Posts Tagged ‘vince vaughn’

hacksaw ridge

When Desmond Doss (Darcy Bryce, Andrew Garfield) was young he got into a fight with his brother , Hal (Roman Guerrero, Nathaniel Buzcolic) and hit him in the head with a rock.  Desmond prays for Hal’s recovery and he eventually recovered.  Desmond’s father, Tom, (Hugo Weaving) is a World War I veteran, but he is also an alcoholic, who beats Desmond’s mother,  and threatens her with a gun.  One of these altercations almost ends with Desmond shooting Tom, and so Desmond becomes a pacifist and vows never to touch a gun again. At the same time that Desmond is realizing his pacifism, World War II is raging in the Pacific, and Desmond wants to join the fight as a medic.  There is no law against contentious objectors joining the military, but Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) and Captain Glover  (Sam Worthington) conspire to get Desmond discharged on a section 8, but Desmond is not crazy.  Later, the military ties to court-martial him for insubordination, for refusing to carry a firearm.  Does Desmond beat the court-martial?

Hacksaw Ridge is a story well worth telling, about a pacifist who still wants to serve his country by healing soldiers and not killing people.  But instead of making Desmond a hero, the writers make Desmond a superhero, he is perfect, faultless, and blameless in every way, and that makes Desmond too good to be true, and the rest of the characters are stereotypes of solders that are overdone in films.  The Sergeant is loud, and overbearing, the Captain just wants Desmond out of his hair.  All of Desmond’s fellow privates deride Desmond and haze him for his religious beliefs, and the Japanese are nothing more than screaming dehumanized hoards.

Andrew Garfield does as well as he can with this role.  He is boxed in by the writing, Garfield is only allowed to show anger at his fellow soldiers once in the whole film.  And he overcompensates with his Southern accent to hide his British accent.  Vince Vaughn plays Sergeant Howell like Sergeant Carter of Gomer Pyle fame, barking out orders and heaping abuse on helpless privates.  Vaughn should really stick to comedies, at least he has shown he can be funny.  Sam Worthington struggles the most with his British accent, and that neutralizes the effectiveness of his character.  Hugo Weaving is given the most complex character to play, and he does it well, he stands out in a relatively small role.

Mel Gibson directed this movie and was nominated for an Academy Award for his work.  I’m not sure he deserved a nomination.  The pacing was slow, and he didn’t edit enough.  His overuse of a certain special effect became an annoyance. Gibson was visually trying to prove that war was a dirty, bloody, hell on earth.  But the violence was staggering and the level of violence was repellant.  If Gibson had stuck with the story of Desmond Doss the pacifist during World War II, and cut down on the eye popping violence, Hacksaw Ridge would have been a better film.

Hacksaw Ridge:  Mel Gibson does a hack job as a director.



Peter LeFleur (Vince Vaughn) owns Average Joe’s Gym.  Peter has a staff of two, Owen (Joel David Moore) and Dwight (Chris Williams) and three clients, Justin (Justin Long) a skinny college kid who dreams of being a male cheerleader, Gordon (Steven Root) a passive aggressive man with a mail order wife, and Steve (Alan Tudyk) a man who thinks he’s a pirate, and dresses like one.  Peter’s rival, White Goodman, owns Golobgym a successful gym, takes out a second mortgage on Average Joe’s in order to take it over. Banker Kate Veatch (Christine Taylor) tells Peter he’s got 30 days to raise 50,000 dollars to save his gym.

Peter doesn’t have 50,000 dollars, the group brainstorms about possible ways to raise money.  They try a car wash, but no one wants to see these guys in their underwear, so they end up losing money on the car wash.  Gordon then tells Peter that there’s a dodgeball tournament and the grand prize is 50,000 dollars.  Peter gets the help of legendary dodgeball coach Patches O’Houlihan, (Hank Azaria, Rip Torn) to coach Peter and his merry band of misfits in the finer points of dodgeball.  But, to make Peter’s life even more difficult, White creates a dodgeball team to compete with Peter’s team.  Can Patches take a ragtag team and turn them into dodgeball contenders?  Does White Goodman derail Peter’s dream and take over his gym?

I don’t know why I love this movie, but I do, there are sophomoric sex jokes and bathroom humor, this is the kind of humor that usually repels me, but this time it works.  The characters are cartoonish stereotypes, who would never exist in real life, but it is a laugh riot.  Why does this movie work?  It works because the cast makes the material better than it is.  Vince Vaughn is the perfect straight man in this movie, Ben Stiller is such a horrendously offensive, egomaniacal, self-absorbed misogynistic creep that the viewer can’t help but laugh.  Stiller plays the role to evil perfection, even the way he looks, handlebar mustache, 1980’s haircut, adds to the character’s comedic feel.  Christine Taylor, Stiller’s real-life wife has some definite chemistry with Stiller, and delivers big laughs of her own.  Justin Long plays the put-upon wimpy guy looking to prove himself.  Steven Root plays a guy with a lot of pent-up aggression looking for an outlet.   Rip Torn is hilarious as the course, foul -mouthed Patches.  But Jason Bateman absolutely steals this movie as drug-addled color commentator Pepper Brooks.  His performance is the cherry on this sundae.

Don’t go into this movie expecting tremendous production values, in fact the film looks like it’s produced in a high school audio-visual class.  But the look actually helps the comedy, Average Joe’s is a dump, dodgeball is a third rate sport covered on ESPN 8.  If this was a glossy looking film, it would belie the atmosphere of the film.

Dodgeball:  Have a ball.