Bad Santa 2 Review

     Alright. Can we stop making sequels to comedies that came out over a decade ago? I get that nostalgia is really in right now, but come on! Don’t say something has taken this long to make when it was obviously written over a weekend between Netflix binges. While Bad Santa 2 isn’t as offensively bad as some sequels, but that’s what makes it all the more offensive as a moviegoer, ironically. 

     It’s been 13 years since the events of the original, and Willie’s (Billy Bob Thornton) life is still in the shitter (because fuck emotional growth). He’s still being bothered by The Kid (Brent Kelly), and is on the point of suicide. But he gets a call from his old partner Marcus (Tony Cox) for one last score. They set out to rob a charity with Willie’s mom (Kathy Bates) being the mole in the organization.

     Let’s get it out of the way that not only do I love the original Bad Santa but it’s my annual Christmas movie. And its still just as hilarious as the first time I watched it. There is a great cynicism to Willie in that film, but like any good movie he goes through a transformation that makes him barely a decent person (Beating the shit out of some kids can have that effect on a man). Here? Well the character had to regress a little in order for there to even be a follow-up, so you’re getting some of the same old shit, and man is that stale this time around. 

     One of the saddest things in a movie going experience is seeing a comedy and quickly realizing that the movie is going to suck. I did laugh, I suppose, but it was mostly pity laughs (And the fact that I spent money). But the original film was so quotable, so devoid of decency that you marvel at the audacity of its quips. Here? I can recite maybe one line, and even I don’t find myself laughing in public where I get more odd looks than normal. 

     While not offensively bad as Zoolander 2 it still feels like a wasted my time; the talent in the film were all wasted. The only thing that should have been wasted was Willie and his mom, but even the filmmakers couldn’t even get that little bit of awesome right. 

Doctor Strange (2016) Review 

     It’s about time that the Marvel Cinematic Universe started to actually embrace the fantastical. Guardians of the Galaxy notwithstanding, the films try to keep some sort of realism grounded in their stories, especially with the Captain America and Iron Man films. I just like magic, and Doctor Strange opens up a lot of cool stuff for its universe. 

     Doctor Stephen Strange  (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a brilliantly douchey surgeon who can cure any ailment. The man has gotten so arrogant that it even starts to affect his relationship with Doctor Palmer (Rachel McAdams). One day while Strange is driving like an asshole, he gets into an accident and fucks up his hands. 

     His career as a surgeon is now over. No purpose. No reason. 

     Now, Strange goes on a journey to the far east to learn from the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) to give his life a purpose to continue, and ultimately defeat her former pupil Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen).

     I thought Marvel was done with telling origin stories. Everything aboutthe film is pretty good, but a bit of an old hat by now. The Marvel origin stories all follow the same formula: 

  1. The hero is an asshole 
  2. The hero learns to humble himself 
  3. The hero has someone teach him his abilities or his values 
  4. The villain was a former friend
  5. The hero rejects his calling 
  6. Just kidding, the hero fulfills his destiny 

     To be fair, mostof these troupes come from Joseph Conrad, but when you’re getting a couple of these flicks a year, it starts to get stale. 

     But I was captivated by Cumberbatch’s performance as Strange, and it dawned on me how difficult it is to pull this role off; Robert Downey Jr turned the loveable asshole into a work of art, and Cumberbatch managed to pull it off. I cared about his journey, his transformation from dick to hero was not only plausible, but actually satisfying. Not since Star Lord and his posse did I want to see where a hero goes next. 

     Yes, Doctor Strange is a redressed origin story we’ve gotten before, but it works. When the humor lands, it truly lands. And with all its frills and special effects, it actually managed to tell an effective human story. 

A New Era of Tim Burton Films: A Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Review 

   

      I am officially too old. Some of my earliest memories of film watching came from the films of Tim Burton, and I’m not just talking Batman either; Pee-Wee, Beetlejuice, hell, even Ed Wood. 
     Over time directors evolve their style to include new themes or visions for the stories they want to tell. Burton though has a style so distinct that within seconds you can tell its one of his films. Shit, even the Danny Elfman score is a dead giveaway. 

     But the Tim Burton of my youth has been gone for quite sometime;I would pin it to Planet of the Apes probably. It didn’t look or feel like a Burton movie (and it sucked). I would honestly say that his 2012 Frankenweenie, and maybe Sweeney Todd are the closest he’s come back to his old turf, Sleepy Hollow being the last one where is just oozed Burton’s style. 

     Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is so shocking because on a visual level, this is the old Tim Burton but with a lot more CGI. He’s back to his old tropes: The outcast from society, the neglectful parents, the old mentor, the ruins of a forgotten home, and even the blonde female (think Edward Scissorhands, Sleepy Hollow). The story and plot don’t matter much, which is classic Burton. 

     I know I haven’t discussed the plot at all, because it really doesn’t fucking matter. The focus here is on the visuals, because that’s how Burton  expresses himself. Since the characters are distinct, its almost like Beetlejuice in all of it crazy images. I saw Samuel L. Jackson eat eye balls. I’ve seen it! Don’t  call me a liar!

     Overall, its actually a great film to get kids into horror without traumatizing them too badly, and for the generation that grew up with the films of Tim Burton its a great trip down memory lane.