In This Just OUT on July 19, 2014 at 7:19 pm

tammy-poster.jgpI wanted to see a great movie today, but I went to “Tammy” instead. It was convenient, brief (96 minutes) and, like most broad comedies, front and center on the menu. Also, I am fan of Melissa McCarthy (“The Heat”), and since this is the first movie written by her and directed by her husband (Ben Falcone from “Enough Said”), I wanted to give it a chance.

The movie starts off like “Jerry Maguire” (Cameron Crowe – 1996) as Tammy loses her car, her job and her husband in the first 10 minutes. She is going to leave town for the umpteenth time, though she has never made it more than 10 miles. This time she has her grandmother Pearl (Susan Sarandon from “Cloud Atlas“), along with the old lady’s car and wad of cash. Alright, I thought: show me the funny.

Now it’s a road trip movie, except they don’t know where to go or how to get there. Unfortunately that is true for both the characters and the movie itself. A road trip movie does not have to go anywhere to be good, but the characters have to get somewhere.

So much of the movie was “on the nose,” like when Tammy’s grandmother told her, “You are at a crossroads here.” It was like when Fozzie Bear and Kermit came to a fork in the road and it was an actual fork, but not as funny.

The whole movie was a string of amusing bits that made me smile and only made Tammy more and more pathetic. There was no revelation of why she is the way she is, and if she will ever change. She careens through her life with fits of anger and frustration peppered with sullen moments of feeling sorry for herself. She does not have to win or save the day, but she needs to be interesting; if not, she could just be hilarious. The set up, the punch line, and smart-ass retort for 96 minutes just did not get it done.

The movie was not horrible. I mean, it went down like the sliders at Chili’s, and still left you hungry. McCarthy’s last few movies were much better and funnier than this. She needs to stick to adlibbing lines in other people’s script. Therefore, I must give this movie 2 stars out of 5. Stop going for the easy jokes like they were low-hanging cheeseburgers.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

In This Just OUT on July 12, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Apes-PosterI set my clock for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” today and the result was alarming. They are not monkeying around this time.

All that experimental brain testing they did in the last movie that made the apes smart also unleashed a viral infection that killed off most of the humans. Over the last 10 years, Caesar (Andy Serkis from “Death of a Superhero“) and the rest of the zoo escapees have multiplied and created a beautiful home in Muir Woods Park in Marin County. So the movie glossed over some critical things like 6 billion people dying and how the apes got a building permit in the Park.

A small group of genetically immune, human survivors remain in San Francisco. They are struggling with diminishing resources and need electricity to try and connect with other survivors.

Separate but equal was working just fine until Malcolm (Jason Clarke from “White House Down”) and his team enter the ape world to restart the hydroelectric power plant at the dam. Caesar senses their desperation and agrees to give them access. Many of the other apes do not share Caesar’s trust of their former oppressors. Caesar’s understanding of humans is an asset and a liability.

“Ape shall not kill ape” is their number one law. For humans, thou shall not kill shows up sixth on the Commandments list, as if humans still follow their original rules. We can see the parallels in societal evolution and family values. The quest for power and the burden of leadership is universal. Hate has to be taught. Therefore, both species lack trust and the will or strength to forgive. Malcolm and Caesar share this vision, but most of the others can’t see past their angry fists.

The values we teach our children are more important than anything else we could achieve. I know I learned that everything radical starts in California. This movie attempts to keep the threads of the original movies connected using 3-D CGI and stunning action sequences. It’s not as charming as the original, but it looks cool, and maybe that opens the door for some of the thought provoking moments.

They do such a good job with the apes looking and acting like apes, it is hard to see their humanity. That may be the point, that most humans make a snap judgment based upon their outward appearance and do not get the time to know them. You understand their motives and sympathize with their plight, but the only ape I felt any connection to was Caesar.

I applaud the filmmakers for using their special effects to illuminate and not just ignite the powder keg of problems presented in this movie. For that reason, I am giving this movie 4 stars out 5. I will be interested to see what they do with the next revolution.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:


In This Just OUT on July 5, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Snowpiercer-Poster“Snowpiercer.” Yeah, I didn’t know what it meant either until I saw the movie. Now, I want one.

In the year of our lord, 2014 (hey, that’s now), the world scientists decide to seed the sky with a special chemical to combat global warming. It works so well the entire planet undergoes a deep freeze that kills every living thing… except those who boarded the Snowpiercer.

Built by the visionary Wilford (Ed Harris from “Gravity“), the Snowpiercer is a train with an eternal engine that circles the globe. It’s a self-supporting eco-system and the only thing keeping mankind alive. As long as the engine keeps running, people will live. Well, some people will live, like the people at the front of the train. This “rattling ark” where people give their right arm for their children is not a paradise. The people at the back of the train have suffered for 17 years under the dictatorship of Wilford and the rules imposed by those at the front of the train.

The people at the rear of the train have been planning a revolution. It’s been tried before, but this time they are led by Curtis (Chris Evans from “Captain America“), who will not sit quietly and will not accept his station in life. Under the tutelage of Gilliam (John Hurt from “Only Lovers Left Alive“), Curtis feels destined to make it all the way to the front of the train. Once there, he plans to kill Wilford and take over the engine.

This movie had the claustrophobic feel of “Gravity,” along with the sense that death is just outside a thin steel wall. A world unto itself inside a box in constant motion. There are religious overtones spread between the layers of social commentary, but the theme of the movie seems to be humanity. It begins with the class system, then sacrifice, and the order of civilization where the leader becomes the Lord. In the end, it’s about free will and survival of the species, and for some, how liberty trumps security.

Okay, the movie got to me. I wanted to laugh and point out the logical absurdities, but it got to me. Using this incredible engine for a train is silly, unless you see it as a metaphor for life and time. We are all on this train, and we feel we must keep going to survive. If we get off or do anything different than anyone else we will surely die. We see the operator of the train as a god, or the government, and we blame them for our place in life and feel powerless. The dream that we can destroy our oppressor and right the world is noble and naive at the same time. We are our brother’s keeper, and our brother wants to be free.

If you don’t want to buy into all that, consider it an action movie. Just imagine Steven Seagal is wreaking havoc to get to the front of the train. I bought the whole thing and it got to me, so I am giving this movie 4 ½ stars out of 5. It’s the best train movie since “Silver Streak.”

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:


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