OLD SCHOOL (2003)


Directed By: Todd Phillips 
Written By: Todd Phillips & Scot Armstrong
Story by: Court Crandall, Todd Phillips & Scot Armstrong
Cinematography: Mark Irwin 
Editor: Michael Jablow 

Cast: Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Jeremy Piven, Juliette Lewis, Ellen Pompeo, Elisha Cuthbert, Craig Kilborn, Leah Remini, Perrey Reeves, Seann William Scott, Rick Gonzalez, Simon Helberg, Matt Walsh, Artie Lange, Sara Tanaka, Patrick Fischler, Harve Presnell, Sarah Shahi, Bryan Callen, Eddie Peppitone, Jerod Mixon, Gregory Alan Williams, Rob Corddry, James Carville, Snoop Dogg, Warren G, 

Mitch, Frank and Beanie are disillusioned with their personal lives beginning when Mitch’s nymphomanic girlfriend, Heidi, cheats on him, then former party animal Frank gets married, but unwilling to let go of his wild life, and Beanie is a family man seeking to reclaim his wild and crazy youth. Beanie suggests that they form their own fraternity in Mitch’s new house on a college campus to re-live their glory days by bringing together a variety of misfit college students, losers, middle-aged and elderly retirees as their new friends and later try to avoid being evicted by the new Dean of Students, Pritchard, whom still holds a personal grudge against all three of them.


The film is funny and goes hard to a point, but when close to the edge it turns back at times and doesn’t go onto how funny as it seems or could have been but it ends up still funny enough.

As It seems to cheer bigger and better snd trying to make that promise but then delivers only halfway of what seemed guaranteed. 

Though it was early before more comedic films in the same vein did indeed go further and bigger. This might have been their inspiration.

The film feels more made for teens who were too young to actually get their own ticket for it and people in their early to mid twenties. Though the older one gets the more they might be able to identify with it or it’s characters a bit more.

Luke Wilson’s character is more of a reluctant lead throughout the film. He is traumatized at first but seems to embrace the party lifestyle. Then go against it. In the end he only seems to accept to help to actually help the pledges out.  Now hai reluctance can be seen as him rebounding and emotionally trying to find himself through distractions that he knows are distractions but keeps getting lured back. As it is easier on him psychologically.

Which might have worked out more if he accepted it initially full sail. See how far it went while going all in then helping the pledges at the end but also seeing his way out of the chaos his life has become.

For all the classic comedic moments and bits the movie belongs to Will Ferrell who steals all of his scenes.

This was one of the first movies where even though a supporting performance he truly lets loose comedically and not by a comedy or character of his own creations. Or concept. Showing all he needs is direction and a little freedom to let him loose.

Also it’s more his film as the film has Luke Wilson’s character trying to recover from a bad relationship but the film shows ferrell’s character trying to find himself after trying to be normal and caged in marriages which is obviously not him. his character has the biggest transformation throughout 

At first it seems like he is filling out a kind of Tom green comedian of the moment role. The same green had in ROAD TRIP as the crazy friend. But Ferrell’s character is strongly indebted to the story and with the other character. Whereas Green in the previous film seems there to do bits and appear either on his own or in a scene or two with other characters, but wasn’t really integral to the film or group of friends. 

Jeremy Piven’s character seems to let his look do more of the work as a villain. He never truly makes his presence or threats felt dangerous or truly threatening. He is also the main piece of the film that feels formulaic left over from an ANIMAL HOUSE type film. Though his character is what helps keep the film afloat as far as plot and conflict. 

Vince Vaughn here is really starting to get the hang of his more comedic on screen persona that seems to have started in the film MADE. Though the film gives him a nice character defining moment. When with a pretty young coed talking alone and about to get with her after a minor seduction. He gets cold feet and is nervous and blows it. Showing to a degree not only is he all talk, but actually loves and cares about his wife and family more than he lets on. He gets the reality of his fantasy and might just realize how good he has it.

The film doesn’t offer much for the female cast to do. Especially Leah Remini as it seems she is perfectly cast as Vince Vaughn’s wife. It seems like she will be sarcastic, no nonsense and wisecracking but to no avail as instead she is a presence and seems to be a best friend of Will Ferrell’s newlywed wife helping her get adjusted to marriage. So for her here it seems like most of the films’ female casting is pretty but full of wasted opportunities. 

This film is definitely a step up from ROAD TRIP for director Todd Phillips. As this feels better and more strongly structured. It also has a stronger story where it doesn’t feel as episodic. 

GRADE: B-

TWO FOR THE MONEY (2005)

Directed By: D.J. Caruso
Written By: Dan Gilroy
Cinematography By: Conrad W. Hall
Editor: Glen Scantlebury

Cast: Al Pacino, Matthew McConaughey, Rene Russo, Jaime King, Armand Assante, Jeremy Piven, Ralph Garman, Gedde Watanabe, Carly Pope

Brandon Lang loves football: an injury keeps him from the pros, but his quarterback’s anticipation makes him a brilliant predictor of games’ outcomes. Needing money, he leaves Vegas for Manhattan to work for Walter Abrams advising gamblers. Walter has a doting wife, a young daughter, and a thriving business, but he has problems: a bum heart, a belief he’s a master manipulator, and addictions barely kept in check. He remakes Brandon, and a father-son relationship grows. Then, things go awry. Walter may be running a con. The odds against Brandon mount.


This film feels like a classic Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer film of the 80’s. Where they try to jazz up a subject that they over produce and make everything about the subject wise, spiritual and artistic. A way of life that at any moment can bring life or death. The subject here… Professional sports betting. So it ends up being Much ado about nothing. Though it makes it feel like it’s important what we are watching.

Based on the true story of Brandon Long.

The film is so far-fetched, but at times wants you to take it very seriously there’s no real stakes. Though the film tries to make the audience feel like there are big ones. As there is no real plot. There is a story, but not much. It’s just ridiculous while taking itself so seriously.

I give Matthew McConaughey credit for momentarily at the time breaking out of his usual romantic comedies to try something that requires a little more skill. Before he broke out more majorly around 2012. Too bad this dramatic material isn’t any better than the films he was starring in at the time. By rest assured the film still finds a reason to have him half naked half the time. Because other than being a genius bookie. He is a workout fanatic.

Though it has plenty of scenes showing Matthew McConaughey working out intensely that has nothing to do with the story. It’s a nice character trait, though we don’t really need as much time devoted to it. Though I suspect this was a way to cross promote the film to McConaughey’s heavy female fan base

This is the classic formula boy is talented he is taken to the dark side under the wings of a hero. Gets cocky takes a fall. Fights his way back up. The only thing missing is he doesn’t meet a girl and fall in love. Which gives him his confidence back instead on his own. Instead of through the love Is a good woman. Here he sleeps around (giving us again a bunch of scenes for him to have his shirt off with some day player actress/model who matches him in good looks) flirts with his mentors wife. Who gives him the good advice he needs in a more mothering nature. Since it’s Rene Russo and she Is top billed I am guessing that is why there is no real love interest. She plays that role without being physically intimate at all. It might be also because Rene Russo’s husband, Dan Gilroy, wrote the part of Al Pacino’s wife Toni especially for Russo and tailored it to fit her perfectly. He even used Russo’s real-life sister’s name Toni as the name of the character.

Al Pacino plays his mentor in his unfortunately now typical overacting and distracting hair and histrionics in his performance, but still gets the best one liners. He is not as embarassing here as he can be in other films.

The way the film was advertised is like this was going to be the dramatic team-up we have been waiting for PACINO – McConaughey when I think of good, possibly legendary dramatic actors to star in a film together those names don’t belong there. More so now that McConaughey has an Academy Award and accolades and is earning a more respectable pedigree due to the material he chooses to be in. But at the time he didn’t have any of that. In this film at the time, I could see If, Pacino was matched with Edward Norton or Johnny Depp even Matt Damon. Who at the time I would believe would have turned this popcorn time waster down. Though it shines a point that at the time when 2 stars were in a film together they played up that fact. Now that more and more co-star usually in superhero movies it seems more expected or not as much a spectacle as it once was.

It’s a shame that I like director DJ Caruso I loved his film THE SALTON SEA, but he hasn’t really made a film as original or noteworthy between this, DISTURBIA and EAGLE EYE. This film seems like a day job for him. No excitement no enthusiasm not flair. Any director could have made this film. That is how impersonal it feels

It’s a film that would have been hot in the 80’s well-remembered and not know why they like it so much, but for some odd reason do. Sort of like DAYS OF THUNDER. If you were to really examine it you would realize how bad it is. This film would fit right in as It seems to believe and exploit what was big and popular especially the attitudes of that time.

The film does have a lot of gloss. It’s shiny and pretty. This gloss is The kind of thing that is used to cover up mistakes or cracks in something or to hide Certain things, like the fact of how bad this movie is. They try I use foundation to cover up its blemishes, That if you look close you can see.

if you must see it please wait for television.

Grade: D

RUSH HOUR 2 (2001)

Directed By: Brett Ratner
Written By: Ross LaManna & Jeff Nathanson
Cinematography: Matthew F. Leonetti
Editor: Mark Helfrich & Robert L. Lambert

Cast: Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, John Lone, Zhang Ziyi, Roselyn Sanchez, Alan King, Harris Yulin, Kenneth Tsang, Maggie Q, Ernie Reyes Jr, Jeremy Piven, Saul Rubinek

It’s vacation time for Det. James Carter and he finds himself alongside Det. Lee in Hong Kong wishing for more excitement. While Carter wants to party and meet the ladies, Lee is out to track down a Triad gang lord who may be responsible for killing two men at the American Embassy. Things get complicated as the pair stumble onto a counterfeiting plot by L.A. crime boss Steven Reign and Triad Ricky Tan, an ex-cop who played a mysterious part in the death of Det. Lee’s father. Throw in a power struggle between Tan and the gorgeous but dangerous Hu Li and the boys are soon up to their necks in fist fights and life-threatening situations. A trip back to the U.S. may provide the answers about the bombing, the counterfeiting, and the true allegiance of sexy customs agent Isabella. Then again, it may turn up more excitement than Carter was looking for during his vacation.

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SO UNDERCOVER (2012)

soundercover

Directed By: Tom Vaughan
Written By: Daniel Pearl & Allan Loeb
Cinematography: Denis Lenoir
Editor: Michael Berenbaum & Wendy Greene Bricmont 


Cast: Miley Cyrus, Kelly Osbourne, Jeremy Piven, Alexis Knapp, Mike O’Malley, Megan Park, Matthew Settle, Autumn Reeser, Eloise Mumford, Josh Bowman 


Molly is a teen who works with her father, an ex-cop turned P.I. One day an FBI agent approaches and wants her to work for them. They want her to keep an eye on the daughter of a man who is going to testify against a criminal. So they send her to the college where the daughter is attending. And she tries to fit in while keeping an eye on her and trying to see if there’s someone there who doesn’t appear who they are
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ROCKNROLLA (2008)

rocknrolla

Written & Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Cinematography By: David Higgs
Editor: James Herbert 


 Cast: Gerard Butler, Mark Strong, Tom Wilkinson, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Thandie Newton, Toby Kebbell, Jeremy Piven, Ludacris, Karel Roden, Jimi Mistry, Matt King, Gemma Arterton

Lenny Cole, a London mob boss, puts the bite on all local real estate transactions. For substantial fees, he’s helping Uri Omovich, a Russian developer. As a sign of good faith, Omovich loans Cole a valuable painting, promptly stolen off Cole’s wall. While Cole’s men, led by the dependable Archie, look for the canvas, three local petty criminals, the Wild Bunch, steal money from the Russian using inside information from his accountant, the lovely Stella. Meanwhile, a local drug-addled rocker, Johnny Quid, is reported drowned, and his connection to Cole is the key to unraveling the deceits and double crosses of life in the underworld.

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