Posts Tagged ‘The Boy Next Door’

Richard’s Top Ten (plus 1) Films That Made Him Angry in 2015!

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.12.46 AM

Nobody sets out to make a bad movie and yet, here they are, the worst films of the year:






Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 12.33.01 PMThe Boy Next Door

“The Boy Next Door” is the kind of movie where when someone says, “You can trust me,” you know the opposite is true. The Jennifer Lopez thriller is a lesson in not trusting neighbors, no matter how good looking they are.

“The Boy Next Door” is as generic a thriller as the bland title suggests. There are unintentionally camp moments of soap opera melodrama but without the kind of trashy fun that would make this a so-bad-it’s-good thriller. Instead, it is simply a bad movie and you can trust me on that. (No really, you can!)

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 3.45.17 PMEntourage

In a scene at the end of the “Entourage” film someone has the idea of turning the exploits of actor Vincent Chase, his best friend and manager Eric Murphy, half brother Johnny Drama and pal Turtle into a movie. “Sounds more like a TV show,” cracks Ari, the hotshot agent who made Vincent a superstar.

You know what? He’s right. It worked better as a TV show than it does as a movie.

“Entourage” the movie feels like binge watching three or four episodes of the television show. No attempt has been made to make the movie more cinematic than the show or to deepen the characters or situations. Chase is still the carefree superstar who thinks he can start all over again by moving back to his old neighbourhood in Queens if everything goes sour. Turtle remains a romantic wannabe while Johnny Drama is wracked by insecurity and E quietly tries to keep everything from spinning out of control.

If the name “Arrested Development” hadn’t already been taken by another show it would have been the perfect title for this bunch, who are more interested in meeting women and when they’re not meeting women, then talking about women than they are in behaving like actual living, breathing people. Perhaps their insipid behaviour is a comment on the vapid Hollywood lifestyle or maybe it is just vapid. I think suggesting a movie that uses a line like, “when one vagina closes, another one opens,” of any grand, high-minded purpose is overstating things by a mile.

All the glitz and glam in the world—the movie is a tribute to lifestyle porn—can cover the emptiness of the story, and even filling up screen time with an extensive array of cameos—everyone from Kelsey Grammer and Pharrell Williams to Liam Neeson and Andrew Dice Clay pop up for one line gags—does little more than turn the film into a celebrity “Where’s Waldo” exercise.

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 6.38.05 PMFantastic Four

“Fantastic Four,” the reboot of Marvel’s original superhero gang starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Bell, should have had a subtitle. I’d suggest “Fantastic Four: Prologue!” or perhaps “Fantastic Four: Failure to Launch.” The latest entry into the superhero sweepstakes is a leaden affair that seems to exist only to set up a sequel and doesn’t even do a good job at that.

Director Josh Trank makes an effort to distinguish the movie with an hour of character development off the top but the pace is anything but fantastic—there’s a low energy chase scene that feels like the cars are driving through molasses—and the movie plays more like an emo indie than a superhero flick. The serious tone is appreciated after the smirky “Avengers: Age of Ultron” but the empty millennial platitudes—“We can’t change the past but we can change the future!”—and lack of any really compelling characters make it a slog. The beauty of the “Fantastic Four” comic books was the chemistry between the characters, an element, despite good actors, missing from the reboot.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 4.22.54 PMHeist

The first time De Niro starred in a heist movie directed by someone with the last name Mann we got “Heat,” a genuinely exciting action movie. This time around director Scott Mann has cast De Niro in a movie with a generic title to match its characters and direct-to-video feel. Part “Speed” and part every other heist film ever made, “Heist” relies on implausible plot twists—like cops who break the law to aid the bad guys because one of the hijackers had “a reassuring voice”—and clichés to tell its weak-tea story.

One exchange between The Pope and his henchman sums up the entire movie.

“Looks like they’re running to the border!”

“Cliché,” says The Pope.

Yes it is Bob, and so is the rest of the movie.

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 1.35.21 PMHot Pursuit

Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara are a good match. In true buddy comedy tradition they are Mutt and Jeff, physical and personality opposites. Witherspoon is short and spunky, Vergara is like a cartoon, Jessica Rabbit with an accent and a way with a line.

It’s too bad they aren’t given much to work with. The film starts with a gem of a sequence showing Cooper literally growing up in the back of a police car. It’s charming, funny and sweet, which buys the rest if the movie some goodwill, but it doesn’t last. Both actors squeeze laughs out of underwritten material—Vergara’s delivery is all rolling Rs and cleavage, Witherspoon falls into slapstick—but even though they’re funny, the script isn’t. They milk a few giggles out of the situation, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re starring in a lazily scripted road movie with no real forward motion. There’s not enough energy or laughs to keep things really interesting.

“Hot Pursuit” is a good showcase for its stars but the best it can do is poke fun at the ages and bodies of its leads. Both deserve better and so do we.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.24.09 AMHot Tub Time Machine 2

“Hot Tub Time Machine 2” feels like it was written by a group of frat boys in the throws of a raging kegger at the Delta Tau Chi House after a “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” marathon. All the animal house trademarks are here — vomit gags, jokes about sex with animals, a drug trip, testicle terror and homophobic razzing. The only thing missing is Seth Rogen and boy, did he miss a bullet.

Working from a script that feels improvised, the usually funny guys Corddry, Robinson, Duke and Scott are at sea in a movie that abandons the story — the search for the shooter is side tracked for twenty or more minutes while the guys flit through time — in favour of raunchy jokes and random situations. As the cast tries in vain to find the funny you hope that the next trip in the Hot Tub Time Machine will be their last.

“Hot Tub Time Machine 2” is a waste of time — past and present.


“Mortdecai” breathes the same air as “The Pink Panther” movies—with an added nod to the 1967 “Casino Royale,” an all-star heist movie most notable for featuring both Woody Allen and Orson Welles on the same marquee—but gets lightheaded when it tries to replicate the easy-breezy tone of those films. Caper flicks of a bygone era had a swingin’, hip feel of controlled chaos, not overplayed farce. Unfortunately Depp is pedal-to-the-metal, quirking-it-up in a display completely without charm and worse, without wit. He sets the mood for the film—daft, overly mannered, arch and unfunny leaving the audience hungry for laughs.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 12.47.39 PMPaul Blart: Mall Cop 2

Years from now when people look up the meaning of the word “unnecessary” in the dictionary the definition will be the synopsis of “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2.”

You have to wonder why Kevin James waited six years to make a Paul Blart sequel. After seeing number two I’m tempted to think it was to give people enough time to forget how brutally unfunny the first movie was. You have to hand it to him, however. With “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” he’s managed to top the first movie, making a comedy even more relentlessly unfunny than the first one.

There are, to be generous, about three laughs in “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” all of which can be viewed in the trailer. The other 89 minutes are filler. The audience I saw it with seemed to be laughing out of pity rather than because anything in the movie is actually amusing.

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 10.06.02 AMPixels

There might be some 1980s “Pac Man Fever” nostalgia for those who came of age during the Reagan years but as good-natured as the movie is, there’s not much here to recommend it as a comedy. There are Donkey Kong games with more laughs than “Pixels.” Sandler’s man-child with a heart of gold character is now as creaky as an arcade game joystick after a Battlezone binge.

There is an interesting story in how pop culture can have a massive impact on people’s lives, but the movie is content to stick to the Sandler template, using the inventive premise as a frame for another of the comedian’s tired romantic hook-ups. Predictable and not nearly heart warming enough to make you care about the characters, “Pixels” feels lazy, as though it was too much work to make the video game warrior aspect anything more than a sentimental gimmick. It’s Game Over for “Pixels.” 

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 4.11.15 PMRock the Kasbah

There haven’t been many laughs coming out of Afghanistan lately and I’m sad to report the Bill Murray comedy, “Rock the Kasbah,” doesn’t rectify that situation.

Everybody loves Bill Murray. That is a fact. Unarguable. He has woven himself into the fabric of popular culture both on screen and off. If he’s not opening a movie he’s going viral, getting videoed at some random dude’s bachelor party providing marital advice. He’s everywhere and is usually a welcome presence but lately I’ve begun to feel that his career is in a bit of a “Groundhog Day” loop.

Time after time he has returned to a familiar formula: crabby guy alienates everyone around him only to have a warm and cuddly epiphany by the time the credits role. Frank Cross, Phil Connors, Vincent MacKenna or Richie Lanz, the character names change but their journeys are essentially the same.

Normally audiences don’t care; Murray is such an icon it’s enough for him to simply show up and snark his way through a few funny lines and voila! Instant classic. It’s a crowd-pleasing recipe but it runs dry in “Rock the Kasbah.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.41.44 AMSerena

Even Oscar winners make mistakes. Meryl Streep starred in “She-Devil.” Daniel Day-Lewis camped it up in “Nine” and “All About Steve” was a career nadir for Sandra Bullock. Now its Jennifer Lawrence’s turn to appear in a movie that will one day be best remembered as an entry on IMDB’s Bottom 100 list.

“Serena” has all the makings of an epic story. Imagine “There Will be Blood” built on a base of timber instead of oil. Betrayal, jealousy, murder and money swirl around the central characters, but instead of combining to create a compelling narrative the elements collide in a big bang of schlock. From the broad southern accents to the dirt-smeared Rhys Ifans as Serena’s violent lap dog, everything about the movie verges on caricature.

Why January is no longer the dumping ground for terrible movies

PROJECT ALMANACBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

Traditional wisdom has it that January is a dumping ground for bad movies.

“Everyone is broke after shelling out for Christmas presents,” the studios say. “The weather is crappy and anyone leaving the house is going to the gym instead of the movies,” complain the suits.

That’s why clunkers like One for the Money, a Katherine Heigl crime drama with a two per cent Rotten Tomatoes rating and Season of the Witch — which saw Nicolas Cage go all medieval on the forces of evil and strain his credibility as an actor — made the lives of critics and audiences miserable on long, cold winter nights in bygone Januarys. Why waste good movies when no one was likely to go?

Years ago studios threw the odd quality film into the January mix — Traffic, Good Will Hunting, Before Sunrise, Dr. Strangelove and Silence of the Lambs—but every good movie like Matinee (92 per cent on RT) was balanced out with a stinker like Body of Evidence and its paltry six per cent rating.

There is still that yin and yang as last week’s releases of The Boy Next Door and Mortdecai (two movies that will decorate Worst Of the Year lists) proves, but the tide seems to be changing. Perhaps that’s why Project Almanac, a time-travel drama from producer Michael Bay, moved from a prime July release date to the barren January slate. Surely Bay, as savvy a player as Hollywood has, wouldn’t allow his movie to be tossed out with the trash.

The reason given for the schedule move was that Bay himself wanted to sprinkle some of his Transformers’ fairy dust to pump up the film’s appeal to young audiences. But it’s also apparent that a micro-budget movie like Project Almanac, even with Bay’s name attached, could get lost in a summer filled with large-scale offerings like Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, so why not release in a less crowded, but increasingly profitable field?

What used to be a time to fill screens with borderline cheesefests has become a viable month to release a movie.

Last year big crowds braved the polar vortex to help the Kevin Hart comedy Ride Along set a January opening record. This year the Oscar-nominated Selma and Still Alice have opened wide in a month usually reserved for Golden Raspberry winners. Perhaps the biggest story of 2015 so far is the success of Clint Eastwood’s Chris Kyle biopic, American Sniper, which has raked in upwards of $170 million in just two weeks. The success of that film is as strong an indicator as Hollywood needs that January is no longer a no-go zone.


Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 4.56.39 PMCP24 film critic Richard Crouse reviews “Still Alice,” “Cake,” “Strange Magic,” “The Boy Next Door” and “Mordecai.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 10.27.23 AMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “Still Alice,” “Cake,” “Strange Magic,” “The Boy Next Door” and “Mordecai.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

THE BOY NEXT DOOR: 1 STAR. “as generic a thriller as the bland title suggests.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 12.33.01 PM“The Boy Next Door” is the kind of movie where when someone says, “You can trust me,” you know the opposite is true. The Jennifer Lopez thriller is a lesson in not trusting neighbors, no matter how good looking they are.

Lopez is Claire Peterson, a recently separated high school lecturer who teaches the classics and wears bubblegum pink lip-gloss. Her soon-to-be ex husband Garrett (John Corbet) is slowly trying to make things work, much to the chagrin of Claire’s best friend (Kristin Chenoweth) who can’t stand him, but to the delight of her son Kevin (Ian Nelson), who misses his dad. When the neighbor’s grandnephew Noah (Ryan Guzman), a surprisingly buff and mature looking nineteen-year-old, moves in he seems like a good role model for Kevin… at first.

He’s polite, can fix anything and takes Kevin under his muscly wing. Unfortunately he’s also in love—some might say obsessively so—with the comely Claire. One long weekend while Garrett and Kevin are on a fishing trip Claire, feeling lonely and a bit drunk, reluctantly allows Noah to seduce her. Apparently in “The Boy Next Door” no doesn’t mean no, it means “no judgment and no rules.”

The next day Claire is filled with regret but Noah is more smitten than ever. Thus begins his form of wooing, stalking her—“I’m not following you,” he says, “I live next door!”—and finagling a spot in her class. His pursuit of her heart escalates to include cut brake lines, dirty pictures and the inevitable moment when she puts an end to the relationship… permanently.

“The Boy Next Door” is as generic a thriller as the bland title suggests. There are unintentionally camp moments of soap opera melodrama but without the kind of trashy fun that would make this a so-bad-it’s-good thriller. Instead, it is simply a bad movie and you can trust me on that.