Back in 2004, a film called Team America: World Police was released from the creators of the popular (and still running) animated show, South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Much like the show, Team America made it a goal to attack everyone and everything, from celebrities to politics, and how we, as Americans, handle the issues going on in the world. Instead of crappy cut-out style animation, Parker and Stone did the entire movie with marionette puppets. How it even got made and backed by any studio is beyond me, but I am glad it even exists in the first place.Continue reading “A Look Back On ‘Team America: World Police’ – The Most Offensive (and American) Puppet Movie Ever Made”
After thirty years, Eddie Murphy has returned as one of his most iconic characters in comedy history, Prince Akeem Joffer in Coming 2 America, the long awaited sequel to one of the funniest comedies of the eighties. In Coming 2 America, Akeem has been crowned King of Zamunda by his dying father, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones), and is ruling with his Queen, Lisa (Shari Headley), who Akeem has met and fell in love with while on his trip to Queens in the first film. Blessed with three daughters (KiKi Layne, Bella Murphy, and Akiley Love), Akeem eventually learns that he also has a son and must set out with his best friend and royal aide, Semmi (Arsenio Hall) back to America and seek him out.
Tom and Jerry, the world famous cat and mouse from Hanna and Barbera, return to the big (and small) screen in a live-action/CG-animated hybrid film, which has the same humor you come to expect from the duo, but the dullness of a modern children’s comedy trying so hard to be funny, yet will only appeal to the youngest of kids. The good thing I can say about this mediocre mess of a film is that, unlike the previous animated film from 1992, the cat and mouse do not talk. As you can expect, they fight, slap, chase, pull, prod, and many other things, yet while all the action is happening, we have to sit through a story concerning human characters that we end up caring little about, making us wish we had better things to do.
Borat has returned to America in order to tackle politics, biased viewpoints, and *Shocker* the Coronavirus in the long awaited (but never expected) sequel to Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan , proudly titled Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (There is an even longer title, but I feel it would take up much of my writing time to even fit here). During the past fourteen years, a lot has changed. People are constantly keeping their noses in their phones, technology has expanded, and the world has gone crazier than it has ever been; especially with President Donald Trump running the show. Luckily, Borat is there to save the day and challenge the views of what may be the last of the unsuspecting American people, which almost makes you wonder if it is nothing more than a staged event.
Sacha Baron Cohen once said that he uses his brand of shock comedy to expose the prejudices of the American people and he does so with colorful characters; many we know to be offensive, yet cannot help but laugh with. Cohen strikes with ironic hypocrisy to get those who see him as nothing more than a simple foreign immigrant learning about the customs and traditions of the USA. In a way, Cohen is brilliant and his methods are respectable, though I cannot say that those who find themselves easily offended will appreciate the subtle commentary lying within a bigoted Kazakhstan news reporter with a skewed view on the world.
Where has Borat been for the past fourteen years? Well, let’s just say that he has suffered quite the punishment since his first movie made quite a splash back in 2006, bringing shame to his country of Kazakhstan (mirroring the real-life controversy surrounding the foreign country and its problems with how the movie depicted it). Everyone in town treats him as a pariah and he has been doing heavy labor in the Gulag. One day, he gets tasked by the Prime Minister Nursultan Nazarbayev (Dani Popescu) to return to America to deliver a monkey to Vice President Mike Pence in order to redeem himself (Trust me, it is as ridiculous as it sounds).
Gladly, Borat accepts and travels once again to America to complete his mission. Yet, he is not alone, as his fifteen-year-old daughter Tutar Sagdiyev (Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova) has unwittingly hitched a ride in order to spend time with her estranged father. What follows is a series of events where Cohen and Bakalova prank unsuspecting citizens, including the likes of Pence and Rudy Giuliani, in character while also learning about the value of family.
While Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is as shocking and unapologetic as you expect, the sequel surprisingly has heart to go along with its many raunchy setups and punchlines. It is a story about a father and daughter trying to understand each other. Cohen and Bakalova make quite the team and work quite well together as they bicker in each other’s respective languages disguised as casual Kazakh while also shocking everyone, with an ending that is equally parts shocking, brilliantly hilarious, and touching.
I cannot guarantee that Borat Subsequent Moviefilm is a laugh riot all the way through depending on how well you can tolerate its most shocking jokes, but for me, it was a pleasant ride I enjoyed taking. It is a movie fit for the crazy times we are living in, especially since it is a movie I never thought would be made in such a politically-correct world.
With quarantine still in effect, it has been hard to write movie reviews lately, especially since movie theaters have been shut down and there have not been many movies to talk about. Yet, one movie that has come to mind as of late is the 1999 science-fiction spoof ‘Galaxy Quest’, which I vaguely remember from my childhood other than seeing ads for it, and watching it with my family in a motel when I was but a child. Recently, I decided to give it a much-needed re-watch for the experience, being that my mother-in-law had the film in her collection. I have to say that ‘Galaxy Quest’ holds up as a comedy as well as a love letter to the science-fiction genre, conventions, and more importantly ‘Star Trek’ (which it spoofs for the most part).
You would never believe that a movie like ‘Jojo Rabbit’ would ever be made today, let alone become an Academy Award nominee. Its subject matter is portrayed in tasteless form; something that Mel Brooks could make, yet what separates ‘Jojo Rabbit’ from all the offensive satires is its heart to counteract its goofy nature. One moment, we get a parody of one of the most chilling times in WWII history, the next, we get an emotional drama that challenges stereotypes with a tale of an unlikely friendship between a ten-year-old boy training to be a part of Hitler’s army, and a Jewish girl he discovers in his sister’s basement.
It is that time of year again where I talk about the Oscar nominees for ‘Best Picture’. As always, my favorite time of year is awards season, which gives me the opportunity to catch as many nominees as I can before the big night happens. One of the films I have seen over the weekend was ‘Parasite’, a South-Koran comedy-thriller, of sorts, directed by Bong Joon-Ho (‘The Host’, ‘Snowpiercer’, ‘Okja’). It is a twisted, albeit depraved, look at the clash between the rich and poor; a wickedly brilliant satire that welcomes you into its devilish delights. It doesn’t just shock you, it also makes sure you have a good time until you get there.
It took a long time for DC to get the formula right for a fun, light-heated adventure like ‘Shazam!’, but here we are! In a world saturated by superhero movies, one rises up to prove itself to be a little different than the rest, and that turns out to be a good thing. It is hard to believe we came a long way from the dark, grey matter that was ‘Man of Steel’ to a bright and colorful rainbow known as ‘Shazam!’; it has the makings of ‘Big’ if it were a superhero movie and has the giddy childlike nature to show, but does not risk its intensity and punches to make for an entertaining action movie.
You are probably wondering how a sequel to a ‘Groundhog Day’ wannabe manages to work, especially being that it is basically the same movie. Like a repetitive day, if one were to add some fun, charm, and plenty of twists, it essentially becomes enjoyable. While ‘Happy Death Day’ felt more like ‘Groundhog Day’, ‘Happy Death Day 2U’ feels like ‘Back to the Future Part II’ by focusing on the science of how Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) got stuck in the time loop.
Everyone knows that the Coen brothers are master storytellers, so it seems to be no surprise that their latest feature, ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ is an anthology film. It is not a collection of many genres (despite having elements of comedy, drama, and action), but a series of vignettes set in the old west. It is in line with ‘No Country For Old Men’, and their remake of ‘True Grit’ as a western, yet more fun and exciting. Its stories range from the ridiculous and absurd to dark, cautionary, and gritty; which is what the Coens have been about for their many years of film-making.