EDIT: Trigger warning for explicit discussion of suicide and hospitalization.
Welcome to Ynce Iche’s (pronounced Yeence Eesh, for those not in the know) Movie Misery Corner. It’s been over a month since I published the first part of this article. A big part of the reason for the delay is that I was hospitalized a second time. Turns out, I’m terrible at killing myself. The pills just made me nauseous. The mental ward I ended up in this go-round was a lot shittier than the first one. It was understaffed, very cold, had no therapy on the weekends, and one of the only DVDs on hand was White Chicks.
This is why I saw White Chicks three times in the 11 days I was at the hospital. I didn’t watch White Chicks in 2017, so technically it doesn’t belong in this article, but it did change my outlook on all of the films that I’m going to review here. When you’re freezing your ass off wearing three pairs of pants, trapped in a hospital rec room because you’ve attempted suicide, and are watching White Chicks… you don’t feel so good about the choices and circumstances that got you to that point.
When I was in the hospital, oddly enough, I thought back to my “Ten Worst Movies” article. Partly because White Chicks is a very bad movie, and partly because that article is a thinly-veiled cry for help to no one in particular. When I read it before posting it, I thought “Yeah, this is totally an acceptable amount of ironic distance”. I don’t really think it was. When I wrote “Ten Worst Movies”, I was looking back on a year that I considered a colossal waste of time. For most of it, I stayed in the house all day, talked to no one, and watched a lot of movies and TV.
I was bitter about having spent so many hours consuming content that was, objectively speaking, total fucking garbage. So when I wrote the article, I was nasty and vindictive and rude to Adam Pally. I think he’ll be okay, since he has a successful comedy career and mountains of cocaine to fall back on, but I was rude. I wanted all that wasted time to mean something, and for that to be the case, I need to finish my article. Maybe this time around, since I’m not actively plotting my own demise, I’ll have a sunnier outlook in my reviews.
Fist Fight isn’t a bad film so much as it’s a vacuum. You spend the whole runtime waiting for Ice Cube to punch Charlie Day, knowing that it’s definitely not going to happen until the end of the movie. And then once they finally do engage in the titular fist fight, I’d sort of forgotten what had happened up to that point.
The plot is that Charlie Day accidentally gets Ice Cube fired, and Ice Cube resolves to fight him in the parking lot after school. This could be a funny concept, but I get a sense that the people making the movie don’t really think so. They don’t make that many jokes about it. Mostly, Charlie Day just states repeatedly and emphatically that he is a GROWN MAN, and he’s NOT GOING TO FIGHT.
Then Day gets Ice Cube his job back, and Ice Cube is still itching for a fight. Why? I think there’s one line accounting for this, and then we’re just supposed to go with it, which I might have been more willing to do if the movie took me anywhere.
There’s a subplot where another teacher and a friend of Day’s character (played by Jillian Bell, who is enthusiastic here and needs better film roles) lusts after a not-quite-of-age student, which I guess is meant to be funny because she’s a woman and the student is male. Also, she does a lot of drugs.
You definitely get the sense that between her drug use and Ice Cube’s willingness to fight, this school is not doing an amazing job of vetting its employees. Besides the obvious fact that Ice Cube is a good deal bigger than him, Charlie Day also wants to dodge the fight so he can perform with his daughter in a school talent show. Here is a spoiler: He eventually gets there, and the song his daughter selects is wildly inappropriate. There are two pretty funny things in the movie, and I will give them to you now in order.
1. Kumail Nanjiani as an unhelpful security guard who simply can’t be of help once school is out.
2. Charlie Day hitting Ice Cube with a tennis racquet.
Cool, now you don’t have to see Fist Fight.
The Angry Birds Movie:
Why would The Angry Birds Movie pander to reactionary middle-aged white men? I don’t know, but between the jokes about gluten allergies, weird racist undertones, and insistence that righteous anger solves every problem, I’m pretty sure I’ve figured out what this movie is up to. It’s hoping that some dad will take his kids here on a weekend to shut them up, walk out thinking “Hey, I kinda connected with that children’s movie,” and conclude that it was fun for all ages. If you are that guy, go fuck yourself. Okay, never mind, that was a little harsh.
The children’s movie in question features Red (Jason Sudeikis), an underappreciated delivery bird forced into anger management therapy after screaming at a child. He is the hero of the movie, which validates and proves him right almost entirely. Really. A boatload of pigs lands on the shore of the birds’ peaceful island, bearing gifts. Unfortunately, they land their boat directly on Red’s house. Immigrants destroy his house. So Red holds a grudge against the pigs and wants to get rid of them, despite all the initial evidence that they mean well.
In a more typical (but less morally askew) movie, he would realize that he needs to open his heart to the pigs, gaining new friends and an understanding that not everyone is out to get him. But nope, the pigs are sinister, and the birds need to wage war against them to force them out.
The surprising problem with this movie is that it’s not half-assed. It’s pleasingly animated, well voice-acted, and teaching kids both that their irrational anger is valid and that they should suspect anyone who doesn’t look like them. If you need to quiet your kids down, perhaps sit them in front of Trolls instead. It’s not a masterpiece, but kids love pop songs and extended dance sequences, and I love films that accept difference instead of fearing and despising it.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is funny and charming, if not a master thespian. Also, he has what may be the world’s greatest abs, and at the end of the movie he dances shirtless. Kevin Hart does his usual routine of double takes and surprised shouting, and even though he’s pretty much the same in everything I’ve seen him in, he maintains a level of quality. Kevin Hart is the Chicken McNuggets of actors. Not awesome, but decent even if you’re eating at a McD’s in the middle of the night and the fries are kind of cold.
In this metaphor, the cold fries are the plot of the movie. There’s some nonsense about The Rock being a secret agent trying to clear his name, and significantly more nonsense about The Rock being unpopular in high school and idolizing Kevin Hart, resident cool guy and sports hero. For the high school-era flashbacks, they create a CGI fat kid version of The Rock with his adult face pasted on it. This amalgamation is so hideous it completely took my focus off of the movie, which is okay because there wasn’t much to focus on.
Anyway, Kevin Hart has grown up to be a boring accountant, but his life is forever changed by the goofy, daring, unicorn-loving Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. In the end of the movie, they drive off together in a parody of Sixteen Candles, which I know because the movie doesn’t stop comparing the two’s relationship to Sixteen Candles.
Hart’s character is married, and The Rock gets together with his high school crush (Melissa McCarthy), but Central Intelligence is still intensely homoerotic in the way that buddy comedies so often are. Kumail Nanjiani has a brief, funny turn (Nanjiani lights up so many otherwise dull comedies) as a droll car rental guy who doesn’t really feel like renting our heroes a car and is the proud owner of a snake named Snake Gyllenhaal. The film overall is pretty thin gruel/cold fries, but if you’re looking for an evening of mild laughter and the Rock’s muscular onscreen presence, you could do a lot worse.
Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates:
This movie never fucking stops. Everyone shouts and talks quickly, all the while racing around and getting into drug-and-alcohol-fueled shenanigans. Two brothers (Zac Efron and Adam DeVine) have a rightly-earned reputation for ruining every family party with the aforementioned shenanigans, so their parents insist that the pair bring dates to calm them down. This shows a lack of insight on the part of the parents, who should understand that young hellraisers attract enablers at least as much as they do nice ladies who might keep them under control.
Of course, the two gals that the brothers take along (Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick), lured in by the prospect of a free trip to Hawaii, are decidedly the former. So what’s being served up in this movie is ultimately obnoxious tomfoolery magnified by a power of two. That’s the whole deal here, take it or leave it. You can switch off Mike And Dave and find something more intellectually stimulating, or you can watch Anna Kendrick and Stephanie Beard (the bride, natch) take ecstasy and steal a horse.
Speaking of the bride, one of the film’s plot points involves her receiving an erotic massage from Kumail Nanjiani, who has definitely been taking all the roles he can get. There are two reasons I mention this scene: one, it’s very long for no discernable reason, indicating that it was used to pad the runtime, and two, it features a lot of Kumail Nanjiani’s ass. Listen, I like Kumail. He’s funny, talented, and has great eyebrows. But I don’t think his wife Emily V. Gordon sees this much of his ass, and I certainly didn’t need to.
Unlike in Fist Fight and Central Intelligence, Nanjiani is not the best part of Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates. That dubious honor goes to Alice Wetterlund, who plays the swaggering lesbian cousin of Mike and Dave. On one hand, making the “successful, sexually aggressive douchebag” character a gay woman is not really progressive. On the other hand, Wetterlund is hilarious and magnetic. She plays her part with impressive gusto, and needs to be in way more movies. Possibly every movie. She also really rocks an orange suit.
Every moment Cousin Terry wasn’t onscreen, I was asking “Where’s Cousin Terry?”. The rest of the movie sucks to various degrees, Aubrey Plaza fails to pull off the over-the-top style that here supplants her usual deadpan, and I mostly wished that I were watching a comedy about the adventures of Cousin Terry.
We watched Patch Adams during my first stay in a mental ward, and one does not speak ill of Robin Williams when in a mental ward. Now that I’m back on the outside, I can finally say that he should’ve known better than to star in this movie. It’s chokingly whimsical and syrupy, casting Patch Adams as an irresistably lovable medical student who sees every patient as an individual and says hello to strangers. He runs afoul of another student (Monica Potter) who actually wants to do her goddamn schoolwork, but of course she eventually falls for him.
In point of fact, Patch starts the movie in a mental hospital, an old-timey one that’s equivalent to a prison. Of course, the other patients inspire him and elevate him from his suicidal state, and he decides to head to medical school so he can keep helping others. I’m sorry, but I don’t think the mentally ill and disabled are props for sad people trying to find themselves. Even if they have difficulty communicating or functioning on a basic level, which I actually sometimes do (throwback to the fit I threw in the hospital where I started biting myself and was sedated by staff), they’re human beings. They deserve their own movies, ideally ones a little more sophisticated and realistic than this one.
Patch is repeatedly threatened with expulsion by the crusty old dean (Bob Gunton), who might not be the friendliest, but at least understands that actual medicine is possibly more important than wearing a red rubber clown nose and jumping around in kiddie pools full of spaghetti. During both my hospital stays, I was indeed buoyed by the presence of friendly, hardworking counselors, nurses, and inspirational posters aplenty. Laughter is truly one of the many types of medicine.
But it isn’t a substitute for cleanliness, having adequate medical supplies on hand, or possessing the amount of experience and knowhow necessary to run a hospital out of what basically amounts to an abandoned cabin. Somebody died, Patch? No shit! I’m surprised more people didn’t die.
There’s probably a good movie to be made about how the American medical system is a hideous, impersonal conveyor belt that overcharges people under the pretense of safeguarding their health, and there is probably a good movie to be made about a noble doctor rebelling against that system. Patch Adams isn’t good.
If you want a sentimental movie about Robin Williams as a renegade doctor, Awakenings exists. There’s no reason to see Patch Adams unless you’re trying to catch the split-second appearance of Greg Sestero from The Room, and you could honestly just look that up on YouTube.
So that’s all, folks. Despite being banned from the internet, I am sixteen, more tech-savvy than my parents, and making my return to The Avocado. My therapist says it’s okay, and he has a beard, so you know he’s a good therapist. That concludes this installment of Ynce Iche’s Movie Misery Corner.