MOVIE REVIEW: AWAKENINGS (Penny Marshall, 1990)

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“What we do know is that, as the chemical window closed, another awakening took place; that the human spirit is more powerful than any drug – and that is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendship, family. These are the things that matter. This is what we’d forgotten – the simplest things.”

Rating: ★★★★☆

(Originally published October 7, 2019.)

MOVIE REVIEW: MISSION UNSTAPABOL: THE DON IDENTITY (Michael Tuviera, 2019)

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Move over, Martin Scorsese! Kinabog ng visual effects team ni Bossing ang ginawang de-aging kay Robert de Niro sa The Irishman. Infer, may effort for authenticity ang pelikula. Sana lang nag-level up din siya from the usual Pinoy slapstick humor.

Nung una ko makita ang trailer nito sabi ko parang Ocean’s movie tapos ganun nga siya. Hirap na ako maniwala na very advanced ang technology abroad to pull off that kind of heist eh sa Pilipinas pa kaya? May pa-Mission Impossible reveal pa sa dulo that didn’t make any sense at all. To be fair, may apparent self-awareness siya about local action films na nakakaaliw.

Bakit halos lahat ng ginaya ng character ni Wally Bayola eh from Star Cinema/ABS? (Very Wenn Deramas ang comedy ha.) Napaisip tuloy ako kung wala ba talagang iconic characters ang GMA. Why not Victor Magtanggol or Kara Mia para mas self-deprecating? Konti lang makakuha ng reference?

Gusto ko yung unang eksena pa lang ni Jake Cuenca eh level 10 na agad ang acting niya. Yung parang hindi na ulit siya mabibigyan ng ibang pelikula ever kaya tinodo na niya lahat. Kahit pag-nguya lang niya ng gum talagang may nuance, may galit. Nagsusumigaw na “May Yahoo! OMG Award ako for Male Kontrabida of the Year mga amateurs!”

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

GRUDGE MATCH (Peter Segal, 2013)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Grudge Match:

1. The movie opened with a Manny Pacquiao fight. I actually thought it was a Public Service Announcement to pay taxes.

2. Oooh, so this is a comedy about two old boxers starring actors that played Rocky Balboa and Jake LaMotta. It should be fun.

3. After the success of Meet the Parents, Robert de Niro seemed to have found his niche in these corny lightweight comedies.

4. I laughed so hard during that Rocky reference with Stallone about to punch a hanging piece of meat. I guess I was the only old person here.

5. It’s Jon Bernthal Week! He was good in The Wolf of Wall Street, too.

6. Another proof of the Oscar Best Supporting Actress Curse: Kim Basinger.

7. Holyfield and Tyson in the end credits! I wonder if the movie were funnier if it starred them instead.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

(Originally published January 20, 2014.)

MOVIE REVIEW: JOY (David O. Russell, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Joy:

1. If David O. Russell and his repetitive cast (Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Robert De Niro) had a TV equivalent, it would definitely be Ryan Murphy and his American Horror Story crew.

Joy would be American Horror Story: Freak Show, a complete mess from such a talented group and a huge letdown from their previous effort (American Hustle = American Horror Story: Coven).

Wait, so does that make Silver Linings Playbook the American Horror Story: Asylum of the series? I guess that would explain the mind-boggling accolades (an Oscar for Lawrence over Jessica Chastain and Emmanuelle Riva? Please.) I know, I sound even more bitter than my single friends last Valentine’s Day.

(Weirdly enough, this film started with the Name Game song which was also an iconic production number in Asylum.)

2. There was always a certain level of camp in these Russell movies and when this one started with the life as a telenovela metaphor (complete with a Susan Lucci cameo), I thought it would nail its theme of female empowerment with a certain degree of winking fun. Unfortunately, it got bogged down by the too obvious inspirational message (“You’re just one kitschy invention away from becoming a success!!”) that led to a predictable and phony resolution.

3. In one scene, Lawrence (playing Curacha) divided the basement with a masking tape so that her father and ex-husband would know their sides of the room. It reminded me so much of Maricel Soriano “splitting” areas and possessions with her husband Cesar Montano in Kung Kaya Mo, Kaya Ko Rin. Maricel was so obsessed with boundaries that she even placed markers on walls, on the floor, and even inside the refrigerator (and since she bought all the grocery items, she moved them all to her side naturally). It was that kind of crazy humor sorely missing in this movie.

4. I previously mentioned my obsession with the O Shopping Channel and prior to that, the Home Shopping Network. If I actually bought everything that I wanted there (Butterfly Abs, Siluet 40, and Ab Rollers, among others), I would have been Laboracay ready as early as Christmas.

5. Seriously, how could QVC have sold that many Miracle Mops within the short timeframe given the number of customer service representatives on the phones inside the room? Did they have call centers in the Philippines that wasn’t shown? 50,000 items sold in a matter of minutes and yet some agents would complain when there were 30 calls on queue. This movie should be a requirement in Call Center Orientation.

6. Don’t you find it weird that when these characters chop off their own hair, they always end up getting a salon-ready look? I once cut my bangs and I ended up looking like I had a severe case of typhoid fever. Why don’t we have Miracle Scissors? Hey, that may be a good invention idea!!

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

DIRTY GRANDPA (Dan Mazer, 2016)

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WARNING: R-18 DISCUSSION!!

My notes on Dirty Grandpa:

1. There are two cuts being shown in local cinemas (one’s R-16 and the other R-18), but I guarantee you that no amount of exposure of Zac Efron’s bubble butt will make any version less dreadful. If that’s your only reason for watching, you’re better off doing a Google search of his nude pictures (cheaper, too).

2. Why did it feel like the movie was made by a horny gay teenager? There were several close-ups of Zac’s ass, paraded onscreen for no reason. In one scene, he got drunk and was suddenly wearing a thong with a giant hornet covering his crotch (of course, the said thong was removed in a succeeding scene where he was just covering himself with his hands; the fact that he was able to cover everything would be a different discussion).

In another, he needed to change his outfit so he dropped his trousers because well, he just had to (and Robert De Niro had to make fun of his penis). Oh, and there was also that scene where he woke up in bed with an actual (prosthetic?) cock next to his face. Wait, did I actually end up convincing you to watch the movie? Argh!

3. I felt offended that the bride (played by Julianne Hough) was portrayed as a controlling bitch for simply being organized and putting special attention to her wedding details. What’s wrong if she had to select between a coral or salmon tie? Why is she shown as annoying for wanting a formal detailed announcement in the papers? Or wanting a slideshow of their best vacation pictures? Or sing a duet of Celine Dion’s Because You Loved Me during the engagement party? That is actually called love. Zac singing better than the bride (runs and all) should have been the cause of concern.

4. Sure, this was a raunchy comedy but I really pitied the actors involved in this project. The De Niro had a scene where he was masturbating to a porn video and said lines like “I wanna fuck until my dick falls off”. (Can someone check if this movie should be on the Guinness Book of Records for the most use of the word “vagina”?) Even the lovely Aubrey Plaza had to play a thirsty kitten with the hots for him while saying things like “You’re gonna tsunami on my face!”

5. One scene involved a lame pass-the-message joke that didn’t make any sense and stretched on for several minutes even without any punchline. Actually almost every scene here was like a filler to ensure a one and a half hour runtime.

6. It was odd that De Niro was mean and offensive to everyone (gays, blacks, people with disabilities) and yet he taught the rest a lesson on political correctness and respect when the same people were mocked. I guess he was the only one allowed to speak that way because he was, uhm, old?

7. The only thing I found funny was that he had Werther’s Original candies in his pockets. I love those! Yes, I’m eligible soon for Medicare. Stop laughing and show some respect to your elders.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

MOVIE REVIEW: LITTLE FOCKERS (Paul Weitz, 2010)

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This movie was just downright embarrassing. An all-star cast of funny men and women with nary a genuine laugh-out-loud moment? They were obviously just milking the cow (or cat) and I hope Robert De Niro was paid well enough for him not to do another disaster of this kind. The movie was filled with infantile poop and barf jokes that the audience would rightfully feel nauseated.

Definitely one of the worst of 2010.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆