Showing posts with label Craig Robinson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Craig Robinson. Show all posts

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Review: "THE BAD GUYS" is A.C.E. (Average, Cute & Entertaining)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 16 of 2023 (No. 1905) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Bad Guys (2022)
Running time:  100 minutes (1 hour, 40 minutes)
MPAA – PG for action and rude humor
DIRECTOR:  Pierre Perifel
WRITERS:  Etan Cohen (based on the books by Aaron Blabey)
PRODUCERS:  Rebecca Huntley and Damon Ross
EDITOR:  John Venzon
COMPOSER:  Daniel Pemberton


Starring:  (voices):  Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron, Awkwafina, Craig Robinson, Anthony Ramos, Richard Ayoade, Zazie Beetz, Alex Borstein, and Lilly Singh

The Bad Guys is a 2022 computer-animated crime comedy and adventure fantasy film directed by Pierre Perifel and produced by DreamWorks Animation.  The film is loosely based on the children's book series, The Bad Guys, by Aaron Blabey.  The Bad Guys the movie focuses on a gang of notorious animal criminals pretending to want to be rehabilitated until circumstances force them to really attempt to do something good.

The Bad Guys is set in a world in which humans co-exist with anthropomorphic animals (animals that talk and act like humans).  The film introduces “The Bad Guys,” a gang of five infamous criminal animals known for their numerous thefts and their uncanny ability to evade authorities.  The Bad Guys are Mr. Wolf (Sam Rockwell), a cool and slick pickpocket who is the team's leader; Mr. Snake (Marc Maron), a safe-cracking snake who is Wolf's second-in-command and best friend; Ms. Tarantula (Awkwafina), a sarcastic hacker also known as “Webs;” Mr. Shark (Craig Robinson), a sensitive and child-like master of disguise; and Mr. Piranha (Anthony Ramos), the sharp-tongued tough guy and muscle of the group.

Their latest target is the “Golden Dolphin,” a trophy to be handed out at the “Annual Good Samaritan Awards” being held at the Museum of Fine Arts.  The Golden Dolphin will be awarded to Professor Rupert Marmalade IV, a wealthy guinea pig philanthropist whose generosity is almost as good as that of Mother Teresa.  The event will also be attended by Governor Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz) and Police Chief Misty Luggins (Alex Borstein), a husky female law enforcement who is determined to nab the Bad Guys.

When the Bad Guys are nabbed, Mr. Wolf accepts an offer from Professor Marmalade, with Gov. Foxington's approval, to reform and rehabilitate the Bad Guys.  There are problems with that.  Mr. Snake is reluctant to be reformed.  Not everyone is truthful about their roles in this plan or honest about their identity.  But a part of Mr. Wolf secretly really wants to change his ways.

I created a new acronym for big studio, computer-animated (or CG animated) feature films aimed at the family audience.  It is “A.C.E.,” which means “Average, Cute & Entertaining.”  According to an April 2022 feature in the Los Angeles Times about The Bad Guys, the film's design is inspired by Sony Pictures Animation's 2018, Oscar-winning film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which mixed both a 3D and a 2D aesthetic in its design.  Honestly, I can't tell that just by watching the film.  I can tell that The Bad Guys also mixes 2D and 3D graphics and design elements, but The Bad Guys' animation lacks the spark of the highly-acclaimed Spider-Man film.

The characters are mildly amusing and interesting, but they seem more like types than actual characters.  The only character that I really liked is a kitten that is not anthropomorphic and does not talk.  Just as Disney/Pixar's Lightyear was uplifted by the robotic cat, “Sox,” The Bad Guys receive a jolt when this unnamed kitten appears.

Even the voice acting in The Bad Guys seems only kind of inspired.  Sam Rockwell is too cool for his character, Mr. Wolf's own good.  I can't believe that Zazie Beetz provides the voice for Governor Foxington because this distinctive performer sounds like a generic female voice performer.

So there it is.  The Bad Guys is average entertainment, but cute average entertainment.  There is a good chance that young audiences will adore it, but I kinda wish I hadn't bothered with it – except I would have missed the adorable kitty.

5 of 10
★★½ out of 4 stars

Friday, March 31, 2023

2023 Black Reel Awards:  1 nomination: “Outstanding Voice Performance” (Zazie Beetz)

The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.



Monday, February 15, 2021

#28DaysofBlack Review: GET ON UP

[The late Chadwick Boseman portrayed four African-American historical figures, three of them as the lead actor.  His performance as James Brown in “Get on Up” is an example of why so many are devastated by his passing and also by the loss of what could have been.]

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 14 of 2021 (No. 1752) by Leroy Douresseaux

Get on Up (2014)
Running time:  139 minutes (2 hours, 19 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for sexual content, drug use, some strong language, and violent situations
DIRECTOR:  Tate Taylor
WRITERS:  Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth; from a story by Steven Baigelman and Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth
PRODUCERS:  Brian Grazer, Erica Huggins, Mick Jagger, Victoria Pearman, and Tate Taylor
CINEMATOGRAPHER:  Stephen Goldblatt
EDITOR:  Michael McCusker
COMPOSER:  Thomas Newman


Starring:  Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Jamarion and Jordan Scott, Viola Davis, Lennie James, Fred Melamed, Jamal Batiste, Craig Robinson, Jill Scott, Octavia Spencer, Josh Hopkins, Brandon Mychal Smith, Tika Sumpter, Aunjanue Ellis, Tariq Trotter as Pee Wee Ellis, John Benjamin Hickey, and Allison Janney

Get on Up is a 2014 biographical film and musical drama directed by Tate Taylor.  The film is a fictional depiction of the life of singer, songwriter, recording artist, and concert performer, James Brown (1933-2006).  Get on Up chronicles the rise from extreme poverty of one of the most influential musical performers in history.

Get on Up opens in Augusta, Georgia, the year 1988James Brown (Chadwick Boseman), one of the world's most famous recording artists and performers, gets high on mix of marijuana and PCP.   He visits one of his businesses and discovers that someone from a nearby seminar has used his private restroom.  Furious, Brown confronts the seminar attendees while carrying a shotgun, which he accidentally fires into the ceiling.

The film then uses a nonlinear narrative, following James Brown's stream of consciousness, as he recalls events from his life.  We meet young James Brown (Jamarion and Jordan Scott), living in poverty with his mother, Susie Brown (Viola Davis), and abusive father, Joseph “Joe” Brown (Lennie James).  Eventually abandoned by both his parents, young James lives in a brothel run by his Aunt Honey Washington (Octavia Spencer).

Later, James joins “The Flames,” a gospel singing group fronted by his new friend, Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis).  Soon, they become “The Famous Flames” and sing R&B songs, but within a decade James Brown is ready to go solo.  It would not be the last time James is willing to go it alone on the way to becoming one of the most influential singer, songwriters, musicians, producers, dancers, bandleaders, and recording artists of all time.

Director Tate Taylor and screenwriters Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth have fashioned of a story that looks at two sides of James Brown:  his musical talent and performances and his personal and professional relationships.  This allows Get on Up to give audiences what they want – lots of James Brown on stage – and to also tell a behind-the-music-like story of a complicated man.

Get on Up takes its title from a chorus in James Brown's 1970 hit, “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine.”  Brown does indeed “get on up” every time he experiences something personally or professionally that could have brought him down and kept him down.  The thing that I can respect about this film is that it does not only portray Brown as someone who overcomes, but also portrays him as someone who does not appreciate that he was never alone in creating his success.  Late in the film, Brown breaks the fourth wall (one of many times he does this) to tell the audience that he “paid the cost to be the boss.”  However, he did not pay the cost alone, to which wives, girlfriends, lovers, children, band mates, and employees can certainly testify.

Through the impressive work of Get on Up's film editor, Michael McCusker. Tate Taylor jumps around time to show the many faces of this artist who was, in a way, a chameleon as a performer.  We see moments from the years:  1939, 1949, 1955, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1971, 1988, and 1993.  This time-shifting of the film's narrative also reveals the many dark times of Brown's life.

Everyone's work would not mean much without a great performer giving a great performance as James Brown, and Chadwick Boseman certainly does that.  Boseman fashions a James Brown that is perfect for the story that Get on Up tells, creating a Brown that is an inspired genius and a dictatorial general.  Boseman nearly buries himself in the role, and I often found myself forgetting that Get on Up is not a documentary and that the James Brown on screen was a portrait not the real man.  However, Boseman's dynamic performance gives us both sides, the public persona known as James Brown, the musical revolution, and the private James Brown, unyielding to family, friends, collaborators, and partners and beset by demons.

There are other good performances.  Viola Davis packs her own power into every scene in which she appears as Brown's mother, and Octavia Spencer's displays the naturalism of her acting that charms her audiences as well as her fellow thespians.  Nelson Ellis offers a rich and layered performance as Brown's longtime collaborator, Bobby Byrd, and twins Jamarion and Jordan Scott damn near steal Get on Up with their performances as young James Brown.

Because of Chadwick Boseman's tragic passing in 2020, Get on Up will largely be remembered for his performance.  That's a shame because Get on Up is a really good film and is one of the best contemporary biographies of an African-American figure and of an icon figure in popular music in recent memory.  So, I'll take both.  Get on Up captures the music and the madness of James Brown, and the film captures a truly great performance by an actor who was becoming great and greater still before he died.

9 of 10

Monday, February 15, 2021

2015 Black Reel Awards:  3 nominations: “Outstanding Actor, Motion Picture” (Chadwick Boseman), :Outstanding Supporting Actor, Motion Picture” (Nelsan Ellis), and “Outstanding Ensemble” (Kerry Barden and Paul Schnee)

2015 Image Awards (NAACP):  5 nomination: “Outstanding Motion Picture,” “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture” (Chadwick Boseman), “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Jill Scott), “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Octavia Spencer), and “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture” (Viola Davis)

The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved.  Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.


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Friday, September 18, 2015

Review: "Rapture-Palooza" is Charming, Off-Beat Fun

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 37 (of 2015) by Leroy Douresseaux

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

Rapture-Palooza (2013)
Running time:  85 minutes (1 hour, 25 minutes)
MPAA – R for language including crude sexual references throughout, and for drug use
DIRECTOR:  Paul Middleditch
WRITER:  Chris Matheson
PRODUCERS:  David Householter, Jimmy Miller, and Ed Solomon
EDITOR:  Melissa Bretherton
COMPOSER:  Joachim Horsley


Starring:  Craig Robinson, Anna Kendrick, John Francis Daley, Rob Corddry, Ana Gasteyer, John Michael Higgins, Calum Worthy, Jesse Camacho, Thomas Lennon, Ken Jeong, Bjorn Yearwood, Paul Scheer, Darcy Michael, Mike O'Connell, Tyler Labine, and Andy Fiscella

Rapture-Palooza is a 2013 fantasy-comedy film from director Paul Middleditch and writer Chris Matheson.  The film focuses on a young woman and her boyfriend as they try to outwit the Antichrist who wants to impregnate the young woman.

Rapture-Palooza opens with the arrival of the Biblical Rapture, in which the pious, sanctified, and those deemed worthy by (the Christian) God are whisked off to Heaven, while everyone else is left behind.  This begins the Apocalypse, and soon humanity is vexed by falling meteorites, a plague of evil locusts (that yell “Suffer!”), talking crows (that use profanity), storms (that rain blood), and wraiths (who are addicted to smoking pot).

In Seattle, Lindsey (Anna Kendrick) and her boyfriend, Ben (John Francis Daley), are survivors of this Apocalypse, trying to make the best of this bad situation.  They fend for themselves, and even come up with a small business idea – “Good Sandwiches,” a food cart for selling good sandwiches.  However, a politician named Earl Gundy (Craig Robinson) is revealed to be “The Beast” of the Apocalypse.  The Beast is looking for a bride, a nice girl who is a virgin and who will bare him many beastly children.

The Beast discovers Lindsey and demands that she have sex with him and become his bride or he will kill all her family and friends – the ones who were not “raptured.”  Repulsed by his offer, Lindsey and Ben concoct a plan to capture and imprison The Beast, but will their not-really-well-thought-out plan save Lindsey or make things worse for everyone else?

Rapture-Palooza is by no means a great movie or even an exceptional comedy.  However, it is one of the few films that take both a funny and even mocking view of the Rapture and the Apocalypse, and that counts for something.  The scenes depicting the Rapture are probably this film's most inspired moments.  The pace of the movie is slow, and the director relies on dialogue to make the film work.  Also, it must be said that cast and crew make the most of an obviously small budget.

The cast is good, especially the three leads.  Supporting actors like Ken Jeong, Rob Corddry, Thomas Lennon, Paul Scheer, Calum Worthy, and Ana Gasteyer, among others, have some good comic moments, especially the always-funny Corddry.  Fans of off-beat comedy should give Rapture-Palooza a try.  I have to say that I find it funny enough to watch again.

6 of 10

Friday, July 17, 2015

The text is copyright © 2015 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

Friday, December 19, 2014

New Trailer and Poster for "Hot Tub Time Machine 2"

Lou Dorchen founder CEO of LouNET, the Internet powerhouse responsible for Lougle™, LougleMaps™, and LouMail™ writes exclusively for Mashable about how he makes Internet magic happen.

Read now:

Watch now:

When Lou (Rob Corddry) finds himself in trouble, Nick (Craig Robinson) and Jacob (Clark Duke) fire up the hot tub time machine in an attempt to get back to the past. But they inadvertently land in the future with Adam Jr. (Adam Scott). Now they have to alter the future in order to save the past... which is really the present, in the sequel from the same team that brought you the original cult hit.

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 is in theaters February 20th, 2015



Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review: Fun Never Ends in "This Is the End"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 66 (of 2013) by Leroy Douresseaux

This Is the End (2013)
Running time:  107 minutes (1 hour, 47 minutes)
MPAA – R for crude and sexual content throughout, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, drug use and some violence
DIRECTORS:  Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
WRITERS:  Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg; from a screen story by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (based on the short film, Jay and Seth vs. The Apocalypse, by Jason Stone)
PRODUCERS:  James Weaver and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg
EDITOR:  Zene Baker
COMPOSER:  Henry Jackman


Starring:  James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Emma Watson, Kevin Hart, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Paul Rudd, and Channing Tatum with Jason Segel

This Is the End is a 2013 apocalyptic comedy film from writer-directors, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.  This black comedy features a number of Hollywood comic actors and celebrities playing fictional versions of themselves.  The movie centers on actor James Franco’s house where a small band of survivors are forced to live together after a disaster that could be the end of the world.

This Is the End begins with Jay Baruchel arriving in Los Angeles to visit his old friend and fellow actor, Seth Rogen.  Seth convinces Jay to go with him to a housewarming party hosted by actor James Franco.  Jay is reluctant because he does not like Seth’s L.A. friends, especially actor Jonah Hill.  During the party, a catastrophic earthquake occurs, and L.A. falls to fire and chaos.  Jay, Seth, James, Jonah, and Craig Robinson survive the destruction, but they are not alone.  They slowly learn that the largest earthquake in California history may be more than just a natural disaster.

In his review of This Is the End for Maclean’s, critic Brian D. Johnson basically said that there could be worse ways to experience the apocalypse than with stoned celebrities (go here or for the full review).  Other than spending it with my family, there is no better way to go through the end of the world than with fun, fictional versions of Seth Rogen and his friends.  Also, much of the middle of the film works like a comedy stage play that allows each member of the ensemble to fashion a character that engages the audience.

I like many of the films in which most members of the main and supporting cast have appeared.  For the most part, I also like their public personas.  They are all really funny in this film, and James Franco’s sardonic humor (which was too understated to work during his gig hosting the Oscars) shines.  Once again, Craig Robinson finds a way to turn a supporting comedy part into a co-leading role on the sheer strength of his underrated talent as a light comic actor.  Danny McBride steals the show; if any actor deserves an Academy Award nomination as a supporting actor this year because of a comedic performance, it is McBride in This Is the End.

This Is the End was made for me.  I liked what the actors did in this movie, and I liked how they were willing to savage their public personas and work in films.  This Is the End of the review but not of my love for this movie, which will go on...

8 of 10

Saturday, October 05, 2013

The text is copyright © 2013 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this site for syndication rights and fees.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Review: "Shrek Forever After" is an Upgrade from Third Film

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 37 (of 2010) by Leroy Douresseaux

Shrek Forever After (2010)
Running time: 93 minutes (1 hour, 33 minutes)
MPAA – PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language
DIRECTOR: Mike Mitchell
WRITER: Josh Klausner and Darren Lemke
PRODUCERS: Teresa Cheng and Gina Shay


Starring: (voices) Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, Antonio Banderas, Julie Andrews, Jon Hamm, John Cleese, Craig Robinson, Jane Lynch, and Walt Dohrn

The magic is not gone! Shrek Forever After arrives in theatres and reminds us that the disappointing Shrek the Third was a fluke in the Shrek franchise. When Shrek debuted in 2001, it was certainly different from the typical animated film. Instead of being an update of some fairy tale meant to appease children, Shrek turned the fairy tale on its ear, spoofed pop culture, and introduced odd ball characters that were so endearing a few of them gradually became pop culture stars. The 2004 sequel, Shrek 2, was as good as the first film, but not as fresh and original. Shrek the Third was a misfire. While it may not be an original, Shrek Forever After returns to what the first two films did well.

The new film finds the title character, that lovable ogre, Shrek (Mike Myers), not loving being a lovable ogre. He fought an evil dragon to rescue Prince Fiona (Cameron Diaz), married her, and saved his in-laws’ kingdom, Far Far Away. Before that, however, Shrek was ogre who scared villagers and took mud baths. Now, he is a domesticated family man, changing diapers, and autographing pitchforks for admiring villagers, and his once-fearsome ogre’s roar has become a children’s favorite. Shrek longs for the days when he was “real ogre,” but there is someone with the magic to help him be bad again.

A smooth-talking dealmaker named Rumpelstiltskin (Walt Dohrn) meets Shrek and offers him a magical contract. Shrek can get a day to feel like a real ogre again, in exchange for ANY day from Shrek’s past. Shrek signs the contract, but the deal creates a twisted, alternate version of Far Far Away. This is a world in which he and Princess Fiona never met, and his friends, even Donkey (Eddie Murphy), don’t know him. He has 24 hours to restore his world or disappear forever.

Shrek Forever After is essentially a spin on director Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life, in which a man on the verge of suicide gets to see how unfortunate life would be for his family, friends, and community without him. Because it uses themes similar to the Capra film, this fourth Shrek movie is probably the most heartfelt and sentimental about the importance of close relationships. The narrative is insistent that each individual character is essential to the well-being and happiness of his or her fellow characters. [That said, Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) is getting a spin-off film.]

The entire story plays off the idea that the audience, by now, is familiar with these characters, knows their personalities, and has expectations about how the characters will entertain them. And Shrek Forever After delivers. All the voice performances are good, and, unlike in Shrek the Third, Eddie Murphy and Donkey have lots of screen time, which they use to spectacular results. This film also introduces another good Shrek villain, the winning Rumpelstiltskin, superbly performed by animator and voice actor, Walt Dohrn.

Shrek Forever After like the original is big and jolly. Cleverly chosen songs still populate the soundtrack and set the tone for key scenes in the story. Pop culture is slyly referenced and spoofed (like the funny break dancing witches routine), and the main characters still have some of the best jokes and one-liners the audience will hear during the summer movie season. But Shrek Forever After has heart. If this is indeed the last Shrek film (at least for awhile), we are left with a movie that reminds us how much fun Shrek and company are and how much we really like them or even love them.

8 of 10

Sunday, May 23, 2010