Review: Kevin Hart: What Now?

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Stand-up comedy is a funny thing (pun completely intended), it’s a money making vehicle for companies as they can get millions back on minuscule budgets. It is also one of the few types of films released in theaters that are not narratively based, not to mention its status as personal entertainment, wherein stand-up is so successful because it so completely connects to people. Part of stand-up comedy’s (and comedy’s in general) appeal is that the main figures, the comedians, are relatable; they flesh out stories that we understand the inherent humor in, and they build upon it. They provide new outlooks on common situations that make us look differently at them, with more of an amiable contentedness. Kevin Hart, one of the most recognizable comedians today with a career that has been skyrocketing, built his career on this concept. He is a small man with a Napoleonic complex a mile wide, but he’s relatable, his physical and life struggles combined with his brash attitude and fiery delivery has connected with audiences over the past decade not only in his stand-up specials, but also in his movies as well. However, with his most recent production of Kevin Hart: What Now? we see a heinous decline in form, as the entire special comes off as a sort of weird, ego-driven pat on the back that Hart gives to himself, resulting in a comedy production only faithful Kevin Hart fans will enjoy.

The main abhorrent self-aggrandizing of this show simply comes from its setting. The special was filmed in Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field in an attempt to break a record for largest stand-up special audience. This is a fool’s errand, whatever grandiosity is brought on by such a feat pales in comparison to the terrible and completely misused environment. For the entire stand-up performance, Hart’s voice echoes throughout the stadium, very clearly and distractingly audible to the audience viewing the film. It’s a detail that may seem small but is eminently and annoyingly notable throughout the viewing. The gigantic crowd is not even utilized, far-spreading shots of them being few and far between as singular members of the audience are concentrated on. Because of the acoustics, a good deal of the laughter sounds either piped in via the stadium speakers or perhaps even added in post-production, if it is audible at all, it is hard to tell as the sound levels are incredibly poorly produced throughout the movie.

This egotistical excess is evident from the very beginning, as a James Bond-like intro puts Hart in the position of super-spy hero in a confusingly written skit where Hart portrays himself as a sort of comedy badass, culminating in a scene where he kills multiple men with his bare hands. This intro skit lacks any real sense of cohesive comedy, the jokes are forced into the setting and very few parts are actually laugh-out-loud funny. The one enjoyable portion of this intro is the cameos: Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, and Ed Helms all make appearances, and despite the fact that none of them are given much to work with (even for a skit); it is fun to see them, if completely useless. Once we finally get to the stage act the first thing he does is talk about how much he likes Philadelphia. Why not cut this? It is clearly an attempt to get the audience warmed up but has absolutely no meaning for anyone outside of that city, and this is a national release.

The content of the special itself is middling at best, Hart’s best work has been done in previous stand up specials and this event really pales in comparison. Kevin Hart’s detachment from relatable funny guy and transformation into egotistical comedy “rock star” is never more apparent than in his new material. How is someone sitting in a movie theater or even watching this at home suppose to relate to jokes about the difficulties of being incredibly successful, braggadocios anecdotes about how hard it is to have a super-long driveway that goes up to his mansion, how he laments that his kids don’t have “edge” since he sends them to private schools? Sound effects and a giant LCD screen illustrating them coddle his punch lines, as if the effort given to the jokes already wasn’t simple enough. His attire is bedazzled in gold (even his microphone is gold), not only unnecessary but completely distracting. Worst of all, Kevin Hart has become a new generation’s Jeff Foxworthy, even including the self-fulfilling crap comedy specialty of the audience-provided punch line. Hart’s “Oh Really?” bit, where he goes into a rant about how black women never trust anyone, is this generation’s “You know you’re a redneck if…” it is lazy humor that takes up far too much of the special and really denigrates Kevin Hart’s work into something of a stock comedian, pandering to interactivity not in a creative, personal sense, but rather as a cheap gimmick used to get over with an audience that already loves him.

The ending to the show is similarly cheap: Hart makes a grandiose statement about how he and all of the audience in attendance “did it together”, as if that has any real meaning or impact. It is impressive that Hart can sell so many tickets, but what is the point if your act has gone stale and you provide nothing worthy to your fans? Nothing was more insulting than after the final skit, after the stage act, where it was revealed that the whole production was seemingly nothing more than an advertisement to his pending “Global Tour”. Hart’s fans have been loyal, they flock to his movies in droves, and they deserve far better than an hour and a half of bad comedy turned commercial. It’s almost as if he’s writing his audience an I.O.U., deal with this garbage now for the sake of my ego and perhaps I’ll give you some genuine laughs later on down the line.

Ultimately, I will give Kevin Hart: What Now? two stars, because those that love Kevin Hart will enjoy this feature, if not as much as they deserve to. In my showing there was rip-roaring laughter going on along with the silent seats, and Hart still has that quality of appeal to a lot of people and his shtick is in full form. Hart knows his core audience and still provides just enough laughs for them to make this special, at the very least, serviceable. However, the jokes are so lacking and the environment so ego-driven one has to wonder if his essential skill as a comic, his relatable-ness, is completely gone. Are we looking at another situation like Dane Cook, who, after the release of his special in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden, faded almost completely into obscurity? I hope not, Kevin Hart was once a very powerful and new comedian, but he is going to have to evolve to have any sort of impact in the coming years.

[easyreview title= "Review of Kevin Hart: What Now?" cat1title="Bart's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="2.0" overall= false]

Review: Get Hard

get-hard-trailer A movie with a title like ‘Get Hard’ is clearly aiming at two different demographics for very different reasons. The film works to make one crowd as uncomfortable as possible and another joyful in its crudeness. On these two objectives the film works pretty much as intended. Starring Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart as unlikely friends from polar opposite walks of life, Get Hard is a by the numbers comedy with a flair for the offensive; in a good way. James King (Will Ferrell) is a man who has everything he has ever wanted. He is a big time Wall St. executive, has a beautiful fiancee (played by Alison Brie), and the admiration of his co-workers. Meanwhile Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) is a regular family man who runs a carwash business and is trying desperately to pay for his young daughter to go to a better school.The only interaction that James and Darnell have ever had is through the lens of stereotypes mostly coming from James’ perspective. The two characters are seemingly nothing alike, which is the classic and frankly tired trope of films like this.

Eventually, the plot gets moving when James is framed for embezzling money from his company. His trial becomes national news and he the poster boy for corporate greed. Maintaining his innocence, James refuses to sign any plea deal and instead relies on the justice system to do the right thing; how naive of him. He is immediately sentenced to a decade in federal prison and told he has 30 days to get all his affairs in order. This is where the movie actually begins. Ferrell does what he does best here, playing a frantic goofball who just doesn’t know how to properly respond to the nightmare scenario that he is about to be in. He has several plans that don’t work out and eventually he just accepts his fate. Only then does he call upon Darnell to help him prepare for prison life. James assumes because Darnell is Black that he has been to prison, which is categorically incorrect and offensive to Darnell. However, Darnell agrees to do it to help pay for his daughter’s education.

Comedy ensues and the two begin a somewhat hilarious training regiment for prison life. The two actors do a good job playing off each other without being insufferable. Kevin Hart has a schtick that is getting a tad old, but here its more tempered and works as the cypher for the audience. He is the everyman who can’t believe James’ bizarre rich guy worldview. Will Ferrell is a decent lead in a decent comedy. He is doing his classic style and it still works well here. The movie itself is pretty by the numbers when it comes to racial comedy. Nothing particularly groundbreaking nor upsetting. You will get some good laughs but all in all a fairly forgettable movie.

[easyreview title= "Review of Get Hard" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="2.5" overall= false]

Review: Top Five

TopFiveThey say three times a charm, and that could not be more accurate for famed comedian, Chris Rock, and his directorial experiences. After two mildly successful comedic films, he hits back after a seven year hiatus with Top Five. Rock has clearly picked up some tricks of the directing trade during his time off and it shows. Here he adds a level of maturity to his direction style, but was still able to keep that edge that we have come to admire about his comedy with no compromises in the end product. Top Five tells the story of Andre Allen (Chris Rock), a highly successful comedian who is at the top of his game. However, he decides that he is done being funny and wants to do more serious films, namely one about the Haitian slave uprising. After playing a talking bear who wields two guns and is a cop its a tad difficult for his fan base to take his new found film identity seriously. Of course the role of Andre Allen reflects Chris Rock’s career pretty directly, and the careers of some other Black comedians in Hollywood. This connection ingratiated me with the character almost immediately. There was no sense for getting to know Andre, we know him by another name so we can move quickly to the meat of the plot. On the eve of Andre’s wedding to reality starlet Erica Long (Gabrielle Union), Andre is asked to be interviewed by a reporter from The New York Times named Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson). Chelsea is a go getter who requests to follow Andre around and do an in depth report with him about his life and changing career. Andre reluctantly agrees and goes about his day promoting his film. Chelsea, who is a fan of Allen’s, presses him on why he doesn’t seem funny anymore. She presses his button in the exact way no one has in quite some time. Her uniqueness is what causes him to open up to her and he divulges stories of his past. A story his tells about his early days of “making it” are easily some of the film’s funniest. However, I found the entire film experience to be a laugh out loud good time all the way through.

Rock makes an effort to include up and coming comedians and his friends who are old warhorses in the comedy game as a large part of the film. There have been many films that have tried to do this mix as of late and it frankly hasn’t worked; see the Grown Ups and The Expendables franchises. However, Rock absolutely nails it and utilizes the new and the old crews in the best of ways. There are some stellar cameos that were thankfully not spoiled by over zealous trailer editors. The movie feels, in many ways, to be a reunion of your all time favorites in new and interesting locales. Speaking of locales, the film takes place largely in New York City. This time around, Rock really shows off some incredible cinematic shots of the city. On his day long interview with Chelsea, Andre revisits his old neighborhood and some upscale spots around the city. Rock is able to make each spot feel unique; from gritty to high brow. In the same vein as 2 Days in Paris (Rock was in the sequel, 2 Days in New York), we get to watch Chelsea and Andre truly discover each other over the course of a day. A sweet story that has been told many times, but here it has a flair and style that keeps it fresh.

Earlier I mentioned the film’s level of maturity, and the take on the common story is where that really shines. Just to be clear, that doesn’t mean this movie doesn’t have Rock’s signature no holds barred humor, quite the contrary. However, he is able to weave a story that keeps it from just being a silly exercise. He is able to elevate such a common story to the level of actual freshness, and for that he should commended. Rosario Dawson’s Chelsea has a real sense of depth, mystery, and sadness to her. In the end, she is a woman that we are, know, or are becoming; she feels genuine. Chris Rock’s Andre Allen is a clear reflection of himself and his interesting critique on his own career trajectory. Never taking himself particularly too seriously, he works to just be himself in front and behind the camera. If you are looking for a smart, ill-mannered, and absolutely hilarious movie then Chris Rock’s Top Five is the no-brainer choice.

[easyreview title= "Review of Top Five" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="5.0" overall= false]

Review: This is Where I Leave You

thisiswhereileaveyou Not by any means a fantastical story or even a unique one, This is Where I Leave You, works not in spite of those facts but because of them. A film based on the novel of the same name and directed by Shawn Levy (A Night at the Museum movie series) is the right story at the right time. Hitting theaters after the blockbuster summer fest is a well written, smart, funny, and heartwarming story about where lives intersect and what happens when they do. Starring Jason Bateman as Judd Altman, a middle child of four who works as a radio show producer. Due to the death of his father he is forced to go back to his hometown and deal with the fallout. The cast of characters that make up the Altman family is a cornucopia of hilarity, sincerity, and unflinching sadness at times. Hillary (Jane Fonda), the matriarch, welcomes her son back home along with his three siblings Wendy (Tina Fey), Phillip (Adam Driver), and Paul (Corey Stoll). The dysfunctional dynamics between the five characters becomes apparent rather quickly. Hillary is a retired therapist who has used her children as some sort of case study for decades and their emotional distance from her is prominent. All four children and their significant others have some level of distress happening to them. From failing marriages to an inability to conceive children the movie runs the gamut. There is some personal relationship that you can either relate to directly or at a minimum have the ability to empathize. Due to the dying request of their father, the five are forced to partake in the Jewish tradition of “Shiva.” This is a mourning ritual that demands all five family members stay in the house and meet friends and family who stop by to pay their respects to their father. This of course creates immediate conflict between the "hard ass" brother, the “play it safe” brother, the “smart ass” sister, and the perpetual "screw up" youngest son.

What works for This is Where I Leave You most is its ability to switch from the sometime juvenile comedic moments to the gut wrenching dramatic scenes with relative ease. Its never feels awkward but rather familiar. As a viewer you might catch yourself very wrapped up in the intersecting story lines that seem more like normal family gossip than a detached movie scenario. Each of the siblings are flawed and you root for them all at one point or another. Very few things are cut and dry as is par for the course in films like these. I don’t want to give away too much of the story but this is one of the better character driven stories I have seen in a while. Characters have definitive arcs that bring things to a point of conclusion. Its not all happiness and rainbows, but just a level of human understanding and growth. This is Where I Leave You is a personal story. The characters get bumped and bruised and do their fair share of dishing it out. No one is clean and perfect hero, but rather flawed by the lives that they have led.

The performances were individually more than satisfying for this type of story. However, with this being an ensemble cast the considerable heavy lifting happened when the mother and siblings lives intersect. Adam Driver as the perpetual screw up giving at advice to his sister, Tina Fey, is a particularly touching moment. Lines like “...you raised me, you are the voice in my head” allow you to glean the characters' relationships underneath it all. Jason Bateman steers the ship with his everyman ways and spot on comedic timing. He was a pitch perfect casting choice here. Corey Stoll does a wonderful job as the staunch older brother who approves of nothing his siblings are doing. He is riddled with insecurity and guilt about his current life and he shows it in subtle, yet effective, ways. Last but certainly not least, Jane Fonda as the mother and general instigator to all this family drama. Fonda, works because she keeps and emotional distance from her children but in the right moments she is in fact the most vulnerable. A great performance with perfect mix of comedy, culpability, and a dash of mother’s guilt. This is Where I Leave You was a movie that threw a lot of balls into the air but managed to keep track of them all and deliver a great post summer blockbuster experience.

[easyreview title= "Review of This Is Where I Leave You" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="4.0" overall= false]

Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TMNT Revamping a beloved franchise isn't an easy task. Just ask Michael Bay, he gets an incredible amount of well deserved hate for his reboot of the Transformers series which are indeed garbage. However, they make hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office so someone likes them. I am not one of those people. So, it stands as no surprise that when he announced that he would have a hand in bringing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle back to the big screen everyone had there reservations. After over a year of controversy and script rewrites and fan hate before the movie even came out once again, director Johnathan Liebsman and the John Cena of the film industry delivers a movie you'll either accept for what it is or rip to shreds.

The movie opens with a brief voice over by Splinter voiced by Tony Shalhoub about how the Turtles are about to face there biggest threat NYC has ever seen. Of course if you are well versed in the Turtle lore you know he is talking about the foot clan. They want to "reclaim" the city for some reason. April O'Neil played surprisingly solid by Megan Fox is introduced as a head strong reporter who isn't happy with her station at the Channel 6 News. She wants to cover the hard hitting (no pun intended) news that's taking place in the city but she's stuck reporting on the feel good stories with her trusty cameraman Vernon Fenwick (Will Arnett). Once she goes out on her own to find out whats going down she brings information back to her boss Bernadette Thompson (Whoopi Goldberg). She's basically laughed out the room. It's not clever or inventive but it gets the movie going.

Once the Turtles are on screen we are introduced to four six foot plus hulking beasts. You've got Leonardo (Johnny Knoxville) Raphael (Alan Ritchson) Donetello (Jeremy Howard) and Michelangelo (Noe Fisher). They look like they're on steroids and you know what, I've got no problem with there redesigns. I don't know what a giant bipedal turtle looks like but I'd have to imagine, they might look like this. Once the whole crew is acclimated to each other we are treated to the new incredibly convenient origin story of the turtles and master splinter. It's far fetched but I wasn't mad at it. I feel like the origin story was created to simply showcase O'Neil a little more then she needed to be.

The best parts of the film are the Turtles interactions with each other. They actually feel like they're brothers. The dialog between them is amusing more often then not and the comradery was actually endearing. The humans take a backseat to these four halfway through the movie as it should be. I didn't come to see people talking to each other, I came to see Turtles beat people up. It didn't disappoint. The fight sequences between them were actually coherent. Liebsman pulled the camera back so we could actually see what the hell was happening on screen. When they go toe to toe with Shredder who is the main villian of the film all of those sequences were damn entertaining. The stand out set piece is easily the downhill chase sequence.

Speaking of Shredder, this brings me to the worst aspect of the film: The villains motivation. It really makes no sense whatsoever. It's the worst Saturday morning cartoon motivation you can think of. Maybe that was the point but come on man, do better. I don't know which one was worse The Dark Knight Rises or this (Yeah I said it and what?). William Fichtner's performance as the evil Millionaire Sachs was fine but then again I've never seen a bad performance by him. He really didn't need to exercise his acting chops. No one does honestly. It all boils down to the Turtles in action and if nothing else, it at least delivered on that front.

I'm probably going to be in the minority but the kid in me that used to watch the cartoon every day and still loves the original live action movie enjoyed it. Is it a good movie? By hollywood standards probably not. To me, it accomplishes what it sets out to do and it's incredibly entertaining. There were some genuine laughs throughout the movie and those of use that know the turtles will appreciate the nods to the cartoon intro, the script controversy and a host of other things. It never takes itself too seriously and it shouldn't. I've no doubt that the movie will be slammed by critics for being brain dead and stupid but let's just remember what the name of the movie is. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES.

[easyreview title= "Review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" cat1title="Terrence's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="3.0" overall= false]

Review: A Million Ways to Die in the West

millionways A Million Ways To Not Be Funny And Make Me Wish I Could Look At My Phone In The Theater would have been a much more appropriate title. This is a Seth McFarlane film that he wrote. It is intended to be a comedy about the old west. The story is ok but it’s not funny. Sure I chuckled here and there but overall I was bored. If I didn’t have to write this review I would have left and found something better to do with my time… like watch Amazing Spider-Man 2 which was funnier than this movie. So I have to be honest right now. I don’t want to write this review, guys. I was excited to see this as I liked the nonsense in the trailer but after watching it I wish I hadn’t. The best part of the damn movie was the Doc Brown cameo that they spoiled in the stupid trailer. UGH! But fine, I’ll write this dumb thing so that the boss doesn’t strangle me. And don’t tell anyone he does that or he’ll get REALLY mad.

Ok, there’s a plot. A boring, predictable plot that involves Albert (McFarlane) the lowly sheep herder that sucks at his job. Or so they say. Repeatedly. Even though the sheep clearly listen to every word he says. Whatever. He’s the nerd in town and everyone picks on him. His girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) dumps him pretty much because she’s a gold digger and goes off to date Foy (Neil Patrick Harris). Albert fawns after her until a new girl shows up in town. Anna (Charlize Theron) is the wife of the meanest guy in the west, Clinch (Liam Neeson) and is sent ahead of Clinch’s crew to… I dunno. Scout the town? It’s not very clear. But she’s there and she hates her evil husband and falls for Albert. Nonsense ensues until Albert learns his lessons and saves the day. The details aren’t important because this is a film written for the jokes and not the depth of the script. However there is no depth to the jokes either.

We have fart jokes a plenty, a big messy diarrhea joke, sheep peeing everywhere jokes… and that’s just the basic stuff. For example his best friend’s girlfriend is a prostitute but she won’t have sex with her boyfriend because they are good Christians and they are saving themselves. This is never funny and every time they play it for laughs it comes across as stupid and nothing more. People die a lot in this film (hell, the title is even dropped at one point because this is a classy movie) but it’s just not funny. Nor is it sad or upsetting. It just… is. A quote from the film is, “Dad’s up on the hill burying himself next to mom.” That’s not funny. It’s just kinda weird and out of the blue. There’s a shooting gallery and the targets are little runaway slaves with watermelons. It’s played for shock value but it isn’t funny. It’s not upsetting or anything else either. It’s just messed up and then you stop caring.

The actors? Well they do a serviceable job for what they are given. I have no complaints with any of them. It’s not their fault they are in a movie that features a drug tripping scene that has a big dance number featuring CGI sheep that end it with all four of them pointing their pink sheep dicks into the air and peeing four giant streams of piss. Yes that happened. I felt my face drop into a frown. The only good thing about that scene is that the people that were forced to animate that trash were paid in real money. I hope that paycheck helps them sleep at night knowing the horrible freakish hell of CG sheep penis they've let loose on the world.

If you hate McFarlane don’t watch this movie. Ever. If you are a fan just watch some Family Guy on Netflix or Hulu. Hell, watch The Cleveland show. That’s right, I said it. Watch The Cleveland Show before you watch this stupid movie. The only reason I’m not cursing Seth McFarlane’s name is he’s the one that bankrolled the new Cosmos. At least he can do SOMETHING right because he sure as hell can’t write a movie worth a damn.

[easyreview title= "Review of A Million Ways to Die in the West" cat1title="Rob's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="1.0" overall= false]

Review: This is 40

This is 40This is 40, the latest from writer, director, producer Judd Apatow, tells the story of Pete and Debbie (last seen in 2007’s Knocked Up) as they deal with life amidst financial issues, hormonal teenagers, guilt-tripping parents, and getting older. Like Apatow’s other films, This is 40 is funny and well acted but overstays its welcome by about 30 minutes. There isn’t much in terms of story. Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are Pete and Debbie, respectively. They have two daughters, Sadie and Charlotte (Maude and Iris Apatow). Pete runs an indie record label on the brink of failure while Debbie operates a boutique in which one of the employees may or may not have embezzled $12,000. They both turn 40 around the same time and are having trouble dealing with the pressures of life. The movie chronicles this 2 to 3 week period leading up to Pete’s big birthday bash.

There are structural issues here as well. There are scenes in the movie that are here purely for laughs but don’t really make sense in the context of the film. Financial issues are one of the major things Pete and Debbie argue about, yet a third of the way into the film, out of nowhere, we see them take a romantic (and what can only be believed to be an expensive) getaway to a lavish resort to live it up for a weekend. This scene was very funny but felt as if it was thrown in just because it was funny. There are other scenes that are in purely for laughs (the scene with Melissa McCarthy comes to mind) but this one, and a couple others, felt as if it contradicts the movie.

Despite those issues, I did find the film entertaining. It’s very hard to not like Paul Rudd and to empathize with his character. Leslie Mann, playing what I assume to be an exaggerated version of herself, is very believable and funny. Rudd and Mann have great chemistry together as well as with Maude and Iris Apatow. Some of the best scenes in terms of both comedy and tension come when the entire family is on screen together. Albert Brooks turns in a good performance as Pete’s guilt tripping dad as does John Lithgow as Debbie’s emotionally distant father.

To say that this writer/producer is directing his wife and children in a film that is ostensibly about his life is self indulgent is an understatement. However, there’s much to like about This is 40 as long as you can get past its flaws.

[easyreview title= "Review of This is 40" cat1title="Micah's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="3.0" overall= false]

Review: 2 Days in New York

2 Days in New York

The follow up to the critically successful 2 Days in Paris (2007) brings us stateside but manages to hold on to its European charm. 2 Days in New York is a quirky romantic comedy written, directed, and starring Julie Delpy. Replacing the unforgettable performance by Adam Goldberg (Jack) is comedian, and indie movie newcomer, Chris Rock. Delpy has been called the female Woody Allen and to date I don’t think that is an outlandish claim in the least. 2 Days in New York is a great re-introduction into Marion’s (Delpy) manic world, and the inclusion of Mingus, (Rock) her new boyfriend.

When last we saw Marion she was working things out with Jack and the couple seemed to live happily ever after. 2 Days in New York opens with Marion confiding in Mingus that she is contemplating leaving Jack, and in classic Marion fashion she becomes single soon after. Like clockwork Mingus and Marion get together and that’s where the story really starts moving. After what seems like a fairly normal life together with their two kids from previous relationships, Marion and Mingus look like a typical New York couple. However, things begin to go off the rails when Marion’s father Jeannot (Albert Delpy - Julie Delpy’s real life father), her sister Rose (Alexia Landeau) and Rose's boyfriend Manu (Alexandre Nahon) come to visit from France. When this group of Parisians gets to town its just a series of culture disasters. From the sensibilities that the French have with nudity to the assumption that an Indian guy is Kumar from the Harold and Kumar movies Jeannot, Rose, and Manu drive both Mingus and Marion up a wall. In the 2007 film Marion was constantly trying to keep Jack at ease in her native country. However, in the 2012 follow up Marion is constantly berating her family for their uncompromising French ways. Its nice to see they went in a slightly different direction and didn’t fall into the trap of rehashing the same material from the first film.

Chris Rock’s Mingus is as nuanced as Jack’s character. He is a normal guy thrust into an untenable situation. His life is going as planned until these people walk in and make him question Marion’s background and mental stability. Mingus is the vessel in which we see Delpy's well constructed world. I found myself thinking how I would react and it seemed pretty close to how Mingus responds. In the end, Mingus is the every man and Rock’s own personality shines through. At times, I would swear he was ad libbing and in a film like this it does/would work perfectly.

As a newcomer to the indie movie world, Rock did very well. Conveying a vulnerable side of himself, which made for an easy character to connect with. Julie Delpy once again shines as the de facto neurotic French woman. She drives you crazy with her manic moments but she is so endearing that those times just melt away. Albert Delpy, who is/plays Julie’s father returns and delivers at the same level he did in the previous film. His insatiable appetite for the bizarre and kink make him the perfect character. The characters of Rose and Manu are not as explored as I would have liked. I thought Rose’s character had such great potential but seemed to be squandered this go round.

I would definitely recommend 2 Days in New York to anyone. If you have seen the previous film than you owe it to yourself to finish out the story of Marion. The setting of New York made everything feel very comforting and personal, which played well when Marion and Mingus were in pre-Parisian invasion mode and added tension once their annoying house guests arrived. Go see 2 Days in New York and thank your lucky stars that you don’t have family like Marion.

[easyreview title= "Review of 2 Days in New York" cat1title="Jay's Rating" cat1detail="Overall Review" cat1rating="3.5" overall= false]

image via sofiaglobe.com

Review: 21 Jump Street

In 1987 when the original 21 Jump Street was first brought to television we received a great procedural police drama series with young and upcoming stars. In 2012, we revisit the franchise but this time with crude comedy. On the surface, the remake of 21 Jump Street seems like the most ludicrous idea proposed by Hollywood in some time. However, with Jonah Hill and Michael Bacall writing we get a fresh take or an old property. Let’s get the most important part of this review out of the way: Is 21 Jump Street actually funny? I am happy to say, it’s absolutely hilarious. So now that we have the basics established let’s talk story. The premise is simple and is treated as such. Two cops, who are worthless upon first glance, are assigned to work undercover at a local high school to bust a drug ring. Nothing too complicated, just straight to the point. I enjoy movies that don’t bother with unnecessary exposition and know what they are and stay within that context.

Meeting the main characters Morton Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Greg Jenko (Channing Tatum) and establishing how they get to Jump Street takes about 15 minutes. This part of the movie zips by so fast that you realize early that the directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, have an agenda and no time for deviation. This part feels very rushed, but frankly you don’t care because you are waiting for the comedic high school scenes anyway. However, once Hill and Tatum take on their high school identities we really get to see the two shine. I am no fan of Tatum’s previous work but I have to admit he is pretty great here. He works well as the handsome idiot with a heart of gold. Jonah Hill has had great success with his roles in arguably similar movies like Superbad and he doesn’t disappoint here either. Hill does an exceptional job as the awkward-cool-smart-ass teenage persona. Overall the chemistry between the two stars is genuine and makes you want to see more of their adventures.

The movie has a nice overarching message about high school and the day to day nonsense that is teenage life. It handles delivering this message well without beating you over the head with the obvious. The movie is very silly, but in a good way, yet it isn’t mindless. Tatum and Hill do well addressing high school stereotypes while at the same time showing the changes that have occurred since their time in high school. Some of the funnier scenes happen when the two characters try to pigeon hole other students into their perceived high school stereotypes.

Like I said earlier, the movie is hilarious. Once Hill and Tatum make it to school they are surrounded by a whole host of characters. The awkwardness and crudeness of the movie works much like it did in Superbad. The level of in your face comedy harkens back to the days of Animal House, Bachelor Party, and the Revenge of the Nerds series, which is never a bad thing. All in all, I think this is the first good mainstream movie of the year. Go see 21 Jump Street you won’t regret it.

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