Theatrical Releases: Hot Tub Time Machine 2 & The DUFF
First off, a film titled “The DUFF” or “Designated Ugly Fat Friend” feels really offensive to me. Secondly, Mae Whitman is neither fat nor ugly, rendering most of the film into nonsense territory anyway. This reminds me of “She’s All That” where the gorgeous Rachel Leigh Cooke was deemed ugly and nerdy, when really all she had to do was take off her glasses and let her hair down and she became beautiful. Bella Thorne continues her slight rise to fame after last year’s “Blended,” this time, however, she’s the popular girl. People may be comparing this to “Mean Girls” but at least from the trailer there’s no comparison.
John Cusack may not have returned but “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” still recreates some of the comedy magic from the first film. After going back to the past in the first film, the sequel sees the characters thriving after cashing in on all the ideas that weren’t yet invented in the ’80s. However, when Lou (Rob Corddry) gets shot, it’s up to Nick (Craig Robinson) and Jacob (Clark Duke) to get back in the tub and save him. This time, however, they end up in the future, following behind Cusack’s son, Adam (Adam Scott). With some great running gags and plenty of one-liners, this will likely end up being another cult classic when it hits home video.
Kevin Costner has been in so many sports movies, it is hard to imagine what sports he hasn’t covered. Now, with “McFarland, USA,” he can cross off another sport, as he plays a track coach for a group of young Mexican men. Produced by Disney, they are known for their heart warming, against all odds stories. Mix in a race barrier and you get even more conflict, even more humor, and even more moments of heart. Costner seems to be riding that train as of late too, with “Black Or White” being a drama about the race barrier as well.
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, “Wild Tales” is actually six short films highlighting themes of violence and injustice in many different varieties. You’ve literally never seen a film like this. Outrageous and dark, the film creates such a humor in every story that it also becomes one of the funniest films you’ve ever seen. A plane ride where everyone realizes they’re connected, a wedding that is thrown into disarray by jealousy, and a car brawl between two strangers are just half of the tales told in the film. Despite not winning the gold, this ended up being my favorite film in the Foreign Language category.
The music of “All The Wilderness” alone is almost enough for me to want to see this film. But add in some amazing visuals and what looks like strong performances from Kodi Smit-McPhee, whom I’ve never been a huge fan of, and Isabelle Fuhrman (“Orphan”, “The Hunger Games”), and this becomes much more of a must-see. James (Smit-McPhee) is losing touch with reality despite meeting with a psychiatrist (Danny DeVito) and is constantly being yelled at by his mother (Virginia Madsen). But over the course of a few nights, he finds some new friends and slowly breaks out of his comfort zone.
Most horror films I am willing to give a chance and “Digging Up The Marrow” falls under the blanket as well. Yet another fake documentary about paranormal investigators meeting with a man that says he’s seen demons, the camera crew heads out into the woods with the man to prove that they exist. They are met by some very strange beings in the trailer alone, which begs the question what exactly is going on. None of the acting looks that believable but sometimes even really bad horror films are worth seeing, if anything to appreciate the good ones.
For anyone that follows the anime series “Naruto,” I am positive that this final film, “The Last: Naruto The Movie,” will be an epic conclusion to the saga. But for someone like me that a) has absolutely no interest in anime and b) have never even really heard of Naruto, this film is completely lost on me. The premise sees the moon getting dangerous close to showering the Earth with meteorites and it’s up to the hero Naruto to save the day. My only wonder is why they’ve decided to end this series when most franchises milk their characters for absolutely everything that they’re worth.
The underlying story of “Queen & Country” seems sweet, with young men getting ready to go off to war. One of them is just fine settling for the women that are interested while another young man sets his sights on his dream girl and makes it happen. Relying more on comedy in the trailer, with sergeants cracking jokes about sex and physical comedy landing with bonks on the head, the trailer does not quite highlight what tone this film is actually going for, with hospital beds and court marshals also filling some of the time.
The poster looks awesome for the horror film “Treehouse,” unfortunately the trailer does nothing to pay it off. Sure, the image of people hanging from nooses in the trees are terrifying visuals, but with zero suspense built and absolutely no inclination as to what the film is actually about, plus no star power or even running or screaming, which should always be apparent in a horror film trailer, this film, or at least the advertising, has completely forgotten what it’s trying to sell.