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Gavin Grades The Movies



Selma



Every year, when the Oscar nominations come out, there is a Snub List that comes out right after. It's where respected critics release the list of films and people that have been shamefully overlooked by the Academy for nominations. Usually these lists are wildly different since it's so dependent on opinion and what they liked and didn't like throughout the year. This is one of the few years that I can think of where every single Snub List that I saw had the same two names at the top of it; Ava Duernay and David Oyelowo - the director and star of Selma. There have even been cries of racism lobbed at the Academy for overlooking these two. Now, I'm not one to casually toss around the "r-word" but for the life of me I can't think of a single reason why these two were left off the nominee roster, sooooooo...

Selma is about the historical march that Martin Luther King Jr. led to protest voter inequality in the state of Alabama but really the entire country. It shows how the march was planned, who helped him plan it, the struggles he went through with President Johnson and his wife, as well the dangers he and his followers faced for doing it. To call the movie profound is an understatement. It is one of the finest pieces of cinema about the civil rights movement ever made and it is incredibly moving. There are several layers to human beings crying and Selma makes you go through all of them from the lip quiver to the full blown sob.

Most people don't know Oyelowo yet but he's been in films like The Butler, Interstellar, Jack Reacher and Lincoln but Selma is the film that is his crowing achievement. His portrayal of King is inspired and true aided by a stellar script that shows King as a flawed man who, despite feeling the sting of every beating and death in his marrow, still struggled to be a good husband and saw his followers as players in a bigger game of chess for the greater good despite the dangers it put them in. All of the heroes in the film are shown without sugarcoating history. Oyelowo is the star but everyone in the cast gives amazing performances.

There are times when Selma feels heavy-handed and flirts with being cliche but those moments are few and greatly overshadowed by its might. DuVernay has a keen eye for telling a complex story in ways that make it mass appeal and inclusive. This is her first feature film and it's obvious that she's in for a very long career. Female directors are rare in Hollywood. Black female directors are almost non-existent. Black female directors that tackle complex historical dramas are as common as Bigfoot and for her to hit a home run with Selma makes it even that much more of a tragedy that she was ignored by the Academy.

It's interesting that American Sniper, a film that isn't great but breaking box office records, is up against Selma for Best Picture (although neither will win). They're both dramatic depictions of history of America when she was at some of her worst moments. American Sniper had a goal to make you feel proud to be an American by showing a war hero without addressing the darkness that put him in that position. Selma didn't have a patriotic goal and is about a civil hero that tackles the darkness head-on and deals directly with the politics. Despite Selma being about a truly shameful time in our story (that was only 50 years ago mind you!), it filled me with more patriotism than American Sniper did because it shows some of us at our worst, some of us at our best and how much we can overcome as a country. How do you not feel proud of that?

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Paddington



When I was a teenager, I was forced to sit through a screening of a children's movie called Mousehunt. Within the first ten minutes I was gripped with the realization that, yes this was a movie made for children, but was in the hands of a director who didn't care. I had never heard of the guy who directed Mousehunt but I could tell that he was going to be a huge director one day. That guy's name was Gore Verbinski and he went on to direct the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, The Ring and Rango. Paddington is the first feature film from director Paul King and he also is going to be a huge director one day.

At times I wonder what Hollywood producers are thinking. It's like they are just combing through what characters and stories they own the rights to and say, "Well, how can we squeeze some blood out of this stone" never even thinking how relevant said character or story is anymore. Paddington Bear not only was created 57-years-ago but never even really caught on in America like he did in Europe. That may be one of the contributing factors for why Paddington may not become a $100 million children's film franchise but it certainly deserves to be.

Producers took a gamble by keeping the film true to the books and having it be uniquely British. The film takes place in London and features British actors that are far from mainstream. Nicole Kidman appears as the villain but her part is small. The principle cast is Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, The Monuments Men), Sally Hawkins (Godzilla, Blue Jasmine), Peter Capaldi (In the Loop, World War Z) and Jim Broadbent (Moulin Rogue, the Harry Potter films). But casting 34-year-old Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, Cloud Atlas) as the voice of the young bear was the best choice of all the great casting done. There's something truly amazing about his voice work that makes the bear seem so charming.

Everything about this origin story of Paddington Bear is adorable and I do mean everything. There are some cliches that you'll find here and there but what children's film is completely cliche-free? It's impossible to not fall in love with Paddington and the family that takes him in. There's very funny moments even outside of the Paddington Bear trademark slapstick. The script has moments and lines that are aimed right at adults in the audience that are British and dry but still very, very funny. All that considered, there is still one thing that makes Paddington an excellent film...it's Paul King's direction.

From the opening moments King slaps and smears his style of filmmaking all over the screen and it's wonderful. His choices of colors, angles, lighting, sets, editing...the list goes on...are all flawless. He's almost like a young Wes Anderson but without overstepping the style so much it feels like a fantasy (like Anderson does). It makes me look forward to see what else he's capable of doing and other films that he'll make years from now. Much like Verbinksi, King has displayed the promise of the next up-and-coming mega director.

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American Sniper



Clint Eastwood is someone that has earned the right to make whatever film he wants. The man has been doing movies since my parents were 2-years-old. He has won Oscars, Golden Globes and made some of the greatest films of the last 25 years. However, he's someone that I think critics and the public alike give too much credit when it comes to his work. I consider Million Dollar Baby one of the best films of all time but I also consider 75% of his directing resume to be vastly overrated. Seeing American Sniper after it was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor made me realize that the overrated streak continues.

Bradley Cooper stars as Chris Kyle who was the Navy Seal sharpshooter that was considered the most deadly sniper in US history. The entire film takes place during the Iraq War and follows the true story of a man who did four tours of duty voluntarily and had over 170 confirmed kills. Cooper plays Kyle earnestly transforming into a hulking, quiet, reserved Texas roughneck. His performance is good and controlled but lacking in evidence that a Best Actor nomination was deserved.

Eastwood actually impresses the most simply because he did this film. Way over half of the film is fast-paced action that shows what Kyle and his men did in Iraq. It's the kind of direction you'd expect from Michael Bay, Peter Berg or any other number of A-list Hollywood action junkies. Eastwood is an 84-year-old man who should be making nice, easy musicals like his last film, Jersey Boys (which also came out this year). How he PHYSICALLY pulled off making American Sniper is an impressive achievement but it's far from an impressive movie.

Remember the first time you saw Million Dollar Baby and realized it was so much more than just a film about a female boxer? That moment of surprise on the realization that you bought a ticket for a far darker, emotional and challenging film than you thought you did was what made it one of the best movies of all time. American Sniper teases us the entire film with moments showing how Kyle didn't know how to be a father, a husband, adjust to civilian life, admit the ugly side of war. You wait for that moment to come when the film becomes more than just a hero action flick and something deeper, more emotional and more important. That moment never comes and what we're left with is mere American propaganda that simply shows the awesome power of the US Armed Forces and the savage evil that is Islamic fundamentalism.

Academy Award nominations are tricky things if you see the movie after it's been nominated; you instantly hold the film to a higher standard. Had I seen American Sniper before it was decided that it was one of the eight best films of the year, I might have liked it slightly more or judged it slightly less harshly. Seeing it after the fact made me view it with a "okay, this ought to blow me away" and as unfair as that is, it's impossible to ignore. American Sniper is a fine piece of war cinema but it's a story that's been told before and been told better.

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The Babadook



Horror is a funny genre because there isn't a single example that is universally considered scary by everyone. It's true. I consider The Exorcist one of the scariest movies of all time but I know lots of people who said they laughed during the whole thing. (You could get into the argument that people who laugh during scary movies are actually terrified and that's how their body deals with it but that's a debate for a different time.) Because of that, I'm not recommending The Babadook for everyone; it is not a scary film. It is a movie that has some scary moments but is actually a massively successful story about grief, redemption, and the pain of parenthood that should only be watched by the open-minded lover of cinema.

Many people say that movies that try to get funding on Kickstarter all turn out to be crap. Well, The Babadook started that way and is here to silence those arguments finally. Because of its financial genesis, we have an extremely small film (cost only $2 million to make) that was written and directed by former Australian actress Jennifer Kent in amazing fledgling effort. Female voices are rare in horror and to see a first attempt be so well-crafted in every single way is so refreshing. She is the first of many Oscar-worthy performances that will be mentioned.

Everything in the film is creepy; the sets, the colors, the actors, the story, the editing, the sound and, of course, the monster. The film is in color but it's hard to tell at times considering how bleak and depressing everything is. All of that is because of expert design as the story is about a single mother raising a son with behavioral issues (either ADHD or autism) years after her husband is killed. I will not give any spoilers away about anything although every aspect of the film earns a discussion with viewers upon its conclusion.

The two stars are Essie Davis (the Matrix films, Australia) and young Noah Wiseman in his first film; both of which deserve Oscar-nominations. Davis is superb as a mother dealing with so much pain and suffering you can physically see it on her face and in her posture. Wiseman is so convincing that you get frustrated after meeting him for 30 minutes and can easily understand the daily struggles Davis' character endures. Their relationship is both heartbreaking and scary as it dives into the taboo subject of thoughts some parents have of harming/killing their problem children. Boogeyman aside, that's a terrifying premise for a horror film.

I have a warning; if you're interested in seeing The Babadook because you love scary movies about creepy houses and families haunted by ghosts, demons or monsters, this is not for you. There are a million other films out there that will scratch that itch (might I recommend The Conjuring). What The Babadook does is offer a psychologist's wet dream disguised as a horror film. Carl Jung has a theory of The Shadow Self. I won't go into it because I'm afraid of giving too much away but after you see it, Google that term and read up on it. It explains (what I think) the controversial and cryptic ending in a way that elevates the film from good horror to excellent filmmaking.

In the history of The Academy Awards only a few horror films have ever won. The Exorcist. Jaws. Silence of the Lambs. It's a genre that is easily overlooked and passed over when it comes to film snobbery, sadly. The Babadook is good enough to earn nominations and perhaps win Best Foreign Picture (don't panic there are no subtitles) but won't because of the narrow minds that make up The Academy. Despite having a 98% of Rotten Tomatoes and, even more impressive, my glowing recommendation, it will have to only be enjoyed by word-of-mouth and open minds that will accept a horror film that's hard to pigeon-hole.

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Into the Woods



Let it be known that when I saw this the movie theater was filled with musical theater people.  If you don't know what that is like imagine you're at the gym and it's nice and peaceful but then a Zumba class shows up.  They're loud, cheerful, singing songs, often dressed funny and are on a mission from Hell to make sure everyone in that room notices them.  That's what musical theater people are like.  I used to be one of them until I went to an arts college and authentic musical theater people sucked the love of musicals right out of me.  That being said, I still harbor a love for the musical genre a little bit.  Despite Into the Woods being one of the more popular ones in existence I never saw it.  I'm glad I didn't because if I had I'm not sure I would have wanted to see this movie in the first place.

The concept of the Stephen Sondheim musical seems like the stuff of awesomeness.  It's a mixing of most of the A-list fairytales into a single story where all their lives mingle and adorable songs help tell the plot.  Well, the first half is exactly as enjoyable as that lends itself and the second half is as unenjoyable as you can imagine.  Lovers of the stage show will say that I only feel this way because I want the happy endings and chreefulness.  Well, if you knew me personally, you'd know that that's far from the truth.  What I do want (and what the second half of Into the Woods lacks) is logical progression for characters, excitement, understandable interactions and consistency.

That is my review of the source material; everything the film brings to the table is very good.  It stars Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt (Looper, Edge of Tomorrow), Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine (Star Trek, Horrible Bosses 2) and James Corden (Paul, Begin Again).  All of them are great with Blunt stealing the show being someone more lovely than Kendrick which, until I saw this, is an impossibility.  She deserves the Golden Globe nomination and kicked her career up a notch.  Pine also is amazing as Prince Charming but that's to be expected.  I consider him one of Hollywood's unsung heroes that should have been an A-lister years ago.  

Director Rob Marshall, who made Chicago amazing but sunk the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, does a splendid job with Into the Woods.  Again, I've never seen the stage show but I can't imagine how any of it is magical or even exciting compared to what needed to happen in the film.  CGI and millions of dollars of effects were crucial in bringing this world to life and it certainly does.  He tries to keep it somewhat looking like the stage show with lots of simple sets that are characters walking around singing in the woods (it's not just a clever title) but most of what he brings to the table is epic in scale and it's enough to hold your attention for at least the first half.

It's actually a shame that this movie gets the review it has because everyone who signed up for the film deserves at least a B for their efforts.  The source matertial though seems to be a mess, so much so that I'm amazed it has as many fans as it does.  Because of that though I can imagine that this grade will be controversial and the film will still do relatively well especially considering the bleak Christmas movie selection.  And thank God Annie came out so that Into the Woods can at least say that it's not the worst musical to come out this year.

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies



Can you believe that it's been 13 years since the world was first dazzled by Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings saga?  So much has happened since then.  My wife was in the very early stages of dating me when it came out and I took her to see the midnight screening of it with all my friends.  I remember looking over at her during the amazingly action-packed finale and she was completely asleep.  I remember thinking, "how could ANYONE fall asleep during a movie that was so well-crafted and spectacular" (completely ignoring the fact that she had traveled 8 hours that day and it was 90 degrees in the theater).  It's still a point of contention in our relationship that she couldn't find Peter Jackson's world of hobbits, dwarves, orcs, elves and men to be riveting.  After seeing the final film in the franchise I can finally understand how.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit in 1937 and is only 300 pages long.  Tolkien was a literary genius but also had a bit of an ego and believed that one day his book would be turned into several films so he wrote 125 pages of extra backstory that he published later.  Sure enough, he was right and it's a real shame because dividing this book up into three movies that total almost 8 hours of footage is unforgivable and it ruined the entire series for me...at least for a while.  Five Armies is the shortest of The Hobbit films by about 20 minutes and it feels 20 minutes longer than the others.

It's impossible for me to blame Jackson or anyone in the cast who've dedicated three years to this and some of them, such as Orlando Bloom and Ian McKellen, six years!  This is entirely the fault of MGM Studios and New Line Cinema.  These greedy bloodsuckers saw money raining from the sky and Oscars everywhere after the Lord of the Rings series ended and it still wasn't enough.  They strong-armed Jackson into doing it again knowing that the returning cast wouldn't do it unless he did (look up the backstory) and forced him to do it by making him offers he couldn't refuse...so I guess there's a little greed there for him too.  What we're left with is an unenjoyable mess.

I know that some of you defend it by saying that the Lord of the Rings series was long, tedious and exhausting.  Yes, that's true but each film was based on a single book and had a beginning, middle and end.  The Hobbit, despite the best efforts to move content around, turned into three films that did not.  I know, I know....they're supposed to be enjoyed as a single story.  Fine, but if that's the case we're left with an 8-hour-long film that is impossible to enjoy no matter who makes it.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is punishing.  The entire thing feels like it's one long battle sequence that goes on and on and on and on and on. It's an absolute shame that one of the greatest film franchises in history has been reduced to this.  It's a 2-and-a-half-hour-long death rattle of a director that is exhausted, out of ideas, coloring by numbers and going through the motions.  The passion that existed in our first three journeys to Middle Earth has been sucked dry.  Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Peter Jackson couldn't even stomach Tolkien's books anymore after this. I haven't been a fan of any of The Hobbit films so when the movie began, I said to my friend Dave who went with me, "Well, we started this two years ago, let's just get this over with."  The devastating fact is that this final installment feels like Peter Jackson said the same thing to us.

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Nightcrawler



One of the hardest stories to write is one where your hero is a terrible person.  I'm not talking about a film that follows the villain as the main character such as Hannibal or Psycho; those films still have good characters to cheer for.  What I'm talking about is a true anti-hero, which is a character that lacks conventional heroic attributes.  The main character of Nightcrawler not only lacks heroic attributes but is devoid of all morality, gives new meaning to the word creepy and yet is completely enjoyable to watch for two hours.  It's an accomplishment that few movies attempt and even fewer have pulled off but Nightcrawler is now one of the finest examples of it.

Jake Gyllenhaal is one of those actors that doesn't get the credit he deserves, at least by me. Despite being absolutely incredible in films like Jarhead, Brokeback Mountain, Prisoners, and End of Watch I still foolishly put him in the column of guys that are too good looking to be good actors.  He joins the likes of Ryan Gosling, Colin Farrell and Chris Pine.  George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio all used to be in there and it took years for me to remove them.  Nightcrawler was the last performance I needed to also remove Gyllenhaal because he is disgustingly slimy and yet so likable.  His character of Louis Bloom is one that you hate yourself for liking as he does some truly awful things in the film yet always turns up with a smile that could kill.

The film follows a real profession called Nightcrawlers, who are free-lance people who spend the night listening to police scanners, rushing to horrific crime scenes, shooting bloody footage and selling it to local news organizations.  The movie suggests that some of these guys rearrange murder scenes to be more dramatic.  It's shocking but nothing new.  One of the most famous photos from the Civil War is called The Sharpshooter's Nest and it was revealed that the photographer totally staged the entire thing.  I spoke to some friends who work in local news and they're appalled by the film and say it's not accurate at all but regardless of the truth, the film is excellent.

This is writer/director Dan Gilroy's first film behind the camera and it's so good that I expect him to have a very long career.  (You can hear my full interview with him below)  His script is oringinal and provocative.  His direction is haunting and thrilling.  The movie paces extremely well for being two hours and never once judges you liking Bloom or influences your opinions of him.  It's a small film that feels big and I hope it finds its audience because it's Gyllenhaal's finest performance and given the career he's given us so far, that's a bold statement.



Listen to Gavin's interview with the writer/director of Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy:
 
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Horrible Bosses 2



Three years ago we all gathered in theaters to watch the antics of Nick, Kurt and Dale and laughed our asses off.  It was a very cathartic and relatable story about three guys with horrible bosses (not just a clever title) who were so bad they tried to kill them.  I loved it and so did a lot of other people.  I think I speak for everyone when I say that not for a single second did I leave the theater thinking, "I wonder what happens next!"  I'm not totally against the unnecesary sequel to a very successful film but it certainly does make it harder to justify its existence.  Horrible Bosses 2 is that unnecessary sequel and although it's funny as hell at times, it's hard to justify its existence.

So what is it about this movie that makes it so lousy compared to the original?  I crunched the numbers and I came down to two things.  One is a concept for a sequel that as close to stupid as you can get without officially being so.  The other is a change in director.  See, you can have two different race car drivers drive the same car and one can lose and one can win.  That's what happened here.  Seth Gordon directed the first one and it was his first fictional film; his first was one of the greatest documentaries of all time called The King of Kong.  He also directed several episodes of the funniest shows on TV in the last decade such as Modern Family, The Office, The Goldbergs and Parks and Recreation.  Horrible Bosses 2 is directed by Sean Anders who's movies are terrible.  They consist of Sex Drive and That's My Boy.  If you ever seen either of those you'll understand why I don't need to elaborate.

Yes, it's true that the cast of Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis (SNL, Meet the Millers) and Charlie Day (Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Pacific Rim) are back.  Yes, they're joined again by supporting characters played by Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey.  Yes, the new cast members of Chris Pine (Star Trek, This Means War) and Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained) are both great.  But despite noble efforts from all involved it's not enough to make this a really enjoyable film.

I think a bigger reason why this one doesn't work as well is because we were still kind of naive in 2011 with these guys.  Sudeikis and Day were new to mainstream audiences and they overlooked the fact that they're basically playing the same character in the film making one of them completely pointless.  Bateman hadn't annoyed us by that point but now his "Bateman" character he plays in every single film he does is just so predictable and unfunny.  Anistan is as vulgar as she was in the first one but the shock of hearing Rachel say filthy things is so tired at this point that her scenes go over like lead balloons.  The only shining performance that's fresh is Pine who swings for the fences and makes it work.

I understand that when Hollywood gets a taste of a good thing they want to suck from it until it's shriveled up and dead.  They've done that with Horrible Bosses.  It's a lousy story with witty dialogue only because the core cast is great at making stuff up.  The comedic tone and timing is awful due to a director who takes his playbook pages from Adam Sandler.  Massive jumps in logic are needed in order for all the returning cast members to be part of the story.  The whole thing feels desparate and needy despite moments of humor; a far cry from the charming and hilarious comedy the original was.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1



It's a rare thing when a film version of a book is better than the book it's based on.  I can only think of it happening one or two times.  I read the entire Hunger Games series and found that the last book, the one this film is based on, was the worst.  Maybe it's not enjoying a book that made the film seem so much better.  Maybe it's because they split the book in half and were able to include far more than they ever could had they not done that.  Maybe it was a seasoned cast and crew that's been together long enough that they're building a healthy stride.  I don't know what it is but I'm thrilled because Mockingjay Part 1 is the best in the Hunger Games series so far.

I was thrilled when director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend, Constantine) took over the series from the original director Gary Ross (Big, Seabiscuit).  I think we all agree that the first Hunger Games film was a let down.  The series by Suzanne Collins is so incredibly dark and he did a subpar job of making that feel dystopian.  But with Catching Fire, Lawrence gave it the edge and action the series lacked so badly.  It also didn't hurt that it was a much better book than the first one.  In Mockingjay, Lawrence kicks everything up a notch and that's impressive considering how slow and boring the book was.

Since Jennifer Lawrence has taken the role of Katniss, she's been nominated for two Oscars.  No doubt that she's kicked ass in other films but as far as The Hunger Games goes, she's been very unimpressive.  It's almost like she was giving us a performance we expected to see in a film based on a Young Adult novel.  In Mockingjay, however, she finally shows us why she's got a gold statue.  Her performance in Mockingjay is the most heartbreak and emotion we've seen in the Katniss character in the entire series.

The rest of the cast helps that along as well since the caliber of actor is at a peak for Mockingjay.  It's emotional watching the late Phillip Seymore Hoffman in one of his last roles because his performance is great!  He's subtle but delivers some much-needed levity and power to a story that often lacks both.  Julianne Moore (Children of Men, Boogie Nights) joins the cast as President Coin.  She makes the character a lot warmer than it read in the book and that's good because it's one of the many things that makes this far better than the source material.

Critics, including myself, have often accused Hollywood of bleeding books dry of every last drop of box office profit when they split them into several movies.  Sometimes it works as in the last Harry Potter book and other times it's a terrible and tragic failure like in The Hobbit.  In the case of Mockingjay, it's wonderful!  Letting this story play out like a chess game is exactly what it needed.  They also take the liberty in showing us things that aren't in the book at all.  I very suspenseful scene at the end is talked about in a few sentences in the book yet puts us on the edge of our seats in the film; and sequences of uprisings in other Districts are shown and are some of the highlights of the film.

I understand that some people may call this boring because there is downtime building up to a revolution.  But as someone who's read the book, I can assure you that it's better this way.  Francis Lawrence is making the absolute best film one can make from a book that let down most of the its readers.  His cast is committed to his vision and are executing it with precision.  Even as a fan, I didn't look forward to this and now that I've seen it, I can't wait to see what he does with Mockingjay Part 2.

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Dumb and Dumber To



What has happened to The Farrelly Brothers?  These guys were not only responsible for making three of the funniest movies of the '90s but three of the funniest movies in the last 25 years!  Dumb and Dumber, Something About Mary and Kingpin are amazing and never seem to totally lose their luster.  After that it was flop after flop after flop.  Shallow Hal, Stuck on You, Fever Pitch, The Heartbreak Kid, The Three Stooges...these are some of the worst comedies of the last 25 years.  A lot of people thought that a sequel to Dumb and Dumber looked desperate but, you know, these guys could use a little desperation.

First thing that needs to be addressed is that it's been 20 freaking years since the original.  When we first met Lloyd and Harry they were harmless halfwits that were bumbling innocents that tried really hard not to screw things up but did because they didn't know any better.  Now they look old and are still just as stupid but there seems to be a level of deviousness to them.  I didn't mind that as much as I did the age of Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels.  They're both in their 50s (Daniels in his late 50s) and it's sad because it looks like two autistic adults that have been abandoned by society and family.

The good news is that the Farrelly Brothers swing for the fences on every joke and when you do that you either strike out big or hit a home run; that's exactly what happens.  Most of what we get treated to are strike outs but those home runs make it worth sitting through.  Carey is back in the saddle and it's so nice to see.  Don't get me wrong, I love serious Jim Carey.  His performances in Man on the Moon, The Majestic and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind are so great to see.  But there's also something refreshing and nostalgic about seeing him acting like a total moron.  Daniels on the other hand always felt forced in that role but because the guy is so talented he makes it work.

The plot for Dumb and Dumber To actually works.  It follows the boys across the country on a quest to reunite Harry with his estranged daughter but end up, once again, getting tangled in a murder plot fueled by greed.  It's not Shakespeare but it's what you expect.  The Farrellys don't try to reinvent the wheel, which is good because we came to see dumb comedy done right.  A third of the time we get it too and that's enough for me to recommend people give it a viewing.  It's nice to have something where you can remove your brain for 90 minutes and laugh; I just wish I laughed a little more often.

The end credits may have suckered a better rating out of me than this deserves.  It shows clips of the 1994 film with scenes from the 2014 one and you can hear an audible "awe" coming from the audience when you see it.  Sure it's cheesy but I was 14-years-old when I saw it the summer before my sophomore year of high school with my best friends.  If I'm duped into feeling that age again for a split second while I laugh at the same two idiots that made me do it back then, so be it!  

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