Tag Archives: seth macfarlane

Logan Lucky – Review

17 Sep

Steven Soderbergh has always been something of an inspiration to me. He helped start the indie craze of the 1990s with Sex, Lies, and Videotape, has made some excellent mainstream films like Ocean’s 11, dabbled in the world of surrealism with Schizopolis, and also was the creative force behind one of the most chilling television shows in recent years, The Knick. He’s a film maker that can pretty much tackle anything, even though I’ll be the first to admit he doesn’t have a spotless filmography. After taking time away from the big screen following 2013’s Side Effects, I was excited to see him return with another heist movie, this one being Logan Lucky. This has been a movie I’ve been anticipating for awhile, but I never really got my hopes up for it. After seeing it, I can say that while it’s far from Soderbergh’s best, it’s still a damn fun movie.

Sometimes it seems that certain people have all the luck, and they could really share some if they wanted to. That’s a description that is far from fitting for the Logan family. Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) had a promising football career, but an accident killed that dream and left him with a limp. His brother Clyde (Adam Driver) had his fair share of luck after his time in Iraq left him with a prosthetic arm. Still, the two seem to be surviving just fine, that is until Jimmy is fired from his construction job and begins scrambling to find a way to provide for his daughter, who he still keeps in close contact with after his divorce. This prompts Jimmy to dig deep into his plans and reveal a scheme to rob the funds from the Coca-Cola 600 race, and the only time to do it is on Memorial Day, one of the biggest races of the year. In order to do this, the brothers enlist the help of local ne’er do well, Joe Bang (Daniel Craig), who they have to sneak out of jail with just enough time to pull off the heist. With the old Logan bad luck facing them down, the team have to use every ounce of ingenuity to get through this unscathed.

Right off the bat, the best thing about Logan Lucky is its characters. Jimmy and Clyde are such a believable pair of brothers, and part of the reason they work so well is the chemistry and dynamic between Tatum and Driver. Channing Tatum works great as a leading man in this movie, and it’s really cool to see a down to earth, blue collar guy leading a major heist. There’s such a difference between Jimmy Logan and Danny Ocean, but both characters work great. Driver is one of my favorite elements of this movie, and every line he delivers was spot on and hilarious. Daniel Craig also goes against the mold here as the gung ho Joe Bang, and his brothers played by Brian Gleeson and Jack Quaid match his level of slightly unhinged mania. It’s a motley crew of people that make such a fun ensemble cast. I also have to give a lot of credit Farrah Mackenzie, who plays Jimmy’s daughter. She is awesome in this movie and performs way better than your average child actor. I see a bright future there.

While I do really like the blue collar element of this movie, I couldn’t help but thinking this movie was lacking in what I will call the “AHA department.” This is where you watch a heist movie and you think you’re seeing everything, but there’s more going on than meets the eye. That’s a staple of modern heist movies, and it almost feels like you’re witnessing a magic trick. There’s a feeble attempt at this in Logan Lucky, but for the most part what you see is what you get. There’s nothing terribly complicated or interesting about the heist, and that’s something of a disappointment. There’s also a lot of suspension of disbelief that has to happen for this to seem credible. For some people, it’s more than can be tolerated. If someone said they had a hard time buying everything they saw in this movie, I wouldn’t argue. Even I did at times. What saved the movie for me was the level of chemistry between the characters and the depth that they each individually had. You want all of them to succeed in their own ways, and because the character are so likable, it’s possible to look past some of the glaring storytelling flaws.

What Logan Lucky did have plenty of that surprised me is humor. I knew going in that this was going to be a light hearted and fun film, but there are moments that are just downright hilarious. Adam Driver and Daniel Craig are very funny, but the real comedic stars of this one are Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson. They are just so over the top and relishing the characters they are playing. They had potential to be really annoying, but they were just the right amount of goofy. There’s also a near unrecognizable Seth MacFarlane in here as well, and his scenes were some of the highlights of the entire movie. The writing may be lacking in terms of cleverness in the heist, but it more than makes up for it with the genuine laughs it provided.

Logan Lucky isn’t Soderbergh’s best film and it isn’t the grandest return he could’ve made to the silver screen, but I will say it’s clearly a project he wanted to do. This movie has a lot of heart, a lot of humor, and a slew of great characters all bouncing off of one another. This is pure, lighthearted film making that offers up plenty of feel good energy. The actual heist could have been more creative and the third act feels a little rushed, but this was still a fun film. I doubt it’s going to make anyone’s list of best films of the year, but it’s one that may be worth checking out.

Final Grade: B

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Ted – Review

27 Dec

Seth MacFarlane has established himself as one of the front runners of comedy. He has multiple shows on television, but his first show Family Guy has become ridiculously popular. It’s a little surprising that it has taken him so long to make a live action movie, but he finally did with his live action film, Ted.

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John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) made a wish when he was a kid that his favorite teddy bear would come to life and be his best friend. Miraculously, his wish comes true and he names his bear Ted (Seth MacFarlane). For years they are the best of friends, but when John’s long time girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis) expects him to take their relationship to the next level, John has to choose between her or his best friend. Trouble also arrives in the form of Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), and obsessed fan of Ted’s who wants him all for his son.

Fans of Family Guy, like myself, should have no problem liking this movie. That being said, people who hate it will not be converted by this movie. In fact, they will probably hate this movie more than the show. MacFarlane’s signature humor is put into overdrive in Tedwith nostalgic references, crude potty humor, and of course the jokes that push lines of decency and political correctness. I can say that this combination made me laugh the entire way through the movie when I saw it in theaters and when I re-watched it yesterday. I’m sure I’ll laugh just as much when I watch it again.

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Ted’s animation looks fantastic. Instead of recording the audio and the motion capture separately, before or after shooting, Macfarlane recorded his lines and the movement live on the set with the actors. This adds a nice level of realism in the timing of the dialogue and helped the actors really get into the scene a lot better. It can’t be easy acting with nothing to act with, so MacFarlane providing his dialogue and movement must have really helped the scenes come along. Not to mention, he did all of this while directing the movie. It really shows the talent that this guy has and the reaches he’s willing to go to to make his movie perfect.

The writing is sharp and witty, and the actors all play it off perfectly. You can tell that they went off script from time to time and just let their comedic imaginations run wild. Hilarity ensues, of course. The only detraction that I really have for this movie is the plot’s predictability. Most buddy comedies that you’ve ever seen follows the same exact formula as this one. I knew exactly what was going to happen and how it was going to be resolved before the movie even started. There is a nice curve ball with Donny, the obsessed fan. That adds a nice layer is surprise that really helps the film get out of its groove.

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A lot of people aren’t going to like Ted, but I can say that about any comedy. Seth MacFarlane has his own kind, though, that seems to bother a lot of people, but at the same time others think it’s the funniest stuff ever. I don’t think Ted is the funniest movie ever made, but I will say that it’s funnier than most movies that have come out in the past ten years. I had no doubt that I was going to enjoy this movie, and I really did. If you’re a fan of MacFarlane’s tv shows, than chances are you’ll get a kick out of Ted.