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Out in Theaters: ‘BAYWATCH’

What to say about Baywatch, the new movie from Paramount and Horrible Bosses director Seth Gordon, that can’t simply be assumed? R-rated by virtue of scatalogical humor – penii, both of the flaccid and majorly erect variety, crowd the screen; jaws dangle, gawking at flopping mammaries;  – and frivolous vulgarities, Baywatch fails to insert much conviction into its raunch and lacks even more in the originality department.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS

I could rant and rave about EDM culture till the MDMAddicts foam at the mouth. What’s supposed to be about music really only appears to focus on grabbing the nearest thing and doing it — be it man, woman or drug. Famous DJs make trash music that sells because it’s what we all want to hear. A new-age art form that’s endemic in my generation, EDM shows more about how we’ve raged than how we’ve changed. I hoped We Are Your Friends might delve into the DJ lifestyle that’s evolved into an addiction. At some points, it blurs the lines and senses and manages to say something poignant. Then it OD’s and it’s a bad trip from there. Read More

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Out in Theaters: NEIGHBORS

I invited my good friend Matt to see Neighbors with me on Tuesday. Matt, was my fraternity’s president last year. I figured if there was anyone to watch this movie with, it’d be him. We’ve lived in the fraternity together long enough to see the pitfalls and the benefits of a lifestyle predicated on brotherly love and often times poisoned by alcohol. But, more than beer bongs and beer pong, Matt and I have come to learn that the stereotype associated with fraternity living is misplaced and disillusioned.

Total Frat Move and the bullshit that pervades today’s society are just facades: guys with small units and smaller brains trying to emulate a lifestyle that was only realistic in the ‘70s. Fraternity living is about the bond that’s shared between boys as they become men and the values and experiences that join them together. Guys who call themselves “frat” aren’t fraternal: they’re idiots. The folks who made Neighbors rely heavily upon the latter. They probably never stepped into a fraternity house in college.

Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne (Bridesmaids) are the Radners, new parents of a young daughter Stella, live in a small cul-de-sac close to a local college. They take bad parenting to the next level: Rogen smokes weed at work, they have sex in front of their baby, and they try to take Stella to her first rave. Yet, they’re completely upset when Delta Psi Beta, a group of new-age frat bros, moves in next door. Had the casting director chosen Katherine Heigl instead, this might just be a Knocked Up sequel

DFB, led by the incessantly frustrating Zac Efron and the brother who got the bad alleles, Dave Franco, are Cro-Magnons who stumbled upon a Brazzers account instead of fire. DPsiB might as well stand for Douchebags & Pretty Boys. Their composite is riddled with guys named Scoonie (Christopher Mintz-Plasse, whose “enormous penis” is cashed in for at least 20 jokes), Garf, Thumbsucker, Assjuice, Jizzface and Balldrop.

Their fraternity’s values bog down to how much one can smoke and drink without dying. Efron’s goal is to live up to past Delta Psi’s. Fun cameos from Lonely Island, Workaholics and Jake Johnson show famous Delta Psi’s who “invented” such fratty traditions as beer pong, the toga party and the boot & rally. Like any fraternity member, Efron wants to craft his own legend and put his name up on the wall.

In order to fraternize with the new neighbors, the Radners head over to party with the bros. Rogen does a ton of mushrooms, Byrne straps a baby monitor to her belt and hits the dance floor. Efron entertains them in an attempt to get them on his good side. When Rogen betrays him and calls the frat on the cops for being too loud the next night, Efron makes things personal.

Neighbors relies on the ridiculous situations that emerge when frat is pitted against innocent local middle-aged family. Efron and his crew rip the airbags out of their car, Rogen and Byrne try to start a hazing scandal. Rogen and Byrne flood the frat’s basement, Efron and his crew start a dildo fundraiser disguised as a bake sale to raise money to fix the damage. It turns into Neigh-Bros. The film feels longer than an hour and a half. Through all that, I didn’t even get to witness a beer-bong or shotgun. Disappointing.

Somewhere in the middle, Rogen’s hilarious wisecracks and the frat’s shenanigans go from raucous to atrocious. Director Nicholas Stoller, a Harvard grad who knows better, flushes the comedic toilet and clogs it with dick humor, offensive fraternity stereotypes and puke-worthy gross-out moments. They turn hazing into a joke, rape into a punch-line. At one point, Byrne spews milk from her veiny breasts. Delta Psi rips a guys’ pubes off. Then, the Radner baby fits a condom in her mouth and their doctor jokes that the baby has HIV. No laughs. The only thing that threatened to come out of my mouth was stomach acid.

Rogen makes raunchy paunchy. He’s by far the best part of this movie and the only redeeming factor that kept it from disaster. His chubby physique is pasted everywhere in this film, but sadly he doesn’t have enough weight to carry it by himself; too often he’s reduced to using his heft as a punchline like Vince Vaughn uses his height. We see him bent over his wife, or modeling in front of an Abercrombie. His ass is everywhere. He’s funniest smoking a joint and cracking wise with his buddies, but we don’t get to see nearly enough of that.

The male form has taken on a new comedic identity, seemingly since Jason Segel flopped his good-looking member out in Stoller’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. But it’s hard to rationalize that the same person who made Five-Year Engagement, Get Him to The Greek and the aforementioned, made this poo-poo platter of unfunny, homoerotic, gross-out dick comedy. Somewhere along the way, he lost track of who he was. It’s just hard to believe someone this hilarious could make something as laughable as a Tyler Perry movie. I was half-expecting Adam Sandler to play the baby. Maybe that would’ve been funny.

Nevertheless, Rogen and Byrne have great chemistry, and his charm even helps humanize the atrociously bad Efron, who hasn’t gotten any better since That Awkward Moment. Cool cameos from comedians like Lisa Kudrow, Jason Mantzoukas (The League), and Natasha Leggero help the shit float, and there are some great laughs in here—notably Franco 3D-printing his penis and the frat’s careful airbag placement.

By the end, it was too traumatizing to enjoy. Normally one for gross-out raunch, this caught me off guard. Maybe it hit too close to home. Or maybe rape and hazing and dick jokes and projectile breast-milk are about as funny as domestic violence. I’ve seen one too many penises in my day. I’m on penis overload. No homo.

At the end, Rogen turns to Byrne and tells her, “things have changed… I like old people shit now.” And maybe that’s my problem. Rogen’s outgrown this dreck, and so have I. Give me a good book to read or some Game of Thrones. A younger, more impressionable Chris might have loved Neighbors, but I’m turning 20 in four days and this stuff just isn’t as funny anymore. As much as hazing and rape and ragers and alcohol addiction and guys nicknamed Spoonfeeder might be realities in the Greek world, they’re far from what fraternities stand for, and they’re way too personal issues to be remotely funny. Neighbors crosses the line into scary territory. If you’re trying to live vicariously through assholes, go ahead and read Total Frat Move.

I’ve got enough fraternity experiences to write two books. None of them resemble what I saw Tuesday night. Hell, my fraternity chapter was shut down in ’04 for being the most dangerous in the country. They had nothing on DFB. Matt gives Neighbors two stars out of five. I have to agree with him.

C-

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Worst Case Scenario Casting for STAR WARS VII

Zanakin
“The horror…the horror.

According to recent reports, Zac Efron has (maybe-potentially-hopefully-not) been in discussions with Director J.J. Abrams regarding potential casting in Star Wars: Episode VII. This, following earlier news this week that Adam Driver is set to portray a Sith Lord in the newest Disney-sponsored saga. For anyone who’s seen Efron’s work—most recently That Awkward Moment, quite possibly the year’s worst film to date—this could spell disaster for the film, which already seems like it’s on a galactic crash course. At least this isn’t the worst possible casting, as it certainly could be worse. Here are some actors we definitely don’t want to see anywhere near this trilogy.

 

1. Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart Yoda

With Abrams’ reboot, there certainly will be creatures of all shapes and sizes floating through hyperspace. Let’s hope Kevin Hart, nuisance personified, isn’t one of them. He’s everywhere these days. He’s like the force, a constant presence you don’t see but definitely feel; you couldn’t escape him if you tried. Whether it’s terrible movies (recent examples: Ride Along, Grudge Match, and Think Like a Man), the NBA All-Star Celebrities’ Game, or all over BET, KHart has burned himself into the intergalactic rolodex. Though it would be funny to see him bouncing around with a lightsaber, this shouldn’t happen in any dimension.

2. Adam Sandler

Adam Solo

Adam Sandler hasn’t made anything worthwile since 2002, and pretty much everything he touches turns to space junk. It would help if he were still funny, but that Sandler is in a galaxy far far way. Just imagine Sandler trying to fly the Millenium Falcon. And really, how many roles would he play? It’d be great to see him play Chewbacca, Han Solo, Leia and Luke simultaneously. We beg you, Adam Solo, stay away.

3. John Travolta

Chancellor Travlotine

Is it wrong that I think it would be aweseome if John Travolta was brought into the Star Wars galaxy? How many names would he mispronounce? So much intentional comedy would ensue with Travolta trying to pronounce “midichlorians” (mardiacloritis) and “Dagobah” (Deborawr). Okay, maybe this one should happen. Get on it Abrams, you’re our only hope!

It remains to be seen how the rest of the cast will be filled out as production starts in April. With Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 6 set to release Friday, and all the castings sure to come out in the next month, this is sure to be a force-filled March. As Travolta would say: Mary the frost be wart yew.

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Out in Theaters: THAT AWKWARD MOMENT

“That Awkward Moment”
Directed by Tom Gormican
Starring Zac Efron, Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller, Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas
Comedy, Romance
94 Mins
R

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A butt ugly rom-com masquerading as a dude’s night out, That Awkward Moment sees women fawning over tools and douchebags for their tooliness and douchebaggery. After all, ain’t women just the dumbest?!

This farce of a comedy is so tone deaf to the complex intricacies of gender that it’s so ruthlessly trying to break down that audiences on either side of the genitalia fence will find themselves scoffing in affronted disbelief. I mean, this is a movie that presumes that all guys live for the next one night stand and find commitment on the same level as getting capped in the knee. Women, no matter how beautiful and talented, on the other hand find themselves lucky just to be in the presence of these idols of douche. No matter how many times their needs are forgotten, ignored or actively trampled, they’ll always come running back because… guys are hot. AMIRIGHT?

After stunning breakout performances last year, it’s a certifiable shame to see Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan’s considerable talent put to absolute waste in this turd sandwich of a film. Teller manages to slide in the only few chuckles but even his jesting persona is overcast with a torrent of sleaze, the main ingredient this film has served up. Even though he’s the only one actually committing here, Michael B. Jordan might as well have been phased in from another brand of C-grade rom-com as his super-sized cheesy, level 11 cliché romantic subplot butts heads with the should-be elbow nudging plot line going on with the other fellas.

This rehashed bro dramedy, or bramedy, is at it’s core a collection of defunct disparate pieces blended together in a distasteful stock of familiar genre truisms. There’s the heavily muscled front man (Efron), a chick-bangin’ machine who drinks whiskey and dresses like every day is a frat party; the wingman best friend (Teller), another go-getter of epic lady-scoring potential; and the heartbroken third (Jordan) trying to get the wind back beneath his cuckolded wings.

Efron’s leading lady and central foil, Imogen Poots, though undeniably adorable, is as intellectually and emotionally stagnant as the picture itself. But let’s give credit where credit is due, she is gorgeous. Even beyond that orbit of eye makeup, she is simply stunning. Unfortunately for her, her looks can only carry her so far and when her performance isn’t even able to keep her American accent in check, there’s signs of a serious breakdown. She plays cute fine but I’m not convinced she’s trying. It’s one thing to be natural, it’s quite another to just stand in front of a camera acting like yourself and riding into the sunset on your looks.

Speaking of capitalizing in the old looks department, Zac Efron here has the depth of a hair gel commercial. Arrogant, dimwitted and cocky, with a bad and flagrantly sexist attitude to boot, Efron’s brand of bro ho is the epitome of how Americans ought not self-represent. That Awkward Moment tells us early on that this is the generation lead by the selfish. It then goes on to cram that point down our throats for the next grueling 95 minutes. No one is more of a shining beacon of selfish oaf than Efron. And though he’s not to blame for the heinously unpleasant script (that comes courtesy of debut director Tom Gormican) he fails to bring an ounce of humanity to the picture. Frankly, I could never see him on the screen again and be all the happier for it. Unlike his co-stars, Efron is a dying star; he’s burned bright and will soon fizzle out.

Hateful and misogynist dreck that The Awkward Moment is all just boils down to a less clever modern retelling of Josh Harnett‘s 40 Days and 40 Nights, tone deaf to how distasteful its message is and blind to the unblinking plagiarism of a thousand different rom coms. Basically devoid of comedy, this is a strange beast that really has no audience and chastises the audience it does have. While comedies tend to be more male-centric and rom-coms most certainly female-centric, this is a film that guys will find repugnant and girls will be insulted by. It must be hoping to find its audience amongst the pea-brained and unscrupulous. As for the title, I’m not sure exactly which awkward moment the film is referring to as there were so many jokes left hanging in the air, waiting for the other shoe to drop, that the whole affair is one long, half-wincing awkward moment. At least they hit the nail on the head somewhere.

D

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