A Marathon Movie Review: Singing Girls, Partying Boys, Natural & Unnatural Disasters

Whew. So many movies to review, so little time. But it’s officially the start of summer, which means good TV is mostly hibernating until the Fall, your kids are out of school, and sometimes you just need to sit in a theater to escape the heat. Here are some quick hit thoughts on the four most recent movies I’ve seen, all of which are still in most theaters.

Pitch Perfect 2

pitch-perfect-2-poster It’s been a few weeks since I’ve seen this movie, and it was definitely one I was highly anticipating. The original Pitch Perfect was amazing. It was clearly a movie where the more you watched it, the better it got. It was a perfect combination for people who like karaoke, sing-alongs, etc. There wasn’t a ton of plot thrown in your face, and it felt like we got a ton of music throughout the film. The second installment was funnier overall and had more storylines. Both of those aspects worked well, but the problem is they came at the expense of some of the musical experience. Don’t get me wrong, there was still lots of music, but I don’t think the songs or performances will ever be as memorable as the first. My initial reaction was that the music in Pitch Perfect 2 was horrible, but when I listened to the soundtrack and started to remember the scenes, I realized I was being a little harsh. The Bellas’ competition this time around was the German powerhouse acapella group, DSM. (Basically, this was Pitch Perfect’s “Mighty Ducks 2” movie, where there was a European villain and the stakes moved from the United States to a Worldwide level.) The other polarizing musical decision revolved around an original song. If you remember, PP1 had “Cups.” It was an immediate sensation both within the movie and on the radio. In PP2, we got “Flashlight,” and the jury is definitely out on whether that was a good decision or not. The dirty little secret of this movie is that the Germans were 1 billion times better than The Bellas. Oh well. The movie was solid, and I guarantee it’ll be another case of “it gets better the more you watch it.” I’m giving Pitch Perfect 2 a 6.5 out of 10 on the Ross Watchability Scale (RWS).


entourage-cast I was never going to pay to see this movie so I hopped into a second theater after Jurassic World ended the other day to check it out for free. I didn’t want to pay for it because I assumed it was going to be exactly like an episode of Entourage, which had a run of eight seasons on HBO from 2004-11. And I was right…which makes reviewing this movie easy. If you liked Entourage for the most part when it was on TV, you’ll probably enjoy the big screen version. If you hated it, well, you probably already knew to skip the movie. We get to see Vince, E, Drama, Turtle and Ari doing their usual “this movie might ruin our careers” routine while minor characters from the TV version pop up left and right (Ari’s family, Lloyd, Dana Gould, Billy Walsh, etc). And we’re bombarded with celebrity cameos (Mark Wahlberg, Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Gronk, Jessica Alba, Kelsey Grammar, Ed O’Neill, and so many more). Unlike the girl power Pitch Perfect, Entourage treats women like it always has: Pieces of meat to be hit on, joked about, screwed over, and discarded. I’ve seen a lot of people upset about this on social media in the past couple weeks. And to them I say, “What did you expect? It’s Entourage.” I’m giving it a 5.5 out of 10 on the RWS. It had enough going for it from a comedic and wow factor standpoint to make it worthwhile. Definitely not something you need to see in a theater, even if you were a huge fan of the show.

San Andreas

San-Andreas-Movie This is possibly the only movie of the four that you hadn’t heard about. It’s an action movie where The Rock plays the main character, a Los Angeles Firefighter who tries to save his daughter up in San Francisco when the entire West Coast experiences a devastatingly large earthquake. Listen, I’m seeing this movie for one reason: special effects (OK, two reasons: my high school obsession with The Rock still manifests itself from time to time). And the effects sucked. There was nothing interesting about the destruction that this massive earthquake caused. According to Paul Giamatti’s character, this was the largest recorded quake in the history of the world, and yet, the chaos and suffering was meh at best. What the fuck, San Andreas? You think I give a shit about the father-daughter relationship, or the fact that this family lost another daughter to a drowning accident years earlier. The two British supporting characters, while cute & funny, were not a main draw either. Give me the most ridiculous amount of shit blowing up and crumbling. Give me the earth opening up. Give me a tsunami that rivals anything we’ve ever seen. Give me something so I can at least give this movie a 2.0 on the Ross Watchability Scale. Do not give me a super slow sinking of a skyscraper into the flood waters where I know with 100% certainty that everyone’s going to make it out OK. As it stands, I’m giving San Andreas a 0.5 on the RWS, the lowest recorded rating in the history of this scale.

Jurassic World

jurassic-world-poster1 I don’t see many movies on their opening day, but I just had to see Jurassic World this past Friday. My excitement came from how much I enjoyed the original Jurassic Park back in 1993. I’m guessing I was the perfect age for that movie to be one of my favorites…a 10-year-old seeing an awesome dinosaur movie on a huge movie screen. I never saw the follow-ups to Jurassic Park, and you don’t need to have seen them either to enjoy this newest installment. Jurassic World takes place 20 years after the tragedy of the first story, in a time where they’ve been successfully running a dinosaur-based theme park for a while. In fact, it’s been around long enough that the main plot focuses on the operators of the park trying to engineer bigger, scarier dinosaurs to reinvigorate the public’s interest in the attractions. And of course, they make a dinosaur so big and so bad that all hell breaks loose. This conveniently happens on the same weekend where the park’s head of operations has nephews visiting. And if that sounds cliche, well, be prepared to get hit over the head with plenty of them (like that same head of operations being so focused on her career and making money for the park that she willingly puts her family and other park guests in danger). But aside from the usual problems with large-scale action movies (please don’t expect the dialogue to be riveting), Jurassic World was an awesome movie. The spectacle of it all and the special effects were fantastic. Even though the plots are never awesome in these movies, there were plenty of twists and turns to keep you genuinely interested even if you don’t like all the action parts. As with the original, it was really fun to see lots of minor characters and think, “I know they’re gonna die, but I can’t wait to see how and when.” Though the focus for most of the movie is on the humans trying to take down the highly-intelligent hybrid dinosaur that was cooked up in the park’s lab, don’t sleep on some awesome moments from the Velociraptors and T. Rex. Jurassic World gets a solid 7.5 out of 10 on the RWS. I will watch this one over and over again. So there you have it. Go see Jurassic World and Pitch Perfect 2 for sure. Entourage depends on your personal tastes. And San Andreas is awful for everyone.

Wrestlemania: So big of a challenge it takes two bloggers to cover it

Sheamus makes other Irish people look Spanish

For the second consecutive year, I watched Wrestlemania at my brother’s house with a small group: three guys, two girls.  Now you may think legendary blogging skills run in my family, and I wouldn’t blame you for that.  But they don’t.  So when the aforementioned brother suggested we do a joint blog about the event, I was slightly hesitant.  But ultimately I agreed.  Throughout the telecast of Wrestlemania, I could see him taking quick notes when something interesting or funny happened.  I thought to myself, “This is great…he’s gonna send me a nice short recap of the events and we can combine notes for a fantastic blog post.”

Unfortunately what I received from him on Monday was a 2,050 word stream of consciousness brain dump.  It’s like, jeez, my blog is already unpopular enough…I don’t need to further alienate my readers by posting thousands of words on a subject no one wants to read about.  Part of me wanted to post his exact words and just watch the tumbleweed take over.  But that would be irresponsible.  Instead I’ve spent my precious time combing through this bullshit trying to make it a workable blog.

The following is a recap of our Wrestlemania viewing.  It is told from the perspective of my brother, but you can bet your ass all of the funny parts were written by me.  Enjoy…

In March of 2011, Rmurdera and I heard that one of our favorite WWE personalities from our childhood (where childhood is equal to age 18 and up), The Rock, was making a comeback at Wrestlemania 27. We gathered a few close friends (the middle brother, my wife, Rmurdera’s girlfriend) to watch the proceedings. After four hours of fake wrestling, we decided it was probably our last Wrestlemania until one of us had an eight-year-old that was into wrestling.

Fast forward to this past Sunday.  The exact same crew, thoroughly embarrassed to be doing so, gathered again to give Wrestlemania another shot.  It must thrill the girls that when no real sports are happening on a Sunday, we’d rather watch fake sports than spend the day with them.  Rmuderera and myself decided to keep a running diary of the events so that in March 2013 we can quickly remember why we quit Wrestlemania the previous years, and I could save myself $65.  Here is what transpired over four hours of fake wrestling (where “wrestling” = 30 minutes of actual wrestling and 3 hours & 30 minutes of posing, strutting and pumping up the crowd):

Match One: Sheamus vs Daniel Bryant – Heavyweight Championship

It might seem like Heavyweight represents the most prestigious championship you can get, but it’s not.  It’s the second best.  Let me explain it in terms you’ll clearly understand.  If wrestling was European soccer, the Heavyweight Championship would be equivalent to the Europa League, as opposed to the Champions League which would be equivalent to the WWE Championship.

More relevant than who won the match is how insanely ghost white Sheamus’ body is.  Think Casper the Ghost & Powder’s love child.  I think one member of our viewing party put it nicely when she asked “Did he get a reverse spray tan?”

Match Two: Kane vs Randy Orton – Grudge Match

Don’t ask for clarification on a grudge match.  The WWE requires all wrestling matches have a gimmicky name, even if there is no gimmick.

At least Kane’s entrance gets the girls excited for the first time tonight.  His long hair is a comfortable topic that they can spend hours on.  It’s unanimous that Kane’s long greasy hair is embarrassing enough that he chooses to wear a mask at all times.  He was also voted “grossest wrestler” by two people who have probably seen a total of six wrestlers in their lifetime.

**Before we start the next match, I have my “this is the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever watched on TV” moment when three grown men spend five minutes smashing plates of crab legs while wearing sock puppets.**

Match Three: Cody Rhodes vs The Big Show – Intercontinental Championship

Sorry, I don’t have a confusing soccer analogy to explain the significance of this championship to you.  But I will give you the tale of the tape and let you decide who should win this match:

Cody Rhodes: 6 feet 2 inches, 215lbs, 5 championships

Big Show: 7 feet, 441lbs, 17 championships

Though I know wrestling is fake, and I should be prepared for any amount of ridiculous things to happen, I do appreciate that sometimes they allow the outcome to be the obvious one.  Like an actual giant beating a guy who wouldn’t stand out physically in a group of sixth graders.

*Through 45 minutes, the highlight of the night is the ad for the official Wrestlemania chair.  I can promise the WWE that four orders have been placed from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Match Four: Maria Menounos and some woman vs Two other women – Diva Match

This is the obligatory women’s match where one of them has to be a non-wrestler C-list celebrity who learns one wrestling move to showcase but otherwise stands on the sidelines.  Maria Menounos has apparently jumped to C-list level recently.  The only memorable moment came when Maria pulled out the traditional wrestling move of rubbing her ass all over a lady’s face.  Unfortunately the lady’s face was caked with makeup, and Maria ended up with a big brownish-colored makeup stain on her ass.  This set us up nicely for a quick maturity test.  When one of us called her “Poop Stain Maria” and the rest of us burst into laughter, we knew we had failed.

Match Five: Undertaker vs HHH (read as: triple H) – Hell in a Cell Match, End of an Era Match

They really outgimmicked themselves this time.  This match could have stood alone without gimmick because the two wrestlers involved are WWE icons.  Two of the best of this generation facing off in a ring should be good enough.  But we get a Hell in a Cell Match, a cute name for a cage match.  We get the End of an Era storyline, Undertaker rumored to be retiring after this match no matter what.  There’s Undertaker putting his 19-0 Wrestlemania record on the line.  And we even have a guest referree: Shawn Michaels, who is apparently best friends with HHH.  That alone brings the legitimacy of this match into question.  Add to it the fact that Undertaker is the one who ended Shawn Michaels’ wrestling career….see how easy it is to get sucked into the soap opera story lines?

The Undertaker wins the match, but I’d rather talk about the fans.  If there’s one thing I know about wrestling fans, it’s that they are level-headed.  They’re not ones to exaggerate or overreact.  So when I check twitter after this match and see people tweeting things like, “I just stood up and clapped in my living room, most amazing match ever,” or, “tonight might be the most important night in sports history,” I realize I must be watching something special, even if I can’t see it myself.

**To waste time in between matches, we all give serious thought to what style of uniform you’d wear to wrestle in (a full spandex suit, the one-piece overall spandex, or the Andre the Giant single shoulder strap look).  If you don’t immediately choose Andre the Giant, Rmurdera doesn’t want you reading his blog anymore.

Match 6: CM Punk vs Chris Jericho – WWE Title

Things we learn during this match:

-The “CM” in CM Punk stands for Cookie Master because as the man himself puts it, “I was a fat little kid that always ate cookies.” (Rmurdera wanted to chime in on this one: “So?  You don’t see me calling myself CME Murdera do you?  The “CME” stands for Cadbury Mini-Eggs because I’m a fat adult that always eats mini-eggs.”)

-Andy Garcia is the type of celebrity that sits front row at a wrestling event

-CM Punk is straight edge

-He can have caffeine

-But he can’t have casual sex

-My brother thinks this means he’s only allowed to have sex with a Tuxedo on

Match 7: The Rock vs John Cena – No Gimmick!

Oh, I see.  The gimmick is that we have to sit through P Diddy introducing some band who then plays music for six minutes before the wrestlers are actually announced.  The girls’ wish doesn’t come true when it turns out P Diddy is not at Wrestlemania to introduce Adele, but his appearance legitimizes the entire event in their minds.

While wrestling fans have to constantly endure the lengthy introductions and long, slow walks to the ring by the wrestlers, The Rock has taken this to a new level.  Apparently he thinks the longer it takes him to enter, the more time his face will be the main thing we see on TV.  And maybe seeing his face will condition us to want to go see Tooth Fairy 2: The Girl Who Extracted Her Own Wisdom Teeth.

It’s not important who won the match; it’s just important that this travesty of a sporting event is over.  Two years in a row now I’ve said I’m not ordering this event again.  But I’ll let one of the guys from “the most important wrestling match in the history of the world” decide my fate.  If Undertaker comes back to defend his 20-0 record, I’ll pay to see it.  Maybe Rmurdera & I will even pay to attend the event live (Editor’s note: trust me, we won’t).