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Comedy podcasts

Made Up Movies Podcast

My new podcast, Made Up Movies, is picking up steam! On Made Up Movies, my cohost, Mike Kolar, and I review listener-submitted movies that don’t actually exist! We review them like they’re real through the amazing power of improv.

So far we’ve reviewed fake movies like Chimp Patrol, the story of one man and one ape who must recover one billion dollars in stolen diamonds, and Unhappy Meal, a rip-off of Die Hard set in a Bulgarian McDonald’s.

You can find us on Apple, Spotify, Google, Amazon, or wherever you get your podcasts. And you can also submit your own Made Up Movie ideas on Twitter! Check us out, and please rate and review us if you like us!

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Movie Reviews Writing

Movie Review: Avengers: Infinity War

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In truly spectacular fashion the masterminds at Marvel have cracked the code of putting comic book action on the big screen. Not only does Infinity War capture the jaw-dropping visuals of classic comic books, it also captures the medium’s devastating twists and turns. Your expectations may be decimated, and you may feel heartbreak- that is if you’re willing to put your cynicism aside and let yourself be moved by nearly three hours of superhero carnage. I know it’s not for everybody, but for those who have kept up with the connective tissue between all these Marvel movies, Infinity War feels like a knock-out punch.

But of course it isn’t the end. Another Avengers movie comes out next year to continue the story left behind in this installment. Clearly the filmmakers wanted to ape Empire Strikes Back, but even on its own terms Infinity War feels like the definitive Marvel movie. Nitpicks aside- Peter Dinklage phones in his performance- this movie hits on practically all cylinders and is packed to the brim with so much explosive action and crazy cartoon cross-overs that it almost feels like the fever dream of a five year old. Most surprisingly, this fever dream threads together plot lines from countless superhero stories and crafts them into something inexplicably consummate. In that weird way that the Fast and Furious franchise inexplicably started feeling more necessary over time, Infinity War is the best justification for superhero cinema yet.

I urge you to run out and see Infinity War, even if your understanding of the Marvel movies is tenuous. It’s a litmus test for the power of these movies. If you can sit through Infinity War without a shred of interest in any of the plot lines, then let Marvel be damned. Curse it to the winds. But for the rest of us, this is paradise.

I cannot go forward without spoilers, so just stop reading now and go reserve your seats if you have not seen it.

(SPOILERS BELOW:)

Good riddance. Now we can get to the real meat and potatoes.

So wow, that ending, huh?

Pretty great. Thanos just chilling out, enjoying himself.

I have heard it before and I really agree: It’s Thanos’s movie.

Josh Brolin is barely evident. It is the story of Thanos, not some actor. Thanos is a kind-hearted soul who merely wishes to nobly destroy half of all living things to bring balance to the universe. Cool.

Steve Rogers and Tony Stark have a bug up their butt about that, so they launch an interstellar wizard / spider-team into space, then send everyone else to Africa. Thor asks a giant dwarf for help with a star axe. Nat fights interstellar warriors with judo kicks. The Guardians of the Galaxy are perhaps the funniest they have ever been, especially when Pratt and Hemsworth are both on screen. There is so much going on in this movie that it is almost an afterthought that Spider-Man dies.

Web-head is one of maybe dozens of heroes who die in the final scenes of Infinity War. Everybody gets turned to dust. Except for Gamora, who has already been fucking brutally murdered by her own father. Also Idris Elba dies like five minutes into the movie. Thanos is so scary that the Hulk won’t even come out anymore.

Everyone dies. Thanos warps back in time and kills everybody. Only the original Avengers and Michonne are left. But wait a minute- didn’t Black Panther make crazy money at the box office? How could they kill him? Unless…

UNLESS EVERYONE COMES BACK FROM THE DEAD NEXT MOVIE! OF COURSE!

And that’s why I’ll be there opening day, weeping and screaming.

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Movie Reviews Writing

Movie Review: Baby Driver

BabyDriver

The best thing going for Baby Driver is that it’s very memorable. Like a lot of Edgar Wright’s work the imagery leaves an impact, though unfortunately, the dialogue less so. Fans hoping for a return to comedic form like Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead may be disappointed by the lackluster dialogue, but it’s clear here that Wright is stretching beyond the expected to give us something a little more Tarantino-inspired than we’re typically used to. The music and camera movement are vibrant and fill the flick with life beyond what its paint-by-numbers plotting does. There’s a vibrancy the supercedes the average filmgoing experience and rewards the viewer with a bit of old-school sensory overload, though far from the bewildering spectacle of say Transformers.

The movement isn’t quite Cuaron but it’s a step in the right direction, aping the colorful musicality of the dance sequence in 500 Days of Summer while grounding the story in a bit more gritty reality. There’s still a bit of goofball charm here, and like fellow white nerd Tarantino before him, Wright seems to take great pleasure in scripting lines for a tough-talking mildly psychopathic black badass, here played enjoyably by Jamie Foxx. Jon Hamm and Ansel Elgort fill their roles finely, but don’t give them any added panache either. The real pathos comes from Lily James as Deborah the love interest. She is acting her proverbial balls off in every scene, seemingly filling in the blanks of her character development by making the romance palpable with her gaze.

The script goes from fun-loving heist comedy to violent 70’s fetishism at a gradual pace, but thankfully in a movie about a badass driver, there are few slow segments. The violent acts of the finale make up for some of the cliche dork-ery of the story. The blind old black man that Baby cares for was cute, but felt a little hokey and ultimately fell flat for me. Unlike in Tarantino’s films or Wes Anderson’s where the music feels like a character unto itself, here the music merely drives the plot amicably from place to place as the exciting action sequences ensue. Surely it’s no different than any other action movie in that way? There’s an added charm here that puts Baby Driver ahead of the pack. 

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Article Movie Reviews Writing

Movie Review: Deadpool

CHIMI FUCKING CHANGAS

Deadpool stands out from other superhero movies in that its title character is a raging weirdo. He’s not adverse to blasting through a bad guy’s head with bullets, and he has a rabid disregard for other people’s comfort zones. Just like in the comics, Deadpool has the Bugs Bunny ability to break the 4th wall and talk to the audience. He addresses the audience by looking at the camera or narrates with colloquial voice-over. Most of the story is standard superhero origin mumbo-jumbo, but when Deadpool is suited up and the action is piping hot, the movie hits its stride.

In terms of performance, adaptation and realization, Ryan Reynolds’s Deadpool is pitch perfect. The on-screen Deadpool is identical to his comic book counterpart in terms of movement, humor and unpredictability. The tone of the movie can be best described as violent, irreverent and zany, a step beyond The Kingsmen but not quite as wacky as The Mask. Reynolds delights in the role like a kid in an elevator pressing all the buttons. There is a strange seamless chemistry between actor and character, as if the humor of the comics was personally designed for Reynolds’s delivery. It almost goes without saying to praise Reynolds as there is so much non-stop full-force Deadpool voice in the movie that it nearly becomes overwhelming. If only Fox had given the filmmakers enough money to get Hugh Jackman as Wolverine we might have gotten a B-plot somewhere.

The story is so cookie-cutter it almost makes Wolverine look like Hamlet. But the humor is the real driving force here, so your enjoyment of the movie will largely depend on how deeply you know your comic books and how much you enjoy watching Reynolds talk about a bullet hole in his ass. It’s unfortunately an obligatory origin story, paint-by-numbers. Odder still, the romantic and body horror elements of the plot are treated with strange reverence when compared to the Duke Nukem style action sequences. I could have done with more tongue-in-cheek humor during these pseudo-scary moments.

The villain isn’t interesting, but Deadpool’s jokes at his expense make up for it. We’ve got a bajillion X-Men bad guys to choose from and we get this bad guy? He doesn’t even have a clear evil scheme. Stop Deadpool? Avoid Deadpool? Attract Deadpool? The movie veers off into giving side characters screen-time rather than explaining the plot. Then again, do we really need another story about a villain trying to blow up the world? It’s a straight-up grudgematch in Deadpool, and that serves the Merc with a Mouth quite well. There are some logical gaps overlooked to fit the film’s shrinking budget and ballooning insanity, but it all works in a screwball way. The average American filmgoer is pre-programmed to understand superhero origin stories by now, so a tweaked one is a welcome mix-up.

That being said, the jokes could use a little tweaking too. For as much of the comedy works, the screenwriters are fearful to poke fun at Sony and Disney, competing studios that also own Marvel properties. The film could have used its meta-humor to make broader satiric points about the state of superhero movies, but it chose instead to make jests at Reynolds’s expense. It’s self-effacing and funny, but it doesn’t have the same satiric edge as the comics or even The Simpsons. There is a sense that the writers pulled those punches and stuck to X-Men formula to keep the studio happy, which makes sense, but keeps the film from reaching the comedic heights of Tropic Thunder. It also locks the movie’s humor in sophomoric territory without the wit or precision of South Park. It’s more of a scattershot Mel Brooks approach. I’m impressed that the writers managed to give the film any romantic or dramatic tension at all considering how wild it is.

Deadpool himself sticks out like a sore thumb in the movie’s dour blue-grey visuals, and that’s perfect for a character trying to distance himself from the X-Men and their generally humorless heroics. Fans will be pleased that the film does the titular character justice, even if it spends so much time setting up his origins that the rest of the story feels hollow. Though its appeal might be lost on general audiences, there is just enough charm for Deadpool to coast by as a unique and memorable film, if not a particularly meaningful one. It’s worth noting that my friday night crowd was filled with too-young tweens and kids accompanied by their parents, in spite of the film’s gore and nudity. The audience was packed and roaring with laughter at times, so maybe for whatever reason, this is just the right place and right time for Deadpool, Christmas or not.

 

 

 

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CollegeHumor: Housemates of Horror

Click the photo above or THIS LINK HERE to see me play Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface in an all new CollegeHumor video, “Housemates of Horror!” To answer a few questions no one asked, yes, I had to wear the make-up all day, and no, I couldn’t eat unless it was through a straw. But damn was it worth it! I hope you all enjoy our spooky scary sketch!