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Out in Theaters: ‘AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR’ 

Over the course of 18 films and 10 years, Kevin Feige and his army of Marvel men and women have laid a pretty nifty foundation upon which the Marvel Cinematic Universe rests. What started with humble beginnings with 2008’s Iron Man has  since blown up into a cultural and financial supernova with no less than 30 recognizable characters and all that comes to a head with the Russo Brother’s astonishingly ambitious though perfunctorily flawed Avengers: Infinity War.  Read More

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Out in Theaters: ‘GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2’

Like the US government, the big whigs at Marvel have a sordid history of interventionism. Professed “creative differences” drove visionary Edgar Wright from Ant-Man, ran Patty Jenkins off Thor: The Dark World and kept Ava DuVernay at bay from Black Panther. The films in the MCU are larger than any standalone film; they must click and connect in complicated corporate webs, webs that have given us material such as the infamous Thor in a sauna scene in the widely forgotten Avengers: Age of Ultron. Which makes Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a film written and directed by one man, James Gunn, such a wildly fresh breathe of air.
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Out in Theaters: ‘THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN’

Produced in 1960, the original The Magnificent Seven, directed by the celebrated John Sturges and starring such Western icons as Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson at the height of their fame, was itself but a hard reflection of Akira Kurosawa’s six-years prior work, Seven Samurai. In its import to the U.S. of A., Seven Samurai became The Magnificent Seven as the story of a ragtag band of heroes come to aid a village under heel relocated to the American Wild Wild West. Now 56 years on, director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) has taken it upon himself to bring his distinct visual flourishes and knack for smart aleck smarm to bear on another retelling of some of what has become one of the world’s most iconic pieces of source material. Read More

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Out in Theaters: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY

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In 1977, George Lucas gifted the world Star Wars. Neither studio execs nor film critics could have ever predicted the momentous cultural phenomenon that Lucas’ strange little space opera transmogrified into; how it would touch every corner of the globe to the tune of billions upon billions of dollars; how it would leave an inimitable legacy for people to talk about from Boston to Beirut, Maine to Myanmar; how it would, quite simply, become one of the most important movies to ever be made. Everyone has seen Star Wars and if they haven’t, there’s a 97% chance it’s because they were born blind. Culturally, it’s a behemoth. Socially, it’s a must-know. Taste-wise, you like it or you’re a POS. It is the hive mind dictator itself; the all-encompassing King Shit. I’ve owned Star Wars toys since I could walk because who hasn’t?

Even now, almost forty years later, the prevailing zeitgeist within the science fiction community – from books to movies, TV shows to comic books – is populated by Star Wars‘ DNA, nearly to the point of pollution. Even when Lord Neckfat himself tried to capture lighting in a bottle again by making those junk jettisons that are the prequels, he forgot that his magnus opus was never about the special effects. Consider that Star Wars was for all intents and purposes a space samurai movie that shoed in equal parts Eastern philosophy and glo-stick swords. So what if the effects don’t hold up? We’re still dealing with giant slug gangsters and unforgettable cantina tunes and little green dudes who knew the force. And this is why we’ve witnessed such vehement backlash against Lucas’ irreparable re-tweaks, his ‘special ed’-itions: they take us out of the feeling of his dusty, late 1970s sci-fi sprawl. And it was always all about the feeling. And the feeling was good.

And like that untouchable trilogy, Guardians of the Galaxy may be poorly acted (Chris Pratt aside) but I’ll be damned if it’s not the closely thing we’ve ever got to that 1977 original masterwork. It’s wonky, weird, wild, completely cartoonish and fun as fuck. It’s Star Wars Revisisted. Its space crawl is Chris Pratt dancing to 70s top forty songs. It’s got an emperic baddie lording over all on Hologram Skype. It’s everything that Harrison Ford has every done melted down into one. It’s even got a Chewbacca. There’s quirk overflowing from every end, and enough tips of the hat to Star Wars to make even Sam Elliot nervous. I’m already Indiana Jonesing to revisit it because it feels good and frankly, I’m hooked on a feeling.

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Unlike the pantheon that is the MMU, cross-pollination with the outside Marvel Universe is kept to a minimum (with no mention of Tony Stark, Steven Rogers, or that big green head-case). Guardians of the Galaxy is able to stand on its own two feet and for it, I’m willing to stand on mine and applaud. After all, it was this ceaseless commercialization that cheapened the massively over-rated Captain America 2; the same sludge that made Iron Man 2 such a nightmare. Rather than lean on the platform of a larger universe, Guardians creates its own, expanding on the worlds that Marvel’s created naturally and with a sense of lively misadventure largely missing from its more club-footed counterparts.

In this regard, Guardians just might be Marvel’s crowning achievement. It’s pure unadulterated fun, made magical by hundreds of millions of dollars in top-of-the-line computer animation and made lovable by its plenitude of quirk and its narrow-yet-mammoth scope. The guardians may be set to save the entire galaxy but there’s an intimacy that’s lacking in similarly-sized superhero blockbusters. And did I mention how weird it is?

Guardians, more than anything that I can think of in the past decade, celebrates said strangeness like it’s a Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco. It’s not dark, it’s not gritty, it’s not “an untold origin.” It’s double-filtered, locally sourced, FDA-certified organic mirth. An anthropomorphized tree and a shit-talking, gun-firing, whiskey-slugging raccoon aren’t even the weirdest elements of this symphony of strange. I mean James Gunn isn’t known for being reigned in so you better believe there’s plenty of weird to go around.

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Michael Rooker (because who better?) is dyed blue and rocks a glowing metallic mohawk. His signature weapon is a magic arrow that zips around when he whistles. Gunn even let Dave Batista try to act. Sure he fails desperately but it’s not like Mark Hamill was ever a shining beacon of thespian promise. But seriously, Batista is a talent vacuum. The guy couldn’t act his way out of a First Grade Thanksgiving play.

As for the story, it starts on Earth with Peter Quill (Pratt). His death-bed occupying mother reaches out for his hand and he runs away, too frightened to face the reality of his mother’s demise. Cue a looking up at the stars bit as the heavens open up, a beam shoots down and little Quill is sucked up into a space ship. Alright, alright, alright.

Twenty years later and Quill’s an outlaw ravager, scavenging planets for goods to pawn. When his sights are set on a mysterious orb, a series of mishaps land him under the gun with a sizable bounty on his head. This is all a MacGuffin to assemble the eponymous Guardians as they all come together looking to score on Quill’s asking price.

This ragtag collection includes Groot (Vin Diesel), the walking, not-so-much-talking tree; Rocket (Bradley Cooper who sounds nothing like Bradley Cooper), a gun-toting, vest-wearing, expletive-yelling raccoon; Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a mean, green, alien-fighting machine; and Drax the Destroyer (Batista), a simple-minded, scarification-covered thug with a dead family. They’re as rag-taggy as the Millennium Falcon’s passengers, as disjointed as the Fellowship of the Ring. Some characters are better than others – I could do without Batista’s Drax ever opening his mouth and Saldana is surprisingly flat – but that’s par for the course.

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The whole tree/raccoon angle though works wonderfully, their odd relationship giving weight to what could otherwise feel distant or simply strange. Continuing with my ploy to mainstream Star Wars analogies, Groot is very much the Chewie of the equation. His only utterances consisting of “I am Groot”, he offers little to a conversation other than a sympathetic expression or some much needed shrub violence. It’d be smart to avoid playing him in a round of Dejarik. Rocket, like Han Solo before him, is the only one who understand Groot, a bit that Gunn returns to whenever he needs to conjure up a chuckle or two. It’s weird but dammit, it works.

And for how much we fawn over Groot and his pet raccoon, our relationship with Quill isn’t one that neatly fits a description. There’s a distance we feel to him and his wise-cracking ways, but it’s a distance by design. Born of the general distrust of the world around him, he’s an alien that just happens to be human. Him being an abducted orphan and all, you sympathize with his armor of sharp witticisms, you sneer with him at a galaxy that’s too tidy and needs to be knocked down a couple pegs; you’re ok with him being a butterfingered outlaw.

Chris Pratt’s sarcastic banter is a weapon that he wields like a lightsaber. His each and every retort earns a snicker and Pratt has earned the right to play dumb and bumbling and yet oddly charming, a combination he wears perfectly here. From our first encounter with him, he’s a goon of an explorer, a whiff of an adventurer. He wants to be called Star Lord but he just hasn’t earned the handle (his ongoing relationship with said handle goes on to be one of the film’s many highlights.)

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Guardians, in all rights, is about the creation of a mythology. It’s about carving out your stake in the world. It’s about grabbing a whip and a fedora and making the name Indiana Jones mean something. It’s about calling yourself Star Lord and not being satisfied until everyone else calls you that too. Darth Vader didn’t become the most feared name in the galaxy overnight. You gotta hone that shit (*hangs head that this was NOT what the prequel trilogy was about*).

Unlike previous Marvel movies, Guardians doesn’t rely on a cliffhanger; it’s not a sleek, flawless package; it’s not busy setting the table for what’s next; it’s not just another commercial for the inevitable team-up with Iron Man and Thor and Hulk and Black Widow and Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver and Captain America and The Winter Solider and Falcon and War Machine (er, Iron Patriot?). It’s a well-balanced breakfast in itself: it’s properly buttered toast and scrambled eggs and orange juice and a little bit of Dave Batista trying to act all served up with a smile.

For once, you won’t demand “But where are the other guys?!” Gunn’s triumph is happy to exist in its own little universe and for it, trumps Marvel’s other heroes. In 1977, George Lucas gifted the world Star Wars. In 2014, James Gunn gifted the world Guardians of the Galaxy, in all its strange glory.

A-

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY Trailer Rockets Online

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If you ever wanted to see Andy Dwyer, the Hulk’s little sister, StarFox (er, StarCoon?), and a teenage Treebeard team up to wage a battle of galactic proportions, then you might want to check out the first trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy that released earlier tonight.

Marvel’s latest brand integration venture is based on a comic series written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning that first ran in 2008. Guardians of the Galaxy follows a team of five outcasts as they find themselves accidentally caught in a cosmos-bending conflict after stealing a powerful orb from some evil maestro named Ronan the Accuser.

Coming off recent successes in The Lego Movie and Spike Jonze’s Her, Chris Pratt plays Peter Quill (the self-titled “Space-Lord”), a drunkard American thief who doesn’t seem to take anything seriously. He’s joined by Zoe Saldana in green body-paint, Bradley Cooper voicing a space raccoon, WWE fighter Dave Bautista, and Vin Diesel, who plays an extraterrestrial plant monster (colloquially known as a “tree”).

If those names weren’t enough to catch your interest, then maybe John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Karen Gillan and Benicio Del Toro acting in supporting roles will. Even Lee Pace joins in as the story’s villain, continuing his recent trend of distempered characters.

Judging from the trailer, Guardians of the Galaxy has potential for some good laughs and jackassery. James Gunn directs what looks to be a crass, CGI-filled romp that will at least hold your attention until Avengers: Age of Ultron releases next year.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTZ2Tp9yXyM

Guardians of The Galaxy is directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, John C. Reilly, Glenn Close, Karen Gillan, Benicio Del Toro and Lee Pace. It’ll start maings boatloads of money starting August 1, 2014.

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Out in Theaters: THE LEGO MOVIE

“The Lego Movie”
Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Starring Chris Pratt, Morgan Freeman, Will Arnett, Elizabeth Banks, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie
Animation, Action, Comedy
100 Mins
PG

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Dripping with commercial appeal and name brand recognition, The Lego Movie could have easily joined the ranks of previous toy-turned-tale blockbusters. With the likes of Transformers and Battleship, studios have established a shady history of leaning on bankable properties to churn out flimsy showcases that add up to little more than an audio assault and visual fireworks, a cheap attempt to capitalize on audience familiarity and earn a quick buck. While those movies sifted our childlike glee through a filter of blue-toned, sensory bombardment, attempting to twist our arms in hopes of nostalgic forgiveness and financial reward, The Lego Movie goes the completely opposite route and awards those hankering to see their favorite childhood toys onscreen with a gleefully told story of epic Lego magnitude. Irreverent and hyper-self-aware, this adaptation takes everything we loved about the buildable blocks and seamlessly weaves it into a startlingly awesome and fully engaging narrative about creativity, imagination and encouragement, resulting in the best animated movie since 2010’s Toy Story 3.

At the center of the Legoverse, lovable goof Chris Pratt voices Emett, a run-of-the-mill construction worker figure who tries his darnedest to assimilate with the uber-chipper Lego society marching in perfect formation around him. In Emett’s city, uniformity is the bee’s knees. Everyone loves the same song (“Everything is Awesome”), watches the same TV show (“Where Are My Pants?”) and has the same water cooler conversations day in and day out.

It’s a society structured around structure, a sociopolitical climate that’s laid out with instruction booklets (*wink*) and enforced with hive mind mentality. And no matter how hard Emett tries to fit in, he’s just so extraordinarily ordinary that people hardly remember his face (well that may be the result of everyone’s face being composed of same shade of iconic yellow, plastered with a smile and bulbous black eyes.) So when Emett stumbles upon a coveted brick and is mistakenly identified as “The Special”, he goes along with it. He allows new ally Wyldstyle (Elizabeth Banks) to believe that he’s a world class master builder because it’s the first time anyone has ever recognized potential in him.

Behind the scenes, President Business (a perfectly wacky Will Ferrell) secretly runs the show, cunningly steering the fate of the city’s inhabitants, hell bent on a maniacal scheme to unleash the ghastly Kragle, a weapon so devastating that it will forever glue the world into its proper place With Bad Cop (Liam Neeson) at his every beck and call, Business is out to destroy creativity as well as Emmet, the supposed harbinger of prophecy, and his fellowship of master builders.

Backed by enough voice cameos to keep you wracking your brain and a solid heap of characters pulled in from nearly every imaginable franchise, Lego is overflowing with talent. You’ll find the likes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Charlie Day as an 80’s astronaut, Arrested Development‘s Will Arnett as Batman, Will Forte, Jonah Hill, Nick Offerman, Cobie Smulders, Channing Tatum, Jake Johnson and even Morgan Freeman‘s sultry tenor all giving rock solid voice performances that aid the laughing stock The Lego Movie becomes.

With Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the creative minds behind the first Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and the recently rebooted and well-received 21 Jump Street, at the helm, the project has just as much focus placed on the comedy as the storyline and stylish animation. Accordingly, the jokes fly a mile a minute.

But beneath it all is a genuine heartbeat. Emett’s journey is a common hero’s quest but his goofy antics and self-sacrificing ways provide an emotional basis for our ongoing investment in his arc. Driving home a message that everyone’s special may be a little pear-shaped in the age of the Great Recession but there’s something intentionally ironic behind all the hackneyed encouragement. Maybe The Lego Movie would like to tell us we’re all special but that’s a message that only lingers on the surface. Beneath that, Lord and Miller reach out and say “We know that’s not true, but that’s still cool.”

The film is loaded with irreverent, double entendre moments like this, a self-aware meta angle that makes the experience just as much rewarding for adults as it is for kids. The screenwriting duo even take potshots at the lesser regarded Lego properties to great comic effect. Rarely taking a break from tongue-in-cheek mockery of Business, who for all intents is a place holding satire of the very company footing the bill for this movie, their voice is strangely misaligned with the lousy money-grubbing staples of the industry. They preach thinking outside the box while the inevitable accompanying merchandise will deal in exactly this kind of box-set salesmanship. Just eat up that irony.

Going back to the kids, those sugar-stuffed Ritalinites are sure to just eat this up as the partially CGI, partially stop-motion visual style is mind-boggling enough to make even a surly old man’s jaw drop much less a wide-eyed youngster. Cross the delectable ratio of genuine belly laughs with the crafty visual palette and Miller and Lord deserve a hearty pat on the back. Congratulations guys, you’ve made the best animated film in years.

A-

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Out in Theaters: HER

“Her”
Directed by Spike Jonze
Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johannson, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Chris Pratt, Olivia Wilde
Comedy, Drama, Romance
120 Mins
R
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Spike Jonze has made a career out of thought-provoking eccentricity, strange tenderness, and powerhouse performances. Her is no change of pace. While both Being John Malkovitch and Adaptation found brilliance probing personal identity, infectious longing, and the delicacies of the human experience, Her strips back some of the junky, heady aspects (that comes hand-in-hand with working from a Charlie Kaufman script) to explore similarly heavy themes in this streamlined and entirely esoteric masterpiece.

In Her, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) lives in the not-so-distant future of Los Angeles, a place where human interaction has nearly become obsolete. As Theo bumps through any given crowd, the many commuters he passes each have next-gen devises stuffed in their ears, reciting emails, updating global news, and dishing out the latest gossip scoop. For Theo, these future ear-products (which will likely be marketed in the next decade or so) are about as exciting as hanging out with your iPhone is nowadays, but it’s just about the only contact he’ll have all day.

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Rather than paint him as a pathetic bumbleite, Jonze allows us to find ourselves in Theo. His crippling loneliness is an invention of instantaneous “contact” as the new highest order. Instead of bringing us closer, all this connectivity has led to a devolution of what it means to actually connect. When people become as dismissible as closing out of a browser, what it means to connect with someone has fundamentally changed.

A scene where a sleepless Theo voice “connects” with an equally restless vixen named SexyKitten (voiced by Kristen Wiig) sees a distant, instant voice embarks on a cat-based sexual tirade, get herself off, and bail out of the conversation. It’s evidence of a society that has ceased to be such. Society quite literally means “a group of people involved with each other through persistent relations.” [Wikipedia] This is no society. We need look no further than our own social media culture to see that this era of emotional distancing and the end of society is already upon us.

By day, Her‘s Theodore occupies himself working at a custom, hand-written card agency where he drafts letters “from” his clients to their loved ones. When an anniversary comes around, a husband pays a premium price for Theo’s handiwork. Christmas time? Theo’s writing thank you cards to Grandma. At that high school graduation, it’s not Dad who’s penned the heartfelt and tender note but Theodore Twombly, sitting in his cubicle. Theo’s got a preternatural knack for emoting warmth and his outpouring of caring sentiments put those buying Hallmark cards to shame. How tragic though that he’ll never meet these people he’s writing to. Almost worse is the fact that his clients need rely on him at all. Everywhere he looks, Theo faces a society that has come so far as to outsource emotion.

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Enter her. She isn’t really a she though. She’s an advanced operating system (like Mac’s OS X or Windows) specifically designed to match Theodore’s needs. Imagine Apple’s Siri except everyone had a different one customized to their personal preferences. Voiced to perfection by Scarlett Johansson, this OS takes the name Samantha after “thumbing through” a book of baby names (a feat achieved in a mere microsecond) and begins to evolve beyond her wildest dreams, all the while stoking an accidental romantic relationship with Theodore. 

Having closed himself off to the world after lifelong lover Catherine (Rooney Mara) set the scene for a divorce, Theo is a man halved. In relationships, Her reminds us, we pour ourselves into our counterpart and when that union ends, we lose something of ourselves.  In the aftermath, we’re left haunted by these ghosts of lovers past. But as Theodore begins to unexpectedly fall for his OS, his haunting memories of Catherine change their tune. The melancholy melts away and the future becomes an opportunity rather than a sentence.

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The early Sam is like a child, reaching out and trying to understand the many unexplained mysteries of life. Each day, her self-awareness and curiosity grows and she soon discovers the many wonders “surrounding” her. In Sam’s perpetual bewilderment and glowing enthusiasm, Theodore begins to rediscover his own love of life.

The romance that unfolds between Theodore and Sam may prove difficult for members of older generations or those with limited imaginative capacity to grasp (“He’s fallen in love with a computer?”) but for those willing to stretch their minds and let in something new, they’ll find an entity surprisingly earnest and exceptionally affecting. When this bi-species couple “consummate” their new relationship, the screen goes black and we’re left with a scene unspeakably powerful. Theo and Sam let each other, with moans of belonged need and physical desire, with such palpable love and affection that it’ll warm and break your heart simultaneously.

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As she grows, Her gets more complex and begins to dig into some deeper issues of what it is to love and be loved. How much of love is about holding on and how much is letting go? With a cast spilling with talent, standout performances flow from everyone. Phoenix and Mara perfectly encapsulate the trauma of evaporating passion, while Amy Adams and Chris Pratt provide the necessary shoulders to lean on. Even Olivia Wilde as a nameless blind date turns in a quick but potent performance. But amazingly, the tippiest of the tip of the hat goes to Johannson as her performance here is a career best. Showing a range of emotion unthinkable for a limited performance of this nature, what Johnasson communicates with her voice alone provides some of the most commanding work of the year.

Anchored with a cast this talented that are each putting their all into each and every scene, Her is lightning in a bottle. Instead of feeling like this future world is strange, it feels entirely practical, a slightly scary yet peculiarity hopeful fact. And however weird the concept of falling in love with an operating system seems, when we’re in heat of the moment, it never feels weird. It just feels right.

A+

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Out In Theaters: DELIVERY MAN

“Delivery Man”
Directed by Ken Scott
Starring Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, Andrzej Blumenfeld, Bobby Moynihan, Britt Robertson, Jack Reynor, Dave Patten, Adam Chanler-Berat
Comedy
103 Mins
PG-13

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Whether our viewing sensibilities are just outgrowing Vince Vaughn or people just aren’t writing good showcases for him, it is undeniable that his career is not what it once was. Wedding Crashers came out eight years ago. Let that sink in. I’m of the opinion that the problem has been the material. Ken Scott directs the remake of his own 2011 film Starbuck, which provides an avenue for Vaughn to branch out a little from his typical snarkiness. The result is a surprisingly heartwarming film, if not a bit on the forced side. With some serious revisions, this could have been a great film.

 Comedies these days have such farcical plots that you have to just roll with it. If the idea of a man being hunted down by over a hundred of his own illegitimate children doesn’t instantly set off your BS meter, you can probably handle Delivery Man’s multitude of plot holes, inconsistencies, and “yeah right” moments. In reality, the contract of an anonymous sperm donor is rock solid. In the world of Delivery Man, however, David Wozniak has to deal with the fact that 142 of his 500 plus sperm donations are suing to know his identity. On top of this, he has to deal with becoming a “real” father as he accidentally knocked up his on-again-off-again girlfriend.

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After Vaughn learns the identity of the lawsuit children, he takes to stalking them and playing guardian angel. Stalking one of his “daughters”, he defends her from catcalls. For a musician “son”, he encourages donations to his street performances. One particularly offensive thing is the way Scott portrays a daughter who overdoses on heroin. Vaughn has the opportunity to send the 17-year old addict to rehab, but instead chooses to take it on faith that she can handle it herself, making it painfully obvious that Scott has never dealt with drug addiction in any capacity. For anyone reading this, in case you didn’t know, send them to rehab. Disappointingly (for the films own potential), she keeps her word to this man she has never met before, presumably kicking her nasty drug habit and becoming a tax-paying citizen overnight. What a great opportunity to teach Vaughn’s character a harsh lesson about parenthood wasted.

Parks and Recreation star Chris Pratt plays opposite Vaughn, as his comically stupid lawyer friend. Their exchanges are often hilarious, but still fail to carry the necessary weight, given how much screen time they take up. Pratt brings much of the films comedy, but might conflict a little too much with the realism of the film. It seemed the writers could not decide whether to make Pratt the responsible one of the duo, or to make him Homer Simpson. He alternates between the two, but plays both roles well. In some scenes, he gives lucid legal advice to Vaughn, while other scenes show him being entirely cartoonish. It may be a nitpick, but it just shows another symptom of a sloppy screenplay, that such a crucial character is not entirely focused. His childlike demeanor in the courtroom scenes exist to show just how open-and-shut this case is.

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Vaughn’s character also owes 80 grand to some seedy folk, adding a sense of urgency to the film that feels artificial. This is basic screenwriting 101 stuff. A plot device like this should be more ingrained within the film. It ends up being his reason for countersuing the sperm donation facility for defamation. Wouldn’t greed be a much more interesting motivator, though? Also, this falls flat because the stakes of his trial aren’t that serious. There should be some consequences when his children find out who he is. Instead, they are joyous and relieved. This is all fine and good for the feel-good factor, but I wanted some more authenticity added to the stakes.

In the end, Delivery Man doesn’t quite have the comedic chops to be a great comedy, nor does it have the dramatic chops to be a great dramedy. And that is the problem. No matter how much I was enjoying the movie, I just felt it wasn’t something I would ever want to come back to. When I think of any film that I love, I think of those classic moments, moments which were sorely missed in Delivery Man. Still, there are a lot worse films in theaters right now and this one is quite enjoyable.

C

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LEGO Movie Builds Excitement with Second Trailer

LEGO seems to have had a bit of resurgence lately. There are LEGO stores in every mall (where were these when I was a kid?), and several LEGO video games, including Lego Star Wars and Lego Lord of the Rings. Now 21 Jump Street directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, are bringing the bane of all bare-footed parents to the big screen, with The LEGO Movie. Does this mean toy stores will start carrying The LEGO Movie the LEGO set? It turns out Spaceballs was more prescient than we all thought. Merchandising!

All jokes aside, though, the trailer looks funny. It really does. While the plot doesn’t seem to extend much beyond your typical hero’s journey, it doesn’t really need to, as long as it sets itself up for good, LEGO-themed jokes. Lord and Miller’s film looks to be self-aware, as we are shown by a humorous scene of our everyman protagonist trying to use jumping jacks, which are impossible for him. Set to make appearances are LEGO Batman (Will Arnett), LEGO Green Lantern (Jonah Hill), and LEGO Han Solo (Michael Daingerfield), among others.

Our dumb, lovable, protagonist looks to be dragged to hell and back, without really knowing why, reminiscent of Futurama’s Fry. He’s dumb as a stump. The LEGO Movie won’t be laying any new bricks, when it comes to storytelling. However, it looks to be a kid’s movie that won’t be torture for the parents in the audience. And that is commendable. 

The LEGO Movie is directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller and stars Chris Pratt, Will Arenett, Alison Brie, Morgan Freeman, Jonah Hill, Nick Offerman, Channing Tatum, and Will Ferrell. It hits theaters Febuary 7th, 2014

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