21 Jump Street:
Having gone by the alias “Not so Slim Shady” throughout his awkward high school years, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) finds his smarts aiding him for the first time when he scores high on his tests for thePoliceAcademy. On the other hand, Jenko (Channing Tatum), who had a ridiculous haircut in high school and often bullied Schmidt, is very good at the physical aspect of being the fuzz. Combining their skills, the two help each other through thePoliceAcademyand quickly become best friends. Their first gig involves park duty which includes such strenuous tasks as retrieving Frisbees, telling kids not to feed ducks, and riding around on bicycles (complete with helmet). After failing to recite the Miranda rights during a drug bust, the two find themselves relocated to21 Jump Streetwhere they are assigned the duty of going undercover as high school students to unveil a dealer and a supplier. However, they find themselves in opposite cliques and lose track of their purpose for being back in school.
This is comedic gold featuring a powerhouse team with ping-pong banter courtesy of the charismatic duo of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. Their insane on-screen chemistry could not be cooked up by a Bunsen burner. It’s amazing how an oddball match-up like the ab-flaunting Tatum and the tummy-hiding Hill could strike such a funny chord.
The movie constantly pokes a sharp stick at all of the clichés that plague action movies. Yet, the movie never seems like a parody. It takes itself seriously enough, but also satisfies the audience with a knowing wink. What makes the movie so entertaining, besides genuinely good writing and direction, is the likable relationship between Hill and Tatum. It’s unexpected, but it’s perfect. Instead of seeming like a stiff actor forced into sweater vests despite his bustling masculinity, Tatum’s comedic side fits him like a glove.
The Verdict out of Yay, Nay, or May-Bay?: Yay!
The entire gang (if you care enough, you’ll know who they are) are back for their high school reunion inEast Great Falls,Michiganwhich promises to be full of laughs and shenanigans. Jim (Jason Biggs) who is married to Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) and is now a father is finding his sex life quickly deteriorating. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew has lived their own interesting lives. Stifler (Seann William-Scott) is working as a temp at a law firm, Oz (Chris Klein) is a well-known sportcaster who appeared on a reality dancing show. Oz’s old flame Heather (Mena Suvari) is dating the epitome of a douchebag, Kevin has old feelings brought to the surface when he sees his ex Vicky (Tara Reid), and Finch has lived an exciting life, including being initiated into an African tribe. While trying to balance time with his wife and friends, Jim must also be emotionally available for his father (Eugene Levy) who is having a tough time moving on from the loss of his wife. The obvious answer to lives woes: get hammered, spend inappropriate time with high-schoolers, and be naked.
For a crew that is all about crazy wackiness and being zany, their weekend is quite tame. I guess it’s the price of getting old. Hopefully, they don’t keep making these so that I don’t have to see Stifler with an oxygen tank hitting on girls who read “Seventeen” magazine. I don’t know anyone who cares about these people anymore. The highlight in this movie is Eugene Levy’s eyebrows because they steal every scene that they are in. It’s a reunion that is worth attending if you are part of the graduating class.
The Verdict: May-Bay
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, with an eye-patch) has assembled Earth’s mightiest heroes to take on the villainous, mischievous mastermind Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) ill-tempered adopted brother. Loki has plans to take over the entire Earth and has many tricks up his green sleeves, including an army of other-worldly entities. Using his manipulative powers, Loki hypnotizes S.H.I.E.L.D. member Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner, giving Katniss Everdeen a run for her money) to fight on his side. As a colleague, the tight-suited Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) does all she can to break Hawkeye from his spell. Meanwhile, Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) is busy with Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo, the best Hulk there’s ever been) trying to find Loki’s power source, but also trying to convince Banner that he is capable of controlling the beast within. Leading the motley crew is the star-spangled CaptainAmerica(Chris Evans) in all his shield-wielding glory. If the Avengers want to defeat the cunning Loki, they must first learn how to stand together as a team.
All these years of Marvel movie mania has led up to this epic, Superbowl of superheroes. It’s a summer blockbuster from its helmet to its tights and kicks the season’s ass on a powerful, memorable note. The studio has been nothing but consistent with delivering surefire box office hits. Filmmakers (*ahem*MichaelBay) should take note that throwing in hot chicks and explosions aren’t enough to get the audience on the edge of their seat. I appreciated that I didn’t want to hurl in my popcorn bowl while watching the fight sequences and I really appreciated the plethora of eye candy from avenger to villain. Each character is treated with respect and like real people, not just action figures. You get the sense that everyone, in front of and behind the camera, had a great time making this movie and as an audience member you can’t help but do the same.
The Verdict: Hoo-Ray!
The Cabin in the Woods:
Ready to indulge in a memorable weekend to a remote cabin, five friends embark on a journey in their camper. All of the stereotypes are covered: there’s the “virgin” (or at least as close as we can get in this generation) Dana (Kristen Connolly), the slutty blonde (recently-dyed) Jules (Anna Hutchinson), the super-jock (always with a football in hand and rocking the varsity jacket) Curt (Chris Hemsworth), the bright young man with a promising future Holden (Jesse Williams), and the stoner of all stoners Marty (Fran Kranz). Naturally, the friends get more than they bargained for when they encounter a backwoods, redneck zombie family with a back story. You’d have though the tobacco-spittin’ gas station proprietor would’ve been warning enough. There are twists and turns and two survivors discover a deeper, intellectual conspiracy.
Consider it Scream for a new generation, but it stands on its own as a unique horror parody. This is one of those rare movies that comes out and blows everyone away. It is so well-written and features so many terrific visuals that it’s doubtful that this movie will just fade from pop culture. Joss Whedon is the ultimate fan-boy and having his name of the project gives it credibility. For anyone who watches horror movies, they will appreciate all of the references and winky jokes that this movie boasts. The movie could have been truly extraordinary if it was a tad bit scarier. However, the bloodshed and the crazy elevator-ride of horror movie villains is completely mesmerizing and entertaining.
The Verdict: Yay!
Snow White and the Huntsman:
With her pale, flushed cheeks, raven hair, and red as an apple lips Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is destined to surpass her vain stepmother, the malicious Queen Ravenna (Charlize Theron) as the fairest of them all. Forced into exile after she escapes bitter imprisonment, Snow White flees the queendom and heads into the dark forest where she is intercepted by the drunken, Irish huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), who despite his seemingly moronic stupor, is quite skillful with an axe. Snow White and the huntsman embark on a fairly simple journey encountering nature in all its wonder, seven heavily-accented dwarves, and woodland creatures without any names. Throughout their adventure, they are tailed by Queen Ravenna’s malicious brother (with the very unfortunate haircut).
It’s a stylized, golden apple for the eye that juxtaposes dark and brooding moodiness with bright and metallic flamboyancy (kind of like Adam Lambert). Too bad the movie has more visual prowess than authentic storytelling. Exploring the Grimms’ fairy tales, in all their Gothic glory, should be movie territory that is explored by a better hand of people. Stewart could be talented if she’d just move on from her breathy awkwardness and nervous twitches. Hemsworth is a breath of fresh air, if only he had more to do. And Theron is just absurd as the queen.
The Verdict: Nay
Think Like a Man:
A group of male friends, who often shoot hoops at their local rec center, face the battlefield that is dating in the modern era. There’s the player Zeke (Romany Malco), who’s a very much hit-it-and-quit-it kind of guy. He’s hooked up with Mya (Meagan Good), a very smart and pretty girl who has high standards for herself and is abiding by the 90-day rule. Next, there’s the dreamer Dominic (Michael Ealy) who has set his smoldering sights on a girl who is out of his league in Lauren (Taraji P. Henson). Lauren is the CEO of a bigwig company while Dominic is still bouncing from job to job. Michael is the “mama’s boy” who has been wooing Candace (Regina Hall), a young single mother. Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) and Kristen (Gabrielle Union) have been in a relationship for over nine years but they are still very much stuck in the “frat boy” days. Finally, Cedric (Kevin Hart) is reeling from a bad divorce and trying to disguise his heartache. They are all at an all-out war of wits and stems from the females’ obsession with a dating manual entitled “Act like a Lady, Think Like a Man” by talk show host Steve Harvey.
It’s wonderful to see a cast of so many talented, likable actors (and the very stout Kevin Hart as the scene-stealer) in this classically enjoyable battle of the sexes. It’s dating advice in the form of entertainment mirroring the way less likable He’s Just Not That Into You. Sure a lot of the characters are pretty one-dimensional considering there are a lot of parallel stories and the movie is already on the longer side, but it’s still the kind of movie that can be shamelessly enjoyed.
The Verdict: Yay!
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Surprisingly enough, it’s much more difficult for a quartet of wild animals to navigate the tough wilderness than one would have thought. Our friends from the first two installments are back trying to find their home in theCentral Parkzoo. There’s Alex (Ben Stiller) the cuddly lion, Marty (Chris Rock) the fast-talking zebra, Melman (David Schwimmer) the socially-awkward giraffe, and Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) the outgoing hippo. Conveniently enough, they stumble upon a traveling circus. A sultry tigress named Gia (Jessica Chastain) and a dumb, but sweet sea lion named Stefano (Martin Short) are welcoming their new guests with open arms. But loyal circus dweller, who is still trying to face his demons regarding a stunt gone wrong, by the name of Vitaly (Bryan Cranston) is not so eager to accept these new friends. Slowly though, the former zoo animals work their magic on all of the circus and inspire them to ban together and revive their folding tent.
It’s a neon-spectacled, eye-popping family adventure that will make even the hardest-faced sourpusses smile. I don’t care very much about these homesick zoo animals, but I know that they can put on quite a show. (I mean the animated ones PETA, keep your distance). The movie barrels along at a super fast-forward speed that tends to not give any kind of time or attention to the characters or storyline. This is something that Pixar excels at and that other animation studios have not yet got the memo on. It’s unfair to compare other animated movies to ones of Pixar proportion, but it would be nice to see them step up their game. The movie’s insanely enjoyable and adorable when it wants to be (like when the characters perform to Katy Perry’s “Firework”), but mostly it’s just another sequel.
The Verdict: May-Bay