Not the same ‘Vacation’

Is America ready for another Griswold adventure? Does America even remember who the Griswolds are? Let’s take a look at five questions for Hollywood’s latest reboot, “Vacation.”

What’s it about?

It’s been 18 years since the last Griswold family vacation (“Vegas Vacation”) and now it’s time for a grownup Rusty (Ed Helms) to follow in his dad’s footsteps. In an effort to bring his family closer together and relive his childhood experience, he persuades his wife Debbie (Christina Applegate) and their two sons to pack up the car and go on a road trip to Walley World.

Another reboot?

Yes, and yet another one that doesn’t do right by the original. For all the cluelessness exhibited by the original family of Clark, Ellen, Rusty and Audrey, there was never any doubt that despite their bickering and dysfunction, they loved each other unconditionally. In this version, Rusty is more or less an idiot but can’t pull off the act like Chevy Chase could. Debbie is a former slut and the younger son bullies the older son nonstop for no reason except to have a young kid say swear words.

“Vacation” succumbs to contemporary ideas of comedy: bathroom humor, sexual jokes and violence. Gags with pubic hair, puke and human feces can be effective in other films (or can they?) but are cheap and lowbrow. They don’t belong in a film about the Griswolds.

I grew up with a dad like Clark Griswold who’d do anything to make his family happy, so the original “Vacation” films hit home for me. I was that bratty son, much like Rusty, who complained aloud about having to spend so much time with his parents but in the end cherished many moments we shared. This latest trip lacks the innocence and heart that made the original films so personally memorable.

vacation1Is it funny?

While this “Vacation” lacks the special qualities of the previous films, it does induce some laughs among its misses. There are tons of jokes and the hit rate is about 50 percent. Helms especially gives it his all and Applegate is a trooper as always. Guest star Chris Hemsworth is also surprisingly funny as the brother-in-law who loves to show off Thor’s hammer, if you know what I mean. But again, the humor is cheap and you almost feel embarrassed for laughing when you do.

Would you watch these Griswolds go on another vacation?

Of course. I love the “family vacation from hell” concept of the films and would love to watch this group on another adventure. It would be even cooler if they kept recasting the children as the previous films did. Just make sure to get the tone right next time.

vacation2How would you rank the “Vacation” films?

1) “Vegas Vacation” – I love Vegas and I especially loved Rusty’s alter ego Nick Pappagiorgio. I still throw that name around to this day.

2) “Vacation” (1983) – The one that started it all.

3) “European Vacation” – I still say “Big Ben, Parliament” whenever driving in a circle.

4) “Vacation” (2015) – Lacks the heart, but still has laughs.

5) “Christmas Vacation” – Probably the most played on TV but my least favorite.

 

‘Ant-Man’ – Tiny hero, huge laughs

To paraphrase male model extraordinaire Derek Zoolander, “What is this? A movie made for ants?!”

No, it’s a movie made for not just comic book fans, but also all movie fans in general. Marvel continues to bring on the hits with its latest superhero film.

Here are five questions for “Ant-Man.”

What’s it about?

Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a good guy with a bad past. Just released from prison for a modern Robin Hood type crime, he’s looking for a fresh start to life, including getting close to his young daughter. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) is a brilliant scientist who invented a formula with the ability to shrink human atoms to create powerful, tiny soldiers. When his former protégé Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) steals his technology to create his own super suit, Pym and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) recruit Scott to don his old suit to prevent Cross from selling his formula to the bad guys.

How’s the casting?

Spot on. Rudd is the perfect choice to play Scott Lang with his affable, likable personality who can get away with sarcastic jabs with a mere wink and a nudge. Honestly, how can you not love this guy? Douglas is also perfect as his mentor and the original Ant-Man. Father time has not had any affect on his natural charisma and screen presence, and it’s scary how he more and more resembles his late father Kirk. Lilly proves that she’s grown since her days on TV’s “Lost.” And you want laughs? Michael Pena delivers them in every scene he’s in.

antman1So it’s a funny film?

Surprisingly, it’s one of the funniest films of the year. “Ant-Man” doesn’t take itself too seriously and is one of the most fun Marvel films yet. If you take the origin story of “Iron Man” and mash it with the tone of “Guardians of the Galaxy,” that’s “Ant-Man.”

How’s the action?

Awesome. I loved watching Ant-Man switching back and forth between small and big and the scenes where he’s tiny are wonderfully done. We’ve come a long way from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.” Director Peyton Reed does an amazing job of balancing the scope of the action onscreen, showing close-ups of the action when Ant-Man is tiny, then pulling back to wider shots to accurately establish the scale of what’s going on.

antman2Is there a set up for future films?

You bet. After all, Ant-Man is now a part of the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). There’s a great sequence where Ant-Man battles an Avenger that leads into the post credits scene. And yes, there are both a mid credits and post credits scenes. I can’t wait to see Ant-Man join forces with other Avengers in the upcoming Civil War storyline. His sense of humor would be a great contrast to someone like the stoic Thor. Hey, maybe he can ride on Thor’s hammer!

I was skeptical when Marvel first announced it would be introducing Ant-Man into the MCU but now he’s one of my favorite characters and I want more. Now.

 

Guide to Saturday’s Korean Festival

I’m on the board of the Hawaii Korean Chamber of Commerce, which is putting on Saturday’s Korean Festival at Magic Island, so I may be a bit biased when I say it’s one of the most fun festivals of the year. But seriously, with more than 30,000 people expected to show up, K Fest has definitely become a hot-ticket item. And the best part? It’s free!

What are some of the highlights? Here are my insider tips.

Jajangmyeon eating contest (자장면 먹기 대회)

2 p.m.

The kimchi eating contest (1:30 p.m.) has always been one of the main highlights. In the early years, the winner walked away with a pack of Rolaids and a burning tongue (prizes have gotten better). This year there’ll also be a jajangmyeon eating contest. What’s jajangmyeon, you ask? If you’ve ever seen a K-drama, it’s that black saucy noodle dish that looks so enticingly good when the actors slurp it up. So simple, yet so mashiso! This contest is sure to be as messy as it will be fun.

jajangmyeon

Food (음식)

All day

Korean food is killer, and I’m not just talking in terms of heat. A record number of food booths will be on hand Saturday to satisfy all of your hunger needs. You’ll see traditional local favorites such as kalbi, meat juhn and mandoo, but don’t be afraid to try other treats such as ddukboki (spicy rice cakes). Oh, and if you haven’t had a chance to try the hottest new Korean fried chicken in Honolulu, Von’s Chicken will be frying up its top seller.

FullSizeRender-7• Snow Factory
• Ebenezer
• Corny Cones
• Popcorn Express
• Island Maid
• Milk Tea
• Megaload Burgers
• Little Seoul
• CMS Korean snack foods
• HCC Korean plate
chicken• Yi Shave Ice
• Hawaiian Roasted Corn/Blazin Steaks
• Von’s Chicken
• HKCC pojanmatcha
• My Bento
• Kimukatsu
• Hau Nani Shave Ice
• Waikiki Resort Hotel/Seoul Jung
• L&L Drive In

Taekwondo (태권도)

1:00, 3:30 p.m.

I’m a huge martial arts fan and as a former taekwondo student myself, I always look forward to the taekwondo exhibitions. Each year, the Taekwondo Center Honolulu and the US Taekwondo Center put on amazing displays of aerial artistry and powerful board breaking. You don’t want to miss them in action, especially the talented kids!

Cultural Exhibition (문화 전시회)

Lots of attention will be focused on the food and entertainment on stage but be sure to spend some time in the Korean Cultural Exhibition tent as well. You can check out traditional Korean costumes, calligraphy and other exhibits. There will also be lots of interactive activities for the keiki. It’s well worth your time to drop in and learn more about Korea.

mask

K-Pop

10:40 a.m. and from 7 p.m. on

What’s a Korean Festival without K-pop? Be sure to check out the evening entertainment where there will be a K-pop dance festival on the main stage starting at 7 p.m. Local dancers and K-pop enthusiasts will perform top hits from the ’90s, 2000s and now. I’m hoping to see some performances set to my personal favorite ’90s K-pop group – Fin.K.L!

For more information on the 14th Annual Korean Festival, check out their website at www.koreanfestivalhi.com.

Korean Festival 2015
Saturday, July 11
10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Magic Island

‘Magic Mike XXL’ is more like ‘Magic Mike ZZZ’

Channing Tatum and his bunch of merry men are back for another go-round in “Magic Mike XXL.” You’d think that would mean more thongs, more skin and more fun. No such luck.

Here’s five questions for “Magic Mike XXL.”

What’s it about?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. If you’re really searching for some sort of plot, it’s about a bunch of buddies rekindling their bromances on a road trip to one last male stripper convention. Yes, a male stripper convention.

I know that the screenplay isn’t the highest priority in a male stripper movie. But come on, at least try to put together a story of some sort.

Who cares about the story! Is there a lot of the hot guys dancing?

Honestly, if “Magic Mike XXL” featured a lot of smooth moves and smooth skin, I could have forgiven the lack of plot. After all, audiences are looking to films like these for pure fun and escapism. But there’s a serious lack of both flash and flesh. There are a few dance teases in the film’s first hour — one by Tatum and the other a hilarious scene with Joe Manganiello seducing a convenience store clerk by dancing to a Backstreet Boys song. Other than that, all we’re given is a bunch of scenes of the guys hanging out. You’d think that male strippers would have some wild times and lots of crazy stories to share, but these guys are amazingly dull.

Even the grand finale at the male stripper convention is a huge letdown. The dancers barely do any bump and grind and show surprisingly little skin. Tatum’s last number features more of the moves we’ve been waiting for, but even then he shares the stage with another dancer. It’s a damn shame because when Channing Tatum shows his moves … whoo boy! That white boy can dance!

mm1Is the movie taking itself too seriously?

Come on, it’s about male strippers. We should be seeing biceps. We should be seeing pecs. We should be seeing flopping appendages shoved in the faces of drunk sorority girls. Instead, we get conversations about employee health care and healing auras. This sequel missed a great opportunity to make fun of itself and the first film’s success. It is one slow, boring mess.

What’s with the DJs and why are they so important?

Do these guys really need to travel with their own DJ? Is this a vital role in warming up an audience of drunk, horny women? Apparently so. Comedian Gabriel Iglesias is back as DJ Tobias, but when he gets injured on the way to the convention, they replace him with Rome (Jada Pinkett Smith), an old friend of Magic Mike. Then at the finale, Smith gets more screen time than the dancers. Really? We’ve been waiting two hours for the hot finale and we have to suffer through Smith’s overly long intros? What makes it worse is that she outdoes her terrible overacting in the TV show “Gotham.” She’s just plain horrible in this role.

mm2So what’s the final rating for the film?

There are several options when being entertained by a stripper. You can tip them a dollar, get a lap dance or even go to the champagne room if you’re really into them. For “Magic Mike XXL,” I’m talking to the person next to me and waiting hopefully until the shift changes and a better dancer appears.

 

‘Ted 2′ is more than bear-able

It’s a comedy about a talking teddy bear. No need to read too much into it.

Her are five questions for “Ted 2.”

What’s it about?

After experiencing some marital problems, Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) and Tami-Lyn decide to salvage their relationship by having a baby. But Ted has some anatomical shortcomings, so they look into options such as artificial insemination and even adoption. That’s when Ted learns that according to the government, he’s considered property and not a person, which leads into a battle for his civil rights. Of course, Ted’s thunder buddy for life best friend John (Mark Wahlberg) is there to support him every step of the way.

How funny is it?

Comedy is such a subjective subject. What makes one person laugh out loud makes another roll their eyes. That being said, I thought it was hilarious, especially in the first half. There are some really creative and funny bits that had me rolling, most notably a conversation about cereal between Ted and a well-known action star in an inspired cameo and the genius use of the score from “Jurassic Park.” Some gags feel forced, and at times, the film feels like an episode of MacFarlane’s “The Family Guy,” where jokes are just thrown at the audience like machine gun fire, hoping that some are hits. But overall, there are more hits than misses.

ted1Should I give the sequel a chance even though I hated the original?

I had to really fight hard to get my girlfriend to watch this with me because she thought the first film was absolutely ridiculous and stupid. But as we watched, I definitely heard her laugh numerous times. When I told her after the film that I knew that she would laugh, she replied, “Yeah, only because it was so stupid!” She won’t admit to thinking the film was funny, but laughs don’t lie.

Does it have rewatch value?

I often judge the quality of a comedy by its rewatchability. There’s a reason why films like “Home Alone” and “There’s Something About Mary” are constantly replayed on cable television. We’ve heard all of the punchlines before, but we watch anyway because the films hold up. So would I watch “Ted 2” if it popped up on TV? If it was on HBO, yes. If it was on TBS, then no. Lots of the film’s identity is tied in with its language and purifying the film by editing out the swear words is really pointless. But even on a premium cable channel, I’d probably only watch the first half. The second half of the film slows down quite a bit with a civil rights trial and road trip that don’t have the same frequency of successful gags.

ted2Where does Ted rank among other bears?

5) Smokey Bear – Always teaching us how to prevent forest fires

4) Gentle Ben – A giant bear with a heart to match

3) Fozzie Bear – Waka waka waka!

2) Ted – Slacker, silly and stoned

1) Po – Come on, he knows kung fu!