Oh Set Me Up With The Spirit In The Sky

TITEmovieposterAll right, all you haters, I’m saying this first to get it out of the way: I like Seth Rogen.  I like Seth Rogen and James Franco and Jonah Hill and Jay Baruchel and all those other Judd Apatow boys.  I liked them in Freaks and Geeks.  I liked them in Undeclared and I’ve liked them in every movie they’ve spawned from Knocked-Up to I Love You, Man.  Honestly, I wish that I knew these guys in real life and could hang out with them on the regular.  So, before you read this review, just know that I am already their fan.

This Is The End is a story about the end – as in, the end of civilization as we know it, the end of the earth as it stands now.  It’s the story of what may happen to Seth Rogen and his boy Jay Baruchel should the apocalypse occur while they happen to be attending a house-warming party at James Franco’s new Hollywood mansion.  These guys (and so many others) play themselves.  Well… exaggerated, semi-ridiculous versions of themselves.  Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill and Danny McBride round out this sausage-heavy sextet who fill nearly every scene.  There are cameos galore, dick and ejaculation jokes out the wazoo and a fifty foot tall Satan sporting one seriously intimidating boner.  That’s right – in this apocalyptic flick, the apocalypse is REAL.  No zombies, no flesh-eating plague, no nuclear war.  Just the earth opening up to swallow all the sinners, fire and brimstone kind of apocalypse that the Bible has promised us.  Or at least, as writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg imagine it.

And it is raucously funny.  It isn’t deep or complex by any possible definition.  There is no greater religious or social meaning, no intricate plot to be found.  The story is nothing more than what these guys imagine might happen to them should the apocalypse suddenly, finally, come.  What ensues is an hour and 45 minutes of shenanigans.  The good news, I laughed for a solid 90 minutes of that 105 min. span.  Say what you will about these fellas, they are funny.  Yes, their jokes are absurd and juvenile and I freely admit that dick jokes can and most certainly do get old.  But they can also hit the mark and in this flick, with this cast, they do, over and over again.  Of course, they aren’t all dick and cum jokes, but a great many of them are and they are, somehow, consistently funny.  Honestly, I kept waiting to get tired of them, to start yawning instead of laughing but it just didn’t happen.  These guys take some of the most inane and predictable material and deliver it in a way that makes people laugh.  A lot.

And there’s something about watching actors play themselves in a self-deprecating, mocking way that just amuses the hell out of me.  When I first saw the trailer for this, I wondered if it would feel self-indulgent.  Like, ‘hey look how much money we’ve got now, we can make any ol’ stupid, shallow movie we want!’  But that never came through, not one bit.  Rather than stroke their own egos, they poke fun at themselves and instead of feeling like a voyeur on the lives of the rich and famous, you just feel like you’re in on the fun.

The cast is great, exactly what we’ve come to expect from this crew.  Rogen and Baruchel play the leads and their chemistry as old friends whoThis-Is-The-End-all-six may have slightly out-grown each other works perfectly.  McBride is every bit the selfish, insensitive jerk I imagine him to be in the film’s most villainous role (other than that of Satan, of course) and even Franco is capable of making fun of himself by playing on the rumors that he’s awfully full of himself and unhealthily attached to his boy, Seth.  Jonah Hill is actually more likeable here, playing himself, than in his earlier roles as the self-absorbed douche bag and each and every cameo will leave you smiling.  (Some more than others – ahem, Channing Tatum.)  The stand-out in this gang is Craig Robinson, who is simply delightful.  He has perfect comedic timing and can do everything from deadpan (The Office) to absurdly silly (Zack and Miri Make A Porno) and he’s hilarious at it all.  For real, Robinson belongs in ALL the comedies.

If you hate this crew and have never liked any of their work, I’d say this likely won’t change your mind.  But even if your feelings toward them are luke warm, I’d bet you’ll enjoy this.  It won’t win any awards or earn a place in cinematic history, but it certainly is one fun gigglefest of a flick.



You’re Crazy, B*tch

Has anyone heard of this new ensemble movie starring (just to name a few) Emma Stone, Richard Gere, Anna Faris, Christ Pratt, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Kate Winslet, Elizabeth Banks, Jeremy Allen White, Stephen Merchant, Johnny Knoxville, Uma Thurman… and about 15 other well-known actors whose names I’m too tired to type?  Yeah, me neither.  I can’t seem to embed the trailer into this post – I apologize – so I’ve linked it below.  Check it out:


I love a good ensemble flick but usually, in my opinion, ensemble comedies just don’t work.  The occasional romantic comedy might pull it together well enough but a full-on raunchy comedy?  It’s hard to have faith.  With 11 (yes, I mean eleven!) directors, I’m thinking it’ll be 11 different shorts connected by some common thread, which, in all honesty, sounds unappealing.  Disjointed and shallow, most likely.  BUT, with this cast, I’m inclined to think that if anyone can do it, maybe it’s this group.


ravingmadcast, Episode 4


….Aaaaaand part 2 of our discussion from last week: Listen as we talk about our goal to watch all of Entertainment Weekly’s “50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen.” Silly us, we thought we coud go through this list in 10 minutes tops! Captain Underestimation! This list has a great mix of films, drama, comedy, horror, documentaries – almost all of which we’ve most definitely never seen. We’ll be posting a written list and link at the top of our homepage as well, to visually track our progress. I know it’s cheesy but we’d love to inspire you to check some out as well! It’s always great to uncover a gem you never knew existed.

~Annie & Nikki


He’s Talking To The Man In The Mirror

Wanderlust is the story of a relatively normal couple seeking a new life in the wake of the destruction of the life they’d built together.  Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston star as George and Linda, a NYC couple who buy a studio apartment and within 24 hours, lose both of their incomes.  They consequently lose their brand new (and super tiny) apartment and leave Manhattan in search of employment.  George’s douche bag brother, who lives in Atalanta, offers him an entry level job at his company along with a guest bedroom during George and Linda’s time of transition.  On the way to Atlanta, the couple stops at a B&B for a night only to discover it is also a communal-living group of unemployed hippies drinking/smoking pot/playing guitar and generally having a kick-ass party all the time.  They spend one magical night with said hippies and decide to return for a trial period of two weeks after less than 2 days with George’s brother, Rick, his sad and lonely wife, Marissa (expertly played by the under-used Michaela Watkins – god, I love deadpan) and their jackass of a son.

What ensues is an hour and a half of mediocre plot development, tired and predictable jokes and decent, though largely unimpressive performances.  That is, by all except Paul Rudd.  The few stellar scenes in this slightly above average comedy are stellar because of Paul Rudd.  It turns out, Paul Rudd is THE SHIT!!!!!!  I’ve been a fan for quite some time but never have I realized the full potential of his comedic chops until this film.  Because the thing is, he usually plays a side character.  Even in I Love You, Man, which I loved and in which Rudd knocked it out of the park, he shared the lead with the very funny and charismatic Jason Segel, with whom Rudd had such wonderful chemistry that his singular performance felt more like the product of his talent, the talent of the cast and the excellent writing.  But now, after seeing Wanderlust, I know that Rudd can carry a movie ON HIS OWN and even amidst a cast of mostly okay actors.  Not to say that Aniston or Justin Theroux weren’t up to par; they gave performances that at no point could be considered less than good acting.  They just were never really great, either.

The array of side characters get a few laughs but are mostly a slew of underdeveloped, one-note (and one-joke) characters who do everything expected of them and very little, if anything, more.  Honestly, it’s Rudd who makes this movie remarkable.  And the scene that happens somewhere in the last quarter of the flick, a scene in which Rudd gives his penis a pep talk while looking in a mirror in an effort to psych himself up for a sexual encounter he does not want to engage in, all the while talking in a voice and accent reminiscent of former president G.W. Bush, will make you nearly piss your pants.  This scene alone is worth sitting through the other 90 minutes to see.

I just have to add that I love how mainstream it has become to show full frontal male nudity.  I’m not sure when it became acceptable to expose the male genitalia in R-rated (not NC-17) movies but I think it’s brilliant, especially when said genitals are used as comedic props.  I remember in high school (that is, the ’90s) it was unheard of to see such a thing in a non-pornographic film.  There were rumors that if paused at exactly the right moment, one might catch a glimpse of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dangling member in The Terminator and then there was Kevin Bacon’s surprise nudity in the scandalous Wild Things but I don’t think it was until Forgetting Sarah Marshall that penises were used for getting laughs.  Then, of course, Observe & Report and now, Wanderlust.  I, for one, say it’s about time.  Penises are nothing to be afraid of, people.  And, if used wisely, can be quite hilarious.

Overall, I recommend seeing Wanderlust.  It’s a decent movie and an okay comedy with a few scenes sprinkled throughout that rank in the top 50 most hilarious moments captured on film.  Mostly, thanks to Paul Rudd.


You Beautiful, Naive, Sophisticated, Newborn Baby

I have now seen two episodes of the new NBC comedy Up All Night, and while I really, really reallllllllllly want to love it, alas, I do not.  I laughed out loud, hard, eight times while watching the season premiere of Raising Hope.  For Up All Night, the laugh total was zero. I didn’t even feel that amused thing in your tummy where there’s a little ball of joyful emotions, but no sound comes out.  Truly, all I felt was embarrassment, and annoyance.

It’s clear NBC is pumped for Up All Night – the commercials are so shiny, the production value is obviously very high.  Aside from the big-name stars (Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph), the look of the show is very crisp.  So far though, the writing is poor.  I adore Arnett and Rudolph (I hope she hears my plea to be BFFs).  They are both mentally insane-funny.  They have that unstable aura – at any moment they’re gonna do something WHACK.  But here, they are frenetic, and it’s tiresome.  Rudolph’s character, talk-show host Ava, (kinda like Oprah) is supposed to be hilariously out of touch with the real world, and in love with herself, yet so far none of that has elicited an actual laugh from me.  Applegate and Arnett’s energy and spasticness is bugging me.  Watching them spank each other and dance lamely in front of a window because they thought their new neighbor couldn’t see them (oh surprise, he totally saw) was just gross and stupid beyond belief, not funny. I found the premise of this show (happily married couple unexpectedly has a child in their early 30s) to be really promising, and the promos were hilarious, but it’s not gelling for me – yet.  The thing is, I like the stars and the idea enough to keep watching; that is, if others do the same and NBC has enough faith to give it a little time (which I’m going to assume it does, given the shit-ton of ads I see constantly.  Sidenote:  I always feel bad for the slew of shows that networks don’t promote.  They’re like little abandoned babies).

Comedies take time to find their “groove.”  Some will never find it, for others it comes quicker (The Office, 30 Rock), but my point is, it’s never immediate.  The audience needs to become familiar with the characters and situations, and also the particular kind of humor a show is offering up – broad, niche, raunch, family friendly, etc.

I think Parks & Recreation is a perfect example of this phenomena.  The first season felt (to me, at least), like it was trying to be The Office in a government building.  The second season had the storylines and characters finding and solidifying their footing, while the third absolutely blew my mind.  I can no longer imagine my life without the delightful absurdity of Tom Haverford and Ron Swanson – two of my favorite TV characters, possibly of all-time, folks.  At the show’s infant stages, they were simply weird dudes.  But now, knowing their personalities and what to expect from them, glory is achieved weekly, people.

I’m soooo forever grateful NBC stuck with P&R, and I’m hoping they’ll do the same with Up All Night – as long as the latter is up for the challenge of coming into its own.  It has all the DNA of a quirky, zany comedy – maybe 30 Rock spliced with Modern Family?  If it can find that sweet spot, it’s all win.

PS: If you have ever agreed with me on anything I have mentioned on this site, do yourself a favor and go watch Parks & Rec (from the beginning, DUH).  The whacked title of this post is a direct quote from last night’s season premiere, to give you an idea of the awesomeness.  Your life will never be the same. 🙂


Don’t Even Bother With My Heart

You know I have high standards for romantic comedies.  Or rather, I want to, it’s just that so few actually meet them.  Hollywood has pumped out one predictable, gag-tastic disappointment after another over the past several years and I’m loathe to admit that upon seeing the previews for each one, my sad, love-starved little hopes stirred and swelled with anticipation.  At first introduction to the latest attempt to trump the iconic When Harry Met Sally…, it happened again.  My expectations ambitiously rose.  And this time, they were only half let down.

Friends With Benefits, like all romantic comedies, is predictable in its formulaic plot and often trite dialogue.  It trips over (but quickly recovers from) several of the usual pitfalls.  He’s commitment-phobic, jaded by his parents’ broken marriage and father’s illness; she’s emotionally scarred, so warped by her mother’s series of disastrous relationships and lack of a father that she clings to the notion of Prince Charming and true love, fairy tale-style.  The movie opens with each getting dumped by their significant other and told they’re damaged goods.  They meet, their friendship blossoms and the inevitable “just sex, no emotions” pact is made, sealed with right hand on iPad Bible app.

Issue no. 1: why does Hollywood continue to pretend that gals like Mila Kunis aren’t abnormally attractive?  I like Kunis and I’d like to see her in more movies, but whatever character she plays should openly own the fact (yes, it’s a fact) that she is smoking hot.  Stop making her pretend that she’s just an average girl with all of our average-girl insecurities.  Try as you might, we won’t buy it.

The more serious issues I have are with the attempts at serious, heartfelt dialogue.  Here are a few actual lines from the movie: “You’re great together.”  “This is the happiest I’ve ever seen you.”  “You’re perfect for each other.”  “If you think that there’s even a chance that she could be it, you fix it.”  Swear to god, those are the literal, word-for-word lines.  I’m sure they’re lines (maybe with slight variations) from at least a dozen other romantic comedies of the past 20 years.  Nothing original there.  The lowest moment, in my opinion, was Justin Timberlake’s father opening up to him about “the one who got away” so as to prevent him from making the same mistake.  Really?  How many times have we seen that gem?

All that being said, FWB is entertaining and well worth a watch.  It did not have the warm, glow worm effect on me that my most treasured romantic comedies have but it’s cute and very, very funny.  The supporting characters, including the likes of Woody Harrelson and Jenna Elfman, are charismatic and give the two leads much needed depth.  (Side note: I adore Woody Harrelson.  Period.  And why doesn’t Jenna Elfman get more, and better, roles?  She is the embodiment of charm.)  And the minute cameos by Andy Samberg and Emma Stone were super funny, if way too short.  Timberlake and Kunis have great chemistry as friends and as lovers and seemed to have a ton of fun, making the movie fun to watch.

Which leads me to this flick’s real saving grace: the sharp, hilarious banter between not only the leading couple, but nearly all of its characters.  It’s full of great quips, fast, clever one-liners and snarky pop culture references.  I defy anyone who doesn’t literally laugh out loud at at least one line uttered in nearly every scene.  Even the cheeseball, too-serious moments referenced above are quickly made up for with the sharp-tongued repartee that immediately follows.  Also, there is LOADS of sex, complete with MK side-boob and JT’s rippling abs.  And it isn’t the melodramatic, too-magical-for-reality sex that movies usually showcase, but sex involving awkward positioning, muscle cramps and “Wait!  I have to go to the bathroom!” right in the middle.  You know, like real life shit.  When Jamie (Kunis) gives Dylan (Timberlake) lessons on his oral performance, I simultaneously laughed out loud and wanted to applaud the woman bold enough to actually say: “What are you trying to do – dig your way to China?  You’re not a lizard.”  Right on, chicka.


I Wish It Had Been Free…

30 Minutes or Less is a pitiful little disappointment of a film, one that I was hoping would be great, given the pretty awesome cast and hilarious-sounding premise.  Unfortunately, it didn’t really “deliver” what I wanted. (Groan)

The adorably nervous and socially awkward Jesse Eisenberg (who kicked all kinds of ass in movies like The Social Network, The Squid and the Whale, and Zombieland) stars as Nick, a guy who has literally nothing going for him, except that he delivers pizza.  Poor Nick becomes a kidnap/hostage-type victim who is forced (with the use of a bomb strapped to his chest) to rob a bank by two hillbillies (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) who need cash quick to pay a hitman to off Kenny Powers’ asshole father, so they can inherit his millions.  Wow.  Typing that out felt even more ridiculous than I imagined it would.  Nick literally has no one to turn to for help except his former best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari).  Who in the fuck’s name is Chet?

My problems with this film stem mainly from its mean spirit, which can work if done well, but this was just sloppy, slightly stupid, and didn’t give its talented cast enough to work with.  There’s a fine line between a dark comedy and something that is just unpleasant.  I’m not a prude, and I’m not trying to say something blatantly ridiculous like I was disturbed by this film; I just felt like the meanness outweighed the funny.  Director Ruben Fleischer also helmed Zombieland, which was made of so, so, SO much awesome, and there’s none of that energy here.

The more I marinate on the cast, the sadder I become.  I love Danny McBride, and while Kenny Powers is a MASSIVE douche, he’s infused with SO. MUCH. HILARITY. that it’s okay, and he becomes a lovable douche.  In this film, his Dwayne was such a hateful, white trash evil pig from hell, that I had a hard time even laughing at him.  Nick Swardson’s Travis was Dwayne’s partner in crime, and the brains behind the bombs.  All I can ever see Swardson as is Reno 911‘s Terry Bernardino, the flaming, coked-out, roller skating wacko. And I LOVE that dude.  Travis didn’t really give Swardson any opportunity to be especially funny, and he’s more than capable of it.  Eisenberg was fine, he was a slight variation on the same kind of character he usually plays – the nervous, nerdy, weird, straight man.  Aziz Ansari is the final nail in the coffin – that dude usually CRACKS ME UP.  (Shout out to my boy TOM HAVERFORD).  He’s the kind of person who makes normal sentences, that would not be funny at all, HILARIOUS, just by the tone of his voice and vocal inflection.  Here, he tried his damnest, but it just wasn’t funny enough.

I don’t even feel much like going into the plot – it just doesn’t matter.  This might be funny if you were stoned, on your couch, with NOTHING else to do, but as an actual trip to the movies, it’s a bummer.  I didn’t despise this film, but it added nothing to my day, and is utterly forgettable.  About halfway through, four people straight up left the theater.  Out of TEN.  I can’t remember the last time I was at a movie where people actually LEFT.  I’d say leaving was a tad extreme, but looking back, I can’t really blame them.  They didn’t miss much.                                                                                                                                            ~Annie

Note the double entendre