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James Rocchi

James\' Hollywood Movies Blog


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Review Roundup: 'A Million Ways to Die in the West'

Friday May 30, 2014

Following up his well-received Ted, writer-director-actor-producer Seth MacFarlane can't quite make his new comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West work -- and considering the constellation of stars around him, like Charlize Thereon and Liam Neeson, that's a real shame:

Early in A Million Ways to Die in the West, Seth MacFarlane's second feature film, his lead character watches a delivery come in, and when a rope breaks, a workingman dies in a joke used heavily in the trailer: "Oh," MacFarlane howls, "That went south so fast!" It's a quick demonstration of the title joke, sure, but it's also a pretty good summation for the film itself -- early on, you sense that A Million Ways to Die in the West is going to be a saggy, baggy laugh-free affair, and it is. You feel badly for MacFarlane: Western-comedies aren't exactly what the kids are racing out to see, and the last one that worked, Blazing Saddles, is a comedy classic.

You can read our 2 out of 5 Star review here.

Part 4 of Our Summer 2014 Movie Roundup

Thursday May 29, 2014

In the final installment of our Summer Movie Preview -- and you can find Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 at their respective links -- we look at the clean-up batters for the Summer, including potential comedy hits like Let's Be Cops and a few possible action surprises -- like Luc Besson's Lucy or the Marvel space-crooks saga Guardians of the Galaxy, and see which might be good and which might not ...

Review Roundup: 'Blended'

Wednesday May 28, 2014

Adam Sandler's Blended is not nearly as bad as it could have been -- and while that's hardly the kind of thing that studios like to put on posters, it's also the facts.

Watching Blended, the new comedy reuniting Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler as single parents whose initial dislike turns to love on an unexpectedly shared vacation to Africa, feels, at first, like you're watching a movie made by slightly clueless, wealthy Martians who learned about human behavior by, unfortunately, watching other Adam Sandler films. It isn't as horribly, screechily bad as, say, Jack and Jill or Grown Ups or I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, but even when it's being heartwarming and romantic, it still feels a little off, a little stiff and stale.

You can read our full 2/5 Star review here.

Part 3 of Our Summer 2014 Movie Roundup

Tuesday May 27, 2014

In Part 3 of our Summer 2014 Movie Preview, we talk about everything from the B-movie thriler sequel The Purge: Anarchy to The Rock in Hercules, as well as the comedy of Tammy and Sex Tape and the high-octane action of Jupiter Rising ... along with reasons to look forward to, or away from, each and every one; you can find it right here ...

Review Roundup: 'The Grand Seduction'

Tuesday May 27, 2014

The very funny and startlingly smooth The Grand Seduction opens this week in NY and LA, coming soon to a theater near you; it's a near-perfect comedy, one well worth finding. As I note in my review,

A re-make of the French-Canadian comedy Seducing Doctor Lewis, The Grand Seduction offers silky-smooth comedy and great characters, as well as both heart and art working together for a con-game/romance/comedy that works like a charm.this is, to be sure, a small indie film even with the presence of stars like Taylor Kitsch (Battleship, John Carter of Mars), but it's worth looking for, as it's great; this is, in fact, exactly the kind of film people are talking about when they complain that "They don't make them like that anymore." Well, this time, they have.

You can read our full 4 out of 5 Star review here.

Parts 1 and 2 of Our Summer Movie Preview

Thursday May 22, 2014

With X-Men: Days of Future Past and Blended both opening with super-heroes and big-screen stars competing for your dollar, this summer is heating up at the movies ... and that means you need to catch up on what to see, what to worry about and what might come out of nowhere to win your heart this summer in Part 1 and Part 2 of our summer 2014 Movie Preview ...

Summer 2014 Movie Preview Pt. 1

Summer 2014 Movie Preview Pt. 2

Review Roundup for 'X-Men: Days of Future Past' ...

Thursday May 22, 2014

Taking aim at the Box Office this week, Fox's X-Men: Days of Future Past is the fifth film in the comic-book franchise -- and a surprisingly good one that manages to be both mercenary and entertaining at the same time, thanks to plenty of wit and character; you can find my review of the film at Film.com right here, but the movie also has a staggering 91% 'fresh' rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

There are dissenters, of course: Katey Rich of Vanity Fair was not a fan: "Boldly combining the casts of the early-aughts X movies with the fresh faces of 2011's X-Men: First Class, Days of Future Past is busy and bright, but unable to avoid getting tangled in its own mythologies and the weight of building (sigh) yet another superhero universe."

Are you going to go see X-Men: Days of Future Past?

Interview: Lake Bell of 'Million Dollar Arm'

Thursday May 15, 2014

As neighbor-turned-love-interest Brenda in Million Dollar Arm opposite Jon Hamm's driven would-be superagent JB Bernstein, Lake Bell gracefully, good-naturally puts style, charm and sharp acting instincts into performance that's eminently human, real and magnetic. The talented writer, actress and director (her debut film from last year, In a World, is a knock-down perfect satire of Hollywood that has heart, too) took a few minutes to talk to us about filming Million Dollar Arm, working with her co-stars and not being sari for going 'Full Bollywood.' ...

About.com: A lot of the movie is built around the idea that your character, Brenda, slowly builds a relationship with Suraj Sharma's character and Madhur Mittal's character while Mr. Hamm is running in and out. Was just hanging out with those guys during those scenes a great, different kind of experience?

Lake Bell: Yeah. Those two actors - and, I want to include Pitobash as well, just because...

... He was very much along for the ride ...

... I just enjoyed their company so much. They're not necessarily actors that I would have a scene with in any other film, so I had the opportunity to really bond with them and get to know them. Not only are they so present, emotionally, but also kinetically. They're so funny, naturally, and just beautifully talented in that way, but then, to boot, they had to kind of suit up and get on the field and actually train to mimic a professional pitcher. Their job was extraordinary. I was somewhat in awe of them, and also, happened to make some new friends.

The other thing is, playing opposite Mr. Hamm, you know you're transitioning from "Can I borrow your laundry machine?" to "May I wind up in your arms...?" Is he a pretty easy guy to do that arc with?


Review Roundup: 'Neighbors'

Thursday May 15, 2014

Winning the box office last week, Neighbors is one of those rare pleasures where the movie is actually better, stronger and smarter than the good, strong, smart stuff it's shown us in previews. As I note in my full review,

"The good news is that you get the movie you're promised, and it's funny; the better news is that Neighbors is also much smarter than that -- and guided overall by a strong appreciation of arrested development as a universal theme as well as a muzzy, fuzzy stoned-out set of improvisations and throwaway lines-- that its high points far outshine the low ones, and that it also finds smart, funny things for smart, funny actors to do, all captured by lively direction."

You can read our full 4/5 Star Review here.

Review Roundup: 'Chef'

Wednesday May 14, 2014

Written by, directed by and starring Jon Favreau, it's easy to see parallels between his character -- a chef forced to churn out bland, boring cuisine until it drives him to career-ending madness -- and his own artistic life in his latest, Chef. But that's not all Chef offers, and thank heavens:
"With its pro-passion, pro-entrepreneurship, pro-parenting and pro-America stances, Chef is a little undermined from the jump -- it's got nothing to kick against, really. But it does reward the audience with various diversions -- and not just the food on display, either. There's a note of the sensual -- in every meaning of the word -- in Chef, whether Favreau's camera is pointed at a deftly-prepared sandwich or the majesty of the view out the window, and whether the film is focusing on the delights of fresh-cut brisket or the music of Gary Clark, Jr. and the other luminaries in the hearty gumbo of the film's soundtrack and score."
You can read our full 3/5 Star Review here.

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