IHAO on ... Flypaper - READER REQUEST

This is the first of what I hope will be a series of something a little different for me on I Have an Opinion.  Since getting to jump into Netflix, and watching so many things, I’ve been able to find movies I normally couldn’t find.  Either because of limited release, obscurity, or foreign-ness, I’m able to get a whole lot more media to devour.  And I love to devour media.  So it was brought up to me to do some sort of Reader Request bank, to allow all of you the opportunity to send me requests to review.  I have two different ideas on how to accomplish this, but for now let me talk about READER REQUESTS.

All you gotta do is send me an ask, email, or some other message to get a request, and I will do my best to do as many of them as I can, every Friday.  I like the limitation.  Instead of only picking things I’m interested in, or things suggested to me by Netflix, I can actual see what people want to hear my opinion on.  And I always have an opinion.

All that lead up gets me to the first request I ever received, even before I restarted this blog in earnest:

Request from Earlnimbud

Heist is a film genre I wish there was more of.  I love heist films.  They are action packed, fun, many times hilarious, and always filled with interesting twists and turns.  Flypaper does all of that perfectly, as well as adding a lot of great character beats and intrigue.

The premise is that a man goes to a bank, and suddenly two bank robberies happen simultaneously.  And he is trapped inside for 10 hours with the others there.  Without his medication.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention that, he has OCD.  Patrick Dempsey plays a Sherlock-ian, Mentalist, Monk styled character we’ve grown accustomed to with television procedurals.  But don’t let that turn you away, he actually does a wonderful job in this performance.  And he isn’t the only one.  Every actor (that has a real role, which I’ll get to in a second) does just amazingly.  I could list all their names, but really, just check out the IMDB.  It is a great list of stars who just all do a great job.

The music is exactly as expected from a heist film.  But this is more than that.  This is a film written by the guys who wrote the Hangover (while not my cup of tea, filled with interesting scenarios and characters, that I cannot argue) and directed by the man who directed the Lion King.  So we are taking what could be a simple fun fluff action film and given a whole thrill ride with great direction and solid characters that go beyond being two-dimensional.  It is a small-ish ensemble film, and everyone is pitch perfect, except for one poor woman whose only job it was was to be a sexy Swedish woman, and that is a huge unfortunate loss, though I hope there are deleted scenes that fill out her character.
Sad when this cartoon character has more personality that your character does.  
Also, why aren't you reading Scandinavia and the World?  Do that.  Grade: A

I really do recommend this film.  And as the first honorary request, I thank my readers for suggesting it.  Suggest away, and I will get to as many as I can.

Grade: A+


IHAO on ... Lovelace

It is a damned shame that this film has no nominations in the Academy this year.  Because it was heartwrenching and wonderful.

As a critic/reviewer/blogger/whatever-I-am-doing-with-my-life, I like to keep up with other reviewers and critics, see what their thoughts are, and broaden my own scope.  Top ten lists are an easy place to get quick reviews and thoughts, and of course “Best of 2013” lists are interesting to me.  And only one reviewer I follow talked about Lovelace.  He called it the best film he saw last year.  Now that I have seen it, I understand.  I can barely argue.  Pain & Gain knocked it out of the park for me, becoming an all-time favorite, but this would easily have made number 2.

Amanda Seyfried was phenomenal.  Every little thing, portraying every aspect of Linda Lovelace’s life from growing up a young adult who had made mistakes to falling in love to … just all the things in her life.  If you don’t know, this is the story of the porn actress who made one film that is probably the most known porn film of all time, Deepthroat.  And the real story of her life, as well as the perceived one.  It is heartbreaking, but still charming and funny in a few places.  And that is thanks to the great writing and Seyfried’s amazing work.  It is a huge huge shame she is not nominated for Best Actress.

Or you know, just keep giving it to this woman instead.  Sure.

Sharon Stone also deserves HUGE credit for playing Lovelace’s mother, as well as Robert Patrick as her father.  This movie is filled with great actors, but Seyfried, Stone, and Patrick take the cake.  They were remarkable.  The movie is remarkable.  It is not an easy sit, but it is a worthwhile one.  Please, I implore you, watch this film.  It deserves to be seen, and shared.  It was wonderful.

Grade: A+


IHAO on ... Butter

This movie has a charm to it that I don’t believe it deserves.  There are a lot of layers to this movie that I believe are trying to be something great and really aren’t.  Like constant prayer sequences or sex commentary and right-wing commentary and a lot of half-baked ideas that I don’t feel are completely realized.  Which is too bad.  Those things get in the way of what was an interesting movie.

It should come as no surprise that the sequences that were actually about the butter carving were the most entertaining and interesting.  The second act sequence with the four ladies competing for different reasons to win this butter carving competition was wonderful to watch.  Beyond that, there was a lot of “quirk” throughout the film between the butter sequences that just fell flat for me.

I need to praise a lot of the actors, though.  Rob Corddry, Alicia Silverstone, Olivia Wilde, and Yara Shahidi were all just great, really really great.  I didn’t care about Jennifer Garner or Ty Burrell, which did make their sections of the plot hard to sit through.  They are written fine, but I just do not gravitate well to dysfunctional cheating husbands and wives who get no comeuppance.  My fault I guess.

In the end, this movie was way better than expected, but it was uneven because I couldn’t get into half of the film’s characters and plots.  I loved the other half, and the second act was super strong.  Other than that, I am fine that I have seen it and don’t really plan to see it again.  People that can get behind the main marital plot will probably really get into this flick, though.

Grade: B-


IHAO on ... Tombstone (Director's Cut)

Westerns are not my cup of tea.  It took awhile for me to figure it out, and I hate that it is the case, but I just don’t really get Westerns.  I say that because I feel like I have to if I’m going to talk about what a lot of people think of as one of the best westerns.

This movie has a lot of successes.  The characters are likable across the board, even pointless Paxton who is just there to die.  Standing way out for me are Doc Holiday, Curly Bill, and Sherman McMasters.  Though in the interest of being honest, I never knew the names of that later two in that last.  Which is a shame.  With so many characters in this film, I actually mostly only caught on to the actors.  But I liked everyone … just not everyone was well developed.  Sure, they all did things and said things that made them standout.  But there was very little development or movement in the characters.  But perhaps that was never the point.  And I get behind that. 

Doc Holiday is a great character, because he is written that way.  This isn’t Nicolas Cage taking a character and bringing something magical and special to it, like in Adaptation or Matchstick Men.  Val Kilmer does a great job, because the character is written well.  He gets to say all the cool bits and do all the cool things.  He is a cool character because he’s made that way.  And I say none of that because it is a bad thing.  It is a great thing.  But it is odd to me.  There isn’t really any spark or life to him beyond what we see.  But he is still great!  What a weird thing to complain about, let me move on.

"Slow down there, rookie."

The pacing of a western is difficult on me as a viewer.  Long drawn out bits of not a lot happening, then bursts of interesting things, followed by more long drawn out bits.  Tombstone does a great job of keeping things from getting too stale, but right in the center, before Paxton’s death (spoilers by the way, I suppose), there is a lull that is hard to get through.  The pace goes nonstop from that point as it is just a western revenge flick, but that is also an interesting failing in the movie.  It stops what it is doing and becomes something different.  I don’t know how I feel about it.

Tombstone is a hard movie for me to review.  It is a good movie that I didn’t particularly like.  There are failings, but all those failings are things that are what make the film inherently what it is.  To me, Tombstone is lacking that something special, that “it” that sets movies apart from others.  But it is a perfectly good film, and one I plan to watch in the future, though only while I’m doing something else so I can pay attention when Doc Holiday is on and ignore the rest.

Grade: A-


IHAO on ... the 2014 Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble is my favorite part of any wrestling year.  My good friend MichaelC and I get on Skype or Facebook at ungodly times of night and day  to talk about it.  We rewatch previous rumbles.  It was the first PPV my dad bought me (2000, second best rumble ever).  I have all the Rumbles ranked empirically … well, empirically enough. 

Reviewing wrestling is different from reviewing film.  Removing my subjective wants and feelings from film has become easy with years of watching and loving the medium.  But wrestling as a form of entertainment thrives on my subjective wants, and rewards my objective likes.  A bad match featuring my favorite wrestlers hurts worse than a bad match featuring wrestlers I don’t care about.  My own opinions are so entwined with wrestling that they are hard to pry apart.  So I don’t make any qualms if you disagree, and I know I cannot 100% objectively review wrestling, but I’m gonna try.

New Age Outlaws defeat The Brotherhood (c) for the Tag Team Championships

This match was a solid tag team match that featured a real tag team finish.  The WWE has a hard time doing that, or did because things are changing on this front.  The fans months ago chanted “you still got it” to Road Dogg and Billy Gunn, and they proved it.  Sure, they can’t hide their age, but they still put on a good match.  It isn’t a barn burner, it is an upset.  New Age Outlaws are champs again, 14 years after their last championship run.  And the brothers Rhodes will get a rematch, which just may be even better.

Verdict: Good

Bray Wyatt defeats Daniel Bryan in Grudge Match

This match stole the show.  It also opened the show.  It was violent, physical, brutal, other synonyms.  It was filled with great ring psychology and storytelling.  These two guys had a war that no match on the PPV was going to live up to, including the rumble match itself.  This match was awesome in every way.  Bray Wyatt is the future.  Daniel Bryan SHOULD be the present.  The fans eat up everything he does, and they chant and cheer and cry for him, myself included, without remorse.  Daniel Bryan is the man we want to see!  He is Stone Cold 16 years ago.  He is Hulk Hogan 25 years ago.  He is the now.  Or he should be.  We’ll get to that in a minute.

They both worked as hard as can be to put on a match that was close to perfect in every way, from character to ring psychology (focusing on the inner thigh after a brutal kick, or on the side of Bryan's head when Bray got the advantage), with great nearfalls and just great work.  It was a main event, and it jerked the curtain.

Verdict: Beyond Great

Brock Lesnar defeats Big Show in Grudge Match

I hated this.  I do not like non-matches.  I do not care for Brock Lesnar.  I do not like the logic of Lesnar attacking Big Show in the ring before the bell rings with a chair for 5 minutes, then the bell rings, they trade finishers, Lesnar wins, then hits Big Show with a chair for another 10 minutes.  It was uncomfortable, uninteresting, and serves no purposes except showing that Lesnar, this badass supposedly, cannot get the job done without cheating all to heck.  He doesn’t act like a nasty heel monster, he looks like a bully who can’t win matches without Heyman’s help.  Lesnar has limited matches under his contract, and you waste them like this.  This wasn’t wrestling, it was just an extended, boring beatdown.  Not only that, Big Show barely did anything but lay there.  No babyface fire, no fighting back, no reacting to being hit with a chair.  This was terrible, and a waste of time, especially after Bray/Bryan.

Verdict: Awful

Randy Orton (c) defeats John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship

The fans in attendance were very vocal.  They didn’t want this match.  None of us watching it together in my parent's sun room wanted this match.  The fans made it very clear that they want Daniel Bryan, who was screwed out of the championship in a very real way.  Not a storyline way, though there was storyline.  But truly screwed.  Beaten, never allowed comeuppance, never allowed to look like a champ.  Three PPVS against Orton with screwy bad finishes, and they didn’t sell well, so the company blames Daniel Bryan instead of screwy bad finishes.  Of course.  Sigh.  I got off on a tangent.

This match was bad for the most part.  A rewatch made it worse.  Long, boring, and same old same old.  These two guys have been on the top for nine years.  They should hopefully know better.  But they don't/  Lots of headlocks.  Lots of finishers getting no sold.  Lots of John Cena ALWAYS KICKING OUT AT 2-and-a-HALF!  It is the most irritating thing in the world to me.  He kicks out the same way every time.  Looking back at Bray/Bryan, Wyatt did a great job of slowly kicking out later and later, showing the wear, building up the confidence in the fans that Bryan could win.  But Cena is a wrestling robot, programmed to always kick out at 2-and-a-half, to always stand up or get back in the ring from a count-out at 9, to always hit his moves the same way, to always sell like he’s been killed then ignore it when he is on the offense.  This match, watching it, was amateur-hour after watching Bryan/Wyatt. 

The crowd was amazing.  “This is AWFUL” chants, “Daniel Bryan” chants, “Boring” chants, “We want Divas” chants!  Eventually, Orton started being entertaining.  Which is great.  He should start doing that from the beginning.  He started taunting the audience, like a heel should, when they chanted at him, which got him heat.  That is what you are supposed to do!  That makes us hate you!  We tell you we would rather watch Divas wrestle (the greatest insult in the world, mind you) and you just strike your Legend-Killer pose.  Perfect!  More of that!  Orton did a headlock variation of Cena’s TERRIBLE LOOKING STF that looked way better and more painful.  Orton worked hard after an awful opening to be entertaining.  Novel to think that that would work.  I don’t like Orton at all, and I’m starting to because of how he did at the end of this match.

Also, Bray Wyatt showed up, distracted Cena, Orton gets the win, then the Wyatts all beat the crap out of Cena.  Bray Wyatt is made a star tonight.  Cena will bury him at Mania.  But tonight, Wyatt is a star.

Verdict: Bad, Fine finish, Good Orton

Batista wins the 2014 Royal Rumble

This Rumble is … ok, lemme see, how do I start talking about this. 

I liked the Rumble a whole bunch until right about entrant 21.  Right then is where it started to lag.  There were always a bunch of wrestlers in the ring, the big spots weren’t all that interesting, and they were all doing the same thing, hanging out in the corners trying to not get thrown.  You think that sounds normal, but it was lacking some polish.  It was just all samey and get tiresome.  The final four spot got rushed, the Kofi spot was meh (but I don’t particularly care about Kofi spots) or stolen from Morrison.  Alexander Rusev with a great debut that I called and feel proud of myself for doing so.  Roman Reigns had just an amazing night, and another star was made.  Kind of.  

Number 30 comes rolling, and the fans are all cheering for Daniel Bryan!  They want their uncrowned champion, as the commentary put it, their future of the business as the legends panel put it.  And we got … Rey Mysterio.  Who got booed.  Everyone got booed at that point, except for Roman Reigns, who won over the crowd, and I think I know why beyond him just being awesome.

Ultimately, the problem with this rumble is a problem that is with the company as a whole, and not really the match, which I did enjoy despite the lull and the downer ending.   The fans want new.  They/we want to see Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt and CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler!  We want new stars!   But the company continues to push Cena v. Orton, or Batista who showed up out of nowhere, said he was going to win, and did.  Only two people said they were going to win on TV, Batista and Del Rio.  Batista was the easy pick, and indeed, he won.  Just like last year with Cena.  Or two years ago with Del Rio.

WWE has forgotten how to tell compelling stories.  They’ve forgotten how to listen to their fans.  They think they know better than the fans.  Imagine if they had had this mindset with the Attitude Era, when fans were rooting for Stone Cold.  The phenomenon of Austin 3:16 is arguably on par with Daniel Bryan’s Yes Movement!  Fans WANT Daniel Bryan!  They crave him!  And the company refuses to listen, and then blames Daniel Bryan for bad buyrates and turn outs.  They refuse to push him and give the fans what they ask for, then blame him for it not working.  Can you imagine them doing that with Austin?  The company would have died! 

But nowadays, WWE is going strong.  They have no competition, they are going to make lots of money with the WWE Network, and it sucks because I want to see all the old PPVs, I’m going to get the Network.  But in doing so, I am supporting their part-timer, same-old-same-old thinking.

Just look at the card this year.  We had the New Age Outlaws win the Tag Titles again after 14 years away.  You had Cena v. Orton, a feud we’ve seen a billion times and almost no fan wanted to see again.  You have Big Show v. Brock, another feud we’ve seen before.  You have Batista winning the Rumble.  Again.  Specifically winning over 3 new talents, Punk, Reigns, and Sheamus.  The WWE is not listening to us, and I don’t know what we can do.  Keep cheering for Bryan.  Keep crapping on Cena and Orton and Batista (as much as I hate that, because I am truly happy to see Batista here, and am mad at the company for the handling of things, not Batista for his win).

Verdict: Fine Rumble, Great Reigns, Awful that the company doesn’t listen to its fans and hasn’t for half a year at least.


I feel deflated after watching this.  And I just deflate even more now as I write this.  I've spent hours staring at footage, pictures, other reviews, and my own writing as I try to put into words the problems I see for the future of a sport I love and wrestlers I love.  Read Mick Foley's thoughts.  Go listen to other people.  This is a problem that even the BBC is reporting on.  And all I can do is share my opinion and perspective on it.  To get my words out there.  Maybe WWE will finally listen to their fans.  Or maybe WWE has a plan.  And we'll just have to see if this is leading to something great.  I highly suspect it is leading to something ... safe.  


IHAO on ... Broken Arrow

This movie is one of the worst things I can think of: not very good and very boring.  It is stupid and boring and made me yawn and I just ... sigh.  Boring movies are the hardest thing in the world to review.  Lemme try to organize my thoughts.

The Good: When the action actually is over the top, it can be hilarious.  Some of the effects are pretty good, like explosions and such.  The locations (minus the mine (pun not intended (is that a pun?))) are pretty good, mostly because they are outside or on a train.  Umm ... French Stuart makes a cameo playing a guy named "Frenchie."  Uh ... John Woo uses butterflies instead of doves, which is impressive when you think about the poor PA who had to be a butterfly wrangler.  Also, every now and again, John Travolta is truly something almost Nicolas Cage-ian.

Best line in the movie.  Worst delivery in the movie.

The Meh: Ummm ... Princess Daisy plays the only female in the movie and she is ... there.  Oh, and I enjoyed counting how many times Princess Daisy or Christian Slater rolled on the ground.  It was 14 times by the end of the movie.

The Bad: Literally everything else.  Even the font used for the entire movie was boring and stupid, as every single thing except the title of the film is in lower case.  Whose job, whose thousands of dollars worth job, was it to choose "hey, let's make everything lower case, because that is intense and action, lower case."

Christian Slater is not an actor whose career I understand.  I personally find him to be uncharismatic and lackluster in everything I've seen him in.  And to have him star in this thing ... to bear the emotional brunt of this double cross story, to be the voice of the audience, to be the cool guy we root for ... it just does not work at all.

The plot ... oh man, it is just so ... boring.  Red Foreman plays the chief of staff.  Not president, just ... a guy under him.  Sure, a high ranking one, but still, why not president?  Too interesting?  Some guy is this analyst who doesn't amount to anything but gets plenty of screentime.  Sigh.  Who would think that two nuclear bombs being stolen could be so uninteresting.  And not only that, John Travolta's evil guy motivation is terrible.  And not hilariously so, just ... terrible.  He's doing this to sell the bombs, and is going to use the money he made to buy 5% of Volvo and then retire comfortably.  His plan is to own 5% stock in Volvo.  Not even the details are ridiculous enough to be hilarious.

The most reliable and boring of villain motivations.

I cannot recommend this movie.  No matter how many things they blow up (one mine, 2 cars, 1 train, and 4 helicopters) this movie is still really boring, and the few times that the action is finally hilarious or over the top, or something is bad enough to rant and rage about, they are almost immediately washed over by the bland that is everything else.  I cannot recommend, not even for bad movie lovers, but I'm sure it has a place in the hearts of a few.

Grade: D-


IHAO on ... Double Dragon

Double Dragon is all kinds of 90s.  It has dated CGI, some real bad references and catchphrases, and a healthy dose of colors, ninjas, and all sorts of other 90s cliches.  But dated-ness is not necessarily a bad thing.  I mean, yes, it does show that a movie isn't particularly timeless ... or perhaps it is.  Bare with me.

Baring Scott Wolf as Billy Lee, every character in this film is entertaining, interesting, and even a bit nuanced.  This isn't Oscar season, best Actor nominations nuanced.  But they show emotions, character depth, and a lot of things that really I did not expect from this ridiculous video game adaptation.  The storyline is engaging, and the villain is accessible, if one-dimensional (though Robert Patrick really does know how to play a villain well, especially one-dimensional ones).

Get it, because he's the floor!

The fight scenes are half very fun and half kinda lame, almost exclusively along the Scott Wolf v. Mark Dacascos line.  What I'm saying is Dacascos is pretty fantastic, constantly giving disapproving looks just like I do to the almost insufferable Scott Wolf.  The dialogue is many times very funny, but when it isn't funny  it is either painful or just services its purpose.  The MIDI music is also, by the way, some of the worst, least memorable 90s schlocky synth music they could find.

But storytelling isn't only in the dialogue.  The actual plot, the pacing, then danger and culmination of the story, all the set up and the way the exposition is told to the audience, all of that is suprisingly ... superb.  There is a great sequence where the cops of New Angeles are too afraid to follow with one of their own as he does the right thing for the first time in years by going out into the gang riots.  It isn't funny or silly, it is just a solid scene furthering the stakes of the film.  There are satirical news reports, similarly done as the ones in Robocop (though the Robocop ones worked far better as a screenwriting device than here, to be honest) are pleasant and funny, and also allow for time to pass in an understandable way, progressing the plot along. The flick passes the Bechdel! The Bobo villain's moment of realization that his boss made him a monster and his following face turn is surprisingly poignant.  Of course, there is also a "let's feed him spinich and let him fart for a full minute" scene ... so you take your good with your bad.

Yup, Alyssa Milano.  Yup ... fart jokes ... why am I saying so many nice things?

I think a LOT of people would focus on the bad here, but there is really a lot of good hidden in Double Dragon.  This movie is never going to win awards, and truth be told, doesn't deserve them.  But it does deserve to be watched, and even more, to be enjoyed.  It is a fun, entertaining, sometimes surprising, sometimes shake-your-head-and-laugh-bad action/comedy.  I really did enjoy it, and if you go in with the mindset of looking in a time-capsule and enjoying the look 20 years into the past, I think you'll enjoy it, too.

Grade: C+


IHAO on ... Rise of the Planet of the Apes

This movie is DUMB.  So so so so SOOOOO dumb.  And I love it!

The CGI apes look terrible almost always, with only two exceptions: Caeser and Maurice.  And oddly enough, Caeser and Maurice are my two favorite apes characters, so perhaps there is bias on my part.  Or they just do look the best.  Oh, Scarface looked good too.  But that's three out of 100.  Not a good track record.

The humans are even more fake.  Ten years pass over the course of the film and NOT A SINGLE ONE LOOKS A BIT DIFFERENT!  Not even a haircut.  Not even a different do.  STUPID!

The storytelling is terrible, too.  The evil humans are EVILLLLLL to the nth degree, including Malefoy Jr.  The character of Rocket is introduced with no name, then later is just refered to as Rocket.  Took me forever to realize which ape was Rocket.

And there are only three types of apes.  Period.  Chimps, Orangutans, and Gorillas.  And we never see the apes save the Orangutans and the Gorillas, just the chimps from the zoo.  But oh well, there's more than just the two.

There's stupid convenient fog on the bridge during the culmination of the plot.  There's stupid convenient ... well, everything.  This movie is stupid.  I should have taken notes so I can rage more proficiently about the stupid!!!!

Except I'm not raging.  Because I loved it.  I loved watching it, in all its stupid glory.  Every character is a stereotype (except for Caesar).  The plot is some of the dumbest most contrived stuff I've seen.  They gloss over things and waste time on others.  The movie is gloriously inept.  The number of apes quadruples in birds eye view CGI shots because MORE!!!  Franco is just not good and is really really poorly cast here.

And I still love it.  For no reason beyond its sincere attempt to make this movie.  I feel the movie is simple but endearing.  It is trying SOOOO hard to be cool, and I have to give it props.  I'll watch it and laugh at it over and over again.  I think of it like the Happening: just filled with stupid and bad acting and terrible plot and awful CGI, but so so SO much fun to watch.

Watch this movie.  Take a drink every time someone says Caeser.  A drink of whatever you want.  It'll be fun.

Grade: D++


IHAO on ... Ride Along

Ride Along is another in the long tradition of black-comedian-breaks-through-into-all-races-culture-gets-action-comedy-movie.  You know, Martin Lawrence did it in Blue Streak.  Chris Rock in Lethal Weapon 4.  Eddie Murphy did it in Beverly Hills Cop.  I'm sure there's more.  Or not, and Kevin Hart is just number four.  But that's fine.  I'm going to continue anyway.

Kevin Hart is the best part of this movie, just like in all the rest or this very specific sub-genre.  He is funny, endearing, interesting, nuanced.  Everything you want in a leading man.  I have loved every thing I've seen Kevin Hart do in film, and continually look for more.  He is just great.

Ice Cube is the worst part of this movie.  He jokes to the camera, breaking the fourth wall, is just an unpleasant character, and is just not a very good actor.  But that's fine.  I recently read on a IAmA over on Reddit a glorious nugget of insight into Ice Cube's mindset that I feel explains Ride Along, and his career perfectly.  A fan (or troll perhaps, though that doesn't matter to the point I'm getting to) asked Ice Cube about the Are We There Yet? films and franchise, and about how bad they are.  And Ice Cube very simply states that he made those movies for his fans' kids.

Think about that.  This guy is picking projects to give his fans the things they are asking for.  Or perhaps just something that they need.  He has fans from 20 years of a career that now have their own kids and needs family films.  And now they are older and need PG-13 comedy/action/thrill-ride films.  Or he's just doing it to milk them of money, sure.  But I personally believe the first one.  He isn't a great talent, but I don't think he cares or his fans.  He has fans and he is making things for them.  And that feels like his contribution to this movie.

This should get me some traffic.

The action in Ride Along is ... serviceable.  Nothing spectacular minus the very first car chase and credit sequence, which is awesome (other than a terrible Ice Cube Prius joke).  And really, "serviceable" is the perfect word to sum up the whole movie.  The comedy is serviceable.  The characters are serviceable.  The plot is serviceable.  The filming is serviceable.  The movie is serviceable.  And I think that's what they were going for: a serviceable decently fun action flick to be a starring vehicle for both men to elevate Hart and give Ice Cube fans a movie to enjoy that is PG-13.  Kevin Hart is excellent, though, so keep an eye out for his next big comedy/starring role.

Grade: B


IHAO on ... Disney's Frozen

Frozen could have been the best Disney film in the past 20 years.  "Could have been" being the important phrase in that sentence.  That and "but it really really isn't" that is very much implied.  Of course, now it isn't implied, it is just told to you.  So there you go.

You're welcome.

To get it out of the way, the music and musical-ness of Frozen are its best attributes, and if that was all the movie was, it would be an A+ all the way.  Buy the soundtrack, and look forward to the announced Broadway musical version, which will be superior to the film in every way, and I very much hope that they get Josh Gad and Idina Menzel back on stage for their roles from the film.

The opening 10 or 20 minutes of Frozen are masterful.  Amazing.  Glorious.  Had me weeping and happy and thinking "Well gosh darn, how have I not heard about this movie being amazing, this is the best Disney film I've seen in forever!  I cannot wait to own this!"  Then another 10 or 20 minutes go by, and they are pretty good.  Then another 10 or 20 minutes go by, and they are ... fine.  And it just continues to deflate and lose interest.  Ultimately, it is still a good movie, but it could have been so much more.

The movie itself feels ashamed of its musical nature and fairy-tale genre.  The music is amazing and heartfelt and great, and then it just kind of trails off for jokes or action, then it just stops being a musical all together, with no songs or musical tropes or any of that just after the one hour mark or so.  And the fairy tale stuff just kind of gets lost in its manic attempt to do action and jokes and drama.  The timeframe of the film is so rushed that it really suffers giving any weight to anything the characters do.  There is no sense of difficulty or travel, they just pop about from one place to another, unless they have an action set piece they want to do.

The film is beautiful (for the most part), and the writing, while not amazing, is fun and in some parts very very good.  The snow looks great, and the world itself really does look Scandinavian, except for our two protagonists who look as un-Scandinavian as possible, with little tiny noses and the biggest daggum cartoon eyes.  Their facial designs off-put me, though everything else about them worked perfectly.

There is a heel turn to finally give the movie a real antagonist, but it shows up too late, comes out of nowhere and again, has no real weight to it.  And if the movie had just kept a hold of its musical nature, this could have easily been fixed with a Villain's Song, a time-honored tradition in Disney films.  But nope, it is just "SWEET CHIN MUSIC TO THE FACE" and bam, evil character now.

HBK, no!

I wanted to love this movie.  I watched the first 20 minutes thinking I would.  But it just settled into its uncomfortable shame, not wanting to alienate viewers by being a Disney fairy-tale musical.  Which it is.  Or is nominally.  And that killed it for me.  Buy the soundtrack.  Eventually watch the movie once.  But in the end, I left wanting to build a snowman, and forgetting the other 80 minutes of the movie.

Grade: B-
Soundtrack Grade: A++

I Have an Opinion on ... the State of IHAO

Recently, I've been watching a lot of movies.  Ok, that isn't very different from normal, as I love watching movies.  But I have been able to tap into my wonderful mother-in-law's Netflix, create my own little section on it, and start watching stuff.  It started as just a way to pass time, then a way to watch TV shows I wanna watch, and finally I bit the bullet and started doing movies.

"Bit the bullet" might sound weird, but I'll try to explain.  I am a man who loves film.  More than just film, I love watching them.  And more than that, I love sharing film.  I like being able to sit in a room with other people and have an experience, a shared experience, with all of them.  I like providing entertainment, commentary, information, and options as a host and a friend.  I like being a trusted source of opinion.  Or an untrusted source.  I like being entertaining.  All of these things together makes "Netflix" almost the antithesis of what I like about film: it is solitary, singled out, and feels almost cheap.

Yes, I understand that is stupid.  I am explaining it because of where I was and ... you know, it actually doesn't matter all that much.  Let me get back on track before I start running around in the tangent wilderness too long.

I love owning and sharing films, and sharing opinions.  Recently I watched a documentary (thanks to Netflix, because I never would have bought it myself) that reminded me how much I love doing that.  How much I really enjoy and want to be a writer and a critic.  I've already been Facebook reviewing any movie I see for the first time and giving it my grade.  But it seems that my friends aren't getting annoyed by it, but are actually asking for it, at least a little.  That is humbling.

So I decided to try to start this up again.

IHAO currently is a very interesting time capsule of years of my life, writing, and creation.  I could very easily delete all the former videos and posts and start fresh ... but I think I would much rather just start again.  Leave that elephant graveyard there for people who want to see me make a fool of myself or some of the few things I'm very proud of.  But I'm going to be breathing new life into IHAO.

I want to be able to have consistent content.  Good bloggies do, anyway.  And I need to have consistent, and understandable, gradings.  That way everyone can know what I am meaning if I give something a B or a B- or a B+.  So I'm going to explain those things in a just a minute or two.

I want to be able to do requests.  I love the challenge.  I think it is amazing, and difficult.  So I plan on doing that as well.

Really, I just want to be successful.  Not monetarily, necessarily.  But I want to be someone who, agree or disagree, you see where I am coming from, and can use what I have to say to help form your own opinions.  If you think I'm always wrong (the Hendricks Effect) then I'm still proving to be a good source of critique.

Anyway, enough babbling.  As new stuff rolls out here, you will get little bits of commentary from me, and I will answer it and explain it.  But first and foremost, grading.

I, Jessel, work very hard to separate my subjective opinions on what I am reviewing from an objective understanding of the skill behind it.  I actually very much pride myself in my perceived ability to do so.  I like being able to know the difference between "best" and "favorite."  And I grade accordingly.

A means that I believe the film succeeds in every (or almost every) way from writing to directing to the dude holding the boom mic.
B means that I can see some flaws in acting or directing, or somewhere there is something that isn't good, but the movie is still pretty well made.
C means that I believe the movie is run of the mill, not good or bad, with a lot of mistakes, but a good amount of good stuff, too.
D means that all the stupid or bad filmmaking or acting or writing or whatever gets in the way too much of the film actually being anything I would call a good movie, but it isn't the worst thing in the world.
F means that the movie just absolutely fails technically in every (or almost every) regard.

Those are my objective grades.  But I like to include my subjective thoughts as well.  So I use + and - to designate that.  The more pluses, the more extreme I either like it or want to make it understood I like it.  The more minuses, the more I actively disliked watching the film.  There can be A films I dislike and F films I love.  And that's why I chose to grade like this.

I hope that helps.  Because you'll be seeing a lot more from me in the coming days.  Some will be reblogged/rewritten reviews I posted on Facebook.  Most will be new.  Hopefully you'll all enjoy what I have coming, because I'm going to work hard on it.  I think.

~ Jessel