Tag Archives: comedy

The Wolf of Wall Street Review

Wolf Wall Street CoverThe Wolf of Wall Street

Released: December 25, 2013

Rated: R

Runtime: 180 Minutes

The Wolf of Wallstreet is a dark-comedy directed by Martin Scorsese based on Jordan Belfort’s novel of the same name. The film stars Leonardo Dicaprio, Jonah Hill, and Margot Robbie in the leading roles. The story takes place in the 90s and revolves around Jordan Belfort (Dicaprio) who is a stock broker running a firm participating in security fraud and corruption on Wall Street. I’m going to do this review a little differently than my other reviews. This film has received a lot of controversy due to its moral ambiguity. So I’m going to address my thoughts on the controversy as well as discuss whether or not the film is worth your time.

Wolf Wall Street 1

It’s utterly amazing how corrupt someone can become through attaining a ridiculous amount of money. Jordan Belfort’s fall from grace is captured so perfectly and so viscerally that the film sparked tons of controversy. The film holds the record for most F-words used in a mainstream non-documentary film, but the horrible language is only the tip of the iceberg. The film contains gratuitous sexual content, I can name a couple scenes that made me think “am I supposed to be watching this?” I remember reading about the content of the movie on my phone’s “plugged in” app and on the internet movie database. I almost didn’t watch this movie because I was utterly disgusted with what I read, but I decided to give it a chance anyway.

 The Wolf of Wall Street - liquid lunchWhat the viewer might find relieving is the fact that most of the scenes don’t last but for a few seconds. Yes some are indeed graphic, but the majority of the scenes don’t last but for ten seconds maximum. Also, I didn’t think it took away from the plot like other explicit movies. You have to understand the film is trying to pay respect to the novel and the real story behind Jordan Belfort. I haven’t read the novel, but I saw a few interviews with the real “Wolf of Wall Street” and he claims everything in this movie actually happened with very few exceptions. The things these guys did were obscene, but the film uses its vulgarity to display a sense of realism and show you how far Mr. Belfort fell from grace. Some may disagree with me, but I thought the use of vulgarity was necessary for the story telling. I’m not saying I celebrate its use of vulgarity, but the film wouldn’t have the same effect on the viewer without it.

Wolf Wall Street 3Now that I’m off the subject of controversy, you might be asking yourself “how is the movie in general?” As I’ve said before, this is one of 2013’s best films. It was nominated for several Oscars, but won none…how dare the Academy let this happen. Leonardo Dicaprio is a force to be reckoned with and delivers an Oscar-worthy performance (which he was once again snubbed for). Scorsese also shines with his directorial style. He really knows what he’s doing behind a camera. Every single shot of this movie comes to life with vibrant colors and tons of energy. The script is where the film shines the most. The dialogue is clever, realistic and absolutely hilarious. Without spoiling anything, there’s a scene where someone tries to get high on Lemmon Qualude pills and the effects don’t kick in until later on. This scene made me laugh so hard, I might have cracked a rib or two.

     Bottom line, The Wolf of Wall Street is undoubtedly vulgar, but well worth your time if you aren’t bothered by those types of things. My only problems with this movie are a couple scenes that felt too drawn out. But this is one minor flaw in an otherwise flawless film. 

Verdict:

4.5 out of 5

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Faith Advisory:

-The film is rated R for sequences of strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language throughout, and for some violence.

- There are many sex scenes as well as other scenes containing very perverse sexual content. Even though most are pretty brief, they are still very uncomfortable to watch and can get pretty graphic. Especially this one scene in the first ten minutes of the film combining sex and drugs.

-As I said in my review, the film holds the record for the most uses of the F-word in a mainstream, non-documentary film. To be exact, according to imdb, the word is used 569 times (18 times sexually). The film also contains many uses of other curse words.

-Quite a few scenes containing heavy drug use. A couple of these scenes are intended to be comical, but they can still potentially disturb some people.

-There are only a few scenes containing violence. Most are pretty brief and they aren’t gory. 

-As a film buff, this is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while. I can only name a handful of movies that have come out in the last few years that are better than this one. However, as a Christian, it’s very hard for me to recommend this to anyone due to the film’s vulgar content. 

-If you do decide to watch it, pray first, and view with an accountability partner.

Faith Verdict:

0 out of 5

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Check out the trailer for The Wolf of Wall Street below:

Frank Review

Frank CoverFrank

Released: September 5, 2014

Rated: R

Runtime: 95 Minutes

*Review by contributor Austin Winkler

Frank is an independent comedy-drama directed by Lenny Abrahamson and stars Domhall Gleeson, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, and Michael Fassbender. The story follows Jon (Gleeson), an aspiring musician who meets the members of a pop-music band led by a very mysterious, mask-wearing man named Frank (Fassbender). 

Frank 2

I’ve said this in previous reviews, but I’ll say it again: I’ve never been a big fan of art-house cinema. I recognize the talent behind it, but it’s never been my cup of tea. In my personal opinion, these films tend to be very pretentious and I usually have a hard time enjoying them. Frank falls under this category, but the trailers for this film caught my eye. They did well in advertising the film’s energy and humor and they made me feel the need to check this movie out as soon as possible. My inner hipster craved something quirky to watch. Did this film deliver? Well let’s go over the facts shall we?

Frank 1

It’s a very energetic film and it’s very well made. The cast all do exceptional in their performances, it’s directed well, and it’s even pretty funny in some parts. The film even received widespread critical acclaim upon release. It has a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes and Chris Stuckmann from Youtube gave it an “A.” I believe it’s deserving of these praises, but I still cannot see myself watching this again. This film is very pretentious in parts and it tries too hard to be artsy. This really took away from my overall enjoyment of the film. I can name so many scenes that had me confused as to why the film makers put it in the final draft of the film. This is common in many art-house/independent films and I understand the film makers were trying to go for a particular style of film making. However, it just doesn’t work for me.

Frank 3

Bottom line, Frank has good intentions and it’s without a doubt well made, but it tries too hard and comes off as pretentious. I’ve been called a “hipster” by a lot of people and I can understand why someone would feel this way about me. But I still couldn’t find true enjoyment in this movie. If you’re a fan of art-house/independent cinema, I strongly suggest checking it out. But if you’re just an average film goer, don’t waste your time. 

Verdict:

3 and a half stars

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Faith Advisory:

-The film is rated R for language and some sexual content

-We see a brief scene of a man and a woman having sex in a jacuzzi (no nudity)

-Some sexual dialogue

-Some language here and there

-A scene where a character is drunk

Faith Verdict:

1 and a half stars

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Check out the trailer for Frank below:

The Boxtrolls Review

Boxtrolls CoverThe Boxtrolls

Released: September 26, 2014

Rated: PG

Runtime: 100 Minutes

The Boxtrolls is the much anticipated animated film from directors Graham Annabelle and Anthony Stacchi. It’s written by Irena Brignull and Adam Pava and stars Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Elle Fanning, Jared Harris, Nick Frost, Dee Bradley Baker, Tracy Morgan, Richard Ayoade and Dee Bradley Baker. The film is about a young orphan boy named Eggs who is raised underground by unique, trash-collecting creatures called ‘boxtrolls’. When an evil exterminator attempts to wipe out all the boxtrolls from the city, Eggs and friends try to stop him.

Boxtrolls Scene 1
The Boxtrolls

The Boxtrolls has fairly interesting characters, but it fails to deliver much development and depth to compliment them. Eggs is the lead, who is somewhat of a cliche, but he’s still a decent protagonist. Eggs’ love interest and friend, Winnie, is one who has the most potential. Her father, named Lord Portley-Rind is a rich and selfish character who is surprisingly unlikable. The boxtrolls themselves are the most interesting and intriguing characters in the movie, aside from the devious villain, Archibald Snatcher. For the most part, it’s a disappointment because there’s just not much to like about this cast.

The Boxtrolls
Eggs and Winnie

The animation is pretty cool in The Boxtrolls. Whether it’s the silly little creatures, Eggs, a giant block of cheese or the dark, but vibrant city, it’s all beautiful. It will instantly remind you of movies like The Corpse Bride or Frankenweenie. Steamy sewers, raggedy old boxes or grocery bags, the pale moonlight and more all make for a very pretty and colorful atmosphere.

Boxtrolls Scene 3
Two of them really do want to be ‘good guys’.

The story is based on the novel by Alan Snow called ‘Here Be Monsters!’. Most of the imaginative ideas found in the film stems from this book. The storyline in the movie is rough around the edges, as it tends to drag and not lack much character or depth. One of the most alarming things is that it tries hard to be funny but you’ll be lucky to get a single chuckle all the way through. I can’t help but feel as if the filmmakers simply tried too hard to make this a ‘special’ film such as so many other great animated films in recent years. However, nothing seems to click just right throughout the movie.

Boxtrolls Scene 4
Archibald Snatcher

Sure, The Boxtrolls gives us these adorable, pity-worthy creatures to love and adore and beautiful animation, but what else does it truly offer? Imaginative characters? Not really. A great story? Not so much. It’s simple: I was not impressed with The Boxtrolls. It could have been so much better with likable characters, a sharp script and better storytelling and dialogue. It’s only worth a rent.

Verdict:

2 stars

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Faith Advisory:

-Some moments may be scary for children

-Boasts a dark atmosphere

-Boxtrolls could be frightening to children

Faith Verdict:

4 stars out of 5

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Check out the trailer for The Boxtrolls below:

The Grand Budapest Hotel Review

Grand Budapest Hotel Cover

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Released: March 7, 2014

Rated: R

Runtime: 100 Minutes

In Wes Anderson’s new quirky, art house flick, The Grand Budapest Hotel, we follow the story of a concierge and a lobby boy. If you’ve seen Moonrise Kingdom or Fantastic Mr. Fox, you know what you’re in for, which is an artsy, unorthodox and perplexing picture. Filled with witty dialogue, an utterly ridiculous amount of stars and topped with Wes Anderson’s unique touch, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a nice little package. Yes, it’s an adventure involving a hotel concierge named M. Gustave (played by Ralph Fiennes) and a lobby boy named Zero (played by Tony Revolori). Gustave is framed for murder and now he is out to prove his innocence. The cast also includes Jude Law as a young author, F. Murray Abraham as an older Zero, Tilda Swinton as one of Gustave’s love interests, Jeff Goldblum as a lawyer, Adrien Brody as an angry man who is after an inheritance and Willem Dafoe as a fierce assassin. Bill Murray and Owen Wilson also make brief appearances. This is one star-studded cast! However, the main focus is mostly on Gustave and Zero and their adventures. The performances are fantastic and there’s nothing I can complain about on this front. Each character has his or her own quirks and differences. The downside to having all of these stars is the fact that there just isn’t enough of them. I would have loved to see more of Dafoe, Goldblum, Murray and Wilson. This is a very captivating film as far as star power and wit go. It has an undeniable presence about it. But hey, it’s a Wes Anderson film and all of his films do!

Grand Budapest Hotel Scene 1
Fiennes and Revolori have great on-screen chemistry.

The audiovisual presentation of this film is simply mesmerizing. There’s beautiful, snowy mountains, gorgeous hotel interiors, pretty costumes and a fantastical musical score. It all flows together perfectly and wonderfully. It makes for something pretty to look at and listen to. The story itself is more like a series of adventures involving the two leads, but it never really grabbed a hold of me like I thought it would. Unfortunately, I felt no emotion whatsoever and I couldn’t help but feel like something was missing. I was left thinking Anderson and company put too much effort into making the film look pretty and gathering an all-star cast. One thing that did get my attention was the subtle comedy. Sometimes you can’t figure out if what you’re watching is supposed to be funny or serious, which usually leads to you laughing. The film’s lack of seriousness makes it better. It’s not Moonrise Kingdom or Fantastic Mr. Fox, but it’s still a solid movie. Overall, The Grand Budapest Hotel is beautiful, mesmerizing, elaborate, elegant and has one big imagination.

Verdict:

4 stars out of 5

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Faith Advisory:

-There is a very brief sexual scene.

-We hear scattered, mild sexual dialogue.

-There is violence and blood, such as someone getting their fingers chopped off.

-The film includes bad language in several parts.

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What did you think of The Grand Budapest Hotel? Sound off in the comments section and check out the trailer below:

Delivery Man Review

Delivery Man CoverDelivery Man stars Vince Vaughn, Cobie Smulders and Chris Pratt and is directed by Ken Scott. The film is a remake of 2011’s Starbuck. To put it simply, the movie is about David Wozniak (Vaughn) who finds himself in a legal dispute after a sperm bank reveals he has fathered 533 kids. Yeah…realistic, I know. Wozniak’s longtime friend Brett (Pratt) is his underdog lawyer and Emma (Smulders) is his girlfriend. Pratt steals the show with his charismatic and funny personality. All I can think of when I hear his voice now is Emmet from The Lego Movie. I’m afraid that’s how it will be for a long time…because everything is awesome! Anyways, Smulders is also great, despite not having a ton of screen time. The rest of the cast mainly consists of Wozniak’s offspring, most of which are quite boring and lifeless to be honest. Vince Vaughn is…well…Vince Vaughn. The guy is hilarious, but only when given a good script. Unfortunately he doesn’t have that here. However, the film is going for a more sentimental, sappy feel and that’s something Vaughn doesn’t do particularly well. His bread and butter are movies like Wedding Crashers and Starsky and Hutch. He’s not bad whatsoever in Delivery Man, but it’s just not his forte. But, he does have a certain charm and easiness about him, which is something people will take kindly to.

Delivery Man Scene
This isn’t the Vince Vaughn we are accustomed to seeing, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

The premise is outrageous to say the least. However, it makes for an interesting story. Well, it would have, if the movie was actually good. Don’t get me wrong, Delivery Man delivers some touching moments and it has a few laughs, but that’s about it. I couldn’t help but feel as if everything I was watching was simply rehearsed and insincere. It’s all so inconceivable and unrealistic. I’m not just talking about the premise. It’s like this from scene to scene. Delivery Man can’t make up its mind as to what genre it wants to be. There isn’t enough comedy to make it a comedy. There isn’t enough drama to make it a drama. It reminds me a lot of The Internship, a movie I reviewed a few months back, which also stars Vince Vaughn. It’s just another bland, mostly unfunny and commercialized picture. I really wanted to like this movie. It’s a good thing Chris Pratt delivered the goods and that Vaughn gave us enough of his unique charm. Aside from that and the solid amount of sentimentality, morality and humanity in the story, there’s not much to take away here. Delivery Man is middle of the road at best, something we’ve seen too much of in recent Vince Vaughn flicks. Oh, one more thing I just wanted to note. Adam Chanler-Berat annoyed the living heck out of me as Viggo. I had to say it.

2 out of 5

Anchorman 2 Review

anchorman 2 cover

Review by Austin Winkler

I’m gonna cut straight to the chase, I didn’t like this movie at all. It’s one of the most disappointing movies I’ve ever seen. All of my friends encouraged me to check it out and even a good majority of critics said fans of the first Anchorman will enjoy it. They are wrong. Both the first one and second one have “stupid comedy,” as I like to call it, but the first Anchorman made it work. It’s a laughing riot throughout for all those who love Will Ferrell’s type of slapstick comedy. This film on the other hand suffers from bad execution of the jokes. It did have a couple parts that made me laugh, but most of them were already spoiled in the trailers.

Bottom line, I don’t recommend Anchorman 2 whatsoever. I believe there are people who would like the film, but in my personal opinion, it tries to hard to be what the first one is and it falls flat on almost every level.

2 out of 5

See all of Austin Winkler’s Reviews at Wade’s Thought or at The Bottom Line

Free Birds Review

Free Birds CoverTwo of my favorite actors (Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson) team up in Free Birds, an animated comedy about two turkeys who travel back in time to prevent Thanksgiving. So yes, I’m a big fan of the two leads and I adore animated movies. But alas, I highly disliked this horrid, empty mess. When I say empty, I mean empty, literally. The script is downright bland, leaving the talented cast with nothing to go off of. The animation is simply not enjoyable to look at. Most of the environments are shockingly “empty”, with barren forests and nonexistent plains. I couldn’t believe the absence of detail. Don’t get me started on turkeys eating pizza at the White House either. Give me a break! The story devolves as it chugs along. Adults will likely be checking their watches or cell phone while the kids may even become restless. There’s simply not enough entertainment in this movie, which totally defeats the purpose of an animated feature! Or any movie for that matter! It’s also not funny, despite trying quite hard to be so. Overall, Free Birds never even lifts it’s claws off the ground, squandering it’s somewhat intriguing premise and talented cast. Even a rental for family night would be torturous for all involved. Let’s just continue to eat turkey every Thanksgiving and try our best to forget this movie ever existed.

1 out of 5

The Lego Movie Review

The Lego Movie is here and it stakes its claim as one of the funniest and most entertaining movies of the year. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the better kids/family movies I have ever seen. The all-star voice cast consists of Chris Pratt (Emmett), Will Ferrell (Lord Business), Elizabeth Banks (Wyldstyle), Will Arnett (Batman), Nick Offerman (Metal Beard), Morgan Freeman (Vitruvius), Alison Brie, Liam Nesson (Bad Cop) and Charlie Day (Benny). This movie is chock full of talent and offers an immense amount of wit. Oh yes, it’s funny. Very funny. What makes The Lego Movie great and unique is the fact that it boasts a satirical type of comedy that always guarantees at least a chuckle from the hardest of hearts. Speaking of hearts, it’s sure to touch you on an emotional level too as you’ll see deeply profound moments and necessary life lessons. No, it’s not done by Pixar! The group of writers on this film did an exemplary job at crafting a fresh and cool story that includes comedy, emotional depth, action and many familiar faces.

Emmett is extraordinarily ordinary. Wait…

Chris Pratt plays Emmett, who is pegged as “The Special” after accidentally discovering a certain artifact. The humanity and relativity behind the character is exceptional and acts as the perfect hero. He turns out to be one of the most polarizing protagonists in the animated film world.We’ve all heard the premise of the “nobody” becoming a “somebody”, but the film does such a wonderful job with it, you can’t say much. It also brings so much else to the table to make it a fresh experience. Wyldestyle is voiced by Elizabeth Banks and is one of the more charismatic members of the cast. We find out that her boyfriend is Batman! Will Arnett voices Batman and it’s dead on and extremely comical. His character just bursts through the seams and captures the essence of who Batman is. Morgan Freeman plays the sometimes oddly funny but wise Vutruvius who foretells the prophecy of “The Special”. Will Ferrell doesn’t get much better here as the villainous Lord Business, who must have everything in each Lego world working perfectly to his liking. He also plays “The Man Upstairs” which you’ll get a chance to see in the latter part of the film. Laim Nesson plays one of my personal favorite characters, Badcop. He is a dedicated policeman with split personalities and is often the centerpiece for some of the funniest scenes in the movie.

Liam Neeson brilliantly voices the hilarious “Badcop”.

The story here is familiar but it adds so many different variables and does such a good job with executing them. The script is incredibly smart and always funny. It’s hard to take things seriously after a while so you just sit back and watch each crazy situation unfold. The movie does a good job of grabbing your attention from the start and keeping you entertained. The run time is perfect at an hour and a half. I’m getting a little annoyed at the fact most filmmakers are exceeding the 2-hour mark when often times it’s just unnecessary. The pacing is effortless and each scene is transitioned seamlessly. I was very impressed with how well-maintained the fundamental were in The Lego Movie. The animation is beautiful and almost looks stop-motion. Can you imagine an ocean made out of Lego’s? You’ll get it here! What about an intense action scene with gunfire blazing about? You’ll also get that. It’s really cool how fire raging, guns firing and water effects were done. This aspect only added to the realism of this animated picture. Let’s not forget about the facial expressions, which were all done via CGI. This isn’t a bad thing in my opinion because that sense of realism was increased and it made each character come alive with emotion and flare.

The Lego Movie is an instant classic.

You’ll see all kinds of popular figures in The Lego Movie such as Batman, Superman, the Ninja Turtles, Gandalf, Green Lantern, Abraham Lincoln, Han Solo and many more. The film hits on a few social issues such as overpriced coffee and always following the rules, adding some comedic sprinkle. The Lego Movie is simply a ton of fun and a rousing success. You can’t ask for anything more to be quite honest. The film will bring major nostalgia for those who played with Legos often, like me for instance. After watching, I just want my old Legos back! Mark my words, this will be considered a “classic”, held in high regard in the years to come. Get ready to have a blast. It’s something a 60-year-old can enjoy and something a 6-year-old will enjoy. I am already looking forward to seeing it a second time and that is rare for me!

5 out of 5

The Monuments Men Review

Review by contributor Austin Winklerimage

The Monuments Men is a war film directed by and starring George Clooney. The film also stars Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, Matt Damon, and John Goodman. Based on a true story, a group of museum directors and art historians are tasked with going into Europe to protect or retrieve pieces of artwork stolen by the Nazis. I was really looking forward to this movie. I remember first seeing the trailer in the theater before watching Captain Phillips. When I noticed the release date was set to February, I got really worried…and now know why the release date was set so early. The film is completely unaware of what it wants to be. It can’t make up its mind on whether to be serious or comical. I have nothing against dramatic comedies, as a matter of fact I love them. But with the exception of one scene, this movie can’t execute the dramatic and serious emotions it shoots for at times.

I also didn’t like the characters. Honestly, I didn’t care for any of them. The film spread the characters all throughout Europe, causing them to lose the emotional connection they would have had. I understand the filmmakers were trying to pay respect to the source material, but it just couldn’t work for the movie in terms of character development and emotional connection. This film does have a few bright spots. The cast is great, and chemistry between the characters (when they’re all together) is entertaining to watch. The writing is also in good shape as far as dialogue goes, and George Clooney isn’t a bad director, either. The pros in this movie frustrate me because it tells me the film has the potential to rise above mediocrity, but it never does.

Big potential, squandered results.

Bottom line, The Monuments Men has good intentions and tries its best, but can’t reach its full potential. It’s not a terrible movie, but an unfortunate weak spot in 2014. If you want to see it, I’m not going to convince you otherwise because the premise is interesting. But if you have no desire to watch it, it’s not worth your time.

2.5/5

Now You See Me Review

Is this magic show worth the price of admission? Now You See Me packs a star-studded cast, a plethora of impressive magic tricks and a well-written and well-told story. The leading cast members are simply wonderful, especially Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson as half of the magician group “The Four Horsemen”, which also include Isla Fisher and Dave Franco. Mark Ruffalo plays a determined FBI Agent. Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are integral parts of the supporting cast and each do a great job. The script writing in the film is imaginative, clever and witty. This makes for some decent comedy and catchy dialogue. The story in Now You See Me is unique, as you can tell someone put some major thought into it. Magic is the main focus of the film and it is all very thought-provoking and extremely fun to watch. There’s a “bank robbery”, disappearing, teleportation, illusions, flying and more. You’re always guessing, “What will they do next?”. There’s also some light action, including a well-orchestrated car chase and several on-foot pursuits. The chemistry between characters is also solid, making for wonderful on-screen dynamics.

Is there a 5th horseman? This is one of the many mysteries in ‘Now You Se Me’.

Despite all of its strengths, there are several complaints I have with Now You See Me. The movie can be shockingly predictable at times, to a point where you’re left thinking “I saw that coming from a mile away”. However, there is a big surprise at the end that no one could predict, which is a plus. Another downfall is the fact that the movie tries to be serious at times, but its already pulled so many tricks that you’re thinking nothing is serious anymore. This could be confusing for many viewers. It’s kind of like an illusion…right? Maybe this review is an illusion…okay, moving on. The run time is a little too long and the ending may disappoint some audience members, but then again, others will love it. Finally, the silliness it some parts of the film cannot be denied, which adds a little corniness here and there. Regardless of its flaws, Now You See Me is a somewhat fun, mildly enjoyable and occasionally funny ride with much star power.

3 out of 5