Quick Reviews: CARRIE PILBY / THE BOSS BABY / THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE

Ugh, I actually hate doing quick reviews. But there’s, like, seven movies coming out this week and I will put real effort into a late eighth that I saw a couple days ago, but this is my cop-out to catch up. Damn video games.

Anywho, let’s get started.

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(SUMMARY)

Carrie Pilby (Bel Powley) is a genius who went to college as a teenager, and graduated before turning eighteen. But because of the high IQ, she feels detached from everyone around her, questioning the reason why they do the things they do, forgoing all relationships of any kind, and almost refusing to leave her apartment. The only place she really does go is to her therapist’s office to talk to Dr. Petrov (Nathan Lane), an old friend of her estranged father’s (Gabriel Byrne). In order to help her reconnect with the people around her, she’s given a small list of things to accomplish to give her something to relate to those around her, like owning a pet, making friends, and possibly go on a date.

Directed by Susan Johnson
Written by Kara Holden (MIDDLE SCHOOL [2016])
Composed by Michael Penn (BOOGIE NIGHTS [1997], and TV shows GIRLS and MASTERS OF SEX)
Cinematography by Gonzalo Amat (PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES [2014], THE DEVIL INSIDE [2012], and TV show THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE)

(REVIEW)

I liked it. It’s by no means original. After all, yet another movie about a person who on this quirkier level of thinking that makes for awkward interactions with others, but I think there’s just enough to make it above average and worth checking out.

Powley really gives this performance her all and she carries the film very well, perfectly blending comedy and drama, vulnerability and toughness, and innocent and worldly as the scene needs. Whether due to natural talent or works that well with the director, I can’t say, but either way I’d love to see more of her work in the future. Lane and Byrne are also pretty good. Lane’s comedic timing is exceptional as always and Byrne is great as this uncertain father who tries to be great for his daughter, but screws up at almost every turn. In fact, even though half of their interactions between each other are over the phone, their Powley and Byrne are great together. Oh and this took me by surprise, Colin O’Donoghue is in this movie! The moment he came on screen and was all like, “My name is Professor Harrison,” my first thought was, “Fuck you! You’re Captain Hook, so get over it! Stop fucking with my perception of reality!” The comedy works, the drama works, most everything about it works. The only thing that really holds it back from being truly good and memorable is that it really is just another one of these stories that hits all the beats you’d think it would, making for zero surprises, a few clichés, and predictability. She meets a boy she doesn’t like at first, but it’s obvious they’re going to hook-up later. She’s thinks her intelligence elevates her, but eventually realizes that being smart doesn’t mean she can’t relate to people. Not to mention there’s an underage sex scene that is handled ridiculously poorly. Don’t worry, it’s not graphic and Powley is of age, duh, but there’s no consequences for that character and leaves a pretty rotten taste in the mouth.

In any case, it won’t be for everyone, especially if you’re looking for a more original take on this kind of story. But if you don’t mind, I think it’s worth checking out for the most part. The acting is really good, the writing is solid, most of the characters work, it’s only problem is that it’s safe and nothing new.

My honest rating for CARRIE PILBY: a strong 3/5

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(SUMMARY)

Tim (voiced by Miles Christopher Bakshi) is a kid with an overactive imagination. But that suited him and his parents just fine, as they would always have fun and play games. But before long, he’s saddled with a baby brother (voiced by Alex Baldwin) that he didn’t want. But there’s something unusual about his new baby brother, apart from that he wears a business suit and is a little too aware of his surroundings. Turns out, after some squabbling of their parts, the baby is fully self-aware and is sent by his all-baby company. See, puppies are getting more love than babies, and the babies know that a specific company is about to unleash a puppy that stays a puppy forever, making baby cuteness obsolete, and it’s the boss baby’s job to stop it, but only with Tim’s help and then he’ll go back to being an only child, and the boss baby will get a promotion and all its perks.

Directed by Tom McGrath (MEGAMIND [2010], all three Madagascar films, and TV show KABLAM!)
Written by Michael McCullers (MR. PEABODY AND SHERMAN [2014], BABY MAMA [2008], and all three Austin Powers films)
Co-composed by Steve Mazzaro (BULLET TO THE HEAD [2012] and THE SEANCE) and Hans Zimmer (HIDDEN FIGURES [2016], INTERSTELLAR [2014], and SHERLOCK HOLMES [2011])

(REVIEW)

Well, if you wanted this to be called a Baby Geniuses movie, I’d wager it’s the best one. But that doesn’t make it good… at all.

First off, am I the only one who thought of this as a Baby Geniuses movie? Oh well. Putting the obvious joke aside, I think the humor is too juvenile. I know kids like their fart and poop jokes. I know this is pretty standard in non-Pixar and Disney films, but… seriously, are writers so lazy that they can’t come up with better jokes? And especially since there’s a joke about a kid drinking alcohol. Eh, to put it into perspective, it’s not that bad. The joke is basically the Tim takes a sip of a long island iced tea, immediately spits it out and comments, “People from long island do not know how to make an iced tea.” I would have thrown my hands up in the air in frustration if Tim got straight up drunk, but the joke didn’t go that far, but still… really? No other jokes to be made? There’s a lot of other gross-out humor as well, and some jokes that are forced. Even some don’t make sense, even in the world they’ve created. I’ve heard that you’re not supposed to take everything here very literal, but if you try to follow that logic, the movie only becomes more confusing. Maybe it’s a case of thinking too much about it, but it sets itself up to be that way. I’d be lying if I said the voice acting wasn’t good, it actually can be, and Backshi and Baldwin’s energy salvages some of the movie, but I think there’s better movies to show kids. I doubt adults will get much out of it.

My honest rating for THE BOSS BABY: a weak 3/5

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(SUMMARY)

Set in Poland 1939. Antonina Żabiński (Jessica Chastain) is a zookeeper along with her doctor husband Jan (Johan Heldenbergh) during the German occupation. While Antonina loves her job and caring for the animals, this is made complicated when German soldiers take up residence, specifically a German zoologist, Dr. Lutz Heck (Daniel Brühl), who takes a fancy to Antonina, though he doesn’t act on his interests in her. But everything changes when the Germans start bombing Poland and much of the zoo is destroyed and its animals killed. To make matters worse, the zoo is used as a base of operations for the German forces, overseen by Lutz. As Poland is ravaged by German occupation, Antonina and Jan decide to use the zoo as a safe haven for those in the Ghetto who are kept from leaving, while constantly keeping up appearances with the Germans.

Directed by Niki Caro (MCFARLAND, USA [2015], NORTH COUNTRY [2005], WHALE RIDER [2002] and is rumored to direct the live-action remake MULAN [2018])
Written by Angela Workman
Composed by Harry Gregson-Williams (LIVE BY NIGHT [2016], THE MARTIAN [2015], and THE EQUALIZER [2014])
Cinematography by Andrij Parekh (BLUE VALENTINE [2010] and IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY [2010])

(REVIEW)

Now this, I liked.

First off, I love anything that Chastain does and she’s great here too, granted, I think that her accent sounds a little too stereotypical Russian, but I don’t have an ear for accents, so maybe she’s got it pitch perfect. I don’t know. Either way, good acting is what counts the most and Chastain’s got it down to a tee. Her aside, everyone’s great. Heldenbergh, Brühl, even young Shira Haas, who plays this young Polish girl who gets raped by German soldiers, gets saved by Jan and takes shelter in the zoo for quite a few years. She gives a haunting performance, perfectly mixing hatred and fear, but goes a complete 180 when she’s given a rabbit to hold, to which she glows. Who can blame her, right? Bunnies are cute. What the movie does exceptionally well is give this sense of constant discomfort. Even during the days where you think everything is safe and dandy, there’s always this looming threat of Germans making a surprise visit to kill everyone. I suppose the only real issue this movie has is that there are predictable moments. I can’t give anything away without spoiling, but let’s just say that someone disappears and it ends up exactly how you think it’s going to end up. I’m curious how historically accurate this story is and I can see myself looking it up and doing a little research to compare and contrast from the film. Overall, it’s not a perfect film, but it’s effective in delivering an interesting story and the actors are phenomenal. I recommend this for anyone interested.

My honest rating for THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE: 4/5

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