Guardians of Galaxy (2014)
One Line Description: A mix of aliens have to join together to stop a villain hellbent on destroying the galaxy.
I am going to get right to my controversial opinion. I didn’t like this movie. Comic book movies are very hit or miss for me, and movies about aliens (outside of Star Wars) don’t really work for me. It had some funny moments, but that doesn’t automatically make it good. The aliens/space thing was a negative for me, and the story wasn’t that interesting. This was based on a comic book, but not one of the more well known ones to common folk. Not knowing that would have made me assume Chris Pratt’s character was a giant Han Solo ripoff. It felt slow, and boring, and the action just didn’t work for me. It was weird to me that Vin Diesel was paid to voice a character who only had a (couple) dozen lines that were all difference inflections of the same three words. Bradley Cooper did a nice job as the voice of the raccoon, but I didn’t find that as strong of a performance as apparently most did. I know most people loved this, but I didn’t.
This Is Where I Leave You (2014)
One Line Description: Four adult siblings are forced under the same roof for a week after their father passes away.
Based on a book of the same name (which my wife had read before we watched this), this one is a pretty loaded cast, including Tina Fey playing a (slightly) more dramatic role than typically. Jason Batemen is essentially the main character, who returns home for his dad’s funeral with a secret. His sister is Fey, and brothers are Adam Driver (from Girls) and Corey Stoll (from season 1 of House of Cards) . Driver showed some serious acting prowess on Girls and the ceiling for him over the next decade could be pretty high. The matriarch is played by Jane Fonda and she does a pretty great job as both the cause of, and solution to many of the kids problems. Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton and Abigail Spencer play significant others’ of the siblings, and Dax Shepherd, Timothy Olyphant and Rose Byrne all have roles as well. The movie is plenty funny, but also does a nice job of showing how kids are shaped by their parents. There are a lot of cliches in this one about marriage, sex and love. That doesn’t made it bad, it just means this movie isn’t anything special or life changing. It was a fun and easy watch, and is something that wives/girlfriends would enjoy, and most husbands/boyfriends won’t hate. Not an all-timer, but was worth the time.
Straight Outta Compton (2015)
One Line Description: The rise and fall of the hip-hop group N.W.A, the godfathers of gangsta rap.
The great reviews undoubtedly led me to see this one. I was not into rap/hip hop as a youth, or really an adult for that matter. But I do know who N.W.A was and I do know that their influence (both good and bad) is worthy of a feature film. Having almost no knowledge of the true story going in, I wasn’t sure how much of it was historically accurate (and based on some reading afterwards it sounds like it was a pretty typical movie of this ilk: main themes hit, but lots of shortcuts to make it work as a movie). But again, as someone just familiar with the story at a high level, it was fun. It was a little long, and there was some pretty bad acting at times, likely due to the fact that they went for look-a-likes and probably had to sacrifice a bit of talent to get there. It was awesome to see Snoop Dog and Tupac just show up in the story at random points, as well as a few other recognizable figures. The film has received some criticism for glossing over the way the group treated females, and it is safe to say that other than internal strife the group was painted in a mostly positive light. This will rub certain people the wrong way, but at the end of the day this was a fun movie. I enjoyed it, and think it’s worth seeing for anyone that grew up during this time. Plus the original origins of “Bye Felicia” are revealed.
# Dumb and Dumber To (2014)
One Line Description: Harry and Lloyd reunite and go on an adventure to find Harry’s daughter.
Let me start off by saying this was not the worst movie I have ever seen. I will even say it’s not the worst sequel I have seen this year (hello Paul Blart 2). But it’s also not a good movie. I have seen Dumb and Dumber a dozen times. It was one of the first DVDs I ever owned and even before that I had see nit 5 times. But it has been a while, and I wish I would have watched it immediately before this to see how the characters compare. The characters felt stupider, but maybe not to an extreme. There wasn’t as much gross out humor as I expected. The story itself wasn’t actually terrible, although I am a little disapointed 20 years later they couldn’t come up with something more original than basically the same general story line as the first one. Jim Carrey was at his peak in 1994, and his brand of comedy made the first movie very funny. Here it feels like it rides the gags themselves more than Carrey’s performance of them. There are a few story connections to the original movie, including the background for the main plot point, but overall this movie tries to do it’s own thing. It’s funny at times, but mostly it just made me wish I had watched the original instead. Glad I never paid money to go see this. Can’t imagine ever watching it again.