Archive for June, 2015

TERMINATOR: GENISYS: 3 STARS. “cannibalizes itself to reinvent the story.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 1.40.16 PMAfter 31 years, four movies, two classics, one almost ran and one Rotten Tomatoes reject, it was only a matter of time until Hollywood had pushed the “Terminator” franchise too far and had to cannibalize itself and reinvent the story.

In “Terminator: Genisys” after time travel has landed Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke) and Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) to her future but his past (Huh?) Detective O’Brien (J.K. Simmons) tries to wrap his head around the situation.

“I know whatever’s going on here must be really, really complicated,” he says.

“We’re here to stop the end of the world,” says Sarah.

“I can work with that.”

Hopefully so can the audience. The fourth “Terminator” movie warns us time and time again not to pay too much attention to the plot, which is a confounding mess of time travel that completely rewrites the Connor mythology.

“Everything has changed,” says Sarah, “the 1984 John sent you to no longer exists,” which is essentially sci fi screenwriter lingo for, We’ve changed most everything you thought you knew about the “Terminator” folklore. Reese put it in simpler terms, “Time travel makes my head hurt.”

The action begins in 2029, years after Judgement Day when artificial intelligence system Skynet became sentient and tried to destroy humanity. Resistance hero John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends his right hand man (and son) Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, make sure she survives and in turn will live to give birth to John who will save humanity. It’s a bit of a Möbius strip, but at least it is a familiar one.

Once Reese transports back in time there’s a glitch and the past has changed. Lethal T-1000 Terminators are waiting for him and Sarah is already a warrior aided by her man-machine companion, the T-800 model Terminator (Arnold “I’m old but not obsolete” Schwarzenegger). “There’s a new mission,” says Sarah, “if the past can change so can the future.” The plan is to destroy Genisys, a computer operating system that will link everything—phones to tablets, tablets to cars… it will run the whole shebang—and will enable Skynet. And you thought having to change your Apple passwords all the time was a pain. Throwing a wrench into the job is (ALMOST A SPOILER BUT NOT REALLY) an unwelcome and unexpected family reunion.

There’s enough time travel here for three regular movies, but “Terminator: Genisys” is no regular movie. It’s a summer blockbuster meant to breathe life back into the silvery skeletoned franchise. It bigger, louder and dumber than ever before with a big action sequence every ten minutes and an ending that guarantees a sequel. The heretical meddling with the story aside, “Terminator” fans will likely enjoy watching the relentless T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee) scenes, old Arnold going mano a mano with a younger version of himself or the relationship between Sarah and the T-800 (although she calls him “Pops” too many times for my taste) but endless exposition—this is a story that needs some explaining—drags the middle part of the movie down.

“Terminator Genisys” is robotic in its presentation of the story. In an effort to make something new out of the pieces of the past, the movie relies on twists and time travel theatrics to push the plot instead of an actual coherent story. Reese’s past may be O’Brien’s present and Connor’s future, but the time spent watching this movie is two hours of our time spent in almost total confusion.


Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 3.36.10 PMRichard’s CP24 reviews for talking teddy bear comedy “Ted 2” and the hero dog movie “Max.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!



Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 10.50.05 AMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for talking teddy bear comedy “Ted 2,” the hero dog movie “Max” and “The Overnight” with host Jeff Hutcheson.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

METRO CANADA: Perez Hilton to ‘celebrate and skewer’ in Full House Musical

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 11.09.05 AMBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

When most people think of Perez Hilton they think of his blog, a gossip site that last year was ranked 1,234th most trafficked website on the Internet.

If Perez has his way, however, you’ll start thinking of him as a musical comedy star. The Tisch School of the Arts graduate is set to star in National Lampoon’s Full House The Musical! A Tanner Family Parody! at Toronto’s Randolph Theatre for a limited run before the show moves to New York in September.

Hilton found out about the show, fittingly enough, on the Internet. A friend posted a notice about the musical on his Facebook page. “I left a comment saying, ‘I need to be involved. I need to be in this show,’” he says. “I even joked I would be Mary Kate and Ashley. One of the creators, Tobly (McSmith), said, ‘Is Perez serious?’”

He was serious, but the show isn’t. Featuring tunes like This House is Too Full and Our Family is Better Than Your Family, the musical shows what happens when “something happens where (Danny) loses his ability to give ‘dad’ speeches and all hell breaks loose.”

The show will “both celebrate and skewer the source material,” he says. “In this one not only am I playing the family patriarch Danny Tanner, but I’m also playing Bob Saget. So we satirize the show and incorporate elements of these actor’s lives that we know and love.”

Hilton hopes people will accept him as Danny Tanner. “It may be hard for people to forget about Perez Hilton at the beginning but hopefully as the show goes on they kind of lose themselves in the experience and start to see me as the characters I play in this show.”

METRO CANADA: From Fozzie to Ted, Hollywood brings ursine roles to bear

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 9.37.21 AMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

When John Bennett (Mark Walhberg) was a small, lonely child he wished for just one thing—a best friend. His wish came true and Ted (voice of Seth MacFarlane), his trusty teddy bear, came to life. The pair became “Thunder Buddies” for life and the subject of two movies, Ted and this weekend’s Ted 2.

Ted isn’t your usual teddy bear. He smokes pot, swears—imagine rooming with Tommy Chong and Charles Bukowski—and has trouble holding down a job.

In the new film Ted is married to a human woman but under the eyes of the law he is seen as property and not a person. When the couple decide to adopt a child he faces a court battle helmed by a young lawyer (Amanda Seyfried) and a renowned, civil-rights attorney (Morgan Freeman).

Ted may be the rudest and crudest teddy bear to ever star in a movie, but there are loads of other talking teddies that are cool bears and not Teddy Bores. Remember Lancelot from Labyrinth, or the bear in AI: Artificial Intelligence who tells the young robot that 50 years is not such a long time and Winnie the Pooh? Here are three more cinematic bear necessities:

“I’ll never be like other people, but that’s alright,” says the star of the delightful Paddington, based on the much-loved children’s books by Michael Bond, “because I’m a bear. A bear called Paddington.”

The story of Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) the cuddly, orphaned Peruvian bear picks up when he, armed only with a “worrying marmalade problem” and his distinctive red hat, lands at Paddington Station in London. There, a family adopts him and learns to love the little bear, even though chaos follows his every step. The film’s co-star Hugh Bonneville says the Paddington character is so popular he is, “part of the DNA of the UK.”

The movie presents Paddington in his iconic blue duffel coat and red hat but not the usual Wellington Boots because they were not part of the bear’s original design. Manufacturers added his red Welly’s so the toy teddies were able to stand upright.

As voiced by Ned Beatty, Lots-o’-Huggin’ Bear is a Southern accented, strawberry scented teddy who looks cuddly, but is anything but. When a misunderstanding threatens to separate the toys, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz (Tim Allen), Jesse (Joan Cusack) and the gang take matters into their own tiny hands but when they meet the huggable but evil Lotso the garbage dump or the attic begin to look good.

“The guy may seem plush and huggable on the outside,” says Buttercup the Unicorn, “but inside he’s a monster.” His habit of throwing toys that don’t please him into “the box” is so evil he’s even been compared to the wicked Governor on The Walking Dead.

Unlike Ted Fozzie the Bear doesn’t work blue. The fuzzy brown jokester has been a big screen star since 1979’s The Muppet Movie where he was discovered by Kermit the Frog doing stand-up comedy in a dive bar. In the film Fozzie drives a Studebaker, but how, exactly, does a puppet manoeuvre a car? The film answers the question—“Where did you learn to drive?” Kermit asks. “I took a correspondence course!”—but the real answer is that the real driver hid in the trunk and drove the car by remote control, using a television monitor to guide his steering.

TED 2: 3 STARS. “You’ll laugh & then feel bad about the things you’re laughing at.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 9.36.42 AMIn the first five minutes of “Ted 2,” Seth Macfarlane’s sequel to the 2012 stoner-potty-mouth-teddy-bear movie starring Mark Wahlberg, there’s a wedding between a stuffed bear and a human, drug use, Flash Gordon, bear porn and a dance number.

Then it gets weird.

To understand how weird it gets, you have to know the history. When John Bennett (Wahlberg) was a small, lonely child he wished for just one thing—a best friend. His wish came true and Ted (voice of MacFarlane), his trusty teddy bear, came to life. The pair became “Thunder Buddies” for life and room and soul mates. Ted isn’t your usual teddy bear. He smokes pot, swears—imagine bunking with Tommy Chong and Charles Bukowski and you get the idea.—and likes to drive and text at the same time.

In the new film Ted is married to Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) but when the couple decide to adopt a child it’s discovered that in the eyes of the law Ted is considered property and not a person. John and Ted hatch a plan to fight for the bear’s civil rights in court. “We’ll take it all the way to Judge Judy if we have to,” says John. The only lawyer they can afford is a young attorney on her first case, Samantha L. Jackson (Amanda Seyfried) who shares the guy’s affection for pot (she smokes a strain called Help Me Get Home) and agrees to work pro bono.

Add to that court cases, a wild kidnapping plot, a renowned, civil-rights attorney (Morgan Freeman) and a nutty battle at Comic Con.

Ted journey to personhood begins with as laugh a minute. Maybe even every thirty seconds. Full belly laughs, that go well beyond politically correct to a land where very few comedians fear to tread. There are jokes about race, sexuality, the Kardashians, mental illness and a whole host of “That’s too soon” gags. You will laugh even though you’ll feel bad about some of the things you are laughing at. MacFarlane and his “Family Guy” co-writers (Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild) have hit a sweet spot whereby they can use animation and cute teddy bears to push the envelope in very extreme ways. This is not a movie for the easily offended.

Then comes the court case and the movie shifts. The jokes thin out and the subtext about the civil rights of any oppressed people comes front and center. Or at least threatens to for a moment. There are definitely some serious matters afloat here and MacFarlane allows the absurdity of the situation to take a backseat to the issue of basic rights for all people—even if they are bears.

The jokes still come hard and fast, but fewer of them land in the second hour. Perhaps two hours is too long for dirty-mouth stoner bear jokes, or maybe it’s that Wahlberg has less to do here than he did in number one, or that Mila Kunis, so charming in “Ted” is gone, replaced by Seyfried. Seyfried is fine, BTW, and can deliver a joke but Kunis’s relationship with John in the first film provided much of that film’s heart, something part two could use a bit more of.

“Ted 2” has more very funny, very off colour jokes than most movies. Too bad they’re concentrated in the first hour and not spread throughout.

MAX: 1 STAR. “feels like direct-to-DVD movie that escaped the pound.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 9.41.54 AMThe facts are thus: Dogs have served in the military since World War I and over three thousand dogs have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is also a sad but true fact that “Max,” a new film starring Thomas Haden Church, Lauren Graham and Carlos as best friend, hero and Marine, Max puts the hole in wholesome.

The family friendly action starts in Iraq where Kyle Wincott (Robbie Amell) is a young, brave Marine, fighting alongside his best friend Tyler (Luke Kleintank) and their beloved bomb sniffing dog Max (Carlos the Dog). Stateside Kyle’s family—Mom (Graham), Dad (Church) and bratty little brother Justin (Josh Wiggins)—stay in touch via Skype and pray for his safe return. When Kyle is killed in action Max and Tyler return. Tyler tries to fit into civilian life but Max has a hard time. Suffering from PTSD—having bonded so closely with Kyle the dog is now at loose ends—and snarls and growls at everyone… except Justin. The Wincotts take the dog in—“This family looks after it’s own,” says Mom.—and Justin, with the help of his dog lover friends tries to rehabilitate Max.

There’s more—teenage romance, betrayal, a gun cartel, bootlegged video games and some good old action adventure—but for the most part “Max” is little more than an episode of “The Littlest Hobo” with slightly higher production value. In fact this may be the “Citizen Kane” of “Littlest Hobo” shows, but make no mistake, the Canadian series about a helpful, ownerless dog did it first and did it better than anything in “Max.” The bungled action scenes and cardboard characters will have you longing for the halcyon days of “Lassie” and “Rin Tin Tin.”

The dog, it must be said, is a pretty actor. Perhaps it’s his large, expressive Bette Davis eyes, or perhaps it’s the general level of incompetence around him, but he comes off well.

“Max” feels like a direct-to-DVD movie that somehow escaped the pound and made it’s way to theatres.

THE OVERNIGHT: 3 ½ STARS. “smart, insightful & very uncomfortable film.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 9.38.27 AM“The Overnight” is a smart, insightful but most of all, very uncomfortable film.

The story begins when Emily (Taylor Schilling) and Alex (Adam Scott), a married coupled transplanted from Seattle to Los Angeles for work, meet Kurt (Jason Schwartzman), an outgoing man who chats them up in a local park. Their kids hit it off so Kurt invites the couple over for pizzas and wine with his wife Charlotte (Judith Godreche). Eager to make friends, Emilia and Alex accept and enter a world ripe with sexual tension, voyeurism, skinny-dipping and self confession. What begins as a dinner party quickly erupts into part drug and drink binge, part therapy session. “This is California,” says the slightly naïve Adam, “maybe this is what dinner parties are like here.”

On the surface “The Overnight” is simply about that moment when, as they say in the film, the party turns from freewheeling California vibe to swinger vibe but that doesn’t do the story justice. That’s the Cole’s Notes version of the story but the actual tale is much more interesting.

This is a parlour show where most of the action takes place in one place. Think “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?” In this case the bulk the story happens in Kurt and Charlotte’s upscale home as the older, more jaded couple wile away the hours, breaking down Emily and Adam’s inhibitions while revealing their own martial issues and weaknesses. It’s a power struggle with a constantly shifting dynamic that turns into a guessing game as to what, exactly, is going on. It is that ambiguity that propels the action forward.

Good casting keeps things interesting—Schwartzman is smarmy perfection—and at just 80 minutes “The Overnight” is the right length for a cat and mouse story. Any longer and this story of sexual frustration might have become frustrating, but director Patrick Brice brings the story to an end before the anxiety of the situation becomes too uncomfortable for the audience.