Scenes I Love: Observe and Report

Michael Peña was, for me, a major highlight in the recent Marvel Studios film, Ant-Man. His role as Scott Lang’s former cellmate and buddy once out of San Quentin was the linchpin of the film’s comedy side. Michael Peña has had quite a string of very good work on the dramatic side of things (End Of Watch and Fury), yet he has also done some great comedic work.

One great comedic turn comes from the little-seen, but very funny dark comedy, Observe and Report. This film has earned a negative reputation due to one scene between Seth Rogen’s character and that of Anna Faris. But that’s a scene that doesn’t bring me back time and time again to watch this cult classic in the making.

Michael Peña’s character is a fellow shopping mall security guard by the name of Dennis Shavante and he’s sort of the right hand man to Seth Rogen’s bipolar Ronnie Barnhardt who also happens to be a fellow security guard. Peña’s scene in the middle of the film right before he takes Ronnie under his wing was one of the funnier monologues I’ve watched on the big-screen in many years. The follow-up postcard narration later in the film just became the icing on that monologue’s cake.

Here’s the postcard monologue to make it easier to understand one Dennis Shavante.

Dennis Shavante: Whatsup mo’fackle? How’s your dick hanging? Low I hope. I just wanted to write you and say that, you know I really am sorry for the way shit like went down and stuff, my bad, my blunder. I just wanted you to know that you really are my best friend. Problem is I’m a criminal man who doesn’t care and your crime is… you care too much. Regardless of our differences, I hope you know that I always respected you. It’s not every day that you meet someone who stands for something in this world. Anyway, no hard feelings okay, but if you ever want to party, just get your ass to Mexico, the beers are cool and the girls are wet.

Sincerely, your right hand man,

Love, Dennis Shavante.

Trailer: The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Here’s the trailer for the second installment in The Maze Runner franchise.  Did I like the first Maze Runner?  According to the review that I posted on this site, I thought it was above average but I think it’s definitely telling that I can barely remember a thing about it.

Hopefully, The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials will be a little bit more memorable.

Film Review: Southpaw (dir by Antoine Fuqua)


Southpaw features Jake Gyllenhaal as a boxer who loses his wife, his daughter, his career, his self-respect, his car, his house, his manager, his friends, and nearly his life.  But then, about 70 minutes into the film, he gets a chance to get it all back.  Well, almost all of it.  His wife is dead so he can’t get her back but there are hints that he might get together with a helpful social worker after the end credits role.

There was really only one reason why I was interested in seeing Southpaw and that’s because it starred Jake Gyllenhaal.  Last year, Gyllenhaal gave the performance of his career in Nighcrawler.  Gyllenhaal was so brilliant that you just knew the Academy was going to prove itself clueless by not nominating him.  And that’s exactly what happened.  Gyllenhaal was snubbed and, as a result, the Academy now owes him a nomination.  When the trailer for Southpaw first appeared and we saw Gyllenhaal as muscular and bloody, a lot of us assumed that Southpaw would be the film that would get him that nomination.

And Jake Gyllenhaal does do a pretty good job in Southpaw.  He’s one of the main reasons for seeing the film.  It’s interesting to compare Gyllenhaal’s hyperactive performance and sickly appearance in Nightcrawler with his work as boxer Billy Hope in Southpaw.  Billy is a professional brawler and you believe it when you look at him.  Not only is he huge and muscular but he’s got a face that has obviously been punched more than a few times.  When he speaks, he isn’t the hyper articulate con man of Nightcrawler and Love and Other Drugs.  Instead, he stares at the ground as he mumbles and struggles to put together the simplest of thoughts.  It’s a good performance but, at the same time, it lacks the element of surprise that Gyllenhaal has brought to his best roles in the past.  You watched both Donnie Darko and Nightcrawler and you knew that only Gyllenhaal could have brought those roles to life.  Billy Hope, however, is a far less interesting character and you could imagine any number of actors playing the role.  (Reportedly, Southpaw was actually written with Eminem in mind and you really can see him playing the role.)

And really, the entire film is a lot like Billy Hope.  It does its job but there’s nothing all that interesting about it.  Southpaw‘s biggest surprise comes about 20 minutes into the film when Billy’s loving wife, Maureen (Rachel McAdams), is shot and killed and you already knew that was going to happen from the film’s trailer.  After Maureen’s death, Billy starts using alcohol and drugs and, as a result, he loses custody of his daughter, Leila (12 year-old Oona Laurence, giving a great performance).  Because this is a sports film, Billy has to hit rock bottom before, with the help of a grizzled and haunted trainer (Forest Whitaker), he can get a chance to win back both the championship and his daughter.  Director Antoine Fuqua obviously know how to tell these type of testosterone-drenched stories but there’s not a single moment in Southpaw that you won’t see coming from miles away.

And don’t get me wrong.  Unlike some other films that I was less than overwhelmed by, I can actually understand why some people in the theater applauded at the end of Southpaw.  It’s an effective film, even if it does run on for a little bit too long.  It tells a heartfelt story.  It’s a crowd pleaser and I’m sure that a lot of people will enjoy it.  But, for me, it was just too predictable.  I like it when movies catch me off guard and that’s something that Southpaw never came close to doing.

A quick sidenote: Southpaw features the final score composed by the late James Horner and the film is dedicated to his memory.  If you see the movie, be sure to stick around for the dedication so that you can put your hands together for a cinematic and musical legend.

AMV of the Day: Breaking (Various)


It’s been awhile since we’ve had a new AMV of the Day. With con season in full gear it’s been tough waiting to see what new AMV’s come out of these conventions. The problem with finding new and interesting anime music videos, especially in the United States, has been the tendency of the same videos winning awards at North American conventions. Name recognition has become the norm when voting which videos make the grade and, in the end, win the prize in their chosen category.

Not saying that these videos and their creators don’t deserve the recognition and accolades for their work, but it does make finding new fresh voices and visual styles in the field harder and harder to discover. Foreign videos tend to be the last realm for people who are into AMVs to find rare gems in the rough.

This latest AMV of the Day is “Breaking” and by the creator Pat [AMVCON-2015] and meshes together some of the more popular and action-oriented shonen (and some shoujo) anime to the tune of Linkin Park’s “Breaking the Habit.”

Anime: Amagi Brilliant Park, Bleach Movie: Hell Verse, Btoom!, Ga-Rei Zero, Kokoro Connect, Kyoukai no Kanata, Madoka Magica: Rebellion, Naruto: Road to Ninja, Nerawareta Gakuen, One Piece: The Movie 70, Persona 3: Spring of Birth, Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji, Sword Art Online 1 and 2, Steins;Gate: Fuka Ryōiki no Déjà vu, Suzumiya Haruhi no Shōshitsu, To Aru Agaku Railgun S

Song: “Breaking the Habit” by Linkin Park

Creator: Pat [AMVCON-2015]

Past AMVs of the Day

Film Review: Hot to Trot (1988, dir. Michael Dinner)

Don (John Candy)

Don (John Candy)

Before I talk about the film, I need to make some apologies:

1. I apologize to Bobcat Goldthwait for reminding people that this movie exists.
2. I apologize to everyone for reminding them that Bobcat Goldthwait once had starring roles in movies. From what I can gather from IMDb, he did the Sofia Coppola and now works behind the camera. His movies seem to get decent reviews too.
3. I’d like to apologize to anyone involved in the production of the Francis movies.

This is about a moron who came across a movie about a talking horse that had bad ratings on IMDb, then discovered it was available for streaming and thought it would be funny to watch. Oh, wait, that’s my story. The movie is about a moron whose mother dies and leaves him a talking horse. This moron named Fred P. Chaney (Bobcat Goldthwait) works at a stockbroker firm. The firm is run by Walter Sawyer (Dabney Coleman) who really needs some dental work.

Walter Sawyer (Dabney Coleman)

Walter Sawyer (Dabney Coleman)

Let’s apologize to Dabney Coleman while we are here too. Anyways, Sawyer offers to buy the talking horse whose name is Don and is voiced by John Candy. Apologies to John Candy…and horses. This movie really is a blatant ripoff of those movies from the 1950’s about a smart ass talking mule named Francis and his buddy played by Donald O’Connor. Except those are kind of funny. This is painful.

Sex Doll

That’s a blow up horse sex doll by the way. Getting ahead of myself. After acquiring Don, Chaney is introduced to Don’s family. Apparently, Don’s Mom is curious what it’s like to be facing someone while having sex with them. I say it a lot, but no joke, that happens in this movie. We return to the brokerage firm and Don calls Chaney with a hot tip. Of course it pans out and now Chaney has some dough. This is where another set of apologies needs to be issued:

1. I apologize to Little Richard that Tutti Frutti is used in the movie.
2. I apologize to The Replacements that their song Shooting Dirty Pool is in this movie.
3. I apologize to the Beastie Boys that their song (You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party) is in here too. We now know that the Beastie Boys also divorced themselves from their first album because it was featured in Hot to Trot.

Oh, and Virginia Madsen is in this for some sort of love interest, but when horses are saying things like “Eat shit and die!” you can’t bring yourself to care about it. Don’t believe me that one of the horses says that? Here you go!

Bad Words

The meat of the movie basically goes like this. Chaney gets into some zany situations like hanging from the side of a building while a dove tries to do him in. Sawyer and his friend try and figure out how they can also make money using whatever secret Chaney seems to have discovered. Don has a house party with a dog, a cat, a bird, and probably some other animals. It all comes down to a horse race that Don needs to win with Chaney as the jockey. A stock deal goes south for Chaney and this is some sort of final showdown between him and Sawyer.

Oh, I forgot, Don’s Dad dies. Presumedly because they had already made an animatronic horsefly and needed to have some excuse to use it. Don’s Dad is reincarnated as it.


Of course Don and Chaney win the race. They do it by having Don say things to the other horses. He tells one horse that the winners are being turned into glue. He tells another one, who I guess is Spanish, that immigration is here. The jokes are so awful in this movie. And just for one final cherry on top of this dung heap, we get a short appearance by Gilbert Gottfried. Why? Because Don wants a diamond on his tooth like that bad guy in Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (1985) and Gottfried is the dentist.

Straight From The Horses Mouth

Straight From The Horses Mouth

The one good thing about this movie is that I don’t even need to put in a final verdict sentence. The movie does it for me.