THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE (2017)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 44 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG for Rude Humor and some Action

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Directed by: Chris McKay

Written by: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern & John Whittington

Voices of: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes, Mariah Carey, Jenny Slate, Susan Bennett, Billy Dee Williams, Hector Elizondo, Conan O’Brien, Jason Mantzoukas, Doug Benson, Zoe Kravitz, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Adam DeVine, Eddie Izzard & Seth Green

The first of three new LEGO movies, THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE is a spin-off for the popular DC superhero from 2014’s surprisingly awesome THE LEGO MOVIE. Will Arnett has returned to reprise the vocal work for Lego Batman/Bruce Wayne and this film is set entirely within the Lego DC Universe. Filled to the brim with comic book references and call-backs to other movies, LEGO BATMAN never takes itself seriously at all and yet still manages to throw in a touching message about family and friends. Though not as great as its LEGO predecessor, THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE is the best DC Comics movie to hit nationwide theatrical release in years. This is a delight for parents, teenagers, and Batman fans who enjoy a good laugh.

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In Lego Gotham City, orphan-turned-superhero Batman (Will Arnett) enjoys wearing black, playing loud music and fighting crime. He’s always saving the day, but has never let anybody else into his life…other than faithful butler Alfred (Ralph Fiennes). After Batman foils the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) yet again and hurts the evil clown’s feelings, the villain hatches an ingenious scheme for revenge. Meanwhile, Commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson) has stepped into her dad’s shoes as chief of police and has enacted a new “it takes a village, not a Batman” approach to fighting crime. Also, Batman has taken young boywonder Robin under his reluctant parental wing. The real challenge Batman has to face though…is overcoming his fears about family.

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Will Arnett’s Batman was easily one of the funniest parts of THE LEGO MOVIE and he brings everything that fans loved about that character into a feature-length running time. Though this film has a handful of slow moments that drag, Arnett’s comedic timing and purposely brooding voice frequently rescue the story from being “too much of a good thing.” The rest of the voice cast is stellar as well, with Michael Cera delivering some of the biggest laughs as lively, no-pants-wearing Robin. Tons of Batman’s rogue gallery make appearances too, including a lot of C-grade baddies that provide giggles from their mere cameos. My two favorite side villains were Catwoman (who’s constantly saying “mew mew”) and Bane (who’s adopted the strange, but awesome-sounding voice from 2012’s THE DARK KNIGHT RISES). Zach Galifianakis also shines in the most sensitive portrayal of the Joker that you’ve ever seen, making for an evil supervillain that throws tantrums like a depressed ex-girlfriend.

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It should come as no surprise that THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE is chock-full of movie, TV and comic book references. There are so many jokes within the first five minutes that it seems impossible to catch them all in one viewing. From signs that cheering citizens are holding to bits of dialogue that directly tie into certain films to full-blown footage used from every big-screen Batman in history, there are tons of laughs and in-cannon material here to satisfy diehard Batman fans. The film also throws tons of references towards DC comics in general, featuring cameos from Justice League members and familiar places from Superman’s stories. Even still, the references don’t stop there because there are unexpected non-cannon characters that have a big part to play in the proceedings. I won’t go into detail, but I was grinning ear to ear for a majority of the action-packed climax.

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LEGO BATMAN MOVIE’s message isn’t exactly original, but seems perfectly suited to the nature of Batman’s character and how we’ve seen this character explored in past versions of the material. The film’s lively visuals explode off the screen, looking like stop-motion even though they are actually the result of highly-detailed computer animation. As clever, entertaining and downright fun as LEGO BATMAN is, the plot encounters a few dull stretches. These mainly come in the second act, where we need to see certain things develop. In writing my summary of this film’s story, it struck me that LEGO BATMAN juggles four different subplots and tries to bring them together as a cohesive whole. The script does a solid job of this for the most part, but occasionally meanders as it brings these storylines together. Still, the pay-off, countless references, sheer entertainment value, and never-ending sense of humor are all well-worth the price of admission.

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If you’re a fan of 2014’s THE LEGO MOVIE or any incarnation of Batman, then THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE is a must-see! I imagine that DC Comics fans will have a field day with the sheer amount of references, tie-ins, and clever writing; all while kids are having a blast watching Lego Batman run around on the screen. I saw LEGO BATMAN in a sold-out movie theater that was filled with families and an apparent birthday party going on the front two rows. At no point, during any minute of the running time, did a child begin crying or a bratty kid act out in any way. That’s almost unheard of, at least for me. Everybody was glued to the screen and that’s a major feat for any family film. Though the pacing isn’t perfect, but THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE is a ton of fun! Sometimes, that’s all you need!

Grade: B+

MASTERMINDS (2016)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 34 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Crude and Sexual Humor, some Language and Violence

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Directed by: Jared Hess

Written by: Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer & Emily Spivey

Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Mary Elizabeth Ellis & Ken Marino

MASTERMINDS was originally slated to hit theaters in August 2015 and, due to the studio declaring bankruptcy, its theatrical release was postponed until this weekend. When you look at the cast, crew, and source material behind this film, you get the sense that this might be an underrated sleeper hit of 2016. The script is based on a real-life heist of idiotic proportions, the cast features big comedic talent (including 3/4ths of the recent GHOSTBUSTERS remake) and director Jared Hess has tackled quirky comedies in the past (NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, NACHO LIBRE). Though its true story is anything but bland and forgettable, MASTERMINDS somehow manages to be bland and forgettable. The film only received a handful of laughs from an awkwardly silent theater and a majority of those were caused by one particular cast member (more on him in a moment).

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The year is 1997 and the place is North Carolina. David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) drives an armored truck for Loomis Fargo and dreams of making a big name for himself. Though he always imagined fighting off robbers, David soon finds himself persuaded to steal over 17 million dollars from his workplace due to the urgings of sexy co-worker Kelly Campbell (Kristen Wiig) and her manipulative friend Steve Chambers (Owen Wilson). After the initial heist seemingly goes off without a hitch, tensions soon erupt within the group of white trash thieves. This is further elevated by FBI Special Agent Scanlon (Leslie Jones) hot on the case, with David as a prime suspect. Extravagant spending, bad disguises, crazy coincidences, and wacky backstabbing schemes soon follow.

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Look at that cast! Just look at them! Out of the bevy of recognizable faces, only one character sticks out: Jason Sudeikis as a psychotic hitman. He steals the entire show, as if there was much worth stealing in the first place, and provides the film’s only laughs. I cannot overstate how funny Jason Sudeikis is in this film. This is one of the Sudeikis’s best performances and it’s tragically trapped in one of the worst films of his career. Everyone else comes off as various degrees of bland, though the end credit bloopers show that they all seemed to have fun on the set.

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Zach Galifianakis’s only funny bits have already been given away in the trailer (the best of which involves a horribly misguided disguise), meaning there weren’t that many to begin with. His performance is phoned in, but it’s nothing compared to the Kristen Wiig’s hollow love-interest role. Kelly Campbell’s relationship with David might have been interesting in a better film, but I never really understood where she was coming from and eventually gave up on any attempt to care. Owen Wilson’s villainous Steve Chambers has an okay running gag of overspending (a detail that’s completely accurate to the ridiculous true story), but his presence is underutilized. Kate McKinnon is cringe-worthy as David’s mentally unhinged fiancé and Leslie Jones doesn’t get much to do as the FBI agent investigating the case.

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As mentioned before, MASTERMINDS is funniest during Jason Sudeikis’s scenes. If the film had maintained that level of energy and hilarity for a majority of the running time, this would be a very different (far more positive) review. The script frequently stoops to low-brow potty humor, instead of focusing on the hilarity of the ludicrous true crime story that inspired it. The worst joke comes in a fart gag that devolves into a diarrhea scene. Another needlessly unfunny moment has a character farting into another character’s butt. That’s the level that this film is playing on. Jared Hess’s past efforts have showcased a unique sense of humor that works for some viewers and doesn’t quite work for others. I like NAPOLEON DYNAMITE and NACHO LIBRE, but MASTERMINDS feels like it’s attempting to recapture that quirkiness with a bigger budget and frequently falls flat. I wouldn’t be surprised if the studio meddled with this film to the point where it didn’t resemble Hess’s original vision at all or he might have simply lost his touch on this project.

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It should speak volumes that I laughed more whilst reading the Wikipedia page about the 1997 Loomis Fargo heist than I did for most of MASTERMINDS’s running time. I’ll say it again, Jason Sudeikis’s hitman is the funniest thing in this whole damn movie. The rest of it is generic, bland, and lazy. There’s really no discernible excuse for why this film shouldn’t have been hilarious. The material is perfectly honed for this director and the cast seem primed to make this into a goofy romp. Sadly, MASTERMINDS is a disappointment that only contains a handful of laughs and an interesting true story that’s far more entertaining than the film itself.

Grade: D+

BIRDMAN or (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE) (2014)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 59 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Language throughout, some Sexual Content and brief Violence

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Directed by: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Written by: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr. & Armando Bo

Starring: Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone, Merritt Weaver, Lindsay Duncan & Natalie Gold

I had my reservations about BIRDMAN and was shocked to hear all the praise about how amazing it was (along with possible Oscar buzz). Really? A movie about a washed-up former superhero actor starring a washed-up former superhero actor sounded more like a meta-gimmick that might be worth a few laughs but not a particularly good movie, let alone a supposedly amazing one. So I sat in a movie theater last night and watched BIRDMAN unfold before my eyes. It took less than five minutes for me to fall under the spell of this film. This is a wholly unique and original story with connections to the real world. BIRDMAN is a unique beast and there’s so much for me to say about this film (no spoilers rest assured), that this review is going to be a tad lengthy.

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Riggan Thomson is most famously known for playing the iconic superhero Birdman in three giant blockbusters. Those days are long behind him and his career has become a joke. Riggan’s reminded of his has-been stardom on a daily basis. His life is in shambles due to a divorce, his troubled relationship with his ex-junkie daughter, and his creation of a Broadway show. The play (directed by, written by, and starring himself) is in order to make a come-back of sorts. Production problems are all over the place, including crumbling sets, potential law suits, and a big-name method actor who’s becoming a serious asshole behind the scenes. As the opening night approaches, Riggan’s psyche begins to disappear as the voice of Birdman re-enters his head.

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Let me say this right up front, I’ve dissed Michael Keaton this year…twice. In the space of about two weeks in March, I railed on two separate films he was slumming in and called one of his performances downright embarrassing. I’m not the only one whose been doing this and his work since the BATMAN films hasn’t done him any favors. Keaton is absolutely fantastic in BIRDMAN! Only he could have played this role and brought such honesty to it. He garners a huge amount of laughs and a lot of sympathy as Riggan. Seeing the movie take shots at real life celebs and films (including Robert Downey Jr., Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and even TRANSFORMERS), adds an even further layer of realism that made me really appreciate Keaton’s talent in this film! Could this tactic be a tad manipulative? Probably, but it worked perfectly!

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Keaton delivers the best performance, but he’s far from the only great cast member. Emma Stone plays Riggan’s troubled daughter and is nothing short of amazing. There’s one argument between her and Keaton that showcases the best acting I’ve ever seen from Stone. She delivers a harshness that seems completely real, but also genuinely loves her Keaton’s father character all the same. Edward Norton is hysterical but tragic as a method actor who’s only real when he’s on the stage. All of the other cast members have significant screen presence and colorful characters, even if their screen time is minimal compared to Keaton’s.

BIRDMAN OR (THE UNEXPECTED VIRTUE OF IGNORANCE), (aka BIRDMAN), from left: Michael Keaton, Edward

The film is also visually awesome in that (save for one scene in the ending) it all seems like one long take. This is made even more impressive because the storyline spans days and nights. I don’t know how many actual tracking shots were used in this film, but they all blend flawlessly into the effect that you’re watching a single unbroken moment that spans over half a week. Director/co-writer Inarritu will follow one character into a room or hallway with the camera and then follow another character leaving from that same location. The fourth wall is broken a couple of times and deliberate references are made to Keaton’s BATMAN films without necessarily going all-out with the image of the Dark Knight (one comment about Clooney cracked me up). This kind of unbroken take scenario has been seen before in other films (2012’s shoddy SILENT HOUSE), but I’ve never seen it done this well for this long. It’s clearly not one take, but it looks authentically like it is one. This also directly allows the viewer to be sucked into a great atmosphere and puts you directly in Keaton’s character’s ever-fragile psyche.

BIRDMAN, Emma Stone, 2014. TM and Copyright ©Fox Searchlight Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

The story itself is hilarious, but also feels very real. It’s compelling and funny, but there’s an intrinsic sadness and tragedy to the circumstances. You’ll laugh, but you might also want to cry in a few scenes. It’s emotional and funny in a “I can see this actually happening” sort of way. No one wants to be insignificant. You can automatically see how the notion being a washed-up has-been would wreak havoc in the mind of someone who formerly played one of the most iconic superheroes, whether they donned bird wings or a bat symbol. The film is compelling the whole way through and so well-paced that you’ll be questioning how those two hours flew by so fast.

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At one point in the first 15 minutes of BIRDMAN, an audience member behind me whispered to his friend “What is this movie?!?” That question alone kind of sums up all the praise being thrown onto BIRDMAN and how incredibly special it is. This is a delirious flick full of dark comedy, first world problems that seem devastating, and honest emotion. It’s a perfect film that showcases Michael Keaton’s best performance of his entire career. BIRDMAN is a modern masterpiece that should be celebrated, praised to the heavens, and loved by many for years to come!

Grade: A+

THE CAMPAIGN (2012)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 25 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Crude Sexual Content, Language and brief Nudity

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Directed by: Jay Roach

Written by: Chris Henchy & Shawn Harwell

Starring: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Jason Sudeikis, Katherine LaNasa, Dylan McDermott, John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, Brian Cox & Sarah Baker

THE CAMPAIGN is one of those little comedies that kind of came out of nowhere in Summer 2012. This looked to be awesome. It’s a comedic pairing between two very well-known actors, funny in drastically different ways, about a serious problem in this country. The TV spots, clips, and trailers indicated this would be a hilarious time at the movie theater. The film banked at the box office, but I never got around to seeing it until now. There’s a reason that THE CAMPAIGN isn’t widely celebrated as one of Ferrell or Galifianakis’s funniest film. That’s because this movie feels half-assed in many respects, though there are a decent amount of laughs (especially towards the end). Politics are rife for satire and the mud-slinging tactics that many candidates use in their rallies would make for great jokes, but THE CAMPAIGN seems to be focused on mere sexual humor and curse words. It’s as if the writers think that the R-rated combination of these two things are all this film needs and it drastically appears otherwise.

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Cam Brady is a congressman running for the fourth time unopposed. Manipulating and slickly playing words to his advantage, Cam is on the fast track to win yet another upcoming election. Running without an opponent is helping his odds too. Just as Cam is about to sign the paperwork giving him the fourth win in a row, a stout family man named Marty Huggins announces himself as competition for Cam. What evolves is a dirty rivalry in which both candidates stoop lower and get their hands dirty to make the other look bad, all while big businessmen pull strings behind the scenes.

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Ferrell, known for doing a wildly popular George W. Bush impression, is the most entertaining character here. He’s distancing himself from past ridiculous characters like Ricky Bobby or Ron Burgundy. Though he does freak out, cuss to high heavens, and go crazy in more than a few scenes, Ferrell is also showing off a remarkably more believable character than his past. In a sort of surprise, the relatively fresh faced Zach Galifinakis that winds up being more annoying than funny. Galifinakis has shown before that he has real comedic chops (e.g. THE HANGOVER and DUE DATE), but all he’s doing here is pulling a funny voice and playing a cartoon character. In the competition between them, things are practically spelled out way in advance for the viewer as to how things will play out. As a result, the climax isn’t surprising and felt phoned in. John Lithgow, Dan Aykroyd, and Brian Cox are all given some rather thankless roles on the side.

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The main issue with THE CAMPAIGN is the pacing takes a while to pick up in the beginning and then by the time it does get moving, a small amount of time left to go before the credits roll. The film is 85 minutes long and yet again, this shows that it was a little half-assed in a few departments. The mighty short running time only contains a few moments that had me cracking up and these funny bits showcased how bland and forgettable the rest of the film was. Will Ferrell stole the show with some absolutely ludicrous scenes and it might have wound up being an entirely better film if Zach Galifianakis’s character was completely absent. If this were an entire movie about Cam Brady screwing up in office, then it probably would have more laughs. The pairing of these two in an R-rated comedy about politics seems like gold on paper, but mostly falls flat.

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There’s a real message about how corrupt politics are. Like many other things in this film, it could have been executed better. However, there’s something to be said about a comedy that takes a real stance on that. The 85 minutes mostly consist of forced jokes and over-the-top swearing. The funniest scene is the baby punching, which has been showcased in all of the advertising. I also laughed pretty hard at a follow-up scene to that involving Ferrell at another rally (you’ll know it when you see it). THE CAMPAIGN is glossy and seems confident on the surface, but reveals itself to be a flaky and (tonally) dishonest mess…kind of like real-life politicians.

Grade: C+

MUPPETS MOST WANTED (2014)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 52 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG for some mild Action

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Directed by: James Bobin

Written by: Nicholas Stoller & James Bobin

Starring: Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Steve Whitmore, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, Peter Linz, Zach Galifianakis, Salma Hayek, Tom Hiddleston, Frank Langella, Ray Liotta, James McAvoy, Chloe Grace Moretz, Danny Trejo, Stanley Tucci & Christoph Waltz

In 2011, those lovable oddball puppets known as the Muppets appeared in the aptly titled THE MUPPETS. While I liked that film to a certain degree, it was a tad underwhelming and never really focused on what made the Muppets so successful to begin with. With MUPPETS MOST WANTED, the humans play side characters and the Muppets themselves take center stage for this caper-adventure-musical. It’s far from perfect, but it’s a great romp nonetheless!

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“The End” remains in the sky formed from fireworks at the closing of the last film. The cameras are still rolling. This obviously means that the studio wants a sequel (as Gonzo sings “at least until Tom Hanks does TOY STORY 4”). So the Muppets meet with a manager, named Dominic Badguy (pronounced Bad-gee), and sign up for a worldwide tour. Meanwhile, a criminal frog named Constantine escapes from a high-security prison in Russia. Kermit accidentally runs into him and Constantine cleverly switches places. Posing as the host of the Muppet show (and doing a bad voice impression of Kermit), Constantine is in cahoots with Badguy. Together they are pulling off a series of intricate heists and using the Muppet tour to avoid suspicion. With Kermit locked away in the Russian slammer, it’s up to a small group of Muppets to rescue Kermit, take down Constantine, and save the day!

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Though the opening musical number states that “sequels aren’t ever quite as good”, I found MUPPETS MOST WANTED to be a significant step up from the predecessor. Considering this is actually the eighth installment of their theatrical films, the Muppets haven’t lost their witty humor and still know how to win over a crowd. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll spot a ton of celebrity cameos throughout. None of these are distracting. I’d dare say that some of them are nothing short of brilliant. One of which actually got a cheer from numerous people in my theater. The Muppets (though undeniably puppets) have a charming lifelike quality that is just as effective as the living people surrounding them. Certain humans stand out more than others. Ricky Gervais is clearly having a blast playing Badguy and provides a lot of solid laughs. The relationship between Ty Burrel’s Interpol agent and CIA agent Sam the Eagle that was my favorite part of the film. Those two cracked me up constantly and it was almost like the Muppets do a cop drama with the intended hilarious results.

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Some people have praised Tina Fey’s performance as the singing Russian prison officer. I actually didn’t like her character much and found her to be more annoying than anything else. The songs, while catchy in the context of the film, didn’t stick with me after I was done watching it (unlike other Muppet films). The running time of almost two hours long feels a tad stretched too. I never got bored, but I could feel that some scenes were going on a little longer than they needed to. It’s the one of same problems that 2011’s THE MUPPETS suffered from and I did enjoy MUPPETS MOST WANTED so much more than that initial let-down. These flaws take things down a notch, but it remains solid wholesome entertainment for the entire family.

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Though I did have some problems with the film, MUPPETS MOST WANTED is ultimately a cheerful upbeat tale that will delight both adults and children alike. The songs work in the film and it’s clear that all the stops were pulled out to treat this caper as a legitimate adventure…that just happens to have Muppets. MUPPETS MOST WANTED ranks just behind MUPPET TREASURE ISLAND (which still remains my favorite film starring this group of oddballs). The never-ending sense of humor and rapid fire pace of the jokes themselves (though the plot could have used a shorter running time) are both enough to warrant a solid recommendation. Welcome back, Muppets! You’ve been missed!

Grade: B

YOUTH IN REVOLT (2010)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Sexual Content, Language and Drug Use

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Directed by: Miguel Arteta

Written by: Gustin Nash

(based on the novel YOUTH IN REVOLT by C.D. Payne)

Starring: Michael Cera, Portia Doubleday, Jean Smart, Mary Kay Place, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Long, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, M. Emmet Walsh, Jonathan Bradford Wright, Erik Knudson, Fred Willard & Rooney Mara

YOUTH IN REVOLT is a lesser known movie featuring Michael Cera as an awkward teenager. Granted Cera has made this kind of role work in other films, namely SUPERBAD or SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD (his best film yet). The only real difference with YOUTH IN REVOLT is that it’s based on a novel and features a ton of big names in the cast. Ironically, this is also a very flat, stale, and uninteresting piece of work.

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Nick Twisp (Cera) is living a stressful existence. He’s a cultured, intelligent young man and also a virgin. It seems like all the jerks around him have girlfriends. His mother is a piece of white trash dating a pathological liar and his father is a neglectful creep dating a 25-year-old hottie. As Nick states, it’s aggravating how many people around him are getting action. It isn’t until he moves to a trailer park for a week that he runs across Sheeni Saunders, who takes an immediate interest in him. The two of them fall fast in love, but when the struggles of life makes things difficult to stay together, Nick finds that he must become a rebel (in the form of an alter-ego named Francois Dillinger) to win her heart.

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There is a lot of ground this story covers in the ever-present difficulties that get in the way of Nick and Sheeni’s romance. Seeing as the film is a mere 90 minutes long (counting credits), things move at a super rushed pace. It’s annoying how fast the film goes and it left barely any time for anything to develop enough for me to care as a viewer. There were moments of stylized storytelling that I appreciated. From the credits sequence to a few montages, the film incorporates animation of differing styles. This element actually worked quite well and somewhat set it apart from being just another teenage comedy in that respect.

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Most of the flaws come with the characters. Michael Cera’s voiceover at the beginning the film made me feel like this might turn out to be an underrated gem. The introduction of each character is funny enough and there was plenty of potential to be realized for most of them. However, not much is done with any of these colorful people. Big name actors are wasted as popping up in two or three scenes and then forgotten without any further notice. Steve Buscemi takes on the role of Nick’s neglectful father and just doesn’t get to do much with it. Another potentially fun character, Ray Liotta as a cop, is wasted. He could have been one of the best characters in the film and winds up in about 5 minutes of screen time.

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You may notice that I’m neglecting to mention the two leads. That’s because neither of them give anything spectacular. Portia Doubleday just comes off as a bland love interest and the viewer isn’t given much reason to care about her, thanks to most of their romance being shown in a few forgettable scenes and a brief montage. Michael Cera plays the socially inept teenager. We’ve seen him play it before and he plays it again here. There isn’t any charm to the character of Nick Twisp and it makes for a pretty empty experience altogether.

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YOUTH IN REVOLT relies on jokes that almost always fall flat, a plot that we’ve seen many times before, and a big name cast that aren’t given much to do. As a romance, it’s hollow. It doesn’t work as a coming-of-age tale either. As a comedy, I didn’t laugh more than five times. There is a certain style to the film that sets it apart from being terrible, but it’s not good or even middle-of-the-road either. It’s just disappointing, bland, and should remain forgotten. Don’t waste your time on this one.

Grade: C-

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