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

Dumb and Dumber To: Movie Man Jackson

D&D2stub

“Check out the hotties at 12 o’clock.”

“That’s three hours away, why can’t I check them out now?”

It is comforting to know that some people never change. 20 years since their last adventure, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) are back at it in Dumb and Dumber To. In that interim time, Harry has returned to the old apartment in Providence, while Lloyd has been committed to the local mental hospital as a result of his failed attempt to woo Mary Swanson. His 20 years spent there is all an elaborate prank played on Harry because…that’s what these guys do.

Harry does have something important he has to get done, and its importance involves finding a daughter he never knew he had, given up for adoption (you guessed it) around 20-some years ago. Lloyd, a man who finds love at first sight, does so again and this gives him motivation to travel with Harry. And so the journey begins with the dense duo, traveling the terrain of the U.S. getting into and out of various situations like only they can.

fireworks

Nostalgia is an interesting feeling, and it exists with this one. Seeing Lloyd and Harry once again is really a marvel in itself, which gives Dumb and Dumber To a great deal of intrigue and wonder. In many instances, nostalgia wears off after a while, giving way to the realization that what was once adored or even loved isn’t the same anymore due to the changing times. That doesn’t mean that the “thing” adored was never good or great or awesome to begin with, it just means that looking at it now doesn’t inspire the same feelings once had. This is the feeling that came over me with D&D2.

Obviously, this is different than the 1994 movie, but the structure and key players involved are the same. It is a little harder to be amused by the exploits found this go-round. Once again, this is written by the Farrelly brothers in Peter and Bobby, who haven’t completely fallen off the face of the Earth, but have definitely seen a dip since the early 2000’s with regards to public reception to their movies.

There is a lot more reliance on crude jokes, visible butt crack, and toilet humor. Every now and then one finds the mark, but most end up missing and missing bad. I can only speak for myself and to a smaller extent those who were present in this show, but there were many periods of silence and “forced chuckle.” To be honest, it was a little depressing.

billy4c

Rest assured, there are some call-backs that pay homage to the original. And nonetheless, again it is cool to see Daniels and Carrey together again playing off of each other with the very solid chemistry they possess, even if their characters feel totally unbelievable. They are able to bring a few laughs on their skills alone despite this issue, but it is harder because this time Harry and Lloyd feel more like caricatures rather than sort of believable people.

Even in all of their prior, over-the top craziness, (and it may just be me) there existed a sort of “realness” to the pair and in what they encountered that made the comedy that much more gut-busting. Lloyd and Harry antics come off as tired and over-amplified to the point of becoming cringe-worthy. A small part of it may just be what was included in the trailer. The first scene could have been an amazing way to reintroduce the dimwits if it wasn’t already shown. It is a delicate line to toe for sure as interest has to be drummed up, but if another trailer could have been made without showing key moments, it should have been used.

fountain

Supporting characters can often be so key in comedies, and here hardly anyone is able to garner laughs. Rob Riggle is alright, but almost everyone between “Pee Stain” and Fraida Felcher feels melded together. There is one character that comes through to be a major part of the plot, and it is clear they are relied upon to garner many laughs due to who they are in relation to the main characters. They are not a complete failure, but for how much they are used, the act becomes old quickly.

It is really unfair to compare movies, but when one is a sequel to a well-known original, it is sort of inevitable. As it stands for yours truly, Dumb and Dumber To is a poor follow up when stacked to its predecessor, and on its own quality may be out of place in today’s comedy landscape. There’s a chance to be pleasantly surprised, but remember that 20 years is a long time to be away from people.

Grade: D

Photo credits go to comingsoon.net, thechive.com, and freshnessmag.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson.

21 Jump Street: Movie Man Jackson

Image

“Are you ready for a lifetime of being absolutely badass mother****ers?”

High school. You may have peaked in it, or you may have suffered through it. At any rate, once you are done, you never are forced to go back…unless it is part of your job. This is the situation Jenko and Schmidt find themselves in during 21 Jump Street. Way back in 2005, Jenko (Channing Tatum) and Schmidt (Jonah Hill) were but a few of the average high school stereotypical students. Jenko is the average dumb jock, while Schmidt is a socially inept but smart dude.  Being on complete opposite ends of the high school food chain, it isn’t exactly shocking to see these two never interact. The off times they do, it goes as one would expect.

Enter 2012, and the two find each other in the police academy. Instead of remaining in high school mode, both end up helping the other with weaknesses they struggle with and ultimately forming a bond that leads to their graduation. After an odd mishap one day on patrol as bike cops, the duo is reassigned to the 21 Jump Street division, a program revitalized from the 80’s. Led under the direction of the always-angry Captain Dickson (Ice Cube), this tag-team is assigned to go undercover as high school students in an effort to snuff out a new drug known as HFS. Sounds easy enough, but 2012 in high school is nothing like 2005.

buddycops

If you have never seen the TV series sharing the same name of this film, do not fret. In all honesty, the only link the show and its remake share is the title. The 2012 version of 21 Jump Street eschews the seriousness and drama from its predecessor and opts for a lighter and humorous take. From start to finish, laughs are to be had at a pretty consistent clip.

Within the first few minutes, it is evident that this movie never takes itself too seriously. Whether it be through a simple moment of the main characters locking eyes over expertly timed music cues reminiscent of iconic 80’s movies, or expecting the obvious explosion to occur after shooting numerous flammable objects, it pokes fun at itself, the implausibility of the scenario, and staples of the buddy cop genre. The film also gets commended for going in an unexpected direction. At its core, I got the message of change in the fact that nothing stays the same and what was once cool can easily become outdated. It would have been real easy, and lazy, to keep Jenko as the ultra-suave and straight man while sticking Schmidt as the loser with no chance at progression. Thankfully, it goes a different route.

This “meta-ness” alluded to previously extends to the duo themselves. The stereotypes that Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum embody here are in a way what others think about them in real life. Hill to a lot of people is or at least comes off as an insecure and occasionally douchey guy, and Tatum for the longest time (perhaps still) was only thought of as eye candy with not much to offer anywhere else. Maybe I am looking too much into this, and if I am so be it. It’s just something that worked into my mind when watching.

icecube

Being able and willing to take shots at yourself is well and good, but the characters and the actors playing those said characters still have to be interesting enough to make it matter. Luckily, they are in 21 Jump Street. Jonah Hill has proven his comedic ability previously before this, but he is in top-notch form here. Not so much a shock to see him score so many laughs, but it was refreshing to see his character with a fair amount of heft. His character allows for more connection with the audience, as many have been there at some point in time.

Channing Tatum is the real revelation in the film from a comedic standpoint. He gets many great lines and serves them up with exceptional delivery. He is really shaping as a versatile guy in Hollywood, something I never would have thought possible during his roles in Coach Carter and Step Up. As a duo, their chemistry was infectious and appeared natural, which is a must for buddy cop films.

The supporting cast is nothing to scoff at though. Rob Riggle, Dave Franco, Ellie Kemper, Brie Larson, DeRay Davis, and a few others bring humorous moments to varying degrees. But Ice Cube as the police captain steals the show as Captain Dickson every time he appears on screen. Based on a stereotype like Tatum and Hill’s characters, he is consistently angry throughout the movie in the most over-the-top way. His delivery and timing is flawless, and whenever he spars with Jenko and Schmidt is a riot.

As a whole, the dialogue and writing is pretty strong, if occasionally overdependent on the F bomb. For the most part it works more often than not, and it it pretty realistic of what is heard in most high schools. There were just a few times where it came across as a crutch, but it is to be expected with a R-rated comedy. What wasn’t expected in the way it was carried out happened to be the last third of the movie. Unlike the previous thirds, the last 30 or so minutes serves more as an action movie. Not that there is not still comedy to be had, but the tone obviously shifts and it is a bit jarring to see blood spraying and bodies dropping.

837048 - 21 Jump Street

More of a re-imagining than an remake/reboot, the film incarnation of 21 Jump Street is good entertainment through and through, bolstered by self-referential humor and a strong (covalent) bond between main characters. Maybe going back to high school isn’t such a bad thing.

Grade: B

Photo credits go to sonypictures.com, movieforums.com, & totalfilm.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson.