5 movies you’ll probably want to avoid this weekend
It’s one of those off kinds of weekends where the best new movie I can recommend is a gory (but kinda fun) workplace massacre thing. I can assure you that better stuff will be coming through pretty much the end of the year. 5 movies you’ll probably want to avoid this weekend.
But if you’re an L.A. film lover, you might want to spend the next three days at the AFI Fest in Hollywood.
For what it’s worth, in descending order from how little to how much I disdain them, here are five new commercial releases to contemplate.
5. Mayhem There is a detectable coolness factor to director Joe Lynch’s arch, cutthroat corporatism allegory, but the sharp-wit-to-blunt-force ratio here is nonetheless about 10/90. Similar to “The Belko Experiment” from earlier this year, this one’s M.O. is to trap a bunch of white-collar drones inside an office tower, then make them slaughter one another. “Mayhem” digs deeper into on-the-job competition, resentments, and careerism, but its satire is as cartoonish as most of the film’s performances. That said, as the comparative “good guys” of the piece, “The Walking Dead’s” Steven Yeun and Samara Weaving of Netflix’s “The Babysitter” can be pretty charismatic with the nailguns. Lynch likes unusual camera angles and unique lacerations.
4. Gilbert Is it surprising to learn that vuvuzela-voiced comedian Gilbert Gottfried is far less obnoxious offstage than he is when he’s on? No, but it’s still nice to see him in this documentary being a good dad and loving husband, sad about his dead parents and cancer-stricken sister, wryly working the grind of touring the nation’s less-prestigious comedy clubs and unhappily surprised that his stupid tweets about the Japanese tsunami almost cost him his career. Some of this stuff crosses over into drab sentimentalism and the film could do without a lot of the talking colleague heads affirming Gottfried is a comic’s comic who cracks rude jokes to hide his sensitive soul. Fortunately, there are always brilliantly scathing and disgusting Gottfried routines around every corner that save the movie.
3. It Happened in L.A. Everything you could hate about East of Hollywood hipsters eases off around halfway through this talky romantic comedy. The cliches then get replaced by welcome, well-observed and imaginatively specific takes on the weird entanglements our local not-quite-young adults can get themselves into. You still may not make it past the trendoidal trials of the first act, but kudos to writer-director Michelle Morgan – who also leads a bright ensemble cast that includes Jorma Taccone, Dree Hemingway, Kentucker Audley and Margarita Levieva – for pulling this one out from the avocado toast zone.
2. Murder on the Orient Express Kenneth Branagh’s star-studded remake of the studded-with-superior-stars 1974 mystery boasts impressive camera moves, belief-defying facial hair and gorgeously art-directed or CGI’d old railroad cars that never convince you they’re real. Other than that, this hokey Agatha Christie contraption has nothing to offer sentient citizens of the 21st Century.
1. Daddy’s Home 2 The successful Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg comedy from two years ago used paternal desperation to fuel some genuinely funny and insightful bits. This sequel is just desperate. The daddy quotient is doubled when the original duo’s fathers visit for the holidays. They’re played by John Lithgow and Mel Gibson and are not given an original idea between them. That’s especially a shame in Gibson’s case, as more imagination and courage on the filmmakers’ parts might have made this rare chance to rehabilitate the Hollywood pariah worth watching. As it is, all “Daddy’s Home 2” does is make you appreciate the quality of “A Bad Moms Christmas.” Which is just tragic.