From the bottom line to the punch line. “Humor Me,” a yearly charity event in support of Sick Kids Hospital youth at risk has raised more than $1 million to date. The idea is simple three CEOs selected form some of Canada’s biggest companies do strand up comedy and are judged by a panel that includes Richard, Yuk Yuk’s founder Mark Breslin and writer Jim Slotek. Think “American Idol” with jokes and where all the money goes to a great cause. This year the show will be hosted by comedian Dave Foley of “Kids in the Hall” and headlined by comedy legend Bill Cosby. This year the show is on Tuesday, October 14, 2014, 7:30pm at the Elgin Theatre, Toronto. More info HERE!
SYNOPSIS: The story begins on Krypton, as all good Superman origin stories must. To save his son Kal-El from perishing on the doomed planet Jor-El (Russell Crowe) rockets him off to a safe haven—Earth. There he is raised by Ma and Pa Kent, (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner), humble farmers who raise him as their own and keep his alien heritage a secret, but his (Henry Cavill) extraordinary powers are exposed when a snoopy reporter digs (Amy Adams) into his life and the last surviving Kryptonians, led by General Zod (Michael Shannon) try and invade the planet.
Richard: 3 Stars
Mark: 2 Stars
Richard: Mark, Man of Steel plays kind of like a Nirvana song. It starts off quiet, then gets loud, then quiet again and then REALLY loud. Thing is Nirvana songs were usually under four minutes and this movie clocks in at well over two hours. Much of it is entertaining, but I have to say my eyeballs felt scorched after the protracted blow-‘em-up scene that eats up much of the last forty-five minutes of the movie. It’s all crash-boom-bang and not nearly as interesting as the stuff that preceded it.
Mark: Richard, I always liked the Superman movies-even the bad ones-for their charm. Although there’s some good scenes toward the beginning of the movie, it becomes bombastic and self-righteous; way too serious for its own good. That forty-five minute scene you’re referring to made me long for headphones with Enya songs playing on a long loop. And I know it’s an origin movie, but I longed for the comic contrast between Superman and his journalist alter ego Clark Kent, which is mostly missing from the movie. Then again, we no longer have phone booths. Any of the actors appeal to you, Richard?
RC: I thought Cavill was suitably square-jawed and blue-eyed enough to play the icon lead character and Michael Shannon brought the crazy (as usual for him) to Zod, but I was let down by two other leads. Russell Crowe was fine, although I couldn’t help but imagine Ralph Fiennes really eating up the role of Jor-El. Finally, I’m not sure Amy Adams is plucky enough to play Lois Lane.
MB: Cavill was square-I mean, square-jawed, wasn’t he? Crowe was fine, but somehow Kevin Costner got to me in a very sentimental turn as Clark’s dad. As for Michael Shannon, I can only assume he was forced to overact at gunpoint, with lines like “Unleash the world machine!!!!” For a movie that cost a few hundred million dollars, it was often close to a Flash Gordon serial at times.
RC: I think I wanted more Flash Gordon and less of what was on the screen in front of me. It’s an entertaining movie for much of its running time, but the word overkill comes to mind. I feel like less—shorter running time, fewer explosions, not as many fights—would have been more.
MB: And did you notice that so many of the action scenes had the same basic gimmick- concrete being torn up over and over again? And I had to laugh when the entire city of Metropolis is collapsing under alien attack and there are scenes of people just staring at the buildings falling around them. If I see one brick on the ground, I’m outta there!
SYNOPSIS: In the 186 days that have passed since the Reel Guys drank too much champagne on New Year’s Eve, Iron Man three has made more money than the GNP of some small countries, Fast & Furious 6 was faster and furiouser than the previous five Vin Diesel car crazy movies and The Hangover Part III left us with a headache. At the midway mark of the year the Reel Guys look back at the best of the first six months of the year.
Richard: Mark, it’s been a weird year. Things that I was really looking forward to, like Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman in Identity Thief, fell really flat, but other things like the off-the-radar The Purge turned out to be really good fun. From the early part of the year I’d choose Warm Bodies a zom com that is essentially one joke—the zombie as a metaphor for awkward teenager love—but a pretty good one and well performed. What about you?
Mark: Two blockbuster movies impressed me: Iron Man 3 and Star Trek: Into Darkness. But my 2 favorite movies of the year were Side Effects and Trance. Both were Hitchcockian thrillers that started out as one thing but cleverly morphed into something else. But I’ve always enjoyed mind games, Richard, as any of my detractors will tell you.
RC: I liked both Side Effects and Trance, but as far as thrillers go my pick of the litter would be The Bay, an eco-apocalypse horror movie from Diner director Barry Levinson. He assembles an eye-catching array of fictional news footage, phone camera images, surveillance videotape, Skype and “homemade” videos to tell the story and it will make you think twice before ever drinking tap water again!
MB: The Bay was interesting although unfortunate product placement for the store. I liked The Great Gatsby a lot although I knew the story all too well. The Place Beyond The Pines is an ambitious sprawling movie that has three connecting stories. The whole is less than the sum of its parts but most of it is worth its loooooong running time.
RC: My two favorite films so far this year have been Frances Ha and Before Midnight. Frances Ha stars the transcendent Greta Gerwig as a twenty-something dancer trying to make it in New York City. Warm and charming, it captures the vagaries of a mostly rudderless life. Another movie I hope to watch over and over is Before Midnight, the third film in the Ethan Hawke-Julie Delpy relationship trilogy. Done with humor, heart and pathos, often in the same scene, it is a poignant farewell to two characters who grew up in front of us.
MB: I liked Frances Ha and I think it’s the breakthrough role Gerwig has been looking for. But it was very similar to last year’s Lola Versus which I found funnier though not as artful.
SYNOPSIS: Grown Ups 2 picks up where the last movie left off. Lenny (Adam Sandler in his first ever sequel) has relocated his wife (Salma Hayek) and kids back to his hometown to be closer to friends and family. It’s the last day of school, and as the kids are packing up their books, their fathers (Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade) grapple with growing up, growing old and a gang of frat boys (lead by Twilight’s Taylor Lautner) who think the four old friends are WAY over the hill.
Richard: 2 Stars
Mark: 2 Stars
Richard: Mark, the old saying, “They got bigger, but they didn’t grow up,” perfectly applies to this new Sandler and Company movie. It’s ninety minutes of middle-aged men, urination gags (too many to count) and cleavage shots. So while the actors may have matured (chronologically at least) the jokes haven’t. Question is, Is it funny? I didn’t really think so, although I have to say Shaquille O’Neal’s big-guy-Andre-the-Giant schick made me laugh. You?
Mark: No, I didn’t laugh. But let’s examine the inventory, Chris Rock-maybe the funniest stand-up working today, but as a movie star, he’s never done anything much worthwhile. David Spade-Tommy Boy was a looooong time ago. Sandler, well, I only find him funny when he’s trying to be serious. There is only one movie genius here-I’m not kidding-and it’s Kevin James. He’s the only one of the bunch that can convincingly play a regular guy and not come off like a slumming millionaire. But not in this turkey. And you have to wonder about any sequel that Rob Schneider passes on.
RC: I wondered where Schneider’s character was. I guess some friendships don’t last forever. I can’t say I didn’t laugh at all. James’ deadpan dumb kid who can’t add or spell is a pretty funny running gag but for a movie about growing up it was all so juvenile. I didn’t expect a searing meditation on aging but I did think they might touch on the fact that they were growing old with more smarts than lines like, “I used to buy ten cases of beer for my parties, now I get ten cases of juice boxes.”
MB: A good line; I snorted in recognition. And I grudgingly laughed a bit at a few sight gags, like the exploding life raft and some of the Eighties outfits at the party finale. But generally, the humour aims too low. But I liked it-if I can use the word-more than the first one. At least it had some nice callbacks and weird twists of coincidence. And it had a lazy summer quality about it-probably the result of lazy screenwriting, acting, and direction.
RC: I like silly movies, I just wish it was silly AND about something other than a moose urinating on Sandler’s unsuspecting family, and by extension, the audience.
MB: We should all feel lucky. In the first draft of the script, it was the other way around.
SYNOPSIS: Nothing ruins a family reunion like an invasion of masked killers. On the occasion of their parents 35th wedding anniversary Davidson kids and assorted wives, girl and boy friends gather at a remote Tudor mansion—is there any other type in these kinds of movies?—to enjoy dinner and one another, but instead end up in a fight for their lives. Only one of the guests, Erin (Sharni Vinson), has the know-how to protect herself, but will it be enough?
Richard: 3 ½ Stars
Mark: 4 Stars
Richard: Mark, I don’t know what it says about me, but I really liked You’re Next. It’s disturbing, violent and without any redeeming social value, but I enjoyed sitting in the theatre with my hands over my eyes, afraid of what I might see next. I’m not usually a fan of head trauma, but from what I saw as I peeked through my fingers, it worked well. You?
Mark: Richard, I found it one of the best movies of its type ever. Home invasion films are my kind of scary because it could-and does-happen. But I did find some redeeming social value in it. I thought it turned out to be a sly satire on family dynamics and materialism. Without revealing too many plot twists-and I loved them all- this movie starts as one thing and becomes something a little deeper. And, yes, I don’t like to admit it, but I was scared through and through.
RC: It’s hard to discuss without giving away a major plot twist, but I will say there is a Manson Family aspect to the story that really creeped me out. That and the anxiety-inducing John Carpenter style score throbbing in the background. It’s all effective but it is the idea behind the movie that is truly disturbing.
MB: Let’s not leave out the creepy animal masks! And I learned a lot from the movie, like how much can be accomplished with a two by four and a simple set of nails. In fact, I just got back from the hardware store. I’m ready!
RC: It is a lesson in survivalism to be sure, but keeping in mind how it works out for everyone. I think I’ll stick to calling 911. Lessons aside, I did like that while there are a number of hysterical characters here—who wouldn’t be upset when your friends and family are being randomly murdered?—the hero, if you can use that word to describe someone who kills a person with a blender, is a woman. So often in these movies women are the scream queens while the men do the heavy lifting. Here, the only person with any self-preservation instincts is female.
MB: I think a blender is a perfect murder weapon for a woman-very Martha Stewart, in fact. Yes, this movie does have a strong woman at its centre, and it’s set up nicely in the beginning, with the family sneering at her for her survivalist training.