Tag Archives: Ben Stiller

Flashback Friday: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014)

When a film franchise becomes successful, the audience becomes more discerning. Based on the previous movies in the series, we have certain expectations of where the narrative will go.

Night of the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014) is the third movie in the Night at the Museum trilogy. Following the events of Night at the Museum (2006) and Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian (2009), Larry Dailey (Ben Stiller) has to save the magic before all is lost. Along the way, he is helped by old friends Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan), and Teddy Roosevelt (the late Robin Williams in the next to last role before his untimely passing) and new friends. These new friends include Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) and Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek).

Though this movie is not as good as its predecessors, it is not all bad. It has the same energy and comedy as the first two films. But there is something missing, though I cannot put my finger on it.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Throwback Thursday: Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian (2009)

Movie sequels have a tenuous reputation. Some are worthy of the reputation created by their predecessors, others are nothing but an unnecessary retread of what came before.

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian premiered in 2009. In the sequel to Night at the Museum (2006), the audience is taken on another journey with Larry Dailey (Ben Stiller). When his friends Jedediah (Owen Wilson) and Octavius (Steve Coogan) are shipped to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C. by mistake, Larry has to find a way to return them to New York City. Along the way, he is helped by new pals Amelia Earhart (Amy Adams) and old Teddy Roosevelt (the late Robin Williams).

I liked this movie. It has the charm of the original with enough buildup to keep the overall narrative going. What makes it stand out from the first film is the subtle history lesson that the audience may or may not be aware of.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Throwback Thursday: Little Fockers (2010)

When we go, we want to know that our legacies and our families are settled for the future. But there can be a point in which this desire overwhelms our relationships and makes us forget what is important.

The 2010 film, Little Fockers, is the third movie in the Meet the Parents trilogy. After the chaos of Meet the Parents (2000) and Meet the Fockers (2004), Greg and Pam Focker (Ben Stiller and Teri Polo) have settled down into a happy life as spouses and parents. All is right with Pam’s father Jack (Robert De Niro). Before the entire family comes into town to celebrate the birthday of Greg and Pam’s twins, Jack finds out that Greg has a side gig working for a pharmaceutical company due to finance issues. Once more, Greg has to prove himself to his father-in-law that not only is he worthy, but will be able to lead the family one day.

A final movie in a film trilogy or series is supposed to once and for all, tie up the loose ends while maintaining the magic that brought audiences into the theaters. Unlike Return of the Jedi or Avengers: Endgame, which were both able to keep the narrative going and fans engaged, Little Fockers falls flat on its face. The jokes that elicited laughs in the first two movies are empty shells of what they once were. While the chemistry still exists between the actors, the honest truth is that this film illustrates once more why sequels have a bad name.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Throwback Thursday: Meet the Fockers (2004)

Meeting one’s potential or future in-laws can be a harrowing experience. You want to be yourself, but you also want to prove that you are the right person for their child.

The 2004 film, Meet the Fockers is the sequel to Meet the Parents (2000). Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) are engaged. Now that they have cleared the hurdle of her parents, Jack (Robert De Niro) and Dina (Blythe Danner), the next step is his parents. Compared to the straight laced, middle of the road Byrnes, Bernie and Rozalin Focker (Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand) are very out there. Can these two very different set of parents find a middle ground and ensure that their children become Mr. and Mrs.?

Like it’s predecessor, this film is a satire. The comedy comes from the fact that the Fockers are a complete 180 from the Byrnes. My problem is that while it is funny, it relies a little too heavily on Jewish stereotypes when it comes to Hoffman’s and Streisand’s characters. While the cast is top notch, the script does not match the on-screen talent.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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Flashback Friday-Mystery Men (1999)

Sometimes superhero movies take themselves a little too seriously.

In 1999, the genre was given the satirical treatment in the form of Mystery Men.

When the local superhero Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) is captured by the local super villain Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), it’s up to a ragtag group of superhero wannabes to save the day. Led by Furious (Ben Stiller), the group includes Bowler (Janeane Garofalo) and Blue Raja (Hank Azaria), this bunch of second-rate superheroes must band together to save their city and their superhero from destruction.

As I recall, what I enjoyed about this movie is not the DC, Marvel Comics type movie that many fans of the superhero and comic book genre have come to expect. The film had an underbelly of dark satire that was unique to the genre and made the audience laugh.

And of course, what a late 1990’s movie without the requisite theme song sung by Smashmouth?

I recommend it.

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Throwback Thursday-Reality Bites (1994)

Life immediately after college is often very confusing. The expectation is to get a job, eventually settle down, maybe a have a kid or two and lead a generally quiet life But what happens when this expectation does not meet reality?

In the 1994 film, Reality Bites , Lelaina (Winona Ryder) creates a mockumentary of her post college experience. Her best friend, Troy (Ethan Hawke) is a musician who has lost several minimum wage jobs. Her other friends, Vickie (Janeane Garofalo) and Sammy (Steve Zahn) are grappling with their own issues. Vickie is anticipating the results of an AIDS test while Sammy is in the closet. Then, along comes Michael (Ben Stiller), who offers Lelaina a career making opportunity. Now she must choose not only the life she wants, but the man she wants in her life.

I have two thoughts on this movie. The first is that the feelings and experiences of the characters feel very universal. Those of us who do complete college most often come out of it with a question what to do with our lives. Without the structure we have had for the last two decades, our life feels incomplete. But on the other hand, this movie is very Gen-X specific and it does feel a little dated.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Throwback Thursday-Keeping The Faith (2000)

There is an old joke: a Rabbi and a Priest walk into a bar…..

Let’s tweak that scenario a little. Two boys who are best friends, decide as adults to join the religious leadership of their respective religions, one Jewish and one Christian. What happens when the girl next door who left town 20 years agoย  comes back and causes the men to think that they have made the wrong career choice?

This is Keeping The Faith.

Jake (Ben Stiller) and Brian (Edward Norton) have been friends since childhood. Anna (Jenna Elfman) was the third musketeer in their childhood adventures. But she moved away years ago.ย  Jake’s chosen profession is that of Rabbi, Brian is a Priest. Anna comes back to New York for work and is not the young girl Jake and Brian remember.

Celibacy is one of the requirement’s Brian’s profession. Marrying a Jewish woman is a requirement for Jake’s profession. While they begin to question their career choices in favor of a possible romance with Anna, both menย  are simultaneously try to shake the dust off their faiths.

I like this movie. It’s a New York City kind of movie, which is never a bad thing in my eyes. It’s also not a typical rom-com. It’s funny and enjoyable without hitting the moviegoer over the head.

I recommend it.

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