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Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart are game, but much of the comedy falls flat

Is it worth $10? No

In its opening moments “Get Hard” features two shots of Will Ferrell’s pale white backside. This is expected – he shows his derriere in all his comedies, and we’re getting it over with early here. Now the movie can be creative. Daring. Try new things. Push boundaries. Make us laugh for reasons we didn’t know existed. That “Get Hard” attempts to do all of the above is laudable; that it only moderately succeeds is, well, laughable for many reasons.

Ferrell is millionaire fund manager James King, and he’s on top of the world. His gold-digging fiancé Alissa (Alison Brie) can’t wait to spend her life with him in their mansion. Her father, Martin (Craig T. Nelson), also happens to be James’ boss, and things couldn’t be better at work. Or so James thinks. At their engagement party, with John Mayer playing a song for them, James is arrested and charged with 43 counts of securities fraud and 30 counts of embezzlement. He maintains his innocence.

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Animated pic is just for kids 10 and younger

Is it worth $10? No

Early in “Home,” a so-so kiddie flick from DreamWorks Animation (“How to Train Your Dragon 2”), aliens invade Earth with the intention of taking over the planet. The first thing the aliens do is relocate all humans to “Happy Humanstown.” Let this sink in: The movie starts by removing people from their homes and everything they know and forcing them to live together on an island colony.

This isn’t cute, or fun, or playful. It’s horrifying. The fact that we later learn Happy Humanstown is Australia is irrelevant. Of course I’m aware it’s a children’s movie and shouldn’t be taken seriously, but you never know how something will affect people. I saw the film in Miami, in a theater full of children and adults. No doubt some in the crowd were Cuban, a race of people who generations ago were forced from their country due to Fidel Castro’s ascension to power (with the help of Che Guevara). Even before that, Japanese Americans were taken from their home and forced to live in internment camps during World War II. The point is, there’s really nothing enjoyable about taking people from their homes and having them long for loved ones, yet director Tim Johnson depicts such actions with the lightness of a feather in the wind.

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Very fun -- and scary -- horror movie with a clever premise

Is it worth $10? Yes

The intriguing, thoroughly enjoyable thriller-horror hybrid "It Follows," by young Michigan naive David Robert Mitchell ("The Myth of the American Sleepover" [2010]), follows 19 year-old Jay (Maika Monroe, "Labor Day" [2013]) as she's followed by someone or something hellbent on killing her and others due to its inexplicable, capricious, coital-arithmetical compulsion. Jay and her friends are a close-knit bunch, growing up together and now residing in suburban Detroit. Writer-director Mitchell has them watching television on ‘60s sets, driving ‘70s cars, and wearing ’80s-style clothes. The anachronisms of the production design give the film a pleasantly off-kilter touch.

It's crucial to understand that this movie is creepy-scary and sometimes shocking-scary, but never does it fall into the modern horror-movie formula of violence-pause-more violence. Feel, mood, atmosphere: These are the things Mitchell does best.

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Not sure if the cat does this intentionally or not, but damn!

Can’t tell what’s more douchey: the nasty treatment of the poor cat; the sunglasses worn indoors; the uber-fashionable white socks; or the fact that this tool is making this video at all. Regardless, a fine example of assholery all the way around.

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Well-intentioned but flawed Starbucks initiative attempts to open a race discussion as you wait in line

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Said road leads us to Starbucks, who gets the dubious honor of being our Asshole of the Week. Starbucks earns this title for its ill-conceived attempt to start a race-relations conversation between customers and baristas during that crucial time when the barista is trying to spell our name correctly on the Starbucks cup.

While we acknowledge CEO Howard Schultz’s laudable intentions, we question his judgment in the execution. Is the complex and charged topic of race one we want to discuss with the total stranger who’s brewing our lite mocha frapp? Moreover, do we really want to have this conversation with said stranger barista while surrounded by the comforting background music of David Gray and other random customers? Not so much. 

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Three 2014 holidays releases come to Blu-Ray this week -- "Unbroken" is the one to watch first

For those old enough to answer this question, ask yourself: How did you spend your mid-20s? From, say, 25 years old to 28 years old? Think about where you were, who you were, and what you did. Then compare it to how Louis Zamperini (Jack O'Connell) spent his mid-20s during World War II, as told in director Angelina Jolie’s harrowing and inspirational movie “Unbroken.”

Zamperini is a bombardier in the Pacific. On a mission, the bomber plane he’s on is shot down. All of the crew perish in the crash except for him, Phil (Domhnall Gleeson), the pilot, and Mac (Finn Witrock), a gunner. They survive by climbing onto a life raft. The three men are at the whim of the elements. If it doesn’t rain so they can store water, they’ll die of dehydration. With rations depleted, if they are not able to catch fish, they will die of starvation.

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Great montage connects the beginning and end of your favorite films

Fascinating video here from Jacob T. Swinney on his Vimeo page that showcases the first and final shots of iconic movies. There are 55 films total — a list and their timestamps in the video are below. I would encourage you to first watch to see how many you recognize, then consult the list. It’s more fun that way! Also: Think about the significance of the first and final shot for each film. Some are profound and show true transition — others, not so much.

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Recent Articles

Get Hard **
Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart are game, but ...
Home **
Animated pic is just for kids 10 and ...
It Follows ****
Very fun -- and scary -- horror movie with ...
Effie Gray Giveaway -- Miami, Orlando, Tampa
Free tickets to advance screenings in Miami, ...
Bonus Asshole of the Week: This Dude Who's Mean To His Cat
Not sure if the cat does this intentionally or ...

Want to be a film critic?

"How do I become a film critic?" is one of the most common questions film critics receive. Here's the best answer I can give you.

1) Don't do it. It's a job of constant pressure, unrelenting deadlines, often little pay and even less gratitude. And think about all the crap you have to sit through ("Sex Tape") -- it's not just about getting to see "The Avengers 2" before all your friends.

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