Okay, foodies—get ready for a real treat. Not only does writer/director/actor John Favreau’s new film “Chef” display the agony and the ecstasy of being a celebrity chef de cuisine at a major restaurant, it’s also a pretty good father-son bonding movie too. In it, Favreau stars as Carl Casper, a man who is great at cooking but not up on social media. After he inadvertently gets in way over his head in a Twitter war with a major food critic (Oliver Platt), things escalate when video footage of him having a meltdown goes viral.
Witnessing all of this and trying to coach his dad about modern technology is Carl’s son Percy (Emjay Anthony). On a family trip to Miami with his son, Carl gets a food truck and opens his own business selling Cubanos on South Beach. From there, along with his son and trusted friend Martin (John Leguizamo), he drives the truck from Miami back to L.A., making stops in major cities and changing the menu as needed.
Director/co-writer Craig Johnson's witty, energetic follow up to 2006's "True Adolescents" features "Saturday Night Live" alums Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader branching out into partially non-comedic roles. Their versatile chemistry in "The Skeleton Twins," and a lively screenplay (co-written by Mark Heyman, "Black Swan" ), power this effective little dramedy.
Milo (Hader) is a struggling actor taking the proverbial long walk on a short pier. His troubles are nearly equaled by those of his twin sister Maggie (Wiig), who's more outwardly functional while maintaining her own closetful of skeletons. The film is a dark (middling gray, not black) comedy with richly developed characters. It's generously filled with hilarious moments intermingled with just-sweet-enough turns.
“The Equalizer” is a theatrical reboot of a hit ‘80s show, and Denzel Washington is fulfilling his bad-ass destiny. While Denzel has had memorable action roles in films like “Man on Fire” and “2 Guns” this is HIS franchise. This is his “Taken.” In fact, he is one of the few good things you can say about this generic shoot ‘em up.
Running a little over two hours long this is bogged down with useless exposition and unexplained plot points, and it beats you over the head with unneeded symbolism in an attempt to try to differentiate itself from similar genre fare. Basically, this is the story of a man with a mysterious past who gets involved in something he isn’t supposed to, and it makes him go back to doing something he does(n’t) like doing. Sounds a lot like “The Rundown,” “The Transporter,” and others. The only places director Antoine Fuqua, who I love, excels is with Denzel and the action scenes themselves.
Noisy neighbors are the worst. They can ruin your weekend, disrupt your sleep, and making living where you live miserable. It’s good to try to make friends with them to give yourself more control, which is what Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) try to do in “Neighbors.” They have a newborn baby, and are worried that Teddy (Zac Efron), Pete (Dave Franco), and the rest of his fraternity brothers who are moving in next door will make too much noise. Things go well with that plan…until they don’t.
What ensues is a battle of wits and wills with the frat boys and the young parents duking it out in a series of pranks and sophomoric payback. The funny bits themselves are hit or miss, but credit goes to writers Andrew Cohen and Brendan O'Brien for upping the ante and being original with a pretty funny scene that is essentially one big tit joke. Sure, the typical raunchy humor and dick jokes abound (including one that has me looking at 3D printers in a whole new light), but it is great to see more inclusiveness and variety. I also appreciate the fresh take on Kelly. Typically in these “boys will be boys” type movies, the wife/girlfriend character is a total stuck up shrew and complete buzzkill to every fun thing the guys want to do. Kelly is not like that at all. She gets down and pranky right there with the guys, and at one point even outright says that being a responsible adult is not her strong suit. Finally, a woman in a guy comedy that is not equal parts judgmental and bitchy, and who knows how to let loose and have some fun. It’s a welcome change and a big first step in more lively direction. Rent It.
Monday will mark the 10th anniversary of one of the most bizarre airplane crashes in television history. Oceanic flight 815 left Sydney bound for LAX. Somewhere along the way, the pilot diverted the course to head toward Fiji in order to address instrument issues. Along the way, 1,000 miles off course, an unknown force ripped the tail section off the airliner and the plane crashed on an unknown island. There, the survivors had to endure polar bears, buttons, time travel, nuclear warheads, murderous locals, and strong religious overtones. The survivors had to learn to live together, die alone and each one discovered that they had a tabula rasa, a blank slate on which to make up for past mistakes. (For those of you die hard “Lost” fans out there, I challenge you to pick out the ten episode titles hidden within this article.)
“Lost” aired September 22, 2004, on ABC with one of the most intense and successful pilot episodes in recent history. From the start, viewers knew they would be in for something special and as the first season progressed and mysteries compounded on top of mysteries, what was once the new “from the creator of ‘Alias’” show became a pop culture phenomenon. Through subsequent seasons, the mysteries became more and more bizarre and viewers started to question why they were watching. As the third season drew to a close, the series had lost around 5 million of its original 18.65 million viewers and through the subsequent seasons, nearly half of those season one viewers had deserted the island. But as a testament to the draw of the over-arching mysteries, viewership swelled back to 13.57 million viewers, almost more than any season of “24” and over 3 million more viewers than the highest point of J.J. Abrams’ previous show “Alias.”
After the success of “Twilight” studios began fast
tracking all the Young Adult book-based films they could. Most of these
have been mediocre at best, but “The Maze Runner” is a surprising
Based on the first book in the “Maze Runner” trilogy, the
movie tells the story of a group of young men trapped within an ever
changing labyrinth. They reside at the center of the maze, an expansive
grass and woodland area that they call “The Glade.” Over the past few
years they’ve developed a set of rules and strict social structure in
order to survive. In a very effective opening sequence, a young man,
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), suddenly wakes on a freight elevator
that is rocketing upwards. The elevator eventually surfaces in the
Glade and the other boys approach him. Like all the others living
there, he has no memory of who he is or his life before that moment. After his arrival, life for the boys of the Glade begin to change and
ultimately they must find a way out of the Maze or risk extermination.
“A Walk Among the Tombstones” opens with Liam Neeson gruffly mumbling as he talks to a drug dealer, then going inside a bar for two shots of whisky and a coffee. We presume the coffee is black because men like Neeson’s Matt Scudder like it that way. Suddenly the bartender is shot, and Scudder is scuddering his way down the road shooting bad guys. After he shoots one in the leg, he walks after the limping fiend, just like Jason or Michael Myers in a horror movie. Finally, and naturally, the bad guy is shot dead.
If you’re a fan of Liam Neeson the badass (“Taken,” “The Grey”), there couldn’t be a better start. Scudder is tough, fearless, has a way with words and is not to be messed with. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie isn’t as enthralling as its beginning.