action, comedy, movie, movie review, sports

January 21st, 2018 Movie – Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby

talladega nights

There are always going to be those movies that people will talk about or quote. Sometimes they are more dramatic or serious movies but usually, they tend to be comedies. That is definitely the case with today’s movie, as I know several people that like to quote various lines from this movie. My first introduction to this movie was not in theaters, but at a friends house after it came out on DVD, and was told to come watch it during a group movie night because it’s funnier with our friend Chris laughing at it (and I will admit his laugh is funny in it’s own right). Anyways, I enjoyed the movie and decided to pick up my own copy on DVD so let’s have some laughs with today’s movie, Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby.

The plot: Years ago, Reese Bobby is speeding down the highway while his wife Lucy is going into labor. They pass the hospital because Reese is interested in driving faster and when he stops to turn around, Lucy ends up giving birth to their son, Ricky. 10 years later, Reese shows up at Ricky’s school for career day, making it the first time he has seen Ricky since he was born. After Reese is thrown out of the school, Ricky runs out after him and Reese tells Ricky, “If you aint first, you’re last.” before getting in his car and driving off. In the present day, Ricky Bobby and his best friend Cal Naughton Jr. are working on the pit crew for the Dennit Racing team. While racing in Talladega, the car’s driver leaves the car to use the restroom, claiming they are in last place so it doesn’t matter anyways. Realizing that they will lose their sponsor if they don’t get the car back on the track, the crew chief, Lucius Washington, asks if anyone there wants to drive fast and Ricky volunteers. After getting in the car and driving on the track, Ricky manages to finish in third place, prompting Larry Dennit Sr. to make Ricky Bobby the team’s new driver. With Ricky Bobby becoming Nascar’s hottest new star, the team gets a new sponsor and Ricky convinces Dennit to sponsor a second car, with his friend Cal as the driver. Ricky marries a fan named Carley after she shows him her boobs and they end up having two kids, Walker and Texas Ranger, and live in a large house with Carley’s father Chip. As time passes Larry Dennit Jr ends up taking control of the racing team and has issues with Ricky’s racing style, where he either wins or crashes trying. As Ricky and his friends celebrate their most recent win, they are interrupted by Jean Girard, a French Formula One racer who has just been signed onto the Dennit Racing Team. As Ricky and Girard get into a confrontation, Girard gets Ricky in an armbar and threatens to break his arm unless Ricky says that he loves crepes but even though Cal and his crew make an argument that would allow to save face, Ricky refuses and tells Girard to go ahead and break his arm. The next week at Lowes Motor Speedway, Girard breaks Ricky’s track record during the qualifying, prompting Ricky to tell Lucius to get his car ready to race, despite the fact that his arm is still in a cast. During the race, Ricky manages to catch up to Girard but is unable to pass him. Ricky calls on Cal to help him pass using a drifting/slingshot maneuver but Cal’s engine blows. Ricky eventually wrecks while trying to pass Girard, who wins the race, and as the paramedics tend to him, Ricky starts running around the track in his underwear, thinking he is on fire. At the hospital, Cal and Lucius go to check on Ricky and think he is paralyzed when they see him in a wheelchair but the doctors say he is fine and it is all in his head. As Cal and Lucius try to talks some sense into Ricky, Ricky stabs himself in the leg with a knife to prove he is paralyzed, then screams in pain when he realizes he isn’t. Cal and Lucius want Ricky to take things slow while getting ready to go back on the track but Ricky wan’t to go ahead and get started. However, on his first attempt at driving Ricky only goes 26 miles and hour, and when he gets out of the car, starts acting like he is on fire again and takes his uniform off, prompting Dennit to fire him and have Cal replace him. When Ricky returns home, he finds that Carley, desperate not to become poor, has decided to divorce Ricky and marry Cal, prompting Ricky to end his friendship with Cal. Ricky moves into his mom’s house with his two sons and ends up taking a job as a pizza delivery man but loses his license after hitting a woman’s shopping cart and a police officer so he is forced to use the bus or a bicycle for his deliveries. One day he delivers a pizza to a hotel only to find Reese there, who had ordered the pizza so he could talk to Ricky, but Ricky punches him then walks away. When he talks about the encounter with his mom, Lucy tells Ricky that she told Reese where Ricky was as she knew that he would be able to help Ricky get back into racing. Ricky reluctantly agrees to have Reese help him and Reese proceeds to try to get Ricky to overcome his fear of driving fast, one way involving putting a live cougar in the car and telling Ricky to get in there with it. Meanwhile, Lucy has had enough of Walker and Texas Ranger acting like hooligans and begins trying to reform them. As Reese’s lessons continue, one day he tells Ricky that he placed a kilo of cocaine underneath the car and called the cops, forcing Ricky to choose between driving fast or going to jail. Ricky starts driving with the cops chasing after him and when he realizes that he is going over 100 mph, he starts screaming out in joy as he works to avoid the cops. After getting away from the cops, Ricky goes to remove the cocaine from underneath the car only to learn that it was just Lucky Charms, with a note from Reese asking if it felt good to be going fast again. Ricky gets his license back and keeps the cougar, which he names Karen, and decides that they should have a nice family dinner but Reese causes a scene and gets thrown out of Applebees. When Ricky chases after him and says he started racing and won the races because of him, Reese tells him he was high when he said that and should have picked a better role model to follow. Feeling dejected, Ricky decides to give up racing when he runs into his old assistant Susan, who convinces him to get back into racing as he was meant to drive fast. After she is done talking, Ricky realizes he is attracted to Susan and they end up making out on the table. Ricky gets Lucius and his pit crew back together and shows them the car they have to work with and Lucius says he and the crew will work on getting the engine rebuilt so it can race. Ricky heads over to see Girard to tell him that he is coming for him and Girard wishes him luck, saying he only came to America to race Ricky in the hopes he would beat him so that he could go on to live out his dreams with his husband. The next day, Ricky is shown the new engine, with Lucius telling him that several teams donated some parts, and Susan explains the new paint job on the car, saying that Ricky doesn’t need corporate sponsors as he is out there racing for himself. Before the race starts, Ricky approaches Cal and Carley and apologizes to Cal for not valuing their friendship like he should have, causing Cal to start doubting what he has done. As the race commences, Ricky starts making his way up the pack until he catches up to Girard but he us unable to pass him. Dennit orders Cal to take out Ricky but Cal refuses and instead, gets ahead of Ricky so that he can use the slingshot maneuver to pass Girard. Angered by what Cal did, Dennit orders the driver of the Wonder Bread car to take out Cal, which causes a huge wreck that takes out every car on the field except for Ricky and Girard. Ricky and Girard keep racing and end up crashing into each other during the last lap. After their cars finally stop tumbling, Ricky and Girard get out of their cars and then start running towards the finish line, intent on finishing the race, with Ricky winning the race, but both drivers are disqualified for leaving their cars. Due to being in third place at the time of the crash, Cal is declared the winner and afterwards, he grabs Ricky and they repair their friendship. As Ricky is leaving, Carley approaches him and says she is willing to go back to him but Ricky refuses and says he would rather be with Susan. As Ricky, Susan, Lucy, and the boys leave, they find Reese sitting on his car and when he asks Ricky who he won the race for, Ricky says it wasn’t for him and that he just went out there to drive as he knew his family would love him no matter how he did. Ricky then suggests they go to Applebees so that Reese can get thrown out again and they all get into Reese’s car and head off together.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby met with mostly positive reviews from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 71% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though it occasionally stalls, Talladega Nights’ mix of satire, clever gags, and excellent ensemble performances put it squarely in the winner’s circle.” Wonder Bread, Old Spice, and Perrier were not charged for the product placement in the movie but Wonder Bread and Old Spice did promote the movie through back-end deals. The movie was a box office success, earning $163 million off of a $72.5 million budget.

Every time I watch this movie, I still hear Chris’ laugh, which makes me laugh even more. This is a very funny movie and definitely something that can make you laugh when you need it. The acting was really good, with Will Ferrell (Ricky) and John C. Reilly (Cal) making for a great comedic duo, but everyone was really good in this movie. The story was pretty good, with some serious moments added to the more ridiculous parts to balance out the movie. The humor was a mixture of various styles, with some more adult or risque than others, but I enjoyed the occasional slapstick that was thrown in. A great comedy and one that is well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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action, adventure, fantasy, movie, movie review, sci-fi

July 19th, 2017 Movie – Kong: Skull Island

kong skull island

Seriously, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise that I bought today’s movie. After all, my love for giant monster movies is pretty well documented on this blog. Anyways, after the success of Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla, it was announced that two sequels would follow. However, Godzilla wasn’t the only monster that Legendary had their sites set on, as plans were made to do a remake starring America’s most famous giant monster, King Kong. When Universal Pictures allowed Legendary Pictures to have Warner Bros. distribute their King Kong movie, in order to facilitate a Godzilla vs. King Kong movie down the road. But that isn’t happening for three years so right now, let’s focus on today’s movie. I was already excited about this movie when I first heard it was being produced, with the cast announcement only fueling that excitement. When the first trailer for it dropped, I was all in and, along with my 2 youngest brothers, we eagerly hit the theater opening night to watch it, then I pre-ordered it on Amazon as soon as it was available. Now, let’s strap in and enjoy today’s movie, Kong: Skull Island.

The plot: During World War II, an American and Japanese plane are shot down over an uncharted island in the Pacific but both pilots manage to bail out. Seeing that they are enemies, the two pilots begin shooting at each other on the beach but when they run out of bullets, the Japanese pilot chases after the American with his sword. As the two fight on a cliff, they are startled when a pair of massive arms grab the cliff and a giant ape raises up and roars at them. 29 years later, Monarch official William “Bill” Randa and his assistant, Houston Brooks, arrive in DC, amidst the protests against the Vietnam War. As President Nixon announces the end of the war and his withdrawing the troops, Randa and Houston meet with Senator Al Willis about receiving funding for an expedition to Skull Island, which they were just able to get satellite photos of. Willis is reluctant to do so at first, believing Monarch to be a wast of government money, but when Houston says that the Soviets satellite will pass over the island in a few days and says they should know what is there first, Willis agrees to have them piggyback on a geological mission and Randa asks for a military escort. In Vietnam, the members of a helicopter squadron, The Sky Devils, are celebrating the end of the war and looking forward to going home in a few days. Their commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Preston Packard, feels differently and appears upset about leaving the war unfinished so when he receives a call from General Ward with new orders, he eagerly accepts them. Randa and Houston head to Singapore to meet with James Conrad, a former Captain in the British SAS, and hire him as a tracker/guide for their expedition, while photojournalist Mason Weaver is told that she has been given the assignment to document the expedition. The different groups all meet in Thailand and after boarding the expedition ship, they are briefed on the island and their mission of using seismic charges to help map the island. Later, Conrad and Mason meet up in the cargo hold, as both are suspicious of the true nature of the mission. As they reach the island, they see the storm system surrounding the island and the Landsat leader wants to abandon the mission but Randa and Packard overrule him and choose to proceed. The helicopters take off and make their way through the storm, eventually reaching the island. After setting up a base camp, the helicopters begin dropping the seismic charges to map the island, which Houston says is practically hollow, when a tree is suddenly thrown into one of the helicopters while a second one is swiped from the air by a giant hand. The rest of the helicopters are soon confronted by Kong, who begins knocking all of the helicopters out of the sky, killing several of the soldiers in the process. The group is scattered across the area and Conrad, along with Mason, Houston, San Lin (Monarch’s biologist), Victor Nieves (the Landsat leader), and Reg Slivko (the Sky Devils radio operator) decides to head towards the refueling drop in order to get off the island. Meanwhile, Packard gets in touch with Chapman, his second-in-command, and orders him to sit tight, as Chapman’s helicopter had all of the extra munitions. Packard then gathers his surviving soldiers, including Reles, Mills, and Cole, then asks where Randa is. Packard approaches Randa and threatens to shoot him if he doesn’t tell him what he knows. Randa explains that monsters exist, citing his own experience, and how he spent the last 30 years in Monarch trying to prove it. Randa then asks that Packard help him get back home with proof so they can bring the cavalry but Packard says he is the cavalry, then orders his men to start moving. As they make their way through the jungle towards Chapman, one of the soldiers is impaled by the leg of a giant spider and as it tries to grab and eat Glenn, the others manage to kill it and save him. Meanwhile, Conrad’s group encounters a giant water buffalo-like creature but when they make no move to threaten it, it ignores them and walks away. They continue on their way and eventually come to some ruins, where they find themselves surrounded by Iwi natives. Suddenly, an American appears and introduces himself as Hank Marlow, the downed American pilot from WWII. Hank convinces the Iwi’s that the group means them no harm, then takes them to the wreckage of an old ship, which is considered hallowed ground by the Iwis. Inside, Marlow explains about how the natives worship Kong, who is considered their great protector, and how he fends off the creatures from below, lizard-like monsters which he calls Skullcrawlers. When Conrad tells Marlow about the refueling team, Marlow says they won’t be able to make it in time on foot, but shows them the boat that he and his friend, the Japanese Gunpei Ikari, had been working on before Gunpei was killed. As Conrad and Slivko help Marlow get it running, Mason is hears some cries from outside the wall and sees a buffalo trapped under a wrecked helicopter. She tries to help free it but is unable to move the wreckage when suddenly, Kong appears and lifts the helicopter, then stares at Mason as the buffalo leaves. Meanwhile, Chapman has his own encounter with Kong, having watched him kill a giant squid as he was drinking from a lake. As Chapman waits for Packard, he encounters a giant bug, which he manages to drive off, but he is then killed by a Skullcrawler. The group get the boat working and Marlow says goodbye to the Iwis, who have come to see them off. As they make their way along the river, Slivko manages to make contact with Packard’s group and Packard sends up a flare to show them where they are. As Slivko gets off the radio, a group of pterosaurs suddenly grab Nieves and tear him to pieces in the air. The two groups meet up and Conrad explains their plan but Packard refuses to leave Chapman, or the supplies, and tells Conrad that his job is to find lost men so he should do it. The group head west, where they reach a mass grave containing the remains of Kong’s family. Marlow warns them not to go through there but Packard overrules him and they head inside. Suddenly, a Skullcrawler appears and as they all hide, it spits up a human skull and Conrad sees it has Chapman’s dog-tags on it. When the Skullcrawler leaves, the group start to head out again but Randa is suddenly eaten by the Skullcrawler, which then begins attacking the soldiers. Several of them are eaten and killed before Mason manages to kill it by igniting a methane vent as it is over it. Marlow tells Packard that to continue on is suicide and Conrad shows him that Chapman is dead but Packard refuses to leave without killing Kong. Packard leads his soldiers towards the munitions and they make plans to ambush and kill Kong. Conrad, Mason, Marlow, Houston, and San make their way back towards the boat but as they stop for a rest, Conrad and Mason go on ahead and encounter Kong. Suddenly, they see explosions in the distance and Kong roars in anger and heads towards them. Conrad and Mason go back to the others and tell them to get the boat while they go try to save Kong and Marlow goes with them. Kong approaches Packard and his men and starts heading to attack them when Packard sets off the napalm they had laid out as a trap, engulfing Kong in flames and causing him to collapse. Packard orders his men to set charges on Kong so they can blow him up but Conrad, Mason, and Marlow show up and get him to stop. When Slivko turns his gun on Packard, the rest of the soldiers also lower their weapons. Suddenly, a giant Skullcrawler emerges from the water and approaches the fallen Kong. Conrad and the others leave but Packard stays behind and when he sees Kong has regained consciousness, he goes to set off the charges but Kong smashes him with his fist. Kong and the Skullcrawler begin fighting as Conrad leads the others to where the boat is. When the Skullcrawler comes after them, Cole tries to sacrifice himself to save the others by trying to get it to swallow him while he pops a grenade but the Skullcrawler simply swipes him with his tail, sending him into a cliff. As the Skullcrawler approaches them, Kong appears and continues to attack it but it knocks him into the remains of several boats. Kong ends up trapped in some chains and the Skullcrawler approaches to try and finish the job when Houston begins firing at it from the boat as he and San show up to get the others. The Skullcrawler turns towards them and Mason, who is on a nearby hilltop, fires a flare at it’s head to distract it. Kong manages to get free and uses the chains, along with the rudder attached to it, to attack the Skullcrawler again and starts to get the upper hand but their fight ends up knocking Mason off of the cliff and into the water. Kong grabs her from the water but the Skullcrawler bites down on his fist to try and eat her, and Kong’s hand, but Kong manages to rip it’s tongue and guts out from it’s mouth, finally killing it. Kong then sets Mason down on the ground and starts to walk off as Conrad goes to check that she is ok. The surviving group then head back to the refueling spot so they can leave and Kong watches as the helicopters appear. Marlow returns to his home and is reunited with his wife and meets his son for the first time before sitting down to watch a Cubs game for the first time in decades. Meanwhile, Conrad and Mason are detained by Monarch and Houston and San appear and explain to them that Kong is not the only “King” out there, showing them slides of cave drawings picturing 4 other monsters (Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, and King Ghidorah), with a final drawing showing Godzilla and King Ghidorah locked in battle as people watch and as the screen cuts to black, Godzilla’s roar is heard.

Kong: Skull Island met with mostly praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Offering exhilarating eye candy, solid acting, and a fast-paced story, Kong: Skull Island earns its spot in the movie monster’s mythos without ever matching up to the classic original. Jordan Vogt-Roberts cited Princess Mononoke as one of the influences in his creature design, saying that it was “a big reference, in the way that the spirit creatures sort of have their own domains and fit within that, so a big thing was trying to design creatures that felt realistic and could exist in an ecosystem that feels sort of wild and out there”. During the into credits, there is a drawing of a turtle with the word MUTO (Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism) written above it, which could be a slight nod to the Gamera movies or Kamoebas, the giant turtle from Toho’s Space Amoeba. The movie was a box office hit, earning $566.2 million off of a $185 million budget.

This was a great movie to watch on several levels. The acting was fantastic, with Tom Hiddleston (Conrad), Brie Larson (Mason) and John Goodman (Randa) doing great jobs in their roles. I also liked John C. Reilly (Marlow), who provided some great comic relief, and Samuel L. Jackson, who gave Packard an almost Ahab like character as he tried to take down Kong no matter what. The story was really good, putting a little bit of a new spin on the Kong story with the only big difference, aside from Kong not going to a mjor city, is the removal of the “Beauty and the Beast” story line that is in the other movies. The special effects were incredible, from the various explosions to the monsters themselves, and the scenery and location shots in the movie was absolutely breathtaking. The original King Kong is still the best version out there, but this is a great movie in it’s own right and worthy of carrying on the franchises namesake.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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