Tag Archives: steve carell

‘Irresistible’ Review

In case you didn’t have enough politics in your daily life, here comes Jon Stewart with a movie about it.

“Irresistible” stars Steve Carell as a top-Democratic strategist who takes interest in a small right-wing Wisconsin town’s mayoral race. Chris Cooper, Mackenzie Davis, Topher Grace, Natasha Lyonne, and Rose Byrne also star as Jon Stewart writes and directs.

It goes without saying, but it’s hard to avoid politics in our modern lives. When you’re not watching the news you’re on Twitter or Facebook, either reading articles that take place in your echo chamber or seeing contrasting views from that old friend you went to high school with pop up on your feed. It’s become a lot for many people to handle, so the idea of watching an entire film that revolves around red-vs-blue may not exactly be the idea of entertainment. And while Stewart’s second directorial outing has some interesting and entertaining takes on our current political climate, it isn’t sharp, funny, or consistent enough to be worthy of a recommendation.

I’ll start with the cast, as they all are solid. Led by quirky and bubbly as usual Steve Carell, and with supporting work from the likes of Will Sasso and Chris Cooper, the characters in this film make the setting feel lived-in and genuine with small town charm, while Carell and Rose Byrne pass as the out-of-touch big city pundits who pander and spew BS for a living.

After spending years running “The Daily Show,” Jon Stewart is no stranger to politics. He has even spoken on Capital Hill and called out elected officials, so it makes sense that he would want to make a film that satirizes our increasingly corrupt (but also parody-friendly) political system. And there are more than a few good jokes and bits of commentary here (there is one quick shot of an NRA information booth shutting down when they get approached by an inquisitive group of Black Lives Matter activists that had me chuckling hard). However, for every one of those bits that works, there is an off-putting, tone-deaf, and/or tonally jarring attempt at humor that just does not land at all (Byrne licks pasty crumbs off Carell’s face and I was deadpan staring at the screen).

Stewart clearly watched “The Big Short” and “Vice” in back-to-back viewings, taking inspiration for some on-the-nose analogies and a few cutaways to B-roll footage. Just like Adam McKay, Stewart isn’t shy about which way his politics (and ipso facto, his film) lean, and his message at the end is admirable but somewhat shallow.

“Irresistible” is fine, and if it didn’t have one or two completely random sequences then I would say it may be worth checking out. But it doesn’t really say anything most Americans don’t already know and agree upon (there’s too much big money in politics, the mainstream media is a joke, the flyover states feel disenfranchised), and the comedy isn’t any better than what you can find for free on YouTube. Fans of Carell or Stewart may get their kicks, but the rest of us are better off sitting this race out.

Critics Rating: 5/10

Trey Parker Steals Show in Better-Than-Expected ‘Despicable Me 3’


Maybe the Minions aren’t as much a sign of the Apocalypse as I once feared…


“Despicable Me 3” is the third film of Illumination’s most popular franchise, and follows ex-villain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell) who meets his long-lost twin brother (also Carell). The duo must then team up to defeat a childhood actor-turned-supervillain (Trey Parker). Kristen Wiig, Steve Coogan and Jenny Slate also star as Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda direct.


I think the first two “Despicable Me” films are perfect children entertainment, with enough laughs for adults to stay amused, too. The “Minions” spin-off, however, was everything wrong with kid’s films nowadays (reliant on fart jokes and lazy animation), and the trailers for this third entry appeared to be more of that. However it is clear from the opening sequence that the writers are trying to make a film for everyone again, creating an animated romp that is nothing special, but it will keep all who view it entertained.


Trey Parker, best known for creating and voicing many characters in “South Park,” absolutely steals the show here. The film opens with Parker’s Balthazar Bratt stealing a diamond off a boat and it’s fantastic. Bratt was a child actor on a show where he portrayed an adolescent villain but when his show got cancelled he vowed revenge on Hollywood. He moonwalks, wears shoulder pads and blasts Michael Jackson’s “Bad” and even though I wasn’t alive in the 80s I loved all the references and Parker gives as great a vocal performance as one may expect.


The Minions were a fun in the first film but then Illumination realized what they had on their hands and shoved them down our throats in the sequel; then of course they got their own film and become the face of the franchise. They’re toned down here, really not affecting the plot and just having some simple cutaway jokes every few minutes and return to their cute and chuckle-inducing ways.


Some of the animation is inspired and original however (in traditional Illumination fashion) there are plenty of lazy bits, too. Non-main characters are recycled designs and some backgrounds and settings are basic and flat, because Illumination was literally founded to make movies that turn out profits. Their animated films only cost around $75 million, compared to Pixar, which has not made a film for less than $150 million in more than 15 years, so they often turn profits of over $300 million.


The moments leading up to the climax somewhat lag and even kids in my audience were getting anxious, but once Gru faces off against Bratt in Los Angeles things pick back up.


I enjoyed most of “Despicable Me 3” and that is really all that matters. It has enough clever references and innuendos for adults and more than enough stupid humor and pretty colors for the kids, Trey Parker and Steve Carell remain top vocal talents and even if this isn’t going to win any Oscars (or is as culturally or historically significant as, say, “The Boss Baby”) there is enough here to put a smile on your face if you’re having a despicable day.


Critics Rating: 7/10

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

2015 Oscar Predictions

Well, it’s almost that time of year. Time for the King Daddy of all award shows, the Oscars. Here I will go over who I think SHOULD win (subjective) that pretty golden statue, and who I think WILL win (objective), on Sunday, February 22.

Best Picture

This is pretty much a two horse race, with two other films having a longshot of playing spoiler. The only film with practically no shot of winning is “Selma”, which only has one other nomination (Best Song, which it will win). Other films like “Whiplash”, “Imitation Game” and “Theory of Everything” were solid, but pretty much it will come down to “Boyhood” vs “Birdman”. “American Sniper” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” have picked up immense momentum since January, so they have the best shot of being a dark horse. Of the films nominated I personally found “Imitation Game” the best, but I think the final award of the night will go to “Boyhood” due to all that went in to making the film. Plus the theme song of the film, “Hero”, is fantastic.

SHOULD WIN: The Imitation Game

WILL WIN: Boyhood



Best Director

Probably the most interesting competition of this year. It will likely come down to Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”) and Alejandro González Iñárritu (“Birdman”), but it goes deeper than that. Both men created projects that defied what we knew about film, with Linklater using the same cast to film “Boyhood” over 12 years, and Iñárritu shooting “Birdman” is continuous, sometimes 15 minute long takes. Whoever loses this award will likely take home Best Original Screenplay, so they shouldn’t hang their head for too long. I think Linklater wins because of his dedication and control of such a monumentally unique film. Other nominees include Wes Anderson (chance to win here or Original Screenplay for “Budapest”), Bennett Miller (who was nominated for his work on “Foxcatcher”, yet the film did not receive a Best Picture nod) and Morten Tyldum (“Imitation Game” was driven more by Cumberbatch and the script so this one somewhat baffled me).

SHOULD WIN: Richard Linklater

WILL WIN: Richard Linklater



Best Actor

Pretty much the same story as Best Picture, this award will likely go to one of two nominees. I love Steve Carell to death and his performance in “Foxcatcher” was amazing, but he and Benedict Cumberbatch both should just be happy to have earned their first Oscar nod. Like his “American Sniper” vehicle, Bradley Cooper has a small chance of pulling the upset, but it will come down to Michael Keaton (“Birdman”) and Eddie Redmayne (“Theory of Everything”), and Redmayne has won all the precursor awards needed to imply a victory. The Academy may give Keaton the edge because he is the older, more well-known actor; however Redmayne’s role was so demanding both physically and emotionally, I think he’ll win it.

SHOULD WIN: Steve Carell

WILL WIN: Eddie Redmayne



Best Supporting Actor

Well this paragraph could be as short as “it’s going to be J.K Simmons” because it’s going to be J.K Simmons. Most people know him as J. Jonah Jameson in the original Spider-Man trilogy, however he gave a fantastic performance in “Whiplash”, and it is good to see him finally winning awards. Edward Norton was equally amazing in “Birdman”, and he would get my vote, but Simmons has near swept everything else. Ethan Hawke got his 4th nomination, Mark Ruffalo got his second and Robert Duvall somehow got one for “The Judge” (my mouth hit the floor when it was announced). It’ll be Simmons, with 1% chance Norton comes in for the steal.

SHOULD WIN: Edward Norton

WILL WIN: J.K. Simmons



Best Actress

If you thought Best Supporting Actor was a lock, then this is a steel cage. Julianne Moore will win. Like, 100%. Not too many non-critics saw her work in “Still Alice”, but like Simmons she has swept the board. The women who will stand and clap when Moore’s name is called include former Oscar winners Marion Cotillard and Reese Witherspoon, as well as first-timers Felicity Jones and Rosamund Pike.

SHOULD WIN: Julianne Moore

WILL WIN: Julianne Moore



Best Supporting Actress

The Oscars aren’t very fun this year. The front runner is Patricia Arquette for her 12-year-long role in “Boyhood”, and deservingly so. Laura Dern earned a nomination, as did Emma Stone, so that’s kind of cool. I loved “The Imitation Game” but have no real idea why Keira Knightley was nominated, and I threw up when Meryl Streep got her obligatory nomination (all she has to do is appear in a movie and the Academy will nominate her). Arquette did the best and most dedicated work, and she deserves the trophy she will likely take home.

SHOULD WIN: Patricia Arquette

WILL WIN: Patricia Arquette



Carell, Tatum Highlight Slow-Burning ‘Foxcatcher’

Foxcatcher_First_Teaser_PosterWhat do Michael Scott, the Incredible Hulk and Jenko from 21 Jump Street have in common? They all give some of the best dramatic performances of 2014 in “Foxcatcher”.

Directed by Bennett Miller, who also helmed “Capote” and “Moneyball”, “Foxcatcher” is a  thriller based on the true story of millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) who become the sponsor of USA wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo).

A huge fan of Steve Carell and excited to see what he could do in a dramatic role, I personally have been looking forward to this film for a long time. Originally due out in December 2013, it was delayed a full year to complete editing, so I have been counting down the days until its release since Oscar Season kicked off two months ago. And much to my pleasure, “Foxcatcher” does not disappoint.

What drives the film are the performances; Tatum, Carell and Ruffalo all shine in their own way. Tatum, coming off the comedy hit “22 Jump Street”, and Carell, from “Anchorman” and “The Office” fame, aren’t exactly who you think of when you hear “Oscar-worthy performance”, but both give just that.

Playing a meathead athlete may not seem too much of a stretch for Tatum considering his physique and persona, but Tatum’s Mark Schultz requires so much more. Stuck in his brother’s shadow despite himself winning Olympic gold, Mark takes up du Pont’s offer to come and train at his estate, seeing it as a chance to separate himself from his brother. While attempting this separation, Mark’s mental state becomes more strained, and Tatum is near perfect showing the emotional toll, as well as physical repercussions, of this.

Carell is almost unrecognizable as John du Pont, a man with an almost homoerotic obsession with the sport of wrestling, a desperate desire to impress his mother, and, as he says, a want to “see America soar again”. Comedians often have dark sides, it’s what made Michael Keaton perfect as Batman and why Robin Williams could flip a switch and give a serious performance. Carell has several scenes where he gives a chuckle-inducing line, like wanting to be called “Golden Eagle”, but nearly every time du Pont walks into a room, especially in the final 30 minutes, you feel uneasy and on edge, because you just have a feeling that this guy could just snap.

Ruffalo has his moments to stand out as well, especially in the second half of the film when he comforts a quickly deteriorating Mark.

What may turn some people off from “Foxcatcher” is the fact that it is a candle burning film, meaning it is a lot of build-up. At times the film may feel like it has no true aim, or even seem uneventful, but it is all building to a fantastically executed climax by Miller. The acting, the score and the direction all come to a perfect head, resulting in a final scene that is still etched in my brain and gets better as more time passes.

“Foxcatcher” is a fantastically acted, wonderfully directed thriller that takes a while to build but is well worth the wait. Tatum, Carell and Ruffalo all have scenes in which they are brilliant, and whether you know how this story ends or not, the final half hour of this film will have you leaning forward in your seat and your heartbeat slowly increasing.

Critics Rating: 8/10

This Just In: ‘Anchorman’ Sequel Works


          I’m gonna do the thing that God put David Palmer on this earth to do: have Sports Clips quality hair and review the entertainment medium known as movies.

It is not too often, quite rare in fact, that comedy sequels are any good. Often the sequels are lazy carbon copies of the original. “The Hangover: Part II”, “Grown Ups 2” and “Caddyshack II” (shutters) all come to mind as sequels that horrifically missed the mark. However sometimes sequels are good. “Shrek II” and “Wayne’s World 2” are such examples.

Now we have “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues”, the follow-up to the 2004 hit that put Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd and Steve Carell on the comedy map. And I am happy to report (ha, news pun) that it is not a disaster.

Once again directed by Adam McKay, the movie follows Ron Burgundy (Ferrell) and his news team (Rudd, Carell and David Koechner) as they move from San Diego to New York City in an effort to be part of the first ever 24 hour news broadcast channel.

The first “Anchorman” is a pop culture cornerstone, and is quoted daily. While this sequel has some entertaining one liners, one can’t help but think they may have been trying a bit too hard to reinvent the wheel. There are many moments where you get the feeling Ferrell and his friends think they just invented the next big pop culture reference, but in reality it is just a chuckle that we forget about moments later.

That is not saying the film is not funny; it has more chuckles than any film this year, and the ending is one of the most irrelevant and pleasurable sequences in cinema in i don’t know how long.

It was fun watching the movie touch on the topic of 24-hour news stations, and how they are run by big companies and sometimes cover fluff stories instead of hard hitting reports. It does this so well that one could argue the film is a satire. And since the film is set in 1980, there are a few clever jokes about future events, such as how “innocent” and “trustworthy” OJ Simpson is.

There are times the movie goes way off the tracks, involving one subplot that only produces one laugh yet lasts twenty minutes. It was random even by Will Ferrell and Anchorman standards, and I felt it was really just a pointless part of the film (I won’t say what it is for the sake of saving the one joke but trust me, it is pretty out there).

The film may not live up to the hype it built for itself (you couldn’t turn on a TV the past two months without seeing Ron Burgundy, whether he is in a car commercial or interviewing Peyton Manning for ESPN), but “Anchorman 2” is a funny movie. Yes, it is stupid and pointless and has no real structure by any conceivable measure, but if you’ve seen the first film you should expect nothing less.

It is clear that Ferrell and all the other comedic geniuses had a blast filming the movie, and that fun is quite infectious. You are having a ball alongside them, even if occasionally they are enjoying the ride a bit more than you. With a dozen fantastic cameos sprinkled in throughout the film’s running time, the movie never loses your interest and it is great to see the actors treated this like a passion project and didn’t just phone it in for an easy paycheck. And to quote Ron Burgundy: that’s kind of a big deal.

Critics Rating: 7/10