“In Boots Riley’s trippy new film Sorry to Bother You, hunger is the main throughline. The hunger for truth. The hunger for justice. The hunger to succeed personally, and even more so in one’s professional life. At RegalView, a low-level telemarketing firm in Oakland, one path to success presents itself in the form of code-switching. The disaffected Cassius Green (LaKeith Stanfield) is hungry to prove himself.
He’s a damaged soul eager for anything other than failure and hardship. On the advice of a coworker (Danny Glover), Cassius begins to use a “white voice” when speaking with prospective customers—what white people “wished they sounded like,” Glover explains—and its pay-off is immediate. Cassius becomes the company’s top salesman, earning the title of “Power Caller” and a promotion upstairs, where it’s required he talk in his white voice at all times.
But professional advancement comes with a moral clause. Cassius is wedged between doing what is right and what is profitable; one reason he took the job in the first place was to help his uncle save his home, which was in foreclosure. These are questions of survival Riley is volleying at us—what, exactly, are you willing to give up for the American Dream? Your friends? Your principles? For someone like Cassius, there are always conditions to Making It. For black people, in particular, success has its own fine print.
Sorry to Bother You is a deliciously untame thing: an allegorical satire about the exploitation of labor and land. (It joins a cohort of black futurity coming to the screen in recent years, including Get Out by Jordan Peele and Random Acts of Flyness, which debuts in August on HBO; Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death is……”
Critics are not impressed with the tired jokes in ‘Holmes & Watson’
The comedic duo’s third film falls short.
“Remember when Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly collectively made the world double over with laughter in 2008’s Step Brothers? Well hold on to that feeling, because it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen with Holmes & Watson.
Starring Ferrell and Reilly as the titular Sherlock Holmes and John Watson, Holmes & Watson attempts the capture the comedic duo’s chops seen in Step Brothers and Talladega Nights in a new, historic setting. Unfortunately, that magic seems to have been lost along the way with jokes that don’t land and a backdrop that doesn’t allow for Ferrell and Reilly’s improvisation to take hold.
With 12 reviews in on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of reporting, Holmes & Watson is currently sitting at a 0 percent. That’s not a good look for writer and director Etan Cohen.
Here’s what the critics have to say about Ferrell and Reilly’s third movie together.
The setting isn’t right
Peter Debruge, Variety:
As far as Ferrell and Reilly are concerned, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s unstumpable sleuth and the thankless sidekick who recorded his every exploit are not just a great crime-solving duo but one of the great bromances of English literature — and therefore a natural target for the two actors’ ongoing exploration of dysfunctional friendships. The trouble is, Sherlock Holmes exists so large in audiences’ minds already that the pair’s uninspired take feels neither definitive nor especially fresh — just an off-brand, garden-variety parody.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club:
Written and directed by Etan Cohen (not to be mistaken for Ethan Coen, under any circumstances), Holmes & Watson imagines the title characters as a couple of needy, middle-aged manchildren—though the similarities with Ferrell and Reilly’s work together on Adam McKay’s Step Brothers end there. Struggling with objectively awful English accents, the two actors spend their time on screen dragging out terrible jokes, as though trapped in the improv-exercise equivalent of eternal damnation. Though it’s mostly the audience that suffers. Even the movie’s attempts at gross-out humor—such as an extended bit in which Holmes keeps barfing into a bucket, or a sequence where he calculates the trajectory of his arcing urine in slow-mo, à la Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes—are timorous and half-assed.
Almost all the jokes are bad
David Ehrlich, IndieWire:
Instead of picking a particular tone and wringing it for all it’s worth, Cohen just throws a mess of half-funny jokes at the wall in the hopes that some of them might stick. They don’t. Not enough of them, anyway. Mild gross-out humor (projectile vomit, cadavers baked into party cakes, etc.) is mashed together with poorly choreographed physical comedy (Holmes and Watson accidentally unleash a swarm of killer bees while trying to kill a single mosquito) and limp post-modern gags that poke fun at old technology (Watson telegrams someone a dick pic) or current events (a “Make England Great Again” hat precedes a conversation about how the Electoral College will always protect America from tyrannical grifters).
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter:
There’s at least one scene that proves mildly amusing, when Holmes silently communicates with his brother Mycroft (Hugh Laurie, who had the good sense to go uncredited) via their shared ability to “brainspeak.” It’s a slyly witty moment that contrasts with the otherwise lame slapstick permeating the frenetic proceedings. A gag involving the eating of raw onions isn’t so much running as limping. And there’s a strange amount of anachronistic Donald Trump-related humor, including bits about fake news and red MAGA hats (here reading “Make England Great Again”) that fall utterly flat in this context.
None of the actors shine
Sandy Schaefer, ScreenRant:
Holmes & Watson is missing a key ingredient from Talladega Nights and Step Brothers – namely, director Adam McKay. Where McKay knew how to create comedic scenarios that allowed Ferrell and Reilly room to improvise, Cohen’s approach seems far more dependent on scripted jokes. That wouldn’t actually be a problem if his film could settle on a clear throughline, like McKay’s movies with Ferrell and Reilly had. Instead, Cohen’s script recycles Ferrell’s character arc from his 2000s comedies (his Sherlock is an egomaniacal jerk who doesn’t appreciate Watson) and can’t decide if his comical take on the super-sleuth is dumber than he thinks or too smart for his own good. Reilly isn’t given much to work with here either, and is left trying to get additional mileage from listless scenes that subject Dr. Watson to all sorts of comedic torment (be it emotional neglect or mean-spirited slapstick).
David Ehrlich, IndieWire:
The cast is rounded out by an incredible array of actors and comedians, including Kelly Macdonald as Holmes’ secretary, Hugh Laurie as Holmes’ brother, Steve Coogan as a one-armed tattoo artist, Rob Brydon as a flabbergasted inspector, and someone who shows up for a last-minute cameo so good that it almost redeems the rest of the movie. Of course, none of these people are given anything to do — forget standing out, Laurie isn’t even on-screen long enough to stand up. Usually, you’d have to watch the Golden Globes to see this much wasted talent. As it stands, the only compelling mystery about “Holmes & Watson” is how so many funny people have been squeezed into such an unfunny movie, a movie that isn’t nearly smart enough to recognize how stupid it should have been.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AV Club:
One might call it a failure on almost every level—that is, if the movie ever gave the impression that it was trying to succeed. Instead, it’s pervaded by an air of extreme laziness. It’s cheap and tacky—a bizarrely dated parody of Ritchie’s Holmes (complete with a soundalike score) poisoned with rib-elbowing topical references and puerile gags. It’s the Sherlock Holmes movie with the red “Make England Great Again” hat and the lactating Watson. It succeeds in only one respect. As a Christmas Day release that wasn’t screened in advance for critics, it managed to avoid our list of the worst films of 2018. It belongs at the top.”
Holmes & Watson is in theaters now.
‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ is one of the best superhero movies ever: Review
There’s a new Spider-Man in town, and he’s freaking amazing.
“To say that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse feels like a comic book come to life may sound like faint praise, seeing as we’re two decades into a superhero movie boom that the original Spider-Man helped jump start.
But few recent films have embraced the comic book style and sensibility — its visual quirks and anything-goes openness — as wholeheartedly as Spider-Verse has, or enjoyed as fully the potential in combining the two mediums.
Right off the bat, Spider-Verse acknowledges that it’s probably the 700th Spider-Man story you’ve seen in the past few years. A voiceover “yada yadas” the basics of Peter Parker’s origin story, while winking at almost every iteration of it; even the much-maligned Spider-Man 3 gets a rueful shoutout. This movie isn’t afraid of a laugh at its own expense, though the knowing humor is more affectionate than biting.
Spider-Verse has a distinct feel unlike any other Spider-Man movie before.
When that montage ends with Peter telling us “there’s only one Spider-Man,” it plays like another joke, because we’ve seen so many Peters over so many years. And becomes even more of one once we meet Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore).
Though Miles has been a fan favorite in the comics since 2011, Spider-Verse marks his first time on the big screen. Accordingly, Spider-Verse has a distinct feel unlike any other Spider-Man movie before it.
Spider-Verse eschews both the slick three-dimensional look of most modern studio animated movies (think Pixar or Illumination) and the gritty “realism” of most live-action superhero movies, in favor of a flatter, sketchier aesthetic bursting with poppy colors, Ben-Day dots, and motion lines. It’s an obvious nod to Spidey’s ink-and-paper history, but it’s also an expression of how Miles, himself a character who’s grown up admiring Spidey and reading Spidey books, might view his own superhero saga…………………………………………”
Creed II review – Rocky saga continues with knockout sequel
“Before he delivered arguably Marvel’s most dazzling chapter to date, Ryan Coogler had managed something close to impossible in Hollywood: he had found a fresh way to reboot a dusty franchise. In a landscape of endless thirst and vacant remixing, he had somehow managed to concoct a nifty, imaginative way back into the Rocky saga with Creed, a film that felt old-fashioned yet fresh, intimate yet grand, a rousing return from the grave.
By focusing on the son of Rocky’s competitor-turned-friend Apollo Creed, Coogler was also able to reteam with Michael B Jordan, who made such an indelible impression in his first film, 2013’s devastating fact-based drama Fruitvale Station. The duo worked together again in Black Panther earlier this year, with Jordan switching tacks to play villain Killmonger, and so soon after, seeing him return as Creed is a further reminder of his broad star appeal, the sort of rare leading man one can imagine remaining at the top of his game for years to come. Given his time in Wakanda, Coogler was unable to return but he has handed over directorial duties to Steven Caple Jr, who impressed in 2016 with debut feature The Land, and it is a similarly deft rise from micro-budget indie to franchise film-making.
While it’s not quite the showstopper that its predecessor was, Creed II is still another knockout piece of entertainment. There’s a keen awareness of what made Creed work so well without it feeling like a lethargic rehash. This time, Adonis (Jordan) is the heavyweight champion of the world, in a loving relationship with his pregnant musician girlfriend Bianca (Tessa Thompson) and still living near and working out with a recovering Rocky (Sylvester Stallone). But there’s discontent from……………………………………..”
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