Friday, May 8, 2020

Worth Mentioning - Let Your Freak Flag Fly

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Action, comedy, romance, and thrills. 


Michael Dowse is twenty years and several films into his directorial career. I have previously seen and enjoyed his 2011 '80s comedy Take Me Home Tonight, and after his watching his latest film, the Netflix release Coffee & Kareem, I'm feeling the need to go back and watch everything Dowse has directed.

Scripted by Shane Mack, earning his first feature writing credit, Coffee & Kareem stars Ed Helms as Coffee, a character who - aside from the fact that he's a Detroit cop - is a very typical Ed Helms character; a hapless, mild-mannered fellow who loves Hall & Oates. Coffee is dating Vanessa Manning (Taraji P. Henson), and the trouble begins when Vanessa's twelve-year-old son Kareem (Terrence Little Gardenhigh) catches a glimpse of Coffee and Vanessa having sex one day. Deciding that if Coffee is going to screw his mom, he's going to screw his life, Kareem seeks out local gang member Orlando Johnson (RonReaco Lee) in hopes that Orlando will mess Coffee up, maybe paralyze him from the waist down. But when Kareem brings an unwitting Coffee to Orlando, they witness one of the gangster's associates execute a corrupt police officer... so not only does the gang go after Coffee and Kareem, so do the corrupt cops that Coffee has been unknowingly working with.

That's an old school action comedy set-up, especially since Coffee and Kareem are a pairing of white and African American characters, much like Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hrs. And Coffee & Kareem does have plenty of action in it, including shootouts and chases, and of course some explosions. It can get violent and bloody, and there's one really awesome gore effect. But where the film really shines is in the comedy department. This movie is hilarious, mainly due to how vulgar and inappropriate it is. Kareem is one of the most foul-mouthed characters you could find outside of a Kevin Smith movie, and he's only twelve.

Gardenhigh turns in a jaw-dropping performance as his character, who is simultaneously appalling and highly amusing. Henson and Lee do well in their roles, as do Andrew Bachelor and William "Big Sleeps" Stewart as Orlando's associates. David Alan Grier has some very funny lines as police captain Hill, Betty Gilpin is quite memorable as Detective Watts, and Ed Helms is reliably Ed Helms.

I found Coffee & Kareem to be a blast to sit through, and so did the friends I watched it with. One of them was blog contributor Priscilla, who had no interest in this movie before it started playing, but ended up loving it so much that she was asking for a sequel as soon as the end credits started rolling. 


A thriller along the lines of something you'd see on the Lifetime channel, but with the added bonus of nudity, Betrayal of the Dove offers the chance to see Helen Slater, Billy Zane, Kelly LeBrock, Alan Thicke, Harvey Korman, and David L. Lander share the screen in a tale of murder and, as the title indicates, betrayal. And while it took me a long time to find out about this movie, once I knew about it there's no way I could pass up the chance to watch Billie Jean interact with the likes of Squiggy and the dad from Growing Pains. As someone on IMDb poetically said, this movie features a "sex scene where The Phantom makes love with Supergirl under the moonlight." That's must-see material as far as I'm concerned!

Slater's character here isn't Supergirl, it's Ellie West, who has recently become separated from her husband Jack (Thicke), the father of her young daughter Autumn (Heather Lind). Although her boss Sid (Korman) wants Ellie to go out with his nephew Norman (Lander), she instead falls for the doctor who performs her tonsillectomy, Jesse Peter (Zane) - who used to date her best friend Una (LeBrock). Soon it becomes clear that someone in this bunch has betrayed Ellie for some reason, because there are some obvious attempts on her life. Who would want Ellie dead, and why? I found the mystery that plays out here, which was crafted by writers Robby Benson and Karla DeVito, to be very engaging.

It's interesting to see Zane and Thicke playing against type here - Zane usually gives off a sleazy villain vibe, but here he's the nice doctor who falls in love with Ellie, while Thicke plays Jack as a total scumbag and says words you never would have heard him say on Growing Pains. It's also a lot of fun to watch Lander play Norman, a nebbish lawyer who sneezes when he's nervous. Ellie writes him off at first, she doesn't want anything to do with this guy, but Norman really proves himself to be someone special by the end of the film. I loved watching Lander as Squiggy when I was a kid (I really need to revisit Laverne & Shirley, it's been too long), and I enjoyed seeing him play something of a hero in this.

Directed by Strathford Hamilton, Betrayal of the Dove is a popcorn thriller worth checking out if you're ever in the mood to watch something Lifetime-esque, but with bare breasts and F-bombs, or if you're a fan of any of the cast members.


The Brazilian production Rich in Love (or Ricos de Amor) tells a story that I have seen brought to the screen many times before, but I have to admit that I have never seen it as a Brazilian movie built around a tomato empire before. The familiar story is that of an over-privileged playboy man-child realizing that he needs to grow up and take responsibility in life, and finding love along the way.

Directed by Bruno Garotti, who also wrote the script with Sylvio Gonçalves, the film stars Danilo Mesquita as Teto, sole heir to the tomato company run by his father Teodoro (Ernani Moraes). Teto is treated like a prince in the small country town his mansion home is located in, and has slept with nearly every woman in the town. His best friend is Igor (Jaffar Bambirra), the son of his housekeeper, a guy who wants to go off to college in Rio and make something of himself. Inspired by Igor, and by a chance encounter with a strong, opinionated woman named Paula (Giovanna Lancellotti), a med student who's aiming to get a hospital residency in Rio, Teto decides that he doesn't want to have everything in life handed to him anymore. He wants to work for things and earn them. So he comes up with a plan that involves some deception.

Teto and Igor both enroll in a training program for a job in the tomato company at the company's Rio headquarters. At the end of the program, one of the trainees will be awarded with a junior executive job. To make sure he doesn't get special treatment as the owner's son, Teto pretends to be Igor in the program, with Igor pretending to be him.

This being a romantic comedy, the romance that begins to develop between Teto and Paula once they cross paths again in Rio is complicated by the fact that he hides his status as the rich son of a tomato king; he tells her he's the poor son of the tomato farm's caretaker. So of course that dishonesty is going to cause some trouble down the line.

Mesquita, Lancellotti, and Bambirra are all very likeable in their roles, and I appreciated just how strong-minded the Paula character was. The three leads get some good support from Lellê as Monique, the former junior executive who is now caring for her ill sister in a favela; Fernanda Paes Leme as Alana, who works at the tomato company and takes an interest in Igor (who she thinks is Teto); and Marcos Oliveira as Francisco, the doorman at the place Teto and Igor stay at in Rio. Francisco gets pulled into the guys' schemes when he has to pretend to be Teto's uncle to Paula, and to be Igor-Teto's father to Alana. Oliveira was actually my favorite thing about the movie, as I found his performance to be very amusing.

There isn't much about Rich in Love that's especially original, but it's a fun, charming, and interesting new version of an old story.

EASY A (2010)

Directed by Will Gluck from a screenplay by Bert V. Royal, Easy A was a critical and financial success when it was released in 2010, and by now it's being elevated to beloved teen comedy classic status. I'm late to the party. This isn't a movie I've been loving for ten years, it's a movie I have only just watched for the first time. Knowing where lead actress Emma Stone would go from here, it's interesting to look back and see this early entry in her filmography. Now we know what to expect from Stone; of course she does a great job in her role, of course she's funny and charming. But at the time when this movie was being released, her performance was a revelation, her chance to show everyone what she could do.

Stone plays high school student Olive Penderghast, who avoids a weekend camping trip with the family of her friend Rhiannon (Aly Michalka) by lying to her and saying she has a date with a college guy. There is no college guy, Olive spends the weekend just hanging out in her home. When Olive and Rhiannon see each other again on the next school day, Rhiannon kind of pushes Olive into admitting she lost her virginity to this fictional college guy. Soon the gossip about Olive's lost virginity has spread through the whole school - and classmate Brandon (Dan Byrd), who gets bullied for being gay, sees this as an opportunity to get the bullies to stop picking on him. He asks Olive to tell another lie about sex: convince the other students in their school that she and Brandon had sex.

From there Olive's school year turns into a total mess, because soon everyone believes that she's having sex with nearly every guy who crosses her path and is the "dirtiest skank" ever. Students like the devoutly religious Marianne (Amanda Bynes, before her troubles were public knowledge) judge her harshly, put-upon students like Brandon ask her to lie about sexual escapades to elevate their status, teachers played by Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow get mixed up in it all, and Olive just wishes she could pursue a relationship with her longtime crush Todd (Penn Badgley). There are also some very amusing scenes with Olive's parents, played by Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci, and her adopted brother Chip (Bryce Clyde Jenkins).

I can see why Easy A became so popular, as it is a really fun movie that has a clear appreciation for the teen comedies that preceded it in the '80s. I might not ever consider it a beloved classic, but I enjoyed it.

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