Kevin Carr’s Weekly Report Card: March 16, 2012

Kevin Carr's Weekly Report Card

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in skinny jeans and bling-bling (‘cause that’s what the kids nowadays are wearing, right, dawg?) so he can sneak into his old high school and pose as a student. After spending the following night in jail, he heads to the multiplex to watch the biweekly Channing Tatum movie spectacular. Unfortunately, he goes in the wrong theater and ends up seeing a movie that requires him to read the whole time. And he doesn’t even get to see Genesis Rodriguez’s breasts. It’s a sad day.

Want to hear what Kevin has to say on the Fat Guys at the Movies podcast? Click here to listen as Kevin is joined by FSR’s Editor-at-Large Robert Fure to talk about movies, porn stars on Twitter and Doritos Tacos Locos.

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Rated: R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, drug material, teen drinking and some violence

Starring: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Brie Larson, Dave Franco and Rob Riggle

Directed by: Phil Lord and Chris Miller

What it’s about: Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are police officers recruited by the newly revived “Jump Street Program,” which involves youthful (or at least semi-youthful) cops going undercover at high schools. Their first assignment is to find the supplier of a new designer drug at Sagan High, during which their roles of popularity are reversed.

What makes the grade: I was actually quite stunned with how funny 21 Jump Street was. I never watched the series when I was younger (though I did sample some episodes recently, and even though it was played as a straight drama, it’s hilarious to watch now), but I suppose that 21 Jump Street purists will take some issues. But to the casual viewer of the old television show, there’s a lot of call-backs to the series that make it fun.

The real surprise is the amount of chemistry that Hill and Tatum have, which is way more than Tatum has with his recent female co-stars like Amanda Seyfried and Rachel McAdams. Sure, this film is another step towards what appears to be “2012: The Year of Channing Tatum,” and that’s a terrifying thought. But don’t let it stop you from enjoying this film.

21 Jump Street is a funny film, far funnier than the trailers lead you to believe. It’s not a complex story, but the in-your-face raunchy jokes makes the film work. There’s not much more beyond that, in terms of character development and original plot. But having a few laughs is enough for some films.

What fails: This may sound like a softer positive review than most, simply because 21 Jump Street is the latest in a recent line of movies that have suffered from entertainment journalism hyperbole. While this film is enjoyable, it’s not the funniest movie of the year. Nor is it the best buddy cop film since 48 Hours or any of that nonsense.

There are some moments that drag, oddly enough during the bigger action sequences. This leads me to believe that directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are somewhat lost on how to compose compelling action. Some of these scene play out as mere jokes that never fully come together. They’re brief in the film, but boy when it gets boring, it gets really boring.

Finally, there’s a big party scene in the middle of the movie which normally would be quite humorous. However, considering the writer help give us the drivel that was Project X, it felt derivative and not very entertaining when the same shenanigans show up in this film.

Who is gonna like this movie: Fans of raunchy comedies and people who watched the series but didn’t find it untouchable.

Grade: B+

Studio: Pantelion Films

Rated: R for bloody violence, language, and some sexual content and drug use

Starring: Will Ferrell, Gael García Bernal, Genesis Rodriguez, Nick Offerman, Diego Luna and Efren Ramirez

Directed by: Matt Piedmont

What it’s about: As part of the grindhouse revival movement, Casa De Mi Padre is a send up of Mexploitation westerns told with the melodrama of a telenovella. Will Ferrell plays Armando, a rancher whose rich brother Raul (Diego Luna) returns home with his beautiful new fiancée Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez). Soon, Armando discovers that Raul is a drug dealer, and he soon falls in love with Sonia.

What makes the grade: I definitely appreciate what the filmmakers are trying to do with this movie, and it’s a unique venture to be sure. For the most part, I’ve found entertainment in this grindhouse revival with movies like Planet Terror, Machete and Hobo with a Shotgun. Casa De Mi Padre takes a different approach from the overtly violent exploitation flick and goes more for the melodrama and comedy. Like I said, I appreciated the effort.

There are some funny and unexpected moments in the film, and it runs a brisk 84 minutes. The joke doesn’t wear too thin through all this.

And there’s also Genesis Rodriguez, who is just amazingly beautiful. (Would it be considered racist to throw down an exclamation of “¡Ay, caramba!” here?) Too bad she spends the bulk of the film in long, flowing dresses and not a rhinestone leather bikini… or less.

What fails: When you boil this movie down, it’s really just a one-joke gag: Place a well-known comedic actor into a fake exploitation flick and shoot it in Spanish. That works for a five-minute sketch on SNL, but it’s a bit of a stretch to make it through an entire movie of this. Plus, the cast takes the silliness so seriously that the movie often borderlines on homage rather than spoof.

This leads to only a few true laugh-out-loud moments. The rest of the comedy is found in single jokes or gags, many of which I’ve seen in other movies before (for example, the laughing sequence from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery).

I didn’t hate Casa De Mi Padre, but it’s also not worth paying full price in the theater. As much as I like the grindhouse homage, it feels a bit like a south-of-the-border Semi Pro.

Who is gonna like this movie: Die-hard Will Ferrell fans and people who are totally drunk out of their minds (like the college students sitting behind me when I saw the film).

Grade: C

Kevin Carr crawled from the primordial ooze in the early 1970s. He grew up watching movies to the point of irritation for his friends and was a font of useless movie knowledge until he decided to put that knowledge to good use. Now, Kevin is a nationally syndicated critic, heard on dozens of radio stations around the country, and his reviews appear in a variety of online outlets. Kevin is also a proud member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Central Ohio Film Critics Association (COFCA).

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