*NEW* BAD SANTA 2 REVIEW *NEW*

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Was it just bad or ho-ho-ho-horrible!

Nothing on the original BUT a whole lot better than anything I could have expected.

Crude, vulgar, wrong BUT oh so funny.

Fuelled by cheap whiskey, greed and hatred, Willie (Billy Bob Thornton) teams up once again with his angry little sidekick, Marcus (Tony Cox) to knock off a Chicago charity on Christmas Eve.

From all the poor ratings I expected worse. The original was good BUT it was hardly groundbreaking comedy.

It was a breath of fresh air watching a foul mouthed SC screwing and boozing his way though life after all the corny and sickly sweet Christmas films that bombard us during the wintry period. BUT can lightning strike twice for Billy Bob?

In a nutshell, meh.

Has it really been 13 years?! Did we need another one?

From the incredibly sweary and dreary opening, it felt we never left with Willie killing his liver and vomming down an alleyway.

Thornton hasn’t changed one bit and delivered yet again. Bringing his silver tongue and miserable demeanour to the fold. He quickly summed up the 13 year gap. The only shocker being an absent Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls).

The first 20 minutes was so wrong and quite dark with Willie trying to top himself by sticking his head in an electric oven. Thankfully, a surprise visit from an old friend soon stopped him in his tracks.

Brett Kelly was hilarious as Thurman Merman. Apart from turning 21, his appearance hadn’t changed at all. He stole the show and worked really well off Thornton. His naive and bizarre outlook on life and Christmas cracked me up.

I was a little disappointed at his limited screen time. I know that Willie was trying to push Thurman away to save him from ruining his life BUT the loveable dimwit just won’t give up on the gutter mouthed grouch.

His return to the mix later on in the movie was a much needed injection to the piece when the pace (and gags) tragically lagged.

Cox and Thornton were a great dysfunctional duo once they made amends over Marcus’ backstabbing. The insults and put downs were relentless.

I couldn’t believe they got Kathy Bates in this as Willie’s mother. She gave it a good ol’ go as the pair tried to get over their fractious relationship for one big score. Welcoming the woman who brought him into the world with a punch in the face.

They weren’t a bad mother/son combination BUT we already had one foul mouthed drunk; we didn’t need another. It felt like a competition with the pair trying to out gross each other BUT there was fun to be had. One scene had me in tears. I think it was improvised because it was a lot funnier than it should have been. All I’ll say is pizza.

Mike Starr’s (Dumb and Dumber) unexpected cameo as a lecherous SC delivered a mad punch up. He managed to make Willie look like a decent human being. For a second.

The first hour actually had me in stitches. It was filthy crude humour BUT it did the job. A shame that momentum couldn’t stick. The remaining 30 minutes was a lot more strenuous and hard going.

I wasn’t really a fan of Jenny Zigrino after her cringe-inducing turn in Fifty Shades of Black and she did nothing to win me over in this either. Other than playing on her build, she didn’t bring anything to the mix and just wasn’t funny. Cox’s attempts to woo her were dull and boring.

Jeff Skowron was incredibly annoying as Dorfman. The security guard intent on foiling Willie’s plan. Bernie Mac, he ain’t. Could have done with someone like him in this.

I had actually forgotten that Octavia Spencer featured in the first one. Good to see her return in a small cameo as the washed up hooker Opal BUT some might see it as a bit of a step down after her stellar performance in The Help.

Christina Hendricks proved she was game and I wasn’t complaining watching Mad Men’s Joan Holloway getting down and dirty BUT it wasn’t really that funny.

I know it was supposed to mirror Willy missing Graham’s Sue BUT after a couple of scenes, the bonking and screaming profanities got repetitive pretty quick.

There were several scenes that were just retreads of the original and nowhere near as entertaining. The frantic finale did get a little predictable and ended on such an incredibly flat and unfunny footnote with the laughs few and far between. Shame.

However, it was still quite watchable and killed the time. Fans of the original will find some saving graces in this. Just don’t expect too much.

2.5/5

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ENTOURAGE MOVIE REVIEW

 

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The boys are back but bigger and better than ever? I can answer that in one simple word.

VICTORY!

My mates were always going on about this show. 8 series and a Golden Globe. It must be doing something right. With trailers for the movie popping up left, right and centre, I thought let’s give it go.

4 series boxsets later and I’m hooked. It’s not as if viewing the series is a MUST for newbies or non-Entourage fans. BUT what I love about Entourage is that it is so easy to get into. A simple premise. Four friends trying to make it in Hollywood.

You get a sense of the guys within the first few minutes. There are a few in-jokes from the series and recurring characters that do pop up (Thank you Mr Ellin) that might skim over the heads of the noobs. BUT you can still connect the dots.

It got straight to business and it felt like they never left. The only difference is that Turtle isn’t fat. The lads were on form. The celebrity cameos are endless. The story . . . Well, let’s forget about that, shall we?

So what happens this time? Movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), together with his boys Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Johnny (Kevin Dillon) are back in business with super agent-turned-studio head Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) on a risky project that will serve as Vince’s directorial debut.

Just when things seemed to be going so well. Vince has to put a spanner in the works yet again. Over-spending budgets, inflating costs, manic financiers. This won’t be a walk in the park.

Grenier played Vince with aplomb but, this time round, he seemed to be very much in the background. Strange considering he is the main focal point. BUT how many times can we watch him pull crazy hot models? This time, it’s none other than the Blurred Lines music video pin up Emily Ratajkowski.

Turtle’s love story with Ronda Rousey may have seemed like filler to break up the main story line but the pair had enough chemistry to make it watchable. I haven’t really rated Rousey’s acting in the past but the MMA maestro won me over. She even stole my heart. Maybe because she was able to let her guard down and poke fun at herself. A misunderstanding with Turtle at a dinner date leads to him making the ultimate apology in the Octagon. Brilliant.

Dillon. Ah man. He was always the scene stealer for me as Vince’s half brother Johnny Drama. Forever lurking in his shadow. Desperate to make his own mark. Will Drama have his day? His one liners were snappy. His warped outlook on life and crazy face pulling delivered the laughs yet again.

Connolly finally got to lighten up as Vin’s moody manager E. The will-they-won’t-they? rift between him and Sloane (Emmanuelle Chriqui) seemed a little old hat (For old and new fans). Mainly because you always knew what the outcome was going to be. I was a little annoyed with E’s subplot because more could have been made out of it. A few crazy flings led to an incredibly awkward lunch date (Without spoiling too much) but it was resolved way too easily for my liking.

BUT there is one character. One monstrous personality that the guys would always fall short to every time. The man, the legend. Ari Gold. Piven was perfect. The guy must be tapped. Fiery, frantic and flipping mental. Every time he was involved, sh*t went down! His put downs, his tantrums, his banter with E. I was in stitches. His breakdown during a therapy session (Another one?!) had me howling!

His ongoing battles with movie stars, writers, studio heads and executives were always the biggest highlights for me. And after 8 series, you’d think it would be getting old. BUT nope! They still got it.

The cameos were crazy. It really is a case of blink and you will miss them. Anything from Liam Neeson’s sardonic drive by, Arnie Hammer’s pyscho greeting, Kelsey Grammer’s miserable marriage counselling to Pharrell Williams. The list goes on.

I couldn’t believe Billy Bob Thornton and Hayley Joel “I can see freakin’ dead people” Osmont were in this as Ari’s crazy Texan film financiers. Osmont has grown up (Obviously). Big, bearded and a bad ass. He was a real piece of work in this. Bravo. Not enough of Thornton for my liking in a rather subdued role.

The claims of Entourage being a sexist fantasy was a little much. Had people forgotten that despite Ari’s outrageous ego, his wife Mrs Ari (Perrey Reeves) still rules the roost. Constance Zimmer’s Dana Gordon is in a highly influential role in the business that Ari desperately needs. An area he never could crack.

The girls, the cars, the mansions. It’s nothing I wouldn’t have expected from the four guys from Queens. It’s not as if the ruthless side of the industry wasn’t highlighted in Ari’s endless confrontations with the boards, stars and agents.

It was never thought-provoking drama. It was always an easygoing glossy comedy with celebrities poking fun at themselves. Some might say lazy, pretentious even. BUT I thought it was fun. It really was just a feature length episode. And one of the better ones.

I liked all the little references and a return of a fan favourite *COUGH* LLOYD! *COUGH* (No, not Billy Walsh. Thankfully that mad cretin was very much in the background) Rex Lee was back and on fire as he gets ready for his big day. In the words of Ari, “OH GOD!” Also, no spoilers but do hang on during the credits for a little treat.

The film certainly wasn’t perfect. The plot was wafer thin and things did get a little too serious in the middle slackening the pace of what had been a snappy comedy. Emmanuelle Chriqui wasn’t in it enough (What? I liked her character) BUT it was everything I’d hoped. An absolute riot.

A side note to the fans, it seems to be all wrapped up. BUT I’m still not quite ready for it to go. It would be a major VICTORY if Ellin would consider a sequel. And if they stay at this standard, more please!

3.5/5

THE JUDGE REVIEW

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Time for a bit of R&R

Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall team up to tackle the courtroom in a predictable but highly watchable drama.

So what’s it about? Big city lawyer Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr) returns to his childhood home where his father (Robert Duvall), the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth and, along the way, reconnects with his estranged family.

I was surprised at the flogging this film got. I was pleasantly surprised. But then these days, I go into a cinema with such dread it’s hard not to be.

Now the first 30 minutes had me looking at the little hands on my watch. It was slow and predictable with RDJ “Starking” it up. Some people will disagree but I’m sorry. He was Tony Stark with a law degree. A fast talking ruthless lawyer with no respect for the courtroom or his peers. A perfect case example being when he openly urinates on one of his opposing counsels, ol’ Bernard from The Santa Clause, David Krumholtz.

“Did that just happen?”, laughs Downey Jr. Unfortunately, yes. And boy, has Krumholtz put on the pounds.

But once Hank returns home and reunites with his estranged father, the iconic actor that is Robert Duvall, tempers rise, old wounds are re-opened and the movie hits its stride. Duvall and Downey Jr are brilliant together and really bring their A-game to deliver a decent pairing.

It’s all a little predictable with the pair first sparring, barely speaking. That is until the murder charge. What helps is that despite it being arguably a TV movie story line, the two Roberts prove what good acting can deliver. Interest. That’s not to say that there wasn’t revelations along the way. Some worked well. Others did not. But I won’t divulge details.

There were certainly some heartfelt moments between father and son but there were also a number of missed opportunities that could have made this more than just watchable.

Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel) plays her part well as the old high flame who stayed home. She has good chemistry with RDJ which helps make their inevitable and corny relationship sequences watchable. The outcome, however, was so predictable and all a little too easy with no real friction.

The same could be said for Hank’s fractious relationship with his daughter (Emma Tremblay – The Giver). The pair worked well together and it would have been nice to see more of that but it’s all resolved so easily with a trip to Grampas.

Billy Bob Thornton was, to be expected, very good as the snake toothed Dwight Dickham (I don’t think there was supposed to be an intentional pun in the surname). However, Thornton’s role was limited to mere grimaces and the odd jibe which was a shame considering the actor and potential that the rivalry could have delivered.

Especially after his turn in Fargo, this role was ripe for making a worthy adversary to RDJ but the film very much focuses on the father/son dynamic. A shame because by the end you realised that anyone could have played the role.

Vincent D’Onofrio (Law and Order: Criminal Intent) was quite good as the older brother, Glen. However I wish more was made out of Hank and Glen’s rocky relationship. A revelation that is revealed later on could have been a perfect opportunity for a lot more confrontation but was (again!) resolved so easily with Glen taking the higher ground.

Jeremy Strong (Zero Dark Thirty) was brilliant as Dale. A brother with special needs and a passion for 8mm film-making. It worked well and added something to the brothers dynamic. It also allowed for some entertaining but also endearing moments. Entertaining in the fact that Dale has no filter and tells the truth when he really shouldn’t.

A subplot involving Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) went no where. And to be honest was completely unnecessary. It had the potential to be made into something much more but was merely a running joke. A joke that wasn’t that funny and didn’t fit in with the tone of the film.

The courtroom scenes were well done but didn’t quite hit the heights that you wanted. When Duvall’s character is finally cross examined, there is a lot more tension and drama to be had. Dax Sheppard (Without A Paddle) did a convincing turn as the useless aid, throwing up before every court session to fight the nerves.

That was the issue for me. It tried to be light and comical in one instant, then dark and dramatic in another and it didn’t really excel as well as you would hope at either.

It’s well acted, watchable and certainly hits home by the closing moments. JUST . . .

Don’t JUDGE (what?) it by it’s overlong running time, there is still plenty to be had in watching two fantastic actors do what they do best. I just wish they had a better story line and script to work with.

BUT still worth a look.

The jury has reached a verdict 3/5