I DO… UNTIL I DON’T review

Yay! Rom-coms!

I only saw the trailer maybe once before this week, so I can’t say much. Hell, if I didn’t check my theaters, I wouldn’t have even remembered that this movie existed. Oh well. It’s here and I have a soft spot for rom-coms.

The story looks like it’s about a trio of couples that are going through their own crises in their respective marriages and end up getting help… I think… from a woman who is less than enthusiastic about marriage. I think I’m way off, but that’s all I really took away from the trailer.

Here’s the ensemble cast. Starring, writing, and directing this project is Lake Bell, known for THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (2016), NO ESCAPE (2015), NO STRINGS ATTACHED (2011), and the upcoming HOME AGAIN (2017). She also wrote, directed, and starred in IN A WORLD… (2013). Alongside her, we have Ed Helms (CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS [2017], VACATION [2015], THE HANGOVER [2009], and the upcoming TAG [2018]), Amber Heard (THE DANISH GIRL [2015], THE RUM DIARIES [2011], ZOMBIELAND [2009], and upcoming films JUSTICE LEAGUE [2017] and AQUAMAN [2018]), Mary Steenburgen (DEAN [2017], THE PROPOSAL [2009], and POWDER [1995]), Paul Reiser (THE LITTLE HOURS [2017], ONE NIGHT AT MCCOOL’S [2001], and ALIENS [1986]), and Dolly Wells (BRIDGET JONES’S BABY [2016], 45 YEARS [2015], and BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY [2001]).

Now for the crew. Composing the score is Dexter Story, known for a bunch of unknown projects, and the cinematographer is Wyatt Garfield, known for BEATRIZ AT DINNER (2017).

Overall, I’m more than a little curious to see this. Not overly excited for anything, but it looks pretty fun.

This is my honest opinion of: I DO… UNTIL I DON’T

(SUMMARY)

The story follows Alice (Lake Bell), who is… semi-happily married to her husband Noah (Ed Helms). Alice desperately tries to get involved with a documentarian named Vivian (Dolly Wells) who is making a documentary about the limitations and impracticality of marriage. The two of them are also incredibly financially unstable and Alice was hoping to be compensated for her participation in the film, like Vivian’s other participants, but when this doesn’t become the case, she resorts to looking for ways to make the promised money and make ends meet, while keeping her lie a secret. The story also follows an older couple and their crippled, marriage, and Alice’s younger hippie sister and her relationship with her mate.

(REVIEW)

Sadly, it’s very flawed. With that said, I don’t hate it. In fact, I like it, but even I can’t look at these negative reviews and truly argue. What’s wrong with it? Missed opportunity. While I like that this movie is a through-and-through celebration of marriage, even its hardships, it isn’t something that hasn’t really been done before. It basically follows three sets of couples: Alice and Noah, Cybill (Mary Steenburgen) and Harvey (Paul Reiser), and Fanny (Amber Heard) and Zander (Wyatt Cenac). The primary fix is to focus on any of the aforementioned couples, instead of the whole group.

Cybill and Harvey: they’re a legitimately cute-yet-troubled married couple. Their relationship isn’t anything spectacular, but it’s effective enough and has a strong, smile-inducing resolution. How does a constantly bickering couple on the verge of separation keep bouncing back into form? This could have been explored and something nice come out of it.

Fanny and Zander are a young hippie couple that don’t want to get married and don’t even really believe in monogamy, so they sleep with other people, but remain committed to each other. But as the story progresses, we see Zander getting jealous of the attention that Fanny gets and the special feelings he has for her, he doesn’t want to share it with another woman. Again, there’s something to explore there.

And now for the most impactful storyline, and arguably the one I have the most problems with, Alice and Noah. They’re having a hard time financially, but Noah’s pushing the idea of having a baby together, but Alice doesn’t really want one, but hasn’t told Noah. Their story alone merited more attention than the others because you have a married couple of seven years, one wants to be a parent, the other doesn’t. That’s a pretty big deal as far as a functioning relationship is concerned, but it’s not properly explored in the movie. The big reveal is that Alice doesn’t want a baby, but really, that should be whole plot right there.

Let’s get personal for a bit here. For me, I know I want to get married and be a father someday. So I know when I start dating someone and it gets serious, one of the first things I’d want to know before committing too much time and effort into our relationship is knowing if she wants to get married and have kids too. If the she doesn’t want one or the other, then I move on. That’s what dating’s for, after all: a test of compatibility. Now, I’m in no hurry to get married, or have kids, if I find a woman who has similar interests in the future, but it’s important to know if the options are in the cards. Alice and Noah dated for x-amount of time and were married for seven years. Have they never sat down and discussed kids while they were dating, let alone married? I honestly don’t know how that’s possible. But fine, the whole point of the movie could have been this reveal alone, that Alice doesn’t want kids, and how something that is essentially a deal breaker, doesn’t destroy the relationship. It could have been a poignant look into what a person could be missing out on if they sacrificed that desire for the significant other, or what the significant other could be sacrificing if they did something they didn’t want to do. Either way, showcase a smart perspective on an issue like this and how the couple can still make their marriage work. Sadly though, that’s not what this movie does. It’s just, financial problems and nervousness about bringing a baby into this world with no stability. Alice and Noah’s story isn’t pushed far enough.

It’s kind of a shame that this story is so bland because everything else isn’t bad. The actors have great chemistry, there is some wonderfully funny situational comedy, and Bell is such a charismatic actor with incredible expressions that I really want to see more from her. She obviously can act, and has great potential as a filmmaker, which she’s also proven with her previous work, so… keep going! Make another movie, miss Bell. I want to see what else she’s got and to see how she can push her talents and really do something special. I’m sure ready for more. But as a whole, the movie is, objectively speaking, not very good. But I don’t dislike it, not by a long shot. Average it out, I say it’s okay. If you’re a rom-com type person, you’ll likely enjoy this just fine. It’s a fair enough date movie. But if you’re an opinionated bloke looking for the next IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934), this is definitely not it.

My honest rating for I DO… UNTIL I DON’T: 3/5

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CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE review

Unlike a lot of kids, I actually never read the books this movie is based on. Can’t exactly explain why. I always had an interest, but I never made the time or any real effort to read them. So, to be completely honest, I have no idea what they were about. I actually assumed it was about a little kid with superpowers who saved older kids from whatever was terrorizing them.

I see that the movie is very different from my preconceptions. It looks like it’s about two kids who are notorious pranksters. One day, they go too far and their mean principal threatens to keep them apart in separate classrooms to prevent their diabolical schemes. Genuinely afraid to be apart, they hypnotize their principal via ridiculously random magic ring into believing that he is the kids’ personal superhero creation, Captain Underpants, who goes around fighting crime and monsters that don’t exist, until a real threat comes along for him to save the day.

I have to admit… I don’t think this looks good. I mean, I can appreciate DreamWorks keeping the animation the same style as the books, but man, I do not buy these voice actors as kids. Even if the movie happens to be really good, which I’m not holding my breath for, Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch will distract the living daylights out of me for how much they do not sound like kids. Look, I know Hart is a short dude with a high pitched voice, but he still doesn’t sound like a kid. He sounds like a high-pitched voiced adult. But hey, I’ll keep my mind open. DreamWorks has done amazing work in the past. But for every few great films, they’ve got one bad one too. Initial thoughts are: not a good movie.

But let’s take a look at the voice talent. As previously stated, we have Hart (THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS [2016], GET HARD [2015], GRUDGE MATCH [2013], and upcoming films JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE [2017] and RIDE ALONG 3, due out… who knows when), Middleditch (THE BRONZE [2016], THE CAMPAIGN [2012], TV show SILICON VALLEY, and the upcoming GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS [2019]), as well as Ed Helms (VACATION [2015], THE LORAX [2012], and THE HANGOVER [2009]). In support, we have Nick Kroll (SING [2016], and TV shows THE LEAGUE and PARKS AND REC), Jordan Peele (STORKS [2016], WANDERLUST [2012], and TV show KEY AND PEELE), and Kristen Schaal (THE BOSS [2016], and TV shows BOBS BURGERS and THE LAST MAN ON EARTH).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing is David Soren, known for TURBO (2013). Penning the screenplay is Nicholas Stoller, known for STORKS, MUPPETS MOST WANTED (2014), and THE MUPPETS (2011). Finally, the composer for the score is Theodore Shapiro, known for COLLATERAL BEAUTY (2016), INFINITELY POLAR BEAR (2014), and DIARY OF A WIMPY KID (2010).

Overall, not terribly thrilled to see this, but here’s to hoping it’s better than it’s letting on.

This is my honest opinion of: CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE

(SUMMARY)

Harold (Thomas Middleditch) and George (Kevin Hart) are a pair of kids who are the best of friends. They make comics together, their favorite creation being the crime-fighting Captain Underpants, and try to have as much fun as possible. This isn’t easy when they’re at school, which is run by their evil principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms). They combat his authority by pulling off pranks. He’s been unable to get them in trouble due to a lack of proof. However, the inevitable happens and the two boys are about to be separated into different classes. In an act of desperation, Harold attempts to hypnotize Krupp using a magical toy ring… and it miraculously works. They turn Krupp into their comic creation Captain Underpants and he gets loose, trying to fight crime with super powers that he doesn’t have.

(REVIEW)

While I wasn’t wholly wrong about this movie, I’d be lying if I said was completely right. It’s no Kung Fu Panda or How to Train Your Dragon, it’s perfectly fine for what it is: a harmless kids movie.

Because the movie is painfully clear that it’s meant for kids, the humor is exactly that: kiddie humor. So most of the jokes aren’t especially funny. It’s just tolerable. Thankfully, DreamWorks had the foresight not to go all NORM OF THE NORTH (2016), but keeps the humor pretty innocent. I think maybe there was one fart joke that wasn’t too bad, and a surprising lack of potty humor. Instead, the jokes are pretty much what you’d expect them to be. The kids hypnotize their principal into turning into their undergarment clad superhero and laugh at him as any kid would, and the guy acting all goofy. Again, thankfully, it’s written in a way that isn’t annoying. It’s not written funny, for the most part, but it’s not obnoxious.

Even the plot has been kind of done before. Not the superhero bit, of course, but the whole, “We’re fun-loving kids in a school that hates fun and we’re the rebels who want the rest of the kids to have fun too.” MIDDLE SCHOOL (2016) did that and you can argue that FIST FIGHT (2017) did it too to a degree, albeit it’s the teachers struggling to deal with unruly teens. Give the movie some credit, that’s not the focus of the story and they do segue into a more exciting story. But even that’s been done before too: unleashing a goofy adult that young people need to rein in and pretend they’re related, like in JUMANJI (1995). Once again though, it could have been worse.

The movie also does try to have a moral at the end: find something to laugh at yourself about. I can’t lie, I like that moral and it’s pretty unique in a kids movie. The problem is that the rest of the movie doesn’t really back it up. The movie starts off about pranks and learning to lighten up, then it turns into a silly superhero movie, and it’s only at the end where the moral is brought up. But even then, it’s not really enforcing its moral. The kids are still laughing at the teacher’s name and spent a good chunk of time making fun of it in a self-made comic book they made. These kids never make fun of themselves or point out their own flaws. So the moral is completely confused and ultimately pointless.

Is there anything that’s funny? Well, I did like a few jokes in the beginning. You might recall from the trailer when the two kids try to leave their principal’s office only for him to press a button and then a high tech lockdown initiates, preventing their escape. By the end of the dramatic lockdown, George says, “Wow, that’s an expensive door.” But this is followed up with Mr. Krupp smugly saying something like, “Do you like it? I had a choice to spend school funding on a magnetically sealed door, or keep the theater-arts department open. I think I made the better choice.” I admit, I laughed at that. There’s another sequence where, if I remember correctly, Captain Underpants has turned the entire front of the school into an amusement park of sorts and Harold and George are like, “What do we do?! We have to stop this!” A shot of kids having fun goes by and then you see Harold and George going through a sugar rush, clearly enthralled by the festivities at some point. And pretty much anything when Professor Poopypants comes in. Yup, Kroll steals the show on this one. One line that just came back to me was when Poopypants has got these kids in a bind and he’s about to sap their ability to laugh at anything, the kids try to appeal to his good nature by saying something like, “Dude, you gotta lighten up and learn to laugh at yourself,” or something to that effect. And then Poopypants exclaims, “Oh really, Oprah?!” Again, I laughed quite a bit on that one. There’s also this running gag with this lady on hold. That was funny too.

That’s… kind of it, actually. It’s not like a good DreamWorks movie like How to Train Your Dragon where adults could go in without kids and get something out of it. No, you’d want to bring your kids for this one. It’s a movie for them and it works fine for what it’s supposed to do: keep ’em entertained, which it will do effectively. The animation is fine, and fast-paced, so it’s never boring. It’s colorful and competently made, so it’s not completely devoid of imagination. Personally, if you wanted to see a better version of this that both kids and adults would enjoy, LEGO BATMAN (2017) is the way to go. But if your kids are itching to see it, go ahead, it’s harmless and not painful to sit through. But if you’re an adult hit with nostalgia who grew up with the books unlike me, I’d say wait for a rental. It’s not exactly worth a theater viewing. Not bad, not that good, just… meh. I’m not the target demographic, so it is what it is.

My honest rating for CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE: 3/5

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