Tom Basham

Archive for June, 2013|Monthly archive page

The Heat

In This Just OUT on June 29, 2013 at 12:04 am

the-heat“The Heat” is on, and it took all my courage to see it. I had to put aside my prejudice and give these ladies a chance. If this were a Chris Farley and David Spade (Tommy Boy) movie, we would all be psyched for it. When John Candy (Uncle Buck) threw his weight around, we all laughed and learned something. This kind of comedy team has been around since Laurel and Hardy. Why not McCarthy and Bullock?

The FBI sends its most unappreciated agent Ashburn (Sandra Bullock from The Blind Side) to Boston to bring down a drug kingpin. She is a great agent, but nobody wants to work with her. She winds up on the turf of Boston Detective Mullins (Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids), another effective law enforcement officer whom nobody wants to work with. The standard ‘80s buddy cop movie takes over from there, and yeah, I am getting too old for this. Please note I did all that without a fat joke.

In an amazing plot twist, they get thrown off the case, just as they are making headway. To my feigned shock and surprise, these two decide to go it on their own. If you can read between the plot point sarcasm, you will see the problem with this movie. It is not the leads. Bullock plays an excellent straight woman, doing the same character she did in the “Miss Congeniality” movies. And McCarthy certainly pulls her weight – you have to give me that one.

Sure, there are plenty of fat jokes in the movie, and all the good ones are in the trailer, but McCarthy is much more than that (you can’t count that one). She is a presence and a force, and she carries this well-worn plot. Much like Candy, and I will even go back to Jackie Gleason, she does not play on her weight. She does not see it as a liability, though she has a way of letting you see it as the root of her character. She uses that apparent flaw as an asset and goes at life that much harder. Of course she is overcompensating, and she knows it, and she is hilarious doing it.

These ladies are a great team, but the supporting cast did nothing to help the movie along. We are not going to be scared of Michael McDonald (from Austin Powers) as Julian, or any of the other TV rejects cast in this movie. We all know you need a big villain, and in this movie the villain is screenwriter Katie Dippold (Parks and Recreation). She can write a funny gag, but she can’t take the gimmick of this movie anywhere new.

I’m giving this movie 2 stars out of 5, and they are both for McCarthy. This is a good vehicle for her, and I see big things coming her way.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.

Here is a link to his movie review site:


World War Z

In This Just OUT on June 21, 2013 at 6:34 pm

WORLD-WAR-Z-Poster“World War Z” started today, so move over Will Smith. This time Brad Pitt (Moneyball) is taking the lead to save the world. And no, before you ask, he is NOT the last man on Earth.

Gerry Lane (Pitt) has moved from elite world problem solver to pancake maker for his wife and family. When some undead people move into the neighborhood he says, “We have to get out of the city.” Somehow he still has a direct line to the Head of the UN, and he gets the last ticket out of “Bites-ville,” New Jersey. The price of that ticket to save his family is finding out how all this started and saving the world.

I hear they spent a couple hundred million to make this movie, but that didn’t translate to the screen. I think most of it went into make-up, and for the entire crew to wait two days for Brad to get that perfect beard growth. Then they’d shoot all day and have to wait two days to shoot again.

After viewing the trailer, you are prepared to see our hero battle the zombies and save the world. The formula for this was found in a cigar box under Roger Corman’s Cabana; if you add Brad Pitt and zombies, you get a blockbuster. But this is not an epic action movie. Sure, he does do a little hand-to-zombie combat, and you get a good look at the madness. In the end, Gerry must use his mind, his insight and his instincts to solve the problem.

This is a small story in the middle of an action adventure zombie movie. It makes for an okay movie, especially for our hero. His character has a nice arc while the rest of the cast doesn’t have much to do. They seem like props and are only slightly more fleshed out than the zombies.

I looked at my watch after the first hour, and I thought the movie had been really slow in revealing plot points. The only challenge our hero had dealt with was transportation. He should try to get out of Washington, D.C., on the weekends. With all that, I still give this movie 3 stars out of 5, because it surprised me with the small personal story in the midst of the zombie apocalypse. Gerry turns into the reluctant hero, much like Rick in Casablanca. He wants to protect the people he cares about, and the only way to do that is to make the world a better place. If not better, a little less “bity.” I have to admit, a little Brad Pitt in an apocalypse is a good thing.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.

Here is a link to his movie review site:

Man of Steel

In This Just OUT on June 15, 2013 at 1:19 am


“Man of Steel” arrived today, and trust me on this, he is one of the good guys. We didn’t need another Superman. We have the comic books and I was raised on the 50’s TV show starring George Reeves. There were more TV shows and two separate movie re-boots. So it’s impossible to approach this movie without pre-conceived notions. I decided to just sit back and watch director Zack Snyder’s (Watchmen) version in the spirit of truth, justice and the American way.

It starts on the familiar pins of the Krypton destruction with baby Kal-El jettisoned toward earth. The foundation of hope is laid here in Krypton, just as it is on earth.  We give birth to a child and then send them out into the universe. As his father Jor-El (Russell Crowe of Gladiator) says, “My hopes and dreams travel with you.” Unfortunately, General Zod (Michael Shannon of Mud) and his henchmen are soon to follow.

Putting on the cape this time is Henry Cavill (The Cold Light of Day) as Kal-El/ Clark Kent/Superman. From this point on the audience, like Clark Kent, is on a new path. Gone are the cheeky cliché’s and winks at the past. This is a story about family and a guy (I know, an alien, but stick with me) who is different. A guy who is not from here, who has to find his place and his purpose. He takes a big step when he meets Lois Lane (Amy Adams from Enchanted), a nosy reporter who will not let his story go. I remember when I met my Lois Lane, and it all started for me then as well.

Everything would have been great if that General Zod had not shown up and claimed the earth. Sure, the movie sets Superman up as a Christ-like figure. And then he saves us, but that does not make him “the” Savior. He’s just a guy that grew up here, and now belongs here, and does the right thing for what has become his home.

I am not qualified to critique the legend and lore that has been 75 years of Superman. But I do know a good movie when I see one. With themes of family and duty and life decisions, this movie has lots of sci-fi and special effects. It still bothers me that it comes down to fist fights. From John Wayne, to Star Trek to Superman, we have not moved past the guy with the best right cross wins.

In the end, this movie shows us what a guy can do with good parents and a girl that believes in him. I have been lucky that way myself. I give this movie 4 stars out of 5. If you can watch this movie and not be moved, then I think you may be made of steel.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.

Here is a link to his movie review site:

The Internship

In This Just OUT on June 8, 2013 at 12:57 am

The Internship Intl PosterEveryone is searching for something, and they usually find it with Google. This week, everyone’s favorite comedy team clicked on “The Internship.”

When Billy (Vince Vaughn of Wedding Crashers) and Nick (Owen Wilson of Wedding Crashers) lose their job selling watches, they must find another gig in this new digital age. They are about 10 years too late on that, but being late to the party is what these characters bring to the table. I have to say that I identify with these guys. I mean, I have grandkids that Instagram me from the womb.

The two 40-somethings bluster their way into an internship at Google, and the hilarity ensues. They do oversell the obsolete thing with references like a William Holden movie made 17 years before Billy was born. You see most of the laughs coming, but these two are so likable even the Google geeks take a shine to them.

Directed by Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum), the movie strikes a good tone and balance between lessons and levity. All the things you want with a nice studio PG-13 movie. I am not saying the movie needed to be raunchy, but a little less predictable and safe could have elevated the entire piece. For example, Google comes out of this movie unscathed. At the end, I felt I’d been sold Google as a nice fun place to work instead of a nosy corporate monster from George Orwell’s (Nineteen Eighty-Four) worst nightmare.

The movie succeeded in making a statement about the value of human contact and social skills. And yes, you saw that coming too. The Geeks did learn something from the fun, computer-inept old guys, and the old guys learned their skills are valuable. It was all tied up in a nice bow, just like the ‘80s movies they kept referencing. There are some nice cameos from Will Ferrell (Anchorman, the Legend of Ron Burgundy) and John Goodman (The Big Lebowski), but I kept looking for Alec Baldwin (Glengarry Glen Ross) to show up and say, “Croquet is for closers. Put that mallet down, croquet is for closers.”

This is not a top shelf comedy, but it is a nice date movie. And if that is what you are searching for, then Google “The Internship” and you will find out I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. And I do want to say that I love Google and it is a great company and you should buy their stock and only say good things about them.

On The Road

In This Just OUT on June 6, 2013 at 12:57 am

Yes, I read “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac (this year), and then I saw the movie. For some reason, I felt I could not see and review this movie without reading the book. Then I demanded to see it, on demand, because it did not come to a theater within 100 miles of me.

The plot of the movie is rather simple. Sal (Sam Riley of Brighton Rock) meets Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund of TRON: Legacy) and decides to go on the road with him. From the title and the narrative process of the scenes, most would say this is a road trip movie. I don’t think so. They do have actual destinations and reasons for their cross-country madness, however this story is about taking to the road as a way of life. It’s about the experience of being on the road with strange people in strange places doing strange things at a strange time. It’s about exploring the country and everything their parents ever told them to stay away from. That list is long, and includes wild women/men, drugs, sex, race, subversive literature and freethinking. All this without a dollar to their names. They know there are laws and rules, and that one day they may have to conform, but not as long as they stay on the road.

The acting talent is passable, and it may help that Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt were not cast. They may have been better, but you would be less likely to see the true characters. Also, the movie is not ruined with Kristin Stewart (Twilight) as Marylou and Kirsten Dunst (Elizabethtown) as Camille, but there is a whole movie in each of those relationships. I demand to see that movie one day.

There is nothing technically wrong with the movie. They have taken numerous things from the book and done a decent job at giving us a peek at them. But it’s like going to a big church picnic and going down the five tables of food and putting a little bit of everything on your plate. You will be filled up after two hours, but you’ll wish you had just settled on three or four items and made a meal out that.

Of all the beats from the book in the movie, the one they fell short on was Moriarty. We see plenty of his manic drug-infused behavior, but very little of the all-night pseudo intellectual monologues. There was genius there. Why else would Sal follow him?

So how can a great story not be cinematic? Well, I’m no Kerouac, but let me put it this way: “I knew this guy. He was really something, and what we did this one time was – well, you had to be there.” If you read the book, you were as close to being there as you could be. If you see this movie, then it’s like you heard a guy at a bar tell you the story. You got the information, and you might appreciate it, but you won’t understand. For that, you and your crazy friend must go on the road.

I give this movie 3 stars for the effort. I mean somebody was going to climb Everest because, just like this literary treasure, it was there.