‘Sex Tape’ fails to stimulate

Forgive me if I sound like a pervert but if you’re going to make a Rated R comedy called “Sex Tape,” I’m going to expect some shocking, over-the-top hilarious hijinx.

sextape1“Sex Tape” promises lots of raunch, but doesn’t deliver any of it. In fact, outside of the nude butts and some simulated sex of the two leads Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz, there really is no reason this comedy should be Rated R. The very simple premise of a married couple trying to spice up their sex life by making a sex tape sounds like it has potential, but the writing is too tame for such a bold topic.

Segel, who also co-wrote the film, appears to have been too influenced by his days on the TV show, “How I Met Your Mother,” because the entire film feels like a string of sitcom type set pieces strung together. Opportunities to shock the audience are wasted the entire way. One typical example is when the two leads visit the home of Rob Lowe, no stranger to sex tapes himself, who plays the potential future boss of Diaz’s character Annie. Sure, there’s some cocaine use and the appearance of a sex toy to earn the film’s R rating, but the majority of the laughs in this scene come from Lowe’s infatuation of Disney characters as well as Segel’s bout with an overzealous watchdog, which feels like it’s straight out of “Father of the Bride Part II.” You can’t get any more PG than that.

sextape2To their credit, Diaz and Segel give it their all and strain to make the jokes work, but there really isn’t much for them to work off of. Diaz is a comedy veteran and certainly knows how to deliver a punchline, but is unfortunately asked to do nothing more than bare her body this time. She is capable of so much more. Segel also does his best with the subpar material, but as a co-writer of the film has no one to blame except himself for the lackluster result. Even the film’s conclusion, which tries to deliver a sappy message about love, feels out of place and ineffective.

As unlikely as it sounds, it is possible to make a hard Rated R film with lots of heart. Films such as “American Pie” and even last year’s “We’re the Millers” prove that you can combine raunchy laughs with a heartfelt story. Too bad “Sex Tape” fails to stimulate.

Guide to the Korean Festival

Photo courtesy of Haein Park

Photo courtesy of Haein Park

The 13th The annual Korean Festival takes place this Saturday at Magic Island, a change from its usual Kapiolani Park location. Presented by the Hawaii Korean Chamber of Commerce, admission is free to this hugely popular cultural event that features all of your favorite Korean food, cultural exhibits and entertainment.

The purpose of the festival is to share, promote, and raise awareness of Korean culture in the community. Proceeds will fund service projects and ventures that benefit the Korean and larger community in Hawaii, including an annual scholarship fund for outstanding, civic-minded students entering or currently enrolled in college.

When: July 12, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Where: Magic Island

More Information: koreanfestivalhi.com

kfest2Festival Highlights:

-          Wide variety of popular Korean foods and products

-          Free concert by K-Pop boy band M.Pire (7:00 p.m.)

-          Traditional Korean dance performances

-          Cooking demonstrations

-          K-Pop dance groups

-          Taekwondo demonstrations (10:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.)

-          Festival prize giveaways, including a round-trip ticket to Korea on Asiana Airlines

-          Song contest (5:00 p.m.)

-          Kimchi-eating contest (2:50 p.m.)

-          Cultural exhibits

-          Traditional Korean wedding performance (2:10 p.m.)

‘Snowpiercer’ is one hell of a ride

I’m not really a fan of science fiction in general. And post-apocalyptic type films normally don’t interest me too much. But damn if I didn’t enjoy the hell out of “Snowpiercer.”

snowpiercer1Set in the near future, Earth has suffered through a terrible Ice Age and the entire planet has been covered in snow. The only survivors are passengers on a highly engineered train that is self-sufficient and designed to circle the Earth eternally, a futuristic Noah’s Ark. But as in real life, a class system exists aboard the train. The poor are segregated to the rear of the train, forced to live in filth and feed on questionable protein bars while the wealthy elite still enjoy the luxuries of life near the front.

Chris Evans (“Captain America”) plays Curtis, the reluctant leader of the poor who instigates a revolution to escape the train’s caboose and head to the front to confront its engineer and inventor Wilford (Ed Harris). He’s supported by his friend Edgar (Jamie Bell) and Tanya (Octavia Spencer), who had her child taken away by the train’s guards for unknown reasons. They also require the help of Minsoo (Song Kang Ho) and his daughter Yona (Ko Ah Sung), who are knowledgeable of the train’s security systems and can provide access to the various train cars. Tilda Swinton rounds out the impressive cast as Wilford’s spokesperson Mason.

The entire A-list cast is outstanding. Evans makes for a viable leading man and Swinton gives a bizarrely over-the-top performance that can only be recognized as genius. Other actors have tried to portray similar characters (most recently Elizabeth Banks in the “Hunger Games” series), but have come off as too cartoony and appear to be playing dress-up. Swinton, however, accessorized with thick glasses and horrible teeth, owns this role and glues your eyes to her onscreen. Song is a frequent collaborator with director Bong Joon Ho (“Memories of Murder,” “The Host”) and is not only one of Korea’s best actors, but one of the best in the world. His range is unmatched, and he more than holds his own against his Hollywood counterparts.

snowpiercer2Speaking of Bong Joon Ho, he is the true star of “Snowpiercer,” despite the big name cast. The movie’s train setting may make it seem like much can’t be done creatively but Bong succeeds in giving each individual car in the train its own stamp. The classroom, the dance club, the aquarium – each car stands out in its own unique way and it’s amazing how one car can be so different from the next. Bong also directs some visually stunning action scenes that get the adrenaline pumping while also building up suspense. Yes, he appears to be bending the laws of physics in some scenes, but those minor flaws are excusable when the execution is this excellent.

In a summer full of sequels and reboots, it is so refreshing to come across a film like “Snowpiercer.” It demands to be seen on the big screen, so go and check it out if you’ve had enough of the typical Hollywood brainless summer fodder.

 

‘Tammy’ falls flat

Why does Melissa McCarthy hate herself so much? There’s no doubt after her star-making supporting role in “Bridesmaids” that she definitely has the comic talent to be a hilarious leading lady, but why does she make her characters so difficult to like? In “Identity Thief” and “The Heat” McCarthy played pretty much the same character – a lonely woman who’s rude, unkempt and uncouth, but midway through the film reveals a softer side that’s supposed to make you feel sorry for her and tolerate her obnoxious behavior. “Tammy” is unfortunately more of the same.

tammy1It didn’t have to be. “Tammy” is written by McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone (who also directed), so the opportunity was there to reveal a different side of her personality. They could have made her into a lovable leading lady, but instead took the lazy, easy route and just shoveled more of the same crass attitude and dumb behavior audiences have now come to expect from McCarthy instead of trying to show something new.

“Tammy” is essentially a road trip movie for the girls. After losing her car, her job and her husband in the span of a few hours, Tammy (McCarthy) wants to just drive away from her loser life, but needs her grandma Pearl (Susan Sarandon) to lend her car to do so. But Pearl needs to get away from her droll life too so will only lend Tammy her car if she can tag along. From there the two get involved in some boring and stupid adventures. Think “Bad Grandpa,” but way less funny.

tammy2McCarthy usually shines when allowed the freedom to improvise. You can tell that that funniest scenes from her recent films are simply moments where she’s riffing on some random topic and just letting her jokes flow out naturally. Yet in “Tammy” she appears very restrained, and it is most likely due to the fact that she helped write the screenplay and it’s probably harder to stray from your own words.

“Tammy” is not funny at all and is in fact quite a bore, considering McCarthy is always so full of energy. She definitely gives it her all but even the best need good material to work with. Too bad in this case the only person she can blame is herself.

 

My War Against Weight – Episode 5: The Final Outcome

Goal: Lose 10 pounds in 5 weeks

Weight Lost Week 5: 2.8 pounds

Total Weight Lost: 8.5 pounds

jcMy personal challenge is now over and yes, and although I fell a bit short of my goal of losing 10 pounds, I can’t say that I’m unsatisfied with my results. Weight control has always been a battle for me and will probably be for the rest of my life. But if I can continue to bring the weight down, even gradually, I will always be in a better place than I was a few months prior and that’s enough for me.

Already in the past six months I’ve had to buy new clothes; I greatly improved my eating habits and although I haven’t been to the doctor yet to confirm my numbers, I feel better physically than I have in a really long time. Sure, my gut still resembles a keg more than a six-pack, but I can feel myself getting stronger and leaner. I’m consistently working out and have leaped over that hurdle where I dread going to the gym. I actually look forward to it now since I know the hard work is producing results.

Normally at the end of a personal challenge I’d express relief and look forward to returning to my gluttonous habits. But not this time. I’m hoping to maintain an overall lifestyle change and that means more of the same. Of course I miss my more than occasional late-night plate lunch runs and gorging on sweets, but I’ll still allow myself a treat every now and then. If I’ve eaten clean for a few days, there’s nothing wrong with rewarding myself with a chicken katsu plate lunch topped off with a cocoa puff. That’s life and life demands balance. Go too extreme in one direction and stuff just gets all out of whack.

goldengirlsThank you so much to all of you who’ve read my blogs and have commented and offered your support. It really did mean a lot to me and certainly helped motivate me to stay true to the goal. I hope that my experience can provide even a little bit of information or motivation for others who struggle with their weight like I do.

So yes, this battle may have been lost, but I’m still working toward victory in the War Against Weight.

More Posts: My War Against Weight

My War Against Weight – Episode 0
My War Against Weight – Episode 1: Why?
My War Against Weight – Episode 2: Food = Fuel
My War Against Weight – Episode 3: Let’s Get Physical
My War Against Weight – Episode 4: Roadblocks to Wellness