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Central Intelligence

Central Intelligence is a 2016 American action comedy film directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and written by Thurber, Ike Barinholtz and David Stassen. The film stars Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson with Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet and Aaron Paul.

The movie is about Calvin Joyner, a former high school star athlete and academic student, who finds himself stuck in a job he isn’t enjoying and getting passed over for promotion. One afternoon he gets a Facebook invite from Bob Stone aka Robbie Wierdicht, an old friend from school, a chubby guy who was picked on and made fun off and who was tossed into a full sports hall buck naked by the school bullies. On that night in 1996, only Calvin and his then girlfriend now his wife Maggie felt bad for Robbie and Calvin gave him his jacket to cover himself up. Not wanting to go to therapy with his wife, Calvin agrees to meet Bob for drinks and is shocked to see that Bob is now a muscle bound tall guy who beats up some bullies at the bar.

After a night of catching up Bob asks review a few accounting records. Calvin deciphers the records as multi-million dollar transactions from an auction, with the final payment set to be made the following day. Bob avoids Calvin’s questions and spends the night on his couch. The next morning CIA agents shows up at the house and demand to see Bob, who has escaped, and say he is a dangerous rogue agent who intends to sell satellite codes to the highest bidder. Calvin finds himself in the middle as a thrilling adventure takes place and he reluctantly is in the middle of a shootout, fights with tough agents and car chases. Bob is blamed for the death of his partner but is really a killer and a rougue or is he being framed? Will the two sort out the mess and get back in time to attend their 20th year class reunion?

There’s a lot of laughs, some slick action, cool moves and stuff flying or jumping around. Although Kevin Hart is funny at times his shouting, yelling and screaming can get on one’s nerves. Johnson is actually more cool and calm in his role and shows his funny side. It was a fun film though the story is wonky. 7.5 outta 10 for a lazy afternoon’s watch.

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Alvin & The Chipmunks : The Road Chip

Jason Lee returns with the voices of Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler, Jesse McCartney, Kaley Cuoco, Anna Faris, and Christina Applegate in the 4th installment of Alvin & The Chipmunks in The Road Chip. Newcommers Tony Hale, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, and Josh Green also have major roles in this 2015 film.

Alvin, Simon, and Theodore, along with The Chipettes – Brittany, Jeanette and Eleanor – set up a surprise birthday bash for Dave that also serves as a good luck party for The Chipettes, who are scheduled to be guest judges on American Idol. Alvin invites and hires many people and celebrities to the dismay of Simon, before Dave returns home in dissatisfaction. Nevertheless, Dave agrees to take them to mini-golf, and meet Samantha, the woman he has been dating for the past few months. While the Chipmunks like Samantha, her son Miles is a bully who physically abuses the trio. Later, the Chipmunks find an engagement ring in a bag Dave brought home and believe that he’s going to propose to Samantha. They try to steal the ring but are unsuccessful.

Dave says he is producing an album for rising pop star Ashley Grey in Miami and invites Samantha to go with him. They leave Miles with the chipmunks at Dave’s home and have Dave’s neighbour Ms. Price (Jennifer Coolidge) look in on them from time to time. The boys convince Miles to go with them to Miami and sabotage the wedding but they are busted by a Chimpunks hating air marshall en-route, who catches them trying to smuggle themselves in with Miles. The Chipmunks find themselves on the no fly list as a bunch of animals got freed from their cages on the flight. The Chipmunks head to a bar and perform, but this is interrupted by Suggs and they cause a bar brawl as a diversion. They jump into a cab sitting outside. After the cab driver learns they cannot pay him, he kicks the four out of the cab. The Chipmunks and Miles rest, and he reveals that his dad left him when he was five years old. hey raise money to take a bus to New Orleans, and sing “Uptown Funk”, which gets the attention of Dave when it is broadcast on live television, and allows for the Chipmunks to cause Suggs, who has followed them to New Orleans, to get drunk.

Dave and Samantha come to New Orleana and Dave has to drive the boys to Miami while Samantha & Miles fly. When Dave goes out to dinner with Samantha, Alvin reveals that he has stolen the ring. However, Miles had bonded with the Chipmunks and was upset that they were celebrating over this. He crosses the street with his headphones on and is almost hit by a car, but the Chipmunks swing Theodore and push Miles out of the way, saving his life. They agree to give the ring back. Suggs catches up with the Chipmunks, but they trap him in an elevator. Miles and the Chipmunks return the ring to Dave, who reveals he never intended to propose to Samantha, and the ring belonged to his friend Barry. Dave is very disappointed in the kids, so they try to make it up to him by singing a new song to him at the launch party with the help of The Chipettes, Ashley, and Miles. Dave forgives them, ofcourse how could he not, and they return home; stopping by on the way at the local courthouse so Dave can officially adopt them. Dave says that nothing could ruin his day, but returns home to see the squirrels had destroyed everything. He then screams Alvin’s name.

A fun time waster on a weekend afternoon or evening. I had a few laughs and some fun / cool moments. I give it a solid 7 outta 10!

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Knock Knock

Knock Knock is a 2015 American erotic horror thriller film directed by Eli Roth, who also co-wrote the script with Guillermo Amoedoand Nicolás López. The film stars Keanu Reeves (who also co-executive produced the movie), Lorenza Izzo, and Ana de Armas. The film was released on October 9, 2015, byLionsgate Premiere, and it is a remake of Peter Traynor’s 1977 film Death Game.

Evan is a 43 year old successful architect living in huge house in the sprawling hills  outside of Los Angeles. His family life is seemingly blissful, being in love with his Spanish wife, Karen, a successful artist and sculptor herself, and their two adorable kids. On father’s day the kids give Evan their present and cake and have breakfast together before Karen and the kids go for a weekend beach trip. Evan has to stay behind as a work project came up and so it’s just him and the family pet, a small dog, in the house. On a rainy night, Evan is interrupted from his work by a knock at the door. Two young ladies drenched from the torrential rain ask him for the address to a party, seemingly lost. As their phone is dead they ask Evan if they can use his internet to contact a friend. He lets them in and gives them towels and a tablet.

The girls, Genesis & Bel, find out that they have the wrong area so Evan orders an Uber for them but it is 45 minutes away. He gives them robes and puts their wet clothes in the dryer as the girls make themselves at home. Evan tries to be a good host showing them his record collection and DJ equipment (he used to be a DJ in his youth), warding off their flirty advances by changing seats and talking about his wife. However they won’t stop and when Evan leaves the room for a bit and sees that the driver has come, he finds the girls naked in his bathroom and practically begging him for sex. Temptation finally wins and he gives in, having a threesome with the two. Then next morning, they girls don’t want to seem to leave and making a mess of his house cooking breakfast and messing up Karen’s art. He threatens to call the cops but the girls then claim that they are underage. A friend of Karen drops by and despite Evan trying to get her away, she sees Genesis who comes out, and assumes correctly that Evan is cheating on Karen and angrily leaves.

Evan finally threatens to report a break-in, they give in and agree to be taken home. He drops them off at an upscale neighborhood where they supposedly live. He then returns home, cleans the mess, and tries to go back to his work. However that night, the girls break in and knock Evan unconscious and tie him up and wreck a lot of the belongings in the house and the art and stage a mock game show. Evan is forced to have sex with Bel,  while role-playing as a school girl in his daughter’s school uniform while he is tied up and Genesis secretly tapes them. When Evan finally releases himself, he jumps at Bel and knocks her off. He charges at Genesis, who stabs him in his wounded shoulder with a fork. She then pins him to the ground and both girls proceed to tie him up to a chair with electrical cord. Luis, Karen’s assistant comes by, so the girls hide Evan and Genesis pretends she is Evan’s niece. It almost works but Luis panics upon finding the vandalized sculpture and immediately realizes these girls are lying about their relation to Evan.

Louis then finds Evan tied up to a chair, but before he can help him he hears the girls smashing the vandalized sculpture. He runs to stop them, but then has an asthma attack, and realizes they took his inhaler. The girls play monkey-in-the-middle with his inhaler, and as he tries to get it back, he slips on a piece of the sculpture and knocks his head on the edge, killing him. They turn Louis’ body into a red sculpture and dig a makeshift grave in the backyard meant for Evan. They reveal that they had spied on him before contacting him and they do this to other married men as a game; the men always say yes to having sex with the girls. They are also not underage; they lied about that to him. They bury him upto his neck and show Evan the video of him and Bel having sex and upload it to his facebook account on his phone and we see the comments from his shocked friends pouring in. They finally leave, taking Evan’s small dog with them, leaving Evan to try and dig his way out.

Evan’s wife returns a little bit later with their kids and sees the chaos in the house with lots of crude and vulgar drawings on the wall and on the family photos and the art as the movie ends. An alternate ending has Evan putting on black gloves and shows him walk up to a house where the girls are inside torturing their latest victim. Upon hearing the sound of knocking they both tense up and ask: “Who’s there?” and the movie ends.

Not bad though there are some stuff we can’t buy. The spying and the timings seem a bit too much. Luis’ death also is a bit too convenient as is his idiotic fumbling and not releasing Evan from his constraints before getting killed plus his asthma attack. Still for a black comedy, it’s an ok film. I will give it a 7 outta 10!

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Sleepless in Seattle

Despite being a big fan of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan and of the city of Seattle, somehow I had never seen this movie. It took me this long just to get myself a copy of the film and watch it at home. Sleepless in Seattle is a 1993 American romantic comedy-drama film directed and co-written by Nora Ephron, based on a story by Jeff Arch. It stars Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, alongside a supporting cast featuring Bill Pullman, Ross Malinger, Rob Reiner, Rosie O’Donnell, Gaby Hoffmann, Victor Garber, and Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson.

Hanks plays Sam Baldwin, a Chicago architect who has just lost his wife, leaving him to take care of their young son Jonah alone. Looking for a fresh start, Sam moves with Jonah to Seattle. A year and a half later, on Christmas Eve 1992, Jonah—who wants his father to find a new wife—calls in to a radio talk show. Jonah persuades Sam to go on the air to talk about how much he misses Maggie. Hundreds of women from around the country who hear the program and are touched by the story write to Sam. Annie Reid, a Baltimore Sun reporter, is one of the women who hears the kid on the radio. Her heart goes out to Sam, and Jonah, despite the fact that she is engaged to marry amiable, suitable Walter.

Annie decides that she is curious enough to write to Jonah and try and meet Sam. She also feels that there is no spark of magic in her relationship with Walter. After watching the film An Affair to Remember, Annie impulsively writes a letter suggesting that Sam meet her on top of the Empire State Building on Valentine’s Day. She does not intend to mail it, but her friend and editor Becky does it for her and agrees to send Annie to Seattle to “look into doing a story on those radio shows”. Meanwhile, egged on by his best friends Greg & Suzy, Sam starts to date and get involved with a woman named Victoria, to whom Jonah has a dislike towards. He thinks that she is not right for his dad and on reading the letter from Annie decides she more than fits the bill. Sam won’t agree to  meet Annie on Valentine’s Day in NYC, so with help from his friend Jessica, Jonah books a plane ticket for him to New York and go to the Empire State Building.

Jonah goes to the observation deck and asks every unattached woman if she is Annie. Sam, distraught, follows Jonah and finds him on the observation deck. Meanwhile, Annie sees the skyscraper from the Rainbow Room where she is dining with Walter and confesses her doubts to him and they decide to break off their engagement. She decides to go to the Empire State building and, despite the fact that it is closing time, begs the guard to let her go to the observation deck. There she finds a backpack that Jonah has left behind. As she pulls out Jonah’s teddy bear from the backpack, Sam and Jonah emerge from the elevator, and the three meet for the first time. Sam recognizes Annie as the woman who he saw across the street and that they both had a moment of connection despite not knowing who she was. As the guard urges them on, Sam offers his hand to Annie and the three of them make their way out of the building with Jonah smiling knowing that his and Jessica’s plan to bring his dad & Annie together has worked.

Fun, sweet, charming, lovely and engaging. What a nice romantic film! Shame I waited so long to see this. 9 outta 10 for a 90s based romantic-comedy!

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Zootopia

Zootopia is a 2016 American 3D computer-animated buddy cop comedy adventure film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 55th animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. The film is directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, co-directed by Jared Bush, and stars the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Tommy Chong, J. K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, and Shakira.

This is set in a world where all the animals have evolved to become anthropomorphic and civilized, living in mostly harmony. A young bunny girl named Judy Hopps dreams of becoming the first bunny to join the police course. Bullied by a bigger red fox kid named Gideon, Judy uses everyone’s doubt to spur herself on and be top of her class at the academy. Mayor Lionheart assigns her to a prescient in the big city, Zootopia. Judy is full of hope and wants to make a difference but excluded from handling the top-priority missing predator cases and assigned to parking duty by Chief Bogo, who doubts her potential. During one of her shifts, she meets Nick Wilde and Finnick, partners in crime, who con their way to get free Jumbo pop which they then melt down to sell as ice pops and make a huge profit. Judy abandons her shift to arrest Duke Weaselton, a thief who stole what appear only to be onion bulbs. Upon Weaselton’s apprehension, Judy is reprimanded by Bogo.

Bogo is however reluctantly forced to assign the case of the missing Bennett Otterton due to pressure from the assistant mayor Bellwether and the fact that Judy volunteers in front of Mrs. Otterton. She is given 47 hours by Bogo to solve the case or resign. Judy tricks Nick into assisting her by covertly recording his confession to tax evasion. Judy and Nick determine that Mr. Otterton was last seen entering a limousine, which is tracked to the Tundratown crime boss, Mr. Big. He informs the pair that Otterton, his florist, had “gone savage”—reverted to a feral state—and attacked his chauffeur, Manchas. Judy and Nick locate Manchas, who mentions Otterton had been yelling about “night howlers”. Soon after, Manchas himself goes savage and chases the pair out of his home. Judy calls ZPD for support but when the cops arrive Manchas is no where to be found. Nick defends Judy, reminding Bogo that they still have ten more hours to solve the case. As the pair leaves, Judy learns from Nick that as a child, he was bullied for being a fox and subsequently became a con artist, believing that he would be stereotyped regardless.

Judy and Nick consult Bellwether for access to the city’s traffic camera system and identify Manchas’ captors as wolves, which is what Judy believes Otterton had meant by “night howlers”. Judy and Nick locate Otterton and the missing predators at Cliffside Asylum. After the two witness Lionheart consulting about the predators’ condition, the pair escape with the evidence, and the police swarm the area, arresting Lionheart. Bellwether is sworn in as the new Mayor. However, during a press conference, Judy suggests a biological connection between savaged animals and predators, hurting Nick, who angrily walks out. Fear against predators spreads across Zootopia, protests spawn, and a guilt-ridden Judy resigns. She goes back home to help her parents sell their produce but while speaking to Gideon she realizes that “night howlers” are flowers that have a severe psychotropic effect on mammals. Judy returns to Zootopia, reconciles with Nick, and locates Weaselton, who confesses that the “onions” he had been collecting were night howler bulbs for a ram named Doug. The pair find Doug and his team of sheep at a secret laboratory creating a night howler serum which he has been injecting into predators via a dart gun.

Judy and Nick race to the ZPD with the evidence, but Bellwether (the mastermind behind this operation) intercepts them, attempting to take the evidence with her men. Bellwether shoots a dart at Nick, who seemingly becomes savage and attacks Judy, but it turns out the pair were acting, having swapped out the serum for blueberries, and recorded Bellwether’s confession. With enough evidence, the ZPD arrest Bellwether and her accomplices for their crimes. Upon being interviewed, Lionheart denies any knowledge of Bellwether’s plot, but asserts he imprisoned the savaged predators to protect the city. Later, Judy is reinstated into the ZPD, the savaged mammals, including Otterton and Manchas, are cured by an antidote, and Nick joins the ZPD as the first fox police officer and Judy’s partner.

Good solid fun and total enjoyment with a good story and theme. I enjoyed that a lot. 9 outta 10!