…Pick a Side

The Break-Up is about as funny as an actual break up. Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston are capable leads with good chemistry who have done well in other romantic comedies, but director Peyton Reed can only do so much with the premise. Gary and Brooke live in Chicago and meet at a Cubs game. Gary is a tour guide and Brooke works in a gallery. Although Gary pursues Brooke a little too insistently, they do seem to have a healthy relationship.

Until their first fight that you’ll have to get used to. All the constant passive-aggression makes for an unpleasant viewing experience. Gary and Brooke’s families are polar opposites who go really over-the-top in a cringy dinner scene. Of course Jon Favreau plays Gary’s best friend, but there’s also Jason Bateman as a realtor who helps them work through their break up. Since they share an apartment, Gary and Brooke become contentious roommates who do whatever they can to hurt the other.

Brooke goes on dates with good looking guys and walks around naked just to make him jealous. Aniston’s PG-13 nude debut is worth some attention. Meanwhile, Gary continues to play video games, invite his friends over, and even hire strippers. Nobody looks good in this scenario, but I did find some of the jokes amusing. As long as it wasn’t mean spirited. They try to have an emotionally satisfying happy ending, but by the end I just didn’t care if they got back together or not. The Break-Up breaks too many rules to be satisfying.

The Break-Up

Gary and Brooke separate

From Ladies Man to Family Man

The Change-Up is a different kind of body swap movie. This time they’re both grown men, but they lead very different lives. Dave Lockwood is a responsible married father of three with a white-collar job in a law office. Mitch Planko is a single womanizer who takes small acting roles. Since Jason Bateman plays Dave and Ryan Reynolds plays Mitch, they’re basically playing themselves. So when they swap bodies, Bateman being more profane and Reynolds being more reserved is the only way to tell.

Since it’s a raunchy comedy, Dave and Mitch swap by peeing in a fountain and wishing they had each other’s lives. Mitch finds that he can’t handle Dave’s stressful home life and Dave ends up in increasingly awkward situations with Mitch’s women. Leslie Mann plays Dave’s frustrated wife Jamie that Mitch almost sleeps with. Meanwhile, Dave lives out his fantasy to also nearly sleep with his hot assistant Sabrina played by Olivia Wilde. Mitch is a total douche already, but even Dave ends up looking bad until they realize what they’re missing.

The Change-Up pushes the boundaries with way too much profanity, gross-out gags, and unsexy nudity. Every nude scene involved either prosthetics, body doubles, or CGI. Most of the jokes cross the line, but I’ll admit the lead actors can still get a few chuckles out of me. I really do enjoy the body swap formula, but raunchy R rated comedies don’t always work for me. The Change-Up has a good message trying to get out, but it’s bogged down by too much crudity.

The Change-Up

Mitch and Dave talk about their lives

When I Was a Young Man

17 Again is Big and/or 13 Going on 30 in reverse with a touch of Back to the Future and Mrs. Doubtfire. Body transformation movies aren’t exactly their own genre, but I do notice when they pop up. 17 Again is the opposite of Big with a grown man becoming a teenager. Matthew Perry makes a rare movie appearance as 37 year old Mike O’Donnell. A former basketball star who gave up a scholarship to raise a family with his high school sweetheart.

Since Mike turned into a loser with a failing marriage, a mysterious janitor played by Brian Doyle-Murray grants his wish to be 17 again. Zac Efron is still practically Troy Bolton one year after finishing High School Musical. Mostly because both characters play basketball. With the help of his super nerdy best friend Ned, Mike poses as Mark in order to live his lost dream. Ned has his own subplot with a hot principal that he constantly pursues. I enjoyed the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings references, but 17 Again is really about Mike fixing the relationship he has with his family.

Like Mrs. Doubtfire, Mike secretly gets to know his wife, daughter, and son a lot better. He helps his bullied son Alex played by Sterling Knight by giving him self confidence. His daughter Maggie played by Michelle Trachtenberg is dating the bully Stan, and he helps by convincing her he’s bad. Of course it does lead to an awkward, but funny Back to the Future scenario. Just as awkward is Mike rekindling his love for wife Scarlet played by an increasingly confused Leslie Mann. Reversing the age of the character isn’t always as hilarious as previous movies, but 17 Again has the heart to make it work.

17 Again

Mike (Mark) reminisces with his wife Scarlet

From Mean Girl to Lowlife

The Hot Chick is a cruder version of Freaky Friday. Most of the time I enjoy a good body swap movie, but I’m not the biggest fan of Rob Schneider. Especially ones from Happy Madison Productions. Unlike most body swap movies, The Hot Chick is a pretty one-sided Schneider starring vehicle. Although he swaps with Rachel McAdams, she wouldn’t become a big star until Mean Girls, 2 years later. Ironically, McAdams plays a similar pink loving mean girl named Jessica Spencer. She’s like any other popular teenager who’s mean to the not so popular, but she is shown to have a heart early on.

The Hot Chick surprisingly begins in an early Abyssinian kingdom where the method of swapping bodies is revealed to be a pair of magic earrings. When Jessica swipes them from an African artifact store, she swaps with bumbling lowlife Clive Maxtone. Almost all the attention is given to Jessica trapped in a man’s body. Expect several penis jokes and other cringy gender related hijinks. Although Anna Faris is pretty good as Jessica’s best friend who develops a pseudo-lesbian crush on her/him. Like Big, it’s a catchy clapping song that convinces her.

Of course Jessica does have a boyfriend played by a very uncomfortable Matthew Lawrence. Jessica’s family is pretty over-the-top, but it’s actually her Blasian friend who gets her own subplot for some reason. Adam Sandler, the Mowry twins, and singer Ashlee Simpson all have cameos. McAdams feels like a cameo until Clive is shown working as a stipper until they swap back. I’m immature enough to find some of the jokes funny, but The Hot Chick probably would’ve been a guilty pleasure if I’d seen it sooner.

The Hot Chick

April helps Jessica wax

Daddy, Would You Like Some Sausage?

Freddy Got Fingered is an unfunny comedian acting like an idiot for 87 torturous minutes. It’s easily one of the worst movies ever made with a title that I never want to say out loud. Freddy Got Fingered was panned by critics, bombed at the box-office, and won 5 out of 8 Razzies including Worst Picture. Aside from Worst Screenplay, most of the awards were personally accepted by the movie’s star & director Tom Green. In the early 2000’s, Tom Green was an obnoxious comedian who relied on shocking gross-out humor. For some reason he was given his own movie. Freddy Got Fingered is about an idiotic manchild named Gord who wants to be a cartoonist. A plot that’s quickly abandoned until the last minute when his stupid looking animated show Zebras in America gets greenlit.

Some of the movie is Gord’s abusive hot-headed father having enough of his childish antics. They dragged poor Rip Torn into this along with Julie Hagerty, Anthony Michael Hall, and Drew Barrymore. Although Barrymore was more willingly involved since she was crazy enough to marry Green at the time. His actual love interest is the wheelchair-bound Betty played by Marisa Coughlan who gets turned on by leg pain. The title doesn’t even come until the third act when Gord accuses his father of touching his brother Freddy. Paul Finch himself Eddie Kaye Thomas is barely in the movie as the title character. The infamous “Daddy, would you like some sausage?” scene has nothing to do with the title.

Most of the movie is filled with the most disgusting, mean-spirited, and offensive “jokes” imaginable. Tom Green won Worst Actor, Director, and Screen Couple for “Any animal he abuses.” For no reason at all, Green “handles” a horse, an elephant, and a wears a dead deer carcass. He also swings around a newborn baby by the umbilical cord and licks Harland Williams’ open leg wound. Plus there’s a child who gets injured in every scene he’s in. Yet Freddy Got Fingered still didn’t receive an NC-17. There’s literally no line Green won’t cross, and I know that was 100% intentional. Green technically succeeded in making a truly awful movie, but I’m not one of those weirdos who thinks it’s a secret masterpiece. Freddy Got Fingered is not for the faint of heart.

Freddy Got Fingered

“Daddy, would you like some sausage?”

$1,000,000

Indecent Proposal is an indecent viewing experience. Sometimes there are movies that you hear are bad, but you don’t know why until you watch it. Indecent Proposal won 3 Razzies for Worst Picture, Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Screenplay. Despite having proven director Adrian Lyne and starring a trio of A-listers, the problem with the movie becomes obvious when you see the premise. Based on a 1988 book of the same name, Indecent Proposal is about a billionaire who offers $1,000,000 for one night with a married man’s wife.

No matter how good the actors are, there’s literally no way not to make this sleazy and/or uncomfortable. Woody Harrelson plays David and Demi Moore plays Diana. Although I feel like Moore was picked on a lot in the 90’s, it’s Harrelson who won the Razzie. They try to reinforce their marriage through passionate love making, but they still end up accepting the deal. When the couple falls on hard times, they try to win money at the casino until billionaire John Gage makes the titular indecent proposal. The normally charming Robert Redford is very unlikable with his never ending pursuit of Diana.

You’d think he’d be the worst offender, but everyone in the movie is a bad person. David grows increasingly jealous and hostile towards his wife. Diana hates Gage at first, but she still ends up going back to him. It feels like the movie should end several times, but they just keep dragging it out until a forced happy ending. The Simpsons parody “Half-Decent Proposal” got more accomplished in 30 minutes than this nearly 2 hour movie. Indecent Proposal proves greed and adultery aren’t very romantic topics.

Indecent Proposal

Diana lays on a pile of money

Shoot Your Shot

White Men Can’t Jump is a slam dunk. Despite the title, White Men Can’t Jump is a more iconic part of black cinema. Complete with playful trash talk and emphasis on streetball. White Men Can’t Jump is steeped in the 90’s with colorful outfits, a hip-hop score, an Atari video game, and a cast that got big around the time. The titular white man who can’t jump is Woody Harrelson as college basketball player Billy. Since he’s white and geeky looking, Billy manages to hustle streetballer Sydney and his crew.

Wesley Snipes is hilarious, but Syd is no chump. So he decides to join Billy and his fiery Puerto Rican girlfriend Gloria played by a scene stealing Rosie Perez. Basically Blade, Carnage, and Renee Montoya hustle streetballers to pay off gangsters. At least gangsters are Billy’s problem, Syd is more concerned with buying a house for his family. Harrelson and Snipes play off each other well whether on the court or bonding. I even believe Harrelson and Perez as a couple, but Billy does make a lot of stupid bets.

It feels like the movie will end several times, but there are countless hustles going on that bring the characters back to square one. When a basketball competition doesn’t work, Gloria gets her wish to be on Jeopardy. I expected appearances from real life basketball players, but I wasn’t expecting Alex Trebek. It feels like the end once again, but Billy still needs to prove to Syd and himself that he can jump. White Men Can’t Jump is a basketball film that any race can enjoy.

White Men Can't Jump

Billy plays ball against Syd

The Marsh Girl

Where the Crawdads Sing is part nature documentary, part survival story, part coming of age romance, part murder mystery. The 2018 novel by conservationist Delia Owens became one of the best selling books in recent memory. I’m not a big reader, but the movie trailer peaked my curiosity when I learned Where the Crawdads Sing sold over 12 million copies. I decided to read the book in time to see the movie in theaters. I kept stopping and starting and the mostly negative movie reviews weren’t helping. Eventually I finished the book and saw the movie despite what the critics said. I’m glad I ignored them, because Where the Crawdads Sing is a genuinely great adaptation of an already engrossing book. I enjoy young adult stories and I didn’t care that it was technically a “Chick Flick.”

Almost the entire production team is female including the director, writer, and producers. There’s even a haunting original song by Taylor Swift. The book immerses the reader in the North Carolina marsh, but the movie is breathtaking with gorgeous cinematography that makes me appreciate swampland a lot more. Catherine “Kya” Clark is known to Barkley Cove as “The Marsh Girl.” Kya is abandoned by her entire family and forced to live with her abusive pa until he leaves her to fend for herself. She attends school once, but the townspeople reject her. The good thing about casting lesser known actors is that they fit the characters a lot better. The young Kya actress is good, but Daisy Edgar-Jones is exactly how I imagined teenage Kya. Her fascination with the marsh is infectious and so are the relationships she does manage to form.

Though it takes place in the 50’s and 60’s, the African American Jumpin and Mabel are the closest thing Kya has to caring parents. Her brother Jodie returns later on, but the focus is primarily on Kya’s romance between two very different guys. Taylor John Smith plays the protective aspiring conservationist Tate Walker who teaches Kya to read. Their relationship is magical, but it doesn’t last. Harris Dickinson plays the seemingly caring Chase Andrews who feels like a jerk whether you’ve read the book or not. The murder victim is Chase, and the movie gets to his trial a lot faster than the book. A wise decision that gives Kya a reason to tell her story when she’s accused. David Strathairn is probably the biggest actor who plays Kya’s comforting lawyer. Though the movie omits key characters and important poetry, the ending is still equally tearful and chilling. Way out yonder, Where the Crawdads Sing is better than it’s given credit for.

Where the Crawdads Sing

Tate teaches Kya to read

Going Down Under

Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles is the franchise officially going down under. After 13 years, I don’t think audiences were begging for another installment after the lousy Crocodile Dundee II. Let alone one with a ridiculous title like Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. It may have come out in 2001, but I have no memory of it. This time the problem is the exact opposite of the second movie. That sequel was too focused on action, while this sequel is too focused on comedy. Mostly dumb comedy that isn’t even funny anymore.

Mick “Crocodile” Dundee went from Australia to New York back to Australia and now he’s off to Los Angeles. It’s the same old culture shock, except with celebrities and movie sets. Although Mike Tyson seems to be the only celebrity they were able to afford. Mick and Sue aren’t married, but Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski were at the time. This time they have a son named Mikey who knows as much about crocodile hunting as his father.

Most of it doesn’t go anywhere. Mick also calls his mate Jacko to watch Mikey and join in on American customs. Although I was barely able to follow it, there is another deadly plot that involves Sue’s journalism. This time it has something to do with a corrupt studio director and stolen paintings. Save for a humorous fake Super Bowl trailer, Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles ended the already unnecessary franchise on a low point.

Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles

Mick “Crocodile” Dundee and his family

Preceded by: Crocodile Dundee II

That’s a Knife

Crocodile Dundee II is basically the first movie in reverse. Rather than go from Australia to New York, Mick “Crocodile” Dundee and his girlfriend Sue Charlton go from New York to Australia. Except that it isn’t nearly as simple or easy going as the original. Although Paul Hogan made a name for himself with Crocodile Dundee, the sequel was all he did at first. Despite being married at the time, Hogan began dating his co-star Linda Kozlowski.

Despite the added controversy, Crocodile Dundee II wasn’t half the success the first movie was. The biggest problem is tone. Apart from rehashing old jokes like the knife scene, the sequel doesn’t even feel like a comedy. That becomes apparent when Mick talks down a suicide jumper and ends up dealing with a Columbian drug cartel. Sue’s ex-husband who photographed a powerful drug dealer is murdered and she ends up getting kidnapped. Leaving Mick as her only chance of rescue.

I know Mick was tough before, but seeing him swing into a building window is kind of ridiculous. It’s only after Sue is rescued that they decide to hideout back in Australia. John Meillon is the only noteworthy returning actor who played Mick’s mate Walter in the first movie. The movie goes full Rambo when Walter is held hostage and Mick is forced to hunt the cartel one by one. I say Rambo, but there’s barely a body count since the sequel is PG. Crocodile Dundee II fails at both being funny and having convincing action.

Crocodile Dundee II

Mick “Crocodile” Dundee and Sue in Australia

Preceded by: Crocodile Dundee & Followed by: Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles