Top Ten Favorite Films of the Year 2016

 

  Jump to the next page to see my top ten list.


10. The Nice Guys

This is a movie that I highly anticipated and enjoyed immensely. It is just unfortunate that it did not hit with enough people to become the franchise type film it deserves to be. I hate that I won’t be seeing the further adventures of the two main characters but I take comfort in the fact that Russel Crowe and Ryan Gosling had the comedic chops to pull this one off.

Porn is Bad“.

9.  Moana

I’m surprised at how much I liked this film. It turns out that the music is great and the story is a lot of fun, and Dwayne Johnson simply makes everything better. I know that the “movie star” is supposed to be dead, but if you see what Johnson manages to do to turn this film and a movie like “Cenral Intelligence” into hits, you would change your mind. The Movie Star lives! he just happens to have formerly been known as “The Rock”.

You’re Welcome

8. Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson has been persona non-Grata in Hollywood for a decade now, but his talent seems to outshine his demons. This is an inspiring film about a hero who does fight the enemy but does fight the odds. Andrew Garfield is excellent in the lead role, but it is the brutal battlefield staging and phorography that will haunt your nightmares and once again give us a reason to thank the Greatest Generation.

Rescue

7. Arrival

Director Denis Villeneuve made a film I admired three years ago, “Prisoners”, and last year had a film I have yet to see but have heard only good things about, “Sicario”. Next year he has the sequel to “Blade Runner” coming and my hopes are high. Arrival shows that he can make a thoughtful science fiction story with simple visuals and clever story structure. He will need all of that craft if he indeed gets the job that he is rumored for, the remake/reboot of “Dune”. Based on “Arrival”, I have every confidence he is the best choice.

Kangaroo

6. 10 Cloverfield Lane

This is a horror film, but not the one you expect. It takes a simple concept and turns it into a compelling three person drama and then twists your expectations repeatedly. I don’t know who John Goodman pissed off at the Academy. He has been in a dozen Award winning films and has yet to be nominated himself. I think this may be his best performance, but it will go ignored this year because he is taken for granted and it is a horror film.  Shame.

Blu Ray Trailer

5. Swiss Army Man

The plotline for this movie is ridiculous, a stranded young man befriends a corpse and together they travel home. It was so widely mocked before it came out that it was derisively known as the “Farting Corpse Movie”. It turns out to be weirdly affecting and intellectually stimulating, in spite of some very crass humor. It may not be for everyone, but I thought it was great.

Rocket Man

4. Sing Street

 

Remember when MTV played music videos? No? than you are too young to appreciate how wonderful this movie really is. It imagines the world of 80s pop and all the possibilities that young people could see in front of them. The self produced music videos made by the band here are terrific mock ups of the English Style Pop that filled the MTV channel at the time.

The Riddle of the Model

3. Kubo and the Two Strings

I’ve had an aversion to anime for some reason. As a kid I liked Astro Boy and Gigantor but somewhere around Kimba the White Lion, the stories started   to seem a bit weird. This does not look like anime but it’s story feels like a Japanese cartoon, and I loved it. There is so much inventiveness and beauty in this film that I was sometimes overwhelmed. I want everyone to see it. So far, it is the only film from my list that I own on Bluray.

While My Guitar gently Weeps

2. Hell or High Water

A modern western where we feel for both the cops and the robbers. There are great performances in this film, especially from Ben Foster and Jeff Bridges. There is a message about the injustice of some kinds of justice here, but in the long run, does anyone ever get away with it? I don’t think so. There is a lot of violence in the film, but also a lot of humor.

What Don’t you want?

1. LA LA Land

Two years ago my favorite film was from debut director Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”. So far as I am concerned, he is batting a .1000 percent. This movie is everything I hoped it would be. An updated version of a fifties style musical with talent in front of the camera and behind. It is crack for movie lovers and anyone saying different {Rex Reed} is simply taking a position. It’s nice when the movie I liked best from the year is also the one with the greatest qualities. I don’t have to rationalize my choice that way, it is both my favorite and the best.

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I saw a headline a couple of weeks ago that declared the movie star dead. That proclamation was based on the disappointing box office opening of this film. Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt have had great success in films in the last few years. Lawrence has arguably been the most bankable star, man or woman, since the start of the Hunger Games series, and Pratt starred in the colossus “Jurassic World” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”. Their pairing may have been the reason this film finally got a greenlight after years in development hell. The lower than expected returns are supposedly an indicator that star power can”t save a movie. The truth is, a movie succeeds or fails for many reasons, and while the star may be one of those reasons, there are usually others. The weakness of this films performance should not be unjustly laid at the feet of the two leads.

“Passengers” is sold to us as a love story in space. The trailers make the film look like an adventure with the star crossed lovers battling to save themselves and the ship they are traveling on. I’m going to avoid spoilers as usual, but I will say that there is a twist in this story that is much darker and deeper than the film clips suggest. Maybe this is not a great movie, but it was better than I expected and the production values are top notch so I think I can recommend it to people who like science fiction and a lot of drama thrown in.

The provocative part of the story occurs for reasons that audiences will understand but may be horrified by. There is an interesting “what would you do? question at the heart of the film. The follow up question of how to handle the choice that is made is less complex because the story takes a very traditional turn into action tension and drama. The second act of the film is where all of the real emotion is and when the story veers back to the usual plot points, there is less that is interesting about it. For the vast majority of the movie, the two leads are the sole human characters on the ship. Michael Sheen, who is great, does have a side part to play, but he essentially is a tool for exposition and philosophy to be engorged in out loud. Lawrence and Pratt have to sell the human elements. I thought their chemistry was solid and that they made a somewhat believable couple under the circumstances.

 The failure of this movie to connect with audiences may have more to do with marketing than anything else. The trailers and ads ignore the real conflict of the film entirely and focus on the romance and adventure. There is a hint of a secret plot but that is a red herring, every shot with Lawrence Fishburne and Andy Garcia in it is misleading to the audience. Garcia must have a fantastic agent to get billing and paid for his contribution to the film. I suspect there may have been more of the story that got trimmed, and in the long run that is probably best.

 

 

The appearance of  Fishburne in the film, signals the start of the last section of the movie and a return to standard action adventure activity.  The idea that a solo engineer and a well read but not expert passenger, can handle the issues that crop up is a little hard to swallow, but since the whole idea of the film is hard to swallow to begin with I guess I can live with it. The action beats are not surprising but the special effects work is solid and there is one final twist that does pay off from the earlier section. In essence it helps redeem the film and make it a bit more worthy.  “Passengers” is not an essential film but it is entertaining and it should make for a good date night film for all those future “Netflix and Chill” evenings ahead.

Sing

I would be a little alarmed at the number of adults at a 10:15 am screening of what is basically a kids movie, except for the fact that the three of us who went to see it were also all adults. “Sing” delivers pretty much what it promises in all the promotional material. This is a film cobbled together around the premise of animals singing in an “Idol/Voice/X-Factor” style competition. If you like those sorts of reality competition shows, than this is likely to please you. If you just like anthropomorphized animals in cartoon form, while this should satisfy you as well.

 

Buster Moon is a koala bear who falls in love with the theater as a kid. Every choir singer, high school actor, or member of the glee club can identify with that. If you did dramatic interp on the speech team, worked as a stage hand on a high school play production, or you were an aspiring rock singer with a group of your friends forming a band, you have the bug. It is an infection that makes live performance so much fun and invigorating that you can get over your self consciousness and be willing to stand in front of an audience and potentially look foolish, just on the off chance that someone else might enjoy it.  “Sing” is all about that idea. While there is a little bit of that “can do” theme in the film and story, most of what makes up the movie is a cartoon version of performance.

I’ve got nothing against cartoons at all. I love animated movies and Bugs and Daffy filled my childhood with beloved memories. I never really looked to cartoons to give me life lessons. So the thinness of the theme in this film does not really bother me because it is really just there to help make the running time worthwhile. The story is very episodic with Buster as a Brooks-like producer trying to put together the successful show that has eluded him. His plot-line involve financial shenanigans and theatrical mishaps. Rosita is a pig mama to bacon factory of piglets, she also longs to sing. Matthew McConaughey and Reese Witherspoon reunite from the film “Mud” to voice Buster and Rosita. Rosita and her family have all the Rube Goldberg devices from a Road Runner cartoon in their segments of the story. There is also a plot about gamblers after a cheating card player and a shy talent who is literally the elephant in the room. Kids will laugh at the fart jokes and adults will enjoy sampling the wide range of music performances in the film.

 

This movie comes from the same studio that brought us “Despicable Me” and it’s sequel, as well as the “Minions” movie. I thought last year’s “Minions” was mostly an excuse to string together pop hits and fill the movie with something more interesting than the story. “Sing” solves that problem by making all the pop hits be the story and therefore freeing us the obligation to shoehorn all the songs into the movie.   I don’t know that the personalities of the characters matter that much. So many voice actors get used just for atmosphere and not for any other reason. The singers are all fine but no performance stood out in a way that would make it a signature moment in the film.

The movie is lite and entertaining enough for the holiday season. Kids home for the Christmas Vacation will be able to see this with parents who will not hate watching the “let’s put on a show” attitude of the characters. No one is going to have this on their list of greatest animated movies ever, but it combines the animal world of a film like “Zootopia” with singing performances that are entertaining enough for the short time that each one of them runs.

2001: A Space Odyssey Egyptian Theater Screening

This is my first opportunity to write about this film for this blog. The Egyptian Theater in Hollywood California has obtained a new 70mm print of of the film and they screened it nine times during the holiday season. We made it to the final screening, and to be honest, I’m kicking myself for missing the eight prior screenings. My daughter went with me and she is apparently not a fan of the film. I saw another blogger recently dismiss 2001 as over hyped and boring. Everyone will of course see a film through their own prism, and that is probably why I am willing to go to bat for a movie that does not need any defense from me at all. “2001: A Space Odyssey” is one of the great achievements of cinema. It is one of the reasons that I can look people who think those of us who dislike a film like “The Tree of Life” are intellectually shallow, and say “Bullshit”. This film is more profound, deep and well made than a dozen avant-garde movies that today’s audiences might respond to.

I come to this film with a long history. When I was ten years old, a friend of my father, who happened to be one of the projectionists at the Cinerama Dome and Pacific Theater in Hollywood, arranged for our family to attend one of the “road show” presentations of the film. Somewhere [probably the notorious box in the garage] I still have the souvenir program for that exhibition. I remember that my Mother and Father took me, and that my brothers did not go.  It was a school night because I had to get up the next day, and I talked about the movie with my friends. [I doubt Arthuro Salazar will remember, but if he does, maybe he can confirm my story]. My parents thought that the movie was strange, and I certainly would not disagree, but I also thought it was wonderful. I was a precocious ten year old, so I probably thought I understood the whole thing, but of course I could not really have done so. I next saw the film at some of the numerous screenings that happened over the years at the Cinerama Dome. Some of you old enough to know may recall that some people liked to get high and then lay on the floor at the foot of the screen during the final twenty minutes of the film. I was not one of those folks but I did see them now and then. The visual impact of the film on the curved giant screen in 70mm was enough to convince me that what I was seeing was important.

I have watched it a dozen times on home video and in theaters since those days and every time I find new things about the movie to appreciate. Since we won’t be getting any more Stanley Kubrick films, we have to make due assessing the legacy he left us, and that is a rabbit hole I love going down. At last nights screening, I saw and heard a half dozen things that made me think about the themes of the film or the technique of the film maker. I probably won’t get to all of them today, but I hope there will be future opportunities to write about and share my thoughts on this film.

The print last night was struck from a road show version of the film, so it included an overture, an intermission and exit music. The lights are lowered before the start of the film, but not entirely. As the music plays, you are bombarded with a variety of classical and tonal music that seems ethereal to start with. You can tell from the mood being established that this is not going to be your average popcorn munching experience in the dark. The sound design of the film starts before the movie does and then comes that opening, the one that has been parodied and copied ever since it first startled audiences in 1968.

The juxtaposition of the stunning space imagery with the Dawn of Man sequence that the movie starts with is one of the things that seems to befuddle people. The posters and title promise space adventure but the movie begins with a long section devoted to ape like creatures learning to use tools. “2001” plants the idea that human development may have been achieved by extra-terrestrial intervention. While this is not necessarily at odds with Judaeo-Christian beliefs (maybe the monolith is God planting a seed from the tree of wisdom) , it certainly is a novel approach. The idea that creatures who forage for food, ignore the animals around them as a potential source of nourishment, and then huddle in fear of the night, could be given a slight push to start the evolutionary process is original and deep. Kubrick lets us see the small changes in these creatures and then in a cascade of images we discover tool use and everything changes. The final shot of this sequence, when the man-ape flings the bone he has used as a weapon into the air and as it comes down a quick edit turns the falling object into a modern satellite is one of the great edits in film history. Along with Lawrence blowing the match out in “Lawrence of Arabia”, Kubrick and Lean create an artistic standard for editing which will define all future films.

One place where a viewer who criticizes this film can at least find some ground is found in the next segment. Dr. Heywood Floyd’s trip to the Moon to deal with the discovery of an alien object, becomes a chance to show off some visually. There are three segments where we track a space vehicle as it makes a landing or approach. The space plane has to synchronize with the rotating space station (all to the Classical score that is leisurely and idyllic.] We soon get another great effects moment as the Lunar Lander approaches the surface of the moonbase and a gaping hole with teeth-like doors opening to receive it, provides us another chance to marvel at the four million year jump in time that the transition edit allows. Finally, there is the space bus which transports Floyd and the other scientists to the excavation site, and it is all computer screens and sound effects to show off the technological innovation of mankind but also the director. The pace of each of these episodes is slow and deliberate. The fact that they are nearly back to back might make the film seem repetitive. In addition, the segments between each of these landings is separated with interactions in which the characters engage in banalities with only the slightest amount of exposition. Kubrick’s characters are really drawn in a cold manner. I don’t mean that they are heartless but that their personalities display almost no personality or human warmth. Even the phone call Floyd has with his young daughter feels perfunctory. While conceding that these moments are longer than most people are used to today, it can also be said that all films prior to the 1980s were slower at coming to the point. Sometimes the brushstrokes rather than the images are what distinguish “art” from a mere representation. I would say that these are some indulgences that an artist like Kubrick is entitled to make and that in the scheme of things, they make the picture work better in other parts of the story.

The sound emitted by the monolith both for early man and for Dr. Floyd’s group, is mercilessly loud and penetrating. The audience will experience the same things the actors do. Again, this is a deliberate choice that the director is responsible for, and it works. Maybe it is a little annoying, but it makes the sections with long periods of silence even more effective.

Once we are on Discovery One, the silence takes over again. There will be moments punctuated with sounds and with music, but frequently, the mundane tasks of the three active crew members are surrounded with no sound at all. There is a reason that Ridley Scott’s “Alien” was promoted with the phrase “In space, no one can hear you scream.” The vacuum of space overpowers the technology of man. As awesome as the difference 4 million years in time can make in human technology, it is suddenly dwarfed by the enormity of space and the thundering silence that is returned as we shout out in defiance of those barriers to human exploration. The astronauts labored breathing as the do an EVA to replace a part of the communication system is loud and ever present, until suddenly it isn’t. We can see poor Frank’s body tumbling silently through space, and there is no warning or outcry. Only when HAL decides to erase the other human crew do we get a return to sound levels that are loud and powerful. The warnings that go off as the astronauts in hibernation die with no visible violence, are all mechanical. When Dave chooses to enter through the airlock, the exploding bolts and the violent ejection of astronaut from the pod are shown silently, until an atmosphere can be restored.

What should be the most obvious sound element and yet it could be easily overlooked, is the voice of HAL 9000. Douglas Rain deserves special mention because his is the dominant role in the last half of the movie. Hall is just personable enough to be easy to interact with, but the voice is so measured and unflappable, that no one would confuse him with a human, except by comparison to the two cold Kubrickian astronauts Dave Bowman and Frank Poole. Hal fits into their band of awake travelers just right. It is not until Dave becomes desperate enough to re-enter the vehicle in the dramatic fashion that was open to him, that either of these characters displays much emotion. The volume and distortion of HAL’s voice is one of those sound elements that make this movie work so well. There was one visual element that I thought added a bit to the drama of Dave’s act of desperation. As he has the pod release the body of Frank, the arms of the pod pull back up into a crooked position and they resemble the arms of a boxer, surging forward to confront their opponent in the center of the ring. Stanley Kubrick was a perfectionist, and I have no doubt that the image was purposeful.

Maybe the most controversial part of the film is the trip through time and space as Dave takes his pod and enters the giant monolith orbiting Jupiter. The light show and special effects might seem quaint to audiences used to CGI intense scenes in all kinds of films. It may have been a little indulgent, but it is not nearly as long as some people complain it is, and if you watch the images closely, you will see foreshadowing of events related to the birth of a new human entity. Those hippies who wanted to use this segment to supplement their high, give critics of the film an entree into pointing out the excesses of these moments.  Focusing on the visual instead of the metaphysical elements at this point is exactly the opposite of what one should be doing.

Even though he made one of the greatest comedies of all time, “Dr. Strangelove”, Kubrick is rarely thought of as a humorist. Although this film is serious and there are dry stretches with no warm characters to relate to, Kubrick manages to find the funny in a few spots. One obvious example is Dr, Floyd having to read the ten part directions for using a zero gravity toilet.

If you are not familiar, here it is for you:

In another moment of humor, that exists in tragic circumstances, HAL pleads with Dave to respond to him and to allow him to go on with the mission.

“Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.”

I mentioned earlier that last night’s screening was a road show version that includes an intermission. The break here occurs at the most chilling moment in the film for the audience. Frank and Dave have taken precautions to avoid being overheard by HAL as they consider what to do if they discover HAL is malfunctioning. The final shot before the lights come on is a silent shifting of the camera from Frank’s lips moving to Dave’s lips movie as we look through the pod window and we realize that HAL can understand everything that is being said. The lights come up and there is a ten minute interval for us to ponder what might be coming.

The break at the screening was certainly longer than 10 minutes, and it needed to be. Unlike most public events, the line at the men’s room was the one that snaked down the lobby, while the women’s facilities had no visible line at all. This may be a reflection of the slightly male heavy geek culture intruding into the practicality of plumbing. The Egyptian hold more than six hundred people and it was essentially packed last night. We sat in the back right corner of the balcony for this show. The size of the screen and the 70mm projection meant that just about every seat in the house would be acceptable.

Our view of the Ceiling at the Egyptian last night.

Amanda and I discussed the film for the entire ride back to our home, about forty miles from Hollywood. She admires the film but said that she does not need to see it again for another 10 years. She is as passionate about films as I am, and as an example, we see Lawrence of Arabia, just about any time we can find it on the big screen. Her lack of enthusiasm for this movie is understandable but a bit disappointing to me. I still feel in awe of this movie, every time I see it. I don’t feel the passage of the long sequences as a burden to be borne but an experience to be savored. We talked about why our feelings are different and she had a nice way of putting it. “It feels like an experimental film with sections of more narrative form put into it, instead of a narrative feature with segments that are experimental edited in”. So it is a matter of what you need a film to be.

This movie is not really about character and although there is a plot, it is very abstract in nature. The “sequel” “2010: The Year We Make Contact” is a much more traditional story. It is not ground breaking and certainly not as cerebral as this film is, but it is definitely more accessible. This may be a topic we tackle when we finally get around to starting the podcast we have been promising to launch.

These are not all my thoughts on this film, but they will serve as a staring point for now. If you have not seen “2001” on the big screen, do yourself a solid and find an opportunity to do so. If the theater sound is set up correctly, and you get a 70mm print, you will find it to be a very different experience, and one that you can talk about for a long time with your friends. My kid may be happy to wait ten years to see this again, but I’d be willing to go again tonight if I had the opportunity.

Fences

Since Gene Hackman, my favorite actor , retired a dozen years ago, he has been replaced in my esteem by another American actor who embodies the potential of everyman in dramatic situations. I first saw Denzel Washington in a comedy with George Segal as his father, back in the very early 1980s. The movie was “Carbon Copy” and it was not very good but Denzel was. Since then, he has won two Academy Awards and starred in a string of box office successes that would please any acting career. Earlier this year he appeared in a remake of “The Magnificent Seven”, which was solid if not spectacular. He has now directed himself in his third film as a director, the screen version of the August Wilson play, “Fences”.

As a director,  Denzel has stuck closely to the boundaries of a stage play. There are one or two moments that move the scenes beyond where most of the play is set, but the vast majority of the film still is located  in the kitchen and the backyard of his character Troy Maxson. The play addresses issues of black life in the first half of the last century. Troy is a man who has turned himself around from a thug in his teen years to a responsible adult in middle age, but he has deep resentments against the society that restricted his potential because of the color of his skin, and like all of us, he has difficulty escaping the shadow of his own family. As a consequence, we see that he is a stern father while being a loving husband. His views of family are solid but he also has some strong views on masculinity that threaten the peaceful life he has found and they undermine the progress that he has made.

The script is by the playwright himself, so it is no surprise that the dialogue sounds like the words of a play. Even though the dialect and slang are of a particular culture and time, the words sometimes sound so complete in their sentences, that you might wonder who the characters are cribbing from. What plays on the stage often works because we are so willing to suspend our disbelief due to the context. In a film, I think audiences expect things to play out a little more naturalistically. Characteres talk over one another in films, actions take place in the background, visuals drive our interest in the story. A play requires turn taking to be able to follow what is being said, the scenes are set in locations that are not likely to have wild visuals that draw our eye because the focus is supposed to be on the characters. There is nothing wrong with the story here, and the performances are top notch, but the film never moves or feels like real life, it feels like a play.

 

The dialogue however is a joy to listen to when it is being delivered by consummate professionals like Denzel and his co-star Viola Davis.  The two leads are convincing as a long married couple at odds over the life of their teenage son, and the crisis that raises it’s head in the second act. Mr. Washington has the right degree of belligerence and resignation in his voice. When events are against him, he gets his dander up and spouts off like a man certain of his position. When faced with his own failings however, he becomes truculent and the warmth that he often displayed along with a good deal of humor becomes sullenness that is not very appealing. Viola Davis is the most supportive partner a man could have, and at times she seems to be the most powerful force in her husbands life. When Rose is confronted with Troy’s weakness, she is defiant herself, but ustimately becomes a passive force for good. Davis meets both challenges directly and she will probably win the award she deserved back in 2011 for “The Help”.

 

Steven Henderson, who had a small one scene role in “Manchester by the Sea”, a film I saw earlier this week, has a much more substantial part here. As Troy’s oldest friend, he provides wise counsel that largely gets ignored. He is the voice of the audience, yelling for Troy to try to think about an issue in another way, but who ultimately understands the intransigence of his friend. Having played the part on Broadway, he seems to have the relationship mastered. Mykelti Williamson has played a variety of roles over the years. He was memorable as the stony Elliston Limehouse in the TV series “Justified”.   As Troy’s combat injured brother with reduced mental capacity, he seems to be repeating his most famous role as Bubba Blue in “Forrest Gump”. Denzel the director must be aware of the similarity of the characters, and while Williamson does a good job, the comparison is going to linger over the performance and that seems to be a shame.

I don’t want to sound down on the film. I thought it was well made and there were a couple of nice things the director added to the mix. The golden gate that Saint Peter is manning was nicely visualized, and the use of old murals in the city buildings added some texture to the story. This is a film worthy for the performances and the dialogue. If you are unlikely to ever see the play that the movie is based on, by all means check this out. If you are a theater person, expect a very familiar and comfortable experience. As a film, it is a little talky and workmanlike in it’s visualizations.

Office Christmas Party

After a week of serious films aimed at awards season, it was time for an afternoon palate cleanser. There are certainly Twelve Days of Christmas  movies that you can watch, but this season, new films were limited to “Bad Santa 2” (have yet to pull the trigger on that one) and this collection of comedians and comic actors who get a chance to act out for a couple of hours. It is exactly as stupid and meaningless as it looks in the trailers. Although it wants to be a holiday “Hangover”, it is mostly mildly amusing and in bad taste.

Jason Bateman has the straightman role once again, Jennifer Aniston plays a bitch, and everyone else manages to fit their character stereotype without having to work very hard. An IT company is closing down some branches, and rival siblings of the late company founder have different attitudes about it. In order to land an old school tech client, looking for a unique company, the current managers of the branch scheduled for closing go all out in order to throw a raucous Christmas party, to show their family ties and creative spirits.

The film plays on every fantasy of old school holiday parties you can imagine. Drunken confession, check. Photocopies of private parts, Check (plus an update with a 3D printer). Casual, ill advised hook ups that lead to awkward day after exchanges, you betcha. Throw in a hooker, a bunch of cocaine, and some loose cash and you have the movie.

It won’t rot your brain, but it will insult your intelligence with fart jokes and physical humor that defies the ability of modern medicine to repair.

I had popcorn, Coke Zero with both lemon and lime, and three or four chuckles. This film will never be on anybody’s Christmas Movie Draft List,  and it will be forgotten by the time the New Year gets here. Everyone earned their pay, and I got out of my wife’s hair for two hours. Merry Christmas.