Johnny Knoxville

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Movie Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Published August 21, 2014 by mrsrag

Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Alan Ritchson, Noel Fisher, Pete Ploszek/Johnny Knoxville, Jeremy Howard, Danny Woodburn/Tony Shalhoub,  Tohoru Masamune, and Whoopi Goldberg.

Rated: PG-13; Action/Adventure/Comedy; 101 minutes

 

I was a child of the ’90’s.  So, of course, I absolutely loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  And I still do.  I had the Gray Box Nintendo game, I went to see all of their movies and I owned plenty of TMNT themed toys.  I knew it was just a matter of time before Hollywood took another crack at bringing the oversized reptiles to the big screen.  Especially because our technology continues to improve and reach new milestones.  Are these the best looking ninja turtles I’ve ever seen?  Not necessarily.  I actually prefer the old cartoon-style crew.  But this film managed to capture the essence of each member while maintaining their naturally cheesy air.  The storyline even had a new plot twist explaining how the Ninja Turtles became mutated and why they ended up in the sewers.  Ninja Turtles were first spawned as an American comic created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.  In, none other than MRSRAG’s favorite year, 1984.  The history behind the creation of this series is actually an incredible story of two friends who were just brainstorming and goofing around.  Look it up on Wikipedia – it’s impressive.  I was pleasantly surprised by the new movie and would endorse it with their signature catch phrase: Cowabunga!

It seems like every time I’m lukewarm about seeing a movie, I end up loving  it.  Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is no exception.  Maria explained her reasons for wanting to go, and Ethan has become interested in them through their reincarnation on Nick.  Me?  I remember the 1990 version with Elias Koteas playing Casey Jones, as being pretty decent, but wasn’t sure how they were going to reinvent the wheel twenty four years later.  Well Casey Jones doesn’t even make an appearance here, and Maria mentioned the change in backstory, so this TMNT has a fresh coat of paint and shines bright in the 21st century.  Megan Fox as April O’Neil is, believe it or not, fantastic!  I know, right?  She was dreadful as Shia Labeouf’s eye candy love interest in the Transformer movies.  And failed horribly when given her own starring vehicle in the unwatchable Jennifer’s Body.  But I thought she turned a corner in This is 40, a movie I hated, but she stole the show with a small part that poked a bit of fun at her persona, and was easily the best part of that Apatow dud.  And she nails the Turtle’s pal April here in TMNT.  With her sidekick cameraman Vernon Fenwick (the always amazing Arnett), she is what drives the movie forward.  The Turtles themselves are buffed and badass, and their personalities haven’t changed much over the years.  The writing is crisp and the chemistry between the main players is natural and easy.  One negative: the casting of William Fichtner as seemingly good guy Eric Sacks was a horrible mistake.  The guy always plays an asshole, and we all knew instantly he was going to turn out to be a bad guy.  Dumb move.   

I was hoping they were going to pull a double switcheroo – and have him seem bad and then turn out good.  But they just stuck with his usual evil shenanigans.  I was really impressed with how they outfitted Shredder, donning head to toe shiny silver with retractable knives, the leader of the dreaded foot clan looks more dangerous and fearsome than ever.  Growing up I was a hardcore Leonardo fan, but in time I learned to love Michaelangelo.  He’s pure entertainment and provides a lot of the laughs here while swooning over Fox.  TMNT has always had the same formula – Raf acts like a jerk, Splinter almost dies and then one brother has to save the other three.  Ninja Turtles has never taken itself too seriously.  And that’s what is most important to keep in mind.  It’s fun.  And sometimes you just have to allow yourself to revert back to 8.  I felt like a kid again.  Oh, and there’s some rapping.

Michaelangelo, definitely my favorite, and I’m not even a stoner.  The bottom line here is this is one non-stop, funny, entertaining movie.  The Turtles kickass, the bad guys are super bad, and the special effects create scenes that are mesmerizing and jaw-dropping.  Raphael can still be a douchebag, but he comes around, and near the end when they thought they might die, he laid it all bare and had me on the verge of tears.  Seriously.  There’s no way you won’t have a good time at TMNT, unless you’re humorless with no imagination or sense of adventure, in which case you wouldn’t have gone in the first place.  So, bring your kids, have fun and then take them out for a “99 cheese pizza” after the show.  Wait, that’s physically impossible, isn’t it??

Maria’s Rating: 3.5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Ross’ Rating: 3.75 Gummies.

 

 

 

 

     

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Fairly Recent DVD Release: Movie 43

Published September 5, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Common, Charlie Saxton, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Live Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, J.B. Smoove, Emma Stone, Kieran Culkin, Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Jack McBryer, Aasif Mandvi, Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Bobby Cannavale, Kristen Bell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Terrence Howard, Josh Duhamel, and Elizabeth Banks.

Rated: R. Comedy. Running Time: 1 hour & 34 minutes.

Ross and I rented Movie 43 on a whim.  We were en route to our home from cocktails & dinner.  Neither of us was expecting much at all.  I remember seeing the previews and thinking, “Wow, that’s some cast” (see above listing).  But then it fell off the radar.  And I figured, if no one is talking about it, could it really be worth watching?  The answer is: YES.  The movie makes up for any later transgression in the first skit.  Five minutes in, Ross and I were laughing so hard that neither of us could speak or breathe.  That being said, if you don’t like immature humor, skip this one and you should probably leave my blog for good.  We had no idea what to expect, but what unfolded on the screen left us bewildered, delighted and quite intrigued.  Once the movie got rolling, we realized it was a series of interconnected sketches featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.  I kept asking myself, “How did they get all these people!”  There were some promising moments of hilarity & ingenuity…but taken in its entirety – this movie was bad.

I had no idea what we were in for when we rented Movie 43, but with that cast, you had to expect something decent.  I don’t know if I agree with Maria that the movie was bad.  If a movie entertains, makes you laugh or cry or feel exhilarated, I think that’s enough.  I will say the premise, an ever increasingly insane Dennis Quaid (playing a version of himself?) pitching his movie idea to a generic movie executive, Kinnear, is silly.  The “movie” is just a series of skits.  There is no way anyone could think they could make a coherent, full standing movie.  However, many of the vignettes are clever and hilarious.  None more than the first one, a first date for Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet.  If you follow MRSRAG at all, you know that Maria and I rarely, if ever, give out spoilers, and we’re not going to do it here.  But this first skit has a shocking surprise, a side splittingly funny one that keeps on giving.  Beyond the great opener, a few of my favorites were, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts as parents who are homeschooling their teenaged son, complete with all of high school’s worst possible scenarios.  A girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) getting her  period for the first time.  And Terrence Howard as a basketball coach circa the 1960’s (think Pleasantville or Hoosiers) giving a pep talk to his all black team before their first game against an all white squad.  While maybe “bad” isn’t the right word to describe Movie 43, it is hard to believe the creators convinced all these “A” list actors to associate their names with it.  

It was entertaining, but at times, hard to watch.  I’m actually surprised that Ross enjoyed it more than me, since he has some difficulty with awkward humor.  I will say that Movie 43 is like nothing I’ve ever seen.  And the “A” list actors is what put some of the skits over the edge for me.  Watching these Academy Award nominees and winners act out these absurd storylines was not only amusing, but shocking.  It took me a full day to get over the movie.  I kept asking Ross, “Was that real?”, “How did they get everyone to sign on?”, “Did I drink a lot last night?”!  It is in one word: unbelievable.  There were several vignettes, most of which my partner has described, that were pure comic genius.  They must be viewed.  But if I really look at this film in its entirety, it missed the mark.  And that is truly unfortunate because it contains so much potential.  Bottom line, go rent this for a $1.27.  The belly laughs are well worth that price.

An extremely tough movie to review.  Ultimately I have to recommend that you see it.  If you’re in the mood for some raunchy, clever, original comedy, Movie 43 should get the job done.  It certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and it won’t end up on your Top 20 list, but it’s not quite like anything you’ve ever seen before.  And, you will probably never see a larger collection of stars in one project.  There is one last scene I have to mention; a skit where a man is obviously going to propose marriage to his girlfriend.  “I have something I want to say.”  “Me too”, she replies.  “Ok, let’s say it together.  One. Two. Three….”  She beats him to the punch, and I almost fell off the couch!  You may want to keep some pillows handy for that one.

Maria’s Rating:  2.5 Gummy Bears out of 5. (Mostly for Jackman & Winslet)

Ross’ Rating:  3.25 Gummies.