MacGruber (2010)

MacGruber!! Making life saving inventions outta household materials!

MacGruber MacGyver was originally a reoccurring character on the American TV show Saturday Night Live. The character was created by SNL writer Jorma Taccone who also directed this movie. Actor Will Forte who portrayed the character of MacGruber (in both SNL and this movie) also wrote for the character alongside Taccone. If it isn’t evident enough already, the character of MacGruber is of course based on, a parody of, the classic secret agent TV series MacGyver.

The idea behind MacGyver was an ex-special forces type bloke who worked for a fictional agency of the US government, and the fictional Phoenix Foundation. An expert in physics and physical sciences, he usually solves problems with his ingenuity and array of trusty everyday objects such as a penknife, duct tape, matches etc…So yes, essentially it was another version of the [i]A-Team[/i] but for adults. The idea behind MacGruber is of course to spoof this entire concept tenfold.

The plot: Some baddies led by the dastardly Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) take possession of a nuclear warhead with the intention of using it to blow up Washington D.C. Col Jim Faith (Powers Boothe) hunts down MacGruber in order to enlist his help in stopping this act of terrorism. At first MacGruber declines, but after a nightmare surrounding the death of his fiancée (killed by Von Cunth), he agrees. But MacGruber has one condition, that he can use his own hand picked team. Faith agrees and MacGruber assembles his boys…only to accidentally kill them; so he ends up going with Lt. Dixon Piper (Ryan Phillippe) and Vicki Gloria St. Elmo (Kristen Wiig).

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The idea behind MacGruber isn’t anything specifically new, we’ve all seen spoofs of action/secret agent movies, a lot of it comes down to Will Forte. Now I don’t know a lot about Forte. I have seen the original MacGruber skits on SNL, but I didn’t know of Forte before hand and I don’t really know of anything he’s done after. All I know is this guy really knew how to play this character, had him down to a tee. His arrogance, egotism, narcissism and juvenile behaviour; Forte handles this characters fragility with aplomb, he makes it look easy and fresh despite the fact its definitely not a fresh angle (I think we’ve all seen Rambo spoofs before right? yup).

Well then, I’ll just have to put together my own dream team…of killer stoppers

I think the best example of the state of MacGruber’s mind is when a passer-by hurls a rather tame insult at his car (a 1996 Mazda MX-5 Miata). MacGruber responses with his own tirade of (much worse) insults and that seems to be that. Later on Dixon comes across MacGruber’s personal notepad and flips through it only to discover every page is covered with insane doodles of anger. Top to bottom, smothered with rantings and scribbles of rage. Clearly MacGruber is unable to take being mocked (despite dishing it out himself). It builds up inside him until he unleashes it upon the offender whom he eventually stumbles across (with his car).

But watching MacGruber break down is a regular and hilarious occurrence in this movie. The man is essentially a selfish man-child and throws tantrums when things awry. When MacGruber is first introduced to Dixon he destroys him with insults. He sneers at Dixon despite Faith highly recommending him for his skills. Dixon wasn’t good enough for MacGruber because he had his own team of commandos. That is until MacGruber accidentally blows his team up. After Faith shuts down the operation we then see the U-turn by MacGruber as he starts to literally beg on his knees, offering sexual favours to both Faith and Dixon for their help. Its both embarrassing and extremely funny watching MacGruber acting the tough guy, only for it to crumble and reveal his true inner self when it goes tits up. Again none of this is anything original, far from it, but its the way Forte does it.

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Yes the humour throughout this movie is somewhat childish and daft. Its toilet humour, sophomoric by the bucket load, but at times the craziness is just laugh out loud funny. When MacGruber distracts some bad guys by stripping naked and sticking a piece of celery between his butt cheeks. When MacGruber dresses Vicki up as himself for the sting operation he somewhat cunningly devised and delivered (not), its ludicrous. Then in the next scene they dress Vicki as one of Cunth’s henchmen and Dixon disguises himself as MacGruber to infiltrate a warehouse. All the while MacGruber watches and waits in safety, having expressed to both partners that everything should work just fine. Also the fact that MacGruber refuses to use guns (preferring to rely on household materials just like the SNL sketches and original TV series) for most of the movie…until he realises guns are actually cool to use.

In comparison to the SNL skits I’d say the movie isn’t quite as good simply because the incredibly short skits just worked better that way. Every skit was basically the same utilisng the same set, the same bomb to defuse, but with different characters helping MacGruber. Some sketches were self-contained micro stories, whilst some had a continuing storyline. But overall they were literally a few minutes long and were totally off the wall. Bite-sized nuggets of throwaway comedy. Having to extend this into a full length movie was always gonna present problems.

Did they overcome these problems? Well sort of, whilst the movie is indeed enjoyable, its only really enjoyable in chunks. Naturally these chunks tend to be when Forte is front and centre doing his thing. The other characters are fine but not really that interesting. Its cool to see Kristen Wiig return from the skits but maybe they should of used some of the other characters too, like Darrel (Charles Barkley) or Kyle (Josh Brolin). Watching MacGruber struggling with political correctness and his clumsy racism towards Darrel (a Nordberg type character) is priceless; they really should have included more of that in the movie. I can see why the movie has become something of a cult, and I can also see why the movie bombed at the box office. For people not in the know this movie will have looked like regurgitated trash, which I fully understand. But that’s a shame because this movie and its main protagonist are far wittier than most might expect.

7.5/10

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White Lightning (1973)

Willie Mayes Hayes is Black Hammer! Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura is White Lightning! Together they’re taking on the mob…oh shit wrong film! Wait, its not even an actual film.

Back in his early days of acting good old boy Burt Reynolds was definitely more of a serious actor. Yes much of his work was still based around comedies but they still had drama included. ‘White Lightning’ was one of Reynolds last movies to showcase him as a more serious character actor before he started to slip into more frivolous roles which seemed like spoofs more than anything. Essentially this was a Burt Reynolds movie where we didn’t see him mugging for the camera or messing around with his other A-list star buddies.

I’m honesty not really sure how Reynolds became this icon of the south (being born in Michigan), but yet again his character here is a typical good ol’ boy criminal type serving time for running moonshine. His name is Bobby ‘Gator’ McKlusky…because that’s a really cool southern sounding name obviously. Whilst serving time (for runnin’ moonshine) Gator’s brother is murdered by a corrupt local sheriff. Knowing that this sheriff is taking money from other illegal moonshiners, Gator agrees to go undercover for the Department of Justice to bring him in. Of course Gator isn’t interested in bringing the sheriff in, he wants revenge. Anywho that’s it, that’s the plot, you can guess how it unfolds I’m sure.

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Being a movie genuinely filmed in the south during the early 70’s everything does look generally grim. Many of the cars we see are rust buckets, the local towns look a bit squalid in places, the locals look quite poor, building interiors are plain and basic, and the prison looks like something outta ‘Papillon’ (I exaggerate somewhat of course). But next to that you also have the more upbeat side to the south we recall from the movies, such as pool halls, bars, muscle cars, big rigs, stetsons and young easy women in cut-off jeans.

In an Arkansas prison is where we find Gator as he is informed his brother has been killed. Right there and then Gator decides to escape…and does just that! No seriously, he literally walks off and simply climbs a few fences and runs off! What the hell kind of prison is this?? He does of course get captured quite quickly, luckily he’s friends with the warden so its kinda overlooked. They basically blackmail him into going undercover, but in a friendly way.

From here we follow Gator as he slowly makes his rounds gathering information. This essentially means visiting many local establishments and trying to charm the hicks into dishing the dirt. Gator must also try and sneak himself into the moonshine runnin’ game, a difficult task to be sure. This in itself offers up a wide array of stereotypical southern hillbilly types that generally look unwashed in their grubby sweat stained attire. Eventually Gator does manage to hook up with Roy (Bo Hopkins) to run moonshine; and at the same time get involved in a curious love triangle between Bo and his girlfriend Lou (Jennifer Billingsley). Not really sure why this is, I’m guessing to simply give Reynolds a love interest.

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Naturally being an early Reynolds movie you can expect car chases. Yep before he was runnin’ with beer as the Bandit he was runnin’ with moonshine as the Gator. Unfortunately these car chases are nowhere near as good as the Bandit’s wheel spinnin’ antics. One car chase sees Gator confusing, shaking and avoiding the cops through the town in his very brown 1971 Ford Custom 500. This is a reasonable car chase that will kinda satisfy you. It ends with Hal Needham (‘Smokey and the Bandit’ and ‘The Cannonball Run’) jumping the car onto a moving barge which almost failed (but they kept it in). There are plenty of other vehicular tidbits throughout including the obligatory track event but nothing to wow you.

Although the cars are a major part of this movie, characters in their own right and of historical interest, if you’re a petrolhead this movie isn’t gonna do it for you methinks. It merely offers a glimpse of what was to come with Reynolds and co. Overall this movie is generally pretty dull truth be told, nothing much really happens as you watch Gator plod through the sweltering heat of the south. Ned Beatty is definitely a solid villain as the corrupt Sheriff J.C. Connors and almost makes up for a lack of engagement. He is certainly intimidating with his large appearance, bad teeth and receding hairline (deliberately shaved that way). He almost looks like a Nazi Officer with those round spectacles, but alas he does little. On the flip side, there is a decent sequence where Gator visits his parents. There he must face his fathers disapproval of him handing over names of folk involved in illegal liquor to the Feds.

The opening sequence of the movie shows Sheriff Connors slowly rowing out into the middle of an isolated swamp, either at dusk or early dawn. Behind him is Gator’s brother bound and gagged in another small boat. They reach a point and stop. The sheriff then shoots the bottom of the boat with a shotgun and rows away leaving the restrained young man to slowly drown as the boat sinks. This sequence is dark, sinister, brutal and most definitely has a ‘Deliverance’ vibe about it (the landscapes are definitely another form of character in this movie). The thing is its in complete contrast to the rest of the movie which at times feels like a slightly adult version of The Dukes of Hazzard or ‘Smokey and the Bandit’. A strange blend of tones in this movie for sure, a bit hit and miss.

4.5/10

The Net (1995)

Now this was a blast from the past, my teenage years (I was 17 at the time). It might seem crazy these days but I distinctly remember watching this in the cinema with a friend, and both of us scoffing at how ridiculous the movies premise was. The whole idea of the internet (something that was more of a joke back then) being able to bring down someone’s entire life. The idea of people actually having portable computers and being able to use them, online! everywhere! The idea of someone’s life revolving around a computer…or more specifically the net, was at the time almost inconceivable (unless you were rich).

Yes these were simpler times my friends, back before the internet was an integral part of people’s lives, or before the internet was even taken seriously. Hell back then movies like this were the only introduction some people had to the, so called, information highway. This and movies like ‘The Lawnmower Man’ were pretty much the only things most common people saw of the internet, hence why we all thought it was a gimmicky flash in the pan. Even British videogames TV show GamesMaster would mock the internet with its limited abilities at the time. We were told one day we’d all be surfing the net, we all ridiculed the notion, how wrong we were.

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Anyway the movie. Systems analyst Angela Bennett (Sandra Bullock) is accidentally drawn into the dark world of cyber terrorism when her work college sends her sensitive information on a floppy disk (remember those?!). The information revolves around the death of the US Secretary of Defense and a large software company CEO, Jeff Gregg. Whilst on holiday Bennett gets wined and dined by mysterious British gent Jack Devlin whom she starts to have feelings for. But before she knows it this British gent is trying to kill her so he can get his hands on this disk. Following a nasty accident where Bennett tries to escape Devlin, she awakes in hospital to discover her life has been deleted. Bennett must now try and find help to recover her life, evade Devlin, and uncover the truth on the disk.

Yeah so the plot is your typical computer hacking/expert, on the run type affair which is now a dated concept. This idea was quite new at the time but director Irwin Winkler really tapped into the public’s interest by utilising the newfangled internet contraption. The internet wasn’t unheard of at the time of course, but it was intriguing to the masses and was used a lot to present an exciting new angle to movies. It was almost like an unexplored universe and Hollywood wasn’t gonna let it slip by without milking its every potential.

The other main draw for this movie was actress Sandra Bullock who was literally the biggest thing in Hollywood between 1993 – 1995. Hot off a trilogy of blockbusting hits that were ‘Demolition Man’, ‘Speed’ and ‘While You Were Sleeping’, Bullock could do no wrong. She was America’s sweetheart with her adorable, girl next door looks and squeaky clean image. People just went to movies starring Bullock, no questions asked, she was huge.

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This movie also used the highly unpopular nerd image which was still something to mock at the time. Nowadays nerds are all the rage but back in the day oh no, being a nerd was not cool. But what baffled people even more was the introduction to a sexy female nerd, this was virtually unheard of at the time. This did present a problem for the movie simply because no one believed a sexy female could be a whizz-kid on computers or a nerd. Especially Bullock who was Hollywood’s new darling leading lady. And admittedly it is hard to believe Bullock in this role because she simply doesn’t look like she understands what shes talking about half the time. She also looks surprisingly unathletic considering her previous action movies, she kinda sleepwalks through this looking bored.

Looking back now this movie is fun simply to see all the retro hardware and early programs in action. All these chunky laptops, very basic net page layouts, disk swapping and loading etc…it does bring back many memories. The action is kinda sparse but reasonably thrilling I suppose, it was never gonna be a violent movie with Bullock in the lead. Bullock was the queen of PG-13/12 rated movies. So the movie cuts away for any violence and there is little profanity, if any. Jeremy Northam is easily the best thing about the film with his devilishly charming contract killer, probably why his character is called Devlin.

In the end this is a very safe and harmless action thriller that didn’t want to rock the boat for its leading lady. Bullock is still cute and cuddly while under the stress of being hunted down by a hitman. Being a movie about computers director Winkler obviously couldn’t pass up a chance to film at the Macworld/iWorld trade show in San Francisco. So naturally the tense unrealistic finale is shot there. It is hilarious to watch Bennett downloading/uploading such large chunks of data onto floppy disks just in the nick of time. I’m just gonna assume that the trade show would have had the best of the best computers on show so that made it possible. Its all very silly, cutesy and charming these days, so amusing to think this was a big serious release back in the day.

5.5/10

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Spies Like Us (1985)

There was a time when certain movies could be rolled out into the cinemas solely depending on a handful of Saturday Night Live performers. These movies didn’t necessarily have to be overly interesting, the plot could be thin on the ground, and the characters could be one dimensional. All that was needed was to see these guys doing their thing, their shtick. The studios knew that was enough to generate ticket sales.

In this comic caper Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase play somewhat mis-matched, yet strangely well matched, low key government workers that both undertake a foreign service exam to better themselves. After being caught cheating in a highly embarrassing display of lunacy, the pair are amazingly promoted to foreign service operatives. Turns out that some underhanded DIA folk need decoy agents to protect their real agents out in the field (the field being Soviet Asia). So in thinking they have a real mission to carry out, the bumbling duo are dropped behind enemy lines to basically lead the Soviets on a wild goose chase.

So the plot revolves around the old enemy, the dastardly USSR, arch nemesis to the good old US of A. Going into Russian territory, arming an intercontinental ballistic missile, launching it and then testing a missile defence system. What could possibly go wrong? Turns out the predictable does in fact happen but luckily our inept heroes save the day. Does anything happen much in between this? Well not really truth be told, the entire movie is very much stringed together with a series of skits, or so it seems. This isn’t a bad thing but just don’t go expecting anything amazing plot wise that’s all, this is a bare bones tale.

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So lets look at our heroes. Dan Aykroyd is Austin Millbarge (great name), a very clever and innovative codebreaker who works at the Pentagon. Bottom line this is the type of character you’ve come to expect from Aykroyd because its clearly his own persona. He’s clearly very smart, a fast thinker and fast talker who can reel off large chunks of dialog in a robotic fashion. Likewise Chevy Chase plays Emmett Fitz-Hume, an easy going, loveable rogue who’s a bit of a coward, a bit slow at times and a ladies man. Now I wouldn’t say Chase is all this in reality but he certainly comes across like an easy going, loveable rogue and ladies man. Overall both characters show promise but also display remarkable ineptitude.

I love both characters introductions, Millbarge working in this rather curious factory-like part of the Pentagon surrounded by his work. To look at he comes across as nothing more than a messy, going nowhere, slob. But we quickly learn this guy is a technical whizkid. On the other hand we find Fitz-Hume lounging at his desk, headphones on, watching a movie. When asked about his upcoming exam he merely brushes it off as a forgone conclusion. When we get to the actual exam we are offered the first glimpses of how fecking hilarious this movie will be. Aykroyd and Chase work off each other flawlessly in this sequence, its fantastic. I adore how Fitz-Hume has all these little compartments where he’s hiding answers (an eyepatch and arm cast). ‘What does K.G.B. stand for?’ is written on a bit of paper he slips to Millbarge. Then when he eventually play acts a nervous breakdown merely to grab other people’s answer sheets, gloriously cheesy Chase.

The next classic segment would be the training montage where both men are put through their paces double time. Apart from how adorably dated everything looks this is also an opportunity for some quick visual gags. The obligatory obstacle course, being shot at above and below water, radical vertical impact simulation, high-G training in a centrifuge, staying afloat, extreme heat tests etc…Customary military training type stuff. What is kinda amusing is the way they both got to the training facility. Thrown out of a plane (with parachute), only to both land in the exact same spot which just happens to be the training grounds.

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The movie does move fast and before you know it we are in the deserts of Pakistan for more hijinks. Naturally the duo get captured by the locals but are saved by two other westerners who conveniently turn out to be the real DIA agents. Of course one of them is a hot blonde (Donna Dixon) so you know what comes next with Chase’s character. The duo end up impersonating doctors for the most part at this stage and its a hoot. A very amusing operation sequence, some sexual innuendo, topped off with a small chase sequence and its off to Russia by camel. This is where the movie does start to falter somewhat, it slows right down and loses its comedic impetus. This is probably because the plot has to focus more on the whole missile launching angle from the military types in their US bunker.

It does seem pretty reckless doesn’t it, sending agents into the USSR to launch one of their ballistic missiles only to test your own missile defence system. And the fact that this missile is targeted at the USA! Why not just launch one of your own missiles which isn’t pointed at your own country? Any way its very dumb and does kinda spoil the whole ham-fisted spies side of things. This is where many of the plot holes become more apparent also. At the end the US Army Rangers eventually burst into the rogue bunker, but how did they know where it was? Plus how did these DIA folk manage to pull of such a feat as this without anyone finding out?? They knew there was a risk of global thermonuclear war if their missile defence system missed its target…but they went ahead anyway?? All to preserve the ‘American way of life’?! Surely there wouldn’t be much life left after a nuclear war, and all the military personnel in this bunker agreed to this??

The ending is also rather poor and a letdown. After all the missile has been safely sent off into space via Millbarge’s technical reprogramming and the DIA bunker stormed, we later find Millbarge and Fitz-Hume now promoted as nuclear disarmament negotiators. But the weird thing is, the Russian soldiers they fought off to launch the missile back in Russia, are somehow representing the USSR in these talks? So…were the Russians promoted too? If so…why would they have been promoted? Or were they originally nuclear negotiators? Also they all seem to be playing some kind of Risk board game to negotiate? Like…huh??!! Apparently this was a reshot happy ending, clearly the wrong choice methinks.

The location work is terrific it has to be said. Apparently they filmed in Morocco and Norway for Pakistan and Russia but in all honesty it all looks authentic enough to me. This movie is surprisingly good looking considering what it is. With that in mind, even though you might think this was a run-of-the-mill comedy top heavy with slapstick (which it is), its also quite a clever little movie. Director John Landis has injected some nice wit into the proceedings along with nice visuals, nice effects (for the time) and a whole host of cameos that you might not even realise on a first viewing. Aykroyd and Chase are also on winning form with some cracking quick-fire one-liners that can’t fail to make you smile. This isn’t a perfect comedy and its not a thrilling adventure, but it has a good energy to it. If anyone is looking for the epitome of a classic 80’s screwball comedy, you can’t go wrong here.

7.5/10

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Savage Dog (2017)

What’s this? Another martial arts movie starring Scott Adkins and a few of his mates? Well OK, I guess…as long as its a little bit differ…oh.

Martin Tillman (Adkins) is an Irishman serving time in Indochina 1959 (for whatever). He is also wanted by the British for his links to the IRA and a terrorist attack. So straight away, am I supposed to be rooting for this guy? Anyway old Martin is a good brawler (who’d of guessed it huh) and makes corrupt prison warden Steiner and his other corrupt mates plenty of money. But unfortunately the British are after Martin and are snooping around Steiner, so he releases Martin. Martin gets himself a little job in a small bar run by Valentine (Keith David). There he falls in love with a girl and starts to feel at home.

Alas Martin quickly lands himself in trouble when he ejects a troublemaker from the bar (beating him up in the process). This troublemaker turns out to be a top fighter for Steiner and his cronies. So Martin is offered the chance to come fight for Steiner, again, to make up for it. Naturally he declines, but Valentine talks him into it for the money. So Martin fights, the money is good and everyone is happy. Eventually Martin is instructed to lose a fight because he’s simply too good and no one is betting against him. At the same time Valentine unknowingly bets his bar on Martin to win. So Martin loses the fight and Valentine loses his bar. In his frustration Valentine attacks Steiner’s henchmen and gets himself killed. In turn Martin is also taken out despite Steiner not really wanting that. But luckily Martin is only wounded and comes back to exact his revenge.

Yes the plot is initially a different spin on the usual proceedings, they have actually tried to build the characters and give the movie some purpose. But this merely becomes a little convoluted with bits of the plot not really going anywhere and then everything just being reduced to the usual vengeance scenario. The whole ‘underground fighting for the bad guys’ aspect is so incredibly unoriginal now its not even remotely entertaining. Of course you know Martin will be betrayed eventually, that is a no-brainer. He comes back from the dead, has his little training montage and voila! You couldn’t get more cliched if you tried.

The curious thing about the story is the fact its narrated by Valentine, the movies token black character. Its odd because this character narrates it as though he’s telling someone a story from his past, yet he dies. The really odd part is he carries on narrating after his character has been killed! Martin’s love interest is in the movie purely for him to have a love interest and sex scene, she is of no real consequence. I think she is actually the daughter of Steiner, I think, but that also went nowhere.

The main henchmen are the real hook for the movie as they are played by other martial arts superstars. Cung Le plays an ex-Vietnamese paratrooper who doesn’t really do or say much. Unfortunately this character could be taken out of the movie very easily and you wouldn’t notice. He is literally there just for a good fight scene. The second in command henchman apparently fought for the Nazi’s and is played by Marko Zaror. This guy actually does have some input into the plot in the sense that he does much of the bad stuff. Both are merely cast for one thing though, and they do deliver when it counts. Each has their own main fight sequence and they are of course very good, well choreographed. But again we are shown another reason not to like the protagonist Martin as he kills Cung Le’s character cheaply with a gun after getting beaten in the fight. The movie also has other known fighters dotted throughout who you may or may not recognise.

I think the problem with this Adkins movie, and others, is Adkins himself. This guy just isn’t a leading man type guy. He doesn’t really have the looks for a leading man, in fact he looks more like a bad guy. And more crucially he can’t really act too well, his range is limited. The same can also be said for most of these guys, they work well in the background as stuntmen or minor henchmen with little dialog, but that’s it. Give these guys actual acting roles and things tend to fall apart, Zaror being particularly bad in this movie. I know you could say the same about JCVD but he gets a pass because he was the first, he was one of the original 80’s action men. So yeah Adkins character in this movie is an IRA terrorist who gets away with his dubious past basically, kinda shitty.

Obviously this is a movie made for a specific fanbase and that fanbase I’m sure will enjoy this. If I was back in my teens I reckon I would love this too, but I’m not. With that I can’t say that I loved the movie, but its not terrible. You want some solid fights then you will be pleased with this. Nothing spectacular but just solid fight sequences and gun battles with plenty of blood that do look good. Other than that its just business as usual really, the only quirk being who they can match up in these movies. Problem is there is only so much you can do and you can’t keep regurgitating the same spiel over and over.

5.5/10

Going in Style (2017)

I’ve noticed a few movies like this in recent years, you know, with a small tight-knit roster of aging A-list stars that might not be here for much longer or are simply getting too old. I know that sounds really horrible but we’ve all gotta face the truth about life. But its funny how these epic cast rosters only seem to happen when the stars become old, didn’t see it too much back in the day. I guess that could be down to them wanting to be the only major star in their own vehicle when they were younger, hungry for fame. As they get older I guess they mellow out a bit. Just a theory.

So this is another remake of a movie I have not seen or heard of but seems like a justified update I suppose. The plot centres on three old geezers played by Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin who are all made redundant. Not only that but they all lose their pensions due to their company being bought out and the restructuring within. So what do these old blokes do? Well they decide to rob the bank that is carrying out the restructuring of their pension funds.

So you get the gist here, geriatric bank robbers equals hilarity…right? Well yes and no, its hardly a laugh riot that’s for sure, but predictable and cliched? most definitely. To start with things move slowly as we meet the three characters and get to know their lives a bit. This is of course required to make us care about these guys and see their situations but it all moves slowly (just like old people). Each character has a different problem that is there to pull on your heartstrings. Joe (Caine) lives with his daughter and granddaughter but due to losing his job and pension they could all be evicted. Willie (Freeman) is becoming very ill due to kidney failure but also cannot afford to visit his family. Albert is the only one without anything overly disastrous happening, he’s just a relatively poor old man. So, old men good, bank evil. Got it? good.

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So to prep for their outrageous felony the guys first try to shoplift from a grocery store. This is one of the only truly funny sequences in the movie showcasing stereotypical geriatric tomfoolery and slapstick. The guys don’t have a clue what to do and end up shoving all manner of things down their pants, inside jacket pockets or where ever. The getaway on the mobility scooter tops it off perfectly…if again a little too cliched. Because of course they escape on a mobility scooter, they’re old farts. A security officer chases after Albert but it doesn’t last too long because Albert is…well old! ‘this isn’t an admission of guilt, I’m just tired’. The follow up with the store manager (Kenan Thompson of Kenan & Kel) is also quite amusing.

After this disappointing test run they seek help from an actual criminal to help them plan their heist. Cue training montage of old men getting fit and learning the tricks to becoming a top bank robber. Eventually we actually get to the actual bank robbing (are all American banks this splendid looking?) and being a family film its all very gentle and soppy. Old Willie almost keels over from overheating in his mask but is helped by a little girl in a vomit-inducing ‘aww’ moment. But then things take a slightly darker turn when the bank manager pulls a gun and tries to shoot the old men, but misses. Albert then strides over to the manager firing his blanks at him. This all felt very out of place in my opinion, especially when Albert starts firing his gun at the manager whilst saying he’s gonna die. I realise he’s letting out his frustration on the manager because of their financial situations and whatnot but Jesus!

Apparently the original movie has a more downbeat ending with the old guys getting caught, but this has been overturned here. In this heart-warming adventure the guys get away with it and give much of the money away to all their friends and family. Pretty stupid really, seeing all these people getting packages with huge wads of cash in them. I think most people would probably go to the police suspecting criminal activity, not wanting to get in trouble or dragged into anything.

Like I’ve said this is a slow moving film, there are lots of typical family scenes with soppy dialog. You do get a good sense of each character for sure but all the while you sit there just wanting them to get on with it. Basically you’re not really interested in all the lovey-dovey build up, you just wanna see these guys rob the bank. Its all about old age pensioners robbing a bank, that’s amusing and that’s all you wanna see. The rest is all very very safe, clean and formulaic; light-hearted being an understatement. So yeah its fine, but could of been much funnier I think.

6/10

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Baywatch (2017)

Right, so I know precisely feck all about Baywatch the TV show apart from the fact it starred the legendary David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson. Baywatch was always one of those popular things that existed in the background of my younger years, but I simply wasn’t interested in it (much like Power Rangers, Neighbours or Home and Away for example). It seemed that most young lads would watch Baywatch simply to see Pamela Anderson and co running around in their tight red bathing suits. Being a fan of Ms. Anderson I understood the potential of this but it simply wasn’t enough to get me to watch the show. It always came across to me as very lame and extremely vanilla softcore porn, like looking in a women’s underwear catalog.

This movie is basically all about a team of lifeguards that work together to bring down a nasty entrepreneur who is planning on buying up the whole beach area so she can sell her synthetic street drugs easily. Is that what tended to happen in the TV show each week? Also, I thought this series was set in California? This movie seems to be set in Florida, why is that?

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Anyway before all the action kicks, in true Police Academy style, the lifeguards are recruiting so cue a lengthy montage of so called comedy and pretty people in swimwear. This also introduces us to the whole gang basically. Lifeguard leader, Lieutenant Mitch Buchannon who is generally an all round perfect human specimen but thinks he has the authority to do anything on and off his beach. Stephanie Holden (IIfenesh Hadera), second in command, cocky and Asian? And C.J. Parker (Kelly Rohrbach), hot blonde who isn’t as hot as the original played by Anderson. That’s it, that’s the team, three people. The new recruits are Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario) who is the standard hot brunette. Ronnie (Jon Bass) the stereotypical fat nerdy guy who is somehow picked despite being clearly too fat. And young good looking hotshot Matt Brody (Zac Efron).

So as you might expect there are egos flying all over the flippin’ place in this movie, satire or not. The movie is pretty much The Rock vs Efron for the most part. Dwayne Johnson is doing his usual all round nice guy charm act interspersed with being really hard when he needs to be. There is also a strong family theme running though the movie that Mitch himself promotes at every turn with his team (ugh!!). Whilst Brody is the stereotypical dimwitted pretty boy that starts off all big-headed, gets taken down a peg or two and then proves himself. At the start Brody must complete this pointless obstacle course only to find out he must then complete Mitch’s weightlifting obstacle course, which was equally pointless. I guess it was to show Brody up and prove he wasn’t ready? Or it was just pointless, you decide.

Admittedly the fast put-downs that Mitch throws at Brody are highly amusing and brutal. Whilst in conversation Mitch calls Brody ‘High School Musical’, ‘One Direction’, ‘Bieber’, ‘Malibu Ken’, ‘Baby Gap’ etc…At the same time Mitch also throws out some epic lines such as ‘I’m oceanic motherfucker!’. Most of the reasonably funny stuff comes from either Johnson or Efron as they clash nipples. The rest of the cast are useless and merely there to either look pretty or attempt to be funny. Jon Bass as fat Ronnie is not funny, he is of no use in the movie and he does literally nothing. The opening visual gag of him getting his nuts stuck in a wooden deckchair was pitiful. The girls were…umm…very nice in their red swimsuits. Attempts were clearly made to give them brains and useful scenes but alas…The villain was also a female played by Priyanka Chopra, she was very beautiful, that is all.

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The main joke in this movie that obviously pokes fun at the TV show (presumably because I don’t actually know), is the fact that these lifeguards actually have no real power. They are merely lifeguards that stop people from drowning and keeping the beach safe from…littering, sexual acts, crime I guess…whatever. The whole point is they aren’t cops, they can’t go after drug dealers, they can’t have car chases and they can’t infiltrate anywhere. Mitch has a hard time understanding this with his heroic gung-ho attitude, plus he’s also backed up by Stephanie and C.J. which doesn’t help. Ironically its only dumbass Brody that seems to understand this.

The main problem I had with this movie aside from the terrible dialog, horrendous acting, fucking dreadful CGI, fucking dreadful greenscreen, God-awful action sequences, immature facepalm comedy and completely unstructured plot, aside from all that. One single thing, is this supposed to be an actual serious action flick? I know that sounds incredible because you’d think this was an obvious spoof like many other movies of dated TV shows. But yes, I ask, is this supposed to be serious because at times I just couldn’t tell! At points there are moments of stupidity for sure, as if the director forgot to put that kinda of material in. But for the most part this felt like a genuine action movie, like they actually took it relatively seriously. Hilarious really because its so unbelievably bad.

So yeah, this movie is flippin’ garbage. Chock full of obligatory rap music. Lots of little jabs using identity politics, again apparently obligatory now. And a cameo by David Hasselhoff that doesn’t make any real sense. Hasselhoff appears to Rock-Mitch and begins to teach him in a spiritual kind of way. So he’s supposed to be some kind of mentor? From where? Mentor of what? Then we also get a mute cameo from Pamela Anderson; just walks on screen in slow motion and done. A predictable, throwaway, waste of everyone’s time and money.

3/10

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