CHIPs: It’s a remake, a comedy and an action film and yet it doesn’t quite measure up to any of those descriptors. It’s a remake in the sense that writer-director-star Dax Shepard has lifted the title, character names and general situation from the classic TV show but they are simply pegs to hang his crude jokes on.
The Circle: While it is a pleasure to see Bill Paxton in his last big screen performance, “The Circle” often feels like an Exposition-A-Thon, a message in search of a story.
The Fate of the Furious: Preposterous is not a word most filmmakers would like to have applied to their work but in the case of the “Fast and Furious” franchise I think it is what they are going for. Somewhere along the way the down-‘n’-dirty car chase flicks veered from sublimely silly to simply silly. “The Fate of the Furious” is fast, furious but it’s not much fun. It’s an unholy mash-up of James Bond and the Marvel Universe, a movie bogged down by outrageous stunts and too many characters. Someone really should tell Vin Diesel and Company that more is not always more.
Fifty Shades Darker: Depending on your point of view “Fifty Shades of Grey” either made you want to gag or want to wear a gag. It’s a softcore look at hardcore BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) that spanked the competition on its opening weekend in 2015. Question is, will audiences still care about Grey’s proclivities and Ana’s misgivings or is it time to use our collective safeword? “Fifty Shades Darker” is a cold shower of a movie. “It’s all wrong,” Ana says at one point. “All of this is wrong.” Truer words have never been spoken.
The Mountain Between Us: Mountain survival movies usually end up with someone eating someone else to stay alive. “The Mountain Between Us” features the usual mountain survival tropes—there’s a plane crash, a showdown with a cougar and broken bones—but luckily for fans of stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet cannibalism is not on the menu. Days pass and then weeks pass and soon they begin their trek to safety. “Where are we going?” she asks. “We’re alive,” he says. “That’s where were going.” There will be no spoilers here but I will say the crash and story of survival changes them in ways that couldn’t imagine… but ways the audience will see coming 100 miles away. It’s all a bit silly—three weeks in and unwashed they still are a fetching couple—but at least there’s no cannibalism and no, they don’t eat the dog.
The Mummy: As a horror film it’s a meh action film. As an action film it’s little more than a formulaic excuse to trot out some brand names in the kind of film Hollywood mistakenly thinks is a crowd pleaser.
The Shack: Bad things in life may be God’s will but I lay the blame for this bad movie directly on the shoulders of director Stuart Hazeldine who infuses this story with all the depth and insight of a “Davey and Goliath” cartoon.
The Snowman: We’ve seen this Nordic Noir before and better. Mix a curious lack of Oslo accents—the real mystery here is why these Norwegians speak as though they just graduated RADA—Val Kilmer in a Razzie worthy performance and you’re left with a movie that left me as cold as the snowman‘s grin.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: Movies like the high gloss crime thriller “La Femme Nikita,” the assassin mentor flick “Léon: The Professional” and outré sci fi opera “The Fifth Element” have come to define director Luc Besson’s outrageous style. Kinetic blasts of energy, his films are turbo charged fantasies that make eyeballs dance even if they don’t always engage the brain. His latest, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” not only has one of the longest titles of the year but is also one of the most over-the-top, retina-frying movies of the year. Your eyes will beg for mercy.
Wonder Wheel: At the beginning of the film Mickey (Justin Timberlake) warns us that what we are about to see will be filtered through his playwright’s point of view. Keeping that promise, writer, director Woody Allen uses every amount of artifice at his disposal—including cinematographer Vittorio Storaro’s admittedly sumptuous photography—to create a film that is not only unreal but also unpleasant. “Oh God,” Ginny (Kate Winslet) cries out at one point. “Spare me the bad drama.” Amen to that.
Song to Song: I think it’s time Terrence Malick and I called it quits. I used to look forward to his infrequent visits. Sure, sometimes he was a little obtuse and over stayed his welcome, but more often than not he was alluringly enigmatic. Then he started coming around more often and, well, maybe the old saying about familiarity breeding contempt is true. In “Song to Song” there’s a quick shot of a tattoo that sums up my feelings toward my relationship with Malick. Written in flowery script, the words “Empty Promises” fill the screen, reminding us of the promise of the director’s early work and amplifying the disappointment we feel today. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back, the Terrence Malick movie that put me off Terrence Malick movies. I’ll be nice though and say, it’s not him, it’s me.
EXTRA! EXTRRA! MOST COUNFOUNDING
mother!: Your interest in seeing “mother!,” the psychological thriller from “Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky, may be judged on your keenness to watch American sweetheart Jenifer Lawrence flush a beating heart down a toilet. Aronofsky’s story of uninvited guests disrupting the serene lives of a poet and his wife refuses to cater to audience expectations. “mother!” is an uncomfortable watch, an off-kilter experience that revels in its own madness. As the weight of the weirdness and religious symbolism begins to feel crushing, you may wonder what the hell is going on. Are these people guilty of being the worst houseguests ever or is there something bigger, something biblical going on?
Aronofsky is generous with the biblical allusions—the house is a paradise, the stranger’s sons are clearly echoes of Cain and Abel, and there is a long sequence that can only be described as the Home-style Revelation—and builds toward a crescendo of wild action that has to be seen to be believed, but his characters are ciphers. Charismatic and appealing to a member, they feel like puppets in the director’s apocalyptic roadshow rather than characters we care about. Visually and thematically he doesn’t push button so much as he pokes the audience daring them to take the trip with him, it’s just too bad we didn’t have better company for the journey.
“mother!” is a deliberately opaque movie. Like looking into a self-reflective mirror you will take away whatever you put into it. The only thing sure about it is that it is most confounding studio movie of the year.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the gremlin-in-space drama “Life” with Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson, the reboot of “Power Rangers,” “CHIPs” with Dax Shepard and Michael Pena and Kristen Stewart’s ghostly “Personal Shopper.”
From 1977 to 1983 California Highway Patrol officers Jon Baker and “Ponch” Poncherello kept the highways and byways of Los Angeles safe with a mix of motorcycles, Brut cologne and wholesome machismo. “CHiPS” was a big TV hit and is now a big screen movie starring Michael Peña and Dax Shepard as unorthodox motorcycles cops. The Brut and the wholesomeness are gone in this raunchy update but the motorcycles and machismo survived.
Shepard, who also wrote and directed, stars as Jon Baker, a free spirited ex-motorcycle daredevil. His marriage is on the rocks, but he hopes if he becomes a police officer his wife will fall back in love with him.
Baker is teamed up with a seasoned FBI agent working undercover as Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello (Peña). Seems the feds needed two outsiders to infiltrate the California Highway Patrol and bust some dirty cops who robbed 12 million dollars in a daring daylight robbery.
The unlikely duo don’t hit it off right away, but Baker’s skills on the hog and Ponch’s experience make them an effective, if untraditional team. Cue the chase scenes and sex jokes.
In Shepard’s hands “CHIPS” is a mix of motorcycles and masturbation, homophobic jokes and gratuitous nudity. It’s hard to know exactly how to categorize “CHIPS.” It is a remake of a TV show although Erik Estrada, star of the original series and who also appears in the film, took to twitter to blast the remake as “demeaning” to long time “CHiPS” fans.
It could also be filed under the comedy category although I’d suggest the action sequences are more successful than the attempts at humour.
To recap: It’s a remake, a comedy and an action film and yet it doesn’t quite measure up to any of those descriptors. It’s a remake in the sense that Shepard has lifted the title, character names and general situation but they are simply pegs to hang his crude jokes on.
It’s a comedy—there is a paparazzi joke that made me laugh hard—but it’s a lowest common denominator comedy. I like a poop joke as much as anyone, but there have to be peaks and valleys. Shepard aims low, then goes lower. If you like a certain amount of shame with your cheap laughs then “CHIPS” is for you.
When the movie isn’t commenting on Ponch’s bathroom habits it is laying rubber. The crime story isn’t terribly complicated or interesting but the guys tear up the pavement with a handful of pretty good chase scenes. They are frenetic and it’s not always possible to tell exactly who is who, but the scenes add some zip to the story.
“CHIPS” is not your father’s “CHiPS.” It’s a kinda-sorta action comedy that revels in its rudeness at the expense of paying tribute to the source material.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. It’s a full house today. Dax Shepard and Michael Pena stop by to chat about doing the stunts in “CHIPS,” their wild and wooly update of 70s television nostalgia. Wyatt Russell talks about his famous parents, Goldie and Kurt, and how playing a professional hockey player in “Goon: Last of the Enforcers” took him back to when he was a real life professional goalie. Then to round out the visit, “Personal Shopper” director Olivier Assayas calls Kristen Stewart the “best actress of her generation.” It’s good stuff so c’mon in and sit a spell.
Richard hosted the ‘This is Where I Leave You” press conference: Shawn Levy, Director / Jason Bateman, Actor/ Tina Fey, Actor / Jane Fonda, Actor / Connie Britton, Actor / Corey Stoll, Actor / Abigail Spencer, Actor / Dax Shepard Actor / Kathryn Hahn, Actor / Rose Byrne, Actor / Jonathan Tropper, Screenwriter
Watch the whole thing HERE! Read about the press conference HERE!
Too old for Nancy Drew? Too young for Jessica Flectcher? How about Veronica Mars?
For three seasons Kristen Bell played the title character on television’s “Veronica Mars,” a teen detective show about a young woman who solved crimes in the upscale town of Neptune, California.
She’s back on the big screen in the inventively titled “Veronica Mars,” co-starring with some familiar faces from the original show, in a reunion movie that sees the former teenaged private eye turned psychologist and Ivy League lawyer pulled back into the PI game when her high school boyfriend (Jason Dohring) is charged with killing his pop star girlfriend.
The movie, which was funded through a Kickstarter campaign, is as cinematic as you might imagine a movie based on a TV show to be. It plays like a longer, blown up version of the show, which will play well to the fans who are hungry for more of their favorite characters, but may leave the uninitiated wondering what the fuss is all about.
Veronica Mars is an engaging character and Bell wears her like a glove, tossing off some zingy one-liners—“You won’t shoot me,” says a bad guy. “Why does everyone say that?” Mars replies, pulling the trigger—and bringing an easy charm to the role.
It’s too bad the story plays like an old episode of “Murder She Wrote,” with none of the sophistication we would expect from a big screen outing. “Veronica Mars” is a character based piece, with the murder tagged on to give us a reason for watching, but it would have been more interesting if the death was more than just a McGuffin.
On the plus side there is a nod to Canada—in the form of a sloppy karaoke version of our national anthem—and there’s even a Barenaked Ladies gag.
How long has it been since you thought to yourself, “Gee, I’m glad Tom Arnold still gets work.”? If you’re like me, it’s been a while. After seeing him bumble through “Hit and Run,” a new chase movie starring Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell, the question I asked myself was, “How does Tom Arnold still get work?”
When the movie opens Charlie and Annie (Shepard and Bell) are living a simple, quiet life in a small village. She teaches at the community college, he looks after the house. When she’s offered her dream job in Los Angeles, however, their simple life gets complicated. Turns out he had a much different life before moving to–or should we say being relocated to–their tiny town. He was moved there as part of the Witness Protection Program after testifying against some very dangerous bank robbers he used to drive get-a-way cars for. In hiding for four years, he’s changed his life, and Annie is a big part of that. If he goes to LA he’s in danger, but if he stays, he’ll lose her. Of course he hits the road, unfortunately so do his old partners and Annie’s ex boyfriend.
The main characters in “Hit and Run” are likable. Shepard and Bell are a couple in real life and the chemistry between them shows. When it’s just the two of them on screen “Hit and Run” has the makings of a fun action adventure. Unfortunately the movie is populated by peripheral characters with the combined charm of a slap (stick) to the face.
Comedy is about context and even a giggler about the rarefied event of Witness Protection has to have one foot in reality in order for the jokes to register. I can believe Charlie is in hiding, what I can’t believe, or care about, are the broadly drawn characters that clutter up the movie.
Arnold’s can’t-shoot-straight US Marshall is such a cartoon he makes Fred Flintstone seem like Orson Welles. It’s that kind of slapstick that takes you out of the story. Add to that a pill-popping school administrator and an ex-boyfriend who talks about “role playing with your corpse,” and you have a cast that is more annoying than funny.
Not to play pile-on, but for a movie that features cars in hot pursuit of one another, the chases are kind of dull. ” Bullitt ” this ain’t. Whoever had the idea of staging a chase in an abandoned airstrip, where the cars essentially drive around in circles, needs to have another look at “The French Connection” to see how a car chase is actually done. Not even Jimi Hendrix stretching the strings on the soundtrack can turn up the volume on these sequences.
At the heart of “Hit and Run,” which is also Shepard’s directorial debut, is a good old fashioned chase movie like the kind Roger Corman used to make for drive-in audiences. Too bad this movie gets a few less miles to the gallon than Corman used to.