Tag Archives: The Nut Job


9 Feb


 1. The LEGO Movie/WB                         Wknd/$  69.1            Total/$   69.1

 2. The Monuments Men/Sony               Wknd/$  22.7            Total/$   22.7

 3. Ride Along/Universal                          Wknd/$   9.4             Total/$  105.2

 4. Frozen/Disney                                       Wknd/$   6.9             Total/$ 368.7

 5. That Awkward Moment                       Wknd/$   5.5             Total/$   16.8

 6. Lone Survivor/Universal                     Wknd/$   5.3             Total/$  112.6

 7. Vampire Academy/Weinstein             Wknd/$   4.1             Total/$     4.1

 8. The Nut Job/ORF                                  Wknd/$   3.8            Total/$   55.1

 9. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit/Par         Wknd/$   3.6            Total/$   44.5

10. Labor Day/Paramount                         Wknd/$   3.2            Total/$   10.2



Opening at number one is The LEGO Movie and I’m pretty sure this is the greatest movie ever made. Okay, maybe not “ever” but certainly in my lifetime. Okay, maybe not my lifetime, but definitely this year…so far.  What could a have been a two hour commercial for Lego toys (and I’m not saying it still isn’t) is a near brilliant satire of everything from action movies to other children’s films which are essentially toy commercials to the adults who still buy toys with a fanatical devotion. Wait. What are you looking at me for!?!  The LEGO Movie joins Toy Story in that rarified air of being more than just the wet dream of the marketing department but an actual film in its own right. The main target of its satire is the heroic concept of the average man being “the chosen one” on when everyone around him devotedly helping him is clearly more qualified for the job ,starting with the acolyte who finds “the chosen one.”  In The Matrix it was Morpheus. In Star Wars it was Obi Wan Kenobi. Here it’s the woman known as “Wild Style” who must continually face the question as to whether or not she’s a DJ.  The hero is Emmett who is such a blank slate he spends most of the movie having everyone from Wild Style to Batman (who practically steals the movie) telling him he’s the dumbest man alive.  Try and watch Trinity and Neo now. The jokes come fast and furious, not slowing down for adults, much less the kids who were presumably its main audience but it’s obvious from the beginning with jokes about $32 coffee and conformity that a great deal of this is aimed at their parents who are undoubtedly grateful having sat through a million family films a year without a brain in any of their CGI heads.



Opening at number two is The Monuments Men, which is based on a the true story of a group of soldiers in WWII assigned to protect the art treasures that Hitler not only looted from Europe but wanted destroyed if he lost.  Talk about the ultimate sore loser. It’s one thing to take your toys and go home, but to take someone else’s? This one of those well-intentioned films that gets an “A” for effort, but not for what it actually manages to accomplish.  A story like this, which is so easily “good vs. evil” would seem to be an easy home run, but maybe it’s too easy, so easy Clooney thought he could do it all (he writes and directs along with being the star).  Ben Affleck accomplished something similar but his virtue is that even as an Oscar winning screenwriter, never thought he could write it himself (if I didn’t know better, I’d say Clooney was competing just a little bit).  A little modesty might have done Clooney some good and ceded the writing to one person and the direction to another as the story just seems to wander from Point A to Point B with little suspense or momentum, which is odd given it’s about the fall of the Nazi empire and the race to save irreplaceable treasures.  Only when a competing faction of Soviet soldiers who plan on keeping the works for themselves do we even get a hint of tension, but it’s not enough. The movie is placed fully on the backs of its amenable stars and luckily for Clooney you’d be hard pressed to find a more likable group of actors than Matt Damon, Billy Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin and Clooney himself. Watching them be charming and save western culture actually was enough for me but I understand if some need a bit more dramatic heft. I’ve no doubt the History Channel is preparing a special that will be twice as interesting in half the time. If you’ve seen the special about the 300 Spartans you know what I’m talking about.



Ride Along is down to number three, followed by Frozen at number four (a victim of a children’s film actually worth seeing) and That Awkward Moment down to number five and I didn’t realize this was Rated R which is odd for romantic comedies, but something I actually support. I’m still not going to see this, but I support the idea that not every romcom needs to be rated PG. Four Weddings & A Funeral remains one of my favorites and opens with a nonstop you use of f**k and one of the funniest scenes has Hugh Grant trapped by newlyweds who can’t stop boning.



Lone Survivor is down to number six followed by Vampire Academy opening at number seven and this was an unfortunately full weekend so I didn’t get to see the film that was actually at the top of my list, having been written and directed by the brothers who brought the world Heathers and its nicer sister, Mean Girls. You’d think with that pedigree and vampires on top of it all this would have been given a larger push, but it was clear from the beginning that they didn’t know what to do with this latest attempt to turn a supernatural young adult book series into a movie franchise. The original trailer was straight up comedy while all the new ones have been seriously action oriented, which was clearly a mistake given the talent behind it and now the box office return.  Personally, I was much more interested in a teen vampire comedy than I was a another serious teen vampire film, but Twilight was more successful than Buffy no matter what your geek friend tells you.



The Nut Job is down to number eight the deserved victim of the success of The LEGO Movie, followed by Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit at number nine and last and least Labor Day closing out the top ten at number ten. This was directed and co-written by Jason Reitman the son of Ivan Reitman, who brought the world Stripes, Ghostbusters and Meatballs (aka the Bill Murray Trilogy). Jason is no slouch himself having directed Up in the Air and Juno so he’s allowed the occasional miss (and boy did he ever).  But then again, so did dad who has actually made more sow’s ears than silk purses. My Super Ex-Girlfriend anyone? Father’s Day? Evolution? Legal Eagles?






3 Feb


 1. Ride Along/Universal               Wknd/$  12.3            Total/$   93.0

 2. Frozen/Disney                           Wknd/$   9.3             Total/$ 360.0

 3. That Awkward Moment           Wknd/$   9.0             Total/$     9.0

 4. The Nut Job/ORF                      Wknd/$   7.6             Total/$   50.2

 5. Lone Survivor/Universal          Wknd/$    7.2            Total/$  104.9

 6. Jack Ryan/Par                            Wknd/$   5.4             Total/$   39.0

 7. Labor Day/Paramount              Wknd/$   5.3              Total/$     5.3

 8. American Hustle/Sony             Wknd/$   4.3              Total/$  133.6

 9. The Wolf of Wall Street/Par     Wknd/$   3.6             Total/$  104.1

10. I, Frankenstein/LGF                 Wknd/$   3.5              Total/$    14.5


It’s Super Bowl weekend and I’m sick so let’s rip though this…



Ride Along holds at number one and is actually about to hit $100M so it’s time to call it: Kevin Hart is a star.  Yeah, I d0n’t understand either.



Frozen rises up again to number two and my confusion continues. Then I realize I’m an old man and this isn’t for me anyway. It’s like that utterly clueless conversation your parents had about rap.



That Awkward Moment opens at number three and given this only cost $8M to make it’s not that big a disappointment and may have actually bought Zach Efron a few extra minutes, as his 15 had pretty much expired.  You think he and Vanessa Hudgens call each other in the middle of the night and wonder what they’re doing wrong?  They do the family friendly mainstream stuff and they do the edgy indie stuff but the result turns out the same: no one cares. Hudgens is even taking off her shirt and still no one cares.



The Nut Job is down to number four, followed by Lone Survivor at number five, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit down to number six and while this is disappointing domestically, overseas it has made almost double its domestic take which suggests that Chris Pine is the new Jean Claude VanDamme.  Yeah, that’s gotta hurt.



Labor Day opens at number seven and doesn’t this just scream, “based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks?” It looks awful. Seriously, awful.  Apparently everyone had bills to pay and there were no porn shoots open.



American Hustle is down to number eight, followed by The Wolf of Wall Street at number nine and none other than Rob Reiner shows up here as Leonardo DiCaprio’s dad.  Yeah, Meathead in a Scorsese film.  I think Scorsese does this just to mess with the minds of actors and give them a false sense of hope when the reality is Reiner got this because everyone loves The Princess Bride.



Finally, I, Frankenstein closes out the top ten at number ten and also in this is Bill Nighy who elevates pretty much anything he appears in. This is no exception.





26 Jan


 1. Ride Along/Universal                              Wknd/$  21.2            Total/$   75.4

 2. Lone Survivor/Universal                        Wknd/$  12.1            Total/$   93.6

 3. The Nut Job/ORF                                    Wknd/$  12.3            Total/$   40.3

 4. Frozen/Disney                                           Wknd/$   9.0           Total/$ 347.8

 5. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit/Par            Wknd/$   8.8           Total/$   30.2

 6. I, Frankenstein/LGF                                Wknd/$   8.3            Total/$     8.3

 7. American Hustle/Sony                            Wknd/$   7.1             Total/$  127.0

 8. August: Osage County/Weinstein         Wknd/$   5.0            Total/$    26.5

 9. The Wolf of Wall Street/Par                   Wknd/$   5.0            Total/$    98.0

10. Devil’s Due/Fox                                        Wknd/$   2.8           Total/$    12.9



Ride Along holds the number one spot which I’m thinking Ice Cube appreciates more than Kevin Hart given it’s been a long time since he made money at the movies playing anything more than a dad with a ruff exterior but with a heart of gold and it’s not like he’s selling albums…



Lone Survivor holds at number two followed by The Nut Job also holding at number three, but Frozen steps up to number four probably because kids who went to see The Nut Job last week told mom and dad they wanted to see Frozen again.  It’s also got a growing audience who see it as a metaphor for not just her emerging sexuality, but her homosexuality, because as you may notice, Elsa never winds up with a dude and one is never introduced for her. There are also some who read every tiny action as an example of feminism, from the accommodating male character to the fact that Elsa governs alone. Yes, art is subjective, but I think they’re looking for Atlantis in a puddle. In other words, it ain’t deep enough for all that.



Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit drops one notch to five and you know who comes across decently? Kevin Costner.  It seems he’s finally adjusted to this “lion in winter” stage of his career and it makes sense he should given his biggest break was in someone else’s.  He was the young star for Sean Connery in The Untouchables two decades ago.  Now, between this and Man of Steel, he’s the mature male lead for the rising leading man (or rather would be if this weren’t tanking).  Lending instant legitimacy to the new guy as well as providing something for the moms to look at when they take their teenagers to the movies.



I, Frankenstein opens weakly at number six which is a great disappointment to me, because I enjoyed this silly, silly movie from the same people who brought you Underworld, which was also silly, silly fun combining classic monsters with CGI.  It’s more of the same: secret war to save all mankind that’s been going on for centuries and now there’s been discovered a man who will tip the balance for one side unless the other side finds out why that is.  This time however it’s the super-strong immortal creation of Frankenstein wanted by demons for their nefarious plan, while—and hang on now—it’s gargoyles representing the angels on Earth defending mankind. Yes, gargoyles.  No, I don’t know why that is other than they look awesome flying around and smashing demons that descend to hell in a red fireball when they go down, while gargoyles ascend to the heavens in a bolt of blue-white light.  Granted it’s not as fun as Underworld because, let’s face it, the sexy decadence of vampires is missing.  There’s a reason people never get tired of them and often want to be them. Reanimated patchwork , demons and gargoyles? Not so much.  Also missing are the solid characters that made Underworld feel so fleshed out.  Nearly every substantial speaking role was different from the next and you felt the weight of a story behind them even if were untold. Selene, Michael, Kraven, Viktor, Lucien.  Even the minor roles of the vampire gunsmith, the werewolf scientist and vampire scheming for advancement where are distinct and memorable.  Not so much here. Only two demons are different from the horde and mainly because one is played by the writer/producer Kevin Giroux.  The gargoyles are even worse. The queen wants to save the monster (who rejects the Frankenstein name) while her right hand wants to destroy him. That’s it. Black and white. There are two others that seem to have personalities but in their five minutes of screen time aren’t given a chance to distinguish themselves.  Even a potentially interesting aspect isn’t revealed until they “ascend” so there’s no exploration of it whatsoever. Still, it was more fun than freaking Shadow Recruit, which deserved its January graveyard release date aka fast track to April home video release date.  It’ll be sitting right next to I, Frankenstein I’m afraid.



American Hustle drops one to number seven followed by August: Osage County holding at number eight and The Wolf of Wall Street holding at number nine and while I find Jonah Hill personally repellant to the point where I avoid his films (along with his frequent co-star, Seth Rogen) as much as possible only making exceptions for major stuff like this, I cannot deny he’s very good here. He didn’t deserve a best supporting actor nod for Moneyball but he definitely earned it this time. Then again, he’s playing a complete jerk and based on his interviews (and one horrible story told to me by someone who dated him at a party that I will not repeat) there may not be a lot of acting is going on beyond the Noo Yawk accent.



Finally, Devil’s Due closes out the top ten at number ten and with a $19M return off a $7M budget you can be sure that there will be a Devil’s Due 2: Deadly Daycare!







21 Jan


 1. Ride Along/Universal                             Wknd/$  41.6            Total/$   41.6

 2. Lone Survivor/Universal                       Wknd/$  22.1            Total/$   72.9

 3. The Nut Job/ORF                                    Wknd/$  19.4            Total/$   19.4

 4. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit/Par           Wknd/$  15.6            Total/$   15.6

 5. Frozen/Disney                                          Wknd/$  11.9            Total/$ 332.5

 6. American Hustle/Sony                            Wknd/$   9.9            Total/$  115.7

 7. Devil’s Due/Fox                                         Wknd/$   8.4           Total/$     8.4

 8. August: Osage County/Weinstein         Wknd/$   7.4            Total/$    18.0

 9. The Wolf of Wall Street/Par                   Wknd/$   7.1             Total/$   89.8

10. Her/WB                                                      Wknd/$   4.0           Total/$    15.0



Ride Along opens at number one as Kevin Hart’s star continues to ascend.  He’s just one solo film away from the comedic flavor of the month which will include a book according to Chris Rock’s book which came out he was the flavor of the month and he was told this by Jerry Seinfeld who knew for obvious reasons and I’m sure someone told him. While I enjoy Hart he’s one of those comedians where a little goes a loooooong way and second lead behind Ice Cube is still too much of him for me. Maybe third or fourth behind some kind of cute talking pet will work. Or better yet the voice of the villain’s sidekick in an animated movie. That I’d see. This, not so much. And if anyone says it’s an accomplishment for this to open at number one on Martin Luther King’s birthday, I’m gonna punch them in the fucking dick.



Lone Survivor drops to number two and this is a minor all-star cast behind Mark Wahlberg, starting with Hollywood’s Miss-It Boy of the last few years Taylor Kitsch (big movies, big bombs), Emile Hirsch (the guy you call when you can’t get Elijah Wood), Ben Foster (the guy you call when want a darker, less attractive Ryan Gosling) and Eric Bana (the guy you keep wondering why he didn’t become a star). No one is really a star, but when you see them you know them and this helps you to care about characters you otherwise wouldn’t. Especially when a film is called “Lone Survivor” and you know the name above will probably play that role.



The Nut Job opens at number three which is an accomplishment given how little promotion this thing got compared to the films of Disney and Dreamworks. I have no idea what this is even about and I think I saw one commercial.  Shows you just how much parents need these animated films to babysit their kids.  They don’t have to know or care a thing about it. They just need 90 minutes of peace.



Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens at number four and this is the second time Chris Pine has stepped into the shoes of a franchise (Star Trek being the first) and the second time, sadly, he pales in comparison to a predecessor and this is coming from someone who was not a fan of Harrison Ford’s painfully self-righteous Jack Ryan.  I’m comparing him to Alec Baldwin, who was the first and remains the best Jack Ryan. All I can say is that he’s better than the milquetoast Ben Affleck reboot (does anyone even remember he did it?).  I think it’s telling that the best one was a Cold War story and clearly someone else felt the same as Russia returns as a America’s “big bad” for this one.  Set in a post-9/11 America the new Cold War is conducted in the money markets and director and co-star Kenneth Brannagh is the latest Hollywood stock villain, the Russian Oligarch, who is set onto America because didn’t help Russia stop a Turkish oil pipeline. And that’s your first problem right here. Ryan isn’t even fighting the real bad guy.  He’s just a guy following orders.  At the very least Brannagh should have been a rogue Russian businessman setting off to do this without his government’s approval. The other problem is for an action thriller it’s not that thrilling and there’s very little action.  A good 20 minutes is wasted giving us the origin of Jack Ryan. You, know that 2-minute speech from Hunt From Red October?  Yeah, they heard the cries of absolutely no one and decided to show it complete with meeting his future wife.  Now, one of the best scenes from Hunt For Red October consisted of Alec Baldwin giving a briefing and you saw why Jack Ryan was good at his job.  No jumping, shooting or fighting and was still fun to watch.  Here he’s an analyst on Wall Street tracking terrorist funding and it’s as thrilling to watch as it sounds.  We’re not really shown why he’s good, but simply people keep telling us that he is and he spouts some technobabble that apparently no one else in the CIA can understand so he has to go into the field. Previously it was because he was expendable and no one believed him.  Here he’s clearly believed and supported which robs it of some drama as he’s not the underdog. He’s not even alone to fight for his life in Russia, where a dozen CIA show up to help in gunfights.  In sad way it compares to Pine’s role as Kirk where basically he just falls into command rather than earning it. Even the scene as we watch him putting information together doesn’t come off as all that special so much as common sense. In that respect it reminds you of TV shows were everyone is made a little dumb to the hero cop can seem smart.



Frozen falls to number five followed by American Hustle at number six and Devils Due, which opens at number seven. It’s yet another “found footage” about a woman who gets impregnated with the Anti-Christ while on her honeymoon.  Aside from my general disregard for these movies, the trailer strongly suggests that basically they were drugged by Satan’s minions and it’s captured by the camera, which means that if they’d just bothered to check their vacation footage all of this could have been avoided. I mean it’s still horrifying to be drugged by Satan’s minions then presumably raped by Satan himself, but then it could be dealt with early and not eight months later when a priest bleeds from his eyes.  And why does Satan need minions to drug a woman anyway? Seducing people is his job description. Probably the most horrific part of The Devil’s Advocate was that Al Pacino uses his satanic power to seduce Charlize Theron (thank god it’s offscreen, but just imagining the his tiny, creepy, old body climbing on top of her still gives me chills). In a truly more terrifying movie making use of the found footage, Satan would have assumed the husband’s form but they don’t know this happened until they see a honeymoon sex tape where a) it’s the husband, but clearly he didn’t shoot it, or b) either Satan’s true form is captured by the camera, or c) nothing is captured but you see her responding to something.  Though that’s still not as creepy as Al Pacino on top of Charlize Theron.



August: Osage County is down to number eight followed by The Wolf of Wall Street at number nine and I finally subjected myself to yet another overlong Scorsese paean to a sociopathic anti-hero who rises and falls yet rises again.  While on one hand, Scorsese is still obviously a great director and the story told is done well and interesting, it’s done for far too long and many of the techniques become tiresome. I realize the mantra of film is “show, don’t tell” but some things could just be told. I don’t need to see them all, least of all pretty much every single female in the cast doing full frontal nudity (the 13-year-old in me feels utterly betrayed at those words). Yeah, I get that the world of Wall Street is hyper masculine in a weird sort of overcompensation given they really don’t do anything we associate with actual manhood, like being a construction worker or athlete or a soldier, but does that mean you have to show every single instance of this especially when it’s sexual?  I got it when you graphically showed me hooker #1. I really didn’t need to be graphically shown hookers #2-500.  This movie seems to be for people who wanted another, longer GoodFellas but without all the violence.  Emphasis on the longer. There’s a scene where Leonardo DiCaprio, finally beginning to circle the drain on his lifestyle, has to get home on while on an overdose of Quaaludes, which while funny goes on for-freaking-ever and you wonder if that scene were just completely deleted how does the film change and what do we lose. It doesn’t and we don’t and the film is filled with many such scenes that don’t move it forward or tell us anything we don’t already know about the characters. Part of it is obviously Scorsese’s unfamiliarity with comedy It’s a common mistake for someone to overdo it. It makes an odd sort of sense because it took his usual partner in crime, DeNiro, years to learn restraint in comedy. Now he won’t freaking stop making them.



Finally, Her rises to the top ten and I have different reasons for dragging my feet on seeing different movies. For example: I love the Coen Brothers, but haven’t seen Inside Llewyn Davis yet because honestly I freaking hate folk music. Hate. It. I don’t care how good the movie is because it will subject me to that.  I know it’s crazy, but it’s me. Similarly my crazy reason for not having seen this is Joaquin Phoenix’s horrible porn ‘stache.  I cannot bring myself to look at that thing forty feet wide for two straight hours. I know I have to now, given it’s been nominated for some Oscars, but it may be the morning of the ceremony before I finally get around to it.



So Friday was the quarterly edition of our karaoke get-together and because somewhere down the line I was saddled with not just the organization but declaring a theme I decided this time it would be duets, which seemed like a good idea at the time and allowed me to make a poster based on the movie “2 Guns”, also mandated a lot of slower stuff which gets old fast so I opened it up to include rap duets. Again, this seemed like a good idea at the time until your realize just how frequently the word “nigga” is used and either your white friends feel awkward saying it or a little too comfortable saying it.  My own issues had nothing to do with tempo nor lyrics but the fact that a fucking cold hit me literally the night before. That my voice gets blown out by the end of karaoke is a given, but now it was seemingly over before it started. The final nail in the coffin: ½ price drinks ended with the summer. How the fuck are you supposed to sing without being a little looped!?! Well, I never found out given I’d ordered my two drinks before realizing the happy hour was no more and for some reason I thought if I just got beers from then on I’d be budgeting wisely.  I had…a few (I had no idea how much I’d consumed until I tried to get out bed in the middle of the night and failed miserably in my attempt to stand).  Of course karaoke is always fun, no matter how you limit your song choices or how weak your voice is so it turned out okay, but I can’t believe I forgot “Promiscuous Girl” which was perfect for the lower register. I always invite upwards of thirty people, but it always winds up being the same 7-8, though this time we actually hit 9. That we’ll actually get 10 people into the 10-person room remains on my bucket list. One of the guests is The 25-Year Old. She has a name but that’s what I call her to my therapist so it’s good enough. She may not even be 25 any longer, but still that’s what I call her.  She was a horrible mistake I half-heartedly tried to make for a while and I was nothing but amused to later learn where she once tended bar in Brooklyn, she had quite the fan club of bruthas. In any case she’s a geek girl so we still hang out occasionally and so she invited me to a show she had to attend for work on Saturday night. I only accepted because I was drinking and not thinking, because god knows leaving the house on Saturday night is not something I do, much less something she described as “like David Sedaris.”  When she texted me the details later I was amused to learn that the person’s name was Sam Harris, as I remembered the Sam Harris who was the first winner of Star Search with an over-the-top rendition of “Over The Rainbow” and whose career never took off after producing an abysmal single called “Sugar Don’t Bite.” It was in fact that Sam Harris.  Apparently he had a career doing theater after “Sugar Don’t Bite” and 3o years later he’d written a book about his life and had created an act around it, which was playing at Under 54, a dinner/lounge space under the Studio 54 Theater.  The 25 Year Old was surprised I knew so much about Sam Harris, but then again I was alive when it happened. She was not.  The show was entertaining, though his mannerisms and even the timing of his jokes were the exact same as Will’s from Will & Grace so the whole show had an air of familiarity about it.  He read selections from his book “Ham” interspersed with musical numbers. He reaccounted his first ventures into theater, his growing ambitions, his realization that he was “different” being gay and his resulting suicide attempt which was derailed by needing to help his little brother who’d stepped on a knitting needle. He was fortunate enough to finally encounter a teacher whom he could talk to and when he confessed he was gay, he [the teacher] reassured him there was nothing wrong with him. The climax was the adoption of his son with his husband and reconciliation with his father who apologized for not being there for Sam when he was a boy. I’m not crying! You’re crying! (one reason The 25 Year Old and I get along is that we’re not quite as moved when he cries onstage knowing that he does it every night, twice a night at the same passage)  But oddly enough there was nothing about the great recording career that never was, much less “Sugar Don’t Bite.” Now I always thought “Papa Don’t Preach” ripped off its main hook and The 25-Year-Old sent me a link to an interview where in addition to Sam Harris saying a lot of stupid shit about how he’d kill himself if he had to sing “Like A Virgin” for 30 years (we all know he’d kill for a hit like that) but he also mentioned the writers of  “Sugar Don’t Bite” felt it was similar as well, sued and got paid.  While the minimum cover of $25 for a less than impressive dinner was annoying, it was a nice night out and I think frees me from any future obligations to be social at least until spring.