*NEW* MACHETE REVIEW *NEW*

Ma-sh*ty?

After being set-up and betrayed by the man who hired him to assassinate a Texas Senator (Robert De Niro), an ex-Federale (Danny Trejo) launches a brutal rampage of revenge against his former boss.

Brutal, ridiculous, stupid . . . but oh so fun!

The movie that was spawned from the silly parody trailers thrown in during the “intermission” of the Tarantino\Rodriguez Grindhouse double feature.

Still waiting on Thanksgiving, Mr. Roth. The crippling disappointment still hasn’t left me after the mishandling of the Grindhouse UK release.

Giving them separate releases and blaming the three hour movie length was a BIG no, no! They didn’t even show the mock trailers in the build up to either film?! (Or maybe that was just the crappy cinema I went to).

However once I was able to get my hands on said Grindhouse flick in all its bloody glory . . .

Planet Terror was everything I expected. A proper tribute. Trashy bedlam. Let’s not talk about Death Proof . . .

Okay it wasn’t that bad. Anyway . . .

Rodriguez has always been one to deliver action packed, maniacal, trashy (see where I’m going with this) tour de forces. As much as I loved Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn, they weren’t perfect.

You knew what you were in for from the get go. The ultra-violent opening set the tone as Danny Trejo’s bad ass Machete clocked up the body count within minutes. The silly cliches, the endless bloodshed and the gratuitous nudity. Oh, the nudity.

Seriously, a naked lady pulled out a weapon from a particular hiding spot I didn’t expect.

One delightfully gruesome scene featured our murderous machismo slicing a man’s hand off with the gun still in its possession, only to then use said hand to dispose of another with nothing more than a casual shrug to sum up the encounter. Niiiccee.

Shot in the exact same style as the old Grindhouse flicks. The dated look, the cheesy score, the OTT violence. And of course, those deliberately shoddy quick cuts and badly-put-together edits for good measure. Well, at least I hope that was intentional.

I had to laugh at Steven Seagal as the smug Torrez. Considering this was supposed to be a joke, Seagal seemed to take his role a little too seriously. And was STILL surprisingly wooden.

All the Rodriguez regulars featured left, right and centre. Man, Juni from Spy Kids has grown up (Daryl Sabara. Isn’t he marrying Meghan Trainor?). Anyway, moving on. Made me feel old.

Jeff Fahey lapped it up as the two faced conspirator playing off both sides. An underrated actor that delivered much more conviction than Seagal’s whispery samurai sword wielding weirdo.

“I don’t know what you know but I’m glad I know you”. Quotable one liners and a snappy script from Rodriguez is always a bonus.

The very definition of a Grindhouse flick is a film of “poor quality or low artistic merit”. Only Rodriguez could make something so trashy work so well as Machete made demented nun chucks out of scalpel knives and some bed sheets.

A pointless reference about the human intestine delivered a deliciously revolting and unexpected punchline in a hospital shoot em up.

My main grumble (and where Machete lost points) was the pacing. It took itself a little too seriously in places and it killed a bit of the fun (and momentum). Don’t get me wrong, the themes on immigration were bang on.

Eerily so; considering this film is (at time of writing) EIGHT years old.

De Niro’s evil politician McLaughlin spoke volumes. His “Don’t get caught on the wrong side of the fence” campaign was the very definition of irony. Especially with the De Niro/Trump feud. Replace that electrified fence with a wall and the irony is even more bittersweet.

Jessica Alba’s agent role was a bit nothingy. Stalking Michelle Rodriguez’s Luz and talking in riddles to no avail. Took a good 45 minutes before her path crossed with Machete and for her character to be of any interest. Other than playing on the Wii in yoga pants

What?

Trejo bossed it and once Alba was brought into the mix, the pair made a good duo. Another highlight involved Alba (Hang on . . . ) in hand to hand combat with a Mexican luchador using stiletto heels for knuckle dusters.

Seriously. God knows what Rodriguez was smoking BUT it worked. And of course, it wouldn’t be a proper Rodriguez flick if Cheech Marin didn’t make an appearance in another scene stealing cameo as Padre.

This wasn’t without its faults (Believe me) BUT Machete would fall happily in the “sh*t but good” folder. If you’re a RR fan or in the mood for an entertaining ridiculous bloodfest then look no further.

2.5/5

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*NEW* THE INTERN REVIEW *NEW*

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Two stellar turns from two charming leads fluff up this easy going cheese-fest.

70-year-old widower Ben Whittaker (Robert De Niro) has discovered that retirement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Seizing an opportunity to get back in the game, he becomes a senior intern at an online fashion site, founded and run by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).

“I just know there’s a hole in my life and I need to fill it . . . soon”. We join a frustrated Ben who is desperate to fill this aching void after losing his wife. Travelling the world, learning languages and numerous skills just not cutting it for the big man. Can a senior internship at an online fashion site be the cure?

There was fun to be had with the old v young jibes. De Niro played Ben with aplomb. It was hysterical watching him explain how he used to be in charge of printing and selling the physical phone book. A living fossil to these domineering yuppies. Baffled to see someone around before Google; “What was your major? Do you remember?”.

Anne Hathaway played Jules the passionate workaholic well. Her verbal diarrhoea did go on in parts and her wacky working style was a little much. Watching her cycle awkwardly around the office didn’t quite work for me.

It was a typical Nancy Meyers flick. Lots of talking with a whole lot of cheese on the side. Hathaway and De Niro were brilliant together and had great chemistry. It was easygoing enough watching Jules reluctantly accept the out of style pensioner as her intern.

Refusing to allow his help and giving him dry cleaning and driving duties. BUT it wasn’t long before the workforce soon warmed up to the charming gentleman.

You could feel for Jules as the board showed a lack of confidence in her ability to run the very business she created. We got to watch the strain that it was taking on her and her family. JoJo Kushner was adorable as Jules’ little daughter Paige.

It was highly watchable and Meyer managed to draw enough charm from the talented cast to sift through the clichéd subplots BUT I guess I wanted less dramedy and more drama. The sequence in which Ben and the interns pull off an Ocean Eleven’s heist into Jules’ mum’s household to delete an email was unnecessary, unfunny and too OTT. It didn’t really fit into the film.

I was a little disappointed that Meyer didn’t explore Jules’ relationship with her b*tchy psychologist mother. Reduced to nothing more than awkward phone calls that never surmounted to anything. NOT even a confrontation. Considering Ben had helped improve Jules’ work and personal life, it just seemed like a missed opportunity and could have added some much needed conflict.

There was good chemistry between De Niro and Rene Russo’s office masseuse BUT their little subplot was a little too corny and, apart from a funny masseuse gag, it didn’t really offer much and anyone could have played Russo’s part.

The CEO talks could have been so much more. It was just a weak subplot to get Ben and Jules addressing a bigger problem in her life and there was an interesting development between Jules and her husband (Anders Holm) BUT it wasn’t really tackled enough for me and wrapped up far too quickly.

It’s Complicated was fun BUT it was still able to explore complicated relationships. The Intern was just a little too easygoing and the meandering pace didn’t help matters. Especially when it ended so abruptly and predictably.

There were laughs to be had and the whole debate about the classic gentleman being an artefact in this day and age was interesting enough BUT it just didn’t stand out with all these releases flooding our screens.

The weak supporting characters didn’t offer much else to the mix. Adam Devine (Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates) and Christina Scherer’s little romance went nowhere.

If you are after some light entertainment with two fantastic leads having fun, then I would heavily recommend. BUT if you’re not, I would swiftly move on.

3/5 (Just!)

*NEW* DIRTY GRANDPA REVIEW *NEW*

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Dirty, dirty De Niro.

Right before his wedding, an uptight guy (Zac Efron) is tricked into driving his grandfather (Robert De Niro), a lecherous former Army Lieutenant-Colonel, to Florida for spring break.

Rude, crass, filthy and for a good portion of the film quite entertaining. Definitely marmite for the movie fans. You’re either going to love it or hate it. For some, an outrageous sex comedy. For others; a monstrosity and new low from one of Hollywood’s greatest . . . Oh and that bloke from Goodfellas is in it.

The opening didn’t mess about. It skimmed through the cliched set up quickly. Even if it was through a badly photo-shopped montage of Efron’s Jason growing up with De Niro’s Dick. Wait, being raised by De Niro’s D- Moving on . . .

For a moment, I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a dramedy as Jason faced an existential crisis with his boring life imminently set in stone while Dick mourned the loss of his wife. BUT that doubt was soon extinguished when Jason walked in on his ol’ grandpa jerking off. Oh dear.

The first 40 minutes was funnier than I could have imagined. I was in stitches. I actually scratched my head at why the critics gave this such a mauling.

The pair worked really well off each other. This sort of film was never going to win plaudits. It is what it is. A revolting adult comedy with a shed load of revolting college humour. A guilty pleasure that was right up my street; “You still Jenny from the C*ck Block?”

De Niro really didn’t give a flying fook. Effing and jeffing in every frame (I mean come on. It’s not as if we haven’t seen the guy swear before) and giving it his all. The Oscar winning actor has been working with comedies for the last decade (Analyse This/That and Meet the Parents).

It was also good to see a different side to Efron. I didn’t think the 17 Again star would be able to deliver. He has been quite wooden in his latest efforts. BUT it was funny seeing the prudish Jason breaking out of his shell.

I didn’t expect to see Efron running around naked on a beach covered in swastikas and high on crack (Yeah if you’re shaking your head at that then this film is definitely not for you). An unfortunate encounter with a child shouldn’t have worked and certainly tested the ‘awkward-o-meter’ BUT the cringe-inducing tension was too much.

BUT the second half really did push it and killed a lot of the fun making it just plain stupid.

De Niro’s special forces spiel was boring and cliched. His combat moves and crazy body building really took the biscuit and set up a terrible cameo that was wasted on Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon). I’m sure it was supposed to be a commentary on age and that being old isn’t the end BUT this was never going to be that sort of film to deliver that message.

Julianne Hough (Rock of Ages) was wasted in her role as Jason’s insufferable fiancee, Meredith. Anyone could have played her.

The cheesy subplot between Shadia (The lovely Zoey Deutch – Ringer) and Jason was far too hammy and lazy that it slackened the pace tremendously. The pair had reasonable chemistry BUT it was all so predictable and unnecessary as Jason realised that maybe Meredith isn’t the one.

Adam Pally’s (Happy Endings) Cousin Nick was delightfully revolting and wasn’t in it enough. Jason Mantzoukas (The Dictator) was hysterical as Tan Pam; the crazed dealer that the local police seemed to have a soft spot for. BUT despite his hilarious introduction, he soon overstayed his welcome and kept popping up. The gags and lines getting duller with each re-appearance.

Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) was brilliant as Shadia’s slutty BFF Lenore BUT the endless innuendos and swearing was just too much by the end.

And that was the main problem; the longer the film went on, the worse it got. The sex gags, incessant drug use and swearing just went for the shock factor and by the 75 minute marker, I was numb. The punch lines getting more juvenile by each closing minute.

De Niro getting street cred with the local Miami thugs. Not bad. Rapping and dropping the N bomb. Not so much.

As I said before, I expected a lot worse and it was certainly watchable. The gross out college humour that dominated the Noughties (Euro Trip, Road Trip, American Pie) in full flow. If that ticks all the boxes, you’ll love it. If it didn’t, unless you want to see an Oscar great taking a nose dive with his career and flashing his penis then I don’t think this is going to offer anything for you.

2.5/5

*NEW* JOY REVIEW *NEW*

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I didn’t find much joy in this. A stellar turn from Lawrence did just enough to keep this mediocre mop yarn watchable.

Joy (Jennifer Lawrence) is the story of the title character, who rose to become founder and matriarch of a powerful family business dynasty.

A silly opening with a dated soap opera parody didn’t really set the tone or get things going for me. BUT it did give an indication of what to expect. An OTT, patchy and drawn out affair. Jennifer Lawrence was superb and this piece definitely proved one thing. She is one talented actress. She had the charm and presence to carry this biopic along.

The endless soap opera sequences were unnecessary. I could get the connection that Joy’s life was like a soap opera. The dream sequence in which Joy became part of the soap would have sufficed. The repetitive use of it just hampered things.

Desperate NOT to be like her reclusive mother (Virginia Madsen – Sideways). Shut away from the world and reduced to watching soaps in her room. Madsen did her best with the role BUT she wasn’t given enough screen time or depth to make a proper impression. And that silly little subplot with Jimmy Jean-Louis’ (Heroes) Haitian plumber didn’t help.

Bradley Cooper didn’t do too bad in his ridiculously small supporting role. He was able to make such a weak character watchable with his sheer enthusiasm. He even managed to make the history of QVC sound interesting. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about the origins of the renowned TV shopping channel. There were some good little tidbits.

The real problem for me was that all this drama was over a mop? It sounds bad when you say that Joy is a biopic about the woman who invented the miracle mop. Plus you can’t help BUT question how much of this was exaggerated and given the David O’ Russell treatment. As much as we felt for Joy’s struggle to be accepted for something more than just a housewife, there wasn’t much on offer.

It wasn’t all bad. There were some engaging moments and if Joy really went through that turmoil then I still wouldn’t believe it. The back stabbing from lawyers, suppliers, QVC and even her own family. There wasn’t enough of Elisabeth Rohm (American Hustle). She was very good as Joy’s conniving half sister. I wanted more of that. The green eyed monster desperate to bring Joy’s empire down from day one.

Robert De Niro was on scene stealing form as Joy’s obnoxious father. Arrogant, petulant, a monster. It was a shame that he was pushed into the background by the end after dominating the screen from the get go. Diane Ladd’s Mimi (Chinatown) was a little weak. She was nothing more than a narrator. BUT there were still some nice moments between her and Joy. The only rock in Joy’s hectic life.

Isabella Rossellini’s Trudy (Blue Velvet) got on my nerves. Not so much her performance BUT her character. The silly questions she grilled Joy with before investing was stupid. “Do you pick up the gun, Joy?” She picks up the gun, apparently. I’m sure the dialogue sounded better on paper.

There were so many different characters thrown into the mix and none of them were really developed or explored enough. Joy’s relationship with Tony (Edgar Ramirez – Point Break) had potential. Faring better as friends than they ever did married. Still standing by her side despite everything.

For every high and low, you were still rooting for Joy to succeed (Despite knowing the end result). Especially in the closing act when things came to a head. BUT it helped to have an engaging character and a great actress at the helm. However, I was still left a little disappointed. After all that build up, it just ended. I mean obviously there was only ever to be one outcome BUT it just rushed to tie in everything after throwing several random subplots that went nowhere. Shame.

Not O’Russell’s worst. I still enjoyed this a fraction more than American Hustle. Lawrence was on fine form. The supporting cast did their best. BUT the overlong pace and structure made this an uneven and dis-joy-nted piece.

3/5 (Just)

GRUDGE MATCH REVIEW

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The Raging Bull vs. The Italian Stallion. Better late than never?

A pair of aging boxing rivals are coaxed out of retirement to fight one final bout . . . 30 years after their last match.

Two of the greatest boxing movie icons finally come face to face. In the red corner, two-time Oscar winner and mafia kingpin Robert “Jake La Motta” De Niro. In the blue corner, two-time Oscar nominee and action movie macho man, Sylvester “Rocky Balboa” Stallone. Did we get a tense ten round punch up? Or was it another hyped up dud with a shoddy KO in the first round? LET’S GET READDDDDYYYY TO REVIEEWWWWW.

Watchable if a little disappointing. De Niro and Stallone made a frankly dull, predictable and by the book boxing dramedy a lot more entertaining than it should have been. 

The opening sequence (delivered in a flashy sports feed) quickly established the pair’s rivalry. The CGI and make up actually made the leading men look like they did in the 70s. The quick 30 second boxing skits were quite convincing. We watch Henry “Razor” Sharp (the not so sharp Stallone) battling it with his greatest nemesis, Billy “The Kid” McDonnen (De Niro), both one a piece in their victories, with one final grudge match on the cards. BUT out of nowhere, Razor retires. 

30 years later and Razor (a hench looking Stallone) is still happy to forget and work at the local steel mill. While Kid (an overweight De Niro) is still living off the fame BUT unhappy about the match that never was. He may still be a unit BUT Stallone hasn’t aged well. However, he delivered some of the best acting I’ve seen him do in some time. While De Niro played the arrogant Billy with aplomb.

An unexpected reunion at a video game commercial shoot set fists flying between the retired boxers. It was hilarious watching the pair flail about like two wrinkly Buzz Lightyears in those ridiculous green suits. Inevitably, the spat goes viral and the grudge match is very much back on.

De Niro and Stallone sparred well off each other. The insults and jibes were snappy and quick witted. It wasn’t long before we discover the real reason behind their rivalry. What could possibly put two men against each other? Bingo, a woman. In the form of the lovely Kim Basinger, who still ain’t looking too bad. What? She had good chemistry with Stallone and made the cliched cheesy romance subplot a little more bearable.

The grudge match opened opportunities for the old codgers. For the Kid? A chance to appease his ego. For the Razor? Money to help take care of his old trainer. The scene stealing Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine). And once Kevin Hart was thrown into the mix, the lumbering pace picked up. I never thought Arkin and Hart would make such an entertaining duo.

For all the negative press, I expected something worse. Grudge Match was hardly original. The pace was patchy and the cliched schmaltzy guff was a little predictable BUT it was still easygoing enough and delivered the odd chuckle. Stallone’s training montage was brilliant. A perfect Rocky parody by the man himself. Struggling to drink eggs and wondering why the hell he’s punching meat in a freezer.

The fight scenes weren’t bad BUT I was left wanting by the finale. It was all build up with some promising sequences as the old boys gave it a good ol’ go. BUT it was rushed and quick cut. Whether that was to make up for the ailing actors? I’m not sure. Shame. The tone was all over the pace. The video game scrap. Good. Fighting while skydiving? OTT and stupid. The subplot involving Billy’s newly discovered son (Jon Bernthal – The Walking Dead) was wafer thin and dreadfully cliched.

A mixed bag. Easygoing enough BUT if you were expecting Motta v Balboa, you’ll be left disappointed but give ’em a break. They do their best with the material. It’s just a shame that the material was a little weak. For the boxing nuts, hang on for the credits if you want to see a proper boxing rivalry revisited.

2.5/5

LAST VEGAS REVIEW

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At last! We may have all seen it all before but at least it was easygoing, watchable and fun!

It’s great to see a talented cast letting their guards down and having a laugh. Kevin Kline, welcome back. Where you been?!

In a nutshell, four old school friends reunite for a stag party in Vegas. The rest is gold.

The opening was very corny and predictable as we see the gang as young whippersnappers in the fifties. Unfortunately, the little uns’ acting leaves a little to be desired. Except for RJ Fattori playing the young Paddy (Robert De Niro). Where he lacked in conviction (look at me, judging it like it was an Oscar nominated movie), he nailed with De Niro’s mannerisms. Spot on. Noah Harden as the young Billy (Michael Douglas), however . . . Sorry bud.

But this is all quickly pushed aside and flash forwards 58 years later focusing on each individual as they battle depression, repression and sheer bloody boredom. Kline’s Sam was the scene stealer for me. Checking that one of his elderly cardio pals was still alive in the swimming pool was so wrong but hilarious.

Morgan Freeman’s Archie had potential with a subplot on his ailing health. BUT it was never going to be that type of film. Molly-coddled by his overprotective son who won’t even let him hold his granddaughter in fear of triggering a stroke. The poor pensioner is desperate to escape.

De Niro as Paddy, the miserable robe wearing wiser, may have been a role we’ve seen him do before (Cough. Meet the Parents. Cough) BUT it was still funny. However, his moaning and complaining soon got old really quick.

And, Mr Douglas. Firstly, what is going on with the teeth? Are you Rylan in disguise? For those lucky enough to be unfamiliar with last year’s UK X Factor, google Rylan Clark. You’ll get the idea. And the tan?! However, this is all for the taking for Freeman and Kline, delivering some cracking lines. Douglas’ Billy is fed up and scared of how old he is. He has everything and nothing. But in a moment of crazy euphoria, he proposes to his 32 year old “infant” girlfriend, at a funeral. A little OTT for my liking, I know. But at it’s core, it shows an exaggerated fear of getting old.

This movie isn’t perfect by any means. It’s predictable, corny, OTT but at it’s core is a tale of friendship, loss and proving that being old isn’t the end. Where is this rule that you have to stop living and stop being a fool?

The cast work well together. BUT Freeman and Kline were the masters for me. Once Freeman is unleashed in Vegas; he bosses the dance floor and proves that an old dog can learn new tricks. Kline was on fire with his comic deadpan delivery. While, the more serious drama is left to Douglas and DeNiro as old grudges rear their ugly heads.

It’s funny, at times, hysterical. The best moment for me was Redfoo from LMFAO thrusting his cod piece in De Niro’s stunned face. Some might see it as step down, but hey it was funny . . . and he knows it (What?!).

Las Vegas is beautifully captured in all its glitzy, neon glory. And there were some decent supporting turns from Romany Malco (40 Year Old Virgin) and Mary Steenburgen (Step Brothers). Also, look out for a brilliant cameo from a certain rapper.

Steenburgen’s introduction as the lounge singer felt a little unnecessary and corny BUT it was the perfect trigger to unearth Billy and Paddy’s strained friendship. Revelations and twists predictably on the cards.

BUT all in all, LAST VEGAS was like a overdone lasagne. A little too much cheese spread over it but it was still good to look at and tasty enough to enjoy.

3.5/5

THE FAMILY REVIEW

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The people who made this will be sleeping with the fishes . . .

The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the witness protection program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging as their old habits die hard.

With such a strong cast and production team (Martin “GoodfellasScorsese and Luc “Leon” Besson), how could The Family be such a ridiculously unfunny and drawn out affair? De Niro applied his usual gangster schtick BUT to no avail. Especially when we’ve seen him poke fun at himself before and a whole lot better. Just watch Analyze This. Hell, even check out the mediocre sequel.

Luckily De Niro and Pfeiffer were a great pairing. BUT Dianna Agron (Stunning though she is. What?) plays such a flat character. Her silly little love subplot with her French teacher was so cliched. A shame considering the potential she showed during an altercation involving a tennis racket. While John D’Leo’s cocky schoolboy just annoyed the hell out of me.

NOT even Tommy Lee Jones with his hang dog expression could save the day. In fact, he looked just as fed up as I did watching the film.

The plot and tone were all over the place. It took a good hour before anything really made you smile or interested. It stuttered along. Bordering on either ridiculous or just plain dull. Desperate to be dark and funny and failing on both counts.

A mess. For example, Pfeiffer’s Maggie is insulted by the French shopper so she blows up the supermarket?! De Niro’s “Fred” doesn’t like having brown water ooze out of his taps so he beats up a plumber and drags a water company executive across the tarmac. If you found that funny, then give this a go. Believe me, I’m making it sound better.

To be honest, things did improve when Jones and De Niro hooked up. Their exchanges delivered the best lines;

Jones’ Stanfield: “How can I be your friend if you hate me?”

De Niro’s Fred: “You’re alive. Look at my best friends. I killed them all.”

BUT it wasn’t enough. I sat patiently drudging through all this “build up”. Waiting for a ridiculous high octane shoot em up finale. Everything was there, ripe for the taking and for five minutes (That’s right. Five minutes!), my attention was finally piqued. I was finally into it and then it just ended.

The film must have been desperate for jokes because it had to rely on in-jokes. There was one scene in which De Niro and Jones meet at a film screening. The film was Goodfellas. Cue a cheeky wink from the man himself. Some say lazy, I say needed. It got a smile out of me.

Besson should have taken lessons from the fantastic TV show Lillyhammer with Steven van Zandt. The premise had so much potential and failed so badly. That cast must have needed the money. Good moments does not a good movie make!

 

2/5