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Movies Reviews with Karl: Duff, Focus

Movies Reviews with Karl: Duff, Focus

Karl Taro Greenfeld reviews movies without seeing them. He watches trailers, or parts of the trailers. (If the movie is a sequel, he has not seen any earlier films in the series. He basically doesn’t watch any movies. Any plot similarities between his reviews and the actual movies are coincidental.)

Duff


Starring the girl who was on Parenthood and Jeremy from One Direction

The girl from Parenthood is the least attractive female in a group of very hot women who hang around a high school, molesting the male students. (“Oh no, please hot ladies, don’t molest us,” they plead . . . ) Jeremy from One Direction plays a male student targeted by these molesters, and he’s a childhood friend of the girl from Parenthood. He approaches her at a cougar hook-up party thrown by the molesters, and tells her she is the DUFF of the group. She doesn’t know what that means and he explains, “Designated Ugly Fat Friend.” Suddenly, she realizes why all her attempts to molest high school boys have failed—and even her sensai, Chow from the Hangover movies, can’t make her feel better when he tells her that he was a DUFF as well.

She finds Jeremy from One Direction at a track-meet and asks him to “reverse-Duff” her. He takes her to shopping malls, shows her how to meet boys, and makes her purchase a Wonderbra. Her hot lady friends don’t appreciate her attempts to cut in on their molesting action, so they freeze her out. And it turns out, she doesn’t really want to become like them, because she is happy being a DUFF. When she removes the five layers of denim overalls she’s been wearing, she has a smoking hot body. The beautiful her was there all along, under all that denim. Jeremy from One Direction is like “oh my god, I’ve been getting molested by the wrong cougars!”

Duff is a film for those who eagerly follow news of female teachers who get in trouble for sleeping with their students


Focus


Starring Will Smith and Scarlett Johanson

Will Smith plays a master con man. He excels in both the long con—elaborate schemes that require disguises, fake accents, immense stage sets and several hundred employees—and the short con, where he stops a stranger on the street, asks him to break a $20 bill, and then a $10 and then a $5, and then change for a $1 bill, and then a five nickels for a quarter, and then two nickels for a dime, and then five pennies for a nickel, and so on, until he has eked on a small profit of a penny or two. (Do this enough times, and you can make upwards of three cents a day.) He has never been in love, because he believes a true con man can’t get emotionally entangled with another human being, lest he follow his heart instead of always seeking an angle.

Yet when Scarlett Johanson enters his life, he can’t resist. Soon, they begin a passionate romance that takes them from the roulette tables of Monte Carlo to steel walled vaults of Lake Geneva, the pair teaming up to swindle Arab sheiks and Italian playboys out of millions. But there is one con that Will Smith has never before dared—not the long con, not the short con, but the Great Con, a con so complicated and difficult, that most experts in the field believe it can’t be done. But Will Smith thinks he knows a way. He enlists Scarlett Johanson and they infiltrate corporations, hack into computer networks, evade security cameras, steal passwords, make copies of complicated keys, wear disguises, hang-glide, scuba dive, climb mountains and race in Italian sports cars until they are ready to perform the Great Con.

Which works—whoo!—but then it turns out Scarlett Johanson has been planning to con Will Smith all along. She was only pretending to be in love with him. But she actually did fall in love with him!

But Will Smith knew this all along, and he had already planned to double-cross her. Now, he realizes that he too really is in love with her.

They take off on a private jet together.

Focus is a very relevant film because so much of America believes we have been the victim of an elaborate confidence game by an African-American trickster who has convinced us to elect him President

Karl Taro Greenfeld

Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of eight books, including the novel The Subprimes, to be published in May. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Harper's, The Paris Review, Best American Short Stories (2009, 2013) and O. Henry Prize Stories (2012). Follow him @karltaro.
Karl Taro Greenfeld

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About The Author

Karl Taro Greenfeld

Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of eight books, including the novel The Subprimes, to be published in May. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Harper's, The Paris Review, Best American Short Stories (2009, 2013) and O. Henry Prize Stories (2012). Follow him @karltaro.

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