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Rating History

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
4 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Truth be told, I did not enjoy Paul Blart: Mall Cop. It was nothing more than a bad parody of Die Hard that wasn't even 1/10th as funny as Die Hard (You know you fucked up on a parody film when the film you're making fun of is funnier than your parody). It was largely boring and mostly unfunny.

As much as I dislike the original, I could at least see why it has fans. In fact, I have a number of friends who enjoy the film and will look at me with jaws dropped when I tell them that I hated it, as if I had just insulted some comedy classic like say, Caddyshack.

Still, the original film was largely an innocent, mostly family-friendly, cheesy comedy with attempts to be a feel-good sort of film with a bumbling protagonist that a lot of people seemed to warm up to. I can see the appeal, but I still hated it.

Considering the type of film this is, I generally don't expect great things. I would compare this sort of comedy to say, fast food - quick, not particularly good for you, but satisfying to fulfill that craving for quick entertainment. Unfortunately, the first film just couldn't even meet this particular standard. The sequel could have remedied this and it could have been something decent.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is like going from a disappointing burger from a fast place to eating a moldy turd sandwich you found in the dumpster behind a crack house, in the same tradition as fellow comedy sequel abortion, Grown Ups 2.

This sequel does nothing whatsoever to improve upon the original's failings. In fact, it takes all the problems of the first film and makes them FAR WORSE. Hell, the first film looks like His Girl Friday or Bringing Up Baby in comparison. I shit you not, this sequel is that heinous in quality that I would dare mention the first film in the same sentence as all-time comedy greats like His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby, which makes me want to punch myself in the face for my heresy of dragging those two films into this discussion.

Set six years after the first film, things are not going well for Paul Blart. His wife left him after only six days of marriage and his mother was killed by a milk truck while going out to get the paper.

The only person left in his life is his daughter, Maya, though she, too, will soon be leaving, for she received a letter of acceptance to UCLA, though she's hesitant to tell her father, for fear of leaving him alone and how he'll react.

Paul just attends to his job as a mall cop, pretending to act like a real cop and having to put up with the stupid bullshit from mall shoppers.

Then, out of the blue, Paul receives an invitation to attend the security officers convention in Las Vegas to possibly receive an award for his actions that saved people at his mall six years earlier.

Excited at this opportunity, Paul decides to go along with Maya. Their hotel is the Wynn Hotel, and Paul makes an ass of himself almost immediately by trying to be annoying dipshit wannabe hotshot in the presence the hot hotel manager, Divinia (Whom Paul is convinced has a crush on him and ends up developing a crush on him), the head of security/Divinia's boyfriend, Eduardo, other security officers in attendance for the convention, and the hotel valet, Lane, whom his daughter develops a crush on and vice-versa.

During his stay at the hotel in which he makes an ass of himself through an abundance of unfunny slapstick jokes and jokes about him being a fat ass, a gang of thieves is planning to steal the priceless artwork at the hotel through an overly elaborate heist.

Paul, through his continuing arrogance and being stupid, irritating asshole begins to alienate his own daughter (Like spying on her conversations with the guy she's flirting with), and things reach a boiling point when he finds out she's been hanging out with Lane and that she was accepted in UCLA (How dare you accepted into college!), which makes her seek solace with Lane to go to a party with him, while Paul goes to his convention to give a speech, since the original speech giver is a drunken dipshit and can't give the speech.

While missing her father's speech, Maya and Lane inadvertently walk in on the gang of thieves, who take them hostage.

Once again, Paul must rescue his daughter and thwart the criminals - much terrible slapstick, fat jokes, and unbearable cliches unfold. Fuck this plot and every person who wrote it.

The plot is essentially another Die Hard parody, with elements of Taken thrown in for good measure. There could have been a decent parody film made from this, but this is Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 we're talking about here. Hell, this film came out the same year as the fantastic James Bond parody, Spy, which is one of the best parody films made in years, which paints this film in an even worse light.

While the first film was a light, fluffy, feel-good comedy in its intentions, this sequel feels bitter, cynical, and contemptuous of its audience. The plot treats the viewer like a complete moron, with Kevin James completely degrading himself and his character, as if to say, "Hey, did you know Kevin James is a stupid, fat motherfucker? Fatty, fat, fat, fat. Did we also mention that he's stupid? Fat, fat, fat, fat. Ha! Ha! Look at fat ass being stupid!"

The plot is a blatant "Fuck you" to the audience dishing out cliches in the most lazy, uninspired ways in the genres of romance and action films, while also inflicting the most painful slapstick and fat jokes seen in years.

It also has no real likable characters. The doofus that so many people liked from the first film is no more. Paul Blart is now a bitter, arrogant, egomaniac on top of being a bumbling idiot. As for the other characters, they barely exist at all. You could just as easily place a bunch of cardboard cutouts around Kevin James and virtually nothing would change about this film's story because there's nothing else to latch onto.

Actually, I liked the pianist during one scene, even though he didn't talk. I'll explain in a moment.

The acting is deplorable. That's the nicest thing I can say about it. While everyone around him simply ceases to exist for interest because of the abortion of a script, Kevin James reduces Paul Blart into an unlikable asshole who also happens to be painfully awkward.

I hated his character so much that at one point in the film when he gets attacked by a bird, I was hoping that it would kill him so this film would be over with. This was the closest joy the film brought me, as the scene happened as the silent pianist played some nice piano music as he watched Paul getting attacked by the bird - smiling, even as he watched. That pianist personifies the audience - he's letting happen what we all want to happen to Paul Blart, because Paul Blart is so damn irritating. When a so-called "feel-good" film makes me want a character to die horribly, it has fucked up royally. Thank you pianist guy, you tried to provide the one moment of joy in the whole film. And thank you, too, CGI bird.

And no, Kevin James wasn't just doing this sequel out of contractual obligation. He had a hand in both writing it and producing it, so he definitely gets much of the blame for its shittiness.

The humor and entertainment elements are also an absolute failure. I got one chuckle during the whole film, which was at the beginning when a mother told her son while posing for a picture, "Go ahead *whatever the fuck his name was*, stand next to the fake policeman." That was it. No laughs or chuckles again.

The first film at least had a few chuckle-worthy moments. This sequel has only a single chuckle, which is the one thing that prevents me from bitch-slapping it with a zero-rating.

The humor is so bad that it's difficult for me to properly describe it. I'd go as far as to say that's uniquely bad. None of the jokes have proper timing, they don't flow - they aren't cohesive at all. It's like someone put together a puzzle with all the wrong pieces from different puzzles, violently mashed the pieces together, and then threw up their hands up saying, "Fuck it! Done!"

This also makes the jokes absolutely painful. If you saw my reactions while watching the film, you'd think someone was standing behind me scratching their nails on a chalkboard. I was cringing as much as I was when I watched Lars Von Triers' Antichrist during such scenes as Willem Dafoe's character getting hit so hard in the balls by a wood plank that it knocks him unconscious, followed by Charlote Gainsbourg's character jerking off his still-erect penis, causing it to ejaculate bloody semen; or the scene in which Dafoe snips off Gainsbourg's clitoris with a pair of scissors. A feel-good comedy shouldn't make me cringe in the same way as watching genital mutilation, I can tell you that much.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 is one of the worst comedies I've ever seen, as well as being among the fifty worst films I've ever seen. It's a film devoid of any creativity, and completely insults the intelligence of its viewers. Hell, it'll even piss on the good will of fans of the original film. Even they aren't immune to the giant middle finger this film gives to the overall audience.

Somehow, though, this film has fans, with such insightful reviews such as these couple of snippets I culled from IMDB:

"I really enjoyed this movie because of its morals. No cussing, sex, or real violence, and that's getting rarer each year."

"This is the kind of film we need more of in America. No profanity, no homos, no murder, no blood, just good clean family friendly fun."

Dear God, you people need help. Might I recommend some golden age films for you to watch that are moral and clean, as you seem to want? Here, I'll do it anyway: Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, The Shop Around The Corner, Harvey, It Happened One Night, Roman Holiday, His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, Holiday (1938), The Philadelphia Story, My Man Godfrey, The Awful Truth, All About Eve, Pat And Mike. Woman Of The Year, It's A Wonderful Life, The Bishop's Wife - how about that for starters? Go watch those films instead to get your clean, moral, family-friendly fix. And those are ones I can think of at the top of my head, there are a great many more to discover and cherish.

Don't settle for shit just because you don't like violence and sex. There are other options people - go look for them. Fuck Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Fuck this piece of shit hard.

Welcome to Mooseport
4 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I remember when I was once sick with sort of bug. Though the sickness only lasted for one day, it was the most agonizing pain I had ever felt. I puked my guts out - nothing would stay in me, not even water. If I had so much as a small drink of water, I was going to purge shortly after. Even if I had nothing in my stomach, if I so much as shifted slightly in the chair that I lay, I was going to vomit shortly afterward. It was horrible. The pain wouldn't subside. I couldn't even entertain myself with a film or a video game. Trying to do anything made it feel even worse. I just lay there in the chair for hours on end, staring at nothing and in agonizing pain. It literally made me want to die, it hurt so bad.

Why do I bring this story up? Because Welcome To Mooseport induced similar levels of pain. This film was so wretched, so horribly unfunny, so awkward, and so painfully lazy and stupid that it actually caused me physical pain to watch it. It's one of the most agonizing, horrible film-watching experiences I've ever had and easily ranks among the twenty worst films I have ever seen.

I will go to my grave cursing this film and its existence. I am filled with seething contempt for it with every fiber of my being.

The story revolves around the town of Mooseport, a small, idyllic, thoroughly cliched town which in the midst of an upcoming election for mayor.

The focus falls on two characters: One is handyman, Harold (Also known as Handy) Harrison, who is a bumbling idiot plumber of sorts whose long-time girlfriend, Sally, has broken up with him after not proposing marriage after so long.

The second is former president, Monroe "Eagle" Cole, who has just left office with very high approval ratings looking to retire to his vacation home in Mooseport.

Despite having left office with such high approval ratings, some things in Monroe's life aren't going so well, as he in the midst of a divorce and his ex-wife is looking to attain his various assets in the divorce proceedings, much to his chagrin.

Seeing as he is a popular president, the town council approaches Monroe about running for office, which he is reluctant to do since he just finished his presidential term. But, as his aides explain to him, if he runs for mayor, his vacation home can serve as his office and can't be obtained by his ex-wife in the divorce proceedings.

Seeing this opportunity, as well as sort of ego boost to be both a popular president and a popular mayor, he decides to go for it.

Meanwhile, Handy's name has been put up as a candidate for mayor unbeknownst to him, which at first decides not to go for, seeing as his rival is a former president, but when Monroe flirts with Sally, Handy decides to run for mayor to win her back.

Soon, wacky election shenanigans take place as the two battle it out, complete with all sorts of scenarios like Monroe's ex-wife helping out Handy to humiliate Monroe, Monroe's true feelings for his executive secretary/aide, Grace, start to form, blah, blah, blah. Cliches abound, to cut this summary shorter. You know what's going to happen like clockwork, for there is not an original bone in this film's body.

The story, despite its cliches, sounds fairly promising with all the makings of a screwball comedy with romance and political discussions sprinkled about. In fact, the plot feels like its trying to invoke screwball comedies of the 30's and 40's.

However, this plot can't even begin to compare to those classic films it so desperately wants to emulate. It doesn't even earn the right to kneel before the altars of those comedy greats. It is a complete and utter failure - one of the biggest blights on comedy of the century (Which is pretty damn impressive considering the sheer number of shitty comedies this century has inflicted upon the masses less than twenty years in).

The plot is so poorly written, that it would have trouble sustaining a 22-minute episode of a shitty sitcom, yet it has the gall to clock in at nearly 2-fucking-hours.

There are no real characters. There's no interesting development. There are no interesting discussions about politics. Nothing interesting or feel-good about romance. Not a single joke feels timed or written right. Nothing works. There is nothing to latch onto - not as an intelligent comedy, not as a stupid-fun comedy - NOTHING. It will leave the viewer dead in the water.

The plot isn't even assembly line generic. It's below even the bargain bin version of assembly line generic films. It's the rejected bargain bin version of assembly line generic - with its rotting corpse fished out of a dumpster.

The acting? Oh God, the acting.

If this were a screwball comedy of the 30's or 40's, it would have been great. I would picture it being directed by say, Frank Capra, George Cukor, or Howard Hawks. It would be written by Donald Ogden Stewart, Ruth Gordon, or Garson Kanin.

In the Gene Hackman role, I would imagine it to be played by someone like Spencer Tracy, or perhaps Lionel Barrymore. In the Ray Romano role, I would imagine James Stewart or Cary Grant. The love interests, oh, so many choices...Katharine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell, Margaret Sullavan, Jean Harlow - take any pick of an actress you enjoy from those decades. The ex-wife? Heh, heh...Bette Davis, no question. Oh, to dream of how this premise could have worked. If it had been made and starred these Hollywood greats, it would have been one of the best damn films ever. But, we can't have everything we want.

Instead, we get this abomination of acting, even from distinguished stars.

Gene Hackman delivers a career-worst performance, which is a hell of a way to go out as this was his last film. I suppose it's karmic retribution for all his shitty behaviors on the sets of various films he worked on (For example: The Royal Tenenbaums), but still, it's rather sad to see an accomplished actor end their acting career on something that is not only bad, but something so utterly horrible and brain-dead.

Ray Romano can play a charming doofus. Though it's been a number of years, I remember liking Everybody Loves Raymond and he proved himself to be a decent actor, and Ice Age (First one. I can't comment on the sequels) was also a decent showing of his acting capabilities. Even he isn't spared despite the character he plays. He, too, delivers a career-worst performance, for he is not charming or likable. He just comes across as painfully awkward.

Though there are other stars, including the career thrashing of award-winning Marcia Gay Harden, nobody else is worth mentioning - not even Harden, for she is thrown to the side of the film's plot as the disposable love interest/aide of Monroe. There is nothing for her here. Oh, it's also got Rip Torn. Despite the presence some rather established stars, this film wastes them so badly that I barely recall them even being in the damn thing because it's so lazy and uninspired.

The humor in this film is nothing short of utter failure. I did not laugh once. I didn't even so much as slightly chuckle. So painful was this film's humor that while watching it, I threw myself to the floor to bang my head on the floor. Big mistake, for the humor was so awful, it left me on the floor as if I was receiving a beating from the film. I just lay there, staring up at the TV, hating it, loathing it. When I attempted to get up, I would pick up the box on the coffee table, only to angrily throw it whenever I looked upon Roger Ebert's endorsement of the film ("Thumbs up. A very good time." BULL. FUCKING. SHIT). I would then fall back to the floor, enduring the agony of what was destined to become one of the worst films I had ever seen, hoping that it would either end soon or that I would die.

When the comedy fails in a comedy, what else is there to be entertained by? It's not like say, Showgirls, which despite being utterly awful, it became entertaining because of how bad it was. All other film genres have this luxury: if they fail at their intended purpose, there might at least be a chance of salvaging it on the basis of unintentional comedy. But when a comedy fails at being funny, there's nothing to fall back on - nothing to salvage. Welcome To Mooseport is a particularly painful example of this kind of botch.

Welcome To Mooseport is one of the worst films I have ever seen. It's not only bad, but it's physically painful to watch. It's one of those bad films that has changed me and helped me really understand the meaning of a truly bad film. Whenever people ramble on about the latest Michael Bay blockbuster, Roland Emmerich film, Uwe Boll B-movie crapfest, or whoever's film is the "WORST MOVIE EVER!!!", I am envious of their naivety. That have not experienced the film-watching horrors that I have endured. They have no idea how far the rabbit hole of shitty films really goes. This film is one of the horrors of taking the ill-advised journey down that rabbit hole just to see how far down it really goes.

Don't do it, people. You won't come out the same person.

The Singing Forest
5 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

In my review of the Kenji Mizoguchi masterpiece, Sansho The Bailiff, I praised it as being the perfect film in which every shot and every detail - no matter how small - was made with total precision and care, making even all the little details seem important. It's a work of pure craftsmanship in which there is not a single flaw present, hence why I consider it to be one of the greatest dramas and films I've ever seen.

Why do I bring it up in the same breath as a film such as The Singing Forest? Because The Singing Forest is a film that is the polar opposite in quality. It is truly a film with no merit, no technical finesse, not a shred of acting talent, no believable drama, a terrible selection of music that feels patched together, horrible sound quality, disturbing themes (Rape and then falling in love, exploitation of the Holocaust, etc.), poor sex scenes, horrible dialogue, poor picture quality (If you didn't know what year it came out, you'd swear it was a lost relic of the 70's or 80's), poor camera work (Shaky cam, bad scene transitions, fade-ins within the same shot, overly long shots, and more), and the whole film also reeks of crippling narcissism from an untalented, moronic fucktard who may very well be not only the worst film-maker alive, but of ALL TIME.

I shit you not, this film is so bad, it makes me want to take back every bad thing I ever said about the notorious Sam Mraovich gay film, Ben & Arthur. It makes that film look like a misunderstood masterwork worthy of prestigious awards, followed by a top notch treatment by the Criterion Collection. At least with Ben & Arthur, there was a somewhat focused plot, better camerawork (Yeah, The Singing Forest is really that fucking bad. Do you know how bad the camerawork was in Ben & Arthur?), better acting (Which really pains me to say because that film featured some of the worst acting of all time), and it also at least had the courtesy of having a few unintentionally funny scenes to keep it from being a totally worthless film. The Singing Forest can't even manage that!

The narcissism and ego of Jorge Ameer is truly astounding, putting even the legendary egomaniac Sam Mraovich to shame. Every rotten piece of his ego smears every single frame of this art house nightmare like a diarrhea disaster as he tries to be deep, philosophical, have touchy themes, and tries to explore love and reincarnation. All of these themes, which could have been interesting, are handled in a way that is nothing short of a total fuck-up, to put it kindly.

Not only is the film poorly made, but it is deeply offensive in the tradition of animated Titanic films and the 2011 shit stain of a film, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, by shamelessly exploiting the Holocaust (Even splicing some footage of victims. Stay classy, Jorge Ameer) for its incomprehensible clusterfuck of a story (And not even integrated as being a major part of the story. It feels like a fucking side note, for fuck's sake). It's also deeply offensive in how it handles the issue of rape when the main character, Christopher, talks about how he met Destiny's mother by following her, raping her, and then they somehow fell in love and stayed married for 22 years until her death. Christopher is apparently also a rapist who likes to pitch for both teams, as he also proceeds to rape Ben after Ben comes home drunk after a bachelor party and falls into bed with his soon-to-be father-in-law.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that even the meanest rape joke seems like a sensitive discussion of the topic by comparison to how The Singing Forest handles the issue.

Oh, but the icing on the offensive cake doesn't stop there. Oh no, the character Destiny is thrown under the bus as basically not having a soul (As claimed by some random bitch who's a psychic) because she was a product of rape (And her only purpose was basically to unite her rapist father with her fiance who turns out to be his lover in his past life). Naturally of course, gay people are also thrown under the bus as basically being shown as sexual deviants, which also pissed me off especially as a gay guy (I'm the kind of gay guy that doesn't even mind politically-incorrect jokes. It takes shit like this to piss me the fuck off).

Oh, and despite the inclusion of reincarnation, don't expect any deep religious discussions, either. In a world filled with abominable Christian films, this film with its religious discussions is the worst religiously-themed film I have ever seen - the polar opposite of the South Korean masterpiece, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...And Spring. It will shock, offend, and bewilder in this category as well.

The acting is absolutely horrible across the board. It's definitely at porn standards, but without any good sex scenes (There's a fade out before any sex actually occurs) or nearly enough nudity (I must confess Ben was fairly attractive, like a very brief full frontal moment) to distract me from what a piece of shit I was watching. If you're going to give me porn-levels of acting, at least distract me with some sex and nudity. Give me that, at least!

Nobody can emote worth a damn, even when discussions about death or talking about absolutely horrible things (Like rape). Unless you like watching actors that are below that of robots attempting to emote, then there is nothing to derive from this film's acting quality, other than astonished bewilderment of how something so poorly performed exists. Hell, it might even be below porn standards.

On top of being horribly offensive and horribly made, it's also mind-numblingly boring despite being only 60-odd-minutes in length (It's not 80-something as claimed by the box). There's no good drama, no interesting religious discussions, no meaningful discussions about gay people or relationships, utterly horrifies with its discussions about rape and the Holocaust in such nonchalant, exploitative ways, no good sex scenes, very little nudity to work with...and worst of all, it can't even be salvaged for camp. It's too boring and too offensive as such.

It's hard not to walk away from The Singing Forest feeling offended, bewildered, angry, and very confused. This is beyond any doubt, one of the worst films ever made...maybe even the WORST FILM EVER. It's a film that will offend anyone who watches it, regardless of taste or background. Jorge Ameer isn't just one of the worst film-makers alive, he is easily one of the worst film-makers of all time. If you value your sanity, you must never watch this film. ZERO STARS, if I could give it that rating.

War Room
War Room (2015)
6 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

I must admit that when I hear of break ups, I feel sad. This becomes more apparent when I hear of relationships breaking up after the couple has been together for years, only to have it come crumbling down after that time. I once even witnessed a break up when I was 17, which has always stayed with me ever since.

The girlfriend had discovered texts between her boyfriend and another girl and confronted him about it. I don't remember what he said at first, but she responded with, "I'm done with you, you piece of shit." He called her a bitch and the two split, with him driving off into the night with squealing tires. It was awful. Sure, it could have gone worse with something like romance coming to an end, but no less, it is something that I will always remember.

Maybe it's the romantic in me, but I'm always sad when such things occur and I'm always hoping with fingers crossed that a relationship will work out. But, sometimes shit happens and there's nothing that can be done. It's just part of life. Hell, I even sometimes feel sad when I listen to songs about breaking up.

That being said, I also recognize that there are relationships that really need to come to an end - some of which are so awful and toxic that I'm not sad when a break up occurs. They need to happen, or else they'll get much worse.

While I'm no expert on relationships or marriage, nor do I have any experience with such (Much to my own personal chagrin), what I can tell you is that if you reach a point in your relationship in which you admit to a friend that you wouldn't give your significant other CPR if the situation called for it, or if you're switching dinner plates because you suspect they're poisoning you, it's time for that relationship to end...and quickly. If you reach this point, the toxicity is too great to overcome, regardless of what others or this film may tell you.

Relationships and marriage are something worth fighting for - being with one another in the good times, bad times, and dark times. If you care for one another enough, stick together. Things are never perfect, sometimes you'll hate each other. But if it's strong enough, things will turn around. There are sacrifices and compromises to be made, but also much joy, much pleasure, and so much more that cannot be compared.

That being said, even as someone with no experience in this field, War Room has absolutely horrid ideas about these things are supposed to work. Remember how I mentioned incidents about CPR and suspected poisoning? Those aren't things I pulled out of my ass, those are actual things that occur in this film. No, really. These actually occur in the film, and I'm still expected for God knows what reason to keep rooting for this marriage to work. Despite a complete lack of experience, I'm not doubting marriage requires a lot of work, but if I'm about to let my spouse or partner die on a moment's notice, I clearly need to exit this relationship...and I am also a horrible person.

The story follows married couple, Tony and Elizabeth Jordan. Tony is the top salesman at a pharmaceutical company, while Elizabeth is a successful real estate agent. They've been married for 16 years and have a young daughter named Danielle and a beautiful house.

Despite a marriage lasting nearly two decades, a child, and successful careers, their marriage is in a terrible state.

Elizabeth is a charming woman, trying to be a good mother and trying to reach her husband who is becoming increasingly distant and volatile towards her. Whenever they are around one another, they are argumentative, like how Elizabeth is trying to help out her sister and brother-in-law with their financial troubles and Tony balks at the idea, or how Tony is always away on business trips or how he doesn't want to really spend any time with his daughter or has any idea of what goes on in her life. He is also an asshole - verbally abusive and condescending to Elizabeth, while having a wandering eye to other women (Even during church when he views an attractive woman going to sit).

As things become desperate, Elizabeth has no idea of what to do - she just carries on with her day-to-day activities with a smile on her face to hide the pain. She even overhears her own daughter one day saying to her friend that she wishes she lived at her house and talking about her parents' relationship.

She then meets and elderly woman named Clara - a.k.a. Miss Clara, a widow whose husband died during the Vietnam War and who has a passion for God. She wants to sell her house and move in with her son. Miss Clara is rather intrigued by Elizabeth, sensing things are amiss in her life, and begins asking rather personal questions.

While most others would be put off by such questions, Elizabeth seems eager to talk with someone about her life. She begins meeting with Miss Clara on a regular basis and the subject of her marriage comes up, along with her faith in God. Elizabeth talks about her troubled marriage and her relationship with God is described as lukewarm - she goes to church, but never really prays or has much of a relationship.

Miss Clara - after serving Elizabeth lukewarm coffee to emphasize her relationship with God - shows Elizabeth her favorite room in the house. She takes her to a closet which she calls her War Room, which serves as her personal space to pray to God and encourages Elizabeth to do the same and do everything in her power to pray to God to save her marriage.

Inspired by Miss Clara, Elizabeth cleans out her closet and begins to try just that. This becomes no more apparent than when she receives a text from a friend who just so happens to inexplicably be in the same restaurant as Tony informing her that he is in the company of another woman and possibly about to have an affair.

Desperate, Elizabeth retreats to her own War Room to pray her damndest to stop this from happening, which causes Tony to get food poisoning and go to the bathroom to vomit instead of meeting the woman at her place. Elizabeth even gives a speech throwing the devil out her house and saying he can't have her marriage.

Tony returns home - cock-blocked by God himself - pissy and begins suspecting his wife may want to kill him after he reads text messages on her phone. Things become rather tense as he suspects his wife's motives.

But things become grave for the family when Tony is fired from his job for altering the sales numbers, which as turns out is because he is stealing samples and selling them on the black market, swindling his employer out of $19,000.

Much like Elizabeth, he begins to renew his faith in God, which begins when he starts admitting things to her and even returns some of the stolen prescription drugs to his former employer, which leaves him and his family in limbo on whether or not he will be prosecuted for his crimes, while his former boss considers intensely over the course of two days - taken aback by Tony's honesty.

Can their marriage and family be saved? Will Tony be prosecuted? Will their faith in God be successfully revived? Go ahead and take a guess.

The biggest, ultimately dooming flaw of War Room is its story. I find the core message of doing everything in your power to save a relationship admirable, I really do. But let's be blunt and brutally honest: this is not a marriage worth fighting or rooting for in any way.

I sympathized with Elizabeth and I like her as a character who is just trying to keep her family together and renew her faith in God, like many others. But Tony is a total bastard.

Tony is verbally abusive, condescending, a negligent father, a drug dealer, a thief, and a cheater. If he didn't have sex with that one woman, he has certainly had other affairs. The only reason that particular tryst was thwarted was because he got food poisoning, not because his conscience caught up with him. Unlike what this story would want you to believe, this is not someone who can change overnight and realize the error of his ways so soon.

This kind of character would be lucky to be able to reflect years down the road with much regret and torment in tow, but from the sense he conveys and is portrayed, he seems like the type that would never learn before crashing and burning most spectacularly. He is greed and lust personified - that is not something that can be fixed quickly through prayers in a closet. I'm sorry - that's not how this works.

The marriage portrayed here in real life would end in two ways. In a best case scenario, this would devolve into a marriage akin to Ike and Tina Turner, with the wife leaving for a much better future and successful career, while the abusive, scummy ex-husband crashed and burned (And rightfully so), OR it would end with one of them snapping and killing the other - most likely Tony as he hid his drug dealings and fucking other women.

I also admired on a subjective level this film's attempt to talk about relationships with God and our prayer lives. When we need God in our lives, turning to prayer is something worth talking about. However, this message is ultimately tainted and rendered worthless by the marriage portrayed and how things are so happily resolved through unbelievable character transformations and chance.

Suspension of disbelief is a requirement when watching a film, but this film bends the supremely tolerant will of my suspension of disbelief and snaps it like a twig. The marriage is terrible and needs to burn, with Elizabeth leaving Tony for a good man instead and working on her prayer life after that. Again, do I need to say more about the incidents involving hypothetical CPR and suspected poisoning? Do I? I hope not.

This story was written by the Kendrick brothers, and I hope to God the ideas it spouts came from their warped imaginations and not from their own real lives. If these sorts of conflicts occur in Alex Kendrick's marriage (I have found nothing saying Stephen is married), then his household must be absolutely terrifying and on the verge of homicide on a regular basis. Please let it be warped imagination, please let it be a warped imagination.

Surprisingly, even though many others say the acting is bad, I do not agree. Sure, they don't have any particular experience, but I felt they did a good job. Too bad the material itself is rotten as they try to revive it and make us believe that this hopeless marriage and avoidance of prosecution (That would be inevitable in real life).

Their acting is good...it's the material that's no good.

As entertainment, it's utterly hopeless as a drama with such horrid storytelling filled with alarming messages. It doesn't work as unintentional comedy because it's too serious, too dull, drags on too long (I forgot to mention there's a long subplot about Danielle being a double dutch competition that Tony eventually joins) and when it tries to be actually funny it's not. It doesn't work as Christian film because its messages about marriage are horrifying (Though God may be saddened by divorce, he would certainly approve of this marriage dissolving), thus tainting any messages about reviving a relationship with God moot. When I can't even salvage a film as an unintentional comedy, it's hopeless.

I know there are people who are die hard fans of War Room that say that secular viewers simply don't get what this film is trying to say, but they're wrong. I know damn well what this film is trying to convey, and it fails. Just because you try and throw in some Jesus, it isn't going to change my mind and logical thoughts that this marriage cannot be saved. It's toxic, it's ugly, and it's doomed.

I want relationships to work out. I really want to so badly. But when you have a marriage like the one in War Room (Or the director's previous, even worse Fireproof), no amount of prayer can save it. Find a better person to spend your life with and be happy with. God would want you to be happy, end of story.

Maps to the Stars
6 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Maps To The Stars is a film all about secrets. The skeletons hidden deep within closets, though their presence is still very much known to the people who place them in there and wish to forget their existence, perhaps hoping that one day they will not only cease remembrance, but also maybe even cease existing altogether like it was all a bad dream.

But what if those skeletons refuse to remain hidden away? What if, perhaps, they open those closets back up, peering at you with those hollow eye sockets and smiling endlessly with a toothy grin and bony fingers clutching the side of that door as they gaze at you? Everyone has their skeletons in the closet, with some more than others, doing their best to keep those closets locked up tight - padlocks and chains, you name it.

This perhaps goes even more so for those in the public eye. Despite being seen and heard, admired fiercely, and the like, they perhaps have more to hide and keep away from the prying eyes of the public that can adore you one moment and then hate and destroy you the next minute like sharks smelling blood in the water, eager to tear apart and devour that which bleeds. The bloodier and juicier, the better.

As much as we admire such people, especially celebrities of the star-studded glamor of Hollywood, most wonder at some point what they may be hiding behind it all. Maps To The Stars is all about those people as their dark pasts and terrible secrets escape from their closets and some of those skeletons become flesh and alive once more.

The story opens with a girl named Agatha with burn marks on her face (And her body. She even wears gloves to cover some of the burns) riding a bus which arrives in Hollywood.

She meets up with a limo driver named Jerome, a struggling actor and wannabe writer working as a driver, who takes her to an old lot at her request which used to have a house belonging to the Weiss family, a prominent celebrity family in which the father, Stafford, is a popular television psychologist, and the son, Benjie is a popular teen actor who became popular after his role in the comedy, Bad Babysitter.

Though Jerome finds Agatha peculiar (Especially with her initial response to his question of where she came from, she responded, "Jupiter."), the two becomes friends, with her hiring him to drive her around to various places. She has come to Hollywood after striking up a correspondence with actress, Carrie Fisher (Yes, real-life actress, Carrie "Princess Leia" Fisher), who in turn, recommends her to fellow actress, Havana Segrand to work as her personal assistant.

The plot follows a number of people and tangents, which I'll do my best to relay to you.

The Weiss family, despite having a great deal of wealth and prominence, has a number of personal issues.

Benjie, despite being only 13-years-old, has already been in and out of rehab. He is also horribly arrogant and spoiled, which also means he's not above insulting people.

One such incident occurs at the beginning of the film, when he is visiting a girl named Cami in the hospital as a reputation-improvement exercise, rather than a charitable, genuine, caring visit. As he's talking to the starry-eyed girl, excited to see a star, he makes the unfortunate mistake of asking, "So, Cami, how'd you get AIDs?" to which she responds with a most perplexed look, "I-I don't have AIDs. I have non-Hodgkin's lymphoma." He tries to recover from the situation by falsely stating that he'll make a movie about her life.

Embarrassed by this mistake, he is furious with his assistant who wrongly told him of what disease the girl had when they leave the hospital, going as far as to call him a, "Jew faggot," before getting into his limo.

Benjie is also trying to retain his popularity that Bad Babysitter brought him, by doing the sequel, with his mother acting as his personal agent. Though the studio is on board for the sequel, they are worried about Benjie's past drug problems.

Benjie also has issues with his past, involving his older sister that his parents never talk about. The two played rather strange games together as children, like pretending to get married as he recalls. But when he was 7-years-old, she gave him an overdose of sleeping pills and set the house on fire. She was sent to an asylum in Florida, and the family refuses to talk about the issue that still haunts Benjie to this day.

After visiting the dying girl, Cami, in the hospital, she dies. And soon, he starts seeing visions of her ghost, haunting him for reasons he can't understand.

The father, Stafford, is a popular television psychologist, writing a number of books (One called Secrets Kill, which he calls at one point in the film, "A Classic") and working with high-profile celebrity clientele.

He has a titanic ego and aura of arrogance, caring only for himself and his family's celebrity status, all while peddling his ridiculous self-help advice to the gullible and high-paying clientele.

The mother, Cristina, works as her son's agent and seems to genuinely care for him, though she is mostly distant and filled with angst, while smoking cigarettes, disillusioned with their false facade they display in public and toiling over their family's many dark secrets (Like how she and her husband are much closer to one another than being married with children. Much, much closer).

The plot also follows an actress named Havana Segrand, who is getting older and as is the cruel nature of Hollywood towards actresses, she is losing popularity and fearing her looks will fade.

She is also haunted by her past, involving her actress mother, Clarice Taggart, who is famous for her role in the romantic drama, Stolen Waters, and becoming a cult figure after she died tragically in a car fire 30 years earlier.

That's not all, however. According to Havana, her mother sexually abused her and throughout the story, she is haunted by visions of her young mother's ghost who taunts her and mocks her, and making other bizarre statements ("You know what Hell really is? A world without narcotics"). Despite this and her other dark secrets, Havana is eager to gain the lead role in the upcoming remake of Stolen Waters, as well as the coveted lead role her mother played. She is also one of the clients of Dr. Weiss, seeing him regularly for his treatments.

As she seeks to gain this role, she hires the mysterious girl, Agatha, as her personal assistant (Or as she said to her agent when looking for a new assistant, "I need a new chore-whore") and finds her intriguing because of her personality and wondering about her mysterious burn marks.

Little do they know, however, is how Agatha is about to crash through their lives like a wrecking ball as she opens their Pandora's box of dark secrets, revealing their deepest, darkest, ugliest parts of their natures that will ultimately consume them.

The story is a bit of mess, I'll admit. It follows many characters and has many facets. That being said, however, I can't really criticize it, even for parts I really didn't get.

Oddly enough, the confused, schizophrenic type of storytelling this film tells actually fits, especially with characters suffering from severe psychological problems, especially as their insulated, rich, celebrity lives are invaded by the uncontrollable forces of fate which seeks to punish and reveal their secrets and deeds.

It's a story about the cruel nature of fame and celebrity, as well as the dark natures of humanity and its secrets set in the glamor and facade of Hollywood, the ultimate place of facades and hiding behind the mask - second only to the big wigs of Washington D.C.

Many have criticized the story for its bizarre tones, and especially its characters and complaining that they're unlikable. They're missing the point. Aside from maybe one or two characters, nobody is really meant to be likable. It's a story about awful, narcissistic, arrogant people and their downfalls at their own hands through their deeds and actions, while the likable ones are swallowed by the cruel Hollywood celebrity machine and spit back out into little chewed up, mangled pieces.

As far as tonal problems are concerned (As this film likes to drift back and forth between being a torrid drama and a dark, pitch black comedy with utterly morbid humor), I, too felt that this aspect was fascinating despite being uneven. It fit with the mood and tone of the film's insanity.

The acting is excellent across the board, including industry veterans and talented stars I had never even heard of before this film.

The main standout is Julianne Moore as Havana Segrand, the egomaniac extraordinaire who is all about vanity. She employs both equal amounts of crazy, but also cunning deception with a scary, bitchy, back-stabbing kind of character.

She treats people like garbage, using them only for herself. She's into drugs, she sleeps with prominent producers to get her connections, and she's not above being cheerful when tragedy strikes, such as one scene that elicits both shock and morbid laughs when she cheerfully sings and dances upon hearing that the son of the actress that got the lead role in the Stolen Waters remake drowned, making her drop out of the film in grief ("Let's hear it for little Micah!" she says when she stops singing for a moment)

Moore's performance is perfect as she takes on such a despicable character. She is absolutely fascinating to watch.

Mia Wasikowska plays the sympathetic Agatha, trying to rebuild her life and trying to remain positive, even with all the awful things have happened in her life. However, even the most good-hearted and kind of people can only suffer so many setbacks, bitter disappointments, and hopes being crushed before they, too, can go mad. She is the living embodiment of the skeleton in the closet, no longer wanting to be contained and unleashing the secrets of these characters.

John Cusack gives a brilliant performance as Dr. Stafford Weiss, the egotistical television passing off as a doctor who helps people - one of the ultimate phonies, recalling certain aspects of other popular, real-life pretend doctors (Dr. Phil *cough, cough* Dr. Oz *cough, cough*). He only cares for himself and his celebrity status, even if it means throwing a family member under the bus to save his own sorry ass from their scandals.

Evan Bird as Benjie is an actor that I had never heard of, but for a child actor he is rather exceptional in his role as the troubled, arrogant Benjie as he descends into madness and old habits, as he surrounds himself with terrible company who do nothing to prevent him from engaging in such activities, like when in the midst of being high and being allowed to play with a gun (Which his friend boasts about it being one of the guns used in the Columbine shooting), he accidentally shoots his friend's dog. He is reckless and cursed with useless parenting that never truly seeks to help him, even after commits a heinous act in the midst of one of his delusions later on in the film.

The other actors are also quite good, like Robert Pattinson (We've come a long way since the Twilight franchise) as Jerome, Sarah Godon as the ghost of Clarice Taggart, employing a similarly cold performance as she did in Cronenberg's previous film, Cosmopolis, and Olivia Williams as Cristina, the troubled mother who is too overprotecting and reinforcing of her son's behaviors.

I was thoroughly entertained and fascinated by what I watched. So much so, that I've already watched Maps To The Stars multiple times. I was fascinated, engaged, horrified, humored most morbidly, and totally in love with its morbid, fucked up personality as it strips and lays bare its ugly characters before destroying them with a vengeance - all the facades, all the lies, their egos, their arrogance, and every phony fiber of their beings as they go insane.

Despite its dark humor, I was also laughing my ass off during the film. The humor won't to be everyone's liking with how politically-incorrect ("She lets the producers stick their cocks in her ass and pee!" says Havana at one point in the film) and dark it is (Again the celebration of a child's death for Havana's career prospects), but if you don't mind generous helpings of both types of humor, Maps To The Stars is something to behold.

I absolutely adore Maps To The Stars. It is destined to be one of my favorite films of the 2010's with its bizarre storytelling, great acting, morbid humor, penchants for sex, drugs, and brutal violence, and how it so brutally takes down the notions of fame, celebrity, and also exposing the dark sides of human nature - all while laughing in the faces of these things and wrecking them with a vengeance.

It's messy, most will hate it, and most will be confused. I don't care. I love this film to death as it has cemented itself as one of the great trashy works of cinematic art I have seen. It is glorious.