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T.A. Moreland

T.A. Moreland

Girls Trip - Avoid This Nasty Adventure! [MOVIE REVIEW]

In Girls Trip, the decades have passed and four college friends Ryan (Regina Hall), Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith), Dina (Tiffany Haddish), and Sasha (Queen Latifah) travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival. They are determined to have a GOOOD time and unleash all inhibitions.

Girls Trip is a Trip. It’s vulgar, crass and disappointing. This barrage of crudeness is ultimately the film’s undoing. There is a constant referencing to women as the “B word”. And, the “N word” and MFs are flying everywhere. There’s nothing funny about someone suspended in air urinating on the people below. This happened twice! Dina is sexually tempted by a filthy, old, homeless man who exposes himself to the group.

The characters are stereotypes fitting comfortably into pigeon holes. Tiffany Haddish, who I have to admit I had never heard of before, as Dina, is loud, crude, damn near a nympho. On the other hand, Lisa is matronly, prim and proper, and blindly devoted to motherhood. Sasha is the struggling one who’s trying to keep up a façade of financial and career success while things are crumbling. And then there’s the highly successful Ryan whose fairy tale marriage to former football star, Stewart (Mike Colter), is marketed as an example a woman who’s having it all.

The storyline involving Ryan and her husband is substantive and interesting. His ability to smoothly rationalize his misgivings is nothing short of amazing. Unfortunately, his talent and the film’s attention to worthy scenes are lost in a bombardment of B.S.

I am embarrassed for Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, and Jada Pinkett Smith because they are all talented actresses. And I understand that there’s a paucity of quality roles for black women in Hollywood. But, Girls Trip?

Further, I don’t know where they got the “guy” who’s hairless, lotioned, lady legs are featured in the film’s poster. Real men don’t shave their legs – unless they’re swimmers.

Girls Trip is written by Kenya Barris who penned Barbershop: The Next Cut. That film featured black men of dignity and character. I wonder why he chose to write such trash for women.

Girls Trip also trips up when it comes to casting diversity, earning a C-. We have to be fair in discussing diversity. Other than Kate Walsh who plays Ryan’s agent, Lara Grice, a TV exec, and a few minor roles, this cast is all black including individuals in the background.

Directed by Malcolm Lee and produced by Will Packer, Girls Trip has a modest budget for films today, $28 million. It’s rated R for crude (you can say that again), sexual content throughout, pervasive language, brief graphic nudity, and drug material. Girls Trip is 122 minutes too long.

Sorry girls but your trip is Dead on Arrival!

War for the Planet of the Apes is a Big Loser. [MOVIE REVIEW]

Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his fellow primate followers are pushed to the point of conflict after suffering unimaginable losses - including Caesar’s wife and son – at the hands of humans. Caesar and his forces leave their camp to confront their attackers, eventually finding the humans at their military post. They also find apes enslaved there. A ruthless Colonel (Woody Harrelson) is in charge. The past atrocities combined with the sight of his species being so badly mistreated leads Caesar to realize that a peaceful resolution of the human-ape conflict is no longer possible.

War for the Planet of the Apes is a dreary, violent movie, and totally lacking in entertainment value. With Caesar being one of the few talking simians, there are a lot of subtitles. And the exchanges between the animals is symbolically bland and representative of the tone of this entire film. This film might have worked if it was based on a true story or some great classical of work whose depressiveness was necessary to tell the tale. But sadly this story is just someone’s idea of entertainment.

During their travels, the Apes adopt a little blond girl that is orphaned when Caesar kills her father in a gun battle. This is an absurd development in the film and apparently was intended to soften viewers’ attitude towards the Apes.

Woody Harrelson is effective as the Nazi-type leader of the human military group. Andy Serkis as Caesar embodies a dignity and even charm despite being dressed in a monkey costume. Their efforts do little to improve this mess.

The suffering viewers endure is intensified by the fact the film is over two hours and 20 minutes long.

The 1970’s classic hit song, War, asks and answers the question: War, what is good for? Absolutely Nothing! That also describes the movie: War for the Planet of the Apes. It’s worth absolutely nothing! It’s rated PG-13 and it is dead, dead, on arrival!!

Rough Night is a fun night [MOVIE REVIEW]

The four coeds were the best of friends during the college days (Jess) Scarlett Johansson, (Alice) Jillian Bell, (Frankie) Ilana Glazer, and (Blair) Zoë Kravitz. Frankie and Blair even had a “past” together. Ten years after graduation they meet in Miami for a bachelorette weekend to celebrate Jess’ pending nuptials. Pippa, played by Kate McKinnon, a more recent friend of Jess’ from the land down under, joins the group as well. The ladies are pumped for a weekend of, well, everything. They rent a beautiful beach house and invite a male entertainer over. Tragically, he doesn’t survive the evening. Realizing that they could end up in the slammer, their enthusiasm gives way to panic. It’s a matter of simply figuring out what to do next.

Rough Night is another in a long line of crazy night out movies where the characters always end up asking, how did we get into this mess?! The stories are always a bit implausible. Like in this film, Jess is supposedly in a tight race to win a state senate seat. No serious politician would take off for a long weekend at a pivotal point in the campaign to party it up with friends. These movies also have more strange and unlikely occurrences in one night than most people have in a 100-year lifetime: multiple people conveniently show up at the rental house, as necessary, to help carry out the plot.

However, in the end, Rough Night does what it should do; it entertains. The cast combines the right mix of comedy and drama. There are serious scenes when the characters revisit and debate old intragroup wounds.

The film is greatly enhanced by the performances of Demi Moore and Ty Burrell as the horny neighbors who set lustful eyes on Blair. And there are other bits of humor like when the friends meet at the airport, Alice opens a bottle of champagne to celebrate the moment only to have the sound of the cork popping send other traveler scurrying from what they believe to have been a gunshot.

With Rough Night, you’ll find yourself wondering what is going happen next.

As to cast diversity, it gets a B+ for performers from all racial groups. And it is refreshing to see the one black woman in the group, be the thinnest – and not heaviest. She is arguably the most sophisticated and not the crassest in the group. Zoe is stunning; Lenny, Lisa, you do good work!

Rough Night, is rated R (for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use, and brief bloody images) and it is 101 minutes in length. Rough Night fights its way to our top rating; it’s a See It!

The Mummy should have stayed in her tomb [MOVIE REVIEW]

Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella), an ancient and ruthless Egyptian queen, lays entombed deep in the earth’s recesses until an evacuation crew led by Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) awakes her. Ahmanet is determined to dominate in the new world, the way she attempted to in her previous life. In addition to his ongoing battle with Ahmanet, Morton has recurring “exchanges” with the ghost of a comrade he had killed earlier in the film. Annabelle Wallis plays Morton’s partner in this adventure and is the stereotypical blonde eye candy.

The Mummy, whose production price tag was reported to be $125,000,000, is a visually stimulating 3-D extravaganza. However, The Mummy stumbles because of the filmmakers, as is too often the case in movies today, try to show how smart and creative they can be. The creativity is evident in the special effects, however, the story itself is not entertaining and there is no mystery. And, a plot like this one, that flops around like a fish on deck, soon like that fish, begins to smell.

There are no complaints about the performers. Tom Cruise has now passed the half-century mark, age wise, and remains very credible as the leading man in an action-adventure film. Cruise is fit and to prove it, he has scenes shirtless and at one point, he’s almost nude.

The Mummy gets a “B” for cast diversity. I especially liked Sofia Boutella, who is Algerian, in the role of the Egyptian queen. Courtney B. Vance costars as Colonel Greenway, along with other actors of color in smaller parts to round out a diverse cast.

Save yourself from buyer’s remorse and don’t get wrapped up in all the hype around The Mummy, this is a film you should wait to Rent It.

The Mummy is rated PG-13 for violence, action and scary images, suggestive content and partial nudity. It's 110 minutes in length.

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