Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Grandma's Boy

Starring: Allen Covert, Doris Roberts, & Linda Cardellini
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

While having discussions about modern comedies, and thinking about which films will stand the test of time, the film, Grandma's Boy is always brought up, and I could never understand why. I saw this film when it first came out and was less than impressed, still I'm constantly hearing about the film and decided to give it a second chance, to see if I was missing something. What I always admired about this film, was that Adam Sandler finally gave his underlings the chance to shine. With experience comes knowledge, and the possibility of being more than just one liners in the middle of one of his films, that was the hope anyway. The story follows an adult game tester named Alex (Allen Covert), who is forced to move in with his Grandmother and become part of her Golden Girls lifestyle. Along with her and her roommates, there are several funny moments, but nothing to write home about. The rest of this film just isn't that funny! Most films about losers, connect to the audience and make you pull for them in the end, but when it comes to Alex, I just really didn't care all that much. In typical Sandler form, there is a girl and some weird conspiracy involved, but the whole thing wasn't even good enough for the man who starred in Jack & Jill, so to call it one of the funniest movies of all time, it isn't even close. It's evident to see what the writers were going for, but the fact of the matter is, that the characters just aren't that interesting, and the film isn't raunchy or slap-stick enough to be anything more than a passing memory.

American Heist

Starring: Hayden Christensen, Adrien Brody, & Jordana Brewster
Rating: 3 out 5 stars

It isn't fair and it isn't right, but in the minds of many moviegoers, certain performers will always be associated with their most memorable roles. For me, Hayden Christensen will always be Anakin Skywalker, and it's strange to see him in anything but a Science Fiction film, but that doesn't mean he's not capable of playing anything else, as he shows in American Heist. Christensen plays James Kelly, an man who became an ex-con, for simply looking up to and trying to help his older brother, Frankie (Adrien Brody). As James is getting his life on track, Frankie is being released from prison and is of course looking for one big score. Now, James has to decide what's more important, keeping his new life on track or saving his older brother. Hayden Christensen gives an admirable performance, once you get passed the initial shock of Anakin cursing and covered in tattoos, but it's Adrien Brody who steals the show. Brody isn't an Academy Award winner for nothing, as his character pulls at the heart strings and has you running the gambit of emotions. Everyone knows someone like Frankie and wonders which way they'll turn out. In this case, there is also the added incentive of finding out if he'll drag his brother along with him, either way. American Heist isn't the best film out there, the story has been done, and at times, it's a little dull. This film is more about the characters and their values more than anything else. There's a fair share of language and guns, but unlike many other thrillers, that's not really the focus here, which in the end, is appreciated.

Cruel & Unusual (2014)

Starring: David Richmond-Peck, Bernadette Saquibal, & Richard Harmon
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Imagine having a bad dream, in which you see a loved one die at your hands. Only to wake up in some kind of asylum, not knowing what's real and what's inside of your own head. That is just one of the themes questioned in the new Sci-fi Thriller, Cruel & Unusual. This is one strange film, that will leave you questioning the nature of reality, but is it all that believable? The story is definitely unique, but has more than several appealing plot holes, that will leave you wondering if the movie was just lazy or beyond your comprehension. The film centers on Edger, played poorly by David Richmond-Peck. Are we really supposed to believe that this guy is capable of the temper or heroism his character is supposed to have displayed? Even less believable is that he's got a hot wife! Personally, I watched this strange film for Richard Harmon, best known as one of the stars of The 100. Harmon truly brings the words devilishly handsome to life, as behind that innocent face and crooked in smile, something sinister is always lurking, and that's what makes him so entertaining. The bottom line is that Cruel & Unusual is a weird film, that makes you think and can be frustrating at times. As a critic, I see massive holes in the story, but maybe, just maybe those were intentional, left to us to fill in the gaps, in which case, the film itself could be as smart and deep as it's plot.

Mr. Belvedere

Starring: Christopher Hewitt, Ilene Graff, Bob Uecker, Brice Beckham, Tracy Wells, & Rob Stone

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Now days, most people only recognize Mr. Belvedere as a frequent butt of Family Guy jokes. On the surface, it was just another 80s sitcom, one of the founding members of ABC's classic TGIF line-up, but for those of us who have come to love this show, we realize that it was so much more.

Mr. Belvedere is an English butler, who was created in a 1947 novel, starred in a 1948 movie, and modernized for television in 1985. The show centered on Lynn Belvedere (Christopher Hewitt), a British Royal butler, who has been hired to work for a middle class family in suburban Pittsburgh. Most of the time, it's your every day run of the mill sitcom, but what made this show extremely different, was it's very special episodes, which occurred several times a season.

The show ran from 1985-1990, yet it still managed to be the first television show to tackle issues such as AIDS, bullying, stranger danger, elder rights, and even homosexuality. Often times the family would come into conflict and face three choice, Mrs. Owens, who always does the right things, Mr. Owens, who never does the right thing, and Mr. Belvedere the voice of reason that lies somewhere in the middle. 

As for the cast, they are as unique and strange a mix as ever seen on television. The main sources of comedy come from Mr. Belvedere (played by Christopher Hewitt, between known for his performances on Broadway than anything else) and his dealings with Wesley T. Owens (Brice Beckham), who is as twisted and psychotic as any sitcom child could ever be. Mr. Belvedere has frequent run-ins' and a contentious relation with head of the household, George (played by Bob Uecker, a former baseball player), which usually lead to some quick one liners, and even more laughs.

Mr. Belvedere was really ahead of it's time and extremely underrated as far as television history is concerned. It may forever be remembered as that show with the butler, that led into Full House, but for it me, it has always been an image of how the not so perfect family should function and work together. It is a mixture of laughter, tears, and life lessons that is as relevant today as it was back then.