*NEW* THE COBBLER REVIEW *NEW*

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What a load of cobblers. And that’s coming from a Sandler fan. Just when I thought he couldn’t sink any lower.

A cobbler (Adam Sandler), bored of his every-day life, stumbles upon a magical heirloom that allows him to become other people and see the world in a different way.

I have to agree with the fan who said that this was terrible. Even for a Sandler movie. Too many ideas. Failure to pick a tone and poor execution makes this one messy movie.

A dull and highly unfunny opener did nothing to get things going. It took a good 20 minutes before Sandler’s mopey shoe cobbler found the magical ‘stitcher’ that would put him on his journey to . . . God only knows what?

A film that grossed only $24,000 dollars at the US box office? You could blame poor distribution. BUT this was pretty bad.

Laughable for all the wrong reasons. I watched it to the end so it wasn’t as horrific as people made out. I was hardly pent up with rage or proclaiming the death of the film industry. So by that analogy . . .

The concept was intriguing on paper. To walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. BUT how could it go so wrong? It took too long to get to the shoe swapping and when it finally did, they really shouldn’t have bothered.

A scene that should have been an endearing moment between Max (Sandler) and his mother (Lynn Cohen – Hunger Games: Catching Fire) came off a little awkward, to say the least. Transforming into his father and taking her on one last “date”. Yikes. A little cringe-inducing. I could see what they were trying to do BUT the cuddling and closeness was just weird.

The same could be said for when he transformed into Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens. Close to pulling his girlfriend in the shower until he realised he had to keep the shoes on. The moral implications if Max had succeeded would have made this a different film altogether.

The only supporting character that stood out was Method Man as the typecast street thug. That really isn’t saying much. Steve Buscemi did his best with the role of the buddy barber next door BUT it was such a weak character. A revelation about him in the closing act came as no surprise. Or interest, for that matter.

With all the possible gags and directions this could have gone down, it still failed to reach any level of expectation. Sandler changes into a transsexual, a dead decaying customer and an overweight kid. Trust me, I’m making it sound better than it sounds (Or not). A hammy and uninteresting subplot with Melonie Diaz’s (Be Kind Rewind) protester brought nothing to the mix.

And when the shoe swapping and face changing finally got going, it was done so badly and clumsily. In a ploy to stop Ellen Barkin’s dreadful Russian Mafiosi disposing of unwanted tenants for property development, I struggled to keep up with who was who BUT most importantly by the end, I didn’t really care.

Dustin Hoffman delivered more charm and charisma in his highly unnecessary and disappointing cameo than Sandler did in the whole film. The last act showed a little of what I had expected from the get go. BUT alas, it was NOT to be.

Sandler’s works were never going to win plaudits BUT were generally easy going and funny affairs. His latest offerings have been lazy, sloppy and dreadful. Ironic that he picks a project penned by somebody else and it’s even worse.

A couple of chuckles and an intriguing premise. BUT a mish mesh of ideas with NO tone, direction or gags, well . . .  Sandler better put his best foot forward and move on from this mess. God have mercy on the writer’s soles.

1.5/5

*NEW* HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 REVIEW *NEW*

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Drac and the pack are back. BUT better? There’s only one way to find out.

Dracula (Adam Sandler) and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis (Selena Gomez) from leaving the hotel.

Silly fun for the family. This latest offering from Sandler and co does just enough to keep the little ‘uns entertained for 90 minutes. Just don’t see it in 3D.

The 3D was a wasted gimmick (As opposed to any other movie?). I’m happy to recommend a 3D experience if I feel the price is right. Nothing really jumped out at you and it certainly didn’t justify the ticket price.

The ridiculously cheesy opening zipped along and was easygoing enough. The premise was hardly original. Predictable hokum as Drac’s obsessiveness soon gives Mavis doubts about raising Dennis in HT. Luckily that was all breezed over quite quickly for some more crazy shenanigans.

Drac recruits the gang to show off their abilities in one last ditch effort to inspire Dennis to unleash his inner vampire. The better gags definitely came when Sandler’s gang of goons were in play. Each one of them had their moment to shine. David Spade’s Invisible Man pretending to have a girlfriend. Steve Buscemi’s werewolf tennis instructor chasing every tennis ball. And yes! (Or should I say unfortunately) His insufferable horde of crazy cubs make a return.

Kevin James’ Frankenstein feebly attempting to scare people. The only fright being a bad selfie for a fan. Hell! Even Cee-Lo Green delivered with the Mummy’s dreadful sand storm summoning dance. We also had a new addition in the form of the gormless green goop appropriately named Blobby. A cross between Jabba the Hutt and Flubber.

I was surprised how little there was of Andy Samberg BUT then again, we did have his story in the first one. Selena Gomez certainly improved and got into the groove a lot more. I enjoyed her turn as Mavis this time round as the pair explored possible new homes. The gag involving the ‘intermonster’ couples living in Californian suburbia was unexpected BUT cleverly done. Especially when the community mistook one of their own for a monster.

There was enough craziness to keep things watchable. The politically friendly vampire camp sequence worked too well with its “Everyone’s a winner” mantra. It was also great to hear Mel Brooks voicing Drac’s dad Vlad (Unintentional rhyming there). Shame that he wasn’t as funny as I hoped. Rob Riggle stole the spotlight from the prolific comedian as his volatile partner in crime, Bela the gargoyle.

However, it wasn’t all perfect. The schmaltzy lesson learning along the way was a little too much for my cynical critic to take and hampered what had been a frenetic and watchable flick. And the length was far too short. A compliment and a flaw. More could have been made with the material. It felt like a feature length TV episode that rushed to its conclusion.

With the price of cinema tickets and Pixar movies raising the bar on story and substance, this fell short. BUT it still entertained and made for easy viewing. Fans of the original (which I preferred) will not be disappointed. I can think of worse ways to kill 90 minutes.

2.5/5

*NEW* PIXELS MOVIE REVIEW *NEW*

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Pick another movie.

When aliens misinterpret video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war, they attack the Earth in the form of the video games.

Has Adam Sandler given up? Has he finally succumbed to mediocrity and dire disasters? A lot of you will probably say, “Hasn’t he already?”

For those who do follow my reviews, I’ve declared my guilty fandom for Sandler movies numerous times. BUT even this feeble effort tested my patience. I can’t tell whether this was intentionally supposed to be this bad or just sloppy?

The opening really didn’t get things going with an 80s flashback to the World Video Game Championship with our young protagonist Brenner (Sandler) discovering his passion for arcade games and battling it out with his rival Eddie (Peter Dinklage).

It was cliched and unfunny. NOT even the cameo from Dan Ackroyd brought anything to the mix. I did get nostalgic when all the old game titles flashed across the screen; Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede. I think the only saving grace through this elongated sequence was Andrew Bambridge’s impression of Dinklage. It was spot on. It was easy to look the part but to sound like him and nail his expressions was something else.

And not before long, we’re back in the present. And it doesn’t get any better as we are force fed a ridiculously vomit-inducing love subplot between Sandler’s repair man and Michelle Monaghan’s military Violet. The pair may have had good chemistry BUT the terrible lines and schmaltzy scenes soon put out that fire.

Conveniently, or thanks to lazy script writing, Sandler’s best friend (Kevin James) is the President of the United States. This could have been ripe for gags galore. We know James can be funny. BUT flailing around, busting out stupid dance moves and shouting all the time doesn’t work. Come on. We had two Paul Blarts for that. Which were an improvement from this mess.

I was praying for the aliens to attack and when they did, it was brilliant. The only redeeming feature. Although 3D was definitely a waste of time. The sequences and effects were fantastic. The Pac Man Mini Cooper street race subdued my griping for a good ten minutes.

The Centipede laser gun shootout was also pretty decent. It was just a shame that a cringe-inducing cameo from Sean Bean took my attention away from it. Now the chap has done some bad movies in his day BUT even this one took the biscuit. Glad he was up for a laugh. BUT I was laughing for all the wrong reasons.

The little animated Cubert was certainly entertaining for the little ‘uns but its whiny Chipmunk voice did my nut in. The Tetris game attack was a particular highlight for me. Each line detonating a floor of a skyscraper. Fantastic.

Every time the aliens attacked, I was hooked. When they didn’t, it was tedious and dull. Every time the characters stopped to talk, the film was hampered down massively. It didn’t help that a lot of the Happy Madison regulars were missing. All those little in-jokes would have done this film a world of good.

Peter Dinklage. Ol’ Tyrion Lannister himself. He really gave it a go BUT he just annoyed the hell out of me. He had a couple of one liners here and there BUT I desperately wanted him to shut up. Pardon the expression but this was a massive step down from the Game of Thrones actor.

The cameos were wasted. I couldn’t believe Serena Williams and Brian Cox (Not the star man, the actual star) were in this. Williams didn’t have a bad stint as Eddie’s unimpressed love interest. While Cox was very dull as a bland general. Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars) may have looked stunning as Lady Lisa BUT she really was as one dimensional as her counterpart. And Jane Krakowski (30 Rock) might as well as have not been in it.

Josh Gad saved the day again as the unhinged conspiracy nut. He brought the schtick that saved the Wedding Ringer and did everything to make this lead balloon fly. There were a number of lines that got a chuckle out of me, “You’re the first person to come over . . . Voluntarily”. His reunion with Sandler and a bottle of chloroform was hilarious.

BUT alas it wasn’t enough. The gags were sparse. They even resorted to my pet hate of naff stereotyping with Aunt Petunia from Harry Potter playing the Prime Minister and talking utter jibberish. Well, the Queen’s English. Apparently. Sloppy.

Josh Gad, a silly nostalgic premise and some cracking effects may have made parts watchable BUT it just wasn’t enough. A wasted opportunity. Maybe more money should have spent on the script or the gags at least.

2(Just)/5

PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 REVIEW

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What a load of old cop!

Ba-dum-tsssh! If you thought that was bad, you won’t like this!

After six years of keeping our malls safe, Paul Blart (Kevin James) has earned a well-deserved vacation. He heads to Vegas with his teenage daughter (Raini Rodriguez) before she heads off to college. But safety never takes a holiday and when duty calls, Blart answers.

Back, definitely bigger but better?

In a word, NO! God, no! But it wasn’t all bad. Just . . . Not that good.

I’ve been a fan of Kevin James ever since King of Queens. His movies may not have earned critical plaudits but as long as they were funny, I didn’t care.

I finally got round to watching the first Paul Blart not too long ago. It was okay, I guess. James using his size to his advantage for some Die Hard buffoonery.

It was watchable but the biggest joke was the amount of money it took! For all the hype and recommendations, I was left scratching my head. It delivered the odd titter but it went far too long. Too long at 90 minutes? Ouch. Inevitably, with all that box office wonga, a sequel was on the cards.

Now bearing in mind, I wasn’t that keen on the first, I found that better than this instalment.

The slating PB: MC 2 (Looks like an equation) has received was a little overkill. I did laugh. A couple of times. BUT it tried to outdo the first one and made the same silly mistakes.

The opening ten minutes certainly didn’t get things going. It was a little dark and random. Two cast members from the original removed in a matter of seconds.

One with a truck. The other . . . Obviously read the script and didn’t want to come back. Let’s be honest, Jayma Mays. You weren’t that good the first time round.

BUT she still dodged a bullet. Some lazy plot writing about anxiety and demanding a divorce after a six day vomit inducing marriage or something or other.

Yeah. Stupid and not very funny. See where I’m going.

James’ OTT and deluded alter ego Blart did enough to preserve through the drudge. I can’t believe how big he’s got again! I thought he was shedding the pounds after Here Comes The Boom! Clearly, the film needed those infantile fat jokes. That popped up at every opportunity.

However, considering his size, I couldn’t believe how quick James was on his feet. A scene in which Blart raids a hotel room for clues was hilarious. Running up the steps, throwing himself around, getting back on his feet. Damn!

His buffoonery did get a few titters. But it was too much of the same thing. Tripping over the carpet in an epic hotel lobby punch up? Good. Continuing to trip over every object every 30 seconds afterwards? Boring.

There wasn’t much of a story. Not that I expected one. But a lazy convention invitation to get Blart for more Die Hard shenanigans in a Vegas hotel was naff.

It didn’t help that it was so predictable and schmaltzy. Rodriguez and James work well as a father/daughter unit but why did it have to be so revoltingly cheesy?

Maya (Rodriguez) falls for a valet in a hammy and uninteresting sub plot. In fact you can hardly call it a subplot as Bakay and James couldn’t be bothered to put any effort into it. She inevitably avoids her blundering control freak of a mall cop dad who is in the middle of having a mini breakdown after losing the love of his life . . . after six days. Bleurgh.

BUT that’s okay. She gets kidnapped . . . AGAIN! And it’s up to dear old dim-witted dad to save the day whether she wants him to or not!

It’s just a mess. The main problem for me was that I was trying to work out how bad this film was. Let me explain. Nick Bakay (Salem! Salem from Sabrina. I know. GAY!) and Kevin James are funny. Surely, the dialogue and story line were written badly on purpose?

You can see where James is ripping off the old clichéd action B-movies. His slow motion leap from a “fast moving” Segway got a chuckle out of me. BUT everything else just came off unintentionally bad. Boring and unfunny. It was as if they took all the bad bits out of the bad action movies to make something even worse. A comedy masterpiece or just bad?

Either way, it didn’t really work. I mean, come on. Robert Rodriguez knew what he was doing when he made Planet Terror. It was a deliberately awful Grindhouse flick. Blart, on the other hand . . . Meh.

The daughter getting kidnapped spiel didn’t work in Taken and certainly didn’t work in this. It had potential but never really got anywhere. The only redeeming feature was the fact she wasn’t a complete moron and did some clever MacGuyer stuff to try and escape.

The supporting cast were a little hit and miss.

Shelly Dusai was funny as Khan Mubi. Not enough of him to be honest. His impromptu hug and greets and inability to stay awake at even the most intense situations was a much needed comedy injection. I could have done with more of him than Gary Valentine or Loni Love.

Love was brilliant when she was first introduced into the mix but after that, she soon got on my nerves. Yelling out, “This is real” and “That’s not real” got very old very quick.

Neal McDonough was a cracking little villain. His different coloured eyes and deadpan delivery trounced the mall muppet that we had in the first one. But he wasn’t used to his full potential. He had keyed in his inner Hans Gruber and deserved more lines and screen time. Disappointed.

I mean, his mad shout off with James showed McDonough’s potential. “I’m so crazy, I have two different coloured eyes. I don’t know what I’ll do next”. It doesn’t sound so good out loud but his delivery made it work. However, the shouting soon went on too long. AGAIN.

D.B. Woodside should have stayed in Suits. Old Wayne Palmer was so bland and unmemorable. He was nothing more than a henchman.

Daniella Alonso. Mamma Mia! Steady now. She played the alluring hotel manager well. What? It was a little funny when Blart kept insisting that she was hitting on him. His endless put downs and talks got a chuckle. The punchline inevitably being that she actually was hitting on him made me smile a little. Blart’s realisation at the mistake of turning her down was up there with Harry and Lloyd giving directions to that tour bus of models.

I know James and Sandler have been slated for years. They don’t care. And to be honest, I’ve enjoyed quite a few of their efforts that have been rated incredibly low on IMDb but although this was watchable, it wasn’t memorable.

It was along the lines of Grown Ups 2. It had a couple of laughs but went on too long and you couldn’t wait for it to end. BUT there were still laughs to be had. If you like your comedy silly and OTT and you liked the first one (A lot of people will be saying No one), then give it a crack.

Blart getting in a punch-up with a peacock was hilarious. Its velociraptor-esque roar as it stalked the mall cop made it for me. That and the smiling pianist who offered no help and merely background music wasn’t bad. Looked like someone out of The Shining!

James knows how to ride a Segway. I had a crash course on one of those. No, literally I crashed onto the floor. To be able to do the silly little tricks he does was fun to watch.

Running into clean glass doors and sliding across hotel lobby floors were (Pardon the expression) hit and miss but they still got a little smile out of me.

BUT James’ farting, tripping and blundering did annoy more than entertain. His ridiculous speeches were the sort of thing I fast forward through a naff B flick.

The corny confrontations with Maya over moving away to college was so tedious and hammy. I really didn’t care. Oh and the final punch line, I say punch line was terrible. James chatting up a mounted policewoman could have had potential. BUT nah. Let’s just have a terrible CGI horse kick James’ terribly CGI’d body into a car. Shame. A missed opportunity.

If there is going to be another, take another 6 years on top of another 6 years and find some better material, Messrs James and Bakay.

2(Just)/5

TOP 20 BEST FILMS OF 2014 * PART TWO

SO HERE WE ARE . . . AT LAST. The second month into 2015.

I know, terrible. For those who are still interested, we have the SECOND PART of my best films of 2014. The top 11-20!

Feel free to search through my posts for my top 10. If you want, I can provide them.

The best (or better) ones of that mediocre movie year. My criteria mainly focused on the ones that surprised, intrigued and entertained me. And boy, it was tough. Many have been watchable. Okay at best. What was harder was condensing my 20 WORST films of 2014 (Which will be following shortly).

BUT there were diamonds in the rough sea of bilge that polluted the movie screens last year.

I have had to endure endless entries of mindless drivel regurgitating the same old plot, clichéd characters (even in their 3D wrapped foils) and excruciating acting or dreadful dialogue and to be honest, it’s killed my enthusiasm a little bit.

Now some entries you may question and unfortunately release dates are always different. My argument was films I saw in that year at the cinema. Some may have been released at the end of 2013 but I didn’t see them until early January 2014.

BUT that sums up my argument if they are in here.

I won’t go on too much about each film. That’s what the other posts are for but a quick two cents if you like. Some I hope you will nod in approval. Others you may scroll back and forth hoping that this is a joke. BUT my criteria is based on surprise, entertainment and engagement. So God knows what lies in store.

11. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

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Now I am actually reading the book. This film lost marks for stretching out its source material to the max. However, Jackson still manages to deliver the goods by harvesting a special effects extravaganza of a movie. This slicker, darker installment made up for the lumbering opener that was An Unexpected Journey. The pace may still have been a little long at the tooth BUT was certainly the best in Jackson’s second trilogy.

12. Captain America: Winter Soldier

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A Marvel sequel that wasn’t needed but surprised me in surpassing the stuttery original. I felt the first Captain America was rushed to introduce the Cap in time for the Avengers and didn’t really cover as much of the WW2 elements as I had hoped. A superhero fighting in the war had a lot more promise for me. BUT the sequel had a decent story, good action pieces and added depth to the ‘Cap. Plus it gave a lot more screen time to the Black Widow and the legendary Nick Fury (At last!)

13. The Raid 2

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Fast and furious . . . after an hour of droll exposition. BUT it was still the most intense action film I saw that year. The final 45 minutes surpassed the original in suspense and action. Worth the wait. It may not have beat the original overall BUT other films need to use this as the next “How To Make An Action Movie” textbook.

14. St Vincent

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Bill Murray at his best in this easy going indie dramedy. It was funny, well acted with some cracking one liners and an impressive debut from young wunderkid Jaeden Lieberher.

15. Before I Go To Sleep

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A tense, slowburning but well crafted psychological thriller. Memento meets While You Were Sleeping. Even if I had sussed the big twist. The unveiling still took me by surprise. I thought the cast were fantastic. Kidman was on fine form and the last 15 minutes were brilliant.

16. The Maze Runner

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You read that, right? We had numerous teen book bestseller franchises flooding the screens. Divergent, Hunger Games, The Giver and . . . The Maze Runner. I went in, really expecting the worst and for the majority of the film, I was hooked. It’s hardly original but it zipped along and stopped me grumbling.

17. Nightcrawler

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A superb performance from Gyllenhaal. Deservedly earning a BAFTA nomination. Somehow managing to out-Bale Bale in this dark take on the American dream. Satirical, grim and engrossing. If a little predictable with an abrupt ending BUT still worth a gander.

18. The Guest

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Mr Crawley has left the Abbey and he’s kicking ass and taking names. A cracking and charismatic performance in this strange but riveting indie action flick. It felt like a film of two halves. Some may not like how it pans out BUT it certainly took me by surprise. Badass film of 2014? Hell yeah!

19. What If

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What if Harry Potter did an indie chick flick? It would be an easygoing and entertaining affair. That’s what. Radcliffe and Kazan had great chemistry and were a normal and believable couple. I actually cared what happened to them unlike the other umpteen romantic comedies that have wasted my time.

20. Blended

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I told you that I was going to think outside the box. I said surprised or entertained me. It has been a while since I have enjoyed a Sandler movie. And this says a lot from a die hard fan. Hardly die hard BUT I’ve endured them all. Blended certainly isn’t perfect but it felt like a return of sorts. It was certainly a return for Drew Barrymore. The plot is stupid and some gags fall flat on their backside.

BUT when it was funny, it had me in stitches. The family dynamic was dealt with well. The handling with the grief issues was done nicely and was unexpected. I enjoyed it. There’s still hope for the Sandler. I went in expecting nothing and was rewarded with something more. A good comedy. Hallelujah. Has the Mad Movie Ranter lost his marbles?

*THROWBACK REVIEW* MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN REVIEW

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DO. NOT. BOTHER.

Jason Reitman pens a delightfully dull and dreary commentary on the woes of social media.

Certainly not what I expected. Which worked in one aspect BUT failed on so many others.

The recent spate of trailers seemed to market this as a romantic drama seen through the platform of social media i.e. Facebook, Tumblr, etc.

BUT all I got was a slow, dark and sombre social drama that made some fair points but didn’t really back them up with any substance, tension or story.

Merely a movie of moments. A shame considering the talent.

So what is it about? A group of high school teenagers and their parents attempt to navigate the many ways the Internet has changed their relationships, self-image and how they communicate.

It really does sound as boring as you think. BUT it’s not a complete disaster.

The opening sequence was quite strange. A visually stunning but unnecessary tracking shot of a satellite travelling through the solar system. Eric Steelberg’s cinematography was superb (in this sequence). The wonderful Emma Thompson provided her vocal gravitas to the appropriately titled character, “Narrator”.

However, she soon blathers on about how sounds and videos were recorded in a capsule during 1977 to send out as a welcome message to extra terrestrials. Interesting. But what is the relevance?

None, apparently. It didn’t really fit in with the message or the tone of the film. Granted, the songs and messages highlighted how far we have progressed technologically to a minor extent BUT we still haven’t contacted extra-terrestrials. That we know of. If there are any. If we care. And if there are, they obviously didn’t like our noises.

BUT what does that have to do with social media impacting the everyday?

It felt a little pretentious for my liking and certainly didn’t get things going.

It eventually zipped along and was watchable. BUT the story lines and content just didn’t have enough for the two hour running length.

The only statement that I felt Reitman made well was the desensitisation and over-sexualisation of teenagers.

The scene in which a group of 16 year old cheerleaders are talking about how many men they have slept with and supposed sex acts they have inflicted was uncomfortable to listen to BUT all too true.

The fact that it is so easy for young teens to access porn and sexual images in this digital age paired with their ever-increasing hunger to grow up quicker was and still is a scary prospect.

Olivia Crocicchia was very good as the deluded Hannah Clint. A ruthless and overly ambitious young lady who will do what it takes to get what she wants. Her relationship with her mother Judy Greer was captured well and it was interesting to see the gradual change from something that seemed so innocent as a little modelling site soon becoming something much more.

Some of the story lines excelled, while others merely gave us a taster and then fizzled out into nothing really.

Kaitlyn Dever and Ansel Elgort played the outsider high school couple well, I suppose. BUT it wasn’t original or interesting. Their story line was a little stale. Hiding in the library and sneaking out to cuddle by a waterfall or river. I can’t remember. Lost interest. The closing minutes certainly came to a tense, if predictable, finale.

Jennifer Garner played Dever’s overprotective mother perfectly. Not enough of her. I was determined to see if there was more to her obsession with controlling and knowing her daughter’s whereabouts.

BUT no! The world is a terrible place and the Internet is worse. Her embargoes on the household Wi-Fi and mobile phone tracking apps certainly hinted at the cons of digital gadgetry.

The whole fear of online predators is still an important issue. Even more so with trolling and cyberbullying. BUT Reitman doesn’t even bother penning a story line featuring this shocking new development.

The whole affair felt quite dated. This would have been a lot more hard-hitting a decade ago, to be honest, when instant messaging and blogging had first popped up in the domain.

Dean Norris’ football loving dad arguing with Englert for dropping out of the team after his mum flew the coop was predictable guff. Englert’s video game obsession felt dated. I mean World of Warcraft is still a highly popular game BUT surely there’s a new one. Plus it wasn’t really explored that well.

J.K. Simmons was wasted in his role as the father in Elena Kampouris’ bulimic daughter story line. Her situation was one that should have been covered a little better. Hiding in her room trying not to eat while talking to online forums about fighting hunger pains was crazy.

Her story ended quite abruptly after hitting a crucial juncture and deserved more screen time, especially with vulnerable teens that are constantly battling with image and oversexualized music videos, media coverage and fashion magazines.

Adam Sandler was finally given another serious role and he did quite well but his character was so bland. The whole porn desensitising the average male debate was a valid point but who wants to see Mr Deeds getting hot and heavy while watching smut? Not me.

Reitman raised a good point in how teenage lads in particular will be looking for a particular woman after being subjected to such videos. Sandler’s son developing a crude taste for domination videos was a taboo that should have been explored. BUT Sandler’s character never confronts him properly about it.

In fact, he sees his son’s videos and has a bash himself. A little dark and comical BUT the tone didn’t really fit. I couldn’t tell how serious Reitman was trying to be. The film went too serious one second and satirical the next.

Sandler’s storyline was mediocre at best. It had a fair point about how couples lose intimacy and seek extra marital companionship online. The ease in what you can do on the Internet is a crazy and unsettling thing.

The affair sequences were certainly different BUT didn’t really amount to anything which was surprising, considering they “confronted” each other at the end. It just infuriated me because they seemed to blame their lost innocence from 9/11. Emphasizing how it changed everything.

I mean it could have been inappropriate timing that they changed as the world changed at that moment but I felt the reference lazy and unnecessary.

The sequences in which we see what people are texting, along with video inserts, was a nice touch. Especially when you see what people are texting about others who are in the same room.

BUT it’s hardly original. Hollyoaks milked that speech bubble text talk thing to death.

It made some good points BUT ones I’ve seen dealt with a whole lot better. It felt like a missed opportunity to expand, debate and explore new developments and how families are growing up with them.

It’s watchable BUT if you’re looking for hard-hitting, thought provoking Internet-related drama, I recommend Cyber Bully.

2.5/5 (Just)

*THROWBACK REVIEW* BLENDED REVIEW

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If you still like or even love Adam Sandler movies, then this one is for you. For everybody else, move on. There has been a lot of cynicism and “hate-watching” surrounding his last entries. A good portion not completely unjustified. (That’s My Boy, Jack and Jill and Grown Ups 2, I’m looking at you!)

Let’s be honest, they are guilty pleasures. (Apart from Sandler’s more serious acting ventures; Reign Over Me and Punch Drunk Love). The story lines were always predictable, corny and OTT but as long as they were funny, I was happy to let that slide. I know, me letting a film slide?

So what did I make of Sandler’s latest offering? One that seemed to take a huge hit at the box office? Well, I can’t believe I’m saying this but it’s actually not that bad. A vast improvement from the Grown Ups movies (I did enjoy the first one. What?). I went in, anticipating the worst and came out surprised.

So what’s it about? After a bad blind date, a man (Sandler) and woman (Drew Barrymore) find themselves stuck together at a family resort in Africa, where their attraction grows as their respective kids benefit from the burgeoning relationship. Awww . . . yuck.

Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler reunite for their third outing (The Wedding Singer/50 First Dates). The chemistry is still there and they work well together yet again. You can see at certain points that they are improvising by the cheeky grins and little jibes.

The plot set up is incredibly lazy in how the families end up in Africa. Even when I heard it, I thought why they don’t just meet up by accident? Still corny but a lot less ridiculous than Barrymore’s mate (Wendi McLendon-Covey – Rules of Engagement) giving up her vacation with Sandler’s boss and kids (the number of kids that make up the two families – yeah that’s right). Long winded and stupid.

Anyhoo, we get the set up and see both families all with their neuroses and issues; Bella Thorne battling with her sporty persona crushing her femininity as she keeps being mistaken for a boy, Barrymore’s dicey divorce and Sandler coping with loss and grief. Inevitably, both sets of kids are in need of a mother/father figure.

The divorce arguments contribute nothing to the movie as they are so predictable and you know the inevitable will happen. What was well done was how both families dealt with the issue of death and loss. A scene in which Emma Fuhrmann’s character Espn (named after Sandler’s favourite sports channel – Tut, tut, tut) saves a seat and plate for her mum is touching. Corny but touching. A well-acted scene between her and Sandler was unexpected but endearing. For the cynics, a big no, no but for everyone else, very good.

It’s not perfect. Certain jokes fall flat as a dead zebra carcass. A joke in which Barrymore struggles to carry her son and keeps bumping his head against the wall, while funny the first time, soon dies a death when she keeps doing it. If not for a punchline from Sandler, it would have been a complete write off. The inevitable ‘getting together’ of Barrymore and Sandler will always be hanging over moments where they walk away or hurt each other’s feelings.

However, there are some cracking moments and to be honest, it was the one liners that got me. Terry Crews (The Expendables/Brooklyn Nine Nine) pops up, Michael Jackson thrusting and bursting out into song with his African choir in tow every time the movie looks like its slackening. Hilarious. Some might find them irritating, I thought it was brilliant.

Along with Crews, there are a few Sandler stalwarts that pop up and provide a good old chuckle. Shaquille O’Neal as his crazy work colleague, Kevin Nealon (Weeds) as the horny vacationer and a cameo from Allen Covert (Mr Deeds/Wedding Singer/Anger Management). Shame the Schneider/Sandler cameos stopped. Was there a fall out or something? Or did they both hate each other’s movies?

Joel McHale’s (Community) character was very stocky and generic as Barrymore’s ex. The kids were irritating to begin with, but I think that was the point. They soon grow on you, eventually. Well they have to, I guess. Alyvia Alyn Lind was adorable and came out with some of the more surprising quips that got everybody chuckling.

It was great to see a Sandler film actually use some people from the community and actual country they are filming in, who get to deliver some cheeky punts at the tourists. A joke involving Brad Beckham’s resemblance to a hobbit had me in stitches.

It’s corny, cheesy, ridiculously OTT and predictable but it’s funny, at times endearing and better than you think. If you’re a cynic who likes their comedies subtle and clever, then firstly why are you reading this? Secondly, if you’re a struggling Sandler film aficionado, you might be surprised. I was.

3/5