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Once Upon a Time In Venice – ★ ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

Once Upon a Time In Venice40


Once Upon a Time In Venice was pulpish, noirish, and funny with an incredible array of characters.  I found it extremely entertaining.  It wasn’t the best movie, it certainly had flaws, but I enjoyed it and that is what I base my ratings off of, how much I enjoyed the film.


Bruce Willis plays Steve Ford, the only licensed private investigator in the Venice (Los Angeles not Italy) and he gets himself mixed up in a lot of odd cases.  His partner John (Thomas Middleditch) narrates us through the story as we see Steve track down a missing sister, only to sleep with her and incur the wrath of her overprotective brothers, who he escapes in a naked skateboarding scene…  He meets a friend whose car was stolen and he tracks it back to a drug dealer named Spyder (Jason Momoa), who he steals it back from by crashing out of his garage.  When he gets home he finds out that his sister’s house has been robbed, taking his niece’s X-Box, their television, and Steve’s dog Buddy who his niece takes care of after school.  They were robbed by punks who needed money for drugs, which leads Steve back to Spyder who controls the drug trade in town.  Now Steve has to apologize for wrecking Spyder’s garage, and what he feels was “his” car (even though it was stolen) in an attempt to get Buddy back.  Spyder agrees, (Steve’s gift basket of muffins helped smooth the tensions between them) and he’ll give Steve the dog back, if he’ll retrieve a case of cocaine that was stolen from him by a hooker.  Things don’t get any easier for Steve who is trying to buy back his parent’s house that he was forced to sell years ago to Lou the Jew (Adam Goldberg) and help his best friend Dave (John Goodman) who is selling his surf shot to get through a tough divorce.  Lou is in a bind too, because someone is painting pornographic graffiti on a building he owns that he’s trying to sell.  So if Steve can catch the graffiti artist, he’ll get the house back, if he can find the drugs he’ll get his dog back, easy right?


When I first heard of this film, I thought it was trying to be a John Wick rip-off, action star Bruce Willis trying to get his dog back sounds a bit like action star Keannu Reeves trying to get revenge on the guys who killed his dog.  Boy was I wrong, if this film was trying to cash in on any of the perceived similarities with John Wick, it did so totally with tongue in cheek.


I think what made Once Upon a Time In Venice work was the very clever script.  The dialogue was snappy and natural, and really plays off the comedic talents of the lead, Bruce Willis.  Bruce Willis is very funny, and has great comedic timing.  I wouldn’t have thought that “tough guy” Jason Momoa would be as funny as he was either, but perhaps it was the juxtaposition of these tough actors playing these tough roles with a lighter twist that made it work.  Having more seasoned comedic actors like Thomas Middleditch and John Goodman in the film also helps carry the story.  Quite good, and quite entertaining, if you’re looking for a few good laughs, give it a try.


Bottom Line: Every time you thought a situation was resolved it just got more and more absurd!  Every time things seemed sorted, a new character came in and twisted the plot into something more absurd than the last character did.  I loved it.

The Bronze – ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

The Bronze3.0 Stars


A very foul mouthed, but still kind of funny comedy, The Bronze was an enjoyable ride, even if it was kind of standard and predictable.   Melissa Rauch definitely sheds her image from The Big Bang Theory as Hope, an Olympic gymnast who rose to fame by winning the bronze medal despite an injury.  Returning to her hometown she’s accepted as a hero, and she lazily tries to coast off her win for the rest of her life.  Expecting free lunches, parking in handicap spots, and treating the townsfolk like subjects is a way of life for Hope, until another up and coming gymnast arrives on the scene.  Maggie (Haley Lu Richardson) is a happy, naive, and potentially more talented gymnast than Hope, and a lot is expected of her.  When Maggie’s coach (who happened to be Hope’s old coach) dies, Hope is approached to take over and guide the next generation of Olympian.  Hope reacts with jealousy and anger as she sees the girl who could unseat her as the town’s favourite daughter.  Eventually though Hope is lured back to coach Maggie with the dangling carrot of a large cash payment.  Along the way she crosses paths with an Olympic gold medallist and former flame (Sebastian Stan) who holds a grudge that Hope’s bronze medal win took the attention away from his wins; her father (Gary Cole) who is struggling to make ends meet and keep his spoiled daughter happy; and with an instructor (Thomas Middleditch) at the local gym that she has belittled, picked on and taken for granted since childhood who has always been in love with her.


Yes, it was a fairly predictable ending as we see Hope fall and rise and fall again only to pick herself up in the final act, but it was still pretty funny at times.  A lot of the jokes were quite rude making this a movie that is “not for everyone”, but with a healthy dose of satire and black comedy, I laughed quite often.


Bottom Line: oh no, there’s graphic nudity in this film!  Sorry folks, if you were hoping to see Melissa Rauch naked those scenes use a body double.

Someone Marry Barry – ★ ★ ★ DVD Review

Product Details3.0 Stars

I was so looking forward to this one.  I always love a good comedy, and the casting of Lucy Punch and Tyler Labine really caught my eye. Labine was great in Best Man Down and of course Tucker and Dale vs Evil, but I’ve really loved Lucy Punch ever since Bad Teacher, and the first season of the British cop comedy/crime show Vexed (with Toby Stephens).  I saw the trailer for Someone Marry Barry quite a while ago, and was anxiously awaiting it to come to DVD.  As soon as it arrived in my store, I grabbed a copy for the weekend. 

Was I glad that I did?  Yes.  I’d say I did enjoy the movie, but it just wasn’t everything I hoped it would be.  I found a lot of the jokes repetitive, which kind of diluted the film.  It was still funny, but the jokes they kept falling back on seemed to be the “fart” jokes, which were funny once, but to me, really show a lack of creativity on the part of the writer.  Checking into the movie now, I see that the writer (Rob Pearlstein) also directed the film, and apparently wrote it on his own.  I’ve found that the writer/director combination doesn’t always work out well, especially for comedies.  Other than that, the story was quite entertaining, with some fairly good laughs, and fairly well written characters.

Every group of friends has a “Barry”.  The “Barry” is that friend who you’ve known since you were kids, but who just hasn’t been able to grow up and act their age.  They’re the one you have to bail out, they’re the one who gets you in trouble by association, but unfortunately you said you’d be “pals forever” so you’re stuck with them.  Desmond (Damon Wayans Jr.), Rafe (Hayes MacArthur) and Kurt (Thomas Middleditch) have a problem with their Barry (Tyler Labine) …who happens to be named Barry.  He’s gotten Desmond fired, disrupted the funeral of Rafe’s father, and is just a general pain.  Barry hasn’t grown up, and is still pulling the juvenile pranks and stunts he did in high school.  Their solution is that they need to make Barry someone else’s problem.  They need to find him a girlfriend.  After many failed attempts at setting Barry up, including speed dating, internet dating and even a mail order bride, Barry accidentally meets the girl of his dreams in Melanie Miller (Lucy Punch).  She’s just like Barry in every way.  Socially rude, loud, obnoxious, seemingly a horrible person, and therefore a perfect match.  But can the group survive with two “Barrys” among their crowd?  No.  They can’t.  Events unfold that cause them to kick both Barry and Mel out of their group, and then their lives seem to go back to normal.  Nice and boring normality.  Does the group need Barry back?  But will he come back?  And what of his “perfect” relationship with Mel that he’s also destroyed?

Someone Marry Barry is a pretty good buddy film, and a fairly light rom-com.  The humour is maybe too crude at times to really be considered a true romantic comedy.  I actually really enjoyed how the rest of the stories unfolded and the characters developed.  The acting was quite good and I enjoyed all the characters and obviously the casting.  Perhaps the only thing that should have been improved though was some of the joke writing, because Punch and Labine had a great back and forth in the cab they share at their first meeting, but that appeared to be improved.

Bottom Line: How is it that Tyler Labine has been in three films with Lucy Punch (Good Old Fashioned Orgy, Cottage Country, and now Barry) and I haven’t been in any?  Or met her…or anything… I’ll go back to writing reviews now.

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