I'm fully expecting this to be one of my shortest reviews....at least I'm hoping so.
20 years after the original, Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carrey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) are reunited to go on another road trip. This time, Harry needs a kidney and through some circumstances that are best left unmentioned, the only one who can provide him a new kidney is from his previously-unknown daughter, Penny (Rachel Melvin). Lloyd decides to join Harry as he sees fit to fall immediately in love with a picture of Penny. Hilarity Ensues.
Every note from the original Dumb and Dumber is hit from Lloyd having a fantasy sequence involving the love of his life to persons we meet earlier in the film turning out to be government agents. And what would this listless film be without adding on a bad guy plot. The bad guys in this film involve Penny's adopted mother, Adele, (Laurie Holden) and her lover/housekeeper Travis (Rob Riggle) who are trying to poison Adele's husband Bernard (Steve Tom). Hilarity ensues.
During the extended road trip sequence, Travis joins Harry and Lloyd in an attempt to complete his and Adele's master plan along with killing Harry and Lloyd. Once Travis has been removed from the film, we are provided with Travis' twin brother Captain Lippincott (Rob Riggle, also) who also wants to kill Harry and Lloyd because, well... reasons. Hilarity ensues.
There's something to be said for a movie that passes itself off as a comedy yet tries so hard for laughs and couldn't manage a full laugh from this reviewer. Dumb & Dumber To reeks of desperation, specifically from Jim Carrey, who seems to be trying to recapture his former box office glory. Jeff Daniels is the one I feel more sorry for as he did not need this film on his resume as he has been putting out solid work including his award-winning role in 'The Newsroom'.
I remember when Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was getting ready to be released that Jim Carrey mentioned not wanting to be associated with continuing to do sequels. Here we are, 20 years later--Jim Carrey is not the draw he once was and goes back to the well for a substandard sequel to a beloved comedy.
Hilarity does not ensue.
Social outcast and small time criminal, Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) has a chance encounter with Joe Loder, (Bill Paxton) a cameraman who films news stories and sells the video to local news outlets. Sensing he has found his calling, Lou buys a camera, hires an assistant, Rick, (Riz Ahmed) and pursues a career in recording newsworthy incidents in Los Angeles.
Starting small and losing to the higher-funded, Joe, Lou decides to try and take his filming where others wont go. Lou starts innocently enough by filming a medical emergency closer than Joe does. Using this footage, Lou sells the video to local news director Nina (Rene Russo) who sees value in the footage that Lou is able to offer. Wanting to be the best at his job, though, Lou begins to cross ethical boundaries by altering crime scenes to make the shots more dramatic and putting himself at the center of a crime in an effort to get video coverage first.
First time director Dan Gilroy, shooting from his own script, is able to pull the audience into Lou's off-kilter world. Los Angeles becomes its own character with Dan Gilroy being able to film his own script. Los Angeles hasn't been shot this beautifully since 2004's 'Collateral'.
While riding shotgun with Lou, though, we still do not get a complete understanding of who Lou truly is. Yes, he wants to be the best at his job, but why? In some ways, Lou comes off as just being a social outcast (as mentioned above) or could have a touch of Aspberger's Syndrome in the way he is so meticulous about the details of his job. Maybe the character is underwritten, or maybe we are just not meant to fully understand what goes on in Lou's head, but either way, Jake Gyllenhaal does the best he can with the performance. Sometimes quiet, sometimes frustrated, you see it all come through in a role where the character never explodes because he is so meticulous and has every angle thought out.
The rest of the cast is has to play second fiddle to Lou, and no one really stands out. Rene Russo never really gives off a performance of a director who does not like the position she is in, yet is willing to do what it takes for the ratings. Her character still gives off some light, when the performance should be more cold and cutoff. Though, if Nina and Lou were both cold and cutoff from the audience, this film would be even harder to like.
The film takes its time getting to its definite point. The first hour or so of the film is filled with set up and shot in an almost vignette way with no sign towards an actual plot. Eventually, Lou finds himself involved in a crime and has to find a way to resolve the issue along with being the first to report the status of the crime he is involved in. This is by far the strongest portion of the film as 'Nightcrawler' then begins to feel like the plot is moving forward and towards an exciting conclusion. Unfortunately, the final few minutes derail the good will that had been built up in the preceding forty or so minutes.
A beautifully shot film with a solid performance and sure-handed directing make 'Nightcrawler' a film worth checking out. If the film had gotten to its point earlier and wrapped up differently, this could have been a great film.
Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) is a jazz drummer at the Shaffer Conservatory. In Andrew's first year at school, he spends as much time as possible perfecting his drumming skills. Conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) notices Andrew and offers him the chance to be an alternate into Terence's band. Unbeknownst to Andrew, being able to meet Terence's lofty expectations for perfection will take a toll of him mentally, physically and emotionally.
While trying to perfect his drumming, Andrew and his girlfriend, Nicole's (Melissa Benoist) relationship begins to deteriorate. The constant physical and verbal abuse by Terence forces Andrew to break up with his girlfriend in an attempt to perfect his drumming. As the abuse continues to mount for Andrew and others in the band, Andrew has to decide whether continuing under the tutelage of Terence is best for his life.
For about the first hour, Whiplash is a really solid piece of film making. The narrative is tight and the performances are top notch. Watching J.K. Simmons unleash a beat that hasn't been seen before is a sight for sore eyes. If Terence Fletcher were selling Allstate Insurance, everyone would be a perfect driver. Miles Teller performs a solid, if unspectacular job, of trying to show a student that will go through hell in an attempt to become the best drummer he can be.
Now, I said for about the first hour the film was solid. Once we get to a point where Andrew's story shifts from the school, the film loses a bit of momentum, in my opinion. The dynamic we had between Andrew and Terence isn't there and the film suffers for it. The script then finds a way to shoehorn the two characters back together for a big third act that is more predictable than it should be. I guess, the finale is the only way that the film should have wrapped up, but it wasn't as satisfying as most of the movie that had come before it.
With a lesser second half, and some script cliches, (car crash?) I feel Whiplash was somewhat held back from greatness. I did appreciate the characters not having superfluous B-stories and detours from the main plot, which kept the pacing tight overall. J.K. Simmons steals the film in a very showy role that was worthy of an Oscar Nomination (maybe not the Oscar itself, though) while Miles Teller hangs on enough to make the audience understand the hardships he is experiencing.
Slightly uneven, but very watchable, Whiplash deserves most of the praise it has received.