Monday, June 6, 2016

Triple Feature: Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, The Nice Guys, and The Angry Birds Movie

With so many movies coming out at once, let's talk about most of May's big releases all at once!

My God this is a busy time of year.

I don't think I've ever fully explained why I started to do Triple Features, but in case the meaning isn't perfectly clear, allow me to make it as obvious as possible. In actuality, there are two reasons why I like to use Triple Features to review movies, the most important being it allows me to write three reviews at once and not dedicate as much time to them as other full reviews. Seriously, with how many movies I'm going to be seeing in the next three months, you're probably going to see a few more Triple Features in the near future just so I can keep my sanity. You'll still get full written reviews from me (currently not stopping to never stop writing this next review), but when a big bulk of movies get released at once, a Triple Feature will do the job nicely.

The second, more subtle reason for using Triple Features is that I honestly don't have much to say about these movies. That isn't to say that they're not good or not worth talking about, but my opinions are pretty solid and don't really require all that much explanation. Sometimes you just see a movie and walk out of it feeling exactly how you felt you would, and there's nothing wrong with that. Not every movie can be a testament to cinema that needs to be analyzed thematically, cinematically, or structurally to find out why they're so good. Sometimes you just know.

This time, the Triple Feature will be about three movies all released on the same day, May 20th. In fairness, I was already going to do a Triple Feature regardless of my workload just because it made much more sense to bang them all out at once instead of write up a lengthy review for each. So let's just dive right in with the first one I saw...

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising
Hey, has everyone forgotten yet that the original Neighbors was way better than anyone ever expected? I mean, in its opening weekend, it beat out The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for highest gross. And that wasn't just cause that movie was mediocre at best, but because Neighbors was actually that good. Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising doesn't hit the same highs as the original, but it's still a damned fun time from start to finish.

Good comedy sequels are hard to find. Usually most sequel comedies tend to lean too heavily on jokes from the first movie, so it comes across as retreading ground until the newer, not as funny jokes come through. That's pretty much Neighbors 2 to the letter, but keep in mind that the original jokes weren't bad at all. They were actually pretty damned awesome if you ask me, and seeing characters react to seeing these jokes again is actually funnier than the joke itself.

Zac Efron steals the show again as a washed out frat douche who now is pretty much teaming up with anyone as long as they make him feel useful, which inadvertently leads to another Greek Life war between Seth Rogen's family and the new sorority in town, Delta Phi. The movie doesn't overstay its welcome at all, clocking in at just 90 minutes, but thankfully that's all we really need. It's a quick movie that makes you laugh, though it's by far nothing groundbreaking or new. In fact, I kind of wish it felt more like a breath of fresh air in the same way the original did, but beggars can't be choosers.

The Angry Birds Movie
The Angry Birds Movie is one of THOSE kids movies. You know the kind I'm talking about. It's the kind of kids movie that is content with just being loud and hip and make a lot of stupid jokes to make kids have a cheap laugh. It's a movie with no substance that thinks the best way to entertain children is to make a lot of loud noises and be as stupid as possible.

To be fair, I didn't have high hopes for this movie in the first place, but I didn't expect The Angry Birds Movie to be this cynical. It doesn't show active disdain for its audience, but it takes them for granted and assumes that children will laugh at anything. There's a scene in the movie where a whole line of pigs just shake their butts at the camera while wearing cowboy outfits and dancing. If you were to ask me what scene best defines this movie, it would be this one. Cynical pigs shaking their asses in goofy outfits to entertain a bunch of stupid and misguided birds.

Most of the movie is like this unfortunately, but for the last third of the movie, when the movie actually decides to be based off of the video game, the movie gets... tolerable. I wouldn't call it enjoyable, but the movie certainly has more energy and effort put into the last twenty minutes that the other seventy minutes of its thankfully short runtime. Even a few of the characters are okay, with the best character being a silent but most likely homicidal bird named Terence, who singlehandedly has the best scene in the movie that got so dark and so real that I was legitimately laughing at it. So the movie has the ability to have some decent humor in it, it just chooses to play to the lowest common denominator.

At least it's bright?

The Nice Guys
Original movies are so hard to come by nowadays. Most major releases are from franchises, based off of pre-established material, or are adaptations from one medium to another. The Nice Guys is an original movie by Shane Black and stars Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, two actors I could care less about individually, but when you pair them together, somehow I find myself enjoying their exploits.

Both characters are involved in a conspiracy murder mystery about a killed porn star, and with a beautiful 1970's aesthetic, every scene was a joy to watch. Cruising down LA while smoking pot, having a shoot out in a lavish costume porn star party, shooting up criminals and assassins, this movie had just a little bit of everything I was looking for in a buddy cop movie. I usually can't stand Russell Crowe, but he continuously stole every scene he was in with his understated actions. Everything seemed so matter of fact with him that even when he's held hostage, he treats it like it happens every week.

Ryan Gosling also does a great job at being a truly unlikeable character, but what's interesting is that he doesn't change at all during the movie. He starts off as a washed up, alcoholic father, and he finishes in the exact same place, just with a new friend. If there was anything that I have a gripe with, it would be how serious the movie can get at times. Not to say that a movie involving a dead porn star in the 70's is meant to be a comedy, but the story gets very dark and very serious to the point where all of that sleazy joy from the beginning seems like a far off dream. That's a brief pot sequence towards the end of the movie that comes out of nowhere, but if it was done in the beginning of the movie, I would have been laughing my ass off. Because the movie got so serious towards the end, the scene just felt out of place in the context of the story.

Still, I can't fault The Nice Guys for a minor nitpick like that. It's still a damned good time and a great throwback to a seedier time in American history.




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