameos, and the use of Ice Cube in a larger supporting role yields some of the funniest moments of the film, including a twist you probably don’t see coming. Speaking of Cube, it’s interesting that when he actually gets good material to work with, he’s a real good actor. Yes, I didn’t see “Ride Along” but it’s hard to forgive films like “Are We There Yet?” Sorry Cube, maybe I’m playa’ hating a little bit, but it looks like you’re back on the right track.

While most of the performances are very funny and memorable, not all of the performances are memorable for the right reasons, namely Jillian Bell, who might know from “Workaholics.” Now I’m not saying she isn’t funny, she just happens to be the least funniest part of this film. Her schtick wears thin pretty quick and while she ends being a bigger part of the film come the end, she really wears out her welcome with her brand of comedy. Will Bell doesn’t ring all that well for me, Wyatt Russell, the son of the legend Kurt Russell, and the Lucas Brothers, give some memorable performances and balance out the zaniness of both Hill and Tatum.
With self-aware comedy, Hill and Tatum at the top of their game, and some real great action set pieces, “22” is a winner for all the right reasons. Granted, I will say if you’re a fan of the first film, I’m pretty sure you won’t enjoy the sequel, even though this sequel makes sure that even if your didn’t see the first film it provides you with a handy “previously on” segment to start the film, which I think was a stroke of genius that only a film this comfortable with itself would be able to provide.
Fun Fact: Across the United States there are five 22 Jump Street address; include two Florida.
December 29, 2013

The Wolf Of Wall Street

DEBAUCHERY

 I have previously joked about how I’d watch the trailer to Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street in the morning because visually it was like doing a line of cocaine.  Little did I know that the feature length film would be the best example of truth in advertising since Pacific Rim.  The Wolf Of Wall Street is literally a three hour high, filled with every form of despicable DEBAUCHERY, decadence and self-destructive devilishness you could possibly think of.  This film was easily one of the most anticipated films of the year on our site, and I can confidently say that it lived up to every expectation.  Is it a perfect film?  Not necessarily.  But it is unquestionably a must see film.  Hell, I could end the review right there.  For the skeptics still unconvinced, allow me to talk about some of the aspects of The Wolf Of Wall Street that surely make it great.

The story?  Based on the autobiographical novel, The Wolf Of Wall Street tells the tumultuous life story of stock broker slimeball Jordan Belfort.  This film and Michael Bay’s film Pain & Gain tell two stories that will shock you with their hilariously absurd events.  Then shock you even further when you discover that so many of those events were absolutely true.  It is closer to being a modern day remake of Caligula than a story about the stock market.  I give the real Jordan Belfort credit for still allowing the darker parts of his life to remain in the film and not be played up for laughs.  Although, you never really hate the guy even after you see them.

The structure?  The film has been shorthanded into the familiar Scorsese format, leading people to quickly describe it as the Goodfellas version of Wall Street.  And…well…it is.  Writer Terence Winter practically admitted as much.  For as herky jerky of a style it is, this format always seems to work for Scorsese and be entertaining enough for the audience to forgive it.  Much in the way audiences did for The Departed.  I bring up the structure because it may be the only criticism I can find in this film.  When it is all said and done, The Wolf Of Wall Street may only be remembered as just a collection of jaw droppingly great scenes instead of a well crafted story.  The Lemmon Quaalude scene, the goldfish scene, the midget parameters scene, the yacht chop scene, and every scene where Leo delivers a stump speech to his troops.  After seeing the film, however, I can’t imagine the story being told any other way.  The structure sets the fast pace and humorous tone this film needed.

The performances?  Are you kidding?  Even if you are one of those inexplicably strange Leo detractors, you’ll still be in love with the job he does as the wolf Jordan Belfort.  The enthusiastic vulnerability DiCaprio consistently displays in his roles continues to make me appreciate him as an actor.  His co-star Jonah Hill steals literally EVERY scene he’s in, which is a tough task for a film like this.  His performance is something deserving of an award, but will probably fall short of acclaim like his stellar one in Moneyball.  Virtual newcomer Margot Robbie holds her own with both of them.  She is the Lorraine Bracco of this film and is no less brilliant.  Honestly, every actor in this film knocks it out of the park, no matter the amount of screentime they get.  Matthew McConaughey is amazing again.  Jean Dujardin, who I didn’t even know was in this film, is terrific.  Kyle Chandler shines in the first role I’ve seen him have fun in.  Jon Bernthal is thankfully a long ways away from his Shane days.  Rob Reiner, Jon Favreau, Joanne Lumley, P.J. Byrne and countless others hit every note they need to perfectly.  

The Wolf Of Wall Street is a fiery car accident you can’t look away from.  No, it’s a seedy fling with your ex girlfriend after you both came to the agreement that you’re bad for one another.  No, it’s an insane night on the town with your more irresponsible high school buddies that ends in the police drunk tank.  Who am I kidding?  It’s a cinematic drug high.  The rush of the hit and the crushing darkness of the side effects.  And with all these metaphors aside, it is a truly excellent film that is well worth your time.  Sell me this pen…go downstairs and get the ‘ludes…remember your safe word…watch it…exhale and wipe your brow afterwards…then tell me I’m wrong.

June 24, 2013

This is the End

FRIENDS

This is the End – Friends

Modern comedy falls into three groupings; buddy comedies (The Internship) re-hash comedies (any of The Hangover films) and comedy that came from the penis of Judd Apatow.  If it wasn’t for Apatow you could say that comedy would be dead.  Coming from a generation that thought “The Cable Guy” was one of the best comedies of the 1990s, that pretty much sums it up.  But what happens when you get a film that doesn’t have any of Apatow’s fingerprints on it, yet, remains at heart, an Apatow film?  You get the Rapture-inspired comedy, “This is the End.”  A film about friends, redemption, and a lot of jokes about cum.

Let me put this on front street;  “End” will not be for everyone, but it should be if you’ve seen any Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, or Danny McBride film, which I guess would mean that THIS film IS for EVERYONE!  Sure the humor is sophomoric, gross, and the conversations between the actors runs from inane, homoerotic, to, at times, philosophical, but what would you expect from the same guys that brought you “Superbad” and “Pineapple Express.”

“End” revolves around a party at James Franco’s new house where he’s invited everyone from Kevin Hart to a coked-up Michael Cera (who steals every scene he is in). Between the cocaine lines, bong hits, and Capri Suns, The Rapture begins, sucking people into heaven in blue light, while sinners remain on earth.  A majority of the cast dies, but a small group, including Rogen, Hill, McBride, Franco, Craig Robinson, and Jay Baruchel,  survive and slowly turn on each other while trying to figure what to do in the now-post Ap

If you’re looking for a plot and/or story, you’re looking for the wrong thing.  “End” is clearly a comedy showcase from Rogan to Robinson.  Each actor gets their chance to shine and it’s hilarious the watch even if you kind of know where the story is heading come the climax (that sentence is full of innuendo, but so is this film).  There will be some people in the audience that might feel divided about the humor, that ranges from potty-talk, to mean-spirited, but remember; it’s comedy anyway you slice it, and unless you are simply someone with no sense of humor, you’ll get a chuckle every few minutes.

What sets “End” apart from other Apatow fare, as well as any other comedy that’s been in the multiplex lately is the film’s take on celebrity.  “End” plays out more like a reality TV show, which might make you wonder; are these actors really like this in real life?  The answer is; maybe, maybe not.  Most of use are used to the characters that Seth Rogan, James, Franco, and Jonah Hill play in their movies; man-boys that smoke pot, have menial jobs, yet somehow end up for the better come the end of their films.  “End” takes this idea and puts it in some semblance of reality, yet all the actors are still playing a caricature of themselves from their films.  It’s an interesting way to view the film when you think about whether these guys have slowly taken up a role in “real” life that they are known for from their films.  It’s meta upon meta upon meta……

If you don’t want to get that deep, that’s fine, “End” is still the funniest movie that you’ll see all year without a doubt, and that should be enough to get you’re money.  However if that’s not enough…..spoiler alert……the Backstreet Boys are in it.  Now if that doesn’t make you want to pony up about 10 duckets, well, I’m sure you can still check out “The Hangover: Part III” at the dollar theater.

Fun Fact:  Over the course of their careers, The Backstreet Boys have sold over 130 Million records.  Suck on that N’Sync!

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