CGB Review of Joy (2015)

Two hours after seeing Joy…

ME: (walks into living room, sits on the couch in a exasperated fashion)
MOM: What’s wrong?  How was the movie?  You saw Joy right?
ME: (Tired nod) Yeah, I did…
MOM: Jennifer Lawrence, right?
ME: (Takes Fandango ticket out of my pocket) Oh, yes!  I saw Joy with (rips ticket in half) Jennifer Lawrence–(rips ticket again) filmed by–(rips violently) David stupid O’Russell–(throws shreds on the couch) with Bradley Cooper!  (Takes deep breath)
MOM: So…it wasn’t very good.
ME: (Stands up) This is the worst movie of 2015.

This is my review of Joy!

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Let me tell you what this movie was supposed to be about.  Joy was originally the true life story of Miracle Mop inventor Joy Mangano.
Then director David O’Russell said, “Nah, that’s not interesting enough.” So now Joy is a film loosely based on the life of Ms. Mangano (they never use her last name in the movie for reasons I still don’t understand) with the other stories of different businesswomen mixed in with Joy’s story.

The result is a clusterflick narrative, a projectile idea vomit, an overacted and overdirected story with so much going on that I gave up caring about any of the characters long before the credits rolled.

The Hits
Bradley Cooper, why do you keep showing up in my bad movie reviews? Do you think I like picking on your work?
The only good parts were the few and far between scenes with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.  They are the only people in this entire production who knew what they were doing.  The three coherent scenes were the ones they were in.
Before I go into Super Saiyan rant mode, I will say that if you grew up with a ridiculously dysfunctional family, I guess you might relate to Joy and her struggles.  If anything, this movie does attempt to capture the chaos of a quirky, yelling family.
However, if you are a person who has trouble staying focused, this movie will not be kind to you.  Here is why…

The Misses/Everything Else
Have you ever walked in on a conversation where the people involved knew what they were talking about, but no one was filling you in on the things being said, so you’re stuck and surrounded by competing voices? Imagine enduring this scenario for TWO HOURS!
Focus is an urban legend in this movie’s universe.  David O. Russell uses fifteen different filming styles in just the first act alone.  The editing is frenetic, the story is riddled with way too many leaps in time and there are two random dream sequences that come right out of nowhere and are never mentioned again.  Less is more, dude!
The dialogue is all trailer-fodder (i.e. catchphrases that are great for the movie’s trailer, but have no reason for being there in the finished film). It’s not even clunky expositional sentences; it’s just a random collection of words that no one would ever say in real life.
All right, I’m going to say what every other reviewer has said: Jennifer Lawrence is too young to be playing a divorcee with young children.  She is playing a woman who invented the Miracle Mop in her mid-30’s.  Jennifer Lawrence is unable to give a fleshed-out performance because every other actor around her seems to have guzzled down eighteen cups of coffee before coming on set and are suffocating the screen with over-the-top performances.
Joy’s family is insufferable to watch.  Robert de Niro is the despicably selfish father who berates his ex-wife in front of his grandchildren, Virginia Madsen is the weak, TV-obsessed mother who never once asks Joy, whose roof she is living under, “Hey, can I help you out in any way?” Joy’s sister Peggy, played by Elisabeth Rohm, is annoyingly bitter.  Not once do any of these unlikable people get their coumppence or rise above their flaws to band together as a family.
One more thing: Joy has two young children and she is wonderful to her daughter Christie, but basically ignores her son Tommy.  Now I’m not a mother myself, but I was getting pretty mad at Joy for casting her young son off to the side with no explanation.

This movie was practically begging me to walk out on it, but I said, “No. I’m going to stick with it.  It has to get better.  It just has to…”
To my dismay, it never did.

This being Bradley’s third strike (see my reviews for Aloha and Burnt) and Jennifer’s first strike, it is with a heavy heart and a pounding migraine that I cast Joy into the nether regions of atrocious cinema.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to heal my brain by seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens (a good movie) for a second time.

Saint Elizabeth of Portugal, pray for us.

CGB Review of Pixels (2015)

I now understand why so many people hate this movie.

This is my review of Pixels!

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In Pixels, Sam Brenner (Adam Sandler) is a former video game champion turned home-theater installer who gets involved in a war between planet Earth and aliens who have misinterpreted video feeds of classic arcade games as a declaration of war.
I remember the wave of scatching reviews that came out after the movie opened.  If you go on Rotten Tomatoes and type in “Pixels,” you will see its 17% score and a plethora of negative reviews.
So is it really 17% awful?  Well, yes and no.  I say this because Pixels is the boring kind of bad.
At least with Aloha, Pan and Fant4stic Four, I had a plethora of grievances to rant about.  Those movies made me mad and were painful to sit through, but they were never boring.

The biggest problem with this film is that the main characters should have been children.  Take out the military and Kevin James being President of the United States (yes, that is a thing that happens) and just have four twelve-year olds instead of forty-somethings going up against pixelated antagonists.   Sure, it would feel like “The Goonies” crossed with “Super Mario Brothers,” but I have a feeling that it would be a far better movie than this.
However, if the script demands that the main characters be adults, then they should have been YouTube Let’s-Players or, at the very least, professional video game players.  It shouldn’t be too hard to create characters based off of real life Let’s-Players like Markiplier and PewDiePie.  This would make the characters feel more modern and less insulting to gamers. Instead Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Josh Gad and Peter Dinklage are all annoying nerd stereotypes of what people think gamers are.
The reason Pixels is boring is because the “comedy” is stale.  With the exception of one or two jokes that got me to chuckle, the majority of the comedy is misplaced.  Look, Mr. Sandler, having a nine-year old boy casually talk about how his father cheated on his mother with a nineteen-year old yoga instructer and has since left the family is not funny.  If Pixels was written as a dark comedy, then I could see the humor, but this is a bouncy, slapstick adventure, so jokes about serious subjects aren’t going to work.

Between this and “The Cobbler,” I think I’ve figured out why current Adam Sandler movies don’t work.  It is because all of his movies are concepts, not fleshed-out stories.  When you are planning out a story, your concept is the basic premise; “Pixelated characters attack the world,” “Boy goes to magical school,” “Monkey washes a cat,” and so on.  The job of a writer is to take said concept and turn it into a cohesive story with a beginning, middle and end.  If you have a concept and just roll with it without figuring out how it flows as a story, then you’re going to end up with Pixels: A sad and boring flick riddled with tired clichés and stereotypes.

CGB Review of Burnt (2015)

Oh, look, another CGB review of a Bradley Cooper flick. How many of his movies have I reviewed by now, five? (Looks through archives) Yeah, five, which makes Burnt the sixth Bradley Cooper movie that I reviewed, hence proving that Bradley Cooper movie reviews are a part of CGB canon.
This is also the second WORST Bradley Cooper movie that I have seen all year!

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Burnt is eerily similar to its even more abomidable cousin, Aloha.  Just like in Aloha, Bradley Cooper is playing yet another talented screw-up who hits rock bottom off-screen (we only hear about his past frick-ups through expositional dialogue), but is now working towards redemption.  He plans to open his own restaurant and he does so by recruiting equally skilled cooks to come work for him, even if it means SABOTAGING their own professions (Example: He gets Sienna Miller’s single mother character fired from her old job so that she has no choice but to climb aboard the Bradley express).  His goal is to have his restaurant gain three Michelin stars and all that jazz.
I’m going to be honest: I walked out halfway through this flick.  Bradley, I really don’t like picking on you, but you need to fire your agent because this chef drama is a dish served sour.

The Hits
Bradley, are you trying to land a villain role somewhere?  Is Rocket gonna betray Starlord and company in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 or something? That’s the only plausible reason I can think of to explain why you agreed to star in this lackluster serving of cinema. Bradley Cooper’s character, whose name I’ve already forgotten, is so despicable that it’s like this movie only exists to provide a strong case for why Cooper should play a villain at some point in his career.  There is one scene where Cooper does this menancing laugh, and if he were to end up being a Marvel villain or the next nemesis of James Bond, I could see him doing a great job.
The food in the film is very pretty to look at.  They’re colorful, well-crafted and are appetizing to the eye.  If this movie did anything right, it’s that it shows a raw look into the intense pressures of culinary culture.  Food critics, or michelin men/women, are like movie critics; If your food is awesome, the reviews will be ever in your favor.  If your food sucks, the reviews will kill ya and your restaurant will die faster than Geena Davis’ movie career after Cutthroat Island.
This movie has an awesome cast! I love Bradley Cooper, Sienna Miller, the luminous Lily James (she played Cinderella in the live-action Cinderella remake), Uma Thurman, Emma Thompson, Alicia Vikander (Ex_Machinia) and others. With a talented group of people like that, we’re bound to see some great performances….
If only this hope came to fruition.

The Misses
(Commencing Super Saiyan Rant Mode) The last time I walked up to my best friend and began telling her the history of our friendship was NEVER! This movie has no concept of how people talk. It’s Aloha all over again with actors approaching each other and telling we, the audience, their backstory in a clunky, unrealistic fashion.  However unlike Aloha, some of the dialogue is hard to hear. It’s the “God-forbid-someone-turns-their-head-away-from-the-camera” scenario where once that happens, there’s no way you’re gonna hear what is being said.
Why is it so hard for Hollywood to understand how to write an unlikable character correctly?  Difficult protagonists are made easy to root for if they either have moments where they put their selfishness aside for someone they care about or if they frequently get their comeuppance.  This movie tries to make Cooper this hip rebel with philosophies on food that make no sense, but I’m sorry–I just can’t sympathetize with a guy who gets a woman fired from her current job to come work for him, loses his shiz and throws a tantrum when under pressure, and breaks into an old associate’s hotel room in the first five minutes of the movie.  I love Bradley Cooper’s striking blue eyes as much as anyone else, but if he broke into my house, I’d call the cops, not engage in expositional chit-chat.
I should clarify what I meant by “With a talented group of people like that, we’re bound to see some great performances….If only this hope came to fruition.” Here’s what I mean: No one in this movie gives a bad performance and that’s because except for Cooper and Miller, no one else is given time to give a performance of any kind.
WHAT DID THEY DO TO YOU, LILY?  Lily James gets two minutes of screen time and then she’s gone in the blink of an eye.  Alicia Vikander shows up for a five minute schppiel and then–poof!–she vanishes into thin air.  Uma Thurman gets a good ten minutes and then good-bye!  Emma Thompson gets three short scenes, which is the deluxe treatment in this flick.  As for Sienna Miller, she plays a bland, watered-down version of Taya Kyle (American Sniper).  She is given no opportunity to bring the same level of depth and development to the table that she brought to American Sniper.  Lo and behold, I have already forgotten what her character’s name is in this movie!
The icing on the cake of incompetency is that the writing is on autopilot.  Things just happen with no rhyme or reason because none of the plot points are properly set up.  Cooper is double-crossed by another character because–potatoes!  There’s a suicide attempt that comes right the frick out of nowhere because–turnips!   There’s a weird joke about how Thurman is a lesbian who, at one time, got frisky with Cooper because–filet mignon!  In addition, the tone is off its rocker.  The first act is all light, cool and funnyish, but then the act two gets going and that is when we suddenly get drug dealers, betrayal and the out-of-left-field suicide attempt.
By the way, I walked out right after the suicide attempt.

After I stumbled out of the theater, I began driving home and had such a headache from the mediocrity that I had to pull over.  I wandered into Albertson’s and found myself in the fruits and vegetables section.  I remember holding a green apple in my hand, staring it down as I came back to reality.  “What did I come in here for?” I said to myself with a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face.
I ended up buying a case of water and some veggies.
Yes, Burnt is such a bad movie that I actually lost my sense of time and place.   The Albertson’s veggies that I steamed and ate for lunch were far more delectable than this badly-cooked film.

Saint Lawrence, pray for us.