THE BOOK OF HENRY review

What the hell is this movie?! The advertising for this flick is beyond misleading. Oh, as of this moment while I’m writing, I haven’t seen the movie, but… seriously! The trailer starts off like a gender-swap GIFTED (2017). The kid is a genius who handles the taxes of the house, his mom works as a server and plays video games, and… pretty sure the younger brother is just cute pandering. The boy meets a girl he likes at school and then things go dark. Like… schoolgirl’s step-father may be abusive, dark. Like… end the trailer with the mom holding a sniper rifle, dark.

And then one of the film’s poster looks like this!

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There’s sniper rifles in this movie, kids! Be confused! Be very confused! But all that being said, I’m excited for this movie. It looks like it could be so insane that it’s entertaining.

Well, here’s a look at the cast. Starring, we have Jaeden Lieberher (MIDNIGHT SPECIAL [2016], ALOHA [2015], and ST. VINCENT [2014]), Naomi Watts (CHUCK [2017], the Divergent Series ALLEGIANT [2016], EASTERN PROMISES [2007], and the upcoming direct-to-TV Divergent Series ASCENDANT, due out… who knows when), Jacob Tremblay (SHUT IN [2016], ROOM [2015], THE SMURFS 2 [2013], and the upcoming THE PREDATOR [2018]), and Maddie Ziegler (1 episode of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, 1 episode of DROP DEAD DIVA, and the upcoming animated French-Canadian film LEAP! [2017]). In support, we have Sarah Silverman (POPSTAR [2016], A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST [2014], WRECK-IT RALPH [2012], and upcoming films BATTLE OF THE SEXES [2017] and Disney’s animated RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET: WRECK-IT RALPH 2 [2018]), Dean Norris (FIST FIGHT [2017], SECRET IN THEIR EYES [2015], TV show BREAKING BAD, and the upcoming DEATH WISH [2017]), and Lee Pace (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY [2014], LINCOLN [2012], and TV show PUSHING DAISIES).

Now for the crew. Directing is Colin Trevorrow, known for JURASSIC WORLD (2015), SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (2012), and the upcoming as-of-yet-titled STAR WARS EPISODE IX (2019). Penning the screenplay is Gregg Hurwitz, known for 7 episodes of TV show V. Composing the score is the awesome Michael Giacchino, known for ROGUE ONE (2016), INSIDE OUT (2015), MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL (2011), and upcoming films SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (2017) and WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is John Schwartzman, known for FIFTY SHADES DARKER (2017), THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (2012), THE GREEN HORNET (2011), and upcoming films FIFTY SHADES FREED (2018) and STAR WARS EPISODE IX.

Overall, yeah, kind of excited, but more curious to see just how weirdly bad this movie gets. I’m just hoping for some entertainment, not expecting a good story.

This is my honest opinion of: THE BOOK OF HENRY

(SUMMARY)

Eleven-year-old Henry (Jaeden Lieberher) is smart. Gifted. He lives with his loving single mother Susan (Naomi Watts) and his younger admiring brother Peter (Jacob Tremblay). Henry also has a crush on his neighor, Christina (Maddie Ziegler), whom he starts to believe is being abused by her police chief commissioner step-father Glenn (Dean Norris). However, his efforts to trying to save her are constantly thwarted due to Glenn’s status and his age. But as he starts to put an elaborate plan together to save Christina, things go horribly wrong for Henry.

(REVIEW)

Oh man, don’t hate me, y’all, but… I kinda like this movie. I hesitate to say it’s good, but I really like a lot that I saw. Yes yes, the tone is inconsistent as hell, but I barely care.

So yeah, the movie starts off about as… well it actually starts off pretty obnoxious. You have an intellectually gifted kid who’s only with his peers because he thinks it would help him develop more appropriately, yet when he’s supposed to talk to the class about what he wants his legacy to be and the other kids are doing what the assignment calls for, he gets so annoyingly dramatic and is all like, “I don’t put stock in legacy. It’s not about what we do. It’s about who we surround ourselves with. Our friends and family.” I winced in pain from that. But honestly, my problems with the movie end there.

From this point on, it’s a long series of character and relationship development that I honestly got really hooked by. Henry likes to make contraptions. He’s a somber kid, loves his mother and brother, fiercely loyal to them, and even has a cute battle-of-attitudes with Susan’s best friend and co-worker Sheila (Sarah Silverman). Susan is a single mom, but all the household responsibilities are taken over by Henry. He pays the bills, handles bonds, banking, all that stuff while she comfortably sits around playing video games. And for the record, Naomi Watts playing GEARS OF WAR (2006) is the greatest cinematic gift to the world since a bearded, witch-hunting, flaming-sword wielding Vin Diesel. She’s deeply loving toward her two sons and has a cute relationship with Christina, though I could have done without their complicated hand-shake. Peter is… well, okay, he’s the cute-pandering kid who’s there to be adorable, but even he has some character traits. He wants to be an inventor like Henry, even though this doesn’t really amount to anything later on in the movie, and loves spending time with Henry. I love these characters and their relationship toward one another. It’s cute and it’s engaging. I loved it.

And speaking of Watts, I thought she was SO GOOD in this movie! There’s not one moment where I didn’t believe her acting. Every scene, from the happy mother, to the emotional, to the grieving, to the bad-ass, I bought everything. Sure, there’s a lot of shit that was way too convenient, like Henry overhearing an illegal weapons transaction in a gun store where a shady man drops the name of a shady character and uses that later on in the story, but whatever, the pay off was fun, making the ending feel even more victorious and Watts knocks it out of the park for me. I laughed and cried with, and cheered for her as a woman who has to learn how to learn to find confidence in herself and learn to do things on her own. It’s a nice character arch. Of course, now that I’m typing this out, everything that I’m talking about is probably the very reason why this movie is getting such low ratings and negative reviews. What kind of mother lets her eleven-year-old son do all the important housework and she literally does nothing but drink and play video games? Well, if Susan was a more despicable character who forced Henry to do that work so she could be a lazy good-for-nothing and wasn’t a loving mother, this would be a much bigger problem for me. But since it’s Henry that put that responsibility on himself and she’s just going along with it, I can’t say that I agree with them if that’s where the criticism comes from. I would understand, but I don’t agree.

Some minor annoyances in the movie before I head into spoiler territory. As much as I enjoy Silverstone as an actress, and for all intents and purposes, she’s not bad in this, Sheila is a little too 80’s diner cliché for me. She has that nasal-y speech pattern that makes her sound like Fran Drescher, and because she’s youngish, attractive, and bustier, her boobs are out in the open, it’s a little too on the nose for my taste. Thankfully, I do enjoy the playful banter she has with Henry and how she does show that she cares about him later on, lending itself to a pretty tender and heartwarming scene… er… that is if you can ignore the VERY OBVIOUS BAD TOUCH moment. What the hell, Silverman?! You didn’t argue that shit?! Actually, there seems to be quite a few of those in this movie with adults being unnecessarily close to children, but I guess this isn’t a big deal since some of those moments are between a mother and her young children, but still… half an arm distance away, y’all.

It’s pretty hard to talk about the meat of the story without getting into spoiler territory, so that’s what the remainder of this review will be.

***SPOILERS***

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Wisely hidden from the trailers, Henry dies early on in the movie. This sort of comes out of nowhere and the tone shifts tremendously. The first quarter or third of the movie is all happy-peppy family togetherness, with hints of harsh drama, like why someone should or shouldn’t interfere in public abuse and Henry’s desperation to try and save Christina from Glenn (Dean Norris). But then suddenly, we get an eleven-year-old having a seizure, then immediately told that he has a tumor that’s going to kill him. And I was remarking on the sniper rifle thing and the happy family picture above. Yeah, we haven’t gotten to that point yet, and we’re already treated to a dead child. If this is also a contributing factor to the negativity toward the film, I get that too. It’s almost fairy-tale too happy at first and then the movie throws this at the audience. It would bother me more if the acting wasn’t so damn powerful.

Yeah, the acting in these few scenes is absolutely heartbreaking. When Henry deduces that he’s going to die, he’s absolutely paralyzed with fear and uncertainty. The way he requests to be left alone, you can’t help but get invested in the emotions, especially as he later tries to set everyone up after he passes. I know I’ve rambled about Watts a lot already, but I absolutely love her in this movie and a good performance should really be commented on when it warrants. You not only see that shock and uncertainty of how she’s possibly going to take care of herself and Peter, but the utter inner destruction of knowing that she’s saying a slow good-bye to him. Both Lieberher and Watts run through gauntlets of emotions and they’re absolutely fantastic together.

And it’s here where that Silverman “bad touch” moment happens. They have a heart to heart and admit that they really do like each other and before she leaves, she plants a kiss on his lips. Yeah… it’s a little too ewie for me. Hell, I think Henry had the same reaction as I did because that kid’s eyes widen. I’m with you, kid. Ew.

So when Henry does die, he leaves behind a notebook that goes through every scenario he went through as he tried to call child protective services to save Christina, but utterly failed, going through why any official channels won’t work. And by the way, I’m declaring this a movie line, but when Peter reads Henry’s book, he runs down and hilariously shouts, “Mom! I think Henry wants us to kill Glenn!” Oh my god, I’m still laughing about that. God, I love Tremblay. Even when he’s given thin roles, he knows how to make them entertaining as hell.

Not all of the writing is good post-death scene. In fact, a couple of scenes are downright awkward. Susan is told to go home to grieve, but Sheila races after her and have a really weird and senseless conversation. It was such bizarre writing that I don’t actually remember what she was babbling about. Something about her car, or some shit. There’s also a somewhat inappropriate comedy moment when Peter’s at school with a lunch box full of unhealthy food, looking at it like he’s bored, and then says, “Anyone wanna trade from some fruit?” And then a crap ton of hands lay down fruit as they take his treats. Funny, but… this is barely ten minutes after Henry’s death scene. We’re still wrestling with the emotions of that. The comedy is really out of place here.

But these gripes don’t anchor the movie down too bad as it starts picking up again when Susan starts following Henry’s instructions, nabs herself a flawless plan to literally murder Glenn and get away with it. It’s so silly to see her taking directions from a recording, especially when Henry’s voice is commenting on things that he couldn’t possibly know would happen. But yet again, this would be a bigger problem if Watts wasn’t so damn hilarious as she discovers that she’s a pretty decent shot with a sniper rifle. Not that she ever utilizes it when she’s got Glenn in her sights, which… didn’t make much sense.

Yeah, after she drops off Christina and Peter at their school’s talent show, she’s off to try and kill Glenn. She’s out deep in the woods and you know what she does to lure him out? She makes whistling sounds through a walkie-talkie to which he follows the whistling to the designated place where she’s going to kill him. I say again, a sound that is coming from a walkie-talkie taped to a tree at least a quarter mile away in a forest… Glenn heard that whistling from within his enclosed house. It’s about as stupid and senseless as it sounds. In fact, this whole scene is pretty out there. Her arm knocks over a doohickey which does this thingy- basically, it makes a bunch of noise that she’s supposed to ignore as she snipes a child-abuser and said child abuser doesn’t hear that racket when he’s not that far away. Eventually, all that shizz opens up a collage of family photos that somehow means that Susan can’t pull the trigger. But I do like that when Glenn realizes what she’s up to moments later that he can’t fight against her determination and kills himself, eventually resulting in her adopting Christina at the end of the movie. And as anyone can tell you, I’m a sucker for adoption stories… even though that wasn’t the focus of the movie, it worked well enough for me. Sure, there’s probably a million ways around this situation for the guy. He is the police commissioner after all, and Susan’s a waitress at a diner who doesn’t know how to pay her own taxes. I can’t imagine a court case lasting long in her favor. But the fact that they decided, “Screw it, forced happy ending,” saves a little time and I liked this ending as is.

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***END SPOILERS***

Overall, it’s not a perfect film. Far from it, actually. In fact, I hesitate to say that it’s even good, as most of the things that I love about the movie are likely the reasons why it’s not getting well received by critics and audiences. But I won’t lie. I love the acting. I love the family bonding. I love how even within dramatic shift in tones that shouldn’t work still managed to keep me both interested and emotionally invested. It’s hard for me to know how to recommend this movie and who might enjoy it. My highest recommendation is to watch the trailer and get a sense if this movie is for you. If you think it might be, play it safe and see it at a matinee screening, in case you don’t like it, you at least didn’t waste too much money. If you think it’s not for you, I can hardly argue and I see why it wouldn’t be. But as for me, I’m happy I saw this movie and do see myself revisiting it. Maybe not twice at the theaters, I certainly won’t own it on Blu-Ray, but if it was on Netflix or TV while I was channel surfing, I’d watch this again, definitely. Maybe it’s just a guilty pleasure, but it’s still a pleasure to watch it nonetheless.

My honest rating for THE BOOK OF HENRY: 4/5

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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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THE DINNER review

Boy howdy is there a reception on this one. Already it’s being hailed as a contender for one of the worst movies of the year by early ratings and reviews. Really…? I mean, I’ll get to how implausible that sounds because of the cast, but this movie deserves a little history lesson first. Yes, this movie isn’t just some movie. It’s actually, no surprise here, an adaptation of a Dutch novel that was written back in 2009. Thing is… that novel was adapted by the Dutch in 2013, which was met with mixed reviews, likely more negative than positive. Then in 2014, the Italians adapted this book to, again, mixed reviews, but likely more positive than the Dutch version. So I guess now in 2017 we Americans need a slice of that mediocre pie and it looks like we’ve made the worst version of them all. ‘Murica: Improving on other countries’ shit since never!

It’s hard to believe considering the talent here. Steve Coogan (RULES DON’T APPLY [2016], PHILOMENA [2013], OUR IDIOT BROTHER [2011], and the upcoming DESPICABLE ME 3 [2017]), Rebecca Hall (THE BFG [2016], THE GIFT [2015], and THE PRESTIGE [2006]), Richard Gere (NORMAN [2017], CHICAGO [2002], and PRETTY WOMAN [1990]), Laura God damned Linney (NOCTURNAL ANIMALS [2016], THE NANNY DIARIES [2007], and THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE [2005]). How do you do that?! In support, we also have Chloë Sevigny (LOVE & FRIENDSHIP [2016], ZODIAC [2007], and BOYS DON’T CRY [1999]) and Charlie Plummer (TV shows GRANITE FLATS, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, and PERSON OF INTEREST).

Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Oren Moverman, known for RAMPART (2011) and THE MESSENGER (2009). Fun fact, this movie was supposed to be Cate Blanchett’s directorial debut, but for whatever reason, Moverman took her place. Finally the cinematographer is Bobby Bukowski, known for IMPERIUM (2016), 99 HOMES (2014), and RAMPART (2011). I guess this movie doesn’t have a score?

Overall, yup, not looking forward to this. I ought to brace for some torture.

This is my honest opinion of: THE DINNER

(SUMMARY)

A video on Youtube is posted depicting two teenage boys murdering a homeless woman by setting her on fire. These teens are the sons of their respectable and wealthy parents, Stan (Richard Gere), a politician, and Katelyn (Rebecca Hall), his wife, as well as Stan’s school teacher brother Paul (Steve Coogan) and his wife Claire (Laura Linney). They both go on a double date and discuss what to do about the footage and the crime that their respective children have committed.

(REVIEW)

I paid full price for this.

Holy fuck, this is one of the most despicable movies I’ve seen all year. You read that summary right. That is what this movie is about and there is nothing else to it. It’s pretentious as all fucking hell and has no redeemable values. Get ready for a ton of cursing, folks, because I really hate this movie.

If there was a way for me to instantly hate a movie before the title of the film appears, this achieved that in spades. Already I hate teen archetypes, as if teenagers only ever party, drink, and have sex, but that’s how this movie starts. But you know what, that’s possibly being too harsh. I mean, the opening is only a couple minutes long after all. Out of a 120 minute flick, surely the first couple minutes aren’t all that damning about it. Nope! The rest of the 118 minutes is worse! So much worse!

First of all, I couldn’t get through the first hour before napping. I’m not even entirely sure how much of the film I missed, but I guarantee you, it wasn’t much… or depending on your point of view, not enough. The story doesn’t really kick off until the first hour’s over, and in that first hour, all we get is a shit-load of Coogan narration about who-gives-a-shit. Paul is atrociously unlikable in that he is quick to judge the entirety of the human race and calls everyone “apes.” Yup, apes. As if he is on some grand, higher level of thinking and existence that gives him the clout to look down on everyone around him, when really, he comes off as a petulant child who got one too many hidden Playboy magazines taken from him as a pre-teen. To make matters unbearably frustrating, the movie almost exclusively follows him because that narration of his barely shuts up. His backstory makes no sense either. Paul was a high school teacher who believed that the kids would love him because he would make education fun. But then he goes on multiple tangents about how kids these days don’t want to learn. How can education compete with Facebook, Twitter, and literally rolling off every single social networking site that exists with the surprising exceptions of Myspace and Friendster. The fact that this man is so opposed to social networking and teens with cellphones in general, it’s a gigantic wonder how he even knows the difference between Snapchat and Instagram. Hell, I’m part of that generation myself and I don’t even know the difference! Paul is so pretentious, it’s almost cartoonish, but with zero enjoyment. And you wanna know how we learn all this stuff about Paul? It’s never shown to you in the movie. It’s all done through contrived exposition via voice-over! And in conjunction with the most pointless flashback sequences that I’ve ever seen in a film, I promise any insomniac that this movie will cure the fuck out of you. No promises that it won’t give your soul cancer though.

Notice how I’ve only raved about one character so far. I’d do the same with the rest of the core cast, but honestly, they’re such wallpaper paper in this movie that I can’t find too much more to say. Gere and Hall barely look like they’re trying to act. Gere is so deadpan in his line deliveries and Hall looks like she’s awkward and fucking miserable. Linney’s definitely trying the hardest out of all of them and it almost works, but due to the lack of connection with anyone’s character or motivations, you’re never interested in anything that she, or anyone for that matter, is saying. It’s a bunch of rich people thinking of ways to use their influence and wealth to keep the matter contained and secure their respective children’s futures.

Ugh, and let’s talk about this… apocalypse of logic. These kids are walking around at night looking for an ATM machine, find one, but a homeless woman is sleeping there. The kids are being fucking little shits by poking her, kicking her, which ultimately escalates to them lighting her on fire, laughing at her as she suffers and dies. All of this is recorded and put on Youtube. The video even has a “sequel coming soon” tagline at the end. First of all, I fucking doubt Youtube would condone someone posting shit like that and having stay up for more than a few seconds. That would be flagged like a mother fucker and the police would be called and taking action far before the rich sleazy parents are done with their first glass of million dollar wine and rare Swahili cheese or whatever the fuck. But never mind that horseshit. These kids are fucking monsters, one of them even tries to justify it by saying that it was a joke. I can’t imagine a single real-world parent that wouldn’t march their kid down to the police station to confess what they did and accept the consequences. Why these parents wouldn’t do the same thing for their kids is beyond me. “Their futures will be ruined!” Yeah, no shit! Their lives are going to be ruined anyway! Send them to church and have them be born again Christians when they get out, but letting them get away with murder is only going to invite a mentality that they can get away with it. What, with their probable busy schedules, are they going to do to keep their murderous teens in line? The teens have little to no respect for their parents, so unless they were planning to lock them up in the cellar and beat them with Bibles until the mere thought of harming even a fly is repulsive, all they’re going to do is rebel and do it again.

This movie isn’t even to bad, it’s entertaining. As I previously stated when I said I fell asleep, this movie is BORING. Boredom as a result of horrendous writing that feels like it’s trying to be deep and insightful through cynicism, but comes off as the psychotic ravings of a moody teenager who got his cellphone taken away by mommy and daddy. To complement the bad writing, there’s a great deal of terrible directing to boot. I distinctly remember in the opening sequence with the partying teenagers where the sequence concludes with a pair of cops entering the party and looking around, supposedly to break it up and possibly arrest someone for underage drinking. Thing is, as you watch, the cops enter, they’re so unemotional that you’d swear they were there to join in on the shenanigans. And no teen has any real reaction to them so I’m wondering just how much of my joke is genuinely a joke. And the editing is lame enough for me to notice how bad it is. In this same scene I’m talking about, the very next shot after the cops walk in to the party is our teenage “protagonists” that we’ll eventually see commit horrible things to a defenseless woman. As most anyone knows, I don’t have an eye for bad editing. So if I can spot it, that should tell you how bad it was.

***SPOILERS***

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I don’t think this is a spoiler, but in fear of the idea that there’s at least one person out there that is really excited for this movie and will find it Shakespearean, I will consider this important information that I, as a film-goer who respects the experience of watching a movie in theaters, will treat it as important information. *Sigh* So at first, you think the movie is going to kind of redeem itself when Gere’s character, Stan, is adamant that they turn their children into the police. I don’t know why it took a hundred minutes to get to this point, but fine, something sensible is actually being said in the movie. But then just as your hopes are on the rise that these little wastes of sperm are going to get their comeuppance, it’s fuckin’ Linney’s character that some fucking how manages to bitch and moan enough to change his fucking mind! No! Stan was quickly becoming the best part of the movie, as he was saying that he was going to withdraw his candidacy from being state Senator or whatever the fuck, but no! Reformed-psycho Mom decided the bitch and moan and that was enough to sway him! Fuck this movie, man!

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***END SPOILERS***

Overall, this movie is beyond frustrating and doesn’t make a lick of real world sense. This one hurt, people. It really hurt. The stale acting, the atrocious characters, and a myriad of problems from start to finish make this one of the worst movies of the year. No, I do not recommend this movie to anyone, I don’t care who you’re a fan of. Save your soul from being crushed and skip this forever.

I paid full price for this.

My honest rating for THE DINNER: 1/5

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SNATCHED review

*Groan*

You know, I’m not gonna lie, I’m not the biggest Amy Schumer fan. I mean, she’s been funny before in her stand-up, but as anyone who knows me really well knows, I’m not exactly a fan of her brand of raunchy humor. I won’t even necessarily say that she’s insulting in a bad way, she isn’t by any means, but her jokes aren’t that funny to me. She rarely makes me laugh, or even chuckle. I see where her popularity comes from and I don’t blame anyone who likes or loves her work, but I can’t say I’m in the same boat.

Having said that, I looked at this flick and didn’t think too highly of it. I mean, when do I ever when it comes to comedies? I figured it’d just be a comedic take on being kidnapped by drug lords or whatever. I have a feeling it’s going to be a popular watch on Mother’s Day, but I doubted it’d be good. Then I saw the early ratings. RottenTomatoes has this at an eyebrow-cockingly low 39% (as of 5/11/2017), but what staggered the crap out of me throwing me for a damned loop was IMDb’s rating: 2.3/10 (as of 5/11/2017). Ho… ly… shit. That bad? I mean, damn, I figured it wouldn’t be amazing, or even all that good, but… 2.3?? I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I can’t comment on my own opinion, but I can’t find anything in the trailer that would indicate such a low rating. If nothing else, I’m interested in knowing if I agree.

Let’s take a look at the cast. Starring, we have Schumer (TRAINWRECK [2015], SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD [2012], and TV show INSIDE AMY SCHUMER) and Goldie Hawn (THE BANGER SISTERS [2002], THE FIRST WIVES CLUB [1996], and PRIVATE BENJAMIN [1980]). In support, we have Ike Barinholtz (SUICIDE SQUAD [2016], SISTERS [2015], and TV show THE MINDY PROJECT), Wanda Sykes (ICE AGE: CONTINENTAL DRIFT [2012], MONSTER-IN-LAW [2005], TV show BLACK-ISH, and the upcoming BAD MOM’S CHRISTMAS [2017]), Randall Park (OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY [2016], THE INTERVIEW [2014], and TV show FRESH OFF THE BOAT), and Joan Cusack (POPSTAR [2016], MARTIAN CHILD [2007], TV show A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS, and the upcoming TOY STORY 4 [2019]).

Now for the crew. Directing is Jonathan Levine, known for THE NIGHT BEFORE (2015), WARM BODIES (2013), and THE WACKNESS (2008). Penning the screenplay is Katie Dippold, known for GHOSTBUSTERS (2016), THE HEAT (2013), seven episodes of TV show PARKS AND REC, and slated for the upcoming THE HEAT 2, due out… who knows when. Co-composing the score are Chris Bacon (SOURCE CODE [2011], hilariously credited as Chris P. Bacon in SPACE CHIMPS [2008], and TV show BATES MOTEL), and Theodore Shapiro (WHY HIM? [2016], DANNY COLLINS [2015], JENNIFER’S BODY [2009], and the upcoming CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE [2017]). Finally, the cinematographer is Florian Ballhaus, known for ALLEGIANT (2016), MARLEY & ME (2008) and DEFINITELY, MAYBE (2008).

Overall, no, I’m not excited for this, but I can’t imagine agreeing this wholeheartedly with these low ratings. But I guess I’m going to find out sooner or later, huh?

This is my honest opinion of: SNATCHED

(SUMMARY)

Emily (Amy Schumer) is about to go on vacation and is beyond excited for it. However, her musician boyfriend Michael (Randall Park) breaks up with her so he can tour with his band. Desperate to find someone to join her, she’s forced to ask her overly-cautious mother Linda (Goldie Hawn) to come with her, who reluctantly agrees. At first, their vacation is enjoyable enough, and Emily even meets a nice and attractive guy named James (Tom Bateman), who takes her out partying. But after taking both Emily and Linda on a drive into the middle nowhere, they are quickly abducted by a local crime lord named Morgado (Óscar Jaenada). They manage to escape and find themselves on the run from him.

(REVIEW)

*Groan* Oh yeah, it’s bad. But… I’m not sure if it’s 3.2/10 bad (as of 5/18/2017).

Alright, so right off the bat, the humor is incredibly forced and almost doesn’t even make sense. The opening scene is Emily in a store, presumably shopping for herself for an upcoming vacation right. And she’s talking to another woman, presumably a friend of hers. But then a few seconds later, we’re privy to the truth. She’s at work, not attempting to make sales at the clothing store she works in, is about to go on this vacation that she never requested time off for, and gets fired. Here’s the observation in that first five to ten minutes: I see the set-up, I understand the punchline, but it’s not funny. Let’s break down the joke because, yes, comedy, good and bad, should be analyzed. Emily got fired from her job for being a shit employee, right? But then she’s all like, “No, please, I really need this job.” Well, shit, what kind of reaction did she think she was going to get by doing the things she was doing in front of her boss? She and the guest were talking like they knew each other, but I think any normal person would turn around and get away from some crazy employee oversharing their personal shit. Why didn’t Emily ask for time off from work? Most jobs permit you to request time off, provided you notify your manager within a reasonable amount of time. Even if you work those jobs that don’t, just get someone to cover your shifts. This really shouldn’t have been a hard thing to think through for Emily. None of her actions suggest that she “really needs this job,” so why make a big deal out of it?

That’s the entirety of this movie: structured jokes that have no punch. Even if you did laugh, you’re face-palming yourself thinking, “Jesus, girl, you are trying way too hard.” Some jokes think that they’re so funny, they’re repeated over the course of the story. Take Barinholtz’s character, Jeffrey, Emily’s brother. His shtick is calling his mom “Muh-ma” over and over. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, but that’s something that he does nearly every time he’s on screen and it gets old in the scene it was introduced in.

I suppose if I had to pick any moments where I wasn’t bored with the humor, I did enjoy Jeffrey interacting with the government official dude over the phone. I suppose their banter was a little funny. I also didn’t hate Joan Cusack, who plays a former special ops character without a single line of dialog, but her physicality and expressions are over-the-top, but it’s still pretty humorous seeing her be all hardcore despite spending the movie in a sundress. But then again, how can you go wrong with lady-Cusack? The Cusack clan’s always known how to act. And you know what, fine, I thought Schumer and Hawn had good chemistry. They never really said anything funny, but they knew how to work off of each other. So there’s that too.

If you were to ask me if I thought this or TRAINWRECK was better, I’d say they’re more or less on par. While TRAINWRECK certainly followed a character that was horridly unlikable and not once did I care about her ending up happy, I couldn’t deny that I enjoyed Brie Larson and Bill Hader’s performances, and I did chuckle at LeBron James and John Cena. This movie isn’t funny, but it makes up for following characters that are at least a little more likable, so it’s really apples and oranges as to which I like better. Honestly, probably this just because of the unlikable factor, but I don’t ever see myself watching this again. It’s a comedy that doesn’t work, and it’s sad that this is Hawn’s first movie since 2002. I don’t recommend this movie. Maybe if you’re a die-hard Schumer fan and know her brand of comedy, then I think you’ll enjoy yourself fine. But as for the rest of us who actually want comedy in our comedies, this is a pass.

My honest rating for SNATCHED: 2/5

snatched

THE CIRCLE review

Um… *raises my hand* Movie! Movie, pick me! I don’t know what you’re about! It looks like a movie about being in the center of everything that’s going on in the world and doing what they can to help those in need. My personal observation is that it’s going to prove too good to be true and comes at a high moral price that our hero doesn’t want to pay and gets into a heap of trouble. But yeah, no idea. Just spit-ballin’.

Let’s take a look at the cast. Starring is the ever-popular Emma Watson (BEAUTY AND THE BEAST [2017], THE BLING RING [2013], and THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER [2012]). Love her or hate her as an actress, it’s pretty hard not to have respect for this woman who has fought so hard for gender equality for most of her young adult life, making some valid points along the way. But shes certainly never lost sight of how she got her platform in the first place, by being in some pretty solid work in film. She’s a fine actress and though her days of being Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films may be long behind her, but she’s still a hero for many out there. Next up, we have the multi-generational legend himself, Tom mother f**kin’ Hanks (INFERNO [2016], SAVING MR. BANKS [2013], CLOUD ATLAS [2012], and the upcoming TOY STORY 4 [2019]). I’ve ranted about this man before, I can’t keep doing it without sounding like a broken record. You know him, you love him, Tom mother f**kin’ Hanks, ladies and gentlemen. In support, we have Ellar Coltrane (BOYHOOD [2014]), the rising star that is John Boyega (STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS [2015], IMPERIAL DREAMS [2014], TV show 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY, and upcoming films and STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI [2017] and PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING [2018]), Nate Corddry (EQUITY [2016], ST. VINCENT [2014], and THE HEAT [2013]), Karen Gillan (THE BIG SHORT [2015], GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY [2014], OCULUS [2013], and upcoming films GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 [2017] and JUMANJI: WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE [2017]), and the dearly departed legend, Bill Paxton (EDGE OF TOMORROW [2014], TITANIC [1997], and ALIENS [1986]), making this his final completed film. Anyone else get just a little depressed?

Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing is James Ponsoldt, known for THE END OF THE TOUR (2015). Co-writing and author of the original novel this movie is based on is Dave Eggers, known for WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE (2009) and writing the novel A Hologram for the King. Composing the score is *double take* Danny Elfman (FIFTY SHADES DARKER [2016], BIG EYES [2014], and FRANKENWEENIE [2012])?! What are you doing out of your Tim Burton corner?! Get back to where you belong before I get the tranq gun! Finally Matthew Libatique (MONEY MONSTER [2016], IRON MAN [2008], and THE FOUNTAIN [2006]).

Overall, I haven’t the slightest idea what to expect. I can’t even speculate. So… adventure, ho!

This is my honest opinion of: THE CIRCLE

(SUMMARY)

Mae (Emma Watson) has just been hired into a very prestigious company, focusing on the collection of global information, known as The Circle, ran by its mastermind, Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks). She is quickly taken in by their agenda of creating a safe and secure world of accountability and truth. Mae is quickly sucked in to it despite the skepticism of her friends and family. But as Mae climbs the ranks within The Circle, she starts to forget basic human rights, despite good intentions and could lead to drastic and life-threatening consequences.

(REVIEW)

Oh shit is this movie bad. Like, really bad. Almost insultingly bad.

So the whole basis around this movie, THE BEST I CAN FIGURE, is that it revolves around a company that’s sort of like Apple, on the cutting edge of ground-breaking technology and such, except their expertise is the accumulation of knowledge to be shared around with any and everyone hooked into the company’s servers. Thing is, almost right out of the gate, there is zero sensibility and one hundred kinds of hypocrisy. The Circle’s ground-breaking tech is camouflaged cameras that can be placed literally anywhere and take pictures, perform facial recognition, without the need, or perceived need, for warrants or permission. Now, you’d think this is the major conflict of the film. This young woman is about to work for this huge-ass company, popular in every way possible way – and not possible way, as the story continues – that you can think of. And I can see what this movie is essentially trying to be: an argument for the government that maybe they have the right idea in having such unlimited access to anyone and everyone’s personal information, their whereabouts, everything, and having the good sense to know what to do with that information, and actually do some good with it, while also showing what the reaction from the general public would be if such invasion of privacy could happen and the reaction when it’s mishandled, even abused. However, the consistent sin of the film is that this isn’t the conflict. This isn’t what the movie ultimately is about. It’s about how if one abuse of invasion of privacy is bad, resort to another abuse of it, and that will suddenly make it okay. It’s complete and utter bullshit to a magnitude that I’m not sure I can fully comprehend.

The movie barely acknowledges that the actions of these characters is in any way a violation of privacy laws, or even that it’s creepy as all hell. But it’s fully capable of acknowledging that its characters can do whatever the hell they want without any repercussions whatsoever. Let me give you an example. The first scene where we’re introduced to Hanks’ Eamon Bailey is during this company seminar and Bailey is rolling out his new camo-cam. I know I’m probably repeating a lot, but this really needs to get analyzed in order for people to understand what kind of shit-storm that’s being offered to them. This company prides itself on how information is free and open to the those that are watching. So literally, everyone who has a “Circle Account” can simply log in and watch this seminar take place. Bailey explicitly says that he didn’t put up his cameras on the beach with permission of any kind. Okay… with a company as famous world-wide as it is… HELLO, POLICE! WAKE THE HELL UP! Law enforcement of any kind, where the hell are they in coming down on The Circle. Yes, there’s a Senator that’s trying to dismantle the company to no avail, but a senator isn’t the police, the FBI, the CIA, none of them. How is it that a company like this can exist without a shit-load of government agencies raining a hurricane of investigation on them? This shouldn’t be that hard to catch them red-handed, especially considering how blatantly open they are about their activities. Just log on to their servers, and figure it out from there! Now that I’m thinking about it, why bother with the camo-cam if you’re just going to have a server that’s going to show what those cameras are shooting to the mass public? Just set up a normal cam, if you’re that freakin’ confident in your own bullshit. There’s even a bit in the seminar where Bailey reveals he’s got, like, a hundred cameras set up in a single location.

Okay, full disclosure, since that seems to be the theme of this movie, I have a couple of adios mf’s in me right now, so if I end up prattling on about stuff… enjoy the nonsense, I guess, but can you really blame me? If you saw this movie, you’d need a long island-variant in your system too in order to understand it. Ugh, moving on.

Even the audience introduction into this company is awkward as all hell. When Mae gets the job, she goes in for her interview. Instead of the standard, “Why should we hire you?” “What do you do if a guest complains?” they ask the most random questions, which you can witness in one of the trailers for this movie. They ask, things like, “Sonic, or Mario?” “Will you go out with me?” “The needs of the many, or the needs of the individual?” They’re all tests of some kind, but you never get a sense of what the purposes of these questions are. The best I can determine is more about how they’re answered and the answer given determines the… desirability of the employee. Is that even a word? You know what, if a movie can get made about ignoring laws, I can ignore the dictionary. Either way, WHAT THE HELL?! Oh and get this, the movie is kind enough give you a tour of the grounds of The Circle company, composed of buildings! Lots of buildings! None of which you’ll ever see the inside of! Maybe I should explain. Mae is touring with her friend, Annie (Karen Gillan). But you’d swear she was hopped up on caffeine pills and a unicorn frappuccino with an injection of pure adrenaline because she’s talking so damn fast and pointing at every damn thing. “That’s the blah-blah building where we blah-blah, and that’s the west wing where we blah-blah-blah, and over there is the blah-blah where we blah.” You’re not following a single thing that Annie is saying and because so much information is being hurled at you, you couldn’t possibly store all that information away. Not that it matters because, like I said, you’ll never go into those buildings anyway, rendering that entire fifteen seconds completely pointless. Oh, except for that one funny line, “Your legs are so long!” uttered by Watson. I admit, that was funny. Is Gillan freakishly tall? Doesn’t matter, moving on.

How about how this movie thinks real people act? Oh boy, let me tell you! So The Circle doubles as a social media platform. Probably goes without saying since this company feels like all information should be open to any and everyone. But anyway, the movie thinks that everyone on social media is blood-thirsty and downright bipolar. How do I mean? When Mae uploads a picture of one of Mercer’s wooden deer antlers, the internet at large practically castrates the poor guy, calling him a deer killer and harassing him mercilessly. Um… did Mae not think to mention in some sort of caption, “Not real antlers. Made of wood”? Even had that been an oversight, by the time news of this reached her, this should have been an easy and fast fix. “Hey guys, back off. Mercer’s antlers are made of wood. They’re not real antlers!” And then the internet would have shut their mouths and apologized. But no, Mae never sets the record straight!

And this entire incident is being viewed life on The Circle’s cameras, so you’re wondering where the God damned police are in all this.

***SPOILERS***

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***

Wanna know where this ends up? Toward the last third of the movie, Mae introduces “SoulSearch.” A program that will enable the ability to find any given person in under twenty minutes, with the help of The Circle community. After putting away a criminal in its demo, they try again, but this time, they want to find Mercer, who wants to remain off the grid. Here’s where I have all the problems with how this movie portrays everyone. First off, I can buy the every-person helping to track down a wanted criminal, especially a child-killing mother. This makes sense. But why would anyone want to hunt down a random dude who still believes in privacy and being left alone? Why would a random person on the street go out of their way to expose someone like that. Mercer isn’t a criminal, but you have a couple of assholes who treat finding him like it’s a game, and continue to harass him and call him a deer killer. I’m pretty sure the common person would just ignore the request if it wasn’t a matter of life and death. But no, this movie has Mercer just trying to be left alone, takes his truck and drives away. You’d think that’d be the end of it, but no! They hop into their cars and chase after him! If that wasn’t enough, The Circle has drones following overhead. Yes, f**king drones… and one of them flies in front of Mercer, who naturally freaks out, which causes him to swerve off a bridge, and dies. And it’s only now that everyone who berated him now starts to feel empathy and sadness over his death. Bullshit. Especially when people are saying things, like, “It’s not your fault, Mae.” Uh, no, it is Mae’s fault. She had all the power to say “no,” and she didn’t commit to it. Peer pressure. That’s what the decision boiled down to. And The Circle doesn’t claim any responsibility for their part in Mercer’s death. I’m pretty sure someone said that no one could have seen this happen. Right, so f**k you guys who keep claiming that we need to live in a society of accountability and I don’t see a single f**king person being held accountable! Mae holds herself responsible for Mercer’s death because of her program; rightfully so! She is partly to blame. The assholes that chased Mercer? They were a part of his death! Where’s their accountability?! And The Circle! It was a Circle drone that caused Mercer to drive off the bridge! So never mind that it was a Circle program that violated Mercer’s privacy, common Circle users hunting him down in the name of The Circle, but The Circle is DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR MERCER’S DEATH!!! AND NO ONE IS HELD ACCOUNTABLE!!! This is a new low in hypocrisy!

***

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***END SPOILERS***

How about the characters? Are they any good?

HA!!! Nope!

One would think that Mae would represent the every-person. We do live in an age where we are pretty dependent on our tech; phones, Ipads, and such. And Mae is transported into a world where technology allows you see into… well, pretty much everything. Later on, she becomes so grateful for the tech provided by The Circle that she immerses herself in the tech by going, “transparent,” wearing a camera at all times that provides a live feed for every second of her day, and anyone and everyone can see what she’s doing, including brushing her teeth. She eventually goes on to incorporate new branches of the tech provided by The Circle and becomes a pretty prominent face of the company. Thing is, she sees nothing wrong with these blatant violations of privacy. Or maybe she does, through some facial expressions, as expressed in this one scene with Gina and… whoever that other guys was. In this scene, it’s been expressed by these two characters – by the way, creepy as f**k – that Mae hasn’t essentially signed in to the company chat room where she can express her personal concerns and what have you. This is a ten minute scene of total skin-crawling and unease. She goes to see the… I guess the company doctor. Kind of like a “school nurse” but for the company. Makes her ingest a micro-chip via a drink. Yes, a drink that syncs up to a wrist-watch that tracks where she is, and WHO THE HELL GREEN-LIT THIS TECH???? Point is, Mae is not a character that anyone can connect with. At least, not as effectively as anyone writing this screenplay thinks. She gets too engrossed into this company’s goals that at some point, connection with her character is completely severed. Where once her motivations can be kind of justified, later on contribute to a problem that this movie already doesn’t care to think is a problem.

How about some other noticeable talent? That kid from BOYHOOD is in this movie. Is he good in this? Surprisingly no. In fact, if you want to see the worst this movie offers, see any scene where Watson interacts with Coltrane. Is Coltrane just a bad actor, or was he given bad direction or dialog? The two actors have zero chemistry. It’s like every scene they have together was a rehearsal take, not actual effort in acting. And Coltrane himself is so deadpan in his line delivery. Mercer is supposed to be the neighborhood kid who used to be close friends with Mae, maybe the two have a crush on each other, but have drifted apart in recent times, but still maintain a good relationship. But every line that Coltrane delivers is literally just “smile and put no emotion into the delivery of it.” There’s a scene where Mercer’s privacy is violated after Mae shows off his wooden sculptures of antlers and he wants to confront Mae about it. However, even here Coltrane doesn’t emote correctly. His character is being ridiculed and consistently harassed online by tens of millions of people calling him names and wrongfully accusing him of killing animals, and you’d swear each line delivery was more like he got hit by water balloon from a neighborhood brat. He was really good in BOYHOOD. It was one of my favorite movies of 2014, if not my favorite. He was a decent enough child actor at the time and he was fine enough toward the end of the movie, so… what happened here?!

What about Finn from FORCE AWAKENS?! He’s in this movie. He’s gotta be awesome, right?! NOPE!!! He is literally in this movie to do nothing. I’m not even kidding, his character is here to contribute nothing to the movie. Boyega plays Ty, the original creator of The Circle, whom I guess was muscled out by Bailey when he had his own ideas how the company should be handled. This is pure speculation, by the way; their relationship is never explained. Anyway, he then went off the grid and became notorious for not being able to be found by anyone, almost to the point where no one even knows his face. He acknowledges that The Circle blatantly violates privacy laws and he never wanted that for his company. Yeah, for a character who’s barely in this movie, he’s the only truly likable character. First time he shows up, he shares Cupcake wine with Mae. Second time, he leads her down dark, creepy hallways to areas where there’s not a single person in sight. Again, is this movie a closet horror film? These bits had some seriously rapey vibes to it. Essentially, this builds up to her being shown an abandoned subway that Bailey plans to fill with servers that will house all the information his programs will capture. This scene is supposed to spark skepticism in Mae. It never does, so this scene with Ty is completely pointless. But at least it left you with a ton of discomfort!

***SPOILERS***

***

***

Ty does come back in the end and helps expose Bailey and Senator Stenton (Patton Oswalt) via a powerpoint presentation. Trust me, we’ll get to this exposure scene in a second, but you’re still sitting here wondering… couldn’t Ty do this himself awhile ago? Why did he need Mae to help him with this shit?

But now it’s time to explain this random-ass ending and how completely insane it is. After Mae has returned to The Circle in light of Mercer’s death, she decides to, what I can only guess, take over The Circle by exposing shady emails and correspondences from both Bailey and Stenton. Umm… when the hell did this become a plot-point? Where do I begin with this? First off, even though The Circle is a creepy place, it’s not filmed that way. We know this company has the best of intentions. But we’re never privy to the notion that either Bailey or Stenton are corrupt in any way. They’ve been pioneering the whole “Down with privacy” thing, but it’s only in this scene, as sporadic and senseless as you can imagine, the movie gives us our bad guys in the final sixty seconds of the movie. We don’t even know how these two men are corrupt, or what they did to warrant being exposed as villains. Nothing about this is explained. Mae just pulls the carpet out from under everyone and everyone watching during this seminar is completely on board with this insanity. They made this joke earlier in the movie, during Mae and Ty’s first meeting, where they say something like, “Everyone’s almost cult-happy here. ‘Drink the kool-aide’!” By the end of this movie, I was entirely convinced that this wasn’t a joke, but rather the very reason why any of this is allowed at all!

Is Hanks any good? Not… particularly. I mean one of his final lines is delivered funny. “We are so fucked,” and then proceeds to take a sip of his coffee, and I hesitate to say that he’s bad, but he’s put out much better performances and much like Watson, you can tell that he’s trying to deliver a good performance, but the terrible writing hinders his efforts tremendously and all you can think about is, “Tom, please tell us which producer has your family held hostage! Your fanatically loyal fanbase will take up arms and help you free them from captivity!” It’s heartbreaking. It really it.

But if you wanted something truly soul-crushing… if you wanted the penultimate proverbial stake driven through your beating heart… if Coltrane is the one actor not trying hard enough, then Bill Paxton is trying too damn hard. I’m not even kidding, this may arguably be the worst thing about the movie, depending on where you stand with the mountain-loads of issues already piling up. Paxton plays Mae’s father, Vinnie, who has cerebral palsy. Before I get into his amazing performance… are you kidding me?! In Paxton’s final movie, before he died of a stroke thanks to a botched surgery, he plays a character with cerebral palsy! I know these things aren’t in any way connected, but does anyone else get just a little extra depressed, and even a little frightened, by this? There’s something to say here; I just wouldn’t know what. But anyway, he does give us a fantastic show. I really believe that he has this illness. When he’s trying to lift a spoon up to his mouth, I really believe that he’s struggling with it. Even his speech patterns, how he almost has to put effort into saying words and complete sentences, it’s heartbreaking. I’m choosing to call it the saving grace of the film, as a good performance shouldn’t be ignored.

The cold, sad truth is that I can see how a good, challenging movie could be made out of this idea if it was written smart. The idea of allowing yourself no privacy so that someone is constantly keeping an eye out for you, for your safety and well-being. For the protection of others around you and holding you accountable for your actions, maybe even preventing possible wrong-doing before it’s even conceived. I even give the movie credit that it does touch upon these ideas somewhat. There’s a bit where Mae is talking to another woman who says that she inserted tracking chips in children all in the name of making sure that they’re always kept an eye on in case some asshole tries to kidnap the child. Should it happen, then the whereabouts of the child are known and even possibly preventing something worse from happening. Even the ending has a nice point. “Our goals are noble, but how we’re trying to achieve them is not the way to do it. We need to change how things are done here.” But the problem is that these ideas are never explored, or made to look like Edward Snowden’s personal night-terror, disguised by happy-peppy sunlight and smiling faces. The only legitimate positives of the film is that the acting from Watson, Hanks, Gillan, and certainly Paxton elevate the movie a little. None of this saves the movie, but there is effort from some of the actors. I do not recommend this movie in theaters. I do not recommend this as a rental. If there’s anything worth seeing, look for every scene featuring Paxton when scenes come out on Youtube, or something. But don’t waste your time seeing the movie as a whole. It’s not worth it.

My honest rating for THE CIRCLE: 2/5

the-circle-poster

UNFORGETTABLE review

Oh my god… another one? Is there really a demand for movies like this? Is there really a league of picketers that demand at least one of these getting made once a year? And are they saying such sensible things that Hollywood will cave to make them? What the hell?

Well, here’s the cast. Katherine Heigl (THE NUT JOB [2014], KNOCKED UP [2007], TV show DOUBT, and the upcoming THE NUT JOB 2: NUTTY BY NATURE [2017]). It makes sense for her to be in this movie because… well, she’s Katherine Heigl. She’s not been America’s sweetheart for an age what with countless sources claiming that she’s a diva, difficult to work with, and slams movies that she’s been in. She’s not the most popular woman in Hollywood these days, so it kind of makes sense to see her in these backwash movies that few give a shit about. I mean, is she a bad actress? I haven’t seen her to be. She’s not the best, but she’s been fine in everything I’ve seen her in. But Rosario Dawson (RATCHET & CLANK [2016], SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR [2014], TV show IRON FIST, and upcoming TV show THE DEFENDERS [2017] and film CLERKS III, due out… who knows when)? Rosario, no… well… I guess she can be in a shit movie once in awhile and still remind us that she is one of the greatest and most bad-ass actresses working. If you can co-star in THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH (2002) and come out in a multi television cross over series like DAREDEVIL, JESSICA JONES, LUKE CAGE, all culminating to THE DEFENDERS, I’d say she don’t have a thing to worry about. Finally, Geoff Stuits (J. EDGAR [2011], and TV shows ENLISTED and THE FINDER). I have little to say about him other that I loved him in ENLISTED. In support, we also have Whitney Cummings (THE RIDICULOUS 6 [2015], THE WEDDING RINGER [2015], and TV show WHITNEY), Cheryl Ladd (MILLENNIUM [1989], and TV shows AMERICAN CRIME STORY and the original TV show CHARLIE’S ANGELS), and Isabella Kai Rice (JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS [2015], and TV shows CASTLE and TRUE BLOOD). 

Now for the crew. Directing is Denise Di Novi, making her feature film debut. Congrats, miss. The writing credits are a little confusing, so I’ll try to cover the meaning of both. Credited for “screenplay” – probably had more of a hand in creating the story of the movie rather than actually sitting down to write it, begging the question why didn’t he get a “story” credit then – is David Leslie Johnson, known for THE CONJURING 2 (2016), WRATH OF THE TITANS (2012), ORPHAN (2009), and upcoming films DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, both due out… who knows when. Credited for “written by” – probably the one who physically sat down and put her fingers to the keyboard – is Christina Hodson, known for SHUT IN (2016). Composing the score is Toby Chu, known for BARBIE: STAR LIGHT ADVENTURE (2016), WOLVES AT THE DOOR (2016), LEGENDS OF OZ (2013), and the upcoming WISH UPON (2017). Finally, the cinematographer is Caleb Deschanel, known for RULES DON’T APPLY (2016), JACK REACHER (2012), and THE PATRIOT (2000).

Overall, it’s going to suck. It has to. How this great cast got roped into it, I’m sure I don’t know. Blackmail. That’s it. Blackmail.

This is my honest opinion of: UNFORGETTABLE

(SUMMARY)

Julia (Rosario Dawson) is a successful woman who is happily in a relationship with David (Geoff Stuits). Moving back to his hometown, they try settling in and she tries to develop a good relationship with his young daughter, Lily (Isabella Kai Rice). But there’s one problem. David’s ex-wife, Tessa (Katherine Heigl) isn’t quite over their relationship and as her obsession with reuniting her family together escalates, she turns to drastic measures to making Julia seem like an unfit person to be around her daughter, her ex-husband, and even framing her for crimes.

(REVIEW)

Yup, called it. But then again, most anyone can look at a movie like this and not be too far off the money. Where shall I begin with this trainwreck?

Let’s get the cardinal sin out of the way, Tessa. I said above that Heigl isn’t a bad actress. To that, I hold. No one’s particularly bad in this movie. At least, not as far as conveying the proper emotions that the scene demands, but the character is written horrendously wrong. First off, from when the movie starts to when it ends, you don’t like Tessa. I know this is sort of the idea, but if you’re going to make a villain that is essentially a monster with no remorse, then you can’t have small scenes that are supposed to make us feel sorry for her. Those scenes don’t work. Why? Because in each and every one of those scenes, she’s got a devilish look on her face and you can’t believe a single word when she says, “Mommy loves you,” or, “I only want what’s best for you.” There’s other scenes where she’s with her mother and she’s no different than Tessa. She’s prim and proper to an obsession; we all know what this is meant to be. It’s meant to show that it isn’t all her fault and that the mother is to blame for how Tessa turned out. Fine, but again, we never see any of this play into her humanity. At least an inkling of regret and remorse when she does something awful and nasty. In fact, the easiest fix would be that the mother is sort of the puppet master and she’s manipulating Tessa into believing that Lily and David are being mistreated by Julia. The punishments Tessa inflicts on Lily when she’s being defiant, all of it, manipulation. And there’s some part of her in the back of her mind that doesn’t want to do it and we see the emotional and mental abuse she’s inflicted on Tessa her entire life. But no. It’s a monster created another monster, so no one can ever truly care about Tessa making the “humanity” scenes either pointless, ineffective, or both.

But one does have to wonder… was this intended to be Heigl’s comeback movie? I mean, really think about it. Heigl herself has a reputation of being a fairly universally hated person to be around with very few actors claiming to say anything positive about her. There are similar things said about her mother, who is also a diva and demands things her way. I mean, I know there was a pair of actresses lined up for the roles of Julia and Tessa before Heigl and Dawson replaced them, but it seems a little too coincidental that Tessa almost seems like a parody of Heigl.

There’s honestly not much to talk about. The script is awful, the actors are certainly trying, but can’t really save the movie, a ton of plot points that make little to no sense, frustratingly stupid characters and their choices, and a sequel bait that no one’s going to bite. Really though, can I really be so mad at this movie? Actually, I’m not. Why? Because I knew this was going to be bad, so I wasn’t insulted by it. The first time you see a movie like this, it’s screaming, “FUCK YOU” at you, but the more you see these flicks, the insults get watered down to, “YOU’RE A DOODIE FACE!!!” I’m not insulted anymore. I’m just bored, waiting for it to tire itself out so I can move on with my day. No, I don’t recommend it, either in theaters or as a rental. Skip it entirely. It’s not worth your time.

My honest rating for UNFORGETTABLE: 2/5

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FREE FIRE review

Couldn’t tell you much about this one other than it’s the one movie coming out this week that I’m most excited for. A comedy thriller about a weapons purchase that goes wrong and becomes a free-for-all? Sold.

But let’s face it, the cast is the main reason I’m going in, so let’s take a look. This bonanza of talent includes the severely underrated Sharlto Copley (HARDCORE HENRY [2016], ELYSIUM [2013], and DISTRICT 9 [2009]), the unbelievably amazing Brie Larson (KONG: SKULL ISLAND [2017], ROOM [2015], DON JON [2013], and upcoming films AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR [2018] and CAPTAIN MARVEL [2019]), the criminally unknown Cillian Murphy (ANTHROPOID [2016], INCEPTION [2010], RED EYE [2005], and the upcoming DUNKIRK [2017]), equally sadly unknown Armie Hammer (NOCTURNAL ANIMALS [2016], THE LONE RANGER [2013], THE SOCIAL NETWORK [2010], and the upcoming CARS 3 [2017]), and hopefully a future household name, Jack Reynor (SING STREET [2016], MACBETH [2015], and TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION [2014]).

Now for the crew. Directing and co-writing the screenplay is Ben Wheatley, known for movies and TV shows that I’ve never heard of. Wheatley’s partner-in-pen is Amy Jump, also known for stuff I’ve not heard of. Co-composing the music are Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury, both known for EX-MACHINA (2015). Finally, the cinematographer is Laurie Rose, known for a bunch of stuff that I’ve never heard of.

Overall, I’m so excited for this, so let’s get to it, yo!

This is my honest opinion of: FREE FIRE

(SUMMARY)

Set in 1978 Boston. Two gangs – a couple of Irish Republic guys, Frank (Michael Smiley) and Chris (Cillian Murphy) and their intermediary, Justine (Brie Larson), and a gun merchant, Vernon (Sharlto Copley) and his representative Ord (Armie Hammer) – get together for a gun exchange and already things are tense. For one thing, the guns that Frank and Chris asked for are the wrong kind. But convinced that they’re adequate enough for their needs, they take the weapons. But before long, things get worse. One of the drivers, Stevo (Sam Riley), has a black eye. He had gotten his ass kicked when he sexually assaulted the cousin of his attacker, and the attacker, Harry (Jack Reynor), is part of Vernon’s group. Soon, a free for all gunfight breaks out and everyone starts killing each other one by one.

(REVIEW)

AHHHH I love it! It’s so funny! It’s so amazing! It’s so…. AHHHH!

Alright alright, reeling it in now, but I’m not kidding. I think this is one of the funnest action comedies of the year. Not that there’s been many to compare with. CHIPS (2017)? Psh, yeah right.

I love this set-up. It’s so basic and cliché. I mean, come on now, a run-down warehouse? Pretty standard. Yet, once the action gets going, there’s a surprising amount of creativity involved. First off, there’s a ton of cover for the characters to hide behind. Also, nearly everybody gets shot in the legs, so they always forced to crawl around to use that cover.

Oh, and everyone gets shot a couple times, some by accident too, providing some of the best comedic moments, of course. And each time someone makes a move to get the advantage over the other, those scenes are pretty tense and since people do die in this movie, you never really know who’s going to get axed off. In retrospect, you don’t even really care because you’re enjoying the chaos and bickering. You never know what’s going to happen next and there are some pretty solid surprises here and there, so it’s never boring, which is amazing for entertainment value.

Standout performances. Four words. Armie mother fucking Hammer. By God, what a scene-stealer. I mean, don’t get me wrong, everyone’s great, and we’ll get into them as well, but Hammer…

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Don’t get me wrong, I think this guy’s been gipped of great movies to showcase his talent post THE SOCIAL NETWORK (2010). Hell, you know what, say what you want about LONE RANGER (2013), he himself wasn’t that bad. He tried. But that movie didn’t do anyone any favors. He’s always had the potential, but he was dangerously close to becoming one of those actors that would be labeled as box office poison, as many of his movies haven’t been widely known or financially successful, and those that are aren’t because of him. Here’s hoping that this turns that horseshit around and Hammer gets roles just as great as he’s got here. Ord is such a wise-cracker that you can’t help but fall in love with his level douche-baggery. He gives everyone such shit and busts everyone’s balls that you could make a drinking game out of how many characters get butt-hurt after one of his quips. I mean, is he the most entertaining character in the movie? He’s up there, but what makes this so standout is because of his résumé that now in a cast that’s been in some reliably solid flicks, he’s one of the top acting dogs.

But now it’s time to gush like a valley girl in a brand clothing store on sale. Copley. This man… I love this man. Whether he’s in a dramatic role or a comedic role, whether it’s actually him in the flesh or performing mocap, he’s always a pleasure to see on screen, but now we get a role that’s not quite as bat-shit insane as he was in HARDCORE HENRY, like that’s going to be easy to top, but it comes pretty damn fucking close. He’s this crazy, buggy fucker who is obsessed with his suit, hitting on Justine, being shown respect, the slightest act that makes him upset, he lets the entire crowd know it and demands acknowledgement of wrong-doing and apologies. Beyond that, he doesn’t shut the fuck up. You’d think that would make him annoying, and in a lesser script with a less talented actor, that would be the case, but Vernon is hilarious all the way through.

Everyone else does pretty well too, though clearly the brunt of creatively stand-out characters were given to Copley and Hammer. About the closest thing to an almost-complaint I had was with Larson. Oh, she’s not bad or anything, but she’s almost written like the damsel-in-distress. Eh… kinda… this may take some explanation. Justine isn’t tied up to a chair and men are trying to save her. I don’t want it to sound like that. But there’s two too many characters that treat Justine like a romantic interest or conquest. It works enough for Vernon because he’s kind of a pig, and Justine isn’t interested in him, but Chris definitely tries to pursue her romantically, which I think adds a dimension to these characters that serves nothing to the story and doesn’t go anywhere by the end of it, what with him asking her out. The only reason this isn’t quite a complaint for me is because Justine is occasionally a target for bullets and there are characters that make active efforts to killing her, and even more forgiving is that she gets a few nice shots in too, so Justine is never helpless. She’s just the one person who isn’t a ready-to-kill kind of person like everyone else is, but she’s not afraid to defend herself. It all balances out in my opinion.

Are there any problems that I have with this movie? Um… I guess it ends pretty abruptly and there’s a character that sort of shows up just to die, but you can make arguments that the ending does have some ambiguity that could be fun to speculate over and the aforementioned character did lead for a brutally fun fight scene, but other than that, these don’t hold the movie back from being about as fun as a movie like this could be. I really want to see this movie again, so you bet your sweet bippy that I recommend this movie hardcore.

My honest rating for FREE FIRE: 5/5

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