Unforgettable: Movie Man Jackson

What will Unforgettable teach a person? Have a Facebook account, Twitter account, something. For Julia Banks (Rosario Dawson), everything seems to be fitting into place. She’s just taken the next step in her editorial career, moving to the sunny West Coast. Her personal life couldn’t be any better, finally meeting the man of her dreams, David (Geoff Stults), and set to be a stepmom to his daughter, Lily (Isabella Kai Rice).

Julia has an unfortunate past that she’s managed to put behind her. If only others, such as David’s ex-wife Tessa (Katherine Heigl) could possess her resolve. Instead, Tessa seems consumed with trying to win David back and disparage his new flame (often subtly) at every opportunity. This suburbia ain’t big enough for the three of them.

As I’ve stated before, one of my guilty pleasure film subgenres is that of the psycholover-ex thriller variety. Most never do reach the heights of, say Fatal Attraction or Play Misty for Me, but they can be—sometimes—enjoyable and ridiculous diversions. Well, except for The Boy Next Door, and now, Unforgettable.

There’s an unofficial theory that yours truly has subscribed to when it comes to what makes these types of these movies successful, or at least worthy enough of a Saturday afternoon Oxygen/Lifetime view. It all comes down to the individual playing the antagonist, and how adept they are at playing crazy. Are they easy to buy as being bonkers? Do they find that early movie sweet spot where there’s something just a bit off about them, but still feel enough like a real person and not a caricature?

Being the antagonist in Unforgettable, this pressure falls unto Katherine Heigl to make this fun and…ahem…unforgettable. Sadly, she will not get a gold star for her work here. Not all of the failure in making this enjoyable falls at her feet, as some of the dialogue is tough for any actress to deliver confidently. But for most of the runtime, Heigl comes off more as a spoiled, privileged, word that rhymes with “witch” as opposed to a terrifying psychopath. And she does nothing memorable to try to be dynamic.

As a result, Unforgettable quickly becomes a dull affair with the typical moments befitting a film like this, with the only slight difference in storytelling being an in media res start from first-time feature director Denise Di Novi (producer of Edward Scissorhands and Crazy.Stupid.Love). It would be one thing if the movie and/or some of its stars recognized some of its schlock and just went with it (à la The Perfect Guy and Michael Ealy), but everything is played so rigid one does wonder the point of its existence.

It’s a shame to see Rosario Dawson in such a tepid production. Still, she manages to play her role as best as she can, providing an adequate protagonist to get behind with a little bit of interesting character backstory. Her chemistry with Geoff Stults is fine, Stults being the average man who is laughably oblivious to just how insane his ex is. There’s the occasionally amusing line from comedian Whitney Cummings, but by and large, characters do and say exactly what you think they would, which gives everything a overly mechanical feeling.

What does Unforgettable even mean in the context of this film? Not sure, but outside of it, it’s a horrid title. Even removing the “un” and calling this Forgettable is probably being too nice.

D-

Photo credits go to collider.com, dailymotion.com, and etonline.com.

Follow MMJ @MovieManJackson

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The LEGO Batman Movie: Movie Man Jackson

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Shamone!  In Gotham City, of course, resides Bruce Wayne, aka Batman (Will Arnett). As he’s done for the past 78 or so years, the Caped Crusader defends his city from all of its evil-doers, most notably The Joker (Zach Galifianakis). Despite always “beating” Joker and the rest of Gotham’s criminal denizens, Batman has never fully eradicated, or lessened the city’s crime.

Perhaps it’s because he always works alone. When new police commissioner Barbara Gordon proposes a plan to reduce crime that involves Batman working with the community, he balks. But as The Joker crafts a plan to unleash all of Gotham’s worst at once (and command R-E-S-P-E-C-T) from Batman, The Dark Knight may have to learn how to work together with a team to save the day again.

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Deadpool for a PG-crowd? Not entirely, but The Lego Batman Movie does share some of the same self-referential tone that last year’s movie possessed, not taking itself too seriously and making light of comic book conventions, often to hilarious levels. Heck, it even features fourth-wall breaking beginning and end credit sequences. Overall, it’s a whimsical and all-ages pleasing type of watch.

Lego Batman not only captures all ages, but almost all fans who fall on every notch on the spectrum as it pertains to comic book enjoyment. Sure, the understanding of some jokes and visual shots here and there may lend themselves better to those who are immaculate in their Batman lore, but one doesn’t necessarily have to be a Batman fan to have a good time with this movie. The jokes fly fast, sometimes too fast to completely digest and take appreciation in, but that also means that little time goes by without someone laughing in the audience, lest yourself.

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From a story perspective, The LEGO Batman Movie comes off as the inverse of the movie that preceded it. If The LEGO Movie was ultimately about embracing individuality in a philosophical way, LEGO Batman Movie addresses the importance of teamwork and collaboration using Batman’s immense backstory to often amusing effect. Not a particularly fresh story, but few mainstream animation movies really are. The story gets the job done, but feels like it was written around jokes for a large portion of it. For the first and final acts, Batman’s full foray into Lego Land rarely bogs down, but a fairly significant portion in the middle of the movie does.

Still, the film is a visual treat to look at, even during slow periods. It actually is a notch under the impressiveness that was 2014’s LEGO Movie, if only because the color palette is a little darker (duh) and we’ve now seen it before. But consistency is important, and Chris McKay, animation co-director of the previous film, makes sure that the stop-motion continues to look fluid.

Stealing the show before as a side character, Will Arnett and Batman return as the feature character this go around, with an actual arc. Arnett gives stellar delivery at all times, never missing a beat. This is important, because the rest of the cast isn’t all consistent. Zach Galifianakis isn’t a bad Joker, and Ellie Kemper is memorable in a bit part. Ralph Fiennes is marvelous as Alfred. But some of the other important characters in Robin (Michael Cera) and Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) are a little disappointing. Feels like a missed opportunity to have some notable star power powering the vocals of the other key characters.

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Why so serious? The LEGO Batman Movie isn’t. Mostly fast-paced, light, and committed to its source material, The LEGO Batman Movie may lack in substance, but not in style.

B-

Photo credits go to geektyrant.com, gameinformer.com, and moviepilot.com

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson

Top Five: Movie Man Jackson

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“If you don’t have an audience it is hard to put on a show.”

Dylan, Dylan Dylan, Dylan, Dylan? That video may be funny, but for Andre Allen (Chris Rock) in Top Five, funny isn’t what he wants to be anymore. Allen was once a man known as “The Funniest Man in America,” and near the top of the movie business for “Hammy”, a punchline-dropping police officer grizzly bear. Even if the critics derided his efforts, he’s living pretty large via multiple sequels.

Living large does have its consequences though. In those moneymaking years, Andre has picked up a vice or two and has really just started to put the pieces back together thanks to his new, reality TV star & socialite fiance Erica Long (Gabrielle Union). As he has become clean, Allen also aspires to do more serious work. When reporter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson) uncovers more of Allen’s story for a magazine interview, it becomes clear that Allen is much more than a few funny lines.

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Sometimes trailers do not do a movie justice. Shocking statement, right? To yours truly, Top Five is one of those movies. Upon watching the trailer, it didn’t seem to have as much clarity as to what “T5” is about. To yours truly at least, while it featured some funny bits and accomplished comedians, there was some trepidation as to whether this was just a stretched and even non-existent screenplay with overly loud and cringe-worthy characters. Luckily, those fears were alleviated.

Top Five is top quality. It is first and foremost a comedy, featuring many uproarious, racy, and raunchy lines of dialogue in a dialogue-driven film. However, there are some very big and bold moments revealed in flashbacks that break up the talkative moments and may serve up the largest laughs. These did seem to run a little long, but this may be a personal belief. To spoil other reveals would be a travesty. While primarily a comedy, to label it sorely as such is to overlook what else it does well.

Just like how Rock’s character here mentions that he has so much more to offer than just comedy, so does this. There are layers present here that go deeper than just some guys clowning around, though that does exist in spots. About the only stumble that occurs within the screenplay is the introduction of a subplot with a key character that seems to be important, but upon further review, especially as the character goes through another reveal, it could have easily been removed without missing a beat. Putting on a triple threat hat here, Chris Rock not only stars, but pens and directs a film that combines its comedy with some real smarts and analysis as to what defines someone, personal perception v.s. public perception, the rigors of fame, and more.

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Honestly, it is reminiscent to Birdman in many respects, with the only sizable differences being that the aforementioned movie is a little more surreal and features more directorial flair, whereas Top Five is more grounded and realistic, with a lot more (too much N****s in Paris!) background music from Kanye West and Jay-Z, both respective producers here. Rock has gone on record saying the aim was to capture a documentary feel, which is present. Aside from these contrasts, the parallels between the two are mind-blowing.

As Andre Allen, Chris Rock submits his best performance to date. He moves the story forward with his narration (he is giving an interview after all), which gives the character a high level of connectivity without it feeling expository or self-important. When he needs to be subdued and somber, he is able to do so. His counterpart’s performance in Rosario Dawson deserves much praise as well. She has this look in her eyes that almost make it seem like she isn’t acting, possessing a very strong chemistry with Rock that is needed as many scenes depend on the two’s chemistry.

Featuring an ensemble cast from Tracy Morgan to Gabrielle Union down to Kevin Hart and others, T5 gives each a moment or two to shine while simultaneously boosting Andre’s told story. Even if they are minor, they all play a part in who Andre is and who is he is trying to become.

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Proving the 3rd time is the charm with acting, writing, and directing in a singular film, Chris Rock does a stand-up, celebratory job in Top Five. It should probably hold down a spot easily as a 2014 top 5 comedy, but the real surprise could be it holding down a 2014 top 5 overall film spot.

Grade: A-

Photo credits go to eurweb.com, screenrant.com, and youtube.com.

Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson.