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Movie Reviews: Crazy Rich Asians, Mile 22, Alpha & Billionaire Boys Club

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Big time review day with four movies on the docket: ‘Crazy Rich Asians’, ‘Mile 22′, ‘Alpha’ and ‘Billionaire Boys Club’. We liked one, we were okay with one and we hated the other two. Make sure to subscribe to Lights, Camera, Barstool, where we gave in-depth reviews of ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and ‘Mile 22′.

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Jeff (91/100): What a fucking delightful movie. My goodness, I did not expect to enjoy this movie. You can’t consider me a traditional rom-com fan, but I know when to respect a good one. ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ was fantastic, and I highly suggest everyone go check it out. I’d also label this is as a fantastic date movie. If you need a movie to take a date to, I don’t think there is a better film for sharing a romantic evening.

The cast carries this movie and it is certainly a stellar one. Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Awkwafina, Harry Shum Jr., Michelle Yeoh, Gemma Chan, Jimmy O. Yang and Ken Jeong, just to name a few, all have performances and personalities that leap off of the screen. You need to have a lively cast, script and mood in order for a rom-com to work and ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ does just that.

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My only real critique of the movie is that the formula is a pretty familiar rom-com formula. With that said, the culture, settings, set pieces and more liven up any clichés and give this rom-com a totally different feel than its predecessors. The story, set in Singapore, is incredibly engaging and, despite a “conflict,” is just a lot of fun to watch unfold. It also helps having the movie set in a place like Singapore, a place and culture not normally prominently featured in an American blockbuster. I’ll say it a second time, even if the formula is something we’ve seen before, all of the elements inside of the movie feel fresh and new and it adds to its charm.

I won’t get too much into the cultural significance, but I can’t fail to mention that this is the first major Hollywood release with a majority Asian cast since 1993. It allows a different culture to be put on display for a mass audience and gives us a totally different experience at the theater. I can imagine it’s a special experience for Asian-Americans to be able to see their culture and the hurdles they deal with in a major motion picture. Beyond the cultural impact, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is a flat-out excellent movie and should be seen by all.

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KenJac (93/100): An outrageously fun movie, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ took a somewhat formulaic plot and made it captivating with rich colors, a whimsical soundtrack, and some fine acting. You laugh, you cry, and you never lose track of the plot which is all the points you need to hit on a rom-com. Jon M. Chu did a masterful job directing this movie, which weaves multiple plots together, seamlessly setting up a sequel which I already can’t wait for.

The main plot revolves around Constance Wu (‘Fresh Off the Boat’), Henry Golding (‘A Simple Favor’) and Michelle Yeoh (‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’). Wu in particular absolutely kills it, displaying a full range of emotions near flawlessly. Golding doesn’t exactly have a huge load to carry but does a fine job with his task. I liked Yeoh’s performance as the conflicted but stonehearted mother, looking out for the family’s best interests over everything. There were some subplots that were weaved around their story, including one with Gemma Chan (Humans) which was really heartbreaking. She delivers some killer lines which got me hyped to see what she has in store in the sequel. The ancillary characters were some of my favorite in any movie, with Ken Jeong (‘The Hangover’), Jimmy O. Yang (‘Silicon Valley’) and Nico Santos (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2) cracking me up to no end. Awkwafina (‘Ocean’s 8’) was a little awkward at times for sure, but she maybe had 15 minutes of screen time total and for certain had an element of charm.

The runtime was a cool 2 hours, but it felt a lot faster which is a testament to the editing team. You never really feel bored or impatient at any point as the plot zooms along, taking you from New York, to Singapore, to vacation resort islands, and more. I loved some of the sold selections Chu had, and have had the soundtrack for the movie on repeat for a while. Some of those musical cues, combined with outstanding shots such as one wedding sequence, made for some really emotional moments.

This movie obviously meant a lot to the Asian-American community and its success, both commercially and critically, is a huge victory for representation in the film industry. 38% of the weekend’s box office gross came from Asian-Americans, which is more than double the demographics high in last 3 years (18% for ‘The Foreigner’). Movies like this and ‘Black Panther’ are proving to Hollywood that mainstream movies featuring stories told outside of the WASP lens can be both a tremendous force culturally, and financial juggernauts. Outside of its impact, it’s simply a grand ole time and is a must-watch for rom-com lovers. Best date movie of the summer? I think so!

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Jeff (16/100): This is the fourth movie for the team of Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg. They previously did ‘Lone Survivor’ (good!), ‘Patriot’s Day’ (meh) and ‘Deepwater Horizon (not bad) but now they have teamed up for the first movie in a trilogy, ‘Mile 22’. Guess what folks, it is just not good. I’d say it borders on piss poor, honestly.

Look, I’m not looking for anything fancy with my Mark Wahlberg action movies. Just give me good fight scenes and tense action and I will overlook, for the most part, mediocre scripts and stories. The problem with ‘Mile 22’ is that the action scenes are nearly unwatchable. Why the fuck are we still using shaky cam tactics in Hollywood? ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ had so many gorgeous, perfectly shot action scenes and it allowed you to follow every detail. The way the action jumps around in ‘Mile 22’ is jarring and tough to follow. Not to mention the acting is poor and I still am fairly unsure as to why Ronda Rousey (who I have no problem with) is acting in movies.

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This is not a good movie and I wouldn’t suggest seeing it in theaters, yadda yadda, but let’s cut to the most ridiculous part of the movie. At one point a character turns to Mark Wahlberg’s character and says, “say hi to your mother for me.” It’s one of the wildest, out of left field fourth wall breaking “wink-wink” moments I have ever seen in a movie.

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KenJac (22/100): A boorish and unoriginal shooter, ‘Mile 22’ fails to give you anything original over an impossibly short hour and a half. I love Pete Berg and he is obviously capable of making competent and unique action movies, but this just wasn’t it.

Mark Wahlberg (‘The Fighter’) stars as the leader of a top-secret deniable-ops group, overwatch, tasked with special missions abroad. Originality points there! They start out with a raid of a house which is watched over by John Malkovich (‘Being John Malkovich’) who’s callsign is “Mother” which they never let you forget. They move to Indonesia where they meet Iko Uwais (‘The Raid 2’) who is a police officer with information vital to US intelligence, so they decide to drive (why) him to an airport and extract him to the US. A whole bunch of automatic weapons fire and terrible car chase sequences happen between spouts of some horrific, and I mean HORRIFIC dialogue. Some of Marky Mark’s worst lines and deliveries since ‘The Happening’ and that’s saying something. The one redeeming moment comes from Uwais’s 2v1 fight they promote in the trailer which was badass.

I don’t even think this is a good turn-off-your-brain weekend movie. In an age where espionage action-thrillers are out in very high quality, there are better places to spend an hour and a half. Watch ‘Homeland’ or something instead. Final note: Never give Malkovich a hairpiece again.

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Jeff (73/100): ‘Alpha’ is an okay movie and looks awesome in IMAX. It’s a story about a young boy who teams up with an injured wolf during the Ice Age. It’s a middle of the road adventure that most people will enjoy and immediately forget about.

I really want to talk about the fact we’ve seen trailers for this movie for months. Actually, as I typed this, I looked it up and the trailer for this movie came out in July of 2017, over a year ago. Big budget tentpole movies usually have early trailers, but to have ‘Alpha’ shoved in our face for more than a year is a wild move for Sony Pictures. Part of the reason we’ve seen the trailer for so long is that the movie was delayed from September 2017 to March 2018 and then finally came into theaters in August 2018. Sony Pictures has spent a decent chunk of change marketing this movie, as well. They spent over $5 million last week on commercials airing from ABC to Discovery Channel and Nickelodeon, according to Variety.

There’s nothing really wrong with this movie, but damn, I’m just happy to never have to see a trailer for it ever again.

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KenJac (71/100): A movie we’ve been getting previews for what feels like a decade now, ‘Alpha’ is for certain a beta among movies this summer. I went into it thinking it was going to be a pro-dog and pro-animal puff piece, but it’s more of a violent survival story about a teen caveman and his journey home. There’re some redeemable aspects of the movie which I liked a lot, but nothing that met the hype.

Kodi Smit-McPhee (‘X-Men: Apocalypse’) plays teen caveman, who gets accidentally bull rushed off a huge cliff on his first big hunt. His tribe gives him up for dead, but guess what? He lived, bitch! He starts the journey home and gets attacked by wolves, one of which he K.O.’s and the rest run off. He nurses the wolf back to health, and they make the journey back together. McPhee is totally fine, borderline good because this wasn’t much of a speaking role. That’s actually one of the aspects I liked most about the movie because any film that can keep my attention with only foreign language (Apocalypto) or minimal to no dialogue (Castaway) I find very impressive. The runtime didn’t feel too long, and I sort of like what they were able to do with the 3D effects. Was it as impressive as they hyped it up to be? Probably not, but it still featured some interesting visuals.

Prehistory is such an undeveloped area for a movie to explore, and while ‘Alpha’ didn’t hit that mark, I still hope other movies give it a shot in the future. ‘Encino Man’ still slaps, though.

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Jeff (24/100): Hey Kevin Spacey, retire bitch.

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Taran Egerton and Ansel Elgort do a decent job with this movie and carry it enough where I wasn’t compelled to turn it off. The issue is that it is a bland, boring movie with little to no depth. If you really want to see this movie, you can stream it online, but you’ll still have to pay to watch it.

I hope this is the last time we ever see Kevin Spacey in a movie. What a piece of shit.

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KenJac (17/100): Aside from the fact that asshole Spacey has a main role in this movie, this was just a shit film. It comes off as a poor impression of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ with lackluster performances, clunky dialogue, and abysmal pacing.

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Ansel Elgort (‘The Fault in Our Stars’) and Taron Egerton (‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’) play the real-life Joe Hunt and Dean Karny, heads of the social club/investing group they called the Billionaire Boys Club. They’re essentially con-men, getting rich kids their age to invest in get-rich-quick schemes promising huge payouts. They get in hot water when a better con-man (Spacey) takes them for 4 million, and they accidentally murder him and later a former Iranian government official. Watching that sick asshole get that much screen time was jarring and extremely uncomfortable, especially considering his character was a sleazy, predatory old man. Elgort and Egerton’s performances were uninspiring, as was Emma Roberts. Like I mentioned earlier, it just feels like a store-brand version of ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ as far as the narrative structure, but it just moves so slowly. The wrap of it is perfectly indicative of the movie as well, as it’s just a blunt cutoff leaving you feeling very uneasy at what you just watched.

Taron Egerton is going to be on a bit of a cold streak, going from ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’, to this, to ‘Robin Hood’ which is presumably not going to be great based off the material we have seen so far. He is going to be starring as Elton John in ‘Rocketman’ at some point next year, which will be the redemption project for an actor I like quite a bit. Elgort is kind of a push for me, fire music though. At the end of the day, you’re better off watching either of the other connotations of BBC instead of ‘Billionaire Boys Club’.


We Officially Buttered ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ with an average of over 90/100, while ‘Alpha’ is teetering on the edge and is awaiting Trillballin’s score. Meanwhile, ‘Mile 22′ and ‘Billionaire Boys Club’ were super Officially Not Buttered. That’s all for this week and next week will be dropping more reviews, including ‘The Happytime Murders’.

August (‘Crazy Rich Asians’ & ‘Mile 22′): https://goo.gl/forms/QrUn8VtKXvshaWoO2
January: https://goo.gl/forms/nNzX19HbebeQMUAA3
February: https://goo.gl/forms/DWG9TJMISLzUunsu2
March: https://goo.gl/forms/k0dL5ozOrhwJ2Bk03
April: https://goo.gl/forms/Z218hqWq3XGyqi9C3
May: https://goo.gl/forms/f5aYcpJHnBMmkcs52
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