Take away an early barrage of fawning, Guiness and G & T enfeebled Brit critics, and Neil Blomkamp’s insipid “Chappie” would have experienced the consensus slaughter it so richly deserved.
I loved “District 9,” and was enthusiastic about “Elysium” in metaphoric Occupy politics and execution. But this was, as I said in my review, “Excruciating.” Cutesie robot, carnage galore. It takes on “What the hell was he THINKING” overtones more than once. There’s a time-honored Hollywood law, I call it “The Elizabeth Berkley Rule.” Always announce your NEXT big project before a flop comes out. So Blomkamp’s attachment to direct the next “Alien” was timely and career-preserving.
Sony knew this POS was a POS, which is why they only screened it late Wed. Pity the Brits didn’t pick up on that. What a bunch of Empire Fanboys.
Perhaps French Canadian critics stuck up for Canadian Ken Scott’s latest team-up with Vince Vaughn. Probably not. “Unfinished Business” is an appallingly laugh-starved marriage of “Family Man” dramedy and “Hangover in Berlin” raunch — full frontal nudity, gay fetishism, all joked about, badly, by grinning Dave Franco. A nightmare. Tom Wilkinson saves a little dignity, Nick Frost, not so much. Vince gets beaten up a lot, unfairly I think. Scott did the wonderful “Starbuck,” it’s inferior Hollywood remake “Delivery Man” and the lightly charming “The Grand Seduction” (can’t remember if he did its antecedent, “Seducing Dr. Lewis,” also French and Canadian.
But he has no flair for Hollywood comedy, and Franco is an infuriating performer, a better looking Rob Schneider.
“The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is weak tea, indeed. They made Maggie Smith NOT a racist and stripped whatever other edge the first one packed in from it. It earned passing grades, again built on fawning Brit critics, who are to movies what “Top Gear” is to cars — jingoistic in the extreme.
“Buzzard” is an overpraised film fest character piece about a nasty, weaselly petty thief office worker whose thievery is matched with a delicious paranoia. Good, not great, but others were more enthusiastic.
“Road Hard” is a fairly conventional but nasty comedy about a cynical, aging comic struggling to get one last break. Or realize it’s never going to happen. I am not a fan of Adam Carolla, but I dug it. Others were less generous.
“Kidnapping Mr. Heikeken” is a caper thriller about the kidnapping of the Heinken Beer Kingpin, a good cast wasted in an otherwise feebly executed action pic.
A couple of docs of note — “Merchants of Doubt” ties Big Tobacco’s Big Lie tactics to the global warming deniers, some of whom used to also lie about tobacco.
And “A Year in Champagne” is an informative but dry doc about how the bubbly is made.