Tag: Recreation

MOVIE REVIEW | The To Do List (2013)

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Is nostalgia coming a little too fast and easy these days?  I know 20 years ago is kind of along time, and maybe it’s just a sign of my own age that it doesn’t seem all that long ago.  But when a movie indulges in every cheap, obvious joke and reference to 1993, it feels a little lazy and easy.  Has the world changed enough that a lack of internet and mobiles phones, combined with an abundance of Spin Doctors and Salt N Pepa, is really enough to base an entire feature length movie of jokes on?  After watching The To Do List, I guess the answer is, kind of.

So, in case my intro didn’t make it clear, the movie makes sure you know it’s 1993 by telling you exactly that about a dozen times in the opening credits.  Aubrey Plaza is Brandy Klark, recent high school graduate and valedictorian.  Getting drunk for the first time, she realises all her years of study and academic achievement mean she’s clueless when it comes to hooking up with dudes.  So she makes a list of sexual acts that she wants to get through before heading off to college.

Brandy is surrounded by her two best friends, Fiona (Alia Shawkat) and Wendy (Sarah Steele), her platonic study buddy Cameron (Johnny Simmons), who might wish things weren’t quit so platonic, her slutty older sister Amber (Rachel Bilson) and her slacker boss at the local pool, Willy (Bill Hader).

Plus local beefcake Rusty Waters (Scott Porter), Cameron’s sidekick Duffy (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) and her parents, the open minded mum (Connie Britton), and over protective, conservative dad (Clark Gregg).  Yeah, piling on an endless amount of one dimensional characters doesn’t mean they’ll eventually ad up anything more than that.

I guess it’s a clever premise…  Uptight nerdy girl decides to work her way through a list of sex acts, awkward hilarity ensues.  And at less than 90 minutes, it shouldn’t feel padded out or bloated, yet it somehow finds a way.  Once the basic story is setup, the rest of The To Do List feels like stalling so it can make it to feature length.

There are some funny jokes and I did laugh a few times, the only problem is, that always happened with the periphery characters.  Bill Hader as the slacker boss is generally funny (not nearly as funny as Sam Rockwell playing basically the exact same role in The Way Way Back).  Rachel Bilson’s spoilt bitch routine is consistently fun to watch.  But I never gave a crap about the central character of Brandy Klark, the journey she was on or the lessons she learned.

Going into The To Do List, Audrey Plaza was the main reason I had kind of high hopes.  She’s always funny on Parks and Recreation, so I was looking forward to what she would do as the main character.  And she’s fine, with what she’s given.  She’s just not given a whole lot.

The To Do List
Directed By – Maggie Carey
Written By – Maggie Carey

MOVIE REVIEW | ***DUD SEQUEL WEEK*** Police Academy: Mission to Moscow (1994)

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I’m not gonna try to convince anyone that the Police Academy franchise is an example of top notch film making by any stretch.  I will say though, that the original is a legitimately funny comedy that established some really memorable, iconic characters.  Sure, those characters were exploited more and more over the subsequent sequels to such a degree that their once fresh and funny quirks quickly became tired and overused clichés, but something about the first movie just worked.


I’ll admit, my affection for Police Academy 3: Back in Training might be pure nostalgia based on the fact that it’s one of the first movies I remember seeing in a cinema.   But all of the sequels, right up to Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, still manage to have a couple of laugh out loud moments.  Why then have I always been scared to watch the seventh, and to date, last, instalment, Police Academy: Mission to Moscow?  I still don’t know what those specific fears were, but after watching it, I do know they were justified.

No Mahoney, but that’s not a deal breaker, he’s been missing since Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach, so I was used to that.  No Proctor, which means no visit to the Blue Oyster Bar, and I have to admit, I was genuinely looking forward to seeing how they incorporated that dated, homophobic old chestnut into the Russian setting.  Sadly, we’ll never know.  What we do get is the return of Commandant Lassard, Tackleberry, Michael Winslow as the increasingly less impressive sound making Jones, big-canned Callahan and constant foil, Lt. Harris.

New this time around, are Ron Pearlman as Russian gangster Constantine Konali and Claire Forlani as hotty cop Katrina, love interest for the faux-Mahoney (real name or character name not worth looking up).  The story has something to do with a video game that sends people crazy or some shit.  I don’t know, I found myself wandering away from the TV a lot during the movie and rarely concentrating.

Two things I did notice though…  Lt. Harris is 100% unnecessary as a character when he’s working with the main group and not actively trying to take them down.  Also, someone in editing decided the sounds made by Michael Winslow weren’t enough for this instalment in the Police Academy franchise, because this thing has more corny sounds than a Warner Brothers cartoon.  Slide whistles when people slip.  Timpani drums when Tackleberry and Harris clash bellies while performing a ballet routine.  Oh yeah, Tackleberry and Harris perform a ballet routine and it’s even less funny than you’re imaging right now.

I can state for a fact that I did not laugh, or even come close to laughing, a single time during Police Academy: Mission to Moscow.  It is a true example of quantity over quality.  The actors all fully commit to absolute ridiculousness of everything the script throws at them, and the writers really do throw hundreds of jokes at the wall, the only problem is, not a single one sticks.  Pearlman can be kind of entertaining when chewing the scenery though.  So, there’s that.

Police Academy: Mission to Moscow
Directed By – Alan Metter
Written By – Randolph Davis, Michele S. Chodos

MUSIC REVIEW | Tumbleweed – Sounds From the Other Side (2013)

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The hard rocking boys from Wollongong are back and they haven’t missed a step.  When Tumbleweed got back together for live gigs a few years ago, I’m sure there were dudes in their 30s and 40s all over Australia who couldn’t wait to relive their teenage years and 20s of beer, bongs and maybe even the odd beer bong.  Well now that experience is available anytime, anywhere, with Sounds From the Other Side, Tumbleweed’s first long player of originals in over a decade.

READ FULL REVIEW

MOVIE REVIEW | Martin & Lewis: At War With the Army (1950)

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Gee, film makers sure had it easy back in the day.  At War With the Army shows comedy teams could become huge stars and massive box office draws with almost no comedy.  I’m not above big, broad, physical comedy, but even the dumbest jokes need some sort of context, some sort of reason to be there.  But it seems sixty years ago, the combination of Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin was reason enough to throw in am obvious, predictable gag, no need for story or further justification.


This is the first Martin and Lewis joint I’ve seen, it was also the first to have them in the starring roles.  They’d been featured in two movies as a duo before, but this was their big premier as the main characters.  Which makes me wonder, how did they become such a phenomenon as a comedy double?  Because why would anyone watch At War With the Army and think they deserve another shot at the title?

That makes it sound like I think this is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.  That’s not the case at all.  It’s just one of the laziest movies I’ve ever seen.  Jerry Lewis making a silly face and doing some amazing physical comedy that directly relates to the story being told… Hilarious.  Jerry Lewis making a silly face and doing some really lazy, thrown together physical comedy for no discernable reason… Confusing at best.  Dean Martin playing Lewis’ self-appointed superior who’s arrogance hides a genuine affection for Lewis deep down… That can lead to some laughs and nice bit of heart at the end.  Dean Martin basically being a selfish prick and never really attaining any redemption… Not really a great basis for comedy gold.

The weirdest part is, it’s not as if there’s no story to hang the jokes on.  This thing has story and exposition out the wazoo.  It piles on the characters, mix ups and misunderstandings in an attempt at farce, but it never really holds on tight enough to any of these aspects to keep them in check.  Instead characters, scenarios, loose threads and plot points float in when needed, are completely forgotten about when the next one comes along and pop up again out of nowhere when needed again.

In typical farce fashion, all the loose ends, quick fix solutions and lies converge on one hilarious point for the big climax.  Only, they don’t.  I had long stopped caring about any character enough to keep track of who was who,  where they fell into this wacked out world of wacky wackiness and who knew what about who.  Spinning plates isn’t so impressive if you let each one fall and smash behind you as you start the next one a-spinnin’.

The funny thing is (hey, I found a funny thing about this movie.  Bonus!) that even though I found At War With the Army pretty pointless, it has made me want to see other Martin and Lewis collaborations.  Because if they went on to become such an iconic duo in comedy, what followed must have been amazing to make people forget about this pile of mediocrity.

Watch the full movie streaming for free HERE
Directed By – Hal Walker
Written By – James B Allardice