Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016) Movie Reviews

Adam Devine and Zac Efron play the Mike and Dave of the film’s title, respectively, two irresponsibly party animals who’ve merely used all their family get-togethers as excuses to get drunk, chase skirts, and invariably embarrass their kin through shenanigans that cause more mayhem than mirth (the Wedding Crashers comparisons are so obvious they’re practically obvious to reference it during the movie). As such, when it comes time for their sister Jeanie’s wedding in Hawaii, the family makes it an absolute requirement for them to bring dates along to, hopefully, keep their ids in check. They can’t just bring any dates though, they must be “nice girls” that meet the approval of their sister and parents. Not really knowing any nice girls personally, Mike and Dave take to the internet to advertise an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii for women who would fit the criteria of not only being respectable enough for the family to give their blessing to, but also attractive enough for the young men to get it in the sack before the excursion is complete. After an extensive round of preliminary dates (the ad, understandably, goes viral), the boys settle on Tatiana and Alice, who pretend to be good girls in order to score the vacation, but secretly are even more irresponsible hedonists than Mike and Dave.

The Shallows (2016) Blake Lively – Movie Review

Blake Lively stars as Nancy, former medical school student from Galveston, TX, who travels to her recently deceased mother’s favorite secret surfing spot in a lush spot on the Mexican coast to feel a connection with her as part of the grieving and healing process. When her friend bails on her at the last minute, she decides to go it alone, catching some hellacious waves and enjoying the brisk sunny air. However, she isn’t really ever alone, as she soon encounters a massive great white shark when she inadvertently enters his feeding zone in shallow waters off the coast, and Nancy is the intended next course on its menu. With no easy way back to shore, it’s a cat-and-mouse game of survival between woman and shark to see which one will ultimately prevail.

The Neon Demon (2016) Elle Fanning – Movie Reviews

Elle Fanning stars as Jesse, an awkward and innocent 16-year-old who arrives from out of state and takes up residence at a fleabag motel in Pasadena, hoping to kick start a career as a model within a decadent version of Los Angeles as her beauty is the only marketable asset she has. During a promo shoot, she becomes friends with a make-up artist named Ruby, who introduces her to other models in the industry, though on the down side, where their age begins to show, and plastic surgery is employed to squeeze a few more years out before they’re no longer wanted in front of the camera. Not much of a worry for Jesse, who is such a natural beauty and has a certain “thing” that those looking for models instantly see. As Jesse’s star is on the rise, she becomes aware of the qualities she possesses in her beauty. Others see it too, especially her rivals, which brings forth a certain power to her position, as well as a certain danger.

Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) – Movie Review

Twenty years after the first war for Earth between humans and their would-be alien exterminators, Earth has made light years of advancements in adopting things they’ve learned from the remnant alien technology, which they’ve not only used to rebuild their destroyed cities, but also to jump far ahead in terms of air and space travel, including to the moon. Those who helped save the planet have become heroes and celebrities, all of them had an aching feeling that they haven’t seen the last of their newfound enemies in the universe, and with the long-dormant alien specimens and tech they’ve gathered since the battle seemingly coming to life in would appear that another battle must be imminent. Turns out they are right. A rag-tag crew of returning heroes and their offspring are not leading the charge to defend the Earth yet again against an ultra-powerful alien force unlike anything they’ve ever seen before (well, they have a bigger ship this time, and a bigger boss alien), who, according to this movie, want us out of the way so they can get to Earth’s creamy magma center.

Central Intelligence (2016) Kevin Hart, The Rock – Movie

The storyline starts in 1996. A young, CG-enhanced version of Dwayne Johnson plays overweight and geeky misfit Robbie Weirdicht, the frequent target of ridicule by the bullies in his high school.  By contrast, the most popular kid in school, Calvin Joyner, is the kind of most-likely-to-succeed guy who excels in school in all the ways Robbie does not, but bestows an act of kindness on the pudgy kid during a particularly humiliating prank that exposes him, clothesless, in front of his entire student class at an assembly.  Fast-forward to today, approaching the day of their 20th high school reunion, and mid-level accountant Calvin, who feels he peaked in his teenage years, is adamant that he will not go, protesting to his wife, his high school sweetheart, that he can’t face up to feeling like a disappointment.  She suggests a marriage counselor to work all this out.

That’s when Calvin gets a Facebook friend request from out of the blue by someone he thinks is a stranger named Bob, but ends up being Robbie, now a hunk, rippling with muscles, even though he seems the same goofy kid inside, and who has spent two decades idolizing the closest thing he ever felt to having a friend due to one small, selfless act (the movie hints at but stops just short of replicating The D-Train in this regard).  The two catch up on old times, but Calvin is soon confused with being Bob’s friend by CIA agents looking to arrest him, accusing him going rogue from their agency and in secretly being the notorious international criminal known as the Black Badger, looking to sell top-secret information regarding U.S. government satellites to bad guys.

De Palma (2015) documentary – Movie Review

De Palma is strictly a documentary about Brian De Palma, in his own words. No other people are interviewed, and the interviewers voices are not heard. All you see is Brian De Palma on the screen, either front and center, or while clips of each movie play out under them, or while photographs and newspaper articles give us a glimpse into the public and private life he experienced at the time.

Me Before You (2016) Emilia Clarke – Movie Review

The story revolves around two people, Will Traynor, a rich-but-dejected London man who is living a life of pain and solitude as a quadriplegic, and Louisa, aka “Lou”, a chatty and free-spirited woman hired take care of Will’s basic needs as well as to lift her spirits with her effervescent company. The problem is that the pain Will is in is not just physical; he misses his old life as an athletic, globe-hopping man of adventure, only to lose it all when being struck by a speeding motorcycle, so being stuck in a chair as an observer to life is particularly torturous. In short, Will wants to die, and Louisa soon realizes that her employment rests on changing his mind. However, to do that, she will first have to melt that thick, icy exterior of his, which proves nearly impossible given his distraught mind-state.

Dheepan (2015) Jacques Audiard – Movie Review

Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust and Bone) directs and co-scripts this insightful drama with mild thriller elements about three unrelated refugees from the war-torn island nation of Sri Lanka who find it hard to assimilate to life in the rough-and-tumble public housing projects of Paris.  Dheepan is the name of a dead man that the older man of the trio assumes the identity of in order to escape from his life as a rebel fighter on the losing side, hoping to make a better life in France after the loss of his family.  Along for the ride is a woman and an unrelated nine-year-old orphan, who assume the roles of Dheepan’s wife and child.  While living in a run-down housing project in Paris, Dheepan takes a job as a building caretaker, which is a difficult enough occupation without having to worry about the dangerous thugs who inhabit the neighborhood at seemingly all hours.

Finding Dory (2016) Disney Pixar – Movie Review

Ellen Degeneres voices the short-term memory-addled Dory as an adult blue tang, continuing her friendship with clownfishes Marlin and his son Nemo in the reefs near Australia. Dory is struggling to remember her parents that she was separated from at an early age, though she sometimes remembers fragments of those early days, with enough clues to set out on her own to try to find them in, “the jewel of Morro Bay, California.” With worrywart Marlin and excitable Nemo in tow, Dory sets off on her quest for a (hopefully) happy reunion across the Pacific, where a marine-life rehabilitation facility may hold the key to the mystery of the parental whereabouts, if only the new creatures she meets can help her remember the clues along the way.

The Measure of a Man (2015) Vincent Lindon – Movie Review

Lindon plays Thierry, who we find at the beginning of the film unemployed for a year and a half since being laid off from his job as a factory worker, desperate for any form of work in order to make ends meet, with a wife and special-needs child to take care of, and an apartment that he’s just a few years from paying off. He’s trying as best as he can to get back on his feet, but he feels less than himself without a job, such that he’s willing to suffer as many indignities as required from a host of potential employers and job center employees who either treat him with apathy, if not belittle him with acute condescension.