Movie Reviews: Barry, The Do-Over, Spectral, Blue Jay, Memoirs of an Assassin

By | December 19, 2016

Netflix is making a big push into the original films game, but judging by this crop they may want to rethink that…

The Do-Over…Pretty much unwatchable. The first third is the best part, but even that’s only below average. Once Sandler and Spade have teamed up with Paula Patton (gee, do you think wm/bw couples will be villainized in this as they are 95% of Hollywood entertainment?) it’s all downhill and the ending is nearly unwatchable. Grade: D-

Memoirs of an International Assassin…Kevin James is a spy-fiction writer who gets mistaken for a real assassin and shenanigans ensue in Venezuela. The plot is a little bit better than “The Do-Over” and it’s not a hard R-rating so at least the real target demo for James and Sandler—kids or tweens—can actually watch it. Grade: C-

Spectral…A team of soldiers fights ghost-like “aliens” in some shitty Eastern European backwater because the film could be made on the cheap there–I mean, for plot reasons…Bad but not in any offensive way. Grade: D

Blue Jay…A two-character film in which former high school sweethearts (Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson) have a chance encounter and spend the day together. It’s a major step backward for Duplass after he was showing interest beyond mumblecore in movies like “Safety Not Guaranteed” or the excellent, underrated “The One I Love.” The set-up is a little tedious, and it’s made more so by both characters insistence that they have to be somewhere else (we know they ain’t going anywhere). It builds into a climax that feels earned, but—OF COURSE—is resolved with a mellow, ambiguous shoulder shrug. Just once, it might be nice if indies stopped taking the “brave” easy-out of an open ending, and just had these two declare love for each other or viciously attack one another. Grade: C+

BarryHave you ever wanted to see the future President of the United States act like a complete asshole for nearly-two hours? If so, “Barry” serves up a college-aged Obama that is rude to his mother, resentful of his father, calls a guy an asshole five seconds after he gives him a beer, picks a fight with his white girlfriend the same night he gets beat-up while trying to cheat on her with a black girl, and then doesn’t tell same white girlfriend that his dad died as he’s going to her sister’s wedding, instead using it as an excuse to create distance between them. The Barry we see in “Barry” hangs on to every insult he’s dealt like it’s a bolt in his armor, so inside his own insistence that he doesn’t belong anywhere that he can’t see he belongs everywhere. [How many people could be as welcome at a white Connecticut wedding as a party in a housing project? An indie art theater with their bohemian white mom as a basketball court? Could live with a British-Indian party-boy, and an upper-class white girl?] As a character study of a fictionalized version of multiethnic kid having identity struggles, the movie works better than as the naggingly inauthentic biography of the actual college-aged Obama. Still photographs, recordings, and documentary footage from that time period suggests the actual Obama was much more confident and comfortable in his own skin. And the lead actor doesn’t really display any of Obama’s “I can see through you” cunning, which footage of the actual Obama showed he had even as a teenager. Grade: C+

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