Movie Review: Paper Town (2015) – Reminds Me Of An 80’s Teens Flick….But Not Quite.


This is a week for bizarre movies, but on the upside, at least it was the week for one good bizarre movie. Paper Town comes from the bestselling novelist John Green, who wrote the blockbusting novel “The Fault in Our Stars”.

The movie focuses on two central characters, Quentin and Margo. Quentin is the sweet boy next door, while Margo is the trouble maker with a trunk full of baggage. One night, she wakes Quinton up to take him on a night fueled by revenge. The night is life changing, but the next morning when Quinton goes to talk about it, Margo is gone. What follows is a bit of a teen Nancy Drew situation where Quinten recruits his friends to help find her.

First of all, the dialog is pretty excellent. Green seems to have a gift for writing dialog, and manages to make it quick witted, without making it come off as too adult. This was something they were easily able to carry into the movie. As a result, the kids actually come across as kids; albeit quick witted ones.

In a stretch, I’d say this movie reminds me a bit of the movies of the 80s, by the late great John Hughes. The movie follows the standard teen comedy tropes, with social hierarchies and a bit of angst. It’s a pretty well done effort that I enjoyed.

That being said, I didn’t feel like the target audience. I feel like I would have enjoyed this a bit more if I was actually in my teens. Something about the way this movie is written makes me feel kind of old. I didn’t think it was quite as good as the Fault in Our Stars, but I still found it watchable.


My big problem is Margo’s character. She was so paper thin and clichéd, it was hard to care what happened to her. She’s kind of your standard pretty, popular girl with a wild streak and despite her problems, she’s not very interesting. Of course, as the movie comes from Quinten’s perspective, it’s entirely possible that this was done intentionally to see Margo through Quintin’s eyes. If it was a stylistic choice, I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it.

It also kind of fell apart at the end. Instead of climaxing, we’re greeted to a long winded sermon about growing up. I find a lot of directors in teen movies do this. Instead of allowing people to glean the meaning from what they see, they feel the need to summarize their main point at the end in case anyone missed it.


Paper Town is a decent, but middle of the road effort when it comes to teen comedy. It’s not slapstick funny. It’s funnier in the way occasional parts of “The Fault in Our Stars” was funny. As far as coming of age movies go, this one is great for a teen audience, but adults might find it drags a little. Still, it’s worth the watch if you have a teenager in the house.

WE GAVE IT: 4 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

4 stars

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Movie Review: Ant-Man – It’s Stupid In The Right Way

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Ant-Man is the newest super hero release with a comedic twist, and it’s pleasing critics and audiences alike. This snarky sci-fi flick, with an unlikely hero, it’s one to watch this summer. Here’s why.

Our hero is Scott, a thief with a master’s in engineering. When he runs into a reclusive scientist with a special suit, he’s more than happy to try it on. With the push of a button, he’s the size of a dime. What follows is an interesting scene involving Scott getting sucked into vacuums and such. Realizing his new power, Scott does the whole becoming a super hero thing and even finds an arch nemesis. He’s a dude that can turn into a yellow jacket.

While it sounds stupid, it’s stupid in the right way. It’s stupid in the way that Shaun of the Dead was stupid. It’s also hilarious, interesting and even kind of visually stunning. Of course, a lot of the visuals are recycled. Take the Ant-Man suit for example. It’s pretty much an Iron Man Suit. They didn’t even change the color scheme that much.

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However, for a movie that does such a good job on using the standard super hero tropes, with some self-aware tongue in cheek humor, recycled visuals can be ok. Especially with such a unique storyline. Edgar Wight is credited with some of the story line creation, which explains the similar feel to movies like “Shaun of the Dead”.

Paul Rudd was a fantastic choice for the lead. He’s unheroic enough to give the character a certain lack of grace and gritty realness, but he also has awesome comedic timing, which this movie relied on. The great thing about the movie is that the same thing that makes Ant-Man heroic is what makes him vulnerable. The danger of being squashed while in insect form would have been hard to pull off if not for Rudd’s performance.

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It’s a fresh take for a summer filled with big budget blockbuster action movies. Not that it isn’t well done. It’s just a bit lower key and a more slapstick and funny than other movies in the sci-fi genre. The movie knows how to laugh at itself, while keeping viewers entertained.

I have to say, I was a bit disappointed with the main female character Hope (Evangeline Lilly). In a way I was kind of expecting her to emerge as some sort of femme fatale, but instead, her character stays pretty flat and sees no growth at all. So in that, I was disappointed. The two father-daughter stories were sweet, but not overtly so, and they managed to put a bit emotion into the script, in a way that doesn’t feel too over the top for this movie.

But all in all, I have to say Ant-Man was pretty well done and very enjoyable. It was a bit long in the run time, nearly 2 hours, but at least they used their time wisely. If you’re looking for a great action movie, with some good humor, then Ant Man could be one to watch this summer.

WE GAVE IT: 4 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

4 stars

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Movie Review: Trainwreck (2015) – A Rom-com Without Sap; I Didn’t Think It Was Possible

There is a reason that I hate most romantic comedies. It’s not because of the lack of realism in the plot. I can pretty much enjoy anything that requires a leap of the imagination. Nope, it’s because there’s never a character I can identify with. The girl is always this Type A, high strung ball breaking business women who never had time to settle down because of her career.

Note to movie writers, some of us aren’t in relationships and it has nothing to do with our careers. Some of us are just incredibly immature bed hopping binge drinkers. I can’t identify with some Type A nutjob. That’s why I don’t like romantic comedies and that’s why I loved Trainwreck. Finally, there is a character that represents us. For the first time, I didn’t just like a romantic comedy. I loved a romantic comedy. For that, I thank Amy Schumer.

Trainwreck starts out with young Amy learning all about the dangers of monogamy from her father, who explains it by asking Amy “What if I told you this was the only doll you could ever play with for the rest of your life?” Drilled that monogamy is a bad thing, Amy lives on one night stands and drunken benders. That is until she meets a cute, almost virginal doctor in the course of her job as a magazine writer. Then starts Amy trying to grow up and settle down.

It’s a paint by numbers rom-com but what made it shine is the edge. That edge comes in the form of Amy Schumer and some seriously biting sarcasm and humor. There are so many laugh out loud moments. They’re able to keep it rude without going too crude, and it sucks any overly sappy sweetness right out of the movie.

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A rom-com without sap. I didn’t think it was possible. I think it probably has something to do with some of the most flawless casting I’ve ever seen.

Colin Quinn was a stroke of genius as the belligerent, commitment probe dad. While I have never once thought of Bill Hader as a romantic lead, it this movie he just plain shines. While some thought the movie was too cameo heavy, I found that they managed to fit in the cameos pretty seamlessly.

Especially the movie long cameo for LeBron James. He plays Hader’s best friend and he’s pretty good. A lot of that was smart writing. They knew to not give James more than he could handle, and he handled it well. You never forget he’s LeBron James, but I imagine that’s probably what being LeBron James’s best friend is like anyway.

But the big star in this one is Amy Schumer. She is just plain fantastic in this movie and I think it might be her breakthrough. This girl is about to go from being a cable cult following, to a big name star. They didn’t change her up too much from her personality on “Inside Amy Schumer” but it still worked for a romantic comedy.

Trainwreck was very well written and even better cast. If you like Amy Schumer, and even if you hate romantic comedies, this one is worth the watch.


four and a half stars

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Movie Review: Self/Less – “Here’s A Great Premise. Now Watch Us Ruin It With Ryan Reynolds”


When I first saw the premise of Self/Less, I was like “this sounds really good.” Then, as I was watching it, I thought “wait a second, this seems familiar. Oh yeah, this movie was almost entirely copied from John Frankenheimer’s ‘Seconds.” If you’re familiar with the 1966 classic, then I have to say, Frankenheimer did it better. If not, you might find Self/Less intriguing.

Damian (Ben Kingsley) is greedy real estate agent whose money can’t stop the terminal cancer that’s ripping through his body. He’d not ready to die, so it’s a bit of good fortune when a stranger named Albright (Matthew Goode) introduces him to the idea of “shedding.” In this, Damian’s conscious can be zapped into the body of a younger, healthier host. He jumps on board and jumps into the body of a confused Ryan Reynolds.

The premise is good. The problem was the character development wasn’t. Damien was supposed to be this jerky, Trump-like real estate mogul who owns half of Manhattan due to backbiting and backstabbing. But suddenly, once dumped into Ryan Reynolds’ body, he becomes all compassionate and charming. He doesn’t feel like an old man put into a young body. It just feels like I’m watching two different people.

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While character development isn’t always a make or break, in a movie like this, where the entire premise hinges on it, it has to be. You need to make me believe that the grumpy old man really is inside Ryan Reynolds. If not, the entire premise falls apart.

In the better done Seconds, they actually achieved this. In the remake, they failed because of one reason.

Ryan Reynolds can’t act.

I’m not saying he’s not fun to look at. I’m not even saying I find him unlikeable. But you have to admit that Ryan Reynolds always plays the same exact character. The charming boy next door with a bit of a naughty streak. To pull off a movie like Self/Less, a one note character just doesn’t work.

All the action in the movie is driven by Damian trying to uncover the truth about Shedding. The problem with that is why does Damian even care? He’s a rich man who got rich by stepping on people. He takes another body without a second thought as to where it came from. Then suddenly, he cares and has to expose the evil people (who saved him from cancer) for what they are?

I just didn’t buy it.

The premise was great and with better leads, and someone with a bit more range, they might have pulled it off. But Damian’s 180 attitude change flaws the entire logic of the movie and makes it too hard to believe to be watchable. There’s no character development or motivation. It’s mainly like ‘.”

So the original that they didn’t even bother to mention is Seconds and it’s absolutely worth the watch. But this one does no credence to the original and it proves that sometimes seconds aren’t as good the second time around.

WE GAVE IT: 2.5 Stars

2.5 Stars


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Movie Review: Minions – A Bit Exhausting To Watch


The Minions, those gibberish spewing sidekicks from Despicable Me, are back with their own feature movie. It’s a bit of an origin story, and a clear shameless attempt to cash in on the success of Despicable Me.

The movie starts out with an intro that covers just why the Minions are predestined to serve evil masters. Following all that, it jumps to 1968 where we meet the brave Minions living in New York City, but are sadly master-less. They then learn of a Villain-Con taking place in Orlando, and off they go, hoping to find a new big bad guy to follow. So of course, they get into tons of trouble, winding up riding along with bank robbers, and meeting a motivational speaker who is set on world domination. The movie jumps to different locales and has a lot going on, making it sometimes hard to follow for a children’s movie.

I think it needs to be said. There’s a reason the minions are pill shaped, and that’s because they should be taken in small doses. While their gibberish is cute for a few minutes, it only takes a while before it starts to grate on your nerves.

The best way to describe the movie is shrill, but cute. It’s at times fun, and mostly cute, but occasionally cloying. This is a kid’s movie for kids, not one for adults to enjoy with kids.



But then, with the rock and roll soundtrack, references to the Beatles, Japanese monster movies and the musical Hair, the jokes sometimes seem focused on adults. Maybe it was a way for adults to feel like they belonged in the audience, but I think the references were mainly just confusing to kids.

I can’t say it wasn’t cute. The movie was straight up adorable. The Minions are designed to be cute, so it’s hard not to enjoy their antics, but they were just too cute. It was too over the top and these little sidekicks are certainly not deep enough to have earned their own movie.

While I know sidekick spinoffs have worked in the past, with movies like Puss & Boots and the Penguins of Madagascar, those side characters actually had an interesting plot around them. Puss & Boots was a suave, debonair feline and the penguins were prison break artists. The most I can tell of the Minions is that they speak in gibberish and bumble around, knocking lots of stuff over and generally screwing up other people plans.

While it’s great for a side gag, it doesn’t work for an entire movie. It’s actually a bit exhausting to watch.

While your kids might make you suffer through this, I can’t say it’s one to watch for single adults. It’s a bit too cute, a bit too loud and a bit too bright for most people over 12 to walk away from without a massive migraine.

Sometimes, a sidekick is just a sidekick and it’s ok to leave them at that. For that reason, I got to say this is one to skip…unless your kids make you see it.

WE GAVE IT: 2.5 Stars

2.5 Stars


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Movie Review: Ted 2 – More of What We Love, Bogged Down Slightly With Heavy Subject Matter

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If you liked the first one, then there’s a pretty good chance you’re going to like Ted 2 as well. It’s pretty much the same movie, written a second time, for the purpose of squeezing as much money out of the franchise as possible.

But I still watched it and I for the most part, I loved it.

This time around, Ted (Macfarlane) is married and wants to have a baby with wife Tami-Lyn in order to save his relationship. Josh (Wahlberg) is divorced from a not pictured Mila Kunis and has plenty of time to help his buddy out. Enter disastrous trips to sperm banks, lots of crazy flashbacks and rapid fire pop culture references that made the first movie so funny.

I will say I liked it and it made me laugh. My big problem is the heavy subject matter of the majority of the movie. It’s pretty much a new take on a civil rights movie. That’s kind of where the problems come in.

This time around, Amanda Siegfried takes over the love interest role for Mark Wahlberg and she does a good job handling her own comedic part. While a pot head, she’s also the smartest person in the room and she’s ready to represent Ted in his court case.

In the courtroom is where things get bogged down. Siegfried makes a bunch of overtly long speeches about civil rights and what it means to be human, that really slow down the momentum of the movie.

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They recycled a ton of stuff from the first movie. Ted even gets kidnapped for a second time, by the same guy who kidnapped him in the first. They really didn’t change much of the plotline.

But it’s Wahlberg and his talking teddy bear’s antics that carry the movie and keep it funny. Whether it’s just dropping a one liner, or engaging in something terrible just for the fun of it, the two will keep you laughing even when the story gets a bit heavy.

One thing that really feels unnecessary is the whole love interest plot line. Look, Wahlberg is handsome, but there’s no way in hell that this love match would happen in real life, with a beautiful, successful lawyer settling down with a man-child like Wahlberg, I don’t care how much pot she smokes.

But it’s got MacFarlane’s offensive brand of humor that will make you love to watch, even when some of it drags. That last quarter of the movie gets bogged down in them trying to tie up loose ends, which is pretty unnecessary. With it raking in $33 million over opening weekend, I think it’s pretty definite there’s going to be a third movie in the works soon enough.

It will probably be the same movie a third time, but honestly, as long as they keep me laughing, I don’t care how many things they recycle. With the humor in the movie, the recycled plot is forgivable, even if it does drag a bit. Ted 2 is nothing new, but it’s worth the watch.

WE GAVE IT: 3.5 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

3.5 stars

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Movie Review: Inside Out (2015) – One Of The Most Inventive Storylines I’ve Seen In Years


Pixar is back and they’re blowing minds with the new release “Inside Out.” With an inventive storyline and lots of humor, this movie is sure to delight audiences young and old.

The story focuses on Riley (voice of Kaitlyn Dias) an eleven year old girl who has just moved to San Francisco with her parents. It’s not a particular thrilling storyline. Not much happens. She tries out for sports, goes to a new school and is homesick for her old home. The action happens on the inside of Riley, where her feelings are embodied by a bunch of characters including Joy (Amy Poehler), Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kalig) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). From a control center in the brain, they react to Riley’s life and occasionally, fight over who gets to be in charge.

It’s a simpler storyline than Pixar has ever done. Riley isn’t a teen detective or friends with an alien. She’s just an average girl reacting to life around her. As a result, her character is infinitely relatable.

Despite the simplicity of the storyline, there’s tons of laughs and lots of intrigue. The voice actors chosen for their rolls couldn’t have been better. Lewis Black is the very embodiment of anger and he was the ideal pick for this. I imagine the guy could be ordering at a drive through and still sound like he wants to murder everyone.

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Per the standard with Pixar, the animation was flawlessly adorable. They used bright colors that popped and lots of rounded edges to give the movie a soft but vibrant overall feel.

But the real winner with this movie is the pure world building done. There’s lots of fun puns and cute site gags, along with unique ideas as far as how Riley receives her experiences (as colorful bowling balls) and a train of thought comes puffing through at regular intervals. Fun puns and lots of imaginative characters keep the story moving and keep audiences of all ages engaged.

This truly is one of the most inventive storylines I’ve seen in years. The writers and animators clearly used their imaginations to the nth degree on this one. As far as imagination goes, this story is going to be hard to beat.

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It’s one of those kid’s movies that’s for adults too. That’s obvious in some of the choices of actors, which tend to resonate more with adult viewers. These are all voices we’ve heard before, but now we’re seeing them in an entirely new way.

It’s adorable, but not so adorable that it comes off as sugar floss. It’s just cute enough to entertain kids and just edgy enough for parents to enjoy as well.

This one is a home run. Pixar used a simple storyline to build a complex world, got the best possible voice over actors and then set it all up with perfect animation. I can really think of nothing I didn’t like about this movie.

This one isn’t just a worth the watch. It’s a must watch.

WE GAVE IT: 5 STARS! Watch the Official Trailer and See the Official Movie Poster below

5 Stars

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Movie Review: Me & Earl & The Dying Girl – An Extremely Well Balanced Sleeper Hit


It’s amazing how much a really well done drama can stay with you. Movies like Fried Green Tomatoes or Stand by Me are a couple of great examples. By making the characters dimensional, real and likable, they set you up for the big fall. Then they kick you in the gut for the bad news and even though it depresses you a little, you’d go back for it time and time again.

That’s Me & Earl & The Dying Girl.

Greg (Thomas Mann) is a nerdy high school boy who’s generally friendly with everyone without really being part of any clique. I think we all had that one guy in our school. The one with the wise cracks and limited affiliations. Earl (RJ Cyler) is his one close friend, and is a lot like him. Then, his mom finds out that Rachel, a classmate of theirs, (Olivia Cook) has cancer. In order to be nice, she makes Greg spend some time with her. He decides to bring Earl as a buffer. Of course, despite his desire to not get attached, he does.

Then comes the tear jerking.

First off, they put together such an amazing cast, if this had been a two hour shoe commercial, I would have watched it. I am a bit afraid that Oliva Cooke is getting typecast. I mean, she also plays the girl with CF on The Bates Motel. That’s pretty much Hollywood trying to tell her she looks sickly.

She’s not. From all news accounts, she’s perfectly healthy. But here’s a fun fact. She’s British.

Thomas Mann plays Greg and slips right into the roll perfectly. He also starred in a gem called Project X and the kid clearly has some range. That range is displayed in this movie as his character grows. The way he goes from distant to emotional is believable and heartbreaking.

RJ Cyler is a newb to the scene, this being one of his first movies. Even still, he’s a talent to watch out for. He isn’t just the sidekick or the comic relief. He’s a talent in his own right.

Even the voice over narration and the snappy screen titles like “Day 7 of Doomed Friendship” add something unique. These light humor moments keep the movie from being too heavy and too sentimental.



The perfect balance was struck with Me & Earl & The Dying Girl. It’s just funny enough to keep from being heartbreaking, and just heartbreaking enough to keep it from being goofy. They’ve managed to make a sentimental movie and left out the sap.

It was a huge hit at the Sundance Film Festival and I imagine that this limited release will be again when rolled out nationwide. It’s completely worth the watch and is a classic that’s destined to become a sleeper hit.

It’s not often that a low budget indie film can get this kind of reaction. It was a hit at the festival, just as it will be a hit with audiences in a summer packed with adrenaline filled blockbusters. It’s a great break from the monotony and a movie that will stay with you.

WE GAVE IT: 5 STARS! Watch the Official Trailer and See the Official Movie Poster below

5 Stars

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Movie Review: Spy (2015) – McCarthy Is No Longer A Sidekick. She’s A Leading Lady In Her Own Right.

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There is something so refreshing about Melissa McCarthy and the characters she plays. She doesn’t rely on sex appeal, but she doesn’t stay in the background either. She’s not an object of pity. She’s just a funny lady with some great comedic timing. That’s why is decided to check out Spy.

In it, we meet Susan Cooper (McCarthy) a desk bound CIA agent who spends most of her time shut up in the agency’s basement, crushing on the debonair Bradley Fine (Jude Law). Then, when her unrequited crush is taken by the evil Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne), Cooper is sent into the field to retrieve him. Once Boyanov and Cooper meet, that’s where the film really gets going. These two had some amazing chemistry that really made the film shine.

The movie is a bit similar to the first movie that rocketed McCarthy into the limelight, The Heat. This one is something more, because we don’t have to deal with Sandra Bullock’s nails on a chalkboard approach to comedy. There’s just something about Bullock that’s inherently unlikeable and I’ve always found her less than stellar in comedic performances.

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 Teaming McCarthy with Byrne was the best choice. These two have strong chemistry and work together well, neither overshadowing the other. Byrne’s snark and McCarthy’s clueless comebacks are worth a laugh every single time.

Of course, we see some character growth in this film. McCarthy’s character goes from wearing crochet tops and using “Jesus Christmas” as her favorite swear word, to wearing leather and swearing like a trucker.

One thing that confused me about this film. Why are there so many British people in the CIA? This includes one character the film could have done without, Nancy (Miranda Hart). She’s sent to be Susan’s sidekick, but really just manages to be incredibly irritating. The main characters are already the comedic relief in this story. There was no need to add more.

The ending ties up loose ends nicely, while leaving plenty of room for a sequel. They don’t kill off anyone important, so most of the characters will come back to play. While I was initially dreading them making more Heat movies, I have to say, I’d be happy to watch a sequel of Spy. There’s just something about McCarthy and America’s attitude towards her that’s grown in that time. McCarthy is no longer a sidekick. She’s a leading lady in her own right.

Though I do hope that she doesn’t get stuck playing one kind of character all the time. She has range and talent, and it would be a shame if she was turned into the chubby funny girl permanently. While I do enjoy a story about a bumbling cop, there’s only so many anyone can make without people getting sick of them.

Just ask Paul Blart.

Spy is an enjoyable effort that will keep audience members laughing. There’s the occasional spy movie cliché, but for the most part, the gags are gags that haven’t been done before. This is easily worth the watch and worth the sequel.
WE GAVE IT: 4 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

4 stars

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Movie Review: Entourage (2015) – Meandering, Plotless and Completely Pointless

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A long time ago, when I was doing some court ordered community service (don’t ask) I worked with a vet tech who did cat vaccinations for low income families just about all day long. She had a weird way of referring to every cat as a ‘pussycat’. I worked with her for 160 hours and I was pretty sure I’d never hear someone use the word ‘pussy’ so much again.

Then, I watched this pile of cash grabbing crap.

Entourage ended in 2011. Despite the guys behaving like a bunch of locker room douchebags, and the open misogyny, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed it and I was perfectly satisfied with the ending. It was one of the few long running series that I felt did not need to be wrapped up with a movie. But apparently, HBO thought they could squeeze a bit more money out of it and went ahead with the movie anyway.

The original cast returns, led by Adrian Grenier as Vince Chase. Pretty much all the popular characters reprise their roles, regardless of where they left off at the end of the series. The plot moves forward by a common career shift in Hollywood. Pretty boy actor Vince is trying to direct his first motion picture, on a $100 million budget. Of course, he’s already late and over budget. Then, you have his buddies, bouncing around Hollywood and drooling over boobs. The biggest plotline any other character gets is Johnny Drama having a tape of him pleasuring himself go viral.

There’s a bunch of unnecessary celebrity cameos that were apparently crammed in for the purpose of making the movie more marketable. When the boys see Liam Neeson at a stoplight, one of them yells “Hey Schindler, save every Jew.”

Real current joke, guys. It took me like five minutes to get, and Schindler’s List is one of my favorite movies.

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This much hyped movie was kind of a waste. It was meandering, plotless and completely pointless. I felt like I was eavesdropping on a bunch of adolescent boys in a locker room. You know, the kind that brag about getting laid without ever actually getting laid.

It’s pretty much nothing but tits, locker room humor, and more tits. Vince charms, Ari yells, and Johnny Drama is always second best. This wasn’t so much a movie as it was an excuse to get people to open their wallets for a show that ended three years ago. I can’t blame HBO. I mean look how much they raked in from Sex in the City. The problem here was that Entourage was already wrapped up pretty nicely. We didn’t need to see more.

In fact, all I really want to do is forget I saw it at all.

Apparently, America feels the same way as me, because it flopped at the box office on opening weekend, raking in only about $10 million. That’s about $48 million less than the first Sex in the City movie made in 2008. Here’s hoping that disappointing result will keep them from making a sequel.

WE GAVE IT: 2 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

2 Stars

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