Get ready for some side-splitting laughs with NeighborsSeth Rogen and Rose Byrne star as a couple who deal with a fraternity that moves in next door led by Zac Efron. Family, parties, babies, boobies and mayhem ensue in this hilarious romp.

The Players:

  • Director: Nicholas Stoller
  • Writers: Andrew J. Cohen and Brendan O’Brien
  • Starring: Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, Ike Barinholtz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Carla Gallo
  • Cinematography: Brandon Trost
  • Music: Michael Andrews

The Plot:

When a couple and their newborn baby find a home, they think everything’s on the up and up — that is until a fraternity moves in next door. After trying to be “cool” adults, they’re forced to take matters into their own hands to protect their child from their raunchy neighbors.

The Good:

  • The Story: Neighbors is a fun and believable exaggeration of life. They take two stories about growing up: One from the college age perspective and the other from the new family perspective. You believe that if these worlds collided things would escalate as they do, which is what makes the movie work. Even when the more outlandish things occur, their motivated by real life circumstances people can relate to.
  • The Cast: There are some great comedic talents here from Rogen and Mintz-Plasse to Franco and Barinholtz. Efron continues to be a comedic revelation, following up 17 Again with a bang in this raunchy tale. He and Franco are believable as college buddies. Despite it being quite the sausage fest, Byrne steals the show. She and Rogen are authentic as a newly nesting couple.
  • The Gags: The stakes are high as the film turns into a revenge arms race to get rid of the other. There’s lots of comedy about embarrassing situations like young parents trying stay hip and relevant. The “meet the neighbors” exchange is hilarious in that you feel embarrassed for them. There’s also the shocking, laugh and tear-inducing breast feeding scene which takes things to a whole new level. The shenanigans in that house riffs off the college experience and the social lives of young adults.
  • Rose Byrne: Byrne has selected fantastic movies to showcase her comedic chops. From Get Him to the Greek to Bridesmaids, she has crafted some of the funniest females in recent history. Her dramatic chops lend themselves to the mommy moments of her character but then she’s a riot with the schemes. In the “Bros Before Hoes” sequence, she completely runs the show.
  • Efron: He breaks the mold and begins to carve out his new brand in this film. As Teddy, he plays a Barney Stinson in the making mixed in with some early Tom Cruise. While he plays the main antagonist, the moments where he begins to realize he’s at his prime and it’s only downhill from there showcase his dramatic abilities. Efron does not play it one dimensionally. He brings gravitas to the character and the reality for guys like that position.


Neighbors is the first fantastic comedy of the year. It hits all the right notes with laughs, shock and heart. The ensemble is solid and you’ll find yourself wanting to see it again.


When I think of French directors who used film as a medium for personal expression, director Jean Cocteau is among the best.  He was not only a poet, playwright, and filmmaker, he was also an artist, designer and novelist.  With Orpheus, Cocteau demonstrates yet again why he’s a legend of French art and cinema.

The Players:

    • Director: Jean Cocteau
    • Writers: Jean Cocteau


  • Cast: Jean Marais, François Périer, María Casares, Marie Déa


In Greek mythology, Orpheus is a musician who can charm everyone and anything, including inanimate objects.  However, he suffers the death of his wife, Eurydice, whom he must then bring back from the underworld.  Cocteau’s Orpheus is a modern and twisted version of this myth, taking place in Paris and featuring a young famous poet in the role of Orpheus (Jean Marais).

In addition to the parallels with Greek mythology, Orpheus is a complex and poetic film with a lot of subtext.  Weaved within its multitude of layers is a mufti-dimensional universe dealing with themes such as death, love and the unconscious.  In fact, “Death” (Maria Casares), is an actual character in this plot, and one involved in a love triangle of all things.  Unless you have an understanding of these layers, this film can feel inaccessible and almost purely surreal.  But even if this is the case for viewer, Cocteau’s philosophical tone and his artistic and technical gifts are enough to make this a stimulating experience.

Orpheus takes us into a world of magical elements, and the filmmaking techniques employed by Cocteau are astonishing in achieving some of its imagery.  Watch closely during scenes involving a variety of tricks and special effects.  Due to their brilliant simplicity they hold up beautifully still today.  Filled with a constant and seamless mixing of perspectives, camera angles range from high angles to low angles, while also being juxtaposed with jump cuts, dutch angles and effective tracking shots.  If this seems as though it’d be disorienting, it is, though the subject matter makes this all a fitting approach.  That the surreal world in which we navigate is difficult to fully comprehend is mostly a welcomed byproduct of the psychomythic levels in which this film plays.  There are times when it all feels a bit avante-garde, which again is suitable since this is a product of Jean Cocteau’s imagination.

Brief Words for Mr. Ebert:

During his career, Ebert was a master of explaining complicated character relationships, and his review of Orpheus is no different.  Not only does he dissect the significance of the human dynamics at the heart of this story, he eloquently describes how Cocteau’s taste for magic and enchantment is so magnificently showcased within this film.  I agree with Ebert that one of Orpheus‘ most appealing qualities is that it doesn’t feel like a film guided by commercial formulas.  Instead, it feels like a personal project stemming from “the wellsprings of Cocteau’s unconscious.”  We get some back story on Cocteau addiction to opium and how “as a fellow traveler of the surrealists he was not shy about bizarre imagery.”  What I found to be especially interesting about Cocteau is Ebert’s take on how his many talents were sometimes perceived.  As Ebert informs us, “The joke was that if he had stayed with one thing–poems, painting, films, whatever–he would have been hailed as a master, but the public distrusted his versatility.”  In a society that increasingly attempts to put labels on people, someone like Cocteau signifies a manifestation of how every individual’s interests can be taken as indications of that persons complex passions and motivations.


Think Like a Man Too

Think Like a Man Too has big shoes to fill. Its predecessor, Think Like a Man, was a box office success and fan favorite. The sequel maintains what made the first film a hit, but a few unnecessary additions keep it from greatness.

The Players:
Director: Tim Story
Screenwriters: Keith Merryman, David A. Newman, Steve Harvey (story)
Cast: Kevin Hart, Michael Ealy, Taraji P. Henson, Regina Hall, Terrence Jenkins, Romany Malco, Meagan Good, Gabrielle Union, Jerry Ferrara, Gary Owen, Jenifer Lewis, Wendy McLendon-Covey, Adam Brody, David Walton, Lala Anthony, Dennis Haysbert
Cinematography by: Christopher Duskin
Original Music by: Christopher Lennertz

The Plot:

  • The gang reunites in Las Vegas for Michael (Jenkins) and Candace (Hall)’s wedding. Cedric (Hart) takes it upon himself to plan the bachelor weekend, while Lauren (Henson) does the same for the girls. Unfortunately, everyone’s brought their own personal baggage on the trip. Once again, relationships are tested as they prepare for Candace’s walk down the aisle.

The Good:

  • The Cast: If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Tim Story was aware that he struck gold with this cast of actors. Their chemistry is still intact after a two-year hiatus. It’s the movie’s saving grace, as well as its biggest draw.
    The Humor: At times, the film’s story can drag. But the comedic elements keep you from feeling it. Not only are the situations hilarious, but the actors are great at executing them.

The So-So:

  • Constant Voiceover: Hart’s character Cedric serves as the voice of film. Ever so often you’ll hear a narration plugged in during transitions between scenes. But it’s not really needed. His voiceover was also featured in the previous film but it wasn’t as intrusive. Here, the delivery of the information doesn’t always fit. He’ll sound excited, while narrating a somber scene. That doesn’t compute.

The Bad:

  • Underused Characters: Think Like a Man had a large cast, and the sequel adds four more characters to it. This is a major problem considering the limited screen time allotted for each. Adam Brody and David Walton could be considered glorified cameos. Somehow Walton manages to steal a scene or two with his antics, while Brody’s just there for support. There are also original characters whose arcs are completely rushed. We’re to assume that each couple is facing a dilemma, that gets resolved in less than 24 hours. That’s a stretch considering they spend most of the film apart.

Think Like a Man Too isn’t as great as the original. But its likeable and hilarious cast are still worth watching.

The Rating: 7/10
Think Like a Man Too is now playing in theaters everywhere.


Edge of Tomorrow Review

When any movie-goer first takes a glance at the latest Tom Cruise film Edge of Tomorrow, it appears to be another ho-drum sci-fi action story that may easily get washed away in the sea of high budget movies out this year. What audiences won’t expect is a surprisingly thrilling, and at times comical, sci-fi movie that is yet another fine addition to what’s beginning to look like one of the better summer movie seasons in a long while.

The Players:
Director: Doug Liman
Writer: Christopher McQuarrie
Cast: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Brendan Gleeson, Bill Paxton, Jonas Armstrong, Tony Way, Kick Gurry, Franz Drameh, Charlotte Riley
Cinematography by: Dion Beebe
Original Score by: Christophe Beck

Plot Synopsis:
The future is looking bleak for humanity as the arrival of the terrifying “mimics” could wipe out all of humanity. The world has been fighting against these strange alien creatures for years, and now they’re ready to make their sudden assault on them and hope to gain the upper hand. Unfortunately for Officer Cage (Cruise), he gets caught up in the strangest situation as they storm out to fight the “mimics,” being pulled into a time loop that could change the course of this battle for better or for worse.

The Good:

  • The Story: For those readers who were unaware, Edge of Tomorrow is based off the popular Japanese sci-fi novel titled All You Need is Kill. It’s easy for a dizzying time line such as this to get rather dull really quickly, but McQuarrie’s script revitalizes each loop with a different twist, something to continually perk the interest of the viewer. The hero is after all trying to stop an alien race from conquering planet Earth, and to take a lot of the rich story line from the novel and properly adapt it into a fast-paced film such as this is always a triumph. McQuarrie is able to inject some humor into the script, going us hearty doses of comedy, action and thought-provoking sci-fi which will leave any viewer wondering how they would approach a scenario similar to the one Cruise is facing, trapped in an indefinite loop. Edge of Tomorrow plays out like a video game at times, showing how the character is ultimately flawed and, similar to the rest of us, makes a number of mistakes in order to reach his end goal. There’s a few instances where he essentially wastes a few lives of his own due to the mistakes of what time he needs to move or show up in a location. The script is should be thanked for the two main characters, especially the female hero. Instead of being a helpless doe on the sidelines she’s continually leading the charge against the Mimics, training the hero and refuses to stop and let her emotions get in the way in order to complete her task. The character is similarly admirable in the original sci-fi novel, and it’s really great that McQuarrie kept those aspects of her in the film.
  •  That Charisma: There’s this almost indescribable charm that Tom Cruise is able to emit in some of his films, and when he manages to switch it on, it’s no wonder many of us still hail him to be one of the better movie stars out there. Now he isn’t the most incredibly talented actor on the face of the planet, but he makes up for that with his charisma, his dedication and somebody who genuinely appears to be having fun doing what he loves, especially in Edge of Tomorrow. In a way Cruise is playing the same stock male hero, the kind we’ve seen him become many times before, but it’s that beaming personality of his that stands out and attracts us all to him. Thankfully there’s a lot more than Cruise to enjoy about this movie.
  • The Rest of the Cast: Let’s give a big round of applause to Emily Blunt who turns what could have been an entirely one-note tough-as-nails chick into a slightly more complex person. A couple of choice words, some glances and movements, and her overall acting skill makes all the difference from keeping the character Rita from being just a bland woman. The remainder of the cast, while fine, all were incredibly stereotypical in the way that each of them acted, depending on their body type or accent. At the end they all manage to show how they’re all in for the main cause of saving the planet, and a few members of the rogue-ish squad who aides Cage have their redeeming moments.
  • Liman: Director Doug Liman is accustomed to making action movies, from the lackluster Mr. & Mrs. Smith to the thrilling film The Bourne Identity. When this filmmaker is equipped with the proper script in hand, he’s able to quickly dart viewers in the middle of multiple battles. He has a tendency of getting the viewers incredibly close in on the action, which makes for a much more entertaining film.
    The Effects: It’s always great to see a sci-fi action movie that’s been given the time and effort to really make each CG or practical effects scene look absolutely top-notch. The design of the suits that each of the soldiers wear is really cool, and the fact that the actors were wearing most of the pieces while shooting certain scenes makes it all the better. The CG and the practical effects in this film go hand-in-hand as the finely tuned computer effects compliment the film and really pull the audience into that future.

The So-So

  • Christophe Beck’s Score: A lot of movie-goers have the music of Chirstophe Beck lodged deep into their minds, especially if they’ve watched Disney’s Frozen a few times over. His score in that film is memorable, but what he delivers in Edge of Tomorrow doesn’t really leave a lasting impression. It does fill the void of music that’s essential for an energized science fiction action flick of this caliber, one that helps propel it to a slightly more heightened degree, so in that case Beck’s score is highly effective. However, it doesn’t really wow anybody so in that sense it is a very slight, but also not really a failure. It’s basically a score that’s there and does what it needs to do in order to further tell the story for audiences across the world.

The Bad

  • Complications of Sci-Fi (Spoilers ahead): Perhaps the biggest problem with Edge of Tomorrow is the ending and how it manages to do one last jump for the hero, even though at this point it would be impossible for him to do so. It’s less interesting when a film caves to a super mega happy ending just for the sake of doing so.

Edge of Tomorrow delivers what more than likely is one of the best sci-fi action flicks to roll out in theaters this summer, compact with a tight story, talented cast and some really magnificent action sequences.