Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the darkly comedic revenge story “Judy and Punch,” the Hitchschlockian thrills of “Last Moment of Clarity,” a pair of home invasion movies, “Survive the Night” and “Becky” and the eco doc “2040.”
“Becky,” a new thriller featuring former sitcom star Kevin James as the King of Criminals, and now on VOD, is a mix of home invasion movies like “The Strangers” and plucky-kid-fights-back flicks like “Home Alone.”
Lulu Wilson is the title character, a fourteen-year-old who never got over the death of her mother. When her father Jeff (Joel McHale) announces his engagement to girlfriend Kayla (Amanda Brugel), Becky goes ballistic and takes off into the woods behind their weekend cottage, hiding out in a treehouse fort. She narrowly misses the arrival of Dominick (James), a neo-Nazi with a swastika tattooed on the back of his bald head, and his goons. They’re there looking for a key that was supposed to be in a container in the basement.
Trouble is, it isn’t there.
Thinking Jeff knows where it is Dominick resorts to the usual home invasion techniques of information gathering—intimidation, snarly rhetoric and when all else fails, torture—not realizing that Becky is lurking in the woods. When he discovers where she is, and that she has the key, he sends the goons to get her. What he doesn’t realize is that the tween is, “as strong willed and vindictive as they come.”
Cue the homemade deathtraps and bloodshed. “There once was a little girl who had a little curl in the middle of her forehead,” she taunts Dom. “When she was good she was very, very good but when she was bad she was horrid.”
“Becky,” I suppose, was to be to Kevin James what “Foxcatcher” was to Steve Carell, or Mo’Nique in “Precious,” a way to break out of comedy and into drama. While it is shocking to see the “King of Queens” without a quip on his lips or Adam Sandler at his side, that’s the only shocking part of this performance. Perhaps it’s his hilariously stilted dialogue or maybe it’s just hard to take a guy who made a career playing a heroic mall cop seriously.
Either way, he’s supposed to be a bad, bad man but compared to Becky he’s a peacenik. Set loose in the woods, the teenager calls on every ounce of her bottled-up rage to unleash holy, bloody hell on the men who did her family wrong. She lets her freak flag fly in ways that would make Anton Chigurh look positively tame by comparison.
“Becky” doesn’t have a whole lot of surprises. Instead it relies on bloody situations to drive the horror of its message home.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Skyscraper,” the animated Adam Sandler flick “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” and the documentary “Whitney.”
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nick Dixon to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “Skyscraper,” the animated Adam Sandler flick “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” the documentary “Whitney,” the biopic “Mary Shelley,” “Sorry to Bother You” starring LaKeith Stanfield and the comedy “The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger.”
The Invisible Man, Frankenstein, the Mummy and let’s not forget Dracula all make appearances in “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” but the new, animated Adam Sandler movie isn’t about the monsters, it’s about the importance of kindness and family.
At the beginning of the film Dracula (voice of Sandler) is feeling down, stressed out from the pressure of running his luxury hotel. On top of that, seems even the Prince of Darkness has trouble meeting women. He’s forlorn, hasn’t had a date in 100 years and his voice-activated dating app is no help. “I’m lonely,” he says. “You want bologna?” it replies.
Noticing her dad is depressed daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) arranges for a special treat; some time away with family and friends. “I figured you need a vacation from running everyone else’s vacations,” she says. She books passage on the monster cruise of a lifetime, a journey into the heart of the Bermuda Triangle.
Once onboard Drac immediately falls for Captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). The heart knows what it wants, even if it is a cold, un-beating heart. They hit it off, but it turns out Ericka might have an ulterior motive for returning Drac’s advances.
“Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” is filled with the easy sentimentality that mars Sandler’s live action films. Good messages about acceptance—“We’re here, we’re hairy and it’s our right to be scary!”—tradition and finding your own way in the world—“ You have to honour the past but we have to make our own future,” says Drac.—are hammered home like a stake through the heart.
Surrounding the family friendly clichés are an untraditional cast of cute monsters and that’s the movie’s strength. The fun of “Hotel Transylvania 3” is in the details not the story. The kid friendly creepy crawlies, deadpan fish cruise ship staff, Grandpa Dracula’s (Mel Brooks) skimpy withered green body and Captain Ericka’s underwater craft that looks like it just floated in from “Yellow Submarine” are all a hoot. Come for the creatures, stay for the silly fun.
“Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation” doesn’t add up to much story-wise—music and dance numbers, though inventively staged, pad out the running time to feature length—but the messages of tolerance and kindness are important themes in today’s increasingly serious world. “Gotta be great-a than the hatas,” says one monster. That’s advice you can take to the (blood) bank.
“We don’t have time for zingers!” says Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) midway through “Hotel Transylvania 2.” No time for zingers, indeed. The sequel to the 2012 kid friendly animated horror comedy is short on laughs but long on sentiment.
Like all of Sandler’s movies—no matter how outrageous the characters—the new one is all about family. It picks up after Drac’s daughter, vampiress Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) married human Jonathan (Andy Samberg). In a twist on “Twilight,” the vampire mother and human father soon have a child, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff). The question is, which side of the family will it take after, the monster or human?
“Human. Monster. Unicorn. As long as you’re happy,” Drac says to his daughter, while secretly hoping the child will inherit the vampire genes. On the eve of the child’s fifth birthday the boy still hasn’t shoed any signs of vampiric behaviour—“He’s not human,” says the Prince of Darkness, “he’s just a late fanger!”—so Drac and friends—Frankenstein (Kevin James), Wayne the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi), the Invisible Man (David Spade) and Murray the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key)—take Dennis to their old haunts to teach him their scary skills.
“Hotel Transylvania 2” features great kid friendly monsters designs (that will make equally cool toys) like zombie bellhops and Blobby, a gelatine creature that looks like Grandma’s Gazpacho Aspic come to life but the creativity that went into the creatures didn’t extend to the script.
It’s a sweet enough, amiable story about acceptance and family, but the jokes barely rise to the level of the “101 Halloween Jokes for Kids” book I had when I was ten-years-old. If calling Murray the Mummy “talking toilet paper” makes you giggle, then perhaps this is for you, but by the time they have explained why Drac is called “Vampa” for the second time, you get the idea that Sandler and co-writer Robert Smigel know they should have driven a stake through the heart of this script.
The appearance of Mel Brooks as Great Vampa Vlad simply brings to mind “Young Frankenstein,” one of the funniest horror comedies of all time.
The biggest laughs come from the background, the sight gags that keep things visually frenetic in the first hour.
“Hotel Transylvania 2’s” family friendly scares won’t give kids any nightmares, but it won’t make them laugh either.