“Ride Along” (Comedy: 1 hour, 40 minutes)
Starring: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube, and Laurence Fishburne
Director: Tim Story
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, sexual innuendo and profanity)
Movie Review: Ben Barber (Hart) is a high school security guard. He plans to propose to Angela Payton (Tika Sumpter), but Barber must first prove he is worthy. To do so, Barber agrees to ride along with Angela’s brother, Detective James Payton (Ice Cube). The two cruise the streets of Atlanta, and Barber quickly finds the life of a law-enforcement officer is dangerous.
Tim Story is no stranger to comedies. He supplied audiences with the very amusing “Barbershop” (2002). “Ride Along” has a few good moments, but they are far and in between. The jokes fall flat often. This is because of the cast’s main star.
Hart is his usual self, over talkative and immature. His portrayals are childish. This grows old quickly. Hart often delivers his lines as if he is doing one of his standup routines.
Ice Cube plays the overly manly character far too often. In every performance, he is mere testosterone in a can. Granted, he plays such roles well, but his performances become very formulaic.
The positive part of this comedy is the end is better than the beginning, but that is putting it half ways backwards.
Grade: D+ (Ride on by ...)
“Devil’s Due” (Horror: 1 hour, 29 minutes)
Starring: Zach Gilford, Allison Miller and Sam Anderson
Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett
Rated: R (Thematic elements, violence, strong language and gore)
Movie Review: Zach and Samantha McCall (Gilford and Miller), a newlywed couple just back from their honeymoon, find they will soon be parents. They begin recording their every moments, explaining matters to their unborn child. Months pass before the couple’s lives become grave. Samantha begins behaving weirdly, and strange people begin watching them. Unknown to the two young people, Samantha is pregnant with Devil’s baby.
This would have been funny if these characters were on one of the shabby daytime talk shows that conduct paternity tests to determine the father of children. Imagine someone uttering the words, “Zach, you are not the father ...” This review digresses, but this would have made the movie more interesting.
As it is, “Devil’s Due” is a light thriller, even lighter on horror. It is a cheap knock-off of “Paranormal Activity” (Director Oren Peli, 2007).
The first-person video angles are quickly becoming cliché. When your pregnant wife yells in an eerie, alarming manner, a character grabs his camera before attending to his wife. That is about correct, yes? No, moments like these are why the first-person camera views are asinine.
Even more, the setting is a stereotypical home, a spacious, two-story house that appears atypical for a young couple. Characters also do the same unbelievable acts, such as running into a dark room without turning on a light or running toward danger. The acting is unconvincing. This adds to an unbelievable story that took two directors — two.
Grade: F (The devil made this movie to torment movie goers.)
“The Nut Job” (Animation/Adventure: 1 hour, 27 minutes)
Starring: Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Katherine Heigl and Liam Neeson
Director: Peter Lepeniotis
Rated: PG (Violence and crude humor)
Movie Review: This animated showing is not the best, but it entertains. It is nutty mixture of talking animals and a human heist as the background.
Surly (Arnett) is an egocentric squirrel that is exiled from a park by other animals. Surly soon discovers a great find — a store selling multiple kinds of nuts. With winter approaching, Surly realizes he must help his former fellow park residents secure food. However, the nut store is really a front for humans to rob a nearby bank.
The addition of the human bank heist story is unneeded. The stories compete, forming two screenplays in one movie. The animals attempt to obtain food before winter is plenty enough of a story. The human aspect feels like something seen multiple times before.
A good aspect of this film is the majority of the voices are not recognizable immediately. Sometimes, actors’ voices can overpower the characters. The use of lesser-known voices can be an asset to keep the focus on the characters and not the person playing or voicing them.
“Nut Job” has adventure, but its two storylines compete. The manner in which they coexist is not compelling. In addition, the story feels more adult-like than a kid-oriented venture.
Grade: C (Not the best job, but it entertains.)
“Stand Your Ground” (Drama: 1 hour, 47 minutes)
Starring: Francine Locke, Drew Matthews and Cameron Arnett
Director: Michael McClendon
Rated: PG-13 (Violence)
Movie Review: Not much is worse than a film that advertises itself as one thing but presents another viewpoint. “Stand Your Ground” is a true story about Jackie Carpenter (Locke). She is a mother struggling with her faith after her son, Jason (Matthews), faces a murder trial. She prays and fights for his freedom.
Michael McClendon wrote this screenplay that is an adaptation of Jackie Carpenter’s book entitled “Georgia Justice.” It is as much a political film as any, plagued with shabby acting and editing. This is a tragedy because the film uses religion to promote an agenda. That agenda plays out like the George Zimmerman case, except this time the deceased victim had no weapon and was clearly not the aggressor.
The film spends much of its time following how the mother handles her son’s trial for a murder. Much of this time, she relies on her Christian faith through prayers and friends. This is all well and good from her perspective, but what about the family and friends of the man killed?
The film barely mentions a man died — shot in the back — doing nothing but arguing with another man. Instead, the focus is how a woman prays for her son’s freedom without examining the fact that her son killed a man, accidentally or not.
The film avoids a deeper meaningful existence by giving a one-sided story. Neither the mother nor her son appears apologetic to the mother who lost her son. The murder in the movie is portrayed as an accident, but it is an avoidable one. If one man had let law enforcement do their job, this story would not need screen time.
Grade: D (Stand and walk away.)
“Ride Along” (Comedy: 1 hour, 40 minutes)
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