That’s always been a part of Ferrell’s work — his understanding of American mediocrity, and his delight in poking at its oblivious limitations. Eurovision both softens and expands his worldview, allowing him to indulge some small-town-dreamer pathos without getting into hokey Americana. If he’s playing the hits, he’s starting to interpret them with style.
In its final hour, The Last Days Of American Crime finally gets down to the business of its big heist, revealing both the propulsive entertainment value the filmmakers have been inexplicably stalling and the thinness of the whole enterprise.
Though Stein assembles his early sequences with precision, laying out geography and shorthanding through set design, that sharpness is undermined by basically everything else in the movie, from micro to major.
The movie is brisk, good-natured, and amusing, but these aren’t qualities that demand the resurrection of a low-rent cartoon empire. The charm of Scooby-Doo and his friends doesn’t have anything to do with the world of bizarre Hanna-Barbera TV curiosities they helped spawn. It comes from their mysterious ability to survive well past their seeming expiration date.
In Trolls and the new Trolls World Tour, celebrity voices, high energy levels, nonsensical catchphrases, cross-promotional branding, cover-heavy soundtracks, and overuse of voice-over narration are all jacked up to 11, creating what are essentially marathon-length dance party endings. Yet somehow, this shamelessness gives the whole enterprise a kind of deranged honor.
Bad plotting would be relegated to the realm of incidental if Coffee & Kareem were funnier—isn’t that always the way? Unfortunately, the movie spends a lot of time handing Helms underlined jokes, which he proceeds to underline again with his why-did-I-just-say-that delivery.
The movie looks a little like a lost Tony Scott project, but not quite enough — the style isn’t as tactile. Most of its ridiculous conviction comes from Diesel. He’s given plenty of better performances, but here he’s especially convincing in the role of a guy who legitimately believes he has nothing better to do.
The movie’s mock-jaundiced attitude toward social media is itself satirical, and there’s a germ of a funny idea about how principled liberals can get entangled in pointless social media battles and infighting. But it’s eclipsed by an unavoidably moneyed perspective that presumes privileged people are inherently liberal, rather than attacking the hypocrisy of rich liberals in particular.
Moss also strengthens the notion that this is a monster movie unusually interested in looking past the toxic-male machinations of its famous character and toward the lasting horrors left in his wake. In other words, the stuff that previous movies, and real life, have sometimes tried to turn invisible.
Fantasy Island isn’t especially scary, but scares don’t usually seem like the point of a Blumhouse horror gimmick. At their best, these movies have the energy and shamelessness of a carnival ride, where the enthusiasm means more than the atmosphere. Fantasy Island knowingly steals from everywhere, and sometimes cleverly incorporates its derivativeness into the filmmaking.
The Next Level thinks the milk-bland personalities of its central teenagers and a couple of cranky old people count as a rooting interest to ground the hijinks. Black, Hart, and Awkwafina could be a comedy dream team; instead, they’re stuck hustling around a bunch of video game battles.