Posts Tagged ‘Mark Walhberg’


Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 10.02.49 AM“Canada AM’s” movie critic Richard Crouse sounds off on his reviews for ‘Lone Surivor,’ ‘August: Osage County,’ and ‘Her.’

Watch the whole thing HERE!


The happeningRemember the twist in The Sixth Sense? It was one of the best surprises in recent movie memory. Ever since little Haley Joel Osment uttered those four words that sent chills down audience’s spines—“I see dead people”—director M. Night Shyamalan has been trying unsuccessfully to recreate that kind of jolt for his audience. His subsequent films, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village and The Lady in the Water have all had their moments, but none have become pop culture touchstones in the way that The Sixth Sense has.

The trailer for his latest film, The Happening, is a grabber. Without giving away any details it elegantly sets up the premise that something catastrophic has happened, but if it isn’t a terrorist attack, what is it? It gave me hope that M. Night was back on track.

Starring Mark Walhberg as science teacher Elliot Moore, The Happening sees him, his estranged wife (Zooey Deschanel) and the eight year old daughter (Ashlyn Sanchez) of a friend running for their lives after a strange pandemic spreads through the American Northeast. The mysterious disease causes loss of speech, physical stupefaction and suicide, usually by violent and very unpleasant means. Will they survive as the devastation swells?

Will there be a twist ending? Not since Chubby Checker has one man been so closely associated with “the twist.”

Will Elliot Moore wake up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette and realize that it was all just a crazy dream?

And most importantly, will M. Night Shyamalan finally once again give audiences the shock they expect from his movies?

The answer to that last question, sadly is no. The biggest shock in The Happening is how ineptly made it is. Since his first big hit it seems as though M. Night has been hemorrhaging the good filmmaking sense he showed on that film, diminishing his talent with each new project.

For much of The Happening I thought perhaps he was making a tribute to the b-movies of the 1950s, complete with ridiculous dialogue, crazy science and wooden acting. I rejected that theory when I thought back to those movies and remembered that while they might not have been Citizen Kane, at least they were entertaining. The Happening’s main achievement is to figure out increasingly gruesome and strange ways for people to off themselves.

Even then, some of the methods of death raised hoots of derision from the audience I saw it with. When a woman watching a video of a man feeding himself to a pride of lions at a zoo says in horror, “Mother of God, what kind of terrorists are these?” it caused a ripple of laughter that passed through the entire theatre.

Even the film’s eco message—we better start taking better care of the environment or Mother Nature might make us jump in front of a haymaker and die a bloody and brutal death—is simplistic and underdeveloped. One can only hope that other upcoming green themed movies like The Swarm and James Cameron’s Avatar dig a little deeper.

Despite the rare flash of inspiration—a scene with a dead policeman’s revolver is intense and effective—The Happening just doesn’t deliver the goods. It’s doubly disappointing because it comes from someone whose talent once approached greatness, but as it is this is the worst movie by a major, mainstream director since Gigli and could be used in film schools as a lesson in how NOT to make a thriller.

The Happening raises just one more question: M. Night, what happened?


ted-mark-wahlberg-fuck-you-thunderFans of “Family Guy” already know what to expect from “Ted,” the big screen directorial debut of Seth MacFarlane. As the writer and the voice behind Peter Griffin on that show he has redefined the limits of what is acceptable on prime TV. Now imagine that without a network censor looking over his shoulder. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Ted.”

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, which causes problems when John grows up and moves in with his girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis). After four years of living with John and the pot smoking, foul-mouthed Ted—imagine rooming with Bob Marley and Charles Bukowski—she becomes fed up, and makes an ultimatum: It’s either her or the stuffed, stoned bear.

The novelty of watching a stuffed bear spout words that would make a biker blush fades soon after the opening credits. After that the movie relies on Seth MacFarlane’s trademarked blend of awkward, inappropriate humor to get laughs, and you know what? It works. I didn’t feel good about laughing at some of the gags, but I laughed.

The movie is structured like a long-form episode of “Family Guy.” There are flashbacks, fight sequences that intentionally go on too long, pop culture references—MacFarlane gives “Flash Gordon” star Sam Jones the biggest part he’s had in twenty years—and the kind of jokes you tell around the water cooler the next day, but only in a whisper. Seth MacFarlane is an enemy of political correctness, and no one or subject is off limits. You’ve been warned.

The movie works best when it is cursing and drinking, but it also has a heart. Sort of like an R-rated “Alf.” Despite the concept—a teddy comes to life and gets high with his owner—the movie is a fairy tale—although a very raunchy one—and wants you to take the relationship between John and the two most important people in his life—Ted and Lori—seriously. MacFarlane eases off on the raunch slightly in the last half-hour to allow the relationship part of the story to take center stage, but ends off with some memorable jabs.

“Ted” must be the coarsest movie to ever star a teddy bear, but beneath the crudeness is a real stuffed beating heart.


600full-the-departed-photoI admired Martin Scorsese’s last two movies, Gangs of New York and The Aviator, but I didn’t love them, and Scorsese is the kind of filmmaker who should inspire fanatical praise. The last two were handsome, big-budget epics but it felt like he was making movies to please Academy voters and not himself. The Departed is a departure from those sleek studio efforts, and places the director firmly back where he belongs, on the mean streets surrounded by gangsters, duplicity and violence.

Based on a Hong Kong film called Mo-gaan-do (titled Infernal Affairs in North America) The Departed, relocates to Boston and stylishly tells the story of two men on opposite sides of the law. Both are cops, one deep undercover in the organization of mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), the other an ambitious state trooper who appears to be on the straight and narrow, but is actually an employee of Costello’s. Both men, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon respectively, are tormented by their duplicitous lives, feeling trapped between the truth and lies, but neither has a way out of the situation. DiCaprio is so far undercover that officially he doesn’t exist, and Damon’s character owes a huge dept of gratitude to Costello. Their lives intersect both professionally—as they play cat and mouse with one another—and personally as they unwittingly become involved with the same woman, a beautiful therapist played by newcomer Vera Farmiga.

Scorsese skillfully tells this story about loyalty and men who lead dark, dangerous lives, infusing each frame of the film with excitement. He has created an unpredictable atmosphere, where the threat of trouble hangs over every scene. Not since 1995’s Casino has he so effectively embraced the down-and-dirty world of crime. The film is a study of contradictions, both in character and style—Scorsese mixes fluid camera work with hard-edged editing; his script is both darkly funny and brutally violent.

The movie’s large ensemble cast of Hollywood A-listers do great work. The youngest members of the above-the-title cast, DiCaprio and Damon, each set the bar very high. This may be DiCaprio’s first truly adult role, a man who can’t trust anyone and who battles his jangled nerves to do the right thing. Damon plays off his clean-cut image, expanding on his recent work in Syrianna and the Bourne movies, to present a good-guy façade that is being eroded by paranoia.

The rest of the cast, Ray Winstone, Martin Sheen, Mark Walhberg (as the foul-mouthed Dignan) are stellar, but if there are two performances that look Oscar bound they are Jack Nicholson and Alec Baldwin.

Baldwin plays Ellerby, a task force head out to get Costello with gusto. The character is a mix of steely-eyed determination and goofy comedic relief, and Scorsese keeps him in check, allowing to walk to the edge of the cliff without ever jumping over into overacting. It’s a fine line and Baldwin walks it expertly.

In a film packed with great performances—it’s as if everyone was putting in extra effort for Scorsese—Jack Nicholson still manages to steal the show. Costello is his King Lear, a tyrant on the edge of madness, but with Nicholson’s burning eyes. Closing in on 70 years old he is still vital, still scary and still capable of blowing younger, prettier actors off the screen. There is a reason why some people are legends and in The Departed we are reminded once again why Nicholson is acting royalty.

The Departed finds Scorsese in top form, and is the coolest and best movie so far this year.