DAY SHIFT (2022)

August 18, 2022

Greetings again from the darkness. We are taught from an early age to take good care of our teeth. For vampires, oral health care is even more important. See, their fangs cannot grow back … in fact, that’s the only part of their bodies that those supernatural powers can’t heal. This leads us to the premise of this film – vampire hunters collecting fangs not just to thin the heard, but also for the monetary reward attached to such valuable collectibles. Look, I’m trying here; but this first feature from long-time stuntman and stunt coordinator JJ Perry suffers from a lackluster script seemingly gap-filled to connect a handful of decent ideas and raucous fight sequences.

Bud Jablonski (Oscar winner Jamie Foxx) is a struggling pool cleaner. He’s behind on his rent, and his daughter needs braces and her school tuition is due. Making things more stressful and urgent, his ex-wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good) is threatening to pack up and move their daughter Paige (rising star Zion Broadnax) cross-country from the San Fernando Valley to Florida. She gives Bud just a few days to raise the money. We get a tour of the familiar spots in the valley, and then quickly move to the first action sequence. Bud’s “real” job is hunting vampires and selling those precious fangs. He takes on an “old” lady in a cartoonish fight sequence that serves as a precursor to most every fight scene that follows. The fangs don’t bring much on the black market run by the always colorful Peter Stormare, but it leads Bud to request re-entry into the Vampire Hunter’s Union … a very inspired idea in a film that isn’t consistently filled with them. Bud’s sponsor is none other than the legendary vampire hunter, Big John Elliott (played masterfully by Snoop Dogg).

It turns out Bud has been expelled from the Union for multiple infractions over the years, and the shop steward (a mulleted Eric Lange) has one condition … Bud must be accompanied on his hunts by nerdy union clerk Seth (Dave Franco). What we soon learn is that Seth is not cut out for the field, and more importantly, Bud’s old lady kill was actually the daughter of Queen Vamp Audrey (Karla Souza), who also happens to be a real estate developer looking to mainstream the population of vampires into the Valley. Audrey seeks revenge by kidnapping Bud’s ex-wife and daughter, and Bud’s rescue mission becomes a veritable blood bath.

The Miami Vice joke made me chuckle, but for an action-horror-comedy, there are simply too few laughs. With the talent on screen, we can only look to the script for fault. Director Perry certainly knows his way around stunts and fight scenes, and while we may question the career choices of a very talented Jamie Foxx, he continues to work regularly and expand his producing skills. For those who enjoy sinking their teeth into over-the-top fight sequences (Perry worked on the first two John Wick movies) and aren’t too demanding on the cleverness of jokes, this one will likely work. And I likely speak for all viewers when I say that Snoop Dogg makes the coolest cowboy since ‘the man with no name’.

Opens on Netflix beginning August 12, 2022

WATCH THE TRAILER


ANCHORMAN 2: THE LEGEND CONTINUES (2013)

December 29, 2013

anchorman Greetings again from the darkness. Will Ferrell has been everywhere the past few weeks making promotional appearances as the golden voiced, perfectly coiffed Ron Burgandy. He clearly enjoys this character and is proud (deservedly so) of the franchise he created with business partner and director and co-writer Adam McKay. The first Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy was released in 2004 and nine years is an unusually long period to wait for a comedy sequel. But it’s not like either Ferrell or McKay need the money, and the golden rule of comedy … timing is everything.

The original movie has reached both classic comedy and cult status, and is one of the most frequently quoted movies from the past decade (“I’m kind of a big thing“). Having such a loyal following means guaranteed box office success for this sequel. So while I found this one somewhat lacking, the true Anchorman fans will embrace it … as proved by the loud laughter throughout the theatre.  And in a movie year strong on drama and somewhat lacking in comedies, it’s nice to hear laughter again.

The gag to get the doofus gang back together centers around the 1980 development of fictional Global News Network – the birth of 24 hour news (and a lightly veiled reference to CNN). The Ron Burgandy gang is all back: Paul Rudd as Brian Fantana, David Koechner as Champ, and Steve Carell as Brick. Christina Applegate also returns as Veronica Cartright, though sadly she has very few scenes. Newcomers include James Marsden as Ron Burgandy’s professional competition and Meagan Good as the station manager. Kristen Wiig weirds out as the soulmate for Brick, and the bus load of cameos arrives for the gang fight at the end … kind of a spoof of the 1979 cult favorite The Warriors.

I will never criticize a movie that makes so many people laugh. However, I will admit to finding only a few giggles in the two hours (including the Dan Issel reference). It did strike me that many of the best jokes and gags would be difficult for anyone under age 35 to “get”. Period humor abounds. The best jab at the news industry occurs when Ron Burgandy says “Why do we need to tell people what they NEED to know? Why can’t we tell them what they WANT to know?”. That kind of approach would have fit the cerebral humor I could appreciate.

**NOTE: if you are somehow unfamiliar with Anchorman humor, know that nothing is off limits.  There is plenty of humor based on racism, sexism, disabilities and most any other politically incorrect topic you can name.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you are fan of the first movie and/or Will Ferrell OR you want to see the most star-studded gang fight in movie history

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you are confused by the laughter of others brought on by such movies as Step Brothers, Semi-Pro, or Blades of Glory

watch the trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VdGI5-z_hg