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Rating History

Desierto (2016)
11 hours ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It seems that this is the year of horror/thriller in which predators hunt down their preys with as few dialogue as possible, we had 'Don't Breathe' which got us on the edge of our seats, and now, director Jonas Cuaron's film is almost as relentless. Despite the film's lack of big names, the film gaining attention due its at the Special Presentations section of the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival,[7] where it won the Prize of the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) for Special Presentations,[8] and was selected as the Mexican entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards. Cuaron, who with his father Alfonso wrote the screenplay of the masterful 2013 science fiction Gravity, had directed a couple of short films before marking his debut feature-length film in the form of this film; and in taking on the subject matter here, he steps into a topic that has both human and political dimensions. If you are into global news, you must have heard of tales that happen at the US border. The border between the United States and Mexico is approximately 1,700 miles in length, stretching from the mouth of the Rio Grande at Brownsville, Texas, all the way to the Pacific shoreline at Imperial Beach, California. And much of it goes through some of the harshest and most forbidding land in the entire world, the Colorado and Sonoran deserts in California and Arizona. Each year, thousands of Mexicans cross that border into the U.S., oftentimes illegally but for very legitimate reasons: a better life, and to escape from the violence being caused by the drug cartels in their country. The journey they make is excruciatingly dangerous; and in the last couple of decades, the danger has been upped immeasurably, not by the drug cartels, nor even the U.S. Border Patrol, but by vigilantes who tend to pass themselves off as patriots. Regardless of the skew of these stories, or if you think illegal immigrants are coming to take jobs of the countries legal residents, the lack of humanity behind them should affect you. With all that demented election-campaign talk about building a wall around Mexico to shut out illegal immigrants, this film, a vital gasp-a-minute cat-and-mouse thriller from Jonás Cuarón, the son of acclaimed director Alfonso Cuarón who wrote his father's film Gravity, couldn't be more timely or relevant. This is just another tale of survival, but with none of the visual splendor of Gravity. It's a nail-biter that exposes the hazards of immigration from the side of the victims. The story follows Moises (Gael García Bernal), one of a group of desperate Mexican immigrants seeking a better life in the land of plenty (he only wants to be reunited with his only son), but when their van breaks down and leaves them vulnerable and unprotected in a blistering wasteland this side of the border, Moises lags behind to help an injured female straggler like a Good Samaritan. They expect danger, but nothing could have prepared the ragtag band of immigrants from being stalked by a Confederate flag-waving lunatic Sam (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) hell-bent on wiping out anyone who invades the U.S. uninvited, or the bloody carnage that follows. The physical challenges that confront this naive band of stranded Mexicans are catalogued vigorously, from the punishing heat and dehydration with a dwindling water supply or any means of escape to the vigilante's killer Belgian Malinois dog Tracker. The dog is a major player in the hunt, as well as the loyal companion of the deranged "patriot" with perverted values who has taught him to destroy human life on command. Leaping from boulders, jumping across gulches and racing through desert sands like a long-distance runner at high speed, Stephen King's rabid Cujo couldn't have played it better. Director and co-writer Jonás Cuarón sets up a simple chase scenario and generates riveting tension amid the desert's harsh beauty. There's no doubt about the Mexican-born Cuarón's sensibilities, as he elicits empathy for Garcia Bernal's Moisés and his fellow migrants and depicts Morgan's Sam as a self-loathing racist with all the symbols to fit in at a Donald Trump rally. This is not exactly a great , but it's an interesting pop-cultural footnote, especially given its release in the final weeks leading up to a U.S. presidential election in which Donald Trump seized the Republican nomination partly on the back of his extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric. It's a horror first and foremost, although not a particularly original one. Cuarón's father, Alfonso (who produced the film), is a master stylist who excels at layering deeper meaning into his work, and while any comparison between the two might feel unfair, it's also inevitable. The film's message is always clear, and while Cuarón extracts some genuinely visceral shocks from this take on The Most Dangerous Game, the film is more of an angry, well-intentioned idea than a significant piece of art. The previously mentioned signifiers become less important as the hard-edged kill-or-be-killed story plays out to its gripping conclusion. Jonas' first feature length film, is an impressive display of technical filmmaking and acting, but exhibits none of the subtle or powerful messages that underlie his father's vision. Cuaron is an outstanding technical director. He makes Sam's pursuit thrilling, the efforts to escape excruciating. It would be exciting to see him tackle a full-on horror film, because he's got the technique to make it work. However, the real truth of this film is that we have seen it before, often done much better. We learn near nothing about the characters, so when they are slaughtered, the emotional impact is minimal. It is brutal and savage, but it doesn't pack the gut-punch it could. What the film lacks in establishing empathy outside of the main character, it makes up for in creating a tense environment of survival. The main reason Cuarón doesn't spend time giving us the backstory of every character is because they would all come off as the same. They all are risking their lives to reach America in hopes of providing a better life for their families. Another reason could be that in that moment where you are fighting for your life, none of that matters outside of your need to survive, possibly motivated by your reason for fighting to live. Plus if you have seen the trailer of this film, then you've pretty much seen the film. Nothing much happens aside of what you see in the trailer. Gael García Bernal, who had previously collaborated with Alfonso Cuarón on Y Tu Mamá También, plays his part well. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, in a sort of audition for The Walking Dead (this was shot in 2014), is brilliant. There is simply no one working today that can convey evil and terror in the way he does. His meticulous and methodical picking off of the immigrants-either by bullet or bite-is heartlessly strong. Mexican actress, Alondra Hidalgo is effective. On the whole, 'Desierto' is a well-put together suspenseful film that despite its predictability delivers some unforgettable thrills at a feverish pace.

Sausage Party
Sausage Party (2016)
1 day ago via Rotten Tomatoes

We all have our own list of favorite dishes or cuisine we love to eat, right? But imagine, what if our food came alive and talked in the most profane way imaginable. The awesome Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have reunited once again in this incredibly raunchy R- rated comedy following their success with 'This Is the End' and 'Neighbors', except what's different this time is this comedy is an CGI animated feature revolving around talking food products rather than human characters. Imagine a crude and explicit version of Toy Story, but swap the toys for food, and you've got this film in a nutshell. This film is a rare stroke of genius that took the form of a cartoon film. There have uproarious cartoons in the past i.e. Simpsons, Family Guy, and South Park. (They are in filth order, from dirty to shocking) this film raises the bar to a new low. The aforementioned films and shows make use of modern themes while expressing them with outlandish gambits that live action films can't. This film is definitely not for kids and It definitely deserves its R-rating! For a film starring and written by Seth Rogen, you would expect to see a straight forward raunchy comedy with no-holds-bar vulgarity and abundance of four letter words. This comedy however, manages to squeeze in a surprisingly thought-provoking allegory to religion along with the predictably irreverent humor, similar to what we saw in 'This Is the End' which followed a cast of characters trying to survive the apocalypse. Since Seth Rogen and his crew admitted this film is an intentional spoof of Pixar and DreamWorks films, it left me further curious on what was to expect. When it ended, I thought to myself, "Past animated films went the R-rated route before, so is this a step further?" As entertaining as it is to watch food be voiced by Seth Rogen's squad, the film becomes increasingly grotesque and uncomfortable with every scene. Though I will say the ending does make it one of 2016's greatest successes. The story revolves around Frank (Seth Rogen), a sausage, who along with his friends Carl (Jonah Hill) and the diminutive Barry (Michael Cera) live inside their package. Frank's only desire is to get picked alongside his girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wiig), a bun, taken home, and shoved inside one another in the most sexual fashion. Every morning, the denizens of Shopwell supermarket sing a song of joy while they lay in waiting for a benevolent god (human) to choose them and take them to the "great beyond". Failure to be chosen, or worse dropped on the floor, means produce is to be thrown away in a seemingly bottomless abyss of a grocery store garbage bin. Frank and Brenda however like their chances. It's a few days till red, white and blue day; what could go wrong? Only the worse! The moment a container of Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) returns he forecasts doom & commits suicide. In an attempt to save him, Frank & Brenda come out of their packages leading to a grocery cart accident. A feminine hygiene product Douche (Kroll) angered by a grocery cart accident blames Frank & Brenda for losing his chances to be useful. Lost in the huge supermarket, Frank & Brenda band with rivals Lavash (David Krumholtz) & Sammy the Bagel (Edward Norton) to find the truth & get back to their shelves. I'll first say this, I don't think everyone will find it funny. If you aren't already a fan of Seth Rogan's films, like I am, the humor probably won't do much for you. But I don't think anyone can deny that the film's story is very smart, and I think might make up for some of the negatives you may have about the film. The early reviews were right, it has a lot of clever things to say about religion, about taboos in society, about bigotry between cultures, and it's not lazy about any of these subjects. A comedy about foul-mouth talking food? Yeah, kind of sounds like a dumb idea, right? Well, with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg behind the writing process, this film unexpectedly manages to be much smarter than what you may anticipate while at the same time, being hysterically funny in blatantly absurd ways. Let me talk about the jokes for a second. Yes there are plenty of sexual jokes in it, a lot of which I found funny. But I think the majority of the laughs I had came from the different ethnic foods interacting with each other. I could watch the Bagel and Lavash argue with each other all day. . Needless to say there are times when the film get's lost in the tall grass with over-broad ethnic stereotypes (A Native American liquor bottle named Firewater certainly ranks among the most egregious). But let's face it, if you're sold on the premise of a R- Rated animated comedy about food-stuffs you probably won't be too concerned. If anything I think the majority of the sort of sexual jokes people expect from the film happen at the very end, like the last 10 minutes of the film. The embedded oddness of the story lends itself to some pretty unique and funny jokes. Advertised with inventive marketing, this highly anticipated comedy delivers much more than just a string of raunchy R-rated humor and a no-brainer of a plot. Rogen and Goldberg accomplish this by formulating the plot that serves as a metaphor to Christianity, with the food being purchased by shoppers and taken into the "great beyond" which serves as a clear analogy to heaven. One line in particular is "the gods work in mysterious ways". This also includes some comedic dialogue and humor that falls metaphorical to references of the bible including a silly musical number in which the film opens up with. Yes, the humor has no reservation of being politically incorrect or downright offensive, especially with all the seemingly non-stop profanity. At the same time, Rogen and Goldberg know how to make it funny and subversive. Sure, some of the jokes do fall on the mean-spirited side, or under the not-so-rare circumstances push the envelope, particularly the massive food orgy scene. Though it is meant to be funny, it's necessarily clever or even charming in the slightest. On the other hand, the film as a whole knows how to be funny in a way that works, even without the constant vulgar gags thrown around here and there. As an animation, the film is artfully, colorfully and simplistically rendered. Each section of the grocery store lights up with a look and feel that compliments the local produce. After the doors close the Mexican food area resembles a rustic western cantina, the cookware section beams with the silvery glow of shimmering straight edges and the alcohol aisle is just one big rave. Environments outside the store are limited yet realistically depict the kitchen of a prim housewife and the dingy living room of a bugged out druggie. The less I tell you about the brief street scene, the better. Overall, it's obvious there were limitations in the budget yet if compared to the similarly themed Foodfight! (2012), this film's animation is an artistic triumph. But don't get me wrong, there are problems. Probably the major one being that the villain really doesn't need to be there. He just kind of serves to be a slightly disturbing character, who sucks out other products' juice to become stronger. If they cut him out of the film we wouldn't have missed anything, apart from a few jokes from him. Also the ending is very, well, an ending, in that it ends the film. It's one of those endings I wouldn't really describe as "bad" or "good" it's just sort of "I don't really know how else they could have ended it, so yeah I guess that works." Coming to the Vocal-Performances. Seth Rogen as Frank, the heroic Sausage, is tops, as always. Kristen Wiig as Brenda, a hot-dog bun & Frank's love-interest, is excellent. Bill Hader as Firewater, an old Native American bottle of liquor, Tequila, and El Guaco, a guacamole gangster, is a riot. Edward Norton as Sammy Bagel Jr., a bagel & Salma Hayek as Teresa del Taco, a lesbian taco shell who develops a lustful friendship with Brenda, steal the show. Michael Cera as Barry, a deformed sausage who is one of Frank's friends, is cute. Danny McBride as Honey Mustard, a grocery who was returned to Shopwell's and tries to warn Frank of their fate, is loud. James Franco as the Druggie, a junkie drug addict who is the first known human to see the foods as sentient beings, brings the house down. Jonah Hill as Carl, a sausage who's packed with Frank and Barry, is effective enough. Paul Rudd as Darren, the manager of Shopwell's, who the food-toons are frightened by, is first-rate. Others lend superb support. On the whole, 'Sausage Party' is a very funny, foul, crass, mean-spirited little film that doesn't just hand in shock value laughs for the sake of shock value laughs.

Free State of Jones
2 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

It's unfortunate that the main reason this Matthew McConaughey starring box office flop came in news is not because of its excellent portrayal of the counter-rebellion in a Mississippi town during the Civil War, but because for some reason the producers of the film, STX Entertainment, decided to release the film in center of summer popcorn films, hence its dismal performance. But like me, if you enjoy films on based on actual events or a real person, that has good writing, an actual story and good acting, you will like it. If you are looking for a war drama that is nonstop action with lots of battles, massive explosions and bloody scenes from start to finish, you will be disappointed. I did a little research on the history it depicts and it was a part of the Civil War that I knew nothing about. The film shows well the post-war conflict with the KKK. Like 'Lincoln', this film shows a world of political parties very different to present day. Then, white supremacists were loyal to the Democrats, blacks to the abolitionist Republicans. The film is done in a style that emulates Twelve Years a Slave, and as such it deals with topics of slavery and secession in a way that is poignant but also constructive. Despite running for over two hours, the film wasn't a drag to sit through, because the film was cramped with action, great acting performances, and a good character development. So you weren't left out to feel bored at any time throughout this film. Despite running for about 139 minutes, the film wasn't a drag to sit through, because the film was cramped with action, great acting performances, and a good character development. So you weren't left out to feel bored at any time throughout this film. The film starts pretty much like any Civil War film with battles, death and bloody bodies, but it progresses past that to the point where some people rebel against the Confederacy for the atrocities they commit against the southern farmers. The story is well told with some actual dates and a fact flashed on the screen from time to time which sort of gives it the feel of a documentary. It helps keep things in perspective without being intrusive. The story follows Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), a white Mississippi farmer, a Southern soldier who has had enough of war, had enough of fighting what he believed was a rich man's war and a poor man's fight, had enough of Confederate soldiers in his home county of Jones, Mississippi taking almost everything from poor families to supposedly help out with the war effort, and had enough of slavery and all the cruelties that go with one person owning another person. . He was outraged by the Twenty Negro Law that allowed families who owned twenty slaves to exempt one family member from service for every twenty slaves they owned. Knight's insurrection starts off small but dramatic, slowly building up until he and his company are at war with the Confederate States of America. This film doesn't just deal with what happened during the American Civil War, it also delves into the "reconstruction" phase after the war, and the barbaric and ironic aftermath for the former slaves. Adding further interest and depth to the film is the separate story within the film regarding one of Newton Knight's descendants (a white man who is part black) who is on trial for marrying a white woman in Mississippi - at the time of the trial, interracial relationships were illegal; and Knight's descendant, despite looking white, was considered black. How hypocritical, since white masters often raped their female slaves for hundreds of years while the Southern society turned a blind eye to it. Knight and other deserters formed The Free State of Jones, declaring their loyalty to the Union, and flying the stars and stripes rather than the stars and bars. After the war, Knight worked for Reconstruction and married Rachel, a freed slave woman. His children also married cross-racially. He died in 1922. As might be expected, he is a controversial figure in Mississippi. Fans of the Confederacy denounce him as a traitor. Others celebrate him as one white Southerner who had a conscience and resisted white supremacy. Yes, the film is receiving negative reviews. It's easy to see why. There is something in this film to anger multiple grievance mongers. First, race hustlers will hate this film. Race hustlers want the official story to be that all whites are supremacists and all blacks are heroic. A film that depicts a white man who worked for black rights is taboo. Race hustlers anathematized "Mississippi Burning" and "The Help" for the same reason. It's such a shame that the race hustlers' ideological blindfolds make it impossible for them to appreciate great art. Liberals might hate this film for a couple of other reasons. I don't know if I've seen a film where almost every scene hinges on how guns are used. Almost everyone is armed, and uses those weapons to keep breathing and to settle disputes. Even little girls have guns and use them heroically. Second amendment fans may love this film. It depicts what they dream of: oppressed citizenry taking up arms to defeat their own government. In addition to clinging to their guns, these rebels cling to their God and their Bibles. This is one of the most religious American films I've seen in a while. It's an historical fact that Newt Knight was a devoutly religious Primitive Baptist - he didn't drink, for example. The film drives home Knight's Christianity. He is shown in a long scene using a quill to record a birth in his Bible. In fairness, there are a few things that the film could be rightly critiqued for. The opening scenes of the film are fairly gory and filled with wartime violence, but fortunately that does not dominate the film. As it progresses, the plot of the film does meander a bit, including a fast forward to a scene from some 85 years after the majority of the film that is interspersed throughout the rest of the film. That technique felt a bit forced at times, but at the end of the film it made more sense why it had been used. Additionally, the film tells its main tale over the course of more than a decade, which makes for a bit of an odd cinematic journey--but, in my view, none of these issues are so problematic that they greatly take away from the film. Rather, what we have here is a film that was desperately trying to be Oscar worthy, and that perhaps pushes the creative envelope a tad bit too far. But again, the film offers more good here than the bad. The story that the film has to tell is both engaging and important--engaging in that it captures your attention and makes you care about the subject matter in a captivating way, and important in that it draws attention to historical facts that you probably were not aware of. I know it certainly highlighted some elements of Reconstruction that were new to me. Gary Ross, the director and writer, has previously penned 'Big' (1988) and 'Dave' (1993), both of which were comedies that also delivered serious thoughts too. In this serious work, with location-shooting that included Jones County, he has given us a very impressive piece of work. Two good touches that demonstrated attention to detail were; the clearly different bits of wood authentically used for a funeral coffin to give an authentic realism, and the authentically-looking slight graying of McConaughey's hair in later scenes. After good performances in 'Mud' (2012), and Interstellar (2014), here Mr McConaughey gives a convincing performance. Matthew McConaughey gets a lot of stick for his southern accent, apparently it's all he can do to some people, but it doesn't change the fact that he is a fine actor. Every emotion he has to display here he does so with grace and believability. His accent is changed, albeit slightly, to a different southern accent here and i didn't notice any slips or going back to his native accent. What's more, with his beard hair and teeth looking straight out of the history books, he IS the man he is portraying. OK so it is not doppelganger, but he does bear a great resemblance to Newton. Gugu Mbatha-Raw gives a convincing performance as does Mahershala Ali. Keri Russell is fine in a small role. She gives her heartbroken character dignity and resilience. On the whole, 'Free State of Jones' is a powerful film that tells a masterfully constructed important story with great period feel and realism. I recommend it for all as it does entertain and enlighten.

Keeping Up With The Joneses
2 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Its hard to make a perfect comedy film, mainly because the the only thing that matters is that did the film make you to laugh? Comedy is the only genre where you find the most divide among the audience, as the sense of humor of each viewer varies plus it also matters in what frame of mind or expectations they have from a certain film. This will undoubtedly vary from the accounts of uppity film critics who will discount the basic plot and obvious laughs (which is the whole point). While I do enjoy the general Seth Rogen kind of films, spy comedies are one sub genre I hold a special place for. It's a genre so based on plot twists that most of them can be seen a mile away, especially if you've already seen some. This one is no different. No real plot twist is really surprising, including the final joke. And still, I had loads of fun watching it, because most of the jokes are actually character driven, and the characters are very well written, and well performed by most. Despite that you can't ignore the fact, save for maybe Bad Moms & Neighbors 2, 2016 hasn't been very kind to comedy. And after just recently being submitted to such atrocities as The Boss and Masterminds, I was ready for another big disappointment at the special screening of the now very stale Zach Gallifianakis brand of humor. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed this film! The film has this great nostalgic feeling, a kick back to those wonderful 80's comedies that fuse action and humor, while actually making you care for what the characters are going through. It's a bit of the oddball The 'Burbs with elements of classic spy flicks like True Lies or Mr. & Mrs. Smith. The latest entry from director Greg Mottola and writer Michael LeSieur offers a more balanced approach while being somewhat grounded in familiar suburbia. Perfect casting certainly helps. I found myself laughing, I was emotionally attached to the story and could relate to the characters, the trailer says it best, what you see is what you get. The story follows The Gaffneys, Karen (Isla Fisher) and Jeff (Zach Gallifianakis), who seem to be living the "American dream". They've got two pre-teen boys and live in cozy two-story home in an up-scale cul-de-sac. Karen takes care of said home, while running a part-time interior design biz from the study. Jeff, like many of his neighbors, works at a big local aeronautics company. He heads the human resources department in one of the more popular offices. That's because he has internet access (too many sensitive government projects are going on upstairs, so no web surfing). The Gaffneys are contemplating a romantic Summer when they load their boys into a bus bound for camp. As they clumsily try to heat things up, a moving van pulls into the driveway of the empty house across the street. New neighbors! And quite a glamorous duo, it's the Joneses, travel writer Tim (Jon Hamm) and food blogger Natalie (Gal Gadot). They soon pay the Gaffneys a visit, even bringing them a hand-crafted gift. Jeff develops a bit of a "man crush" on Tim, but Karen's radar is activated. Something's just not right about them. Tim just "happens" to run into Jeff and invites him to lunch where Tim is way too interested in Jeff's routine job (and his co-workers). During a late night exploration of the Jones house, the Gaffneys discover a room full of surveillance tech and gadgets. Could they be spies? And who are there bosses? This could make things very awkward at the next block party! Feature comedy director Greg Mottola (Superbad, Paul, Adventureland) deftly guides this terrific ensemble, keeping the story flowing, and happily avoiding that deadly lull at the one-hour mark that derails many a funny flick. Michael LeSieur's clever script delivers big laughs while making these characters feel real, never mere gag props. He also provides several great set pieces aside from the shoot-out and dressing room scenes. Marriage is a central theme in the film. Couples deal with communication, romance, respect, and trust. The idea of friendship is used to illustrate the importance of camaraderie and support, sacrifice, and encouragement to live a fulfilled life. The men head off for some male bonding - at a highly unusual specialty restaurant, leading to one of the more manic sequences in the film. The impressive thing about this latest is that the comedy mostly derives from character and situational interactions, and the expected steady stream of punchlines never materializes. There is even some insight into marriages that have become a bit too predictable, and the challenges of making new friends when all available energy is devoted to parenting and making ends meet. This film is a 100 percent a genre popcorn flick: nothing particularly innovative or stylish about the story or execution. There are recognizable tropes and common clichés, the framing of the film is fairly predictable, and it's filled with spy-like hijinks and the mandatory car chase. However, the charm and genuine comedic talent of the cast will make it easy for many to settle in and enjoy, without passing too much judgment. Action scenes are pretty good, not over the top, but still fun anyway. If you have seen the trailer you know what you're going see going in. This cast shines infinitely brighter than the usual cookie-cutter characters who emerge from similar types of action-comedies. Zach Galifianakis is hardly recognizable here, after shedding most of his weight. Galifianakis is much more grounded than he was in the very recent dud Masterminds, making Jeff less of an outlandish cartoon, more of a sometimes goofy, bewildered guy next door. Yes, he's got a weird fascination with home beer brewing and indoor sky-diving, but Jeff's a dependable Joe, who's pretty clumsy, but always sees the best in people. Still, he's yearning for something. Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher have some great comic chemistry, playing the zany sitcom like couple perfectly. Isla Fisher commits beautifully to her role. Isla Fisher is a great comic partner for Galifianakis, but also marvelous when she's intimidated by Gadot in the big changing room scene (showcased in the trailers and TV ads). Jon Hamm is the perfect debonair secret agent with a surprisingly vulnerable side. Hamm has finally gotten a film role that allows him to shed the ultra-cool brooding Don Draper of "Mad Men", while exercising his comic chops and flexing an action-hero swagger. Gal Gadot is the real surprise here and her scenes with Ms. Fisher are the film's best. The 31 year-old Israeli actress and Wonder Woman delivers her jokes while keeping a deadpan expression, and manages to steal almost every scene she's in with her exotic accent and stunning stature. Actually, Gadot alone is a good enough reason to watch the film - and throwing her into the heart of every-town America has a great payoff once push comes to shove. The brilliant Patton Oswalt is cast as the self-nicknamed villain, and is responsible for one of the film's biggest laughs. On the whole, 'Keeping Up with the Joneses' is an enjoyable film that allows its cast to drive and give us laughs (big and small), despite its predictable moments. This a film you could enjoy if you are having a bad day, you have to go in this suspending some disbelieve. So while this seems like the kind of film I would usually ignore, perhaps it arrives at a time when laughing is simply preferable to the daily grind of an embarrassing and humiliating Presidential race or a simple thing called shit life.

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
3 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The original 2012 film was a fairly effective action thriller because it refreshingly summed up different elements of an old school thriller. The mystery was decent, the characters were engaging, the antagonist was enigmatic and considering the genre it even produced occasional timely humor. While the film may not be considered as one of the best of its genre, the presence of the awesome Tom Cruise garnered the film a respectable $218.3 million box office on a budget of $60 million, I guess an enough reason to green lit a sequel. Surprisingly, this sequel is quite different from the first one. The while the 1st film was a quiet and slow thriller. This one's completely opposite. Which isn't completely a bad thing as it's always throwing something at you, both good and bad, necessary and unnecessary. It's loud and brutal and wants to be heard and demands your attention but doesn't really reward you for it. This sequel is an odd mix of thrilling and inert: It's entertaining enough, and the fight sequences are heart-pumping good, but the pacing is sometimes glacial and the plot predictable. Without a doubt, the leads keep the film from going completely off the rails. Say what you will about Cruise, but he's as charismatic as ever and therefore compelling. If you're a die hard Jack Reacher fan, then you're going to love this film. If you're a fan of mindless action films in general, then you'll certainly like it. But keeping in mind the 1st film, you expect the sequel to be a bitter smarter, especially considering the fact that this is Tom Cruise's first sequel outside the Mission Impossible franchise, you expect the film to rise over its predictable plot. The only reason the film falls a little short compared to the first, is due to the writing. The dialogue isn't bad, but it is bland. I suppose it was to the credit of writer/director Christopher McQuarrie as to why the first film stood out as well as it did. Surely this script needed a punch-up writer on board to fix things. While I did enjoy the film very much, their were certain sections of the film, which could just not be overlooked. Based on a series of books written by author Lee Child, the story follows Jack Reacher (Tom Cruise), a former US army Major, who as drifter has been solving cases for the Military police all around the country. After busting a corrupt sheriff's office in Oklahoma, Reacher finds himself convinced by commanding officer Mgr. Susan Turner (Cobie Smulders) to return to Washington DC to go on a date. Upon his arrival, Reacher finds that Mgr. Susan Turner has been arrested on charges of espionage. Believing strongly that Turner is being setup, Reacher doesn't hold back in solving the mystery and taking out those who would stand in his way. Crossing paths with the military police himself, Reacher soon finds out that the corruption runs deeper than he first thought. When faced with not only the dilemma of Turner but also the possibility that he may have fathered a daughter, Samantha (Danika Yarosh). Reacher must fight two concurrent battles. The three are forced to go on the run and, with limited resources on hand, try to find out the truth so they can clear their names. With mind and body under attack, Reacher stops at nothing to exonerate Turner and provide protection for his possible daughter. Now, if I felt the Christopher McQuarrie directed 2012 film was strong enough despite its flaws, I think I can say the same for this one as well. I think the first one was more of Tom Cruise playing a more impenetrable character, whereas you get him only slightly more grounded this time around. While the film started out a little strange and off-putting, it all un-raveled into a great finale. The film is a good sequel, yet doesn't quite live up to the thrill-ride of its predecessor. If you are in the mood for a good old-fashioned military conspiracy action drama, then look no further. Although the film is very well produced, there is a flaw in that it is apparent that Reacher wants to 'reach' further and delve deeper than the superficial plot allows for. In my opinion, this film followed a bad trend that is rising in action film sequels, where the main character is attempted to be given a much deeper persona, while also trying to be the same person from the first film, yet it comes out in a very odd, strange blend of who we knew from the first film, and who this new identification is. It was troubling to have to accept this new introduction to the main character, when we have already been identified with him from the first film. Evidence of this is in his dialog that suggests that he wants to be a more dynamic individual who is capable of love and devotion but gets stuck being the action hero all the time because violence is the only thing at which he excels. One of the most prominent themes in the film is the contrast between high intensity fight scenes and deadpan humorous family drama. By including contrasting elements, the film provides a real opportunity to love the protagonists and hate the antagonists. Another flaw of the film comes in the form of Samantha, who is 'presumed' to be Reacher's forgotten daughter. The introduction of this character really drags the film down since she only serves to be a feisty teenager and a catalyst for tension by the time the climax rolls around. Director Edward Zwick (Glory, The Last Samurai, Love & Other Drugs, Blood Diamond) does his best to fill the gap Christopher McQuarrie left but fails to do so. The film would have been a lot better with McQuarrie on board. The story was weak and incoherent at times. The villains lacked motive and there were plenty of things that were left unexplained at the end. Nevertheless, as I mentioned before the film, despite its shortcomings, is quite entertaining. The action (for the most part) has been amplified since the last film. You see arms, legs and even necks being broken which utterly makes you flinch. Even Jack Reacher himself proves to be human when you see him take some serious lashes throughout this film. For someone is his 50s, I give Tom Cruise a lot of credit for pushing the sheer physicality of Jack Reacher. However, I was equally impressed by the antagonist of this film, who simply goes by the name of 'The Hunter' (Patrick Heusinger). Every fight in the film is surely entertaining as much as it it brutal, so viewers beware. There is an awesome chase and fight sequence on Bourbon street in New Orleans for the climax of this film that really leaves you feeling like some part of your body is broken. For a female lead, Cobie Smulders really holds her own and boys does she know how to take a punch. There are so many cool things about this film yet it still feels like a step back from the first in some way. I suppose the cleverness of the script and the sense of it being a gripping mystery/thriller is what's missing. Don't get me wrong, director Edward Zwick did as good of a job as far as directing an action film based on the material he had to work with. Tom Cruise definitely displays some of the best acting of his career in this installment of the Jack Reacher series. He does an excellent job of communicating the difficulty in balancing both the defensive and offensive in terms of protecting his "family" and providing empathetic nurture. Cobie Smulders, best-known for playing Robin in How I Met Your Mother and Maria Hill in the Marvel franchise, looks absolutely beautiful, but she has virtually no chemistry with Cruise. Good thing she's more than just the romantic interest here, playing a woman as tough and self-reliant as Reacher. She absolutely stole the show and left me quite impressed. Aldis Hodge (Leverage) has a pivotal supporting role and he did pretty good. Danika Yarosh & Patrick Heusinger are alright. Robert Knepper Is wasted. On the whole, 'Jack Reacher: Never Go Back' offers the right amount of entertainment with Tom Cruise's solid action-star turn yet falls short in comparison to its predecessor. Give it a watch if you are looking for a mindless action thriller.