KNOCK KNOCK REVIEW

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Knock, knock? Who’s there? One of the worst films of the year. That’s what.

So what’s it about? A pair of femme fatales (Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas) wreak havoc on the life of a happily married man (Keanu Reeves).

Woah, this was horrific. For all the wrong reasons. At 99 minutes, this film felt considerably longer. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Roth’s work. At his best, the backpacking travel terror flick Hostel. At his worst, Hostel 2 . . . Or Cabin Fever. Well, I’ve found a new one to add to his worst list.

The opening was painfully slow. I was prepared to let the tension build before the alluring ladies made their introduction. BUT we were subjected to mindless vomit inducing cliched family chatter.

I thought writer/director Eli Roth made the opening as a joke. The exchanges were so corny. After 15 minutes, I was praying for that knock on the door as Reeves chased after kids with cake all over his gob, calling himself the ‘Cake Monster’. Cringe.

When the ladies finally made their appearance, it didn’t really didn’t pick up. A knock at the door. Some unbelievable excuse about a mix up with addresses and the femme fatales were in.

For another 20 minutes, we had to endure Reeves playing an awkward game of musical chairs as the girls flirted and shared “seductive” stories that he ate up. Because hey, why would strangers lie? “Valiantly” turning down their advances and re-iterating that he is a happily married man.

It was just so slow, uninteresting and unsettling. And not even in the creepy sense. It felt like a badly done porno. The vintage music. The awful pick up lines. The bad interior decor. An eclectic collection of trippy looking items. Reeves trying to woo the ladies with his old record player because . . . Well, would you look at that? He used to be a DJ.

All within 45 minutes of waiting for a taxi cab? Really? Things must have been getting desperate as we had to listen to some rubbish from Reeves about drying the moisture out of a damp iPhone with a bowl of rice? Come on.

When the deed finally happened, I thought “Here we go” (No, not like that). The games will begin. Oh no. If anything Izzo and Armas were really annoying. Acting like spoiled high school kids. Throwing pancakes at the wall and messing up the kitchen while refusing to leave.

Childish and even more boring. When things finally took a darker turn and their real motives finally revealed, there was only a slight improvement.

Armas wearing Reeves’ daughter’s school uniform while riding him and barking like a dog made for bizarre viewing. I’m sure Knock Knock was supposed to be a sexy horror. A cross between Misery with Funny Games with a splash of Hard Candy. Well, that was what I was hoping for.

BUT oh no! This was worse than one of Roth’s intentionally bad B-movie grindhouse flicks. There was no suspense and no tension as Reeves’ character spend the rest of the film effing and jeffing while being strapped to a chair.

His character was so stupid and his endless commentary on what the two girls were doing was highly comical. “You’re going to kill me? You ARE going to kill ME?! You came to my house”. Oh, Keanu. How the mighty have fallen!

He just didn’t even try to make an effort to escape. And when he finally mustered the brain cells to try, the girls caught him easily. One particular highlight being in one of the only tense moments in the film; Reeves looks set to break free . . .  Only to trip over something. Face palm.

What sucked was that this was probably one of Keanu’s most liveliest performances in the last decade. He really went for it. It’s a shame that it came off a whole lot laughable than it should have.

Izzo (Roth’s wife. Funny that) and Armas played the parts as well as they could but it felt like something out of Scary Movie than anything else. Misery had suspense and tension. An atmosphere hanging off every scene. And that was with two people.

And to make matters worse, there were only ever going to be two outcomes with a film like this. And both were predictable and terrible. Seriously, in the cinema, most people were laughing or talking among themselves. Uninterested and rightly so.

Knock, knock? Who’s there? Oh, the Keanu Reeves horror flick? Now, that’s a joke.

1.5/5

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THE REWRITE REVIEW

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I think this needed a few more rewrites. A real shame. Hugh Grant applies his bumbling, miserable British charisma to this terribly drab yawn-com that delivered little on romance or comedy.

I know. Hugh Grant has been playing the same character for years. Why would he change? His last offerings may not have been timeless classics but they were certainly watchable. This one on the other hand is so flat and boring that if not for the cast, I honestly feel it wouldn’t have made the big screen at all.

Now Grant does deliver a sterling performance. Doing what he does best. Sleeping around and upsetting all the wrong people by doing so. However, his character is never really as sleazy or as funny as you would hope and expect.

He has enough charisma to drag this wooden cart across the finish line but boy, what a long and drawn out race. There is good chemistry between him and Marisa Tomei. The pair didn’t really grate on me as much as I thought. But it’s all so predictable and obvious.

In fact so much so that writer/director Marc Lawrence doesn’t even bother to go with an OTT corny luvvy-duvvy ending. We are just left assuming that they do with an incredibly flat and open ending.

This is Lawrence’s FOURTH collaboration with Grant (Two Weeks Notice, Music and Lyrics, Did You Hear About the Morgans?). Fans of their work may find this the weakest one yet.

The little facts about Binghamton were a nice little touch. If completely unnecessary bar the little bit of trivia about being the birthplace of the creator of the Twilight Zone, Rod Serling.

The little jibes about teaching scriptwriting brought a guilty grin to me. Merely because I have tended such classes and wondered what a lecturer could possibly teach me (At times I was right). The little things were okay but hardly that funny. Grant picking a class of beautiful ladies and ugly nerdy fellas was typical but hardly hilarious.

The supporting cast at Lawrence’s fingertips do their best to put some emotion in his leaden script but the characters are so one-dimensional, flat and unmemorable. I had to read the cast names to remember who was who.

The only lady to make a decent turn was the provocative and alluring manipulator Karen. Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows) will certainly be one to watch for the future. Emily Morden didn’t do too bad a performance as the ditsy Andrea.

But Star Wars nerds? And emos with no emo-tion who secretly have? Annie Q (The Leftovers), I’m looking at you. Didn’t mean to rhyme with that. Alison Janney (Mom) did her best to conjure up an adversary immune to Grant’s charm in the Jane Austen junkie. But it doesn’t really go anywhere after their initial cringe-inducing but entertaining introduction. J.K. Simmons (Spiderman) and Chris Elliott (Scary Movie 2) were wasted in their roles. Two gags from the pair is all we get and even they go on far too long.

It left like it was just churned out with no real thought or research relying on the cast to attract bums on seats. Lazy, clichéd but not even watchable. Just plain dull.

Grant’s character is too laidback and smarmy to really to do anything. A moment in which one of his students delivers a stellar script could have been an opportunity to test him. I really thought he might nick it to save his flailing career to ignite a little drama in this hollow affair. BUT oh no, it’s merely a passing of the torch as he reluctantly accepts he is old hat. Aww. Yuck.

A lot more could have been made out of the big time Hollywood fish stuck in a small mid-West town. I mean Lawrence had the perfect actor to play the snobby cynic. I think Mr Grant needs to take a little break and re-assess his next project instead of taking the pay cheques. The fact he has pulled out of the third Bridget Jones film says it all. For every little titter, there were a dozen duds.

Predictable, dull and unmemorable. Grant and the cast do their best but nothing was going to save this ship sinking. I think Lawrence might want to take some writing lessons. Class dismissed.

2/5 for me.

RIDE ALONG REVIEW

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Chug along? Cube and Hart make a cracking good duo. Fun enough BUT will it compare to the relentless list of cop comedies?

Security guard Ben (Kevin Hart) must prove himself to his girlfriend’s brother, top cop James (Ice Cube). He rides along with James on a 24-hour patrol of Atlanta.

A mixed bag. It all starts off very predictable, formulaic and unfunny with a deal gone wrong, an inevitable car chase and Cube tearing the place up. He played the straight faced Payton perfectly. BUT beneath the bravado there wasn’t much to his character.

A groggy start (with a feeble story line about infiltrating a crime ring and a rat in the office) is given a fresh boost when Hart is thrown into the mix. His military style precision on a Call of Duty style video game under the alias Black Hammer had me in stitches alone. I’ve been a fan of Hart for some time ever since the Scary Movie films. It’s great to see how far the little man’s gone.

He pretty much steals the show. His verbal diarrhea and high pitched screeching can get a little irritating. Inevitably, it took a little while for Ben and Payton to warm up to one another and the gags were few and far between. I could feel my excitement dropping quicker than Cube busting out a fresh freestyle.

Once the pair got going (Luckily) so did the film. There was a fantastic scene at the shooting range in which Hart is trying to show off. His feeble attempt blowing up in his face . . . literally. They did their best and it’s not a complete write-off. Hart upsetting a biker gang and picking a fight with a child. Brilliant.

Being held up in a warehouse in a battle of wits. Done to death. They had a nice angle with the Training Day parody but never really took full advantage of it. Maybe the 12A rating softened it all up but more could have been made. Hart being thrown about was only funny up to a point. He’s little. We get it. It got a chuckle. BUT doing it several more times? Come on now.

I liked the chemistry between Hart and Tika Sumpter (Salt). I would have been happy to see a little more of that than Cube’s stone cold expressions. Pardon the expression. BUT it was great seeing Cube keeping it dead pan with Hart coming out with all sorts of crazy stuff. Brilliant.

I was surprised to see the likes of John Leguizamo and Laurence Fishburne in this BUT they struggled to make a real impression with their dull and unmemorable characters. And that’s part of the problem. The terrible plot about a generic arms deal with the “surprise” twist being some predictable double crossing stretched the film out. It left little opportunities for gags and wasted a good cast.

When it was funny, it was on fire but when it’s wasn’t, it was slow and repetitive. Less Ride Along and more chug along. Hart was the man. I just wish he’d had better material. It did just enough. But if you’re looking for a consistently laugh out cop comedy, check out The Heat.

Cube and Hart did their best. And it did enough to get me excited for the upcoming sequel. Let’s hope they make amends with more gags or a better plot. If you’re up for a laugh, give it a go. Just don’t expect too much.

3/5 (Just)