I saw two movies whilst on vacation and while they’re both trying to be something they aren’t (a guilty pleasure and a shiny new The Big Chill respectively) only one kinda succeeds.
The Expendables took itself way too seriously and The Expendables 2 didn’t quite take itself seriously enough (but it still worked). The Expendables 3 is somewhere in the middle of that and if it weren’t for a few problem it’d be a great guilty pleasure movie.
What’s really holding it back seems to just be it’s rating. With a PG-13 (vs. the R rating of the first two) it can’t really get into the over the top action in a way that would distract from sorta lame script and boring new young expendables.
That being said Wesley Snipes completely steals the first act as the just-out-of-prison-possibly-completely-nuts old team member and Antonio Banderas steals the second and third act as the young-at-heart-possibly-unhinged-and-a-little-too-friendly new old team member. They both make their action work and their delivery of the winking references to their other action franchises (and persona lives) is more fun than anyone else plus Banderas trying to woo Rhona Rousey mid-action sequence is kind of hilarious.
The new young team members are generic and boring versions of generic and boring young action hero archetypes but at least Rhonda Rousey’s fight scenes look good (but her “signature line” is terrible). Mel Gibson has a fun turn as the definitely crazy asshole bad guy though which is nice because no one quite plays crazy like Mel Gibson.
Expendables 3 isn’t a good film but the third act is, which delivers the new young stars teaming up with the old stars to literally fight off an eastern european army, pretty much what we’ve always wanted from these movies. Again the softer rating means it’s not as over the top as it could have been making it less memorable than it could have been but it’s still fun. The movie has an actual sense of humour too. it still has the winking jokes referencing everyone’s other franchises but it has stand alone jokes too which is nice. The again I laughed hardest at one of Stallone’s reference jokes, so your mileage may vary.
All in all it’s fun. You could definitely do worse than seeing this.
This movie tries to pay homage to The Big Chill but it ends up just being a cheap knockoff. That’s not to say it’s all bad. It has a number of great performances (Aubrey Plaza and Max Greenfield in particular) and there is some real heart.
At the same time though the movie literally has a scene where one character says “this is just like one of those 80s movies!” and another where they name drop Jeff Goldblum and the event that gets the story rolling, the attempted suicide of a man named Alex, is a clear callback to the suicide of a man named Alex in The Big Chill.
Each character in About Alex falls into an archetype that a character from The Big Chill did also, and if you pay attention in the first act you won’t be surprised which one is the one to stay and the house after the weekend, which ones go their separate ways, and so on.
That’s not to say that that About Alex is a bad film but rather that it’s just not a very good one and that strong performances are not enough to elevate this from it’s formulaic set up and script.
Maybe if you haven’t seen The Big Chill then this film would be more enjoyable but then again my honest advice if you haven’t seen The Big Chill is to skip this one and see The Big Chill.