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Chappie marks another low point in District 9 director Neill Blomkamp's slumping career



Is it worth $10? No

When "District 9" hit theaters in 2009, the world was introduced to a slush of sci-fi quirk and grit that became director Neill Blomkamp's signature style. That style, paired with an engaging narrative that served as a parable for South African apartheid, made for love at first sight. Blomkamp's debut feature was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Then he cursed us with "Elysium" in 2011, and it was cheeseball sci-fi at its worst.


Now the world looks to "Chappie" for a clearer picture on the type of filmmaker that Blomkamp is going to be. The good news is that the gritty and endearing style that we saw in "District 9" is back. The bad news is that Blomkamp may be out of interesting ways to use this style.

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Unfinished Business is offensive, crass and funny

Is it worth $10? No

"Unfinished Business" is what we call "A Moments Flick," meaning it has its moments, but as a whole it isn't that good. From start to finish there are plenty of laughs, but there are also offensive characters/stereotypes that are relied on too heavily for gags, a vain attempt to add substance to the story through a weak subplot involving children, and a misuse of some real talent. As a whole this is another disappointing entry to add to Vince Vaughn's ever-growing list of duds. 

Since this is meant to be a comedy we can talk about that first. From the start we are introduced to our three main characters, and yes some hilarity ensues. The three leads, Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco, and Tom Wilkinson, are never really given much to help them bond and create chemistry. Instead we are just given moments where each character gets a chance to do something funny, and between these moments are lulls where you are awkwardly waiting for the next laugh. Dave Franco has one of the most offensive characters in recently film history as he plays a young man with special needs, and they go so far as to talk about the group home he lives in (and show his roommates later in the story), but Franco pushed it a little too far. Robert Downey Jr. warned in "Tropic Thunder" that you should never go full retard, but that's just what happened here, and it was done intentionally and for laughs, which I'm not OK with. 

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This return to the Marigold Hotel has charm but lacks drama

Is it worth $10? Yes

Most of “The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” takes place in Jaipur, India, so naturally the film starts in San Diego. Because apparently there are no investors in their city, country, continent or hemisphere, Sonny (Dev Patel) and Muriel (Maggie Smith) have ventured to the west coast of the U.S. looking for funding to build a second hotel. As anyone whose seen “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” (2011) will attest, people go Sonny’s hotel to die and don’t leave until they do, which can create overcrowding.

This is a sequel with good intentions and lackluster execution. Most of the gang from the first film checks back in for the follow-up, and all are living sprightly. Evelyn (Judi Dench) has a career in buying fabrics and a budding romance with Doug (Bill Nighy), who’s still entangled with his estranged wife; Madge (Celia Imrie) finds herself torn between two wealthy suitors; Norman (Ronald Pickup) and Carol (Diana Hardcastle) struggle to be happy together; and Sonny, in the throws of procuring a second hotel (keep in mind he can barely run the first hotel, even with Muriel’s help), is about to marry Sunaina (Tina Desai).

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Cyberbullies cross the line in attacking Curt Schilling's daughter, but where should the line be drawn?

Former Major League Baseball pitcher and future Hall of Famer Curt Schilling had a proud moment this week when he announced on Twitter that his 17 year-old daughter Gabby will play softball at Salve Regina University. Good dads brag about their children, so the "congrats" tweets he received were expected.

Tweets suggesting rape, assault, double penetration and other offensive actions regarding his daughter were not expected.

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Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo shine in "Foxcatcher"

Let’s get this out of the way since it’s the first thing a lot of people are going to think when they see Steve Carell as John “Eagle” du Pont in “Foxcatcher.” Is John like Gru from the “Despicable Me” movies? No, he is not. Yes, the two characters have a similar proboscis and affected manner of speech, but they are not the same.

First off, John du Pont is a real person, from the famous du Pont family that made a fortune in the chemical industry. Also real in “Foxcatcher” are brothers Mark and David Schultz (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo), who are both Olympic Gold Medal winners in wrestling.

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Getting in a car accident is never fun, but when there are no injuries it can be fun-ny

With wintry snow and ice continuing in many parts of the country, who couldn't use some car collision laughs? Fear not: There's no indication that we're laughing at any severe injuries in the videos below, so you don't have to feel guilty about this guilty pleasure.

Lest my friends and family in the north think I'm championing the virtues of my fellow South Florida drivers, think again. South Florida drivers have no virtues. What you see in these videos happens on a normal day in Miami -- we don't need snow and ice to have a 20 car pile up, thank you.

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Lame con man caper ironically lacks focus

Is it worth $10? No

Remember when Will Smith was box office gold? There was a time – nearly 20 years ago now – when he couldn’t miss, when even if his movie was a dud it still collected prime box office dollars. Then “Hancock” (2008) happened and he hasn’t done anything decent since, and given the mediocrity of “Focus,” expect the downward trend to continue.

Sure, Smith brings his trademark charm to Nicky, a con artist. And the gorgeous Margot Robbie (“The Wolf Of Wall Street”) brings beauty to Jess, an aspiring grifter whom Nicky takes under his wing. There’s no debating they’re both easy on the eyes. Nicky calls grifting “a game of focus” that’s all about getting people’s focus and taking what you want. No doubt this deception is meant to be a metaphor for the film as well, thereby prompting writer/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (“Crazy, Stupid, Love.”) to pull the old switcheroo on the audience in the final moments. The problem is the story lacks so much focus leading up to the finale that when the twist comes we don’t care because we’ve already lost interest.

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Recent Articles

Chappie **
Chappie marks another low point in District ...
Unfinished Business **
Unfinished Business is offensive, crass and ...
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel **1/2
This return to the Marigold Hotel has charm but ...
Asshole(s) Of The Week: Gabby Schilling Cyberbullies
Cyberbullies cross the line in attacking ...
Blu-Ray Pick of the Week: Foxcatcher
Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark ...

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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