TOP FIVE (2014)

Top Five 600x938

Score = C

TOP FIVE (2014)

(Comedy/ R)

Review by: Kisho Wolfe

Logline:  Redman, Pharoahe Monch, Busta Rhymes, Royce Da 5’9”, Jay-Z, and Drake for my 6th

That logline has more to do with the movie title than the movie title has to do with the actual movie.  Get all of that?  Usually a title gives you some sort of insight or has a smidge of relevancy to what you’re about to embark on, but unfortunately the creative minds here thought otherwise.  Although I imagine the movie title was probably the brain child of one or two co-producers (Jay-Z, Kanye West) on the movie rather than the lead actor and writer, Chris Rock.  Just a guess…

Chris rock is our leading man in this comedy to close out 2014.  He plays the part of a stand-up comedian turned highly successful movie star who desires to switch gears from being a funny man to a serious actor.  In the midst of releasing his new serious movie with a serious message, he’s also on the cusp of a high profile marriage to be aired on a live television reality show.  Our lead actress in Top Five is the beautiful Rosario Dawson, who plays a reporter who is tasked with shadowing our funny… err ex-funny man around for an exclusive interview.

The movie watches like a biography into our protagonist’s past and we are taken on a journey of seemingly random moments in his life which brought him to his current mindset.  It also centers on the fact that he used to be an alcoholic and its effect on his decision not to do comedy anymore.  He regrets his role in making the uber popular “Hammy the Bear” movies and things come to a boil since all everyone wants to know is when the fourth movie is coming out rather than the new path he’s chosen to move his career into.

There are a number of cameos in the film from previous generation comedians.  Cedric the Entertainer, Jerry Seinfeld and even Whoopi Goldberg make an appearance, just to name a few.  Most of them were only on screen for a few minutes, but it was definitely enough to warrant nostalgia of a stronger comedic era than the current one.

Top Five is a comedy for those familiar with the 90’s and maybe even the 80’s.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it also doesn’t seem to be a good thing either for this particular film.  It has a couple of cringe worthy shocker parts that seem to be obligatory in today’s comedy movies, and of course there are also laugh out loud moments. (After all, Chris Rock is a good comedian in general.) I just can’t say this movie, released at this time, in this day and age was truly an enjoyable experience throughout the majority of the 102 minutes.  Maybe if it was released in the early 2000’s?

I give Top Five a grade of C.  It was an “OK” movie.  Plus, how many movies do you see the legendary Ben Vereen in these days?

Ben Vereen

Ben Vereen

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

guardians small

Score = B

(Adventure-Action–Sci-Fi / PG-13)

Review by: Kisho Wolfe

Logline:  “Dance off, bro!”

You ever just feel like being entertained for a few hours?  Or maybe just feel like kickin’ back with a good movie and havin’ a little “me” time?  Well Guardians of the Galaxy allows you to do just that.

Let me start by noting what this movie does NOT do.  It does not provide you with a love story, nor bog the experience down with some long drawn out moral cause that ends up making you hate your life because you — just like the rest of us — color outside of the lines at times.  Although it does hint at both to make things interesting; and that’s quite alright.

What Guardians does encompass is a heavy dose of action and comedy. Rocket (the raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper) heads up the comedy by successfully throwing out zingers at the crew and occasionally himself at just the right moments to keep things light.  Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is our main protagonist, and his occupation is an intergalactic black market dealer.  He gets paid to acquire things that others want, but for one reason or another are unable to obtain these items themselves.  His latest job has him gathering a particularly powerful orb that seems to be a hot commodity on the black market.  So hot that he almost dies gathering it, as well as almost dying a second time trying to collect the money for it.

Our antagonist, Ronan (Lee Pace) is also tasked with finding this strange orb by an all powerful being, Thanos.  Of course once he discovers the contents of the orb, Ronan switches the plan and wants to keep the prize for himself just like any respectable villain should.  He stays true to the evil mastermind guidebook in wanting to destroy everything and everyone for some unspecified reason, which I think is this movies weak point.  I haven’t read the source material from the comics and all, but I’m thinking the screen writers could have added maybe five to ten minutes of background story to give us a solid sense of meaning behind this guy’s motives for wanting to destroy the universe.

The rest of the guardians round out with the over-literal Drax (Dave Bautista), a sentient tree who calls itself Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel), and Gamora the assassin ( the always lovely wear-any-color-of-paint-in-a-movie-and-still-look-good Zoe Saldana).  Everyone brought their A-game so It was a blast watching each character on the screen.

Overall, Guardians of the Galaxy flies off of the screen with a solid B in my book.  It has good sci-fi action and a comedic story with just a smidge of drama to anchor things down before getting back to the good stuff.  Other than giving us a peak into the antagonist’s motives behind his actions, this movie gives us just what we want out of an easy Sunday afternoon; entertainment.

Sean Gunn

Sean Gunn

Oh yeah, and I thought it’d be worth mentioning that this guy is in the movie for a little bit.  Haven’t seen him in anything solid since Gilmore Girls, (yes Gilmore Girls, it’s a damn good show…watch it!) well, at least not anything in my viewing circle. Then again, maybe I need to expand my horizons.  🙂

Ted

Score = B

TED (2012)

(Comedy, Fantasy/ Rated-R)

Review by: Kisho Wolfe

Logline: I want my teddy bear…the adult version.

The best thing you can do when you go to the movies is have low expectations.  Why?  The main reason is to avoid the disappointment if it stinks up the theater.  A better reason; if the movie happens to take your low expectations, flip you off and make you love it, then you’re actually happy you just got flipped off.

Ted is a comedy about John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), who made a wish when he was youngster.  The wish was for his stuffed teddy bear to become real so he would have a friend since he was not exactly the most popular kid growing up in suburban Massachusetts.  A shooting star grants that powerful wish and turns his teddy into a live talking, walking bear of the cotton-stuffed kind.  The two are inseparable and the friendship lasts for years.

Fast forward to the present day and 35-year-old John is a slacker of sorts, but somehow has managed a steady 4 year relationship with the beautiful Lori Collins(Mila Kunis).  Lori has a stronger grasp on the realities of life and wants John to get himself together so they can move to the next level of their relationship; which also includes cutting Ted(voiced by Seth Macfarlane) out of the picture.  Ted is seen as the negative influence in John’s life and Lori feels it’s beyond time for her boyfriend to get rid of his teddy bear and grow up as a man ultimately should.

John and Lori’s relationship gets rocky, but of course Lori gives John another chance which forces Ted to venture out on his own.   Ted ends up getting work at a super market and even gets promoted by getting caught doing not-so-teddy bear-esque things on the job.  He lands an apartment and sets up for life without John, but best buds never stay apart long right?  The last straw is broken when Ted talks John into attending a party and then has to deal with the repercussions of his actions.

There are plenty of references and cameos in the film, story-related and otherwise.  Nora Jones (as herself) sings a tune and even has a small acting part.  They even throw in Ryan Reynolds for an “interesting” non speaking cameo.  Giovanni Ribisi and Aedin Mincks play the awkward father and son in the film which makes up the small villain aspect.  It seems like the writers realized the movie didn’t have a hearty story arc for the third act to “pop” and hashed these two as an afterthought, given the minute story behind them.  A bit more energy spent developing these characters would have definitely given the movie more depth, but then again, a big part of entertainment is knowing which audience you are catering to…

Ted is a witty and at times vulgar, laugh-out-loud comedy.  It’s pretty much a shallow story of a non-typical “third wheel” causing problems in a relationship.  Having said that, everything else soars along with great pacing, comedic timing and enough social consciousness to keep you sucked in until its heartfelt conclusion.