WHAT SHOULD I BE DOING INSTEAD OF THIS?
 
 
by Tony Johnson 09.01.2015 57 hours ago
at 03:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
noescape

Spoonful of Cinema: No Escape

No Escape is fine, I guess. It’s surprisingly better than I would have suspected, but I’m not recommending it. The action is tense but the story is flat. Its story is wildly boring and its perspective is probably xenophobic. Giving the filmmaking Dowdle brothers the benefit of the doubt as far as the xenophobic possibilities go, there’s still something wrong with this picture. Star actor Owen Wilson isn’t the problem. Neither is star actress Lake Bell. Neither is star support Pierce Brosnan. Neither is the directing team of Drew and John Erick Dowdle. What’s wrong with No Escape is the uninspired writing team of Drew and John Erick Dowdle. Unfortunately for the 40-something brothers out of St. Paul, Minn., their combined efforts behind the keyboard are far more tragic than the events we witness on camera. The filmmaking duo brings us Wilson as Jack Dwyer, a newly transferred employee of a large corporation. The international company has something to do with the water supply in an unnamed, apparently irrelevant Asian nation. And guess what? The native inhabitants of whatever country Jack is in don’t like the fact that a big, bad business is taking their water because things have apparently gotten worse since Americans began controlling the supply.The well-armed revolt puts the Dwyer family in an unexpected scenario. The locals are violently rebellious, and they want American blood. Despite the film’s title, Jack and his wife Annie (Lake Bell) do everything in their power to bring themselves and their children to escape from the lethally unfortunate situation they have found themselves in. The route of escape takes us from the inside of a hotel building to the top of a hotel building to the top of another building and down and through the unnamed city to the U.S. Embassy and to the Vietnam border. Along the way, British Intelligence Agent Hammond (Brosnan) assists the Dwyers. Hammond alludes to the fact that Western military intelligence operations are responsible for the mess in whatever country the Dwyers are escaping from. He helps the Dwyers and puts his life on the line out of some sense of guilt. It all adds up to a script that feels like its main mission is to apologize for its lack of any sort of brains and then shove us into a somewhat suspenseful moment. But the cameras do the trick. Whether I like it or not, I found myself occasionally impressed with the stylistic delivery with which the Dowdle brothers prop up their mundane screenplay. It is a directorial display that gives heavy hints to their roots in horror films, from the pacing to the music to the title screen. The dialogue is mostly fluff, but the suspense is mostly well executed and even somewhat gripping. But it didn’t stop me from feeling uncomfortable with myself every time I caught myself enjoying a near-death experience of one of our on-screen protagonists. Just like the script seems to apologize for its non-story, I felt like I had to apologize to my brain for having some sort of fun watching it play out. No Escape seems to be entirely the Dowdle Brothers’ creation, and with the paltry substance that they provide themselves to work with, they manage to satisfy us in some very basic ways. We don’t know if any of the Dwyers will make it or not until the very end. We don’t feel as though any of them are safe throughout, but we are also unsure of why we would really care if a main character were to bite the bullet. Of course, some level of tragedy is implied when we watch a anyone get shot or beat to death, but building up a struggling family with a weak script to serve as their infrastructure doesn’t do the Dowdles any favors. The body count in No Escape is probably the most impressive thing about the movie. It echoes part of the appeal and much of the nonsensical aspects of 2008’s Taken. But instead of a man’s daughter being taken by foreign assailants, No Escape paints us a picture of a man who obliviously marches his family right into Hell’s gates, which are seemingly always located overseas. The fact that Jack’s ineptness in planning so sharply contrasts his ability to think on the fly in emergency scenarios is troubling. There’s no way someone — particularly someone so bright as the inventor Jack Dwyer — would relocate their family via global megacorporation job placement without looking into the company’s social standing in the impoverished, politically unstable region it inhabits. Right? What we have here is not so much a disaster movie as it is a disastrous movie. No Escape is a fitting title for this predictably unexceptional, relatively low-budget Weinstein Company flick. Owen Wilson seems to have no escape from bad movies, despite his obvious talent exhibited in films like Bottle Rocket and Midnight In Paris. Lake Bell seems to have no escape from taking bland roles as “the-wife-of-so-and-so,” despite her directorial and creative talents. The Dowdle Brothers’ directorial talents galore have no escape from the toxic script that they penned themselves. And we the audience had no escape from No Escape. In the end, whether the Dwyers survive or not, everyone leaves the theater a loser. Grade: D+
 
 
by Jac Kern 05.14.2015 112 days ago
at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
web-blog-ijustcantgetenough-1

I Just Can't Get Enough

Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings

Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally were in town this weekend for a performance on their Summer of 69: No Apostrophe tour. You may know them as Ron Swanson and Tammy Two from Parks and Recreation, and Megan will be forever immortalized as Karen from Will & Grace, and the two are actually married in real life. The show could best be described as part-comedy, part musical sextacular. The two went back and forth between talking about how they each lost their virginity, how they met and when they got married and singing raunchy songs about stuff like 69ing and gang-banging Jesus. Nick played guitar and Megan played ukulele. They also got the audience involved. A couple came onstage for a Newlyweds Game-style bit that was predictable but funny. After Nick and Megan shared a longtime argument with the crowd and we picked sides (Megan won!), she decided it was time to see what else was out there and picked a single guy from the audience to go on a date with her onstage. I have no idea who this dude was — Was he planted there? A rising local comic? Just a random guy with impeccable comedic timing? — but he was probably the most hilarious guest to be brought on stage in all of standup comedy. He played along with Megan’s advances and threw shade at Nick (sadly providing music on their date). He may have gone solo to the show but there is no doubt in my mind he found a ladyfriend that night. All in all, it was a gut-busting, nasty but also super sweet 90-minute show. THEY’RE SO IN LOVE! Of note: Nick looked just as expected, dressed in a flannel shirt and jeans, but he was sans mustache (just some overall stubble) and had a cool, new undercut hairstyle going on (that one that every dude has now); I don’t know how I expected Megan to be dressed but I was surprised to see her in JNCO-style wide leg jeans and a casual T-shirt (reason No. 564 why she’s my hero); they ended the performance with a dance number to Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does it Better,” which ended with Nick apparently hurting himself, as evidenced by a facial expression of pain followed by limping offstage. Hope you’re OK, Nick!Check out our interview with Nick Offerman here. Ever notice the way Owen Wilson says, “Wo-oow” in movies? Here are all of those times. A new American Idol was crowned last night and I don’t care who the winner was (it’s this guy) because it’s not Jess Lamb. But it is worth noting that next season of Idol — its 16th — will be the last. I wish it was because everyone realized that televised music competitions are complete bullshit (case in point: JESS LAMB), but it’s probably just because everyone likes The Voice better. Also in the cancellation club: The Mindy Project, which is a goddamn crime. Mindy Kaling is a goddess and the show was really hitting a great stride (despite Adam Pally leaving — love that guy) and the last season ended with Mindy (the character) very pregnant and baby daddy Danny traveling to India to meet her parents. Thankfully, there’s chatter about the show moving to Hulu. Other shows hat bit the bust this year include Backstrom, CSI (after 15 years!), The Following, Marry Me, Mulaney, Revenge, Selfie and Weird Loners. Feminist icon Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is getting a biopic and Natalie Portman will star as a young Notorious RBG. Miley Cyrus’ brother Trace (known best for dating Disney person Brenda Song and being in Metro Station, the band responsible for this song that played on repeat in every Journeys across America in 2008) was supposedly denied entrance to an area bar over the weekend. Trace posted a video on Instagram claiming Brothers Bar & Grill at Newport on the Levee — in his home state — would not let him in due to his excessive tattoos. I don’t know what’s more hilariously pathetic: people complaining about businesses on social media; a celeb sibling partying in freaking Newport; said person being denied access to a bar in Newport; the fact that Brothers has any sort of limits on the types of people that can enter; or the last sentence of this story. 
 
 

Little Fockers (Review)

Third entry in the comedy series is a rote, unfunny exercise

0 Comments · Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Rather than devoting time to tracking what could have been the comic evolution of the relationship between male nurse Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and his former CIA agent father-in-law Frank (Robert De Niro), director Paul Weitz seemingly ended up dangling money before his performers to get them to react on cue in this rote, terribly unfunny exercise. Grade: D-.  

Marmaduke (Review)

Live-action comic-strip adaptation falls flat

0 Comments · Monday, June 7, 2010
The family-friendly comic-strip canine gets his own live-action romp, and with Owen Wilson providing the voice Marmaduke seeks to bite off a bit of hipster credibility. But neither he nor the movie have absolutely any bark or bite to hold our attention. Grade: D.  

Night at the Museum: Battle at the Smithsonian (Review)

Ben Stiller sequel is a losing battle

0 Comments · Friday, June 5, 2009
I never saw the first 'Night at the Museum,' but there are times when you just know everything you need to know about a movie from a trailer, especially those aimed at the broadest audience possible. And this latest installment looks just as silly, mainly because I've come to realize that I just don't have a thing for Ben Stiller's brand of humor. Grade D.   

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