Mike at the Movies

Rough Night (R) *****

There may be those who quibble with the high rating, but when a film makes me laugh this hard and this long on a day when the temperature outside is scorching, pardon my glee. Kate McKinnon steals another film as Pippa, the Australian who is called “Kiwi” by an insensitive Alice (Jillian Bell).

Alice organizes a reunion weekend that brings together old college buddies 10 years after their graduation to have a blast before the wedding of Jess (Scarlett Johansson). Joining them are Blair (Zoë Kravitz) and Frankie (Irina Glazer).

Let me say at the outset that this is a very rude, adult film. There is no nudity but plenty of raunchy dialogue and sight gags (including a pair of sunglasses with male member attached) that are sure to offend the easily offended. At my age and station, I just couldn’t help myself and laughed with everybody else.

The situations are so ludicrous and laughable that they kept the audience in hysterics for all but a few moments of the film. Blair tries to get a possibly incriminating tape back from Pietro and Lea, the next door neighbors (Ty Burrell and Demi Moore), and ends up in a reluctant threesome. An assumed male stripper dies when Alice knocks him over into the edge of the fireplace and the girls eventually try to get rid of him. Cops are confused for strippers and Jess’s fiancé, Peter (Paul W. Downs), plays “sad astronaut,” wearing adult diapers and drinking can after can of energy drinks while taking stimulants in order to reach Jess and make sure she’ll still marry him—you have to see it to believe it.

McKinnon has the Aussie accent down perfectly (“Little bit o’ bread and Vegemite and you have a meal!”), and is a master of physical comedy. The other four commit mayhem with straight faces and warped senses of reality appropriate to the atmosphere. Let your inhibitions go, listen carefully and don’t leave the theater until after the very last closing credit. There is an extra scene after the outtakes that is worth the wait. For adults only!!

Cars 3 (G) *****

Another superb effort from the famed Pixar Studios, this time with a twist. Feminism is having a surge in popularity in the film world and “Cars 3” adds its voice to the movement.

“Cars 3” does this very subtly by introducing us to Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), a trainer for the fading Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson). At first, she is just a demanding and competent trainer for McQueen in the new Sterling (Nathan Fillion) stable of racers, created as a showplace for McQueen’s exploits on the tracks of the US. As the story moves along we learn more and more about Cruz, her background and her dreams for the future. Always put down because she was a girl in a man’s world, she still dreams of being a driver, not a trainer.

While Lightning tries to resurrect his career against the odds of technology and the person of Jackson Storm (Arnie Hammer), he begins to realize that the time may be up for him. It might be time to let go of the keys to his car. He tries, on dirt tracks, to prove he can win again and even enters a ridiculous demolition derby, the lowest he can go at Thunder Hollow under an assumed name and a mud-covered car so he can duck under the media radar. From there on, things move at a lightning (pardon) pace until he finds himself in the big race in Florida. Win and he has a career; lose and he loses everything.

Those of you who think you know how the franchise is going to handle this dilemma may think you have it figured out, but hang on. The film makes its feminist point and its national one as well: Cruz Rivera is a Latina and both identities are fully exercised as the film moves along. There is a fantastic cast of voices in the film: Chris Cooper, Larry the Cable Guy, Tony Shaloub, Bonnie Hunt and Kerry Washington, just to name a few. This film is certified high-quality Pixar. Take the family and enjoy!

47 Meters Down (PG-13) ***

Two stars for the movie and one for the sharks, artificial as they are. Oh, yes, this was released outside Shark Week but it is familiar stuff indeed. It starts with music reminiscent of the famous score for “Jaws” with lots of bass moaning and grinding, has lots of blood and, unfortunately, lots of problems with common sense.

The plot begins with a lie: Two 30-something women, Lisa (Mandy Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt), are on a “recovery break.” Elder sister, Lisa, has just been dumped. They are in Mexico, deciding to have a good time and are lured by two hunks into taking a dive in a cage to see the sharks. They start with an unfortunate lie—both say they know how to scuba dive when, in fact, Lisa is a complete novice.

They get in the cage, go to the programmed depth of five meters, but then the hoist breaks and the whole contraption falls on them— 47 meters down with limited oxygen. (Reality check: How does a novice like Lisa know how to exchange oxygen tanks under pressure with her own O2 running low?)

At this point, my viewing partner and I agreed that the movie needed Lloyd Bridges (youngsters, Google “Sea Hunt”), but the plot meanders along with surprisingly few sharks. It’s pretty much water and screams and lowering oxygen levels until a double ending that may surprise you or nauseate you. Your choice. Lloyd Bridges, wherefore art thou?

Transformers: The Last Knight (PG-13) *

Lord help us, this is clearly NOT the “last knight,” as much as so many parents would wish it so! This is merely another exercise of Michael Bay’s proclivity for blowing things up as frequently and loudly as possible with a script focusing on humorless dialogue that wants to be funny and ends up only arrogantly sarcastic. The plot is stupid, the mayhem completely unbelievable, the characters cardboard, and the special effects—Bay’s specialty—are merely spectacular as in a fire blowing up a fireworks factory is spectacular.

Mark Wahlberg is the indestructible Cade Yeager, and he sort of protects a librarian, Vivian (Laura Haddock), with the assistance of Josh Duhamel as Col. Lennox. Wahlberg has the requisite showing of his breathtaking abs (at least Vivian audibly and visibly gasps when they are revealed), and there is a cute but largely useless teen, Izabella (Isabela Moner). Anthony Hopkins adds a mysterious and largely useless presence as Sir Edmund Burton, the link between the myth and the end of the world, and Stanley Tucci does a campy Merlin the Magician.

At two-and-a-half hours, this tedious exercise in egomania by its director is about an hour too long. He must have had extra stuff to blow up so he kept the film going. I am frankly so tired of crappy “blow ‘em up” movies like this that I may be harsher than necessary on it, but I found it a totally unbelievable, uninteresting, even boring waste of time. Bay has a way of making you not only dislike his movies but actively hate them. This is a prime example. An “Optimus Prime” example.

Share