Stoner Fantasy – American Ultra (2015)

Eh.  So this is about an underachieving young man (Jessie Eisenberg); he’s a moocher, he works at a convenience store, and he smokes too much marijuana.  When he becomes “activated” by the CIA, all of his long forgotten government grade combat training kicks in, and he must take down all of his pursuers to save himself and his girlfriend (Kristen Stewart).  It is my opinion that this movie suffers from a bad case of misadvertising.  If you were to watch a trailer for this, you are going to walk in expecting a comedy.  The thing is, this really isn’t all that funny, and apart from a few awkward lines Topher Grace is given, there aren’t really even any jokes written for these actors to deliver.  That fact in itself isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but it is certainly a mark against a movie that needs all the help it can get.

2I know Eisenberg has the chops to make this work from his performance in The Social Network, but he has to have the accompanying writing to pull it off.

This is a movie that desperately wants to be Pineapple Express, a movie that I am not a giant fan of in retrospect.  With that sentiment in mind, this doesn’t even come close to comparing.  As already stated, it’s not humorous, but on top of that, it’s just not fun to watch when it should be.  This is entirely because this film is completely composed of unlikable characters.  It can be difficult to write stoners well, but it is very much possible (see: The Big Lebowski, Dazed and Confused).  This, however, has to be one of the worst examples that I can think of to date; it says a lot when the most likable person in your movie is Kristen Stewart.  This also features one of my favorite character actors working today, Walton Goggins from Justified fame.  Disappointingly, he isn’t given all that much to do.  In fact, it’s such a small role, it made me question why they even bothered to get him in the first place?

1It’s kind of a waste of space on every front.

This is a movie that has no surprises.  It’s as if the writer, Max Landis, got really high and wrote a movie, but it comes off as being complete fantasy, a defense for stoners everywhere who don’t have the motivation to get things accomplished in their personal life.  It’s mean-spirited for the most part, but at least it is on the short side.  If the box office performance on this is any indication of public interest, this will be long forgotten about as soon as we hit 2016.

American Ultra (2015) **

– Critic for Hire


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