The Hustler (1961)
One Line Description: High stakes games of pool between a young hustler and a seasoned veteran.
Old movies tend to very hit or miss for me. Sometimes the way older films were made just doesn’t pan out for me. Most of the older Paul Newman movies I have seen (Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, Slap Shot) I have loved. But The Hustler just missed for me. Despite being nominated for just about every Academy Award it lost most of them (mostly to West Side Story), it just was kind of boring. Newman is good, but the story feels like it takes an abrupt and odd turn at the end, and often when movies do that it’s too hard to leave a good impression. The movie feels very much like a Newman movie, particularly The Sting, just something about the way the movie looks and feels. But it just doesn’t hit those high points. It really seemed to drag at times and the pool scenes are nearly as exciting at you would expect them to be. I had this movie on my list of shame for a long time, but it was kind of a letdown.
Drinking Buddies (2013)
One Line Description: Two co-workers constant flirting leads them, and their current significant others to a strange place.
Most movies strive to tell a complete story, including attempting to offer up as much of a resolution as possible in around two hours. Other movies try to just tell stories about interesting or funny people. Drinking Buddies was clearly trying to fall in the latter category, but just never gets there. The cast is solid, including the underrated Ron Livingston (Office Space). Jake Johnson is hilarious on New Girl, but it turns out when he tones it way down and is the only funny one, he can’t carry the load. I know Anna Kendrick is a darling in most people’s eyes, but her tiny mouth makes me uncomfortable and I legitimately believe she is very overrated. Maybe it’s because she seems to play a neurotic, uptight character in a lot of movies and that makes her unlikeable. Olivia Wilde was OK, but I don’t remember her from any of the movies I have seen her in, so she must not be very memorable. This movie definitely gets points for the Chicago setting, but overall it came up short. I had much higher expectations for this movie, but it was really just not that funny. It was by no means terrible, but definitely not great.
Let’s Be Cops (2014)
One Line Description: Two down on their luck friends pretend to be cops to have fun and impress women, but things go too far.
Another Jake Johnson movie, another very ‘meh’ movie. As good as Johnson is on New Girl he just doesn’t seem to be good in movies. When he has to be the star his schtick just doesn’t work for 90 minutes. Damon Wayans Jr. also seems to play the same “blah” character he plays on New Girl. You want to like him, but he comes off as unlikeable and almost whiny. Rob Riggle shows up, and then ends up playing the straight man for once, which he is fine at, but it’s like signing Mike Trout to play DH. The funniest role of the movie probably belonged to the small part of a woman whose apartment Johnson and Wayans use for for a stake-out. Some great jokes in there. Otherwise this wasn’t as good as 21 Jump Street, and the ending just makes me sad. Of all the ways the story should end for these guys, the way it does probably makes the least sense. Oh well. I wouldn’t waste your time.
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (2015)
One Line Description: A mall security guard get’s wrapped up in an art heist while at a hotel in Vegas for a convention.
Former podcast co-host Chris convinced me to see this one. We have a tradition of seeing most of Kevin James movies in the theater the last few years, but I was reluctant this time out. The first Paul Blart movie was horrendously bad. It seemed unreal that they would make another one. Jaime Mays seemed to have decided that she was better than a sequel, and she was probably right, so her character is written off in the first 30 seconds. And at no point does this movie get better. The first 30 minutes are excruciatingly bad. Kevin James, who has put back on all the weight he lost for Here Comes the Boom and then some, is mailing in this performance Adam Sandler-style. There are laughs, and of course James falls down a lot. And the plot is as ridiculous as the first one. But unlike the other movies in this post, I went into it with literally zero expectations. There was no way it could be worse that I pictured in my mind, so the dozen or so laugh out loud moments were a pleasant surprise. But I did want to walk out about 20 minutes it because it’s so rough in the beginning. If this comes on and you can’t find the remote, you could do worse, but do not go out of your way to find this one.