Quick Reviews: CARS 3 / ALL EYEZ ON ME / ROUGH NIGHT / 47 METERS DOWN / MAUDIE

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Starring: Owen Wilson (MASTERMINDS [2016], MIDNIGHT IN PARIS [2011], MARLEY & ME [2008], and the upcoming SHANGHAI DAWN, due out… who knows when), Bonnie Hunt (ZOOTOPIA [2016], THE GREEN MILE [1999], JUMANJI [1995], and the upcoming TOY STORY 4 [2019]), and Larry the Cable Guy (A MADEA CHRISTMAS [2013], WITLESS PROTECTION [2008], and DELTA FARCE [2007]). In support: Nathan Fillion (PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS [2013], WONDER WOMAN [2009], TV show CASTLE, and the upcoming video game DESTINY 2 [2017]), Chris Cooper (LIVE BY NIGHT [2016], THE MUPPETS [2011], and THE BOURNE IDENTITY [2002]), Armie Hammer (FREE FIRE [2017], THE BIRTH OF A NATION [2016], and THE LONE RANGER [2013]), Kerry Washington (DJANGO UNCHAINED [2012], LAKEVIEW TERRACE [2008], and TV show SCANDAL), and Lea DeLaria (TV shows ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and ONE LIFE TO LIVE)

Directing: Brian Fee, making his directorial debut. Writing: Kiel Murray (CARS [2006]), Bob Peterson (FINDING NEMO [2003]), and Mike Rich (SECRETARIAT [2010], RADIO [2003], and THE ROOKIE [2002]). Composing: Randy Newman (MONSTERS UNIVERSITY [2013], SEABISCUIT [2003], JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH [1996], and the upcoming TOY STORY 4 [2019]).

(SUMMARY)

Lightning McQueen (Wilson) is still as popular as ever and still considered a champion after all these years. But then a harsh reality settles in when a rookie racer named Jackson Storm (Hammer) starts surpassing him in speed and starts winning the races. Sadly, he’s also a jerk to Lightning and eventually, Lightning’s inability to keep up causes him to spin out of control and he experiences a horrible crash. Though out of the game for a few months, Lightning is determined to decide for himself when he quits, not the voiced of those who think he should. After signing on to a new sponsor, headed by Sterling (Fillion), promising to train him to the point of being just as fast as Storm, with the help of the young and eager trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), whose training methods frustrate Lightning as a big race approaches that will determine his staying power in the sport of racing.

(REVIEW)

It’s surprisingly better than I thought, but… yeah, it’s still just okay. I admit that there is a certain level of poetry to see a career and proud racer learning to accept his age and growing increasingly aware that his time may be coming to an end, but wanting to end on his own terms, not because others are telling him too. It can be surprisingly brutal, so when McQueen is determined to prove his worth, it is pretty easy to get sucked in to his story. Sadly though, the movie is mired in predictability and a ton of lame and unfunny jokes. The moment a certain plot point crops up, you know exactly where the story is going to go. Even though it’s handled well, the rest of the movie getting to that point simply feels like filler. By no means bad, it’s still not consistently written well like Pixar’s previous work. While being the most memorable and poignant of the Cars films, it’s still not up there with Pixar’s greats.

My honest rating for CARS 3: 3/5

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AllEyez

Starring: Demetrius Shipp Jr. In support, we have Kat Graham (ADDICTED [2014], DANCE FU [2011], and TV show THE VAMPIRE DIARIES), Lauren Cohan (THE BOY [2016], and TV shows THE WALKING DEAD and CHUCK), and Danai Gurira (TV show THE WALKING DEAD and upcoming films BLACK PANTHER [2018] and AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]).

Directing: Benny Boom (S.W.A.T.: FIREFIGHT [2011]). Writing: Jeremy Haft (STREET KINGS 2: MOTOR CITY [2011] and GRIZZLY MOUNTAIN [1997]), Eddie Gonzalez (STREET KINGS 2: MOTOR CITY), and Steven Bagatourian. Composing: John Paesano (ALMOST CHRISTMAS [2016], video game MASS EFFECT ANDROMEDA [2017], animated film SUPERMAN/ BATMAN: APOCALYPSE [2010], and upcoming films MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE [2018] and PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING [2018]. Cinematographer: Peter Menzies Jr. (GODS OF EGYPT [2016], THE INCREDIBLE HULK [2008], LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER [2001], and the upcoming animated film PETER RABBIT [2018]).

(SUMMARY)

Tupac Shakur (Shipp Jr.) started off as a normal kid growing up with his lawyer mother Afeni (Gurira) and his younger sister. But when the kids are forced to live in California, Tupac quit school to earn money to take care of his sister. He started rapping and didn’t take long before he was signed on to his first studio. In just a couple years, he became one of the most controversial and popular rappers in the 90’s.

(REVIEW)

I wish I could say this movie got me into the life of one of the most popular rap artists of all time, but… it’s a movie I feel like I’ve seen a dozen times over, particularly in STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (2015), or in better films like MOONLIGHT (2016). While that acting is good, particularly Graham as a young Jada Pinkett Smith is the spitting image of the younger version of the real-world woman, and Shipp Jr. does bring a ton of energy to the role he’s been given, it just doesn’t do anything particularly new. Give COMPTON a little credit, you can argue that it came out around the time when police brutality was getting a ton more media attention in recent years, and could be interpreted as a call-to-arms against that kind of bullshit. This movie is just a standard biopic. Plus, I’m going to be on Jada Pinkett Smith’s side and say that it’s tasteless for the film-makers to throw in a poem that she never knew existed until years after Tupac’s death all in the name of a forced, directionless, and unimpactful romance subplot. It’s not the worst, I suppose, but I couldn’t get into it.

My honest rating for ALL EYEZ ON ME: a weak 3/5

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Starring: Scarlett Johansson (GHOST IN THE SHELL [2017], THE JUNGLE BOOK [2016], HER [2013], and the upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018]), Jillian Bell (FIST FIGHT [2017], OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY [2016], and 22 JUMP STREET [2014]), Zoë Kravitz (ALLEGIANT [2016], MAD MAX: FURY ROAD [2015], X-MEN: FIRST CLASS [2011], and the upcoming FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM 2 [2018]), Ilana Glazer (THE NIGHT BEFORE [2015] and TV show BROAD CITY), and Kate McKinnon (GHOSTBUSTERS [2016], TV shows SNL and THE VENTURE BROS, and upcoming animated film FERDINAND [2017] and animated TV series THE MAGIC SCHOOL BUS RIDES AGAIN). In support: Demi Moore (WILD OATS [2016], CHARLIE’S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE [2003], and G.I. JANE [1997]), Ty Burrell (FINDING DORY [2016], MUPPETS MOST WANTED [2014], and TV show MODERN FAMILY), Colton Haynes (SAN ANDREAS [2015], and TV shows ARROW and THE GATES), and Paul W. Downs (TV show BROAD CITY), who also co-wrote the script.

Directing and co-writing: Lucia Aniello. Composer: Dominic Lewis, known for FIST FIGHT, MONEY MONSTER (2016), and THE DUFF (2015). Cinematographer: Sean Porter, known for 20TH CENTURY WOMEN (2016) and GREEN ROOM (2016).

(SUMMARY)

Jess (Scarlett Johannson) is a city counselor, and about to get married. Her best friend from college, Alice (Jillian Bell), has planned a fun weekend in Miami, Florida to celebrate, along with their other friends Blair (Zoë Kravitz), Frankie (Ilana Glazer), and Pippa (Kate McKinnon). After a wild night of drugs, drinking, and dancing, they return to their rented home and hire a stripper. Unfortunately, Alice accidentally kills the man and the ladies panic and try to figure out what to do next.

(REVIEW)

Yup, didn’t like it. Raunchy comedies and I rarely get along, and this is no real exception. Far too many jokes are sex or drug related and I just can’t laugh at this brand of shock humor when it’s been done countless times before with no real variation. Even if there is a joke done in a different way, that doesn’t automatically mean comedy. While I do admit that there are a couple legit surprises that I didn’t see coming, and some of the reaction shots can be humorous, making this arguably my favorite movie that McKinnon’s been in, none of this really prevents the movie from being bad. It’s by no means the worst – can’t be too mad at a movie that I knew wouldn’t be funny to me – but I don’t see myself seeing this movie again. Only see this if you do like raunchy meaningless comedy, but even then, I think there’s funnier and better comedies out there.

My honest rating for ROUGH NIGHT: a weak 3/5

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Starring: Mandy Moore (TANGLED [2010], A WALK TO REMEMBER [2002], and THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: THE ROYAL ENGAGEMENT [2001]), and Claire Holt (TV show THE ORIGINALS, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, and H20: JUST ADD WATER).

Directing and co-writing: Johannes Roberts (THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR [2016]) Co-writing: Ernest Riera (THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR). Composer: tomandandy (SINISTER 2 [2015]), RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION [2012], and THE HILLS HAVE EYES [2006]). Cinematographer: Mark Silk.

(SUMMARY)

Loving sisters Lisa (Moore) and Kate (Holt) are on vacation in Mexico, mostly because Lisa is getting over a bad break-up because she’s apparently too boring. In an effort to spice up her life and show her boyfriend up one, Kate drags Lisa in a cage dive to see sharks. However, not long after they get submerged and see three great white sharks, the cable to their cage snaps and the crane breaks off the boat and the three young women plummet to the ocean floor. With no communication to the surface, rapidly depleting oxygen, and bloody wounds attracting the sharks, it becomes a series of desperate gambles to stay alive.

(REVIEW)

I wanted to like this, I really did. But I do not. I honestly don’t know how this movie is feature-length. Leave the cage, get eaten by a shark. Stay in the cage, hang out, be safe, let search and rescue do its job. This movie shouldn’t be very long. But it’s one of those movies where you’d be justified in screaming at the screen, “Oh nah, girl, don’t do it!” “Bitch gonna get eaten!” This movie is so poorly written that I an curious if I could make a drinking game out of it: take a shot for every time Moore says, “Please be careful,” “I am so scared,” “No, please, don’t go.” Seriously, someone try this out for me when it comes out on Blu-Ray. There is great atmosphere, and some chilling visuals I give it that. But the story falls flat when it comes to characters that are annoying and an ending that feels like such a slap in the face of the viewers, I can’t recommend this movie to anyone. No, not the worst. I didn’t think I’d like it, but it’s not good.

My honest rating for 47 METERS DOWN: a weak 3/5

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Starring: Sally Hawkins (PADDINGTON [2014], BLUE JASMINE [2013], JANE EYRE [2011], and upcoming films PADDINGTON 2 [2017] and GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS [2019]) and Ethan Hawke (THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN [2016], BOYHOOD [2014], DEAD POETS SOCIETY [1989], and the upcoming VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS [2017]).

Directing: Aisling Walsh. Writer: Sherry White. Composer: Michael Timmins. Cinematographer: Guy Godfree

(SUMMARY)

Set during the 1930s in Marshaltown, Nova Scotia. Maud Dowley (Sally Hawkins) is an arthritic woman with a talent for simple paintings. Unable to take care of herself, she sets out to look for a job to provide for herself. As fate would have it, a local impoverished fish peddler Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawk) is looking for a woman to take care of his small house while he’s out on his rounds trying sell fish and wood. She takes the job and though their relationship is beyond rocky, the two eventually strike up a complex relationship, leading to an imperfect but loving marriage, all the while the local townsfolk flock to their home to buy her increasingly popular paintings.

(REVIEW)

It kills me to do a quick review on this movie, but I’m paralyzed on what to say about it other than… it’s one of the best romance films of the year. Both Hawkins and Hawke are phenomenal and flawlessly bring to life a relationship that is so unconventional, so complex and complicated, yet so tender, meaningful, and beautiful that I can’t help but gush. With gorgeous landscapes, cute, but memorable artwork, and unforgettable performances, this is one of those few reminders that a movie doesn’t need to have the biggest drama or greatest of stakes to be compelling, or to overly dramatize to make interesting. All it needs is to give you a raw and passionate look into the life of a woman who may not have changed the world, but definitely changed and warmed the hearts around her. And wiping away the tears in my eyes, I happily say that this brilliant films warmed mine.

My honest rating for MAUDIE: 5/5

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MY COUSIN RACHEL review

How is this movie rated PG-13?! It’s cousins having sex, getting married, and possibly killing each other! What the hell?! Fine, whatever! Different time period, different location!

So news to me, this is actually based on a book, which was adapted once before back in 1952. To my understanding though, the incest was heavily cut down to near-nonexistent. I guess that’s why this movie was made: to faithfully adapt the novel this was based on. But really… were we really clamoring for this? Oh well.

To be fair, before seeing this, I was only interested because… “My Cousin Rachel”… starring Rachel Weisz? There were jokes waiting to be made! But this was a serious and dark kind of story and cousin-on-cousin screwing aside, it didn’t look… awful per se. In fact, elements were intriguing. The movie was about this married couple and the husband passes away. Our main hero suspects that his cousin Rachel was responsible. However, upon meeting her, he becomes infatuated with her and begins to fall hard… though she doesn’t seem to share the same feelings. Yup! It’s that kind of movie! Hence, why I was actually pretty excited for this. I could always afford to see a bat-shit crazy movie like this.

Let’s take a look at the cast. Starring, we obviously have Weisz (DENIAL [2016], CONSTANTINE [2005], and THE MUMMY [1999]) and Sam Claflin (THEIR FINEST [2017], ME BEFORE YOU [2016], and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES [2011], where he also played a character named Philip.). In support, we have Holliday Grainger (THE FINEST HOURS [2016], CINDERELLA [2015], and ANNA KARENINA [2012]) and Iain Glen (RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER [2017], EYE IN THE SKY [2016], and TV show GAME OF THRONES).

Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Roger Michell, known for HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (2012), MORNING GLORY (2010), and NOTTING HILL (1999). Composing the score is Rael Jones, known for a ton of short films and documentaries. Finally, the cinematographer is Mike Eley, known for NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS (2010) and a ton of short films and documentaries.

Overall, I’m sadistically looking forward to this. I love a fun and insane movie, so bring it on! Sanity’s overrated anyway.

This is my honest opinion of: MY COUSIN RACHEL

(SUMMARY)

Philip (Sam Claflin) was an orphan, until his older cousin adopted him and raised him as his own. After traveling afar, the cousin met up with a mutual cousin of theirs named Rachel (Rachel Weisz). The two married and before long, the cousin fell ill and eventually died, but not before sending a cryptic letter that seemed like he was in trouble and it’s later decided by Philip that Rachel is responsible for his death. Soon, he receives word that Rachel is visiting and Philip intends to confront her. However, when he meets her for the first time, he is immediately struck by her beauty and becomes increasingly convinced that she may not be what he initially thought and the two strike up a benign relationship… until he starts to develop feelings for her.

(REVIEW)

Hmm… it’s about as bat-shit as I thought it’d be… and yet, it wasn’t. It’s kind of weird.

Here’s what I mean, the movie is almost ripe to be self-parody, but the movie treats its own subject matter like it’s the norm. Suddenly, the cringing isn’t as strong because everyone has a nonchalant attitude toward cousins marrying and having sex. Again, I emphasize that I understand different times periods and places, so certain taboos today may not have been so taboo… whenever this movie takes place. I think that’s one of my initial pet peeves with this movie: the year is never specified. I mean, there’s horse-drawn carriages and not a single motorized vehicle ever makes an appearance, so… presumably pre-1880’s? I have no idea, y’all. But I guess the exact date doesn’t quite matter.

Let’s get some of the positives out of the way. The acting is quite good. Weisz is amazing in anything that she does, so she’s a class act here. And was she really speaking Italian? There’s a scene where she was speaking to an Italian character and she looked damn comfortable speaking it. Any who, Rachel is this woman who is clearly grieving over her dead husband slash cousin, but she constantly conducts herself as a pleasant and self-sufficient individual. She even vehemently protests when Philip secretly gives her an allowance, claiming that it makes her look like a beggar and that she’s only there for his money, which isn’t the case. But she is a sweet woman who cares deeply for her cousin and eventually cares for him in all the wrong ways.

Philip is… another story entirely, and I quite honestly don’t know how to feel about him. At first, his actions and motivations seem like they make sense. Who wouldn’t have guessed from the ramblings from the cousin that Rachel was responsible for his death? However, from the moment he met Rachel, I’m somewhat lost. I know the implication is that Rachel is so damn attractive that he’s totally entranced by her beauty, therefore forgets to question the death of his cousin. So the story essentially loses focus because… THE POWER OF BONERS CANNOT BE DENIED!!!

Now I’m not entirely sure if the rest of the movie is either that brilliant or that unfocused, but here’s what I’m getting out of this. Bare with me, this might get more convoluted than the movie intended. While Philip is being all hypnotized by Rachel, I feel like the way the movie’s shot and written is trying to keep the audience distanced from anyone’s particular point of view. I feel like we’re supposed to know that Philip’s infatuation is moronic and the audience is expected to maintain our suspicions of Rachel and make the deductions ourselves. I suppose that’s where most of the fun of the movie came in for me, which is odd to say because this movie isn’t meant to be “fun.” I honestly didn’t know what to make of Rachel. She seemed pleasant enough, but any really good murderer would be charismatic and unassuming, but it’s not like she doesn’t feed us suspicions. She’s incredibly persistent when it comes to serving tea to Philip. Kind of makes you wonder certain things. You keep your caffeinated horse piss to yourself, lady! Actually, I’m a “soak it with honey” kind of guy, but no one cares about that. My little theory that I went into could entirely be me grasping at straws, finding something good to say about it, but it’s entirely possible that this movie abandons its murder-mystery premise in lieu of an icky cousin-cousin romance, then dear God, what kind of sick novel was this? In order to preserve my sanity, I’m going with my theory.

I’m honestly trying to come up with a legit problem with the movie. I feel like the unfocused stuff that I mentioned earlier does feel like an issue and even my excuses for why that is feel like I’m just apologizing for the film in some way. On the other hand, that does feel like the point of the film. On the other other hand, does that mean this story is pure shock value? Throwing in an uncomfortable scenario for the audience to cringe at as opposed to actually making educated and logical guesses as to whether or not Rachel killed her husband?

I’m sure I’m missing something. This has to be a popular book for it to be adapted to the big screen twice. But honestly… yeah, this wasn’t something I could get into. And I wanted to this to be grotesquely enjoyable. Instead, I felt more confused than anything else. I can’t pretend that this was the worst thing in the world because I do enjoy the lead actors very much. I also can’t deny the gorgeous costumes and I do find my mind remembering the cinematography quite a bit, as well as the ending being deliciously nuts. However, this movie wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It’s not the worst watch, but I think it’d help audiences interested in seeing it to not go in expecting a one-hundred percent bat-shit insane movie that would get a cult following like I did. I’d say unless you’re a die-hard fan of Weisz, save this for a either a discount theater viewing, or better yet, a rental. It’s not the strongest recommendation, I certainly don’t see myself revisiting the film, but I won’t pretend to have gotten nothing out of it.

My honest rating for MY COUSIN RACHEL: 3/5

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Quick Reviews: THE WEDDING PLAN / DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL / BERLIN SYNDROME

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THE WEDDING PLAN

In this Israeli romantic dramedy, Michal (Noa Koler) is a woman on the eve of getting married, just one month away. Unfortunately, her financé breaks up with her. Despite her devastation, she refuses to give up her wedding date and sets out to find a replacement husband.

Yeah, it sounds pretty crazy, and it kind of is, but I can’t deny the level of raw truth and honesty comes from this obviously insane plot. There’s a tremendous amount of emotion weaved into it and you surprisingly feel for Michal. It’s a tad predictable and due to the amount of drama, it’s not exactly laugh-out-loud funny, but it is carefully well-written and Koler is a remarkably charming and engaging actress to keep you interested in how it’s going to end and how Michal will end up in the story. Despite it’s religious undertones, it’s not forcing them upon the audience and just showcasing how her religion affects her and what it means to her, which is something that Pure Flix can learn from. By no means perfect, and this certainly won’t be for everyone, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy myself. I say, if you get the chance, give it a watch. It’s cute for what it is.

My honest rating for THE WEDDING PLAN: 4/5

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In this family road-trip comedy based on the kids books, Greg (Jason Drucker) is a kid who just wants to have fun during his summer vacation. But his lame parents decide to take a road-trip to visit their his grandmother for some quality bonding time. Naturally, hi-jinks ensues and the trip is nowhere as smooth as anyone had hoped.

It’s awful. Even for a kids film, it’s utterly garbage. I went in hoping to simply be bored with lame jokes, but I wasn’t ready for the sheer amount of immature humor that would await me. There’s all manners of poop, pee, and vomit jokes that left me feeling like I needed a shower worse than the characters did. Already, this movie had me squirming in disgust, and that’s just in addition to all the other problems. Bad jokes that drag out, utterly stupid resolutions to problems with the simplest of answers, a painfully obvious and distractingly Asian brother, a family that doesn’t resemble anything remotely close to their stick-figure drawings, I wouldn’t recommend this movie to a toddler, let alone to any kid who might be interested. Don’t see it. It’s trash. Not even a rental. Spare your kids’ brain cells and show them anything else other than this.

My honest rating for DIARY OF A WIMPY KID: THE LONG HAUL: 1/5

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In this erotic thriller, a young woman named Clare (Teresa Palmer) is touring across Germany, taking in the sights. Not long later, she meets the dashing Andi (Max Riemelt). However, things take a horrible turn for the worst. Clare and Andi have sex and soon realizes that she can’t leave the apartment and that she must remain there for his pleasure.

I have no idea what the hell this movie was trying to be. Was it supposed to be a psychological analysis of how serial rapists get started? A cautionary tale of not traveling alone as a woman? No matter what this movie was supposed to be, it’s atrociously awful at conveying it! Do you want to know all of what this movie is? A hot white girl being the personal sex slave of a sick German asshole that the movie wants you to sympathize with and she does extremely little to fight back. She resists only in the beginning. But even after that, she’s got glass bottles, boiling water, and other hard objects to fight back with and frustratingly never utilizes a single thing to fight back, or even really does a good job of calling for help. It’s an unbelievably unpleasant film to sit through and clocking at a two hour runtime, I felt like it shared THE GODFATHER’s running length. If you’ve never heard of this, good. Keep it that way. And better yet, never see it.

My honest rating for BERLIN SYNDROME: 1/5

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EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING review

Aww, little Rue is all teen’d up and ready to be all Hallmark.

Kidding aside, I have to say that while I’m pretty interested in the two young leads, this doesn’t look like it’s going to be the best flick. It looks like it’s about this young girl who has a weak immune system and is confined inside her house for the rest of her life. That is, until she meets the dashing boy next door, whom she obviously falls in love with and decides to leave the house to experience the world and possibly put herself in mortal danger. So… BUBBLE BOY (2001), but if it was a tween romantic drama.

Anywho, I said I was interested in the leads, so here they are. Our romantic focuses are Amandla Stenberg (RIO [2014], THE HUNGER GAMES [2012], and TV show SLEEPY HOLLOW) and Nick Robinson (THE 5TH WAVE [2016], JURASSIC WORLD [2015], and TV show MELISSA & JOEY).

Stenberg will forever be remembered as the young tribute girl Rue, who was cute and charming as a button. But who remembers that random, pointless, and stupid controversy surrounding her? You know, the one where “fans” of the book went the racist route and protested why Rue was portrayed by a black girl in the movie, even though Rue in the book is, in fact, black. Yeah, first off, who the hell cares? Stenberg never deserved that backlash, but thank the powers that be, there was a swift response in her defense and despite the intensity of that controversy, it was mercifully short-lived. I am happy to know that Stenberg has kept working, and if memory serves, does a lot of work as a feminist, and keeps busy in other avenues of art, like co-writing a graphic novel. That’s pretty cool.

And Robinson, arguably my favorite talent in this movie. I will forever love him as the dweebie, but well-meaning kid from MELISSA & JOEY, one of my favorite sitcoms in recent years. But I am thrilled to know that he’s done pretty well for himself outside of the show and its cancellation. I mean, JURASSIC WORLD?! That’s huge! I mean, he wasn’t the best character in the movie, but it proves my belief that he is a talented young actor. Yeah, he stumbled a tad when he was cast in 5TH WAVE, but so did everyone else, and again, he wasn’t that bad in it. I certainly wish he’d be given better roles than these damn obvious young-adult roles because he has the talent to do better things. Well, you gotta get your name out there somehow, right? I’m sure he’ll be fine in this movie, but I hope it’s not so bad that it ruins his career.

In support, we have Anika Noni Rose (THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG [2009], DREAMGIRLS [2006], and animated TV short series VIXEN) and Ana de la Reguera (THE BOOK OF LIFE [2014], COWBOYS & ALIENS [2011], and NACHO LIBRE [2006]).

Now for the crew. Directing is Stella Meghie, known for unknown projects. Penning the screenplay is J. Mills Goodloe, known for THE AGE OF ADALINE (2015) and THE BEST OF ME (2014). Composing the score is Ludwig Göransson, known for CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (2016), CREED (2015), WE’RE THE MILLERS (2013), and upcoming films DEATH WISH (2017) and BLACK PANTHER (2018). Finally, the cinematographer is Igor Jadue-Lillo, known for THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT (2010), PASSENGERS (2008), and THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (2005).

Overall, no, I doubt it’s going to be good. I’m hoping it’ll be cute enough for what it is and the acting will elevate it a little, but I said the same thing about THE SPACE BETWEEN US (2017), so I guess I’m expecting this to be on a similar level.

This is my honest opinion of: EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING

(SUMMARY)

Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) just turned eighteen-years-old, for all the good it means. Since she was young, she’s been diagnosed with SCID: severe combined immunodeficiency, meaning she can’t leave the house, lest she get severely sick from germs and quite possibly die. But her world gets turned upside down when a new family moves next door and she develops an infatuation for the boy, Olly (Nick Robinson). The two strike up a relationship that evolves over time and Maddy starts to believe that maybe dying after a short time in the outside world and experiencing all that she’s missed is more preferable than living the rest of her days inside her home only to wonder what is out there.

(REVIEW)

Oh wow. If you ever wanted to get really mad at a movie, then this is the one for you.

I think it might be fair to point out that this movie, while never ever really good, it doesn’t… objectively speaking, start off terrible, though it does touch upon a pet-peeve of mine: opening narration. All it consists of is, “This is my mom. She’s a doctor,” or, “This is Carla (Ana de la Reguera), she’s my nurse,” or literally showcases a cartoon explaining how SCID works. Thing is, there was no reason to narrate a single thing in that opening. None of what we see would require an explanation that the movie wouldn’t already explain down the road. If you’re going to narrate something, then it has to be more a more tactical reason. Like… something that the movie won’t explain at any point. That might. But that’s not the case here, and ends up ruining some emotional opportunities not long after this.

For example, despite having a morbid and sympathetic lifestyle, this opening narration renders Maddy into a pretty bland main character. Her motivations are there and Stenberg is a fine enough actress to get the emotions down, but there’s still nothing to make you completely on board with her. I understand that she’s got this condition that confines her inside her home, so it’s only natural that she’d be dreaming of what the outside would would look like. But again, that narration completely anchors down the maximum emotions that a scene could provide. We already know that this one particularly glassy room is her favorite because she already told us that she can imagine the glass disappearing and she’d be free to roam around. Imagine how much more powerful a scene could have been if we never heard that narration and we just had a quiet scene, Maddy walks into the room, and just sits quietly staring out into the wild blue yonder, her fingertips only barely touching the glass wall separating her from the outside. We would totally get it. It would be so much more of a powerful visual, but having that narration treating us like children sucks out any emotional connection. It’s wasted opportunity.

Certain characters are also introduced not in the best of lights or pointlessly. The mom, for example, you never really feel safe around her. I don’t want to make it sound like she’s creepy or anything, but she comes off as something of a bitch. Like when Olly and his sister pay them a friendly neighborly visit, offering the mom a bundt cake. But she does the following: rudely speaks in short sentences despite her polite smile. She rejects the bundt cake. Understandable, but still, she just simply says she doesn’t want it instead of explaining that her daughter would be unable to eat it because of her illness. So… yeah… bitch. And Carla barely has any role in the movie other than to be kicked out of their lives when the mom finds out that she secretly agreed to let Olly inside the house for a personal one-on-one with Maddy, risking her life. Though, to be fair, there is a funny reference when the new nurse comes around named Nurse Janet (Marion Eisman), who is very strict with Maddy’s daily routines, and Maddy nicknames her Nurse Ratchet. I admit, that had me laughing.

Unfortunately, the good moments are too far inbetween by this point, and I found myself going to sleep. I totally missed the part where Olly’s dad attacks him outside their home and Maddy runs outside to help, only to suddenly have her mom come home and fire Carla shortly after, which I did see. So… not sure how much of the movie I missed, but it’s still not a good sign to know that your movie can have you counting sheep instead of getting invested in the characters.

Some serious red flags start cropping up when Maddy and Olly take a spontaneous vacation to Hawaii. After the two run away from home and hitch that ride on the plane, I have a difficult time in believing that when the mom gets the police notified, it would take as long as it does to get those kids. Here’s what I mean, Maddy and Olly go to Hawaii and have their fun. But a flight from… where does this movie take place? Screw it, on the west coast, let’s say. That’s a five plus hour flight. I guess since Maddy’s mom is a doctor that her work hours would be long, so a flight to Hawaii starting in the morning, or even the afternoon, it wouldn’t be implausible for the two of them to reach Hawaii before she gets home, but that still begs the question where the hell the nurse is in all this. One would think the mother would almost have a rotation of nurses constantly keeping an eye on Maddy to prevent crap like this from happening, but no, Maddy was scot free. I imagine if this took place in reality, the nurse would have called the mother and would have been told to call the police. The police would have been notified in an hour or so and then would have reached out to air traffic control, the air marshal maybe, to let them know the situation, and Maddy and Olly would have been taken into custody the moment they landed in Hawaii. But nope, we need a sappy twenty minutes of runtime to make Maddy feel good about herself. Oh, and to let her have sex. That too.

And am I the only one who thought Maddy was kind of unnecessarily written as a bitch when she broke it off with Olly via Skype? I mean, he went with her to Hawaii, despite what trouble he’d get into with both his family and Maddy’s mother, and helped her when she fainted, getting her to the hospital to save her life, and then breaks off their relationship not long after. This sort of comes out of nowhere. Why was this incident in Hawaii her sudden epiphany that the two of them can’t have a future together? Why was that moment so different compared to every other moment since they met? What did she think was going to happen?

I do admit that there are at least a couple scenes that lent itself to some creativity. So by a certain point in the beginning, Maddy of course strikes up her relationship with new-boy Olly and they can only communicate through texting at first. Did anyone happen to see the Liam Neeson movie, NON-STOP (2014)? You remember those scenes where Neeson’s chatting up entire lengths of dialog through texting the bad guy? I was deathly afraid that this movie would go this route and be boring as hell. Thankfully, the filmmakers had some foresight and did something with this texting back and forth thing. You see, Maddy also has a hobby of creating models. In this case, designing restaurants and such. The first scene involving texting takes place in this imaginary restaurant while Maddy and Olly are physically talking, bringing to life the texting conversation. The dialog is definitely obvious “texting” dialog, but it works for the most part. When something meaningful is being said, Maddy and Olly are shown to be in close proximity. When she’s being defensive or otherwise withholding, she appears farther from him. It’s pretty creative and they do this for every one of their texting scenes, albeit taking place in a different setting.

So… with all this being said, it doesn’t sound like there’s anything too bad to get angry over, right? It sounds like this movie is what it is. Meant for a young-adult audience, a dumb date movie for teenagers, nothing too offensive, right?

WRONG!!!

***SPOILERS***

***

***

There’s a twist in this movie. Oh yeah is there a twist. And it’s not a good one. So after Maddy gets sick in Hawaii, she goes to the hospital and then goes home, learning her lesson. Funny thing, the doctor that took care of her gave her a phone call and got it into Maddy’s head that she may not have SCID, but rather something less dire. I bet you can tell where this is going. You’re right! You are absolutely right! The mother lied to Maddy her entire life about having SCID. Why? Early on, we learned that Maddy’s dad and brother were killed in a car accident. Maddy did get sick one day, possibly due to an allergy, but then decided, “Screw this! I lost my husband and son, I’m not losing my daughter!” The obvious conclusion that any rational human being can come to? LIE AND SAY THAT SHE HAS A CONDITION THAT KEEPS HER LEASHED IN HER OWN HOME!!! But of course! That’s the answer to life’s problems! Lie and manipulate events to keep yourself from losing everything that you have, even if that means denying your child a normal life!

This twist is beyond insane. Despite Maddy’s rightful outrage and devastation, she reveals that she’ll forgive her mother in time. I have no idea why. It’s not like the mother is stable enough to warrant it. Look, people deal in tragedy in different ways. Fine, she’s protective of her daughter, but that’s no excuse for anything that she did. She’s a doctor that made up a false diagnosis in order to keep her daughter from going outside where bad things happen. Never mind how stupid that sounds, that’s gotta be all kinds of illegal that would get her license as a medical practitioner revoked faster than the speed of light. The world is harsh and cruel, and some of us don’t make it, but she denied Maddy a proper existence. Granted, she’s not a grown-ass adult in her mid-thirties, but that’s not something that can be bounced back from, or certainly forgiven for. This mother pissed me off so damn much and this twist ruined the entire damn movie.

***

***

***END SPOILERS***

Overall, I don’t recommend this movie. The acting’s nothing to write home about and anything positive to say about the movie, while present, isn’t enough to hold up the movie at all, or even all that worth seeing. It’s contrived, it’s sappy, far-fetched, and the ending is beyond insane that shatters any semblance of good that this movie was failing to try and go for. I really do like both Robinson and Stenberg as actors and I hope this movie doesn’t leave a negative impact on their careers and they find success in the future, but this movie should be forgotten about and never mentioned again. Maybe the tween crowd will enjoy this movie fine, but for anyone wanting to see a legitimately good young-adult romance, this isn’t the movie. I don’t even recommend it as a rental. Save your money, save your time. You’re not missing anything.

My honest rating for EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING: 1/5

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PARIS CAN WAIT review

Hmm… EAT PRAY LOVE (2010). Is that the easiest aesthetic to compare? American middle-aged woman goes on a vacation across Europe to experience what the varying cultures have to offer and what have you. But give this movie some credit, I actually feel a tad excited to see it. Probably moreso than I should admit.

For those that don’t know, I have a soft-spot for rom-coms. Practically raised on them. Thanks, Mom. So as it happens, some of my favorite films happen to be rom-coms. LOVE, ACTUALLY (2003), SERENDIPITY (2001), NOTTING HILL (1999), IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934), the list goes on. Even modern ones aren’t so bad. MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING 2 (2016) and EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY (2017) are some solid ones. So whenever a seemingly-good one comes along, I get a little antsy to see it.

Although, strangely, this doesn’t look like a typical rom-com. It looks like it’s about this semi-neglected wife and as she’s on vacation with her all-important husband, it’s decided that his French friend will take her to Paris and they make a bunch of pit-stops along the way. Maybe they strike up a romantic relationship, the trailer wisely doesn’t reveal that bit of info, but I’m actually kind of hoping that it remains platonic throughout. I doubt it, but it never hurts to hope, right?

Anywho, let’s take a look at the on-screen talent. Starring, we have the ageless and ever-talented Diane Lane (BATMAN V SUPERMAN [2016], INSIDE OUT [2015], UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN [2003], and the upcoming JUSTICE LEAGUE [2017]), as well as Arnaud Viard (known for French films) and Alec Baldwin (THE BOSS BABY [2017], STILL ALICE [2014], THE DEPARTED [2006], and the upcoming M:I 6 – MISSION IMPOSSIBLE [2018]).

Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Eleanor Coppola, known mostly for documentaries and shorts. Composing the score is Laura Karpman, known for BLACK NATIVITY (2013), CARRIE (2002), and video game GUARDIANS OF MIDDLE EARTH. Finally, the cinematographer is Crystel Fournier, known for French films.

Overall, I’m obviously not expecting anything ground-breaking, but I’ll settle for likable characters and pretty scenery. Something’s telling me I’ll get half of that in spades.

This is my honest opinion of: PARIS CAN WAIT

(SUMMARY)

Anne (Diane Lane) is on a business vacation with her all-important husband Michael (Alec Baldwin), who has been glued to his cellphone with business calls, practically neglecting his wife, who is eager to go to Paris. However, yet another business call takes Michael elsewhere, but one of Michael’s french business associates and friend, Jacques (Arnaud Viard), volunteers to drive Anne to Paris. Despite some hesitation, everyone agrees. Of course, Jac doesn’t take her directly to Paris. Instead, he takes her to many historical sites and restaurants along the way.

(REVIEW)

If you’ve seen the trailer, then you can probably decide whether or not this movie is for you. On a personal level, I liked it more than I didn’t, but it’s definitely got some flaws that are impossible to overlook.

I might as well just tackle the main problem with the movie, as it is very much front and center. The whole story is basically that Jac promises to take Anne to Paris, who really wants to go there, but instead makes a ton of detours to take her to eat and constantly delays her from her destination.

You see the problem yet? All this woman wants to do is go to Paris, but this dude keeps taking her on dates. The worst part of it is, Anne just goes along with it, barely ever voicing frustration. Any normal person would be like, “Dude, take me to Paris, or I’m calling the cops and telling them that you’re kidnapping me!” Or even simply calling a cab incognito and making a run for it. The first thing he does is makes her book a room in a hotel and takes her to eat in a fancy restaurant. During that scene, he starts getting really personal, and asks Anne if she’s happy in her marriage and he even mentions a story of how Michael gave an aspiring young actress his expensive watch. That watch was given by Anne as a gift and he told her that he lost that watch. Oh, I am perfectly aware that this scene is supposed to function as fuel for our disdain for Michael, but because the previous set of dialog involved him asking to her face if she was happy in her marriage, it comes off as an obvious means to get Anne distant from her husband and leave a door open for Jac to walk through later on. It’s pretty douchie to ask personal questions and then mention a personal story.

Get this, not only is that dinner something that she ends up paying for by him putting the food on her room tab, but he makes her pay for his hotel room too! Why? Because he doesn’t have a credit card, and he has a business deal that will result in him getting cash and he’ll pay her back when they reach Paris. Clearly, Anne must be outraged and throwing a justified tantrum over his actions, right? WRONG! Oh sure, she gives a disapproving look, like her kid just called her a doodie-face, but that’s the extent of it. She forgives him for his intrusive questions. She forgives him for making her pay for his room and the dinner. And this pattern repeats throughout the entire movie. They constantly make detours and he constantly makes her eat at restaurants, and I can only assume that she’s constantly paying for all of them. There’s a scene where his car breaks down and, get this, he’s all care free and wants to picnic, killing off probably a good hour or two before deciding to check the car for what made it break down. Go freakin’ figure though, Anne knows cars and fixes it with her pantyhose (broken fan belt and apparently, tightening the pantyhose can be a poor-man’s fix to get it to the shop).

I guarantee you, if anyone acted like a real human being in this movie, it’d be ten minutes long. Anne would refuse to go to any detours and insist on going to Paris that day. Even if she was weird enough to be suckered into going to the hotel and that dinner, she would’ve let him stay in that hotel to work off the debt while she called a cab to take her to Paris. No one would ever let this crap drag this long.

I know everything I just said would be enough argument for anyone to think that this movie isn’t for them and will skip it. Not that I would argue, but do I agree with that? Eh… not really. Here’s how I survived this movie. I took it by individual scenes, rather than the entire package. The entire package will make people angry and call out this movie for how terribly written it is. But like I said, I opted to see the movie scene by scene. By doing that, the movie isn’t half bad.

The true star of the film is the cinematography. The opening shot is a simple slow zoom out of a beautiful sunny landscape with Anne looking on. While that’s happening, we hear an off-screen Michael on his phone talking about how he’s not going to be able to go to Paris or something of that nature and you see this ever so slight twitch in Anne’s shoulder, clearly overhearing the conversation and not happy with what he’s saying. It’s a brilliant moment. We don’t see her eyes or face, but we know exactly what she’s feeling.

Beyond that, this movie’s background is pure eye-candy and borderline exploitative. I didn’t mind, of course, because it’s better than a CGI backdrop or sound stage when neither would have been necessary. France’s nature shots, the architecture, the art, it’s all undeniably gorgeous to look at. And the food. Let’s talk about this food from hell. I went into this movie at 10:30 in the morning. I did not eat breakfast. I already mentioned how Anne and Jac eat a lot and that the cinematography is amazing. Can you see where I’m going with this? The food porn is pure torture. Obviously, I mean this in the best way possible, but when you’re hungry and looking at the most delicious food, the manipulation is too easy to get ensnared by. But once again, the food is shot like it was in a porno. It looks delicious. Even though I don’t know what the food tastes like, I’m sitting there imagining what that it does taste like and I really want to eat with them.

And when you take the individual scenes and block out the entirety of the story, Lane is a damn delightful and engaging actress. Her character is stupid as hell, but if you can ignore that, then Lane is great. You see bouts of a great performance, and even though her reaction shots aren’t realistic in the least, she knows how to get the emotions across. That may be of little comfort to most, but I still enjoyed her performance for when the scene called for her to be a good actor… even in the scenes that demand intense emotion that feels incredibly out of place. Viard is devilishly charming at times too. You do get this impression that he means well, despite his creepy actions and if you’ve enjoyed the cinematography in the film, it’s his actions that allow us to get eyefuls of everything, so yay for that.

Even the comedy shines through pretty well. Remember the broken-down car scene I mentioned earlier? There’s this amazing line after the picnic and Anne’s looking through the car’s engine to determine what’s wrong. Jac’s sitting comfortably in the car like a douche bag and Anne asks him a question about the car – I forget what – and he responds with, “I wouldn’t know,” to which Anne retorts with, “Of course not. There’s nothing to eat in here.” Hilarious line. And there is enough charm to make the scenes enjoyable to watch.

If I heard someone say that this was a bad movie, I would find myself unable to disagree. But if someone walked out saying that they liked it, I would agree with that too. Perhaps I was a sucker for the imagery and the acting, but even I can’t deny how horribly stupid the main characters are and how much this infects the overall story. I won’t revisit this movie, but I suppose if all you wanted to see was the scenery and get entranced by yummy food, then the only advice I can give is to ignore the idiot characters and maybe you’ll have an easier time with this than most. Other than that, I don’t really recommend seeing it in theaters. Maybe a rental if you’re that eager, but even if you skipped out on this movie entirely, you’re not missing much. I’m sure not going to see it again.

My honest rating for PARIS CAN WAIT: a weak 3/5

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THE LOVERS review

Not much to say about this one. It looks like it’s about this older couple that have been married for many years, but it’s an unhappy marriage and they both find romance in younger partners. They think they’re going to leave their spouse when a random night makes them realize that there may still be romance between them. It looks like it could be a decent flick, but I’m curious if both the man and woman will just have the same reasons why they do and don’t want to leave the other.

Here’s the cast. We have Debra Winger (RACHEL GETTING MARRIED [2008], RADIO [2003], and TV show THE RANCH), Tracy Letts (ELVIS & NIXON [2016], INDIGNATION [2016], and TV show DIVORCE), Melora Walters (SACRIFICE [2015], THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT [2004], and TV show BIG LOVE), and Aidan Gillen (SING STREET [2016], MAZE RUNNER: THE SCORCH TRIALS [2015], 12 ROUNDS [2009], and the upcoming KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD [2017]).

And the crew. Writing and directing is Azazel Jacobs, known for projects I’ve never heard of. Composing the score is Mandy Hoffman, also known for projects I’ve never heard of, but has worked with Jacobs in most of his projects. Finally, the cinematographer is Tobias Datum, known for GRANDMA [2015] and TV show MOZART IN THE JUNGLE, as well as a few of Jacobs other projects.

Overall, I’m not super excited or anything, but I’m interested to see if it has enough to hold my interest.

This is my honest opinion of: THE LOVERS

(SUMMARY)

Michael (Tracy Letts) and Mary (Debra Winger) have been married for years. But as of late, they’ve transitioned into a loveless marriage that’s had both of them seeing other romantic interests on the side that neither know about. However, the sneaking around has become unbearable for both other lovers, and want Michael and Mary to officially break it off. However, after a night of drinking, they wake up in bed and start questioning if maybe the marriage is truly worth ending yet.

(REVIEW)

I think I got more out of it than the average person did, so I say it’s good. That doesn’t sound very convincing, does it? Well, that’s because it takes some rewiring and looking at this movie in a different light than what’s on the surface.

I have to admit that I didn’t quite like the movie upon arrival. It opens on Mary and Robert (Aiden Gillen) exchanging kisses and a couple of “I love yous.” They shared little to no chemistry and barely exchanged any dialog. So far, boring. Michael and Lucy (Melora Walters) make zero sense because she’s insane, so there’s no reason as to why Michael wants to be with her. Lucy will freak out at the slightest silly word that Michael will use that offends her and even attacks him for his phone by biting him in the arm. They’re the ones that stand out the most, but not in a good way.

You wanna know the bizarre thing, though? When Mary and Michael are together, their lack of chemistry is oddly enough really engaging. You really see the effort in their body language and lack of eye contact, short sentences with each other, it’s really amusing and ironically more engaging to watch than when they’re with their partners.

You see the initial problems that I had with this movie? The crux of the story is that Mary and Michael are in a loveless marriage and are cheating on each other for the love that their partners give them. However, Mary and Robert are boring, and Lucy’s too crazy for anyone to understand what makes her appealing. So with that in mind, how are we supposed to care about anyone ending up with each other. If I wasn’t so bored with what was being presented on screen, I might have been more frustrated. Couple that with some bafflingly bad writing that was littered throughout the first act, it wasn’t boding well for the movie and my enjoyment of it.

Maybe a couple laughs here and there, like this one visual moment with Michael visiting Lucy at her home. They have a talk that barely ends well, but then the gag comes in. He’s standing at the doorway to her office room and is leaning against it with clasped hands. Then in the background, you see a sketch of him in the same exact position. That was admittedly hilarious. It was random and it isn’t really explained if the person in said drawing was actually him or not, but in the bland sea that was this movie, I accepted the joke. And maybe Gillen was about the closest thing to the best actor in the film because there was a likable charm to him as he tries desperately to woo Mary and charm her. Ha, I found myself being charmed by the man, he was that good. But these moments were unique to the film and didn’t really happen again and I was ready to chock this up as a bad movie.

But then the real conflict of the movie happened. When Michael and Mary wake up in bed together and kiss, it causes some seriously awkward and hilarious reactions. The two of them trying to play it candid, but clearly losing their shit, it was brilliantly funny. And I will never forget Michael’s line, “What the fuck?”

And as the second half of the story progresses, it started to hit me. Was the boring first half intentional? Was that a calculated risk that writer-director Jacobs purposefully inserted in the story? The focus then shifts to Michael and Mary having affairs on their affairs. In these moments, Mary and Michael start to rekindle their relationship and the movie really picks up. The comedy is more prominent, the drama escalates, the stakes are risen, even the romance and dialog pick up a little. The story finally holds your interest all the way until the very end. It’s crazy. I wish I could quote something or give an example, but they execute the story’s ideas pretty well.

***SPOILERS***

***

***

Now let’s talk about that ending. It’s sort of left ambiguous as far as whether or not Mary and Mike reconcile with Joel, but it’s revealed that both couples end up with their lovers; Mary with Robert and Michael with Lucy. I’m not entirely sure if I agree with the two of them splitting up, since it looked like they were getting along so well toward the end, but at the same time, I do find it amusing that they still keep seeing each other and cheat on their respective partners anyway.

***

***

***END SPOILERS***

So, what? Does that mean I think the movie is suddenly amazing? Well, not exactly. As much as I can now forgive the film’s boring first half and see it as intentional for dramatic effect, that still doesn’t take away from the problems that are still present. When characters lie to each other, they’ll literally forget about the lie a few seconds later. No one’s that forgetful. General character inconsistencies, like the first couple scenes with Lucy are depicting her as a bitter and insane bitch, but then another scene will show her randomly excited to see Michael, which we never really get is a thing with her. There’s still really bad direction and writing, scenes that almost make no sense despite spending a few minutes on them, and Joel (Tyler Ross) the son is a total douche bag.

Overall, I think the movie is surprisingly better than most will believe. But despite its subtle brilliance, there’s still quite a few painfully obvious flaws that anchor the film down from being legitimately good. But I’m a forgiving guy, especially since it is a romantic comedy and I’m usually a sucker for those. However, my liking the movie may be part of a minority. I would say if you’re interested in seeing this, watch the trailer and see if it’s really something you want to see. See it in a matinee showing. That would be the best recommendation. I’m sure happy that I saw it, but I can’t say the same for everyone else. I saw it once, but I’d probably only see it again if I was channel surfing on TV.

My honest rating for THE LOVERS: a strong 3/5

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TRAINWRECK (transfer) review

These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.

Now, I’m not exactly up to snuff when it comes to stand-up comedians today, so I can’t say that I’m too familiar with Amy Schumer’s brand of humor. The only thing I ever saw her in was the Charlie Sheen roast. That was fun, and so was she, but I never saw her again in anything else despite her growing popularity. That is until I saw the trailer to her newest film, TRAINWRECK. The trailer didn’t quite do much for me, but there was enough fun humor to keep me marginally interested. I hadn’t heard anything about the film before going in other than it was written by Schumer, and was directed by the ever-popular Judd Apatow. This wasn’t getting me sold on the movie either, as I am not the biggest Apatow fan either. For me, he’s always been the Quentin Tarantino of comedies. He’s never done BAD work that I’ve seen, but his movies have never been THAT funny to me. That’s probably not saying much because all I’ve seen from him is FUNNY PEOPLE and KNOCKED-UP. But now that it’s out, I decided to go see it in hopes of getting some decent laughs.

Starring: Amy Schumer (SNATCHED [2017], and TV shows INSIDE AMY SCHUMER and DELOCATED) and Bill Hader (POWER RANGERS [2017], FINDING DORY [2016], and INSIDE OUT [2015]). In support: Brie Larson (FREE FIRE [2017], ROOM [2015], SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD [2010], and upcoming films AVENGERS: INFINITY WARS [2018] and CAPTAIN MARVEL [2019]), Tilda Swinton (DOCTOR STRANGE [2016], THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL [2014], and CONSTANTINE [2005]), LeBron James (TV shows THE LEBRONS, TEEN TITANS GO!, SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS, and the upcoming SPACE JAM 2, due out… who knows when), Colin Quinn (THAT’S MY BOY [2012], GROWN UPS [2010], and TV show GIRLS), and John Cena (THE WALL [2017], SISTERS [2015], THE MARINE [2006], and the upcoming DADDY’S HOME 2 [2017])

Directing: Judd Apatow (THIS IS 40 [2012], FUNNY PEOPLE [2009], and KNOCKED UP [2007]). Writer: Amy Schumer (TV show INSIDE AMY SCHUMER). Composer: Jon Brion (THE GAMBLER [2014], PARANORMAN [2012], and ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND [2004]). Cinematographer: Jody Lee Lipes (MANCHESTER BY THE SEA [2016] and MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE [2011])

(STORY) – SPOILERS

Amy (Amy Schumer) and her sister Kim (Brie Larson) were raised by their father Gordon (Collin Quinn) to believe that marriage isn’t realistic, due to him being a cheating bastard. While Kim grew up believing otherwise, being married with a step-son, Amy on the other hand believed it whole-heartedly. She basically sleeps around with a lot of guys, refusing to sleep over at their place, or them at hers. All the while, she is currently in a relationship with Steven (John Cena), whom doesn’t know that she’s cheating on him. On top of her sexually charged habits, she also works a great job as a writer and is being eyed by her boss Dianna (Tilda Swinton) for a promotion. That will happen if she gets the right article written about sports. Before getting started on it against her will, as sports isn’t Amy’s thing, Steven finds out about Amy cheating on him and promptly breaks up with her. Amy gets started with her first interview with sports doctor Aaron (Bill Hader). It isn’t long before the two hit it off and start a relationship, while also befriending LeBron James (LeBron James). At first things are pretty easy going until things get serious and Amy starts to figure out that she genuinely likes this guy. She gives up having guys on the side and actually wants to keep Aaron around in her life, but no real thoughts about the future. However, her relationship with Aaron and her compromised promotion at work put her in an awkward position to choose between him or work. She chooses work, the two get into their first fight, and ends their relationship. Time goes by for the both of them and neither of them are too happy. In fact, Amy is so unhappy, she gets drunk one day and nearly sleeps with her job’s new intern Donald (Ezra Miller). It’s interrupted when his mother barges in and reveals that Donald is only 16 years old. This act gets her fired from work, but finds the time with Kim to figure out what she really wants in life. In a grand gesture, removing herself from her comfort zone, she shows how much she really wants Aaron back and the two get back together. The end.

(REVIEW)

What an inconsistent mess of a film.

The premise of the film is not the issue. A woman who doesn’t see anything wrong with sleeping around with other guys, using and abusing I think they call it, I have no problem with. The reason, because she doesn’t believe in marriage. Again, no problems here. Here’s where my problems crop up. Why the hell is she in a semi-committed relationship? If all you’re going to do is run around and have sex with other guys, why be with a guy whom you know has feelings for you? She’s pretty shameless about it too. Hell, an argument can be made as to why she even bothers with a relationship at all with Aaron. Where’s the arc where she decides that she really does want to be committed? Oh sure, we get hints from time to time before she meets Aaron, but it’s so underplayed like a minor subplot, even though the point of the movie should be that shunning commitment isn’t the answer, but figuring out what works for you without judging those who would choose different.

And that’s the primary problem with the movie: Amy. Not Amy Schumer, she’s fine, but the character that she wrote… I just can’t fucking stand Amy. As much as she makes fun of her sister for choosing a family life, being a bitch, but as soon as she’s with her father, who is also an asshole, starts telling him to be nice. Really? He’s being an ass to someone and that’s not okay, but you being a bitch to your own sister and her choices, and suddenly you’re untouchable? Amy is far too mean-spirited, to be a likable character. She may have her moments here and there, proving that Schumer CAN be funny if given the right jokes and even does well with physical humor, but as soon as she has to show her personality, it’s all over the place. I want to say that’s the point of her character, and hence the movie’s title, but it comes off as awkward and doesn’t connect very well. Nothing is really explained as to why she really acts the way she acts and why she constantly contradicts herself. Amy makes no sense, and not in an entertaining way.

About the only characters that make sense are the ones that AREN’T Amy. Hader’s Aaron makes sense. He’s a nice guy, smart, practical, a little bumbling when faced with sex, there’s no shift in character. Granted, there’s a scene toward the end that causes a fight between him and Amy that seems unreasonably out of the blue, but every proceeding that characteristically made sense. There could be an argument that he’s too bland, but since the the movie centers on an inconsistent badly written character, I’d say bland is a step up. Larson’s Kim makes sense too. She’s married, has no regrets. She has a step-son, has no regrets. She stands behind her decisions and doesn’t waver. Conviction is one of my favorite aspects of any character and she sticks to her guns hardcore, making her my favorite character of the movie.

I won’t say the movie was constantly unfunny or constantly not well-written. There were definitely some jokes that had me clenching my sides and they weren’t too far apart either. There’s a good story trying to claw its way out of here, but sadly it doesn’t reach the surface. Honestly, I wager this will be its own little hit. People will see it and completely laugh and love it all the way through, so I accept that my opinion won’t be shared. But either way, did not like the movie as a whole.

2/5

trainwreck-poster