I’ve only done this once before, but spare time has been limited and I didn’t have much to say about these three films — nothing earth-shattering, at least.
DOPE (2015, Rick Famuyiwa): 4/10
Disappointing as hell: not nearly as funny as it thinks it is, and pretty much a ripoff of many movies it was clearly influenced by. And not that it isn’t a good idea to make a film about race and class in America that focuses on the education system and college aspirations, but there’s certainly no need to turn it into a preachy sermon at the end, with characters directly addressing the screen. Spike Lee can get away with it in DO THE RIGHT THING when the device is integrated into the aesthetics, but Famuyiwa just turns it into a soapbox. Lastly, Shameik Moore is quite good in the lead role, but physically he’s kind of big and muscular, which doesn’t jibe with his nerdy character who is a prime bully target at school.
THE OVERNIGHT (2015, Patrick Brice): 7/10
Sincerely funny, and supremely confident in its storytelling and tone. Adam Scott is terrific, but the other three cast members are just as good: Schilling and Godrèche balance humor with dramatic realism very well, and Schwartzman nearly runs away with the show. It doesn’t really have much to say about marriage or middle class L.A. yuppies that hasn’t been said by any number of indies over the last decade, especially anything with a Duplass in it, but it still works and it has a nice ending too, when a worse one was becoming a real threat.
ANT-MAN (2015, Peyton Reed): 5/10
Finally gets decent in the last 20 minutes or so, but the opening is pretty terrible and the middle section is kind of a drag. Doesn’t get enough mileage out of the premise (only two brief sequences, the bathtub and the train set, are inspired) and forgets how good Paul Rudd usually is. He’s trapped here into just doing a Marvel character. Michael Peña is funny in a role similar to his OBSERVE & REPORT performance, but Michael Douglas is a little lost — usually I love him but here he seems not to really get some of his own lines, and doesn’t relish the role like he would have in the ’90s. And LOST’s Evangeline Lilly is mired in a god-awful wig and a hapless sidekick role. Definitely a few good jokes here and there, and not at all unwatchable, but not as good as GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, which itself wasn’t as good as IRON MAN. Diminishing returns for the MCU these days.