Tag Archives: road trip

Review: Pee-wee’s Big Holiday

pee wee big holiday posterPee-wee’s Big Holiday (2016)

PG / 90 min

Adventure / Comedy

Starring: Paul Reubens, Jordan Black, Doug Cox

Director: John Lee


It’s been almost fifteen years since the quirky Pee-wee Herman took to the small screen for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.  Actor and comedian Paul Ruebens has had small roles as Pee-wee here and there since then but the quirky and sometimes absurd character has been on hiatus for a while.  It’s almost felt like there wasn’t going to be another Pee-wee movie.  Leave it to Netflix to bring an old nostalgic property to the small screen.  Pee-wee has come out of retirement…to take a holiday in the new family-friendly comedic romp Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, only on Netflix.

pee wee big holiday 1
via Collider

Were fans calling for another Pee-wee movie?  I’m sure there were some fans hungry for another adventure with Pee-wee but it’s hard to say.  When Netflix announced that they were making a full-length Pee-wee movie I was like, “okay, let’s see what they can do with it.”  Not so surprisingly, Paul Ruebens still has it.  Despite his age, he slid right into the role of Pee-wee Herman perfectly.  He’s got the goofy laugh and rocks the numerous facial emotions that will instill nostalgic feelings in any die-hard fan.  He even has the looks.  I swear Paul Ruebens just does not age.

For his latest adventure, Pee-wee decides to step out of his comfort zone and go on a road trip to New York City.  Perhaps the film’s biggest draw is the inclusion of Joe Manganiello who plays himself in the movie.  In a bout of destiny, Joe meets up with Pee-wee at his café and inspires him to travel to New York City to attend his big birthday bash at his penthouse.  There’s a big hilarious bromance that brews between the two that can get a little weird at times.  Paul Ruebens and Joe Manganiello seem like the unlikely duo to star in a comedy but the two work well together and provide most of the feature’s laughs.

pee wee big holiday 2
via Coming Soon

We only really see Joe at the beginning and end of the film, so the bulk of the comedy has its spotlight on crazy Pee-wee.  Since this is a comedy of the road-trip variety, don’t expect Pee-wee’s first vacation to go smoothly.  He runs into a female trio of thieves that kidnap Pee-wee, kicking off his journey with a bang.  Pee-wee also runs into a farmer who has a whole handful of daughters that instantly gain interest in Pee-wee.  Not to be outdone, there’s also a community of Amish people that welcome Pee-wee into their home.  Pee-wee’s journey is never uneventful and it’s full of wacky surprises.  He eventually makes it to New York, only to get himself into more foolish shenanigans.

Pee-wee’s Big Holiday has a short run-time, clocking in at about an hour and thirty minutes, but Pee-wee’s antics start to wear thin as the film goes on.  Nostalgia takes the humor for a good while but even that can’t keep it floating for too long.  The humor might work well with the younger crowd, but it just doesn’t work that well in today’s day and age.  Pee-wee’s brand of comedy had its time and place but I’m not sure it flies these days.  The movie has its moments that made for some genuine knee-slappers, but I wanted to laugh more…I really did.

pee wee big holiday 3
via Nerd Report

The movie’s production value didn’t really help its cause either.  It was from the film’s first moments that I instantly realized director John Lee was working with a slim budget.  Normally I don’t mind low budget comedies, but there were scenes were I just laughed because of how silly they looked.  There’s a scene where Pee-wee is flying through the air and yeesh…it didn’t look too good.

Fans of Paul Rueben and Pee-wee will probably enjoy the serviceable comedy that is Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.  It operates a lot on nostalgia for the character, as well as the bromance between Pee-wee and Joe Mangianello.  However, it’s a road trip comedy that wears its welcome and starts to burn out.  Luckily Pee-wee made it to New York before the comedy started blow it’s tires, because that would have put a bad cap on an otherwise serviceable trip.

pee wee big holiday score

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Review: Hot Pursuit

via Movie Pinas
via Movie Pinas

Hot Pursuit (2015)

PG13 / 87 min.

Action / Comedy

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara, Matthew Del Negro

Director: Anne Fletcher


A cop and a criminal, on the run from crooked cops and gun-slinging gang members in a crazy pursuit across the state of Texas.  If this sounds familiar to you, then you have probably seen any cliché action movie ever.  This time around however, I am talking about Hot Pursuit, a road trip comedy of sorts, from female director Anne Fletcher.

The movie puts Reese Witherspoon in the role of Officer Cooper, a by the books cop who has an “always on the edge” demeanor to her.  She is a socially awkward cop who has been relegated to the position of “glorified secretary” due to an incident involving a tasing of a college kid who wanted to ride shotgun.  She “pulled a Cooper” if you will.  Lucky for her, she has been given the chance to prove herself and set things right with a new mission, involving the witness protection of Daniella Riva, played by the Colombian actress Sofia Vergara.  The mission involves getting the wife of a famed drug boss to testify against another member of the organization.

via Showtimes
via Showtimes

Things start to go immediately south, as one would expect, when Cooper and a fellow officer arrive early at Riva’s residence.  An unexpected gunfight between two parties leads to the death of Cooper’s partner, as well as Riva’s husband.  This leaves Cooper and Riva on their own as they trek across the state, trying to avoid two crooked cops, played by Matthew Del Negro and Michael Mosely, as well as two gunmen.  It’s a crazy, but stereotypical, romp around Texas as the mission has to carry on.

A subtitle for this movie could be “A Tale of Two Accents.”  Witherspoon’s Cooper has a southern cowgirl accent that started to rub me the wrong way after a while.  It was largely annoying and it just seemed like the actress was just trying too hard.  We then have Vergara’s famous Colombian accent that seemed to penetrate some of the movies comedy.  The jokes involving her thick accent started to get old as the writers seemed to rely on it a lot as the movie goes on.

via Forbes
via Forbes

Another thing that seemed to permeate the movie was its lack of whole-heartily funny comedy.  The movie has a short running time that did not manage to impress with its comedy.  Now, there were some pretty funny moments, like the “baking soda” scene that has Officer Cooper jacked up on cocaine and the scene that has the two leads explaining their time of the month in the back of the crooked cop’s car.  However, these kinds of moments are few and far between, and the movie starts to slow down as the film nears its final destination.

You would think that the two actress’s off-screen tightly knit chemistry would pierce the movie’s veil, but their chemistry did not make its presence known.  Instead, we had to settle for some often forced scenes of comedy that often times led to some awkward scenarios, particularly a scene involving the two having to charm their way out of a sticky situation involving a country farmer.  Riva has to fake seduce Officer Cooper, which involves a scene of award mouth kissing and rather unsensual hair pulling.  The scene however is saved by Jim Gaffigan, the farmer that holds the two at gunpoint.  He seemed like a natural fit for the character.

via Showtimes
via Showtimes

Towards the end of the movie, we started to see some romance brew between Witherspoon’s Cooper and a felon named Randy, played by Robert Kazinksy, who the duo found in the bed of truck they stole for whatever reason that is not explained.  Kazinksy did a pretty okay job at playing the felon who falls in love with Cooper’s intensity, but the movie just seemed to shoot down these scenes before they could ever make an impact.  It is a shame that Kazinksy’s character did not really amount to a large screen time.

Hot Pursuit seems like a desperate plea to the viewers, wanting to receive laughs in return.  The movie had a couple of moments that let it shine, but not even the caliber of Witherspoon or Vergara’s acting careers could bring this movie up to a high enough level.  A scene from the movie that sums the movie up pretty well is when Riva is comforting Cooper in the back of Randy’s pick-up.  She’s telling Cooper that she has to be herself, and not conform herself to fit in her father’s footsteps.  She needs to be her own person.  It’s too bad that the movie’s writers could not heed their own character’s advice, because originality is nowhere to be scene in this flop of a summer comedy.

hot pursuit score

Review: Chef

via markitgroupmedia.wordpress.com
via markitgroupmedia.wordpress.com

Chef (2014)

R / 114 min.

Comedy / Drama

Starring: Jon Favreau, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson

Director: Jon Favreau


Ask any aspiring chef and they will probably tell you that their dream is to run their own restaurant in places like New York or LA.  It is like the final destination for a chef; their end goal.  They have to work their way up the ranks, starting as a simple cook in a bustling kitchen and working up to the point where they call the shots.  It’s a hard journey, but it is one that pays off in the end.  Chef, written and directed by Jon Favreau, tells the story of one such chef on this journey.

Jon Favreau himself plays the hard-working and prideful chef Carl Casper.  Things seem to be going well for Carl.  He is the head chef of a pretty popular kitchen in LA.  One night a popular food critic, Ramsey Michael (Oliver Platt), decides to pay the restaurant a visit; to see how good the restaurant actually is.  The only thing that is holding Carl back is the owner of the restaurant, Riva, played by Dustin Hoffman.  The two’s relationship in the movie is heated and tense, and provided some of the better moments of the movie.

via Fat Movie Guy
via Fat Movie Guy

Pride comes into play when Carl starts to read the review from Ramsey.  It is pretty clear that he did not have an enjoyable experience, and this starts to drive Carl up the wall.  Within days, the review goes viral and everybody starts talking about it on Twitter.  Carl does the one thing you are not supposed to do when it comes to Twitter, and that is take the criticism to heart.  His pride starts to consume him as he blows up on the internet, giving him the reputation of the “crazy chef.”  It is not a good look for him.  This leads him to one option, to start a food truck where it all began for him…in Miami.  It is a big step down for him, but it all makes sense in the end.

There is a ton of star-power that joins along Favreau’s side.  Scarlett Johansson plays the helpful hostess and often wise Molly, who helps Favreau find his true identity as a chef.  We also see Sofia Vergara who plays Carl’s ex-wife Inez.  We do not see her too much during the movie, but she plays a pivotal role.  Also joining the cast is Robert Downey Jr., who plays Marvin, who has had some past history with Inez.  His main purpose in the movie is getting Carl of the ground in Miami with a new food truck.

via Product of Society
via Product of Society

Two other actors who are not as well know, but provided some great performances are John Leguizamo and Emjay Anthony.  Leguizamo plays Martin, who is the trusted side-kick to Carl.  The two were in the same kitchen in LA, and when he found out that Carl was perusing his career in Miami, he dropped everything in order to continue his back up efforts.  Carl’s son Percy was played by Anthony.  Carl and Percy do not really know each other as well, but after some bonding time with the food truck, the two soon become best buds.  This was a very touching side plot to the movie.

The second part of the movie, which covered the adventure of the food truck, could almost be described as a documentary of sorts for a rock band on tour.  It had the kind of feel of a 90’s rock and roll behind-the-scenes kind of video.  Carl, Martin, and Percy take the food truck on a road trip, traveling to cities across the southern region of the US, while becoming more and more famous thanks to the powers of the internet.

via Teaser-Trailer
via Teaser-Trailer

This leads me to my gripe about the movie, and that is how it handled the “phenomenon” of technology.  It is pretty clear that Carl has no clue what technology is.  His son Percy has to basically explain everything to him, including Twitter.  These little scenes were not that bad, but the movie started to hit us over the head as we got deeper into the runtime.  During the food truck road trip, both Martin and Carl always seemed clueless when Percy brought up the subject of technology.  Things like Vine, 1-second video compilations, and even taking a simple photo on a smartphone was new ground for the two old-timers.  It started to get old after a while and I soon started to get annoyed whenever I heard Carl say “*insert form of technology*?  What is that?”

Chef puts out a lot of feel-good vibes.  Carl is tasked with furthering his career in food, while also mending his broken family at the same time.  Although the task seems a little large and unattainable at times, everything seems to pull through for him and things turn out to be okay in the end.  Chef might make the whole experience of becoming a famous chef look a little too easy, but it still manages to cook up a pretty fun and delightful story of man overcoming pride and working for himself.  And yes…I am going to say that Chef might not deserve a full five-star review, but four stars should do the trick.

chef score

Review: Dumb & Dumber

dumb and dumber posterDumb & Dumber (1994)

PG-13 / 107 min

Comedy

Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly

Directors: Peter Farrelly, Bobby Farrelly


There are may people out there that defend Dumb & Dumber as being one of their favorite comedy classics…and a classic it truly is.  When people think about Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, they often point to Dumb & Dumber as being the movie that made them who they are, probably more so in Jeff Daniels’ case.  The movie has a lot of quirks and wackiness, but it also has it’s fair share of troubles too.

The movie stars Jim Carrey as Lloyd Christmas and Jeff Daniels as Harry Dune.  The two are best buds, but they are also incredibly stupid.  It’s the dysfunctional relationship between the two that often provides most of the comedy.  The two are piss poor, but they are trying to save enough money to get themselves their own pet store called “I Have Worms.”  Truly a one-of-a-kind name.

dumb and dumber 1

Lloyd, who is a limousine driver, picks up a woman named Mary Swanson (Lauren Holly) and takes her to the airport.  It’s love at first sight as Lloyd literally almost faints when he sees her.  He drops her off at the airport and he notices that she leaves a briefcase on the ground before she boards her plane.  Lloyd notices this and tries to rush to return it to her, but ends up flat faced on the ground on the tarmac…with the plane en route to Aspen Colorado.

It’s Lloyd that can’t get her out of his mind, so he decides to convince Harry to go on a cross country road trip to Aspen to return the briefcase to it’s rightful owner, and perhaps get together with her as well.  Harry needs little convincing and boom!  They’re off on a crazy road trip in their weird doggy van.

dumb and dumber 2

It’s unfortunate that the story takes the backseat on the road trip.  It turns out that there are people who were supposed to pick up the briefcase at the airport, but no real explanation why.  It’s probably explained somewhere, but it’s apparent that the story doesn’t really matter in the end.  It’s basically just the device that strings together the countless gags and crazy situations that the duo get themselves into.

The humor doesn’t hold up as well, especially compared to the comedies of late.  Don’t get me wrong, the movie is pretty funny, but the jokes get old after a while.  The movie also has a fascination with “potty humor”, which makes up almost the majority of the gags.  It’s probably Jim Carrey’s signature maniacal expressions that he makes that probably warrant the most laughs.

dumb and dumber 4

The movie made me instantly start to look ahead to Dumb & Dumber To, the long awaited sequel.  It almost seems like the revival is doomed to fail.  Unless they change up the humor and make it more modern, I don’t think it will sit well with the audience of today.  It’s clear that comedy has evolved from the 90’s, and I don’t think most people will pay ten dollars to go see a movie like Dumb & Dumber in theaters.

With that being said, Dumb & Dumber is still an enjoyable experience.  Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels work well together, and the humor, even though it may be outdated, can still put a smile on your face.

dumb and dumber 3