Review for “Focus”

Review for “Focus”

Cast: Will Smith as Nicky Sturgess, Margot Robbie as Jess

Synopsis:  A kinda love story about con artists…

“Never lose Focus…”.  That’s what Nicky says many times–in many ways–throughout its nearly two-hour runtime. But as we all know, that’s what can happen when you fall in love. Even if you’re the most brilliant con man ever. Just ask Nicky Sturgess. Despite his best efforts, his world changes when he meets Jess, a novice con artist who’s eager too learn the tricks of the trade. Together, these two are just incredible together.

It seems like this role was made for Will Smith. He’s such as natural in this, that it doesn’t even feel like he’s acting. Of course, if you’re going to play the world’s best con artist, you need to be charming. And Will Smith’s got charisma is droves. And so does his co-star Margot Robbie. She was incredible in “The Wolf of Wall Street”, playing a role of a woman you’re not supposed to care about. She added layers to that role and to this one. I think she’ll have a long career ahead of her. And Robbie and Smith are just electric in their scenes together. They are so believable as a couple. They’re both so smart and evenly matched. Oh, did I mention B.D. Wong? That scene between him, Jess and Nicky was a lot of fun to watch. B.D. Wong is incredible in his role, and I wish the role wasn’t so brief.

The scenery in “Focus” is just perfect.  You can thank Xavier Perez Grobet for that.  And writer/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa made an engaging story.  It wasn’t boring at all.  It kinda lost its way towards the end, but quickly regained focus.  (Sorry,  I had to.)

You’re in for a treat with this one.  It’s fun, smart and entertaining.  Rent, buy or watch it On Demand.    I’d give it a 7.5/10.

Review for “Five Year Engagement”

Review for “Five Year Engagement”

Cast:  Jason Segel as Tom, Emily Blunt as Violet, Chris Pratt as Alex, Alison Brie as Suzie

Synopsis: A couple’s plans to marry keep getting thwarted.

Here’s the usual formula for the romantic comedy.  Boy meets girl.  Boy and girl don’t like one another.  Then they fall in love.  They break up, usually over something trivial.  Then they get back together, and live happily ever after.  But what happens after the “happily ever after”?  Nicholas Stroller directed a movie about just that.  It’s called “The Five Year Engagement”.  And it is a story about sous-chef Tom and post-doctorate psychology student Violet.  They meet a New Years’ Eve party, and fall in love.  A year later, Tom proposes.  But things don’t exactly go as planned.  This is just the first of many missteps for the San Francisco couple.  And so the movie rolls on….

Jason Segel and Emily Blunt are just adorable in this movie.  They come across as very believable in their parts.  Ugh, they’re just so cute!  Plus, it helps that Tom and Violet love each other.  You find yourself rooting for them to be together.  Often times, it felt like I was watching a real-life couple.  It was refreshing to see them go through issues we all can relate to, single or not.  From Violet getting her dream job to Tom giving up his.  Violet enjoying her new life in Michigan and Tom hating his.  Her happiness, his depression. They’re growing apart.  Are they gonna make it?  Let’s hope so.  It’s realistic….a bit too realistic.

The movie is really funny at first.  But it all starts to drag once the couple moves to Michigan.  Then it feels more like a drama.  The title is Five Year Engagement.  And it certainly feels that way after a while.  You’re thinking “Come on.  Are you getting married or what?  Just do it!”  I think it would’ve worked better if they shaved off at least 20 minutes. It does pick up steam towards the end, though.

The movie wasn’t bad, just uneven.  It was funny, but could’ve been funnier.  But the story was believable enough, and the performances of Segel and Blunt make it worthwhile.  I’d give it a 6 out of 10.

Review for “The Loft”

Review for “The Loft”

Cast:  James Marsden as Chris, Wentworth Miller as Luke, Karl Urban as Vince, Matthias Schoenarts as Phillip, Eric Stonestreet as Marty

Synopsis: A murder mystery about 5 men who share a loft in which to have secret extramarital affairs.

A man walks into his loft, and finds a dead, naked woman there.  He calls his 4 best friends.  And together they investigate.  Who is this woman?  How did she get inside the loft?  They’re the only ones with keys to this mysterious loft, so at least one of them has to know what happened. Who else could?

Can you enjoy a movie with unlikable characters?  Of course you can.  That’s something I’m learning with every movie and TV show I watch.  But the trick is that they have to be relatable and/or sympathetic in some way.  None of these characters were. They were all jerks. They’re really dishonest and disloyal. Not only to their wives, but to each other as well. But Chris is the one who was close to being a decent person.  So that kinda took out a lot of the fun of watching the movie.  Plus, I hated how the female characters were used in the movie.  They weren’t really characters at all, just plot devices and accessories.  I guess that was the point.

The leads were all good at playing misogynistic jerks, but James Marsden’s performance was the best.  But morality aside,”The Loft” actually started off really well.  And I was intrigued by some of the twists and turns.  The feeling didn’t last long, however.  Somehow it just got sillier and sillier as the movie went on.   And by the end, you’re thinking, “Huh”?   The movie is based on one of the same name by the same director, Erik Van Looy.  Maybe that one is better.  Check it out if you’re interested.

This wasn’t the worst movie I’ve seen, but it certainly wasn’t the best.  I give a 3.5 out of 10.  But you may feel differently.  You can stream it on Netflix.