Zach's Zany Movie Reviews: UNCUT GEMS (no spoilers)

Well, here is the 2nd to last review I will publish in the year 2019 (last will be Little Women) and who would’ve thunk that it would be my 2nd favorite film of the year. A film that stars…ADAM FUCKING SANDLER. When is the last time a movie he has been in has been in my top 10…wait…scratch that…top 20 list? Big Daddy…and that’s a HARD maybe. I don’t honestly have any fucking clue. Maybe not since Happy Gilmore or Billy Madison has he been on my best list. (I’m sorry I just didn’t care for Punch Drunk Love all that much, sorry Paul Thomas Anderson brown nosers…) And when is the last year he hasn’t been on a place on my worst list? (FUN FACT: Sandler DOES have a movie on my worst list this year, Murder Mystery, but this more than makes up for that shit show). UNCUT GEMS is unlike anything you have ever seen before. Especially from Adam Sandler, who easily gives us his best performance in a movie. Ever. Ever, ever, ever , ever, and unless he dives right into something like this again, this is probably the only really high peak he’ll ever have, besides the mid to late 90s guilty pleasure comedy peaks. Uncut Gems is dark, gritty, and white knuckle suspenseful. And the dark and gritty doesn’t just pertain to the subject matter, but the fantastic cinematography as well, which makes it looks like a film that was shot in the 70s. It’s just my definition of a perfect movie. I had a really hard time deciding between this and Knives Out as the best film of the year.

But I chose Knives Out, because I had a little more fun with that movie. But make no mistake, this one is just as good but even better in parts. You will not have any clue where the movie is going to take you, as I found it very unpredictable. I had guessed what the ending was about halfway through the film, and was completely cut off guard when it wasn’t close to what I thought would happen. This is one of those films that have those neat little set ups that have great big pay offs later. GREAT. BIG. PAYOFFS. And then there are some little set ups that don’t have any kind of pay off, which is a pay off in itself, as it subverts your expectations in the last act. It’s a film that I would watch over and over again, just like The Safdie Brothers (writers and directors on this) last film Good Time. If you haven’t seen Good Time, I highly recommend watching it too. Robert Pattinson’s performance is phenomenal in that and the film is just as good as this one. If you don’t know what the film is about, hopefully this log line or two helps you out a bit: Taking place in 2012, Adam Sandler stars as a high end jewelry store owner named Howard Ratner, a Jewish-American that is addicted to gambling. He is in debt over his head with bookies (one including his brother-in-law) and is trying to sell this uncut opal at auction he gambled with getting oversees from this Ethiopian Jewish Mining Company, and it is valued at $1 million dollars. He is about to go through a divorce with his wife, played be Idina Menzel, they have two sons who he hardly gives the time of day to, and is dating his hot young employee named Julia, (in a incredible first performance by Julia Fox) who is as gold digging as they come. That’s it. That’s all you need to know about the movie.

From the first several scenes, you know that Adam Sandler is actually trying and giving a shit in this role. Now, while I don’t think it is Oscar award worthy (unless there wasn’t any good competition this year), I think he certainly should get a nomination. And it is with this one key scene near the end of the film where he is watching a Celtics game with Kevin Garnett, who plays himself in this (remember, this film takes place in 2012), and Sandler’s character has a bet riding on his game. Sandler’s reaction to what happens within the game is priceless and totally shed my image that it was Sandler in the role. I thought it was someone else. It is quite a brilliant moment. The rest of the film he uses his usual obnoxious-ness in a great way, making this character unique and his own. It is worth just seeing Uncut Gems for Sandler’s performance alone. But if you stay seated through the whole thing, and pay attention, you realize you get more bang for your buck. As the movie has near perfect narrative structure and pacing. The whole movie is one big roller coaster ride of moments, some tense as fuck, and a couple of great comic relief bits, but all played seriously. And the last half hour is so God damn tense, your hands will be sweating and hurting grabbing your theaters arm rests so tight.

I love, love, love, love this movie. And after this and Good Time, I cannot WAIT to see The Safdie Brothers next film. Just discovered that they have a film before these two called Heaven Knows What, which has a high mark with critics and audiences. Need to check that out very soon. I mean even the musical score is unqiue: uplifting, yet haunting (you’ll see). Here’s the point: we are likely never going to get another Adam Sandler film that is even remotely close to how good Uncut Gems is. So if you are a huge Adam Sandler fan, rejoice for this movie, just know that it isn’t his usual phoning it in lazy comedic performance you’ve gotten used to the past couple of years on Netflix. If you can’t deal with that, I feel very sorry for you. Adam Sandler haters: GIVE. THIS. FILM. A. CHANCE. It might not completely change your opinion on Sandler (my opinion? He needs to cut the Netflix horseshit and do more stuff like this but I know he needs to take his family on free vacations so that won’t change), but you might be one to put your hand to your chin, and maybe agree that he’s capable of great things in the right role. Maybe if he gets enough praise for this, we won’t have to suffer through his Netflix bullshit much longer. Maybe he’ll get inspired to give us a late career great show. But if we stick to the present, I’m just glad we now have this great gem that I can keep revisiting in the future.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MURDER MYSTERY (Netflix) (No Spoilers)

MURDER MYSTERY is Adam Sandler’s best Netflix film. But it’s still a piece of shit and one of the worst films of the year. Other than the wonderful Chris Farley tribute song Sandler’s has been doing with his stand up tour and just redid on a recent episode of SNL (the whole episode wasn’t bad either), he has been on autopilot ever since after Funny People bombed at the box office. So when you think hard about his filmography, what is Adam Sandler’s last best film? I myself unfortunately couldn’t come up with just one answer but instead three different films in three different categories: 1. Sandler’s last film where he wasn’t on autopilot but the film wasn’t all that good – Funny People. 2. Sandler’s last film that was good fun but not great and he wasn’t on autopilot – Click. 3. Sandler’s last great best film – 50 First Dates. So if you want to go with option 3, that means Sandler hasn’t made a good film since 2004….Holy….Shit….a decade and a half. Abbie Doobie!!!

If you laughed at those last two jibberish words you probably could’ve once called yourself an Adam Sandler fan. At least when he was doing his jibberish routine in Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, and The Waterboy, he actually made us laugh and was trying to bring the funny. Every film he does now he is either doing it for the paycheck, the ability to take his real family on vacation while he works….or both. And it seems like every time the director yells action in a Sandler film now, Adam pops a Xanax right before he mumbles his first line. Murder Mystery is no different. I don’t want to even explain the plot so I’m just going to give credit to and just copy and paste their one line summary: “A New York cop and his wife go on a European vacation to reinvigorate the spark in their marriage, but end up getting framed and on the run for the death of an elderly billionaire.” See the key word there? Vacation? If you like films that struggle to find endless jokes about Claritin Vs. Allegra, random goats in the road, and aged ham combined with really dumb physical comedy that has absolutely no point, this film is for you. And unfortunately you are also to blame for these types of movies being made.

Unless you are living under a rock you probably know that Jennifer Aniston is in this movie too. And with this and Dumplin’ now under her belt, are we to assume she’s going to be the next once big celebrity stuck in this endless loop of Netflix assembly lined manufactured bullshit? Probably. In my opinion, I don’t think Jennifer Anison has ever been that great of an actress. She showed some potential in the movie Cake, but in everything else she seems like the same character. Again, in Murder Mystery, it is no different. She plays a bumbling wife on autopilot. So you are probably asking yourself if I hate Adam Sandler’s recent movies so much, why in the fuck did I bother even watching this? Gemma Arterton. Probably one of the most gorgeous women on the planet and was the only one in this that felt like they actually wanted to be there and actually tried. I will literally watch everything she does. And in the back of my mind did I have an alterior motive where I wanted another film to add onto my worst list of 2019? Abso-fucking-lutely.

Now I said in my opening that this was Adam Sandler’s best Netflix film, which is true, I wasn’t lying. I will give it two commendations. One, I did not guess who the killer was correctly. I had two theories, both were proven wrong. Two, Adam Sandler’s dumb friends don’t show up in this movie to ruin it. Well, to be fair, one of them makes a cameo as a disgruntled tourist, but the person has two lines, is far off, and I couldn’t tell at all it was Allen Covert until I looked it up, and those lines weren’t memorable for being stupid. So we’ll still count number two as a commendation. The rest of the movie is just filth. Adam Sandler’s arc is that he’s a cop (Sergeant) that has failed his detective exam three times, so I assumed that the movie would use his detective skills to prove he should actually be one in the end. WRONG. Sandler does maybe real detective work in only one scene and that is at the climax in a room where all the survivors are gathered. And that’s a HARD maybe. The rest of the movie characters just come to him and spout off bullshit and in another scene him and Aniston are making up dumb questions to ask the suspects in order for them to possibly confess. There is no real detective work done throughout the entire movie (save for the climax where he is literally putting two lines of dialogue/information together) , and in fact, if I was Sandler’s boss in that fictional world, I would fire his ass for being the most inept lazy cop in existence.

The whole time while watching the movie I was thinking of different and better ways the film could’ve gone, and obviously it didn’t go with any of those options. This entire film was an excuse for Sandler to go on vacation while he does some work on Xanax, while the director gets some gorgeous shots of a foreign city and country side. So other than Sandler, who is to blame? When looking this movie up I was surprised to find out that Sandler didn’t even write the fucking screenplay. But I wasn’t shocked by who it was, James Vanderbilt. He is responsible for Amazing Spider-Man 2, Independence Day 2, Darkness Falls, Basic, and White House Down. Literally the only film he has written that was great was Zodiac, but I have a feeling that was more because of David Fincher’s direction than it was the actual script. So in the end, with Netflix and Sandler, if you have the choice of watching Ridiculous 6, The Do-Over, Sandy Wexler, The Week Of, or Murder Mystery, which one should you choose? Always know that there is the option of not watching any of them at all. Think outside the box, something that Sandler hasn’t done in 15 years.