Teen Titans Go to the Movies (Full Review)

I get it, fellow millennials, you hate what they did to your beloved Teen Titans. Yes, the original cartoon that ran from 2003 to 2006 was a fantastic, anime inspired, action show. But, have you actually watched Teen Titans Go? This goofy, comedic retooling is actually pretty hilarious. And if you can put your saltiness aside for an hour and a half, you’ll find that this movie adaptation of the popular Cartoon Network series is actually a lot of ridiculous fun, too.

TTG_Movie_Poster_5Robin (Scott Menville), Starfire (Hynden Walch), Cyborg (Khary Payton), Beast Boy (Greg Cipes), and Raven (Tara Strong) are determined to prove to the Justice League and the rest of the world, that they are more than just a group of quirky sidekicks. Robin also wants to show a Hollywood superhero movie director (Kristen Bell) that he and his team are worthy of a big screen adaptation like Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. The arrival of villain Slade Wilson (Will Arnett), might just be their big chance if they can take crime fighting seriously.

Teen Titans Go to the Movies knows exactly what it is, and it flings its wild style of animation and outlandish brand of comedy at the audience with no apologies. In many ways, it acts as a kid friendly version of Deadpool, throwing in fourth wall breaks and poking fun at the DC universe and the superhero genre as a whole. From surprise cameos, to several hilarious musical numbers that rival “Pyramid Mummy Money” and “Catching Villains” (Google it), the movie manages to play out like a classic episode of Spongebob.

Make no mistake, this movie is made for the current generation of youngsters who enjoy the show. But there is enough clever humor involved that folks of all ages should be left grinning throughout. And for nerds like me, who know obscure DC characters like The Challengers of the Unknown, there is enough references to find subtle comedic moments. It even goes out of its way to throw fans of the original show a bone with an interesting mid-credits scene. So, yes… Teen Titans Go! does make a mockery out of your favorite action cartoon. But instead of being an old curmudgeon about it, just sit back and enjoy the tongue and cheek fun.

FINAL GRADE: B

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A Bad Moms Christmas (Full Review)

This year’s obligatory Christmas film that releases the day after Halloween is A Bad Moms Christmas. 2016’s Bad Moms was a wholehearted tribute to mom’s everywhere. And even though many of its raunchy jokes failed to land and its script often felt cartoonish, a solid cast with good chemistry helped it get its point across. But that doesn’t mean there’s more story to be told with these characters.

BadMomsChristmasA Bad Moms Christmas once again follows the lives of three middle-aged mothers whose individual crazy mothers come to visit them for the holidays and threaten to ruin their planned stress free Christmas. Amy (Mila Kunis)’s relationship with her snooty, overbearing mother (Christine Baranski) threatens to drive a wedge between her and her kids on the first holiday since her divorce. Sweet and docile Kiki (Kristen Bell) must find a way to tell her clingy, widowed mother (Cheryl Hines) to give her space . Meanwhile, resident bad girl Carla (Kathryn Hahn) just hopes her gambling, vagabond, mooch of a mother (Susan Sarandon) will stick around.

The first Bad Moms is hardly a year past its release, and the short time table between films is pretty noticeable in the script for this sequel. A Bad Moms Christmas seems like it was filmed in a day, with the story following a predictable arc and many of the scenes being nonsensical filler. The rushed execution also tends to rely on raunchy potty humor and foul language to get the audience laughing more than comedic timing. As a result, despite having some touch of endearment, this watered down continuation may be a fun romp for die hard mom’s who loved the first film, but anyone who expects anything better, or even something memorable, will be sorely disappointed.

FINAL GRADE: D

Bad Moms (Full Review)

Poor mothers. They live for us, would die for us, and yet we aren’t always as gratifying to them as we should be during our awkward adolescent years. So a movie where moms get to cut back and have some fun should be a welcomed concept for not just the moms out there, but for anyone who has ever had a mother figure. Add some raunchy ‘R’ rated flavor to the mix and we’ve got ourselves a surprisingly fun movie in Bad Moms.

bad_moms_posterMila Kunis, who stills looks the same age she did in That 70’s Show, plays lead mom, Amy; a mother of a brainy girl too concerned about college while still in junior high and a son who is too lazy to apply himself. Dealing with kids and a boss that don’t appreciate her (Clark Duke), and a deadbeat husband (David Walton), Amy finally decides that enough is enough. With the help of a negligent, promiscuous mother of one (Kathryn Hahn) and an uptight, overstressed stay at home mom (Kristen Bell), Amy decides to be a bad mom and do what she wants for once. Christina Applegate, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Annie Mumolo co-star as a trio of snooty, sinister PTA moms hell bent on making Amy and her friends conform.

At times, the story falls dangerously close to being as over-the-top corny as The Boss. Moments like a destructive trip to the grocery store come off as more cartoonish than outright funny and some of the characters like Jay Hernandez’s overly perfect love interest to Amy are about as realistic as a talking sponge. Most of the movie’s laughs are when it isn’t trying to be gut bustingly funny. The banter between the women, usually when driven by Hahn’s hilarious character Carla, is usually what works the best.

Where Bad Moms really succeeds is in its endearing message. Our moms, the women who gave life to us and would do anything for us, deserve to have enough appreciation to where they don’t have to be negligent just to feel like they matter. And by the end of the movie, we feel genuinely happy at where the three mom’s are in their relationships with their families. A nice touch during the end credits, which has the actresses being interviewed with their real life moms, adds just enough to make Bad Moms a feel good movie that is the perfect date to treat mom to.

FINAL GRADE: B-

Perfect Match/The Boss Quick Reviews

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus (somewhat recovering from the disappointment of Batman v Superman). But I’ve still been doing my best to keep up with all of the new releases. Here are two films to avoid if you haven’t spent money on them already.

ThePerfectMatchPosterTHE PERFECT MATCH 106 and Park host turned actor, Terrence J gets the star treatment in his first leading role. Fresh off getting significant screen time in the Think Like A Man films as a humble, church going Mama’s boy, Terrence switches things up this time as Charlie, a successful bachelor who wants anything but a serious relationship despite the fact that his best friends (Donald Faison, Lauren London, Robert Riley, Dascha Polanco) are all married. Believing that he is immune to love, and ignoring the counsel of his older sister (Paula Patton), Charlie takes a bet that he can withstand a sexual relationship with new flame, Eva (Cassie Ventura), without falling for her and wanting something more.

The movie isn’t unwatchable, but there are numerous qualities that may make you feel like you overspent for the price of admission. A cast of mainly B-listers and a relatively flimsy script that for some reason includes a subplot involving rapper French Montana as himself, don’t help the mediocre production value and cinematography that are both best suited for a BET original movie. But the biggest problem is Terrence J. After watching him hold his own in an ensemble cast as a choir boy, seeing him here as a womanizing playboy just never feels right. And when your lead actor isn’t quite believable, even a few funny jokes and a pleasantly surprising twist in the final act can’t save this movie from feeling like something best suited for Redbox and a rainy day. FINAL GRADE: C-

 

The_Boss_posterTHE BOSS I’m beginning to wonder if Melissa McCarthy is doing this on purpose. We know McCarthy can be downright hilarious (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy). And yet, she continues to put out a stinker (Identity Thief, Tammy) every so often to make you that much more skeptical about her next film. This newest unfunny, cash grab sees McCarthy taking on the role of  orphan turned despicable, rich mogul Michele Darnell.  After being ratted out for insider stock trading by her ex (Peter Dinklage), Darnell hits rock bottom and must room with her former assistant (Kristen Bell) who is a single mother raising a teenage daughter.

This may very well be McCarthy’s worst film. I spent the first 45 minutes waiting to laugh and even after the movie was over I had trouble recollecting a single funny moment. The fact that this movie is a comedy makes it unwatchable for that reason alone and makes the tiny dose of heart toward the end seem like an afterthought. Then there’s Peter Dinklage, who absolutely phones it in with a role so cartoonish, it makes his performance in last summer’s Pixels seem Oscar worthy. I’ll give McCarthy a pass on this one, so long as she never does anything like it again. FINAL GRADE: D-

Frozen returns Disney to its musical roots

There was a time when at least once a year, Disney would release an animated feature that would captivate the hearts and minds of adults and children all over the world. I highlighted many of those films last month (Favorite Animated Films). Now, with recent films like Princess and The Frog and Tangled it appears as if Disney is trying to resurrect the classic animated movie styles of old. Frozen, loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen‘s fairy tale The Snow Queen, is Disney’s latest attempt.

ImageFrozen tells the story of two sisters. Older sister and future queen, Elsa (Idina Menzel) is born with enchanted powers that allow her to create ice and snow. Following the untimely death of the King and Queen (Disney sure loves killing parents in children’s movies), Elsa is sheltered from the kingdom as well as from her younger sister until she can learn to control her powers. After a spat with naïve younger sibling Anna (Kristen Bell) causes her to reveal her abilities to the world on the day of her coronation, Elsa flees and freezes the entire kingdom in perpetual winter. With the help of ice-cutter Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), his reindeer Sven, and a magical snowman named Olaf (Josh Gad), Anna sets out to reconcile with her sister and save the kingdom.

The animated Disney films of old all seemed to follow a distinct formula to success: A courageous lead, a sinister yet charismatic villain, a plucky side-kick for comic relief, catchy songs, ground breaking animation, and a solid message. Frozen manages to triumph in some of these areas while falling incredibly short on the others. There is no courageous lead. Elsa is a noble, wise, and fierce character, but for most of the film she takes a backseat to Anna who, although sincere, is almost the complete opposite. There is no charismatic villain. In fact, there is barely even a real villain at all which makes the story feel a tad less lively than all of its predecessors. Then there’s the songs. Sure, some of them are catchy, but unlike previous Disney films the setting and era aren’t infused into the music (see Princess and the Frog, Mulan, Aladdin, Lion King) making it feel more like sing along TV than musical theater.

Luckily, the film does manage to hit everywhere else. The laughs come sturdy and the animation is as rich as ever, especially when it comes to Elsa’s magic. And as far as plucky side-kicks go, Olaf the Snowman is as loveable as any Disney character ever. The message about “true love”, which ironically pokes at Disney princess films of old, is perhaps the film’s biggest saving grace. So while the movie may not stack up to some of the Disney classics, it’s certainly worthy of a watch, especially for adults and children with no Y chromosome.

FINAL GRADE: B