OUR VISITS WERE INFREQUENT BECAUSE HE lived out of state. We grew up together, though he was several years older than me. When I was a small kid, he would make me laugh with his offbeat humor. I remember his laugh; it would come out of his mouth with a blast, close to an octave higher than his speaking voice. In a large gathering, his laugh was always distinguishable among the voices. Through the decades, my humor evolved like most other kids growing up. The jokes that were told back in elementary school, if I were to hear them now, I would not find most of them funny. As they say, there is such a thing as kid’s humor. Let me ask you, how many kids do you know that if you say the child’s name for digestive waste will burst out laughing? There is a handful I know presently that laugh at the word being spoken. If I give it thought, the type of humor I enjoy most of the time is satirical and deadpan absurd. I had a relative who was the best when delivering satirical punchlines/comments. No disrespect to any comics out there, but those that use foul language to make a joke, I do not find funny. IN MY ADULT YEARS, WHEN I have gotten together with the out of towner, I realized his humor never evolved. It was the same type of jokes that he told when I was a little kid, which I no longer found funny. Weirdly, I also find them annoying now. Part of the issue I believe is due to him never taking a break from trying to be funny. I like a good joke and a laugh like anyone else, but I do not want the entire conversation to be filled with joke after joke; I enjoy talking back and forth about current news, feelings, and an assortment of other topics. The out of towner never gives a serious answer to a legitimate question; it is so irritating. I do not want someone to answer my question with a question or to make a joke about everything I ask them. For example, “How is you family?” He could not say “fine” or “doing well.” The answer would be some obtuse comment or pretend he does not know what I am talking about. When I would push back to try and get a serious answer to my question, he still would not offer one. I found our visits becoming strained; there was nothing new to talk about with him. This is the same feeling I had while watching the latest installment of this action, comedy franchise. THOUGH THEIR BODIES ARE OVER TEN years older, the crew from the original movie are back with the same type of pranks. With Johnny Knoxville (Bad Grandpa, The Ringer), Steve-O (Guest House, Sunset Society), Chris Pontius (Charlie’s Angels: Full throttle, Action Point), Dave England (The Bet) and Ehren McGhehey (All Hell Breaks Loose, Portlandia-TV); I used to find this crew’s antics amusing. Granted, there is that aspect of unbelievability that can draw in the viewer; however, with this picture I had a mixture of disgust and boredom part of the time. There were a couple of stunts that were amusing; but most of them seemed to have been created for the cast to be at full exposure and I do mean full exposure. I will say that one can see the deep level of friendship/camaraderie the cast has for each other. It is admirable, but I had to wonder if some of the stunts were designed to test that bond between them because they seemed mean spirited to me. If you are a fan of these films, then you probably want to see this latest one. I felt there was nothing new that surprised me; it only made me uncomfortable.
There was only one set of grandparents by the time I was born. My grandfather was a quiet, religious man who would always play checkers with me whenever I asked him. When I think about my grandmother; I remember watching her cook or bake, barely using any measuring cups or spoons. Some of you will think this is an odd memory, but I cannot think of one time where I saw my grandmother sitting on a sofa. She would always sit in a chair, letting anyone who wanted to relax to take the couch. The two of them were everything one would want in a grandparent. They never yelled or disciplined any of their grandchildren; the closest they came would be to stare at one of us with a short shake of their head. Compared to 86 year old Irving Zisman, played by Johnny Knoxville (The Last Stand, The Ringer) in this comedy, my grandparents were living in a coma. When Irving’s daughter was sentenced to prison; it was up to him to drive his 8 year old grandson Billy, played by Jackson Nicoll (The Fighter, Arthur), cross country to be with his father. Along the way Irving exposed his grandson to people and places that were never mentioned in any child rearing manuals. If you dislike practical jokes, chances are you will not like this film that sprung out of the Jackass film franchise. After the first Jackass film, I thought the rest went quickly downhill. The thing I liked about this crazy movie was the fact it had a story outline and it stayed with it. Johnny was impressive in his ability to stay in character, never laughing at the wild scenes he created along with the other writers. I thought Jackson did a wonderful job with the way he used his sad eyes and face of resignation at the right times. There were some scenes that were so outrageous I could not help but wonder if the innocent bystanders actually knew what was going on. Having seen the trailers for some time now, I was worried they showed the best parts of the movie. They did take a little of the surprise away from me, but most of the scenes still had a little extra oomph to offer in this funny film. I actually laughed out loud during several episodes. Almost every family has one relative who is considered the crazy or wild one. It is all relative though when you stack them up against Irving Zisman.
2 3/4 stars
He wasn’t lying when he said he would be back. When Arnold Schwarzenegger (True Lies, Predator) first came on the movie scene he was an imposing figure. The roles Arnold had were not meant to stretch him as an actor; he was not known for his great acting skills. He was more the cartoon super hero type, who had some iconic lines that have stayed through a generation of moviegoers. With a freshened face, older and slower, this Arnold realized he could not do the same stunts of yesteryear. And that was exactly the reason I enjoyed this action film. It took him longer to recover from a fall as he complained of being tired. In fact, he had to take out a pair of glasses to read a report. Arnold was Sheriff Ray Owens of Sommerton Junction. His town was the last stop before the Mexican border and Sheriff Owens was the FBI’s last hope to stop Mexican drug cartel leader Gabriel Cortez, played by Eduardo Noriega (The Devil’s Backbone, The Method). With Johnny Knoxville (Jackass franchise, The Ringer) and Luis Guzman (Anger Management, Boogie Nights) as the sheriff’s deputies Lewis Dinkum and Mike Figuerola, there was a comic streak thrown into the scenes. It was because of the comedy I felt Forest Whitaker (Phone Booth, The Last King of Scotland) was hired as Agent John Bannister. The movie studio needed someone with heavier acting credentials. All aspects of this movie were geared with Arnold in mind. Yes, there was a body double for him on the tougher physical stunts while the writers tried to give Arnold new clever, memorable lines to say. I enjoyed this fast paced movie more than I thought I would and part of the reason was due to feeling nostalgic with seeing Arnold on the big screen. Not that I was a big fan of his, but I always knew what I would get out of his movies–over the top fight scenes, fun lines and Arnold as the good guy. He was just a little slower and did not want to stay out late. Violent scenes with blood.
2 2/3 stars