Terry Crews

Street Kings

Year: 2008
Directed By: David Ayers
Written By: James Ellroy, Kurt Wimmer, and Jamie Moss

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie came out at just the right time to get my attention. My favorite TV show of all time, The Shield, aired its final season in the fall of 2008. When this movie came out in the spring of 08 I was eagerly waiting to see how it all finished up. This movie was very similar and gave me a dirty cop fix when I was itching for some corrupt action.

Keanu Reeves played the Vic Mackey part in this movie and the movie starts right off trying to establish him as this anti hero we see so often in television. The guy has issues. He gets out of bed fully clothed, pukes a little bit, and then cleans his gun before hitting the liquor store. Then it’s straight to the streets to do the job. He’s only a little boozed up but good to go with his street talk as he enters the dirty deals that go on late in the streets. He has no problem taking an ass whooping in order to set up the bad guys. When he goes to take care of business the action doesn’t disappoint as he Vic Mackey’s the bad guys and the crime scene. Maybe this guy has unorthodox methods, maybe he drinks too many of those tiny booze bottles, but when women are trapped in closets he’s the one whose going to save them.

I love these dirty cop stories but they are all too similar more often than not. Bad cop sets up the bad guys, kills them all, plants evidence, and saves the innocence. In the aftermath there are investigations and eventually some larger conspiracy going on. The irony is that bad cop isn’t bad enough to consider joining the conspiracy and he becomes determined to bring the whole thing down. I’m always pulling for the bad cop. What they do is wrong, but who among us wouldn’t do the same thing? It’s easy to say you would always do the right thing but at one point bad cop was probably a good guy too. He started out as a good guy and got hardened by the realities of the job. After so many years on the job he’s just out to cut through all the red tape and do what needs to be done.

Terry Crews plays the inevitable Serpico good cop who still cares, or is out for revenge. It hardly matters which when he’s snitching on our anti-hero. He seems to be doing pretty good for a cop given he’s driving a Cadillac SUV, but he doesn’t make it long. As Ice Cube once said “snitches get stitches,” or in this case about a thousand bullets to the chest. Nevertheless this murder doesn’t fly with bad cop Keanu, and there’s your larger conspiracy. I think it’s a bit strange that Keanu, as the best bad cop, wouldn’t have been involved in this larger conspiracy of bad cops.

Forest Whitaker is fantastic in this movie. I specifically like it because he plays a role that is the complete opposite of the role he played on The Shield. He was a real badass on The Shield, an Internal Affairs detective out to get Vic Mackey and he had us all scared for a while. It was season 5 and Vic was really going down, no way he could get out from under Forest Whitaker. As bad ass as he was though, he couldn’t catch Vic. He got to play the bad cop in this movie and that’s one of the things I really liked about it. I’ve never been a fan of Forest Whitaker but I loved him on The Shield and have been more of a fan since then.

The cast in this movie is really deep and that’s another thing I like about it. Not a fan of Hugh Laurie because I never watched House but he brought some cool charisma to the cast. Chris Evans is always great and I like him partnering up with bad cop Keanu as he investigates whose really bad. Jay Mohr is great in the background as the mustache cop whose is quietly more of a bad cop than bad cop Keanu. This guy is always around, he was named Ronnie on The Shield. Cedric the Entertainer makes a cool appearance and so does Common. I have always been a fan of Common and I think he makes for a cool gangster.

As far as bad cop movies go this one isn’t really exceptional but there are a lot of things I still like about it. It makes for a cool action movie with plenty of exciting scenes. Holy shit the heat really rises quickly when Chris Evans takes one in the throat. Great shoot out scene that ends with Keanu using a refrigerator as a shield and shooting Common in the face.

Uh oh, he’s been set up, classic. Common and his associate were undercover cops? His friends are suddenly arresting him and probably taking him to his execution. They of course explain everything before killing him but of course bad cop Keanu has a cuff key. Bad cop Keanu has transitioned from bad cop into badass rogue out for justice. Ready to die in a blaze of glory in order to do whats right because doing what’s right is all he has left. Even tied at the hands and ankles he can overcome certain death. All the badass rogue needs is a shovel and a real bad guy’s gun to fall right into his hands.

I’m really impressed with Forest Whitaker going toe to toe with Neo in a fight scene. Of course badass rogue’s fight to the top leads to his mentor and boss. Oh how typical these stories go but it’s a cool fight scene and this has been a cool action movie. Even when Forest Whitaker is caught the sad reality is he is too powerful to tear down. He’s the man behind the curtain pulling the strings of Oz. Badass rogue can’t let such a man get away, he’ll never be brought to justice because justice is corrupt. Gotta kill the bad guy and I like that about this movie too. Although the movie should end with his arrest I like that Hugh Laurie is able to save him in the end.

This is the exact movie that gets lost in the library of time. Nothing really stands out about it and not many people watched it. It’s a cool movie though and I stand by it. It may be typical but sometimes you just need to sit back and watch a little action. This is a good movie for that. I think it is worth your time to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stripes (1981)

Draft Day

Year: 2014
Directed By: Ivan Reitman
Written By: Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have plenty of passions, but not many that run as deep as my passion for the NFL. Like any NFL fan, one of my favorite days of the year is here. The NFL Draft, for many of us, offers some of the most exciting days of the year. An event all fans spend weeks and months anticipating and putting so much hope into. What makes it all so exciting it that despite what all the “experts” say in the days leading up to it, when the clock starts nobody knows what will happen. There are always surprises on draft day and it’s a day during the year when anything can happen. It just so happens to be a happy coincidence that this year there is a corresponding movie I can review in correlation with the magical day, which is actually a three day event. I liked this movie enough to add it to our collection and write about it so what better opportunity than on the day of?

This movie is a bit of a stretch for a football fan but I tend to overlook the exaggerated nature of how it portrays the draft because there is so much to like about it. Number one, it’s about the Browns. I’m not a Browns fan, but I specifically like Browns fans. I have been watching the NFL for over ten years now and only once have I ever seen that team have a good season. I am from the south, where by all obvious reasons I should never come across fans of such a pathetic franchise hundreds of miles away. Yet, despite this, I find that I run into them all the time. If I lived in a place like Cleveland, or even just in Ohio or the surrounding states it would make sense but I don’t. When I meet Browns fans I feel like it says something about the character of the person. Browns fans are loyal; they keep pulling for their team despite the lack of success. I once hired a guy with no qualifications and a piss poor track record simply because he was a Browns fan. Years later that man still works for me and despite everything he does a damn good job and I enjoy working with him. The Browns may suck, but their fans are the real deal. For anybody that doesn’t know, the Browns are legit, and despite their lack of success they are a significant franchise with passionate fans.

One of the things that make the draft so interesting is the desperate decisions some teams will make when they are on the clock and their options are limited. These teams will do the craziest things for unproven players with no idea how they will transition to the next level. Another news flash for people who don’t know, the analyst don’t know anything either. Despite all the footage they watch and the time they put into it they’re guessing, and when you bank on a guess you are making a critical mistake. See, that’s what makes football so much fun, because nobody really knows. It’s a never ending game of possibility, where nobody really knows what will happen and all the know-it-all’s can do nothing but sit there and watch while history unfolds. Sometimes they are right but it’s always just a guessing game and more often than not it’s just a surprise. Surprises can make life interesting. For me, the surprises in football make it so.

This movie showcases those surprises, and it grasps all the intensity involved. The draft is intense because the clock is ticking and nobody knows what will happen next. As this movie shows, we don’t know what to expect next even in a movie about the draft. As the GM of the Browns Kevin Costner is holding all the cards and nobody knows what he is laying down until all the chips are accounted for. I think the surprises in this movie do the draft justice; it’s not accurate because some of the trades are far too outlandish to ever happen. No NFL team would ever trade so many number one picks, or number two picks for that matter. It’s not that big of a deal when the movie continues to be fun despite the exaggeration though.

This movie is also good for being user friendly to non-football fans. I like the way it shows all the stadiums when teams are introduced and it puts the team name on the screen as well. Not only that but if you had never seen a football game in your life I think after seeing this movie you would at least understand how the NFL draft worked. It would give you unrealistic expectations about what kind of trades might happen on draft day but at least you would know what was going on. There is a lot of silly crap in this movie that I excuse in the scope of it being about football but it does bring the movie down. The mother’s determination to give her son a hard time on the day of the draft is ridiculous, especially for a woman who lived a football life. Not only that but of all days GM Costner also needs another issue to stress about with his girlfriend finding out she is pregnant. Those little unnecessary elements of drama typically annoy me but I overlook them in this case.

I really like the cast of this film. The feel good sports role has become a pinch hitter for Kevin Costner these days when he isn’t pulling a Liam Neeson move and making silly action movies. He’s great in this kind of part though, a believable guy who people like to like. I think he fits the bill for a NFL GM under the pressure of making his boss, coaches, and fans happy all at the same time. I love Denis Leary as the football coach. I am a big fan of Leary and specifically think the energy he brings to all of his roles is perfect for the part of a NFL coach. I’ve never been a big fan of Jennifer Garner but find her surprisingly good in this movie. She plays a no nonsense football woman who doesn’t sully the film with unnecessary drama over being pregnant. This is easily one of my favorite performances from an actress I’ve never been too high on. I mentioned in our review of Monster’s Ball that I thought Sean Combs/Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddy/whatever he is calling himself these days, had a lot to offer an actor. I think this role is too easy for a guy like him but he is perfectly suited for the role of sports agent.  I think he is in fact an outstanding actor when given the opportunity and is probably capable of much more.

In the role of Vontae Mack they cast Chadwick Boseman who is an up and coming actor who will soon be a household name. I liked him in this movie but I am more interested in his future as an actor. Boseman will be seen on screen next summer in Captain America: Civil War when Marvel introduces a new character to their universe. Boseman is signed on to play Black Panther for Marvel. We will first see him in Cap 3 which will follow the Marvel Civil War storyline before he gets his own stand alone film in the years that follow. As a side note, another exciting character introduced in that same film will be a brand new Spiderman created by Marvel in conjunction with Sony.

No football movie is legit without a few cameos from real life football personalities and this movie doesn’t short change us in that regard. They have all the big time people on hand in this movie making cameos. Former players like Deion Sanders and Ray Lewis make cameos as themselves and current player Arian Foster actually plays a part in the movie as the running back and his father is played by former player turned actor Terry Crews. Last but not least, this movie about the Browns does feature a cameo from the franchise’s most famous player, Jim Brown.  “Draft specialists” like Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock make cameos to play their guessing games in the movie, like they do in real life. Other notable cameos from big time NFL people are Commissioner Rodger Goddell, Super Bowl winning coach turned analyst Jon Gruden, and one of my personal heroes, sport writer Mike Florio. I don’t actually recall seeing Florio in the movie but noticed his name in the credits and feel compelled to mention him. For football fans who don’t know, ProFootballTalk.com is Florio’s site and I have relied on it for the majority of my NFL info for years now. Great writer with an impressive knowledge of the game and interesting take on NFL news.

This film is rated R and I believe that to specifically be for a single use of the F word. There is some language throughout but hardly enough to garner an R rating, until that one particular universal obscenity near the end of the movie. This makes no matter to me but I find it a bit asinine. I would rather the film be rated R and stay true to the football world than be a watered down version of the real thing. This is still a watered down version of the real thing in many cases though but I still prefer it to have the edge that little bit of profanity gives it.

I overlook quite a bit in this movie simply because it centers on something I’m always excited about. That being said I’ll admit I did not expect to like it and found it to be a pleasant surprise. This is the kind of feel good movie that is perfect to kill time with and I would recommend it to anybody. If you are a football fan it’s right up your alley but even for people who don’t watch football I think there is a lot to like about this one. This movie is easily worth anybody’s time. Although, don’t let it give you false ideas about the Browns. I may love the people that pull for them but their team does them no favors and regularly blunders in the draft. This year they have two first round picks but they had two picks last year too and spent one of them on a QB everyone was steering clear of and ended up in rehab within the year. The problem with the Browns starts and stops with management. There is no consistency and too much impatience. Nevertheless that is a tangent better left alone. Check out this movie if you get a chance but, more importantly, make sure to tune in tonight for the real action.

Balls of Fury

Year: 2007
Directed By: Robert Ben Garant
Written By: Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a stupid movie, and maybe it doesn’t really belong in the collection but I like it all the same.  It’s dumb but it has its moments and I like the Enter the Dragon theme.  Inserting Ping-Pong into that scenario is silly enough to make everyone laugh and the Reno 911 guys got enough funny people together to make it work, sort of. I wouldn’t really call this a successful movie by any means but I wouldn’t call it a complete failure either.

I have always thought Reno 911 was a very funny show, and I think Thomas Lennon is great in everything he does.  Whether he is the short short wearing LT. Dangle or the uber-German ping pong player we see in this film he is always funny. I am a great fan of Christopher Walken, and when it comes to films like this I think we have to appreciate his effort to keep making movies, he is nearly 70 years old now.  We should all be grateful he continues to share his talent with us when he could have retired years ago.  I am not a fan of George Lopez but he isn’t that bad here, he has a couple of jokes worth hearing.  Dan Fogler has his moments and plenty of opportunities to be funny, but he tends to be stupid as often as he is funny. However, I do think that when you make that decision during production, to make that guy the star of your film, you have already made a mistake. Robert Ben Garant should have played the part himself, it would have made a funnier movie.  Many great cameos here by really funny people like David Koechner, Diedrich Bader, Kerri Kenney, Patton Oswald, and Aisha Tyler. Also, nobody looks more official in military garb than Robert Patrick, well cast as the father. Terry Crews as Freddy Fingers is short lived but awesome.

I like this movie but it’s not one I would recommend heavily because it is a stupid movie.  Somewhat of a guilty pleasure I suppose, and because I saw it around the height of a Bruce Lee phase.  Don’t go out of your way to see this one but don’t run away from it if you catch it channel surfing.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ugh, I usually really find humor in movies like this one, but I couldn’t hate this one more. I have tried and tried to find humor in it, but every time I watch it I find it less funny than the previous time. I hate this movie so much that I don’t even want to waste any time writing about this. Ryan loves it, I don’t know why….but I seriously don’t recommend it. Don’t do it!

NEXT MOVIE: Basic Instinct (1992)