It’s now the time of year when films are carefully marketed and strategically released into theaters in the hopes that they will be fresh on the minds of those making the big decisions come award season in the early part of 2014. To this point, there are large quantities of good quality films coming out every month, and it is often tough to review all of them. On top of my traditional full-length reviews, I’ve decided to change it up a bit and give you a brief rundown of what else is in theaters and a little bit of info about each. (NOTE: these films are available now or coming out this weekend – they are not all award quality…)
Chiwetel Ejiofor gives an incredible performance as Solomon Northup, a free black man living in the pre-Civil War United States era, who is kidnapped near his home in the Northeast and sold into slavery in the South. In a twelve-year struggle to stay alive and find his way home, Solomon witnesses first hand the cruel and inhuman slave practices, as well as some unexpected compassion and sympathy from a few people he encounters while moving from plantation to plantation.
This film will make you feel ashamed and almost uncomfortable as it is heartbreaking to watch how slaves were treated – raped, beaten, killed, starved, forced to live in horrible conditions – all in such an abusive way for the mere pleasure of the white plantation owners. Watching the mistreatment of these slaves, I found myself at times wanting to look away, and yet with no clue what to expect, the audience seemed to be holding their breath in anticipation of what would happen next. 12 Years A Slave gives you a wide range of emotions from sadness, to concern, to disgust, to angriness, all culminating in a heart warming scene as Solomon is returned to his family after a long and tiresome journey.
12 Years A Slave should warrant attention come award season and could potentially be one of the greatest historical pieces ever. This film makes you reflect hard on how slaves were treated, how people turned their backs on issues such as this, and what it was like for someone like Northup. Unlike the recent film, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which is set in a similar period, talks about slavery and the fight for black equality, 12 Years A Slave is an edgy, bare bone, accurate account of one man’s hard fight for freedom and survival. The film also features notable performances from Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Lupita Nyong’o, and Brad Pitt.
12 Years A Slave is rated R for violence/cruelty, some nudity and brief sexuality. Running time is 2 hours and 14 minutes. Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars.
Featuring Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, Jack Reynor, Bobby Moynihan, Britt Robertson and more, Delivery Man is funny, mediocre, oversized, and somewhat strange. When a childish, incompetent slacker from New York, David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn), finds out that twenty years ago he visited a fertility clinic, and his anonymous donations led to the creation of 533 children, he must decide whether to reveal himself when a portion of the kids decide to file a lawsuit to seek out his identity. Referred to as “Starbuck” in the film, Wozniak slowly begins to anonymously seek out several of the children, and this quest ultimately changes his life. Delivery Man is a remake of director, Ken Scott’s 2011 French-Canadian film, Starbuck.
This movie possesses a very odd storyline, a man fathering 500+ kids, and a typical comedic Vince Vaughn presentation. Vaughn’s fast-paced, rambling humor is notably present in his character, and although the content is somewhat heavy (fertility clinics, adoption, etc.), which could bother some viewers, Delivery Man is a fun, adult-family film. Chris Pratt plays Wosniak’s close friend and petty lawyer, and as an overwhelmed single father himself, he has a lot of laughable advice and comments regarding children. Cobie Smulders is presented as Wozniak’s love interest and is quickly pulled into his chaotic child problems. A handful of well known and lesser-known actors play Wosniak’s children, who range from pro athletes, to handicapped people, to drug addicts, to kids of all race and sexual orientation, and more.
At the end of the day, Delivery Man speaks to you about family, having children, and getting your life together for something as important as handling a kid. It stresses the fact that no matter where you came from – naturally birthed, adopted, or whatever background – family is very important and can change your life.
Delivery Man rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language. Running time is 1 hour and 43 minutes. Rated 2.8 out of 5 stars.
At first glance, Last Vegas simply appears to be another version of The Hangover featuring older characters. Both movies feature a group of friends who travel to Las Vegas for one last hoorah before one of them gets married. Here, Billy (Michael Douglas) is the one getting married to someone half his age and decides to invite his three best friends, Archie (Morgan Freeman), Sam (Kevin Kline), and Paddy (Robert De Niro) to Vegas for a wild weekend.
Last Vegas is a funny, cute, feel-good, well-balanced “hangover” for older generations with plenty of adult content/comedy, but offers more to the audience in terms of respect, heart, and emotion, and tells a fairly deep story of these four characters’ lives. Most of the humor comes from the interactions of these characters with each other and the much younger, wild people they meet in Vegas.
From a complicated history, to a love triangle, to all the perverted and sex driven actions these characters take, it’s basically a series of random, comedic events with a heavy love story and background. There are emotional highs and lows, but in the end, the story wraps up in a happy way as everyone gets what they want. This film has many similarities to The Hangover, hosting much of the same humor, but at the same time creating an emotional, heartfelt, endearing adventure as these older men party in style.
Last Vegas is rated PG-13 on appeal for sexual content and language. Running time is 1 hour and 45 minutes. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Eighty-six-year-old Irving Zisman is on a journey across America with the most unlikely companion: his eight-year-old grandson Billy, in “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa”. This October, the signature Jackass characters Irving Zisman (Johnny Knoxville) and Billy (Jackson Nicoll) will take movie audiences along for the most insane hidden camera road trip ever captured on camera. Along the way, Irving will introduce the young and impressionable Billy to people, places, and situations that give new meaning to the term “childrearing”. The duo will encounter male strippers, disgruntled child beauty pageant contestants (and their equally disgruntled mothers), funeral home mourners, biker bar patrons, and a whole lot of unsuspecting citizens. Real people in unreal situations, making for one really messed up comedy. (Courtesy of Paramount Pictures PR)
Given a 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, this is not your typical award winning quality film. MTV and the Jackass crew sure know what they’re doing though, as Bad Grandpa was able to unseat Gravity as the top film this past weekend. This film features Johnny Knoxville disguised as an old man for the title character role of “Grandpa”, and a handful of unfamiliar faces in a series of vulgar, raunchy, and ridiculous gags and pranks filmed on a hidden camera.
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is rated R for some crude and sexual content throughout, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use. Running time is 1 hour and 32 minutes. Rated 7 out of 10 (IMDB).
Use the links below for info on additional movies in theaters:
Enders Game (opening this weekend, click to view my Friday review on WFAA.com)
About Time (opening this weekend)
Dallas Buyers Club (limited release this weekend – future review to come)
Diana (this weekend)
Free Birds (this weekend)
View more films on IMDB
Article By: Hayden Pittman
You can also find my weekly “Friday Feature” movie review on WFAA.com
Please leave comments below. Thank you for reading and enjoy the movies!
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