The Disaster Artist (2017)
When I first saw the trailer for this film, I thought it was just going to be just another James Franco and Seth Rogen disaster of a movie. I feel like James Franco is a very talented actor who has made many terrible choices when it comes to the films that he decides to be a part of. I think that he has this need to want to be funny all of the time, when in reality, he is a much better serious actor than comedic actor. He seems to not take his career very seriously.
I blame Seth Rogen for James Franco’s often wasted talent. The two are best friends and it seems like Rogen has sucked Franco into the world of stupid and crude humor. Sometimes it works for them, but usually it does not. Either way, James Franco belongs in films opposite heavy hitting actors like Robert De Niro and Frances McDormand, like he was in City by the Sea (2002). He rises to the occasion and does his best work when he is surrounded by talent. His skillset is dumbed way down when he tries to be funny and is the most talented person in the room.
James Franco’s little brother Dave Franco has followed in his big brother’s footprints. Dave got his break in comedy and often, seems more believable than James when it comes to crude and stupid humor. Dave is likable, but is only famous because of his older bro. Dave lacks the acting gift that his brother continues to take for granted.
Needless to say, I waited to see The Disaster Artist on DVD.
The movie is based on a true story about two unlikely friends who move to Hollywood to try to become big movie stars. After they fail desperately, they decide to make their own movie together to try to get famous even though they are in hopelessly over their heads. The Disaster Artist is the story of Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero and how they came to make the movie The Room (2003).
The movie was directed by James Franco and the noteworthy cast includes James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Paul Scheer, Jacki Weaver, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson, June Diane Raphael, Megan Mullally, Jason Mantzoukas, Melanie Griffith, Bob Odenkirk, and Tom Franco.
It is almost as if James Franco and Seth Rogen were sitting around one day, likely smoking pot, and they thought as a joke, it would be funny to make a movie about the worst movie ever made. Then, they went ahead and did it.
The movie The Room, The Disaster Artist is about the making of, has become a cult classic and apparently, widely known as one of the worst movies ever made. Ironically, The Disaster Artist won some awards for mimicking one of the worst movies ever made. James Franco won a Golden Globe for his role in the film. Let that sink in for a moment.
James Franco likely would have been nominated for an Academy Award for The Disaster Artist, but has had some bad publicity about sexual misconduct, as of late. This is easily why the Academy left him out.
Like the title suggests, The Disaster Artist is a true disaster. James Franco’s character is unusually bizarre and humorous, and has a dreadfully annoying voice with a terribly bogus accent. However, after a while, the voice is pretty comical. He played his senseless character very well. I am not sure that is saying much though. James Franco delivers a grand performance of being awful.
It is a tiny bit weird seeing the Franco brothers acting opposite each other, but also likable. Because of their dumb characters, it was just stupid overall.
The fact that James Franco directed did not mean a whole lot in this movie. I think it just says more about how he does not even try to be good anymore.
The film was cheap because it was trying to be cheap. But, it was still cheap and less than B-rated cheap.
Zac Efron and Josh Hutcherson both had fun cameos.
When Seth Rogen tries to be serious, it does not work. Serious is out of his league and his desperate attempt to mask this, bleeds through. This makes his character less believable and therefore takes away from the film.
It is worth noting that Dave Franco and Seth Rogen have been in 5 movies together and James Franco and Seth Rogen have made 6 movies together, excluding television and documentaries. This is not similar to Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn getting cast together often because it works. This is more like Adam Sandler getting his buddies together to make a comedy to pay the bills. It gets old and worn out. Still, I think it would be fun to watch the Franco Brothers get together and make a serious movie as a way to try again.
Once again, for James Franco, the talent is there, but he just does not channel it into the right work. The Disaster Artist is in fact, a misadventure full of squandered talent and wasted time. Is it skill to duplicate a train wreck and the whole process of a train wreck? Not in my book. It is entertaining at times, however.
I rate this movie a 3 on a scale of 1-10.
Here is a list movies that I recommend that are better than this one:
Ed Wood (1994)
City by the Sea (2002)
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising (2016)
127 Hours (2010)
Tropic Thunder (2008)
Get Shorty (1995)
The Aviator (2004)
This is the End (2013)
When you get a cast together that includes James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson, you just know that you are in for a raunchfest. The rest of the cast were basically all cameo appearances and they included Channing Tatum, Emma Watson, Paul Rudd, Michael Cera, Mindy Kaling, Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, David Krumholtz, Chritopher Mintz-Plasse, Jason Segel, Rihanna and The Backstreet Boys.
Seth Rogen basically took a page from Adam Sandler’s book and got all of his buddies together and decided to make a comedy about the end of the world. Arguably Sandler has been doing this at least once a year, but his movies lately have been making you wish that it was the end of the world.
Each actor plays themselves in This Is the End. They all go over to James Franco’s house for a party. The rapture crashes their shindig and they are forced to stay holed up in Franco’s house trying to survive.
The film started out a little stale and immediately I was worried that it was going to be a complete disappointment. Eventually the god of laughter smiled upon me and I found myself convulsing with amusement. However, it seemed like I was simply having laughing spells. The movie would be really funny and then it would get too cheesy and stupid and then funny again. The Comedy seemed to cycle through all types of humor. Sometimes it was hilarious and other times, not so much. It was crude, crass, vulgar, stupid, tasteless, and just plain dumb. Sometimes these things worked and sometimes they didn’t.
Overall the movie was too inconsistent. After a while, the inconsistency caused the film to drag on. The humor dissolved and all that remained was tacky stupidity. I did have a good time laughing while it lasted.
I rate this movie a 6 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Rent.
The Iceman (2012)
The Iceman is the chilling true story of one of the most famous contract killers named Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon). He was known as “The Iceman.” Kuklinski was believed to have killed at least over 100 people. He had ties to the mob and he had his family convinced that he was a businessman.
The movie is directed by Ariel Vromen.
This is another limited release movie with a huge cast that also includes Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, Robert Davi, David Schwimmer, John Ventimiglia, Danny A. Abeckaser, James Franco, and Stephen Dorff.
Why does a movie like this have such limited release? The only answer that I can think of is that a film about a real-life serial killer is not a topic that would be popular to the general public. We all know that is not true with all of the hardcore violence in movies and television these days. So, the question still remains and I don’t have a real answer for it.
I knew absolutely nothing at all about “The Iceman” before watching The Iceman with the exception that he was a real hit-man at one point in time, and I had seen the trailer for the movie. What I learned about the guy from the movie was creepy and insane. It kind of makes me want to read the book that the movie was based off of written by Anthony Bruno called “The Iceman: The True Story of a Cold-Blooded Killer.”
Michael Shannon has been a wonderful character actor ever since his first film appearance in Groundhog Day (1993). In more recent years he has successfully made the transition to making movies as an awesome main character. This trend started when he made Take Shelter (2011). In The Iceman Shannon is electrifying. His performance is nothing short of deserving Oscar gold. He was extremely convincing as a stone-cold murdering lunatic with a love for his family.
Chris Evans was unrecognizable at first, but very entertaining.
Winona Ryder made a big comeback in Black Swan (2010). In The Iceman, I think that she successfully clinched her comeback into the spotlight. She brought talent to the movie not seen out of her since the 90s. Dare I say another person from this film deserves an Oscar? She should at least be nominated.
I would say that 2012 is the year that Ray Liotta died as an actor and then was resurrected. He looked and acted like death in the unwatchable Killing Them Softly (2012). He was resurrected in The Place Beyond the Pines (2012) and he became his old bad-tempered self again in The Iceman.
The rest of the cast was there to put all of the pieces of this true serial killer story together.
As expected, the movie was brutally violent and loaded with f-bombs. What I did not expect was the strong presence that each of the main characters had on screen. They each did an outstanding job in becoming the real people that they were playing and telling their terrible story on film. Their performances made the movie powerful and worth watching.
I think that it is worth tracking down a theatre that is actually playing this movie and checking it out for yourself, that is, if you are a fan of true crime films.
I rate this movie a 9 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
Oz is bursting with great visuals and powerful special effects so stunning that they are beautiful works of art by themselves. The film is full of crisp, vibrant colors that help to contribute in transporting you to another world; the Land of Oz to be exact.
Upon hearing rumors many months ago that this movie was going into production, I was extremely skeptical. Why doesn’t Hollywood leave well enough alone? Why do they insist on fixing something that is not broken? The original film (The Wizard of Oz (1939) is a timeless classic. It is one of the most famous and beloved movies ever made. Even 74 years later, the film could never be made better. Why try to even compete?
I found out that this new movie was going to be a prequel. I was still just as skeptical. I forgot about it for a while until I finally saw a preview for it. The preview was intriguing enough for me to want to see it.
Oz the Great and Powerful was very tastefully written and filmed. It did not try to compete with the original, and it never could. I was impressed by how the Land of Oz was recreated. No, it was not the same as the Oz that we all know and love, but it was a nice tribute to that Oz. The scenes in black and white were reminiscent to the scenes in Kansas that we all grew up watching. Not the same, but entertaining to watch.
The movie was a fun take on what happened in Oz before Dorothy got there. It tells the tale of how Oz himself ended up there. You get to see how the wicked witch became wicked and who her sister was long before she gets a house dropped on her. Glinda the good witch is there and so are the munchkins.
The movie is filled with capable actors like James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, Michelle Williams, Zach Braff, Bill Cobbs, Tony Cox, Bruce Campbell, and Ted Raimi. They all give decent, likable performances. Nobody really stands out, but that’s okay.
I can’t imagine how much pressure Sam Raimi was under when he directed this movie. There are big shoes that he could never fill.
The film does not try to intertwine with the original and that is what strongly works in its favor. It is a whole different story and a whole different movie. If you don’t expect it to actually be the original, then you might actually enjoy it like I did.
I rate this movie an 8 on a scale of 1-10.
Buy, rent, or run? Buy.
Now You See Me (2013) (click on the title for my full review)
The movie is about a group of famous magicians turned bank robbers. It appears that the sleight of hand in the film will mess with your mind and keep you entertained just like real magicians are supposed to do.
The casting is a reunion of sorts. Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson are together again for the first time since they were teamed up in Zombieland (2009). Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are reunited for the first times since the Dark Knight Trilogy. The film also has Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fisher, Melanie Laurent, Michael Kelly, Elias Koteas, rapper/actor: Common, and James Franco’s little brother Dave Franco (proved himself in 21 Jump Street (2012).
It looks like a cross between Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and The Prestige (2006). Looks like it could be missing something, but maybe we will be pleasantly surprised.