How to be a Latin Lover: Movie Man Jackson

One gets what they work for, not what they wish for. Growing up at a young age and believing that his father’s hard work got their family absolutely nothing, Maximo (Eugenio Derbez) makes a decision to never have to work a day in his life. How will he go about this, exactly? By finding an extremely wealthy and older woman. He’s achieved his goal by courting and marrying Peggy (Renée Taylor), which lasts 25 years before Maximo is kicked to the curb. 

Now in his 40’s with no job skills and an inflated sense of worth, the gigolo has nowhere to go except to his estranged sister, Sara (Salma Hayek), and her son, Hugo (Raphael Alejandro). Discovering that his nephew has a crush on a classmate who just so happens to be the granddaughter of a very rich socialite, Maximo sees his opportunity to get back onto the gravy train…while simultaneously assisting Hugo in getting his crush to notice him.

Remember the old Chappelle’s Show skit, where Dave gets lucky enough to impregnate Oprah Winfrey, and then proceeds to live like a king until he finds out the baby actually isn’t his? Minus the baby part, How to Be a Latin Lover is essentially that Chappelle’s Show skit, with an effort to throw in some heartfelt moments. There’s probably a reason this works better as a short compared to a full-fledged feature.

Latin Lover happens to be the directorial debut of comedy actor Ken Marino, and written by Jon Zack (The Perfect Score) and Chris Spain, filmed in English and dubbed to Spanish. There are certainly worse written comedy screenplays, but a lack of meat and substance make for a movie that feels every bit of its one hour and fifty five minute runtime. Mainly, because the comedy rarely hits big, whether it be of the physical slapstick variety (one gag in a pool does hit its mark), or traditional dialogue (generally, the characters speaking in Spanish for some reason makes the movie slightly funnier as compared to when they do not).

How to Be a Latin Lover is designed to be a vehicle of introduction tp Mexican actor Eugenio Derbez, consistently recognized as one of the most recognized actors in the Latin American community, to the U.S. audience. As yours truly watched him for the 1st time, it’s easy to see why he’s so popular. The man has substantial charisma and presence, and it will be interesting to see what comes of his career in the Americas.

If only the character he plays were a little easier to find humor in, instead of being either a complete buffoon or just generally unlikable. Like these comedies go sometimes, the redemption arc for the main character can end up feeling rushed and unearned, which is the case with Latin Lover.

However, the ageless beauty Salma Hayek and Raphael Alejandro do a good job at delivering sentimentality and being honest people the audience should root for. On a supporting cast level, How to Be a Latin Lover assembles names that many audiences will be pretty familiar with. Every Rob in Hollywood appears in this feature (Rob Corddry, Rob Riggle, Rob Huebel, and Rob Lowe) and are joined by Raquel Welch, Kristen Bell, and Michael Cera. As interesting as it is to see all of these names in this comedy, there are a lot of characters and most don’t really add much to the proceedings, unfortunately, outside of a small laugh here and there.

Cómo es? Though showcasing some good performances, How to Be a Latin Lover doesn’t have enough comedic heat to support its long runtime.

D+

Photo credits go to moviefone.com, fandango.com, and themoviemylife.com

For additional detailed thoughts on films both small and large, games, and the key moments that comprise each, check out ThatMomentIn.com

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson.

 

Advertisements

Office Christmas Party: Movie Man Jackson

officexmas

Ain’t no party like an Office Christmas Party cause an office Christmas party don’t stop. Christmas is coming around the corner at Zenotk, a Chicago-based technology company led by its manager Clay Vanstone (TJ Miller). Spirits aren’t exactly high in the office; the company isn’t meeting its profit goal, and the threat of layoffs and the branch being closed is high. Clay’s uptight CEO sister, Carol, (Jennifer Aniston), wouldn’t mind this, as she’s always had some jealousy towards her brother.

The only shot Clay has in saving his branch and the employees he loves is to land a big client. When the pitch he, CTO Josh Parker (Jason Bateman), and lead engineer Tracey Hughes (Olivia Munn) make to industry leader Walter Jones (Courtney B. Vance) fails, they have but one last card to play: Invite Walter to their annual “nondenominational holiday mixer,” aka Xmas party. Here, they can show why they are a company worth giving business to. Even if this fails, at least the company goes out in a blaze of glory, right?

 vance

The party comedy. I never really think of that as a subgenre, but it absolutely is, whether as a launching pad to the rest of the movie, à la The Hangover or This Is the End, or the movie itself such as Project X, Sisters, and House Party. Throw the obviously-named Office Christmas Party into that subgenre, sharing similarities with the aforementioned titles. So what does this mean?

It means that Office Christmas Party is stretched pretty thin. Certainly, with a title like such, one’s not exactly expecting a well-woven screenplay. On one hand, kudos should be given to writers Justin Malen, Laura Solen, Dan Mazer, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore, and Timothy Dowling for trying to cobble up some story and character relationships around the massive party. And, they kind of achieve in the first act right before it.

On the other hand…that’s a lot of writers that have a hand in contributing to the story! Around the midpoint of the party, things start to go haywire in the script and not necessarily in the best comedic ways. Throw in some forced reconciliation and commensurate romances into mix as well. Some less interesting side characters and plots get promoted to “A” status while more interesting side characters and plots get cast to the storage closet. It does make a person wonder if a few less party planners  writers could make for a stronger offering.

 mckinnon

The party itself is riotous, maybe not full of non-stop hilarity, but definitely where Office Christmas Party gets the bulk of its laughs, supplied by a good portion of its all-star cast. Kate McKinnon and TJ Miller are probably the most valuable players, much more hit than miss anytime they’re on screen. Miller in particular brings the most honest-to-goodness nature, his manager reminiscent of a poor man’s Michael Scott which provides the movie with a little holiday sentimentality. Smaller character like Courtney B. Vance (huge surprise), Randall Park, and Rob Corddry steal scenes.

Not all of the all star cast is comedic fire though. There’s no bigger fan of straight man Jason Bateman than yours truly, but he is slightly dull here and not as funny as in previous films. Olivia Munn’s never really been comedic, and Jennifer Aniston, someone who’s proven to be legitimately funny numerous times (often with Bateman), is nothing more than a overly mean witch. The pimp character played by Jillian Bell sounds great in doses, but becomes annoying by film’s end once she becomes a central figure.

OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY

Far from a fruitcake but not the best gift ever, Office Christmas Party is the proverbial gift card gift in movie comedy form. Won’t be mad with it and can certainly get some usage out of it, but not a gift to remember, either.

C+

Photo credits go to comingsoon.net, indiewire.com, and yahoo.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson

Hot Tub Time Machine 2: Movie Man Jackson

httm2stub

“Life is about do-overs, OK?”

Can I get a hot tub, again? Hot Tub Time Machine 2 picks up more or less where the first left off. After repairing the past, the present is different from what Lou (Rob Corddry), Nick (Craig Robinson), and Jacob (Clark Duke), previously existed in. That is to say, they’ve exploited their knowledge of the future to make themselves very rich and influential, be it the founder of Google Lougle, the son of the man who made Lougle, or the creator of every massive radio hit in 30 years.

Everything is all well and good until an unknown gunman shoots Lou in the groin at a party. The only chance of saving his life lies in the time travel aspect of the hot tub, where the group can travel back to the  moment of the assassination to stop the shooter. However, the crew doesn’t land in the past, but the future. From here, they have to solve the mystery: Who shot Lou? It is the only way to ensure their lives and all of their ill-gotten gains do not vanish.

futuresoak

The first Hot Tub Time Machine  wasn’t too bad, and garnered a lot of support upon home release. It took the 80’s and made something pretty amusing, even if viewers didn’t grow up during that time period. With that said, it probably didn’t deserve a sequel, and based upon how many people were unaware of Hot Tub Time Machine 2‘s existence, it is debatable as to how many truly cared.

Even at a doable 93 minute runtime, HTTM2 begins to get old a third of the way in, which is a downer if the trailer was seen. After viewing that, yours truly wasn’t expecting a high quality comedy, but a legitimate level of amusement looked like it could have been had with the possibilities of oscillating between the past and the future, however helter-skelter-ish that may have been. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen until (mild SPOILER) literally at the end (end SPOILER). What is left is a mostly uninteresting whodunit quasi-murder plot in a visually dull future.

tripping

HTTM2 doesn’t go completely without laughs, but aside from an extremely raunchy moment taking place on a futuristic TV show meant to poke a little fun at society’s focus on sensationalism and shock value, there isn’t much beyond the here-and-there chuckle. As one could expect, there are callbacks to the original that keep continuity (who is really going to watch this without seeing the first?) but many seem to exist and feel like a crutch for uninspired jokes.

Maybe the most newsworthy thing about this sequel is the absence of John Cusack as Adam. Sure, the first was a multi-man effort, but he was a big part and did a solid job. While it may be easy to point towards Cusack’s exclusion as a big reason why this isn’t as good, on the other hand it is truly doubtful that his inclusion here would have made for a massive increase in quality, if any. And if you believe John, he was never asked to return early in the development, meaning that director Steve Pink, producers, and writers had more than enough time to make a better script than what is found here.

As Cusack’s replacement is Adam Scott as Adam Jr. He is the dope, oblivious to anything and everything but doesn’t add a ton here and his presence in the story never truly fits. Of course, the other three return, headlined this time around with Rob Corddry. His Lou is still abrasive, selfish, and mean-spirited, which made him funny before. This go around those traits are amplified and not in an overall good way. Though still capable of delivering a few funny moments, Lou is more of an irredeemable monster this time, and his eventual self realization and “change” near the end is hard to accept. Character-wise, he is comparable to Alan from The Hangover: Hilarious in the first, jerkish and cantankerous in the second.

future

Craig Robinson is alright, but now it feels like he is himself in everything. The best thing about this one might just be Clark Duke. His role is more important this time, and sort of serves as the glue that holds things afloat as opposed to a complete sink. Truth be told there is some chemistry among the threesome, but for what existed in the way of a plot. there needed to be more of it.

Sharing more in common with recent comedies than just a 2/To in its title, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is yet another check in the column of comedy sequels that really didn’t need to be made, or even greenlit. This hot tub is basically inoperable.

Grade: D

Photo credits go to comingsoon.net, blogs.indiewire.com, and cinemavine.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson

Hot Tub Time Machine: Movie Man Jackson

httmposter

“It must be some kind of…hot tub time machine [blank stare into camera].”

Uses for a hot tub: Skinny dipping, relaxation…and time travel? In Hot Tub Time Machine, the year is 2010, and for Adam (John Cusack), Nick (Craig Robinson), and Lou (Rob Corddry), life could not be any worse. Adam has just lost his girlfriend, Nick cleans feces out of dogs for a living, and Lou is a pathetic, lonely alcoholic with suicidal tendencies. The negativity in their lives should keep these former friends in close touch, but it actually serves as further separation between the trio.

After a near-death experience by Lou, Adam and Nick decide it is the perfect time for the old gang, plus Adam’s nephew Jacob (Clark Duke), to reconnect. Back in the 80’s days, the three friends used to take part in many debaucherous weekends at the Kodiak Valley Ski Resort, so Adam & Nick conclude that this is the perfect place to make some new memories. A night of getting plastered in a hot tub improbably transports the crew back to 1986. Could a hot tub really be a time warp? And if so, how do these guys get back to the present day?

craigrobinson

Sometimes a title tells the audience everything that needs to be known about a film. Take Snakes on a Plane for example. With a title so unambiguous, no surprises are going to be found, and what you see is what you get. Hot Tub Time Machine is no different. Absurdity and vulgarity is found in spades here, and while it it gets to be a little too much from time to time, as a whole it is a pretty entertaining comedy.

Rooted primarily in the 1980’s, HTTM does a good job of not using the decade as a crutch for so much of its comedy. That isn’t to say that there aren’t references, both to happenings during the time period and to 80’s classics movies that may give the movie more humor to those that lived during the period, but most of the funniness spawns from the gross out gags and raunchy dialogue. It is pretty funny, but even for a R-rated comedy, there is an abnormal reliance on profanity. Some parts are delivered well, while others parts are groan inducing and feel like the producers ran out of ideas short of spewing tons of curse words in the given moment.

Rob_Corddry

The plot isn’t all that memorable and some continuity issues exist, but since the film doesn’t take itself too seriously they can be overlooked. There are some end twists that are far-fetched but also pretty hilarious and make up for the otherwise predictable plot. HTTM tries to carry some heart as well, delivering a message of friendship through thick and thin, as well as having the opportunity to do things differently if given the chance. Plot-wise (or maybe pacing-wise) the film struggles the most when it introduces a character who is there to deliver the central message in addition to being one of the guy’s love interest. Whenever she is on screen the film, while not fast paced by any means, really bogs down substantially by telling us things we already know.

Hot Tub Time Machine is dependent on the comedic chops of its starring foursome, and some deliver more than others. Receiving top billing is John Cusack, who basically plays the straight man throughout the entire movie. It is sort of a role that anyone could have played, but the movie does have a good time poking fun at Cusack with little Easter eggs alluding to his 80’s fame. Of The Office fame, Craig Robinson is probably the most versatile of anyone here, from a comedic standpoint. He definitely gets his chance to be over the top during various points, while also playing off the ensemble when needed.

Robinson is good, but Clark Duke and Rob Corddry’s respective characters are the most memorable. Jacob is completely the fish out of water in this, and seeing his reaction to various situations is pretty awesome, relying on timing and extremely dry delivery to bring laughs. He also possesses much chemistry with Corddry, who is absolutely a complete riot. His performance as Lou is impossibly hammy and unbelievably profane. Sure he is a jerk, but he has enough likable qualities to care enough for the guy. The movie is built on an ensemble cast, but Corddry easily steals the show.

mirror

Don’t expect greatness in cinematography. This is pretty standard filmmaking from every aspect. 1986 looks convincing enough in dress and exterior, which I imagine isn’t too hard to achieve. The soundtrack features 80’s cuts that should bring nostalgia to those that lived in the era. Again, nothing truly deserves a ton of praise technically, aside from an unpredictable fight sequence near the end involving Enrique Iglesias.

With a sequel on deck, Hot Tub Time Machine will probably get more attention as the months go on. Though occasionally dull and needlessly crass in areas, its sheer ridiculousness along with a game Rob Corddry is worth a dip in this comedy’s tub.

Grade: C+ 

Photo credits go to cinemafunk.com, theguardian.com, craveonline.com, & badassdigest.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson.