Comedy

Midnight Madness (1980)

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Five teams are in for the night of their lives in this Disney film that would mark the debut of two familiar faces today.

Leon, a college student, has come up with an idea for an all-night scavenger hunt which he calls “The Great All-Nighter”. He has picked five of his classmates to play the team leaders of this game. They are debate club leader Wesley, sorority leader Donna, football team captain Levitas, lazy rich boy Harold, and student counselor Adam. At first, the five laugh off Leon’s idea for the game. However, Leon is convinced that they will end up playing the game and his premonition proves correct when a series of events cause the five to become the leaders.

Harold looks to get even with Adam because Harold’s father is tired of his lazy son being upstaged by him. Wesley and Donna find a common enemy in Levitas, whose football team has caused ire with both of them. Adam is unconvinced until his fellow counselor and crush Laura thinks it would be a good idea for Adam to play the game. As the game begins, Leon finds himself in hot water with his landlord, who despises him because of his being a student and vows to evict him if there is one more complaint. However, soon enough Leon’s determination leads his neighbors to join him and root for the teams as this is one night nobody will ever forget.

Who would have ever thought Disney would have released a film about an all-night scavenger hunt between college students? Well, take the notion that for some of their live action films, the use of college students would have adventures in the form of the Dexter Riley trilogy starring Kurt Russell in the seventies, it was time to update to the eighties, where Disney began making PG-rated films such as The Black Hole and the live action Popeye movie. Written and directed by the duo of David Wechter and Michael Nankin, the film is actually a fun adventure that will make you root for basically one team while the story does focus on all five teams.

The title not only refers to the madness the five teams endure as they play the game, but in a bold move, the film also shows the craziness and support from game master Leon. At first, it looks like Leon may have had his number up when his neighbors start to complain about the noise from his apartment. However, once they learn what he is doing, they are not only supportive, but it gets to a point where the neighbors all go to Leon’s apartment and get involved in the game, which incurs the wrath of the building landlord. It gets to a point where even the police find themselves involved with what Leon is involved with in a positive manner.

Before his breakout role as the titular American Werewolf in London, David Naughton plays the good-natured Adam, leader of the Yellow team. He serves as a mentor to teammate Flynch, a nerdy freshman played by Joel Kenney. However, Adam shows while he has good intentions, he does have a bit of a dark side when it comes to his relationship with little brother Scott, played by Michael J. Fox in his film debut. Meanwhile, Stephen Furst’s blue team leader Harold has every intention of getting the best of Adam and also incurring the wrath of his girlfriend when he hides food to break his diet. A special kudos goes to future director Andy Tennant, who is hilarious to watch as Harold’s best friend and comic relief Melio.

What’s better than one Eddie Deezen? What about four near-lookalikes of the nerdy-like actor, who make up the debate team, who sport white while future Simpsons voice actress Maggie Roswell’s red team leader Donna finds herself at times in trouble with her twin teammates but find support with martial arts fighting Beryl, played by Robyn Petty. As for the green team, who dub themselves “The Meat Machine”, Brad Wilkin does well as team leader, but the highlight comes in Dirk Blocker’s Blaylack, who is at his funniest when the teams go to the Pabst Blue Ribbon factory as part of the game.

Aside from Michael J. Fox, the other familiar face making his film debut is Paul Reubens, who gained fame in the 80’s as the childlike Pee Wee Herman. Reubens has a small role as the cowboy-sporting proprietor of a local video game arcade. The film would go on to become an influence on various cities as to this day, people actually have their own “all-night” scavenger hunts.

Midnight Madness is truly a fun adventure that not only shows the players in the game, but even the people who come in full support of their neighbor, the game master. A wonderful young cast drives the film and makes this one Disney film worth checking out.

WFG RATING: B+

A Walt Disney Pictures presentation. Directors: David Wechter and Michael Nankin. Producer: Ron Miller. Writers: David Wechter and Michael Nankin. Cinematography: Frank Phillips. Editing: Norman R. Palmer and Jack Sekely.

Cast: David Naughton, Debra Clinger, David Damas, Michael J. Fox, Joel Kenney, Stephen Furst, Andy Tennant, Patrice Alice Albright, Brian Frishman, Sal Lopez, Maggie Roswell, Robyn Petty, Betsy Lynn Thompson, Carol Gwynn Thompson, Eddie Deezen, Marvin Katzoff, Christopher Sands, Michael Gitomer, Brad Wilkin, Dirk Blocker, Curt Ayers, Trevor Henley, Keny Long, Alan Solomon, Irene Tedrow, Deborah Richter, Kirsten Baker, Paul Reubens.

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Gintama (2017)

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The hit manga by Hideaki Sorachi has a live action adaptation and it caters to both fans of the source material as well as newcomers to the title, thanks in part to some over the top antics that work quite well.

Twenty years ago, Edo was invaded by aliens and the government, calling them Amanto, ended up in war with the aliens. However, when the war was over, the Sword Prohibition Act was passed, forbidden all samurai to unleash their swords. As a result, the aliens and humans are now living in peace. One known as the White Demon, former samurai Gintoki Sakata has resorted to being more a lazy bum who does odd jobs with Shinpachi, a one-time budding samurai and heir to a martial arts dojo; and Kagura, an alien girl who has both a strong will and appetite.

Gintoki’s now peaceful life is soon shattered with childhood friend Katsura is killed by a mysterious stranger Nizou Okada, who has possession of a mysterious sword known as the Benizakura. To make matters worse, he learns that Okada is working with Shinsuke Takasugi, who had fought alongside Gintoki and Katsura in the Joui War that led to the Sword Prohibition Act. Now deemed a traitor, Takasugi intends to make his intentions known by unleashing his sword and destroying Edo. With help from the siblings whose dad created the deadly blade, Gintoki, Shinpachi, and Kagura must stop Takasugi, Okada, and their allies to save Edo and make it peaceful again.

Having only recently begun watching the anime based on the hit Shonen Jump manga, this reviewer kind of knows what to expect. Yuichi Fukuda wrote and directed this live-action adaptation that may or may not make fans of the original source material, depending on their taste, but will surely be a delight for newcomers who are curious about Sorachi’s story of a lazy samurai and his friends in an alternate Edo where aliens and humans are apparently living in peace despite the normalcy of crime and everyday life.

The cast of the film are great to watch. Shun Oguri brings the character of Gintoki Sakata to life and does so with some hilarious antics. This especially is prevalent in a hilarious “opening credit” sequence where only his name appears and it appears he is singing from a karaoke song only to be interrupted by a cartoon version of Shinpachi and Kagura. While Oguri handles the action quite well, he proves with his role here that he has a flair for comedy and brings it full speed ahead in the role.

When it comes to live-action manga and anime, no one has recently done it like Masaki Suda. The former one-half of Kamen Rider W had been known for his role as Karma Akabane in the Assassination Classroom series but goes a full 180 with his role of the very timid yet determined Shinpachi. Suda has that comical flair necessary to make a role such as Shinpachi work. From his surprised expressions to getting knocked in the face in super slow motion by ally Kagura and with an emotional range, Suda is truly stands out in the film while his Assassination Classroom cohort Kanna Hashimoto, who played the automated Ritsu in the two films, here plays the alien Kagura and from what was seen so far in the anime, pretty well and faithful.

While the trio of Gintoki, Shinpachi, and Kagura make up the driving force of the film, the supporting cast is quite fun to watch. Notably the introduction of the bumbling police Chief Isao Kondo, played hilariously by Kankuro Nakamura, who appears in just his underwear covered in honey. Kondo has a major crush on Shinpachi’s sister and gets his comeuppances on a few occasions when she shows no interest in him. This includes hitting him with a baseball bat and it becomes a home run. The duo of Ryo Yoshizawa and Yuya Yagira play Okita and Hijikata, members of the Shinseigumi, a police force, who seem to dislike Gintoki but when they are faced with the common enemy, find themselves teaming up with him. And yet, these two are not exactly the smartest duo either. They are almost but not quote on Kondo’s level. Ken Yasuda also brings some comic relief with his overpowering performance (and that’s voice-wise) as Tetsuya Murata, whose father created the Benizakura blade with Akari Hayami complementing Tetsuya’s shouting as the more reserved Tetsuko Murata.

Hirofumi Arai brings the character of Nizo Okada as a deadly warrior who is fused with the very deadly blade that Gintoki must track down. Arai emulates a sort of Zatoichi-like performance with assistance from Jiro Sato’s self-proclaimed “feminist” Henpeita Takeuchi and Nanao’s gun-slinging Matako Kijima. However, the real villain is that of Takasuki Shinsuke, played by Tsuyoshi Domoto, which brings the sometimes clichéd “best friend turned enemy” portion of the action genre but Domoto gives such a harrowing performance that it stands out quite well here.

There are plenty of comic gags, from slow motion hits to the “kabuto beetle chase” scene and even references to other popular anime and manga that stand out in the film and for some reason, it works. The swordfighting action is quite fun to watch as well as Oguri’s opening scene where he resorts to using unarmed martial arts against two annoying cat-human hybrid aliens who purposely harass Shinpachi in a “prologue” sequence. For the most part, the CGI is quite good, that is until when we see Okada in true fusion form as this is where the CGI looks a bit sub-par. It does reach borderline ridiculous, but the fact that this is an action-comedy of this element, it can be somewhat forgiven.

With room left for a sequel, apparently due this coming summer, whether or not you’ve seen the anime or read the manga, if you want a good fun Japanese action-comedy, then Gintama is recommended. The cast is great, taking elements from two arcs, and some mostly good CGI and some good action in the mix of the comic elements.

WFG RATING: A-

Warner Bros. Japan presents a Plus D production. Director: Yuichi Fukuda. Producers: Shinzo Matsuhashi and Susumu Hida. Writer: Yuichi Fukuda; based on the Weekly Shonen Jump manga by Hideaki Sorachi. Cinematography: Tetsuya Kudo and Yasuyuki Suzuki. Editing: Jun Kuriyagawa.

Cast: Shun Oguri, Masaki Suda, Kanna Hashimoto, Masaki Okada, Yuya Yagira, Ryo Yoshizawa, Ken Yasuda, Akari Hayami, Masami Nagasawa, Hirofumi Arai, Jiro Sato, Nanao, Tsuyoshi Muro, Kankuro Nakamura, Tsuyoshi Domoto, Seika Furuhata, Seiji Rokkaku.

Mom and Dad (2017)

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Have you grown tired of getting disrespected by your kids and want to do something about it? The insane version of that answer lies in the solo directorial debut of Crank director Brian Taylor.

Carly Ryan is about to have the worst day of her life…literally. She learns that her parents are not letting her see her boyfriend Damon and instead stay home to see their grandparents. When Carly heads to school, things are about to get worse. Meanwhile, a series of attacks have been unleashed on children. When parents arrive at the school, the students wonder why the parents would all of a sudden show up. That is, until the parents begin to launch an attack on their own kids, killing or maiming them.

Carly soon finds herself running home and worried about her little brother Josh. Meanwhile, Carly’s father Brent and mother Kendall slowly begin to go through life’s stresses in a way that soon becomes unimaginable. When they return home, they too fall for the epidemic that has plagued children and begin to go after Carly and Josh. Having no other choice but to defend themselves, Carly and Josh must find a way to make sure they survive the night before their parents turn them into victims.

Brian Taylor, one half of the Neveldine/Taylor team behind Crank and its high-powered sequel, appropriately titled Crank 2: High Voltage, has crafted one of the craziest dark comedies with this Purge-like tale where for 24 hours, parents go postal and violent against their own kids. Perhaps the intention is to live out parents’ dark fantasies about what they would want to do about their kids when they show blatant disrespect and things go crazy from there. Even the opening titular sequence has a sense of the madness Taylor brings as it purveys a 70’s grindhouse effect.

The titular Mom and Dad couldn’t have been played better than by Selma Blair and Nicolas Cage. If you thought Cage has done some insane performances before, then Taylor lets Cage goes completely bats**t crazy in his role. Even in flashback sequences, Cage is truly as his craziest. There are times when you may question why Taylor would certain scenes include out of nowhere, but if you know Taylor’s repertoire, then that’s what expected. As for Blair, the usually level headed character actress gets a chance to break against type and is wonderful when she goes into savage mode.

Anne Winters holds herself well as a potential scream queen as Carly, Cage and Blair’s characters’ daughter who is seen as the typical teen female when it comes to having a sense of wanting to do as she pleases and gets all frustrated when she doesn’t get her way but then fears and fights for her life against her parents. In a way, some may feel the actions of the parents is a result of her blatant disrespectful ways but she does care about protecting her little brother, played by Zackary Arthur. Sure, little brothers can be annoying and he starts that way with Chloe, but ultimately he needs Chloe. Another shocking twist is the mindblowing cameo appearance from legendary actor Lance Henriksen, who right from the beginning of his scene, makes a heck of an impact.

Mom and Dad is basically a maddening family version of The Purge that truly is fun to watch as we get see Nicolas Cage at his craziest and Selma Blair against type in the insane titular roles and a potential scream queen in Anne Winters.

WFG RATING: A-

Momentum Pictures present an Armory Films production in association with Zeal Media. Director: Brian Taylor. Producers: Christopher Lemole and Tim Zajaros. Writer: Brian Taylor. Cinematography: Daniel Pearl. Editing: Rose Corr and Fernando Villena.

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Selma Blair, Anne Winters, Zackary Arthur, Robert D. Cunningham, Lance Henriksen, Samantha Lemole, Olivia Crocicchia, Rachel Melvin.

Momentum Pictures will release this film in select theaters, VOD, and Digital HD on January 19, 2018.

Dance Baby Dance (2018)

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A former dancer sets to live his dream and overcome the odds in this fun dancing film from filmmaker Stephen Kogon, who also stars in the lead role.

Jimmy Percer has had a dream to become a professional tap dancer. However, a knee injury took him out of the competition and despite all efforts, his knee never has fully healed. He eventually married fellow dancer Tess and got a regular job. However, he spends his free time at the studio where his wife works to continue his dream. He learns of an upcoming dance showcase and he is determined to be a part of a touring company, whose members will be chosen through the showcase.

However, despite his determination, Jimmy finds himself having some obstacles. Hector, the owner of the dance studio, won’t sponsor Jimmy because of his age and knee injury. Tess is worried Jimmy will seriously injure himself. However, that all changes when Tess’ sister Lanie and niece Kit arrive after Lanie and husband split up and Lanie falls on hard times. Kit learns about Jimmy’s talents and the two forge a bond. With the showcase coming up, will Jimmy be able to overcome the odds and get the chance to live his dream?

Shall We Dance? Dance of a Dream. These are examples of feel good films that revolve around the world of dancing and this film, from Stephen Kogon, is a terrifically made film about overcoming the odds and living your dream through hard work. The story of a man who in his prime nearly lost the chance to become a professional only to get a second chance years later barely has a tone of anger and sorrow but instead is a film that helps bring about feeling good about what one wants to do and even helping those close to you feel good in the process.

That is truly in the case of our protagonist Jimmy, played by director Kogon. Throughout the film, Jimmy’s determination constantly makes him happy. He is perhaps the ultimate likable fellow whose aspirations and determination keeps him smiling. Kogon even does all of his tap dance scenes and his chemistry with 7th Heaven star Beverly Mitchell as his wife is great but the fun piece involves his bonding scene with Hayley Shukiar as Tess’ niece Kit. The scene plays out in a tap dance battle that soon becomes perhaps a tribute to classic Hollywood tap dancing on screen.

While there are sparse comical moments from Kogon, the real comic relief comes in the form of Hector, the owner of the dance studio, played by the hilarious Carlos Alazraqui. The well-known voice actor plays it off pretty funnily as the constantly complaining owner, who doesn’t seem to have a liking for Jimmy and does everything in his power to convince him not to get in the showcase. However, Jimmy finds support not just within his family, but his boss and even two fellow dancers, Ravon and Dex.

Dance Baby Dance truly stands out as a feel good film about facing the odds and living the dream. A likable Stephen Kogon and the tap dancing sequences are fun to watch. If you want a film that just makes you feel good without expecting something mindblowing as well as enjoy some fun dancing scenes, then this is your film.

WFG RATING: B+

Indie Rights Movies presents a Wings of Hope production. Director: Stephen Kogon. Producers: Roy Bodner, Stephen Kogon, John Kaiser, and Travis Huff. Writer: Stephen Kogon. Cinematography: Shanele Alvarez. Editing: Jason Horton.

Cast: Beverly Mitchell, Stephen Kogon, Carlos Alazraqui, Lisa Brenner, Hayley Shukiar, Clare Grant, Isaiah Lucas, Jim Nowakowski, Jim O’Heir, Ellen Kim.

The film will make its debut at the Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood on January 19, 2018.

Crazy Famous (2017)

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Just how far would you go to get famous? For this guy, he does something extreme in this dark comedy from Paul Jarrett.

For all his life, Bob Marcus only looked for one thing: fame. However, his latest attempt, in which he jumped the fence at Camp David, lands him in a mental institution. Despite the lead doctor telling him that he should give up his dream, Bob finds himself determined. He meets Larry, an impulsive man who has a tendency to explode at random times. Larry introduces him to “Dr. Phil”, a patient who thinks he is the TV doctor.

Finally, there’s the very strange Smith, who spends his time scribbling on the walls and floors. He tells Bob that he knows where Al-Qaeda head Osama bin Laden is hiding. While everyone is convinced that bin Laden is dead, Smith knows otherwise and offers to prove it. Seeking this as an opportunity, Bob decides to go along with Smith’s plan and takes Larry and “Dr. Phil” with him. As these four successfully make their escape, they are about to go on a trip that they will never forget.

A meshing of the 1989 comedy The Dream Team with the conspiracy theory angle along with one man doing what it takes to become famous, this is a funny road trip comedy. Bob Farkas’ script has the core element of the 1989 film about four mental patients who get their free time. The only difference is that instead of a field trip, these four escape and go on a hunt by way of a conspiracy theory.

Gregory Lay’s Bob is the titular “crazy famous”, someone who will go to crazy extremes to get his fifteen minutes of fame. There is a reasoning behind Bob’s need to become famous and this is revealed in his first meeting with Ajay Naidu’s lead doctor at the mental institution. In a way, one can only feel bad for Bob, but if anyone ultimately will have to change his ways of thinking, it’s Bob himself.

The main supporting cast give Lay some great support. Victor Cruz, who has a resemblance to Jon Favreau, is hilarious as Larry, the patient with impulsive explosive disorder. Larry always tends to have it out with “Dr. Phil”, parodied quite well by David Neal Levin. Richard Short’s Smith tends to talk like a James Bond-style voice with his conspiracy theory approach, which drives the film and leads to the insane road trip. To give the film more of an intentional flair for comedy, Farkas actually brings the idea of a conspiracy in the film, with agents in the form of Alexander Cendese’s Agent Bilch and “big boss” Agent Mustang, played by Bob Jaffe.

Crazy Famous is a pretty funny meshing of The Dream Team, conspiracy theory, and a film about going to extremes to achieve your dreams. The cast, led by Gregory Lay, Richard Short, Victor Cruz, and David Neal Levin, drive the film with their roles of mental patients who attempt to prove the truth behind a conspiracy theory. The film’s 77-minute running time makes it smooth and easy to watch.

WFG RATING: B

Gravitas Ventures presents a Farkas Films production. Director: Paul Jarrett. Producers: Robert Farkas and Vince P. Maggio. Writer: Robert Farkas. Cinematography: Scott Miller. Editing: Phyllis Housen.

Cast: Gregory Lay, Richard Short, Victor Cruz, David Neal Levin, Alexander Cendese, Bob Jaffe, Ajay Naidu, Jessica Renee Russell, Catherine Curtin, Tom Kemp.

The film will be released on VOD, Digital HD and DVD on January 9, 2018.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

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Four high schoolers are about to go on an adventure that will change their lives forever in this sequel/reimagining of the Chris Van Allsburg book.

Spencer Gilman is a video game nerd with many issues. When he ends up in hot water for doing a term paper for popular football player Fridge, he ends up in detention with his former friend. Two young girls, Bethany and Martha, are also in detention as the former refuses to turn off her cell phone during class and the latter had a thing or two to say to the gym teacher during class. The group are tasked with getting magazines ready for a recycling plant when they discover a video game system with the game “Jumanji”.

When the group decides to try the game out, they end up becoming entrapped inside the game as the avatars they have chosen. Spencer becomes Doctor Smolder Bravestone. Fridge becomes Franklin “Mouse” Finbar. Martha becomes Ruby Roundhouse. However, things don’t bode well for Bethany as she becomes the male cartographer Dr. Sheldon Oberon. They learn that they must save Jumanji from the evil Dr. Russell Van Pelt, who had stolen the Jaguar Gem from a shrine that has not only turned Van Pelt evil, but placed a curse upon the island. The group learn they are also tattooed with life gauges, in which when they run out, they will die within the game and in the real world. The group, four different personalities, must learn to work together if they plan to save Jumanji and return home.

The 1995 film Jumanji was quite a fun ride that involved a board game coming to life in the real world with Robin Williams as the film’s hero Alan Parrish. As a matter of fact, the film does pay tribute to the original film, there are mentions of Parrish as well as the fact that the film is set in the same town as the original and the villain’s name once again is Van Pelt. The only difference with the last one is that while the original had Van Pelt as a big game hunter, this Van Pelt is possessed by the curse and has the ability to control animals this time around to his advantage.

The highlight of the film is that the avatars keep the personalities of their real-world counterparts. Alex Wolff’s Spencer is soon transformed into Dwayne Johnson, who despite his misgivings proves to be the brave hero with “smoldering intensity”. If you remember Johnson’s time in a WWE ring, then smoldering intensity is something you know he has perfected. Ser’Darius Blain’s big football star Fridge becomes the more comical and diminutive Mouse, played with his trademark hysterics by Kevin Hart. It is funny once again seeing Johnson and Hart together on screen because their chemistry in Central Intelligence was the true highlight of the film and that chemistry remains great here.

Morgan Turner’s Martha, a sort of recluse who is more of a wallflower becomes the Lara Croft-inspired Ruby Roundhouse, played by Guardians of the Galaxy’s Karen Gillan, who to the beat of “Baby I Love Your Way” begins a sense of “Da-fi” to the mix. Yes, that’s short for Dance Fighting (see Battle B-Boy as the film focuses on this art). However, in the funniest sense to say the least, Madison Iseman’s pompous and self-absorbed Bethany becomes Dr. Oberon, played by Jack Black, in one of his funniest roles to date. In what has to be one of the funniest scenes in the film, Black’s attempt to teach Gillan to be more self-confident and flirt her way to two of Van Pelt’s goons is quite funny.

Nick Jonas provides some great support as Flyleaf, an ace pilot who may have a bit of a secret involving his part in the game. It is a scene involving him where the film pays tribute to the late Robin Williams snf hid character of Alan Parrish. Meanwhile, Bobby Cannavale seems to be perhaps the only issue in his role of Van Pelt. It’s not that he’s not a bad actor, because he is. But the script doesn’t allow him to partake in much of the action, but more acts like a crazed mastermind sending his troops to do all the dirty work and considering the “cut scene” where we see Van Pelt’s greed for power causing the curse, one would think he’s going to be very dangerous when confronted. Granted, it is cool that his character controls animals but at least if he had partaken in some fisticuffs, it would have made him a better villain.

Despite a somewhat lackluster villain who could have benefitted more with the use of fisticuffs with his powers, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is actually a fun tribute to the original with a modern upgrade. Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Jack Black truly are fun to watch especially when they have to act out the personalities of their real-world counterparts mixed in with their skills in the video game world. It is definitely a fun adventure that you may just want to check out.

WFG RATING: B-

Columbia Pictures present a Matt Tolmach and Seven Bucks Production in association with Radar Pictures. Director: Jake Kasdan. Producers: Matt Tolmach and William Teitler. Writers: Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg, and Jeff Pinkner; based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg. Cinematography: Gyula Pados. Editing: Steve Edwards and Mark Helfrich.

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Jack Black, Nick Jonas, Bobby Cannavale, Rhys Darby, Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Madison Iseman, Morgan Turner.

Surf Ninjas (1993)

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It’s time to ride the waves of destiny in this family action comedy that highlights the talents of young martial arts legend Ernie Reyes Jr.

Johnny and Adam are brothers who don’t care about much about school as much as they do about surfing. Raised by Mac, Johnny learns both he and his brother are adopted, but have no idea where they came from. They soon learn the truth about their birth right when they are approached by Zatch, the one-time guard of the Kingdom of Patusan. At first Johnny and Adam find the claims ridiculous. That is, until Mac is kidnapped by the forces of Colonel Chi.

Colonel Chi was responsible for the death of Johnny and Adam’s birth parents, but had become disfigured as a result of his ego. When Zatch leads the boys and their friend Iggy to Little Patusan, Johnny and Adam soon learn they are not just the princes and heir apparent, but the duo have certain skills. Adam is a seer, which he can see things through his video game system while Johnny finds his destiny as the warrior prince. With their newfound skills, they are ready to take on Chi and his team with the intention of bringing peace to Patusan once and for all.

With the success of his career as a kid in 80’s films like Red Sonja and The Last Dragon, alongside having his own TV series, Ernie Reyes Jr. once again got know when he did the fighting in the Donatello suit in the 1990 live-action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. This would lead to him having a supporting role in the 1991 sequel. To capitalize on this somewhat of a resurgence for his career and it leads to this film. While the premise is cute family fun in an era where the family film and martial arts genre meshed well, this is quite a fun film with a few ridiculous overtones.

The first of the ridiculousness of the film is the fact that Adam’s power as a seer shows him using those powers through his portable video game. Why they opted to go this route may not make sense but perhaps it is used to appeal to the young gamer crowd to bring more of an audience. The number two factor of ridicule in the film is that Leslie Nielsen’s character is that of Colonel Chi and on top of that, he’s not exactly the most intimidating villain. He is seen either complaining on a phone call or worrying about getting wet due to his robotic implants.

While the comedy is really at times juvenile (and that’s forgivable considering the audience this is geared towards), the martial arts action is actually pretty exciting. Choreographed by Ernie Reyes Jr. and his father (the taekwondo legend who also plays Zatch), the action is quite impressive here. To add a comic effect, the song “Ode to Joy” is hilariously played when Johnny’s skills are revealed and even he is in for a surprise. The finale does add some of the ridiculousness but still is okay and of course this being a family film, one knows how this will end.

Surf Ninjas is a fun yet at times ridiculous family film that has some great martial arts action and some mixed comic relief. Leslie Nielsen plays a ridiculous villain and the use of a video game as a seer’s tool is somewhat not appealing, but overall, not a bad film.

WFG RATING: B-

A New Line Cinema production. Director: Neal Israel. Producer: Evzen Kolar. Writer: Dan Gordon. Cinematography: Arthur Albert and Victor Hammer. Editing: Tom Walls.

Cast: Ernie Reyes Jr., Nicholas Cowan, Rob Schneider, Ernie Reyes Sr., Leslie Nielsen, John Karlen, Kelly Hu, Nathan Jung, Tone Loc.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

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After saving the world, Eggsy and Merlin head to America to once again, you guessed it, save the world in this action-packed sequel.

Now a fully-fledged member of the Kingsman, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin has it all. A good job, a good home, and true love with Swedish princess Tilde. On his way home one night, he is ambushed by rejected Kingsman applicant Charlie, who is now equipped with a metal arm. After a big skirmish and car chase, Eggsy narrowly escapes both Charlie and the police. However, the metal arm’s remote trigger successfully hacks into the Kingsman system. The next day, while Eggsy is at dinner with Tilde and her parents, the entire Kingsman organization except for Merlin, is destroyed along with Eggsy’s home, which kills his dog JP and best friend Brandon.

Eggsy and Merlin use the “Doomsday Protocol”, which takes them on a journey to America to find the Statesman Whiskey Company in Kentucky. They meet Agents Tequila, Whiskey, and Ginger Ale. Together, they learn they must take down The Golden Circle, led by Poppy Adams. Poppy is a 50’s nostalgia obsessed drug cartel leader who has plans to make all drugs legal by tainting all forms of drugs with a potentially lethal dose of something that will cause death in a few days, yet she has the antidote. Eggsy, Merlin, and the Statesmen will need all the help they can get, including someone neither Eggsy nor Merlin would ever expect seeing again.

The 2014 hit film Kingsman: The Golden Circle helped launch the career of Welsh actor Taron Egerton to a bonafide star, allowing to kick butt with the best of them, including Colin Firth and Samuel L. Jackson. While the viewer gets a brief glimpse of Eggsy in his pre-Kingsman gear in a scene where he celebrates the birthday of one of his friends, we see Egerton fully committed in full Kingsman gear for most of the film, including an opening action sequence that is reminiscent of something you would see in a Fast and Furious film.

In quite a bold move, Julianne Moore plays the film’s villain, Poppy, which makes sense considering her being the biggest drug cartel queen in the world. However, Moore doesn’t bring a sense of actor, but rather brings the ruthlessness via her acting like a June Cleaver. Her Poppy Land just shows Poppy’s obsession with 50’s nostalgia, which meshes with advance technology. A particular scene brings a vibe reminiscent of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or even, The Untold Story. Her sidekick, Charlie, brings back Edward Holcroft, now fitted with a robotic arm, and for him, it’s about revenge.

Mark Strong returns as Merlin and proves to be more of a big brother to Eggsy than just another agent skilled with gadgets this time around. Joining the two this time around are Channing Tatum, who makes quite an entrance as Tequila; Halle Berry as the “Merlin” of Statemen, Ginger Ale; and Pedro Pascal as Whiskey. Pascal gets the most action in, joining Eggsy and Merlin on their new mission. Whiskey’s use of the lasso and a whip makes quite an impact in his action scenes. And let’s not forget the elephant in the room, thanks to the marketing by Fox, which director Matthew Vaughn was a bit disappointed with in terms of revelations: the return of Colin Firth’s Harry.

Under the stunt coordination of former Jackie Chan Stunt Team member Brad Allan, the action in this film is just as good as the original film. From the eye popping opening car chase scene, to a great fight in a Kentucky bar to even a Mission: Impossible-style action scene set in a snowy mountain in Italy, the action of the film is impressive. In a move reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, we see a famous celebrity, making an extended cameo, throwing a slow-motion style flying side kick to one of Poppy’s goons, making it both hilarious and jaw-dropping. Of course, we see the heroes dish it out all to the tune of one of this celebrity’s songs in the background.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle quite frankly is just as good as its predecessor. The cast is in top form with both their antics and some exhilarating action sequences. If you liked the original, you will enjoy this one.

WFG RATING: A-

20th Century Fox presents a MARV Production. Director: Matthew Vaughn. Producers: Matthew Vaughn, Adam Bohling, and David Reid. Writers: Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman; based on the comic by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. Cinematography: George Richmond. Editing: Eddie Hamilton.

Cast: Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Julianne Moore, Halle Barry, Pedro Pascal, Channing Tatum, Colin Firth, Edward Holcroft, Hanna Alström, Sophie Cookson, Michael Gambon, Björn Granath, Lena Endre, Bruce Greenwood, Emily Watson.

Johnny Dangerously (1984)

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This 80’s underrated comedy is a funny tribute to the classic gangster film full of funny performances and gags that even holds in today’s standards.

As a teenager hawking newspapers in 1910 New York City, Johnny Kelly is just trying to make a living to help his constantly ailing mother. When he gets into a fight with rival Danny Vermin, his victory attracts the attention of local gangster Jocko Dundee. At first, Johnny refuses to help. That is until his mother needs an operation. Johnny decides to help Dundee against arch nemesis Roman Moronie and when they succeed, Johnny temporarily works for Jocko.

Flash forward twenty-five years later. Johnny is now a full-time member of Dundee’s gang and goes by the name “Johnny Dangerously”. He manages to get his younger brother through law school, becomes well-respected, and owns a local nightclub. He even finds love in Lil Sheridan, a singer who comes to New York to make it big. However, when Johnny learns his old rival Danny is now a member of the gang and that Jocko is contemplating retirement, Johnny finds himself in a whirl of trouble when he learns his brother, now the District Attorney, vows to find “Johnny Dangerously” and stop him. To make matters worse, Danny tries to take over the gang and finds any way to ensure he gets the top position.

The classic gangster film is a wonderful look at how “crime will never pay” and always ends up with the lead character meeting his fate in one way or another. This film answers the question what if the gangster film was made into a comedy and the gangster didn’t meet his fate, but ended up finding a better life through leaving the gang? This film answers that very question and proves to be quite a comical homage to the genre.

Michael Keaton brings such comic flair as the titular Johnny Dangerously, who meshes perhaps his best Jimmy Cagney impression with the comedy he was known for at the time. He couldn’t fit the role any better while Joe Piscopo’s Danny Vermin brings the Clark Gable look but gives a voice that could be said to be an impression of another classic gangster actor, Edward G. Robinson. While Dangerously is the benevolent gangster who only wants what’s best for everyone, Vermin intends to take over the gang when he feels the gang needs to be eviller. Vermin’s running joke is also quite funny to watch.

Peter Boyle is great to see as Johnny’s potential boss, Jocko Dundee, bringing back memories of the classic gangster boss to a tee even though in one scene, his brings his comic flair in a hilarious way. Marilu Henner’s Lil Sheridan will remind viewers of the likes of some of the classic 1930’s molls, such as Karen Morley with a taste of Rita Hayworth in her musical number. One of the highlights of the film is Richard Dimitri’s Roman Maronie, who butchers the typical curse words all to give the film a rightful PG rating.

In what could be homage to Cagney’s The Public Enemy, Griffin Dunne is both serious and funny in certain points to see as Tommy, Johnny’s brother who soon finds himself rising up the ranks to become the District Attorney and vows to stop Johnny Dangerously, not knowing until it is too late that Dangerously is his own brother. Maureen Stapleton is also funny as the wise-cracking mother of the Kelly Brothers, who finds herself constantly working too hard or sick, or taking one in the gut from Johnny. Add to the fact, she just is completely brunt. Some great cameos, both short and extended, from the likes of Dom DeLuise, Danny DeVito, Ray Walston (who has a running gag himself), and Alan Hale Jr. just add to the hilarity.

Johnny Dangerously is a fun tribute to the classic gangster film with some fun gags, a dazzling musical number, but most importantly, some great performances led by Michael Keaton in one of his best early roles.

WFG RATING: A

20th Century Fox an Edgewood Productions film. Director: Amy Heckerling. Producer: Michael Hertzberg. Writers: Harry Colomby, Jeff Harris, Bernie Kukoff, and Norman Steinberg. Cinematography: David M. Walsh. Editing: Pem Herring.

Cast: Michael Keaton, Joe Piscopo, Marilu Henner, Peter Boyle, Richard Dimitri, Maureen Stapleton, Griffin Dunne, Glynnis O’Connor, Scott Thomson, Dick Butkus, Mike Barcella, Danny DeVito, Dom DeLuise, Byron Thames, Ray Walston.

The Disorderly Orderly (1964)

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The legendary Jerry Lewis brings his antics to the medical field in this hilarious classic that does have bits of serious drama but ends with a chase scene that only Lewis could be capable of dishing out.

Jerome Littlefield is a former medical school student who due to a condition finds himself working at a sanitarium. He tries too hard and his constant troubles seem to incur the wrath of head nurse Miss Higgins. However, Dr. Howard, who is in charge of the place, will not fire Jerome and actually has a liking to him due to the fact that she was in love with her father many years ago. Jerome has a girlfriend, Julie, who also works at the sanitarium and despite Jerome’s setbacks, she still loves him.

One day, a young woman arrives at the sanitarium, the victim of an attempted suicide. When Jerome sees the patient, he instantly recognizes her. She is Susan Andrews, a young woman who Jerome had a major crush on in high school, but never had the guts to tell her how he felt. Jerome has learned that Susan was married but had learned her husband cheated on her and she wanted to end her life as she found no love. While Jerome does whatever he can to cheer up Susan, things don’t go as planned, and in the midst of everything, he loses Julie and jeopardizes his position when the director of the board plans to fire him. Will Jerome be able to make everything work out before it’s too late?

Jerry Lewis was a comic genius for his time, using slapstick humor to appease the fans. After the successful Nutty Professor in 1963, Lewis follows it up with this funny tale of an orderly who not only tries too hard but suffers from a condition that causes him to emphasize with the patients of the sanitarium he works in. This is evident in one of the funniest scenes of the film, in which a patient named Mrs. Fuzzyby, explains to others her ailments and Lewis reacts in his trademark comic style that perhaps no one in today’s age can pull it off.

Glenda Farrell brings a sense of warmth to Lewis’ Jerome as his boss, who out of respect for her love of his father, won’t fire Jerome but tries to motivate him consistently while Karen Sharpe plays Julie, Jerome’s girlfriend who despite her misgivings about his antics, still loves him. Kathleen Freeman provides the perfect counterpart to Lewis in the film as head nurse Miss Higgins. Freeman uses her overpowering voice as a means to show Jerome that he has incurred her wrath and brings a lot of comic expressions during a meeting between Jerome, Miss Higgins, and Dr. Howard.

Susan Oliver brings more of a dramatic effect to the film as Susan Andrews, Jerome’s crush who was betrayed by love and decided to kill herself only to end up at the sanitarium. Susan dislikes virtually everyone, including Jerome for his antics. Jerome tries to show he cares, yet as he puts it in the film, “he loves them, but they hate him back” and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to Susan. Everett Sloane’s Dr. Tuffington is the authoritative figure who puts Jerome’s job on the line due to his antics and it is their first encounter that leads to another classic Lewis scene where he mocks the guy and ends up on fire…in a literal sense.

The Disorderly Orderly is a fun Jerry Lewis vehicle that has beats of more drama but altogether, it shows how much Lewis is loved even if his character of Jerome says differently. The classic slapstick is there and its still fun to watch.

WFG RATING: A-

A Paramount Pictures Release. Director: Frank Tashlin. Producer: Paul Jones. Writers: Frank Tashlin; story by Norm Liebmann and Ed Haas. Cinematography: W. Wallace Kenney. Editing: John Woodcock.

Cast: Jerry Lewis, Glenda Farrell, Karen Sharpe, Susan Oliver, Kathleen Freeman, Everett Sloane, Del Moore.