[#2018oscardeathrace] The Greatest Showman (2017)

Director: Michael Gracey

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya

Screenplay: Jenny Bicks, Bill Condon

105 mins. Rated PG for thematic elements including a brawl.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Song) “This is Me” [Pending]

 

Musicals are getting a comeback recently thanks to La La Land. In 2017, the same lyricists contributed to The Greatest Showman, a musical biopic based on the life of P.T. Barnum. So can the film stand up to meet the music?

Phineas T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables, Logan) came from nothing. When his father died, he was forced into a life of stealing bread and selling old newspapers just to survive, but his hard work and determination to give his beloved Charity (Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea, All the Money in the World) the life she deserves brings him to the creation of P.T. Barnum’s Museum, a building of curiosities and unique people. When Barnum’s successes lead him further away from his family, he is forced to confront what is most important in his life.

Okay, so the music is incredible here. I could not stop tapping my foot all throughout the film, and I did actually enjoy myself. The best songs in the film are the opening number and, of course, “This is Me.”

The biggest problem with the movie is that the story hits familiar beats all too often. There is a lot in P.T. Barnum’s life to cover, but the screenplay focuses on some paint-by-numbers plot points like the way Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, The Snowman) influences the plot and the love story between Philip Carlyle (Zac Efron, High School Musical 3: Senior Year, The Disaster Artist) and Anne Wheeler (Zendaya, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Zapped).

Hugh Jackman is, thankfully, a tremendous force in the film. In prepping for his role as Barnum, he read over 30 books on the famous showman. His role is joyful, emotional, and full of life. The Greatest Showman has been a passion project for Jackman since 2009, and his passion shows through here.

I left the theater with a big damn grin after The Greatest Showman ended. Much like The Disaster Artist, the film is about the need to perform and create, and in that way, Jackman’s performance shines through. He and the rest of the cast give their all in their acting and singing, but the screenplay hits a few too many beats. That being said, this is still a lovely time, especially in the theater.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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The Teaser Trailer for Baywatch is Here; Sink or Swim?

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Hey folks,

With 2016 coming to a close, it’s time to start getting excited for the upcoming blockbusters that are starting to drop trailers. Today, we get Baywatch.

Baywatch’s fresh new teaser had some elements to love and a few things I’m worried about…let’s start with the good.

First of all, Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron have great chemistry. Secondly, the teaser provides the opportunity to do to eschew the 90s in the same way 21 Jump Street did the 80s. There’s a real chance for Baywatch to be that kind of sendup in the way Starsky and Hutch was a decade ago.

As far as cons go, I wanted to see more comedy from the female cast. I really hope that the movie doesn’t underplay the ladies. I’m also extremely concerned with the visual effects, which look unfinished. That being said, perhaps they are, but this is no way to release a teaser.

My excitement level has not wavered for Baywatch, but I have some concerns to voice about this initial teaser. What did you think? And it you like this news, please click like or comment below.

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

[Early Review] Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)

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Director: Jake Szymanski

Cast: Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, Adam DeVine, Aubrey Plaza

Screenplay: Andrew Jay Cohen, Brendan O’Brien

98 mins. Rated R for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and some graphic nudity.

 

Hey, everyone! I was blessed to have seen Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates last night, and here’s my Early Review! Is this comedy enough chuckles to earn a theater experience? Let’s take a look.

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Oddly enough, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is a based on a true story…sort of. It’s the tale of the Stangle Brothers, Mike (Adam DeVine, TV’s Uncle Grandpa, The Intern) and Dave (Zac Efron, 17 Again, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), and their quest to get dates to their sister’s wedding. Tasked by their parents to get dates or be out of the wedding, Mike and Dave, desperate for nice girls, go to Craigslist with their request. Eventually, the two gain fame in their search, which leads them to Alice (Anna Kendrick, Pitch Perfect, Get a Job) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza, TV’s Parks and Recreation, Dirty Grandpa), who see this as an opportunity for a free trip to Hawaii and fake themselves off as nice girls. It isn’t long, however, before the Stangles and their wedding dates find that it isn’t easy to fake nice, and supposed hilarity ensues.

I’m going to make a comparison here that you won’t expect. Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is very similar to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The entire film feels like a collection of great scenes that just don’t fit together well. The movie isn’t very cohesive. It doesn’t pace very well either. There are numerous scenes that I loved (just wait for the massage bit) but overall these scenes are wasted on a splotchy story from director Jake Szymanski (7 Days in Hell).

I liked the chemistry from stars Efron and DeVine as well as Kendrick and Plaza. This film takes the approach for extreme lowball comedy which works occasionally as a style, but I don’t think Szymanski knows how to cultivate a style of his own that moves the story forward. Instead, he relies heavily on his leads to point the way. The problem with an approach like this is that you get characters that don’t evolve. The quartet of characters all have scenes that tell but don’t show growth which leads to a rather uninspired film.

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Sadly, I didn’t enjoy Mike and Dave nearly enough to endorse this film to you. It is definitely worth a Redbox-ing, but you can save your spending dollars for a better fare. For those of you that don’t want my opinion, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates opens July 8th.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

Neighbors (2014)

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Director: Nicholas Stoller

Cast: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Dave Franco

Screenplay: Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O’Brien

97 mins. Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout.

 

I thought the trailer for Neighbors was too good to be true, and while in some ways, it did feature a lot of the best material, the movie itself was a laugh riot. It’s my review next.

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Neighbors features Seth Rogen (This is the End, The Interview) as Mac Radner, who along with wife Kelly (Rose Byrne, X-Men: First Class, Annie), have just settled in at home with their new daughter. Unfortunately for them, they have new neighbors, as a fraternity has just set up shop next door, and leader Teddy (Zac Efron, 17 Again, That Awkward Moment) is about to seriously complicate Mac and Kelly’s lives in his quest to create the biggest party ever and end up on the fraternity wall of fame in this new film from director Nicholas Stoller (Get Him to the Greek, The Five-Year Engagement).

This film immediately appealed to me with a somewhat unique take on the feuding neighbors concept, and with two complete opposites as Rogen and Efron, as well as the comedic additions of Byrne and Dave Franco (21 Jump Street, The Lego Movie), I thought this movie might actually have something to it. To my satisfaction, I was right. The film, featuring increasingly absurd acts of war upon each other, features some of the funniest lines and gags of 2014. I had a few moments of complete laugh attacks.

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Stoller has nearly mastered the type of films he makes, and Neighbors is no exception, with a tight plot structure and the envelope-pushing battles of old versus young, it has the laughs to become a repeat-viewing film. I know fans of Seth Rogen’s films will find a lot to like here.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

(Seriously, that whole condom thing. Yuck.)

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