Tag Archives: Jay Hernandez

Odd Squad

‘Suicide Squad’ is a crazy, colorful, over-stuffed mess

SUICIDE SQUAD

Suicide Squad
Starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis & Jared Leto
Directed by David Ayer
PG-13

The superhero summer gets a jolt of anarchy as a group of “metahuman” oddballs and outlaws commandeer the screen.

Based on obscure characters created by DC Comics, the Suicide Squad is a motley crew of death-row supervillains corralled by the government to combat threats too dangerous or deadly for ordinary defenses—like the “next” Superman, who might not be so people-friendly, or the slinky sorceress (Cara Delevingne) now building a doomsday machine to annihilate humanity—in exchange for lightened sentences.

Think The Dirty Dozen meets Guardians of the Galaxy, with a twist of Ghostbusters.

Will Smith

Will Smith

Will Smith is Deadshot, the world’s most lethal assassin. Margot Robbie is Harley Quinn, a psychiatrist turned psycho by her bonkers boyfriend, the Joker (Jared Leto). There’s also Aussie kleptomaniac Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), hulking human reptile Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, buried beneath a ton of rubbery prosthetics) and pyrotechnic homeboy El Diablo (a heavily tattooed Jay Hernandez).

Viola Davis is the iron-fisted black-ops recruiter in charge of the squad. Karen Fukuhara plays Katana, a samurai whose sword contains the souls of everyone its ever slain. Joel Kinnaman is elite soldier Col. Rick Flag, who has a special—though convoluted—tie to the Enchantress, the ancient, newly resurrected witch trying to destroy the world. Even Batman (Ben Affleck) and the Flash (Ezra Miller) drop in for cameos, as if they’ve casually wandered over from another movie.

Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie

Everyone has a backstory and a rockin’ theme song. Harley gets a reworked version of the old Leslie Gore hit “You Don’t Own Me,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s swampy “Fortunate Son” plays for Killer Croc, and as Diablo’s flames flicker in the night sky, we hear War’s “Slippin’ Into Darkness.”

Writer-director David Ayer—who also directed the Brad Pitt WWII tank flick Fury and wrote Training Day, for which Denzel Washington won an Oscar—has a lot on his plate. Ultimately, the huge cast, unwieldy story and muddled, sometimes downright cheesy special effects become just too much—for him, and us—and everything crashes, smashes, mashes and finally collapses into a big, boom-y blob.

Jared Leto

Jared Leto

There are some things, however, to like about Suicide Squad. Leto’s cackling Joker is an unhinged kick; you never know what he’s going to do, how far he’ll go or where. It’s good to see Smith in a semi-supporting role where he can lay back in an ensemble but still unload some great quips. Davis is deliciously ambiguous as a high-ranking agent who’ll do whatever it takes to do a dirty job. Robbie seems to be having fun as the wacko Harley, but her hyper-sexy shorty shorts, fishnet stockings, stiletto boots and smeared baby-doll makeup look like they came from a stripper’s closet—or a fanboy’s heated ComicCon dream—instead of a wacko supervillain’s lair.

In the end, the movie is a hot mess—but a loud, star-packed, proudly trashy one. At one point, Harley and the Joker jump into an industrial vat of paint, then make out, rolling around and laughing like the nut jobs they are in the swirls of blue, red, yellow and green. That’s pretty good snapshot of Suicide Squad as a whole: Stuffed full of everything, including itself, it’s mad, mucky and yucky and doesn’t make a lot of sense—but hey, look at all those crazy colors!

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Moms Gone Wild

‘Bad Moms’ is a raunchy yarn about mothers who’ve had enough

Bad Moms
Starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Kathryn Hahn & Christina Applegate
Directed by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore
Rated R

“I feel like the worst mom in the world,” says Amy (Mila Kunis), the harried, hurried, overworked, underappreciated mother of two young teens. “Still, I love being a mom.”

That conflicted yin and yang of motherhood, so familiar to anyone who’s been there (or is there), is the comedic core of this raunchy, righteously rollicking yarn about a trio of suburban moms who decide they’ve had enough—of PTA Nazis, wussie husbands, doofus booses and just about everything else—and cut loose.

Writer-directors Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who contributed to the screenplays of The Hangover—about three guys on a Las Vegas party-pa-looza—and its two sequels, seem to want to show that they’re equal-opportunity humorists: They can write crude, R-rated sex jokes for women, too, even soccer moms!

The strong cast seems up for the task. Kunis is just the right shade of frazzled as Amy, whose world falls apart quickly after she catches her loutish husband (Dave Walton, who plays Sam on TV’s New Girl) in a compromising position with his internet girlfriend.

Kristen Bell is social outcast Kiki, struggling to raise three young children with her chauvinist mate and fantasizing about getting into a car crash where she can go to the hospital for some quality “me time.”

BAD MOMS

Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Kathryn Hahn raise a toast to ‘Bad Moms.’

But the real comedy catalyst is Kathryn Hahn, a veteran of dozens of TV and movie roles, as Carla, the trio’s sole single mom—and she’s a pistol, a brash, been-around-the-block sexual dynamo who gets most of the movie’s laugh-out-loud lines and visual gags, particularly the hilariously vulgar ones. You’ll have a hard time looking the same way again at any sweatshirt hoodie after Carla uses the pink one Kiki is wearing to demonstrate a particular point about male anatomy.

“I’m not going to wear this sweatshirt ever again,” a stunned Kiki vows.

Christina Applegate digs deep into the delicious dirty tricks of her role as Gwendolyn, the head of the school PTA, who rules everything—particularly bake sales—with an iron fist. Jada Pinkett Smith is Stacy, her feisty first lieutenant. Jay Hernandez is the school’s “hot” widower dad (who really knows how to speed-buckle a car seat). Wendell Pierce (who played Det. “Bunk” Moreland on TV’s The Wire) gets in a great line in his short scene as the principal. Wanda Sykes plays a marriage counselor who finally gets an un-coupled couple she can’t re-couple. And there’s a very special cameo by a very special hostess.

Amy (left) faces off at a PTA bake sale with her nemesis Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and her lackey (Jada Pinkett Smith).

Amy (left) faces off at a bake sale with nemesis Gwendolyn (Christina Applegate) and her lackey (Jada Pinkett Smith).

“It’s OK to be a bad mom,” a converted Amy eventually realizes, after a blitz of female empowerment, liberation, bonding and unification. Nobody’s perfect, every “bad mom” has a good side, there’s beauty in imperfection, and when moms are all in it together, it’s all good!

Stay for the credits to meet the real-life moms of the cast members. For anyone feeling a bit roughed up and raw by the R-rated humor, this gentle, parting dollop of smooth sweetness is guaranteed to leave you with a smile.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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