Film critic and pop culture historian Richard Crouse shares a toast with celebrity guests and entertainment pundits every week on CTV News Channel’s all-new talk show POP LIFE.
Featuring in-depth discussion and debate on pop culture and modern life, POP LIFE features sit-down interviews with celebrities from across the entertainment world, including superstar jazz musician Diana Krall, legendary rock star Meatloaf, stand-up comedian and CNN host W. Kamau Bell, actor and best-selling author Chris Colfer, celebrity chef Jeremiah Tower, and many more.
Richard sits in with Marcia McMillan to have a look at the the rollercoaster action of “Jason Bourne,” the heartwarming (and slightly raunchy) comedy of “Bad Moms,” “Cafe Society’s” period piece humour and the online intrigue of “Nerve.”
From the comedy minds who gave us “The Hangover” comes another trio. This time it’s less a Wolf Pack than it is a Coffee Klatch of moms fed up with the burden of having to be perfect. It has its raunchy moments—thanks to Kathryn Hahn’s spirited performance—but by and large “Bad Moms” might better be titled “Tired Moms.
Amy (Mila Kunis) is a thirty-two-year-old frazzled mom struggling to keep up with her family life and work. She has two kids, the overachieving Jane (Oona Laurence) and Dylan (Emjay Anthony) and a husband (David Walton) “who sometimes feels like a third child.”
“I’m doing the best I can,” she sighs. “That makes it sadder,” replies Jane.
When an epiphany turns her from stressed mother to bad mom, she sleeps in, lets her kids make their own breakfast and drinks loads of wine with two other exhausted mothers, Carla (Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell). Having tossed the shackles of the daily grind of motherhood aside, Amy is reborn, but not everyone is pleased. Her newfound freedom puts her in the crosshairs of the fascistic PTA president Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate).
The mothers in “Bad Moms” aren’t bad moms, they’re simply fed up with trying to live up to the expectations. The movie has laughs, mostly courtesy of Hahn’s laser sharp delivery of lines like, “I feel like everything that comes out of your mouth is a cry for help,” but mostly this is a manifesto for taking a breath and giving both yourself and your kids a chance to enjoy their childhoods. As Amy becomes the Norma Rae of mothers, she discovers taking a step away from what she thought she should do as a mom is the best way to discover the joy of parenthood.
It’s a story of the power of friendship and despite the promise of raunch “Bad Moms” is filled with gooey warmth. The set up is formulaic—you know the bond between children or parents will only grow and get stronger by the time the end credits roll—but despite the obvious story, and some obvious plot holes, the movie succeeds because underneath it all it’s not just about them talking about their kids, their exhaustion or how to best to dress for a night out. It’s about taking control of their lives, standing up to injustice and, yes, getting a date with the handsome widowed dad (Jay Hernandez) who drops his kid off at the playground everyday.
Summer blockbusters haven’t been much fun this year. Sure, we’ve had giant robots, action galore and some edge of our seat moments, but from the xenophobia of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” to the daddy issues and nuclear nightmares of “Godzilla” the season’s tent pole movies have been a bit gloomy.
“Guardians of the Galaxy,” the new Marvel adventure, is a tonic for the troops. An old-fashioned space opera, it’s a wild ride and the most pure fun blockbuster since the first “Iron Man” movie.
Chris Pratt is Peter Quill, a cosmic Indiana Jones style adventurer. After stealing a mysterious metal orb that containing an “infinity chip,” he becomes the target of Ronan (Lee Pace in full-on wrestling bad guy mode), an intergalactic Genghis Khan with ambitions to destroy his mortal enemies, the Xandarians. To avoid capture Quill forms an uneasy alliance with a genetically engineered raccoon and bounty hunter Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), a plant-based humanoid, the deadly assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and a revenge hungry warrior named Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). As the chip’s power becomes obvious, the band of misfits slowly bond, becoming the Guardians of the Galaxy as they battle to keep the orb from Ronan.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” has a playful tone. From Pratt’s signature line, “Peter Quill, people call me Star-Lord,” to a soundtrack stuffed with 70s era pop music—like “Hooked On A Feeling” by Blue Swede and Rupert Holmes’s “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”—and actors in blue-headed alien masks, the movie feels like a throwback to old-school action-adventure.
It’s filled with one-liners, sight gags and funny moments that play off the more standard blockbuster-style action and battle scenes. Pratt has an offhand delivery that recalls Harrison Ford in Han Solo mode, Cooper does wisecracks like a skilled Catskills comic and (ALMOST A SPOILER) there’s Baby Groot to up the cute factor. They supply the light moments, but despite Cooper’s presence, this isn’t “The Hangover” in space, it’s an all out action movie with a blithe spirit.
On the downside, origin stories require set up and “Guardians of the Galaxy” has loads of backstory. There are characters with funny names, warring cultures and treaties to be enforced and broken. The exposition gets in the way of the story sometimes, but only occasionally. Director James Gunn doles out the information with spoonfuls of humor and action to keep things interesting.
“Guardians of the Galaxy” is clearly expected to be the beginning of a franchise. Near the end of the film Star-Lord says, “What shall we do now? Something good? Something bad? Bit of both?” and while that kind of presumptuous writing usually annoys me, in this case I wouldn’t mind seeing what they get up to next time.
SYNOPSIS: Chris Pratt is Peter Quill, a cosmic Indiana Jones style adventurer. After stealing a mysterious metal orb that containing an “infinity chip,” he becomes the target of Ronan (Lee Pace in full-on wrestling bad guy mode), an intergalactic Genghis Khan with ambitions to destroy his mortal enemies, the Xandarians. To avoid capture Quill forms an uneasy alliance with a genetically engineered raccoon and bounty hunter Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper), Groot (Vin Diesel), a plant-based humanoid, the deadly assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and a revenge hungry warrior named Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista). As the chip’s power becomes obvious, the band of misfits slowly bond, becoming the Guardians of the Galaxy as they battle to keep the orb from Ronan.
Richard: 4 Stars
Mark: 4 Stars
Richard: Mark, summer blockbusters haven’t been much fun this year. Sure, we’ve had giant robots, action galore and some edge of our seat moments, but from the xenophobia of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes to the daddy issues and nuclear nightmares of Godzilla the season’s tent pole movies have been a bit gloomy. Guardians of the Galaxy is a tonic for the troops. An old-fashioned space opera, it’s a wild ride and the most pure fun blockbuster since the first Iron Man movie. Did you have as much fun at it as I did?
Mark: Richard, I generally don’t care for space operas, but this one’s a game-changer. It’s debt to Star Wars is enormous, with Chris Pratt as Luke Skywalker, Zoe Saldana in the Carrie Fisher role, and the raccoon and the tree as R2D2 and CP3O. But then its originality takes flight—literally—and the movie becomes its own unique creation. Unlike Star Wars, it has a great sense of humour about itself, and if you don’t fall in love with the talking raccoon with the Brooklyn accent, you’re as villainous as the bad guys in the movie.
RC: Totally, it’s filled with one-liners, sight gags and funny moments that play off the more standard blockbuster-style action and battle scenes. Pratt has an offhand delivery that recalls Harrison Ford in Han Solo mode, Cooper does wisecracks like a skilled Catskills comic and (ALMOST A SPOILER) there’s Baby Groot to up the cute factor. They supply the light moments, but despite Cooper’s presence, this isn’t The Hangover in space, it’s an all out action movie with a blithe spirit. The only bits that dragged for me were the set-up scenes. Did you find the exposition got in the way occasionally?
MB: I don’t think you watch this movie for the plot anyways. But the very first scene, a waaaay too serious deathbed scene between a boy and his mother, left me with a bad taste and it took me awhile to recover from it and enjoy the movie. It isn’t all that far from the old Flash Gordon serials, except that every piece of technology is beyond state of the art and the makeup is wonderfully imaginative. My biggest beef? The bad guys have bad dialogue. And they deliver their lines in the standard three octaves lower register of villains in hackier flicks.
RC: By the time the end credits roll, however, none of our gripes matter much because the movie is so much fun.
MB: The movie is so much fun it actually enjoys itself.
The idea of turning self-help books into movies isn’t new. Fifty years ago Helen Gurley Brown’s guidebook “Sex and the Single Girl,” which featured advice on “How to be Sexy,” among other useful tips, was made into a film starring Natalie Wood and “Mean Girls” was an adaptation of the high school survival manual “Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughters Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence.”
So the idea of the 2012 farce “Think Like a Man” based on Steve Harvey’s best-selling book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” wasn’t a stretch.
But now a sequel? The question is: How do you conjure a second story out of a book with no plot? Set it in Vegas and let Kevin Hart do all the heavy lifting.
The idea of Harvey’s tome is to give women an inside look into the workings of the male psyche and take control of their relationships. It’s typical battle of the sexes stuff and on film they play it for laughs.
The four couples from the original movie— Maya and Zeke (Meagan Good and Romany Malco), Dominic and Lauren (Michael Ealy and Taraji P. Henson), Jeremy and Kristen (Jerry Ferrara and Gabrielle Union) and Tish and Bennett (Wendi McLendon-Covey and Gary Owen)—plus the almost single Cedric (Kevin Hart) reunite in Las Vegas—“The number one destination in the world for people who do the craziest thing… get married.”—for “Think Like A Man Too.”
They’ve gathered for the wedding of Candace (Regina Hall) and Michael (Terrence Jenkins) but you know as soon as someone says, “I’m going to give you the perfect wedding… nothing is going to go wrong,” that, of course, everything is going to go wrong. The romantic getaway is jeopardized when the bachelorette and bachelor parties spin out of control.
“Think Like a Man Too” plays like a tamer version of “The Hangover.” There’s even a cameo from a world champion boxer but “TLAMT” doesn’t have the cynical edge of the Bradley Cooper movie. Instead, it plays it safe, making Sin City look like a wild but not terribly dangerous place to get married. All the usual Vegas clichés are well represented, from the gambling montage to the glaring neon lights to flaming cocktails to skimpy bikini-clad women to male strippers. What happens in Vegas also happens in the movies… quite often. The only thing missing is an Elvis impersonator or two.
Director Tim Story moves the story—what there is of it—along faster than a spinning roulette wheel. Montages and music video interludes keep the pace up, disguising the fact that there isn’t much going on. The story is thin, despite the multiple storylines crisscrossing throughout.
Kevin Hart seems to be trying to singlehandedly make up for a dearth of story by pulling out all the stops. No pratfall or face pull is beyond him. He even recreates Tom Cruise’s “Risky Business” underwear dance. His hyperactive performance stands in stark contrast to the more laid back work from his co-stars, but it does add a splash of life to every scene he’s in. Only his enthusiastic reading of a line like, “I’m sick of this non-tourage,” could pull laughs from some of this material.
“Think Like a Man Too” is a thin story bolstered by a few laughs (courtesy of Hart) and good-looking people navigating the choppy waters of modern romance. The advice contained within has more Hart than actual heart and is unlikely to provide much self-help, but has the same kind of bland appeal as its predecessor.
Almost everyone has done it once; woken up with cotton mouth, a headache, a mystery bruise or two and only a vague recollection of what happened the night before. Some call these symptoms the “wrath of the grapes” others call them by their real name—the hangover. Hangovers are always unpleasant, unless of course you’re not the one with the splitting headache. If I learned anything in my twenties it was that’s it always fun to laugh at someone who is desperately hungover, which is exactly what Old School director Todd Phillips is counting on with his new film about three groomsmen who lose their about-to-be-wed friend after a night of drunken debauchery.
The trailer sets up the movie nicely. It’s the aftermath of a wild Vegas bachelor party. There’s a tiger in the bathroom, a chicken in the living room, a baby in the closet and three very hungover groomsmen (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis). What’s missing is the front tooth of one of the guys and the groom. Nobody knows what happened to either of them. The hazy-headed trio have just a few hours to retrace their staggered steps from the night before, find their friend Doug (Justin Bartha) and, for God’s sake, get him to the church on time.
The Hangover is an extreme “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” movie. A boy’s weekend version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, it’s the ultimate nightmare for anyone waiting at home for the guys to come home from a bachelor party. These three take part in every vice The Entertainment Capital of the World has to offer from drinking to drugs to marrying the proto stripper with a heart of gold to hanging out with Carrot Top. It’s packed to bursting with every Vegas cliché, a hybrid of all the Sin City movies that preceded it. Call it Leaving Viva Las Vegas Honeymoon.
It’s also the funniest thing to come out of Vegas since the Rat Pack ruled the Sands. Not that it’s for everyone. There are jokes here that would make Hollywood’s current king of crude, Judd Apatow, squirm in his seat. If 911 jokes (Too soon? Apparently not!), holocaust references and a scene with a baby being made to do something the Divinyls once sang about (look it up, it was top twenty in 1991) sound too outrageous, then this movie is not for you. If, however, you don’t mind muttering “That’s not right” while laughing out loud, there is much here to enjoy.
The big surprise is Bradley Cooper in a role that not only establishes him as a leading man after a long run as the good looking second banana in movies like Failure to Launch and Wedding Crashers, but also proves that he can be funny. Really funny. He’s a reactive comedian and doesn’t get many punch lines, but his response to finding a tiger in his hotel room bathroom is priceless.
The Hangover is a wild brain-dead movie about men behaving badly that breaks so many taboos it makes raunchy comedies like Knocked Up seem tame.