Tag Archives: Ken Jeong

Review: Despicable Me 2

Despicable-Me-2-PosterThe Anti-Villain League needs a better mission plan, but there’s still more than enough family charm and minions to keep “Despicable Me 2” firmly afloat.

The whole gang is back – and then some. Gru’s (Steve Carell) living the dream, playing happy homemaker and loving dad to Agnes, Edith, and Margo, (Elsie Fisher, Dana Gaier, Miranda Cosgrove) until someone zaps him with a taser (or, more precisely, a lipstick taser), snatches him right off his front lawn and stuffs him in a car trunk. When he’s released, Gru comes face-to-face with his abductor, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), and learns that he’s been taken to the Anti-Villain League (AVL) headquarters. AVL head honcho, Silas Ramsbottom (Steve Coogan), explains that someone made off with an entire top-secret lab. They’ve got a short list of suspects, but the problem is, they can’t pinpoint the villain so having been a villain himself, they recruit Gru to get the job done.

It’s easy to jump right back into this world courtesy of an opening sequence that appropriately highlights the film’s prime assets – Gru’s relationship with his girls and those crazy little minions. In mere minutes you’ve laughed out loud because the minions’ giggles are infectious and have gotten that warm and fuzzy feeling when Agnes admits she knows her birthday fairy princess’ secret identity, making this an ideal and very necessary jumping off point for a film loaded with unforgettable moments, but also with an underdeveloped through-line.

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Review: The Hangover Part III

The-Hangover-Part-III-PosterWho hasn’t woken up with a hangover and said you’re never drinking again only to hit the bar a few days later? That’s fine for us, but Todd Phillips better keep his word. “The Hangover Part III” absolutely must be the end.

The Wolf Pack is back together again, but not for more wedding shenanigans, rather a funeral and a trip to a rehab facility. After Alan (Zach Galifianakis) literally gives his father (Jeffrey Tambor) a fatal heart attack, his mother, sister, and Doug (Justin Bartha) decide that it’s time for Alan to get some serious help. With Phil and Stu’s (Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms) support, they stage an intervention and head out to bring Alan to New Horizons. However, while en route, the Wolfpack is ambushed by Marshall (John Goodman) and his thugs. Marshall takes Doug as collateral while Phil, Stu, and Alan meet his demands – bring him Leslie Chow (Ken Jeong).

Part of the appeal of the original film was the fact that it focused on four real guys in the middle of a very relatable situation. It’s highly unlikely many have had an encounter with Mike Tyson’s tiger or made a quick $80,000 counting cards to pay off a gangster, but the idea of four guys getting so wasted during a bachelor party that they can’t even remember the crazy time they had is charming. But fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Back in 2009, the idea of one friend accidently roofie-ing his buddies was a novel scenario, but the sequel proved the concept didn’t have the appeal and flexibility for another go-around. It seems as though Phillips and co. recognized that issue because we get a different narrative here, but now we’re left with the problem that these characters just aren’t appealing or engaging enough to sustain any feature length scenario.

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Review: Pain & Gain

Pain-and-Gain-PosterIt’s a moderately funny, largely deplorable narrative with entirely unlikable leads, but thanks to “Pain & Gain’s” true roots, it gets away with it.

Danny Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) loves his job as a personal trainer and is practically singlehandedly responsible for turning Sun Gym into one of the hottest spots in town. Trouble is, the job still doesn’t pay well enough and Danny is desperate to start living the good life. In an effort to make the big bucks quick and easy, Danny recruits his co-worker, Adrian (Anthony Mackie), and an ex-con, Paul (Dwayne Johnson), to help him kidnap his über wealthy client, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), and torture him into signing over all this finances.

Had “Pain & Gain” not stemmed from true source material, we’d be left with an absolutely outrageous film driven by wholly detestable protagonists and nothing more. However, not only does the true story come with intrinsic intrigue, but then Michael Bay takes it two very effective steps further to ensure you never forget it. At the onset we’re informed, “Unfortunately, this is a true story,” and then, when the absurdity of the scenario hits a peek, he reminds you, “This is still a true story,” forbidding you from writing off all the abysmal behavior and enticing you to actually appreciate it.

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Review: Transformers: Dark of the Moon

I love chocolate cake. When I eat too much chocolate cake, I feel sick and don’t love it much anymore. I like visually stimulating imagery in movies. When I see too much visually stimulating imagery, in 3D nonetheless, I feel sick and don’t love it much anymore. Hopefully Michael Bay doesn’t love chocolate cake as much as he loves tracking shots and dizzying robot battles or he’d have a morbidly obese problem on his hands.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon suggests that Apollo 11 really flew to the moon to investigate a mysterious spacecraft crash. Turns out, that spacecraft is from Cybertron and carries an Autobot technology with the power to save their race. However, years later, the government has neatly tucked away this little bit of info, and Optimus Prime, Bumblee and the other Autobots are committed to living on earth, assisting the US military.

Meanwhile, Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is a recent college graduate trying to secure his first post-school job, but unfortunately, his Ivy League diploma and medal from the president don’t bear as much weight as he hopes. On the bright side, Sam had no trouble replacing Mikaela (Megan Fox) with yet another woman way out of his league, Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley). She’s got a high-paying position working for Dylan (Patrick Dempsey), a car-collecting hotshot, who’s generous enough to give Carly a paycheck that supports both her and Sam. Believing this is no life for a former hero, Sam is desperate for the day he can jump back into the action with the Autobots and, thanks to a piece of that Cybertron spacecraft surfacing in Chernobyl, he’ll get that chance soon enough.

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Review: The Hangover Part II

The second the trailer hit, we knew The Hangover Part II was basically The Hangover, but in Thailand. While simply recycling a storyline is generally a cause for concern, that’s really the point of this film, otherwise we’d be getting some sort of odd spinoff or no sequel at all. The Hangover Part II could have failed on just about every cinematic front as long as the boys experienced a drug-induced night of debauchery followed by a hilarious attempt at recovery. Unfortunately, just like the memory of the wolf pack’s big night out in Thailand, funny jokes seemed to have simply slipped the filmmakers’ minds.

With Doug (Justin Bartha) happily married and sunburn-free, it’s Stu’s (Ed Helms) turn to tie the knot, albeit not to a Las Vegas stripper. This time around Stu’s keeping it classy and marrying a beautiful, family oriented woman named Lauren (Jamie Chung). The ceremony is to be held in Thailand where Lauren’s entire family, including her disapproving father and genius of a younger brother, Teddy (Mason Lee), will be on hand. Naturally, coming out to support the groom is none other than his buddies Doug, Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Alan (Zach Galifianakis).

Determined to keep things simple and problem-free, Stu opts out of sharing a beer beside a bon fire with his buddies and Teddy. However, at his fiancée’s urging, Stu heads out to the beach for just one drink. Phil proudly presents a six-pack of sealed beers, but, sure enough, something isn’t quite right and that one beer turns into yet another night Phil, Stu and Alan can’t remember. However, this time around, Doug makes it home safe and sound; it’s Teddy the trio manages to lose in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand.

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