The Happytime Murders

Muppets. Saying. Fuck.

That could have been the original pitch for this movie. Or maybe just Muppets dying and being killed. Or Muppets smoking. Basically, Muppets being adults and corrupt and crime.

Incorporating Muppets into the real world with real humans has not been an issue. Hell, that is how the show has always worked and movies. It is fine, people accept it, all good.

But with this movie, The Happytime Murders, they want to put Muppets in new situations! More action, violence, and whatever it takes to get an R rating so little Johnny doesn’t accidentally have his childhood ruined, or something. This is probably Deadpool‘s fault. Superheroes got to be edgy, so now Muppets get to be edgy.

Edgy Muppets doesn’t have to be a bad thing. They just have to be smart about it.

Smoke
This picture is a metaphor for Joel McHale’s new show going up in smoke. But also literally.

Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) is not your normal private eye. You see, he is a Muppet. Or a puppet officially, I don’t care about the nomenclature. He certainly does not have bones in his body (unless you count the human hand…). He used to be a cop. He was the first ever puppet cop, but for whatever reason, he was kicked off the force and there is some bad blood between the two sides. And Phil doesn’t even have blood.

During an investigation of a ransom, Phil finds himself at the scene of a murder, where one of the victims is from the first ever TV show starring mainly puppets! Phil is worried about this killing, as it seems like a hit job. Phil’s brother was on the show, so he doesn’t want his brother to get offed as well from some unknown assailant.

But yet, more cast members start dying. And the clues aren’t leading closer to a suspect. Can Phil solve the murder mystery? Or will his stuffing just get all over the place by the end?

Also starring Kevin Clash, Dorien Davies, Drew Massey, Melissa McCarthy, Elizabeth Banks, Joel McHale, Maya Rudolph, and Leslie David Baker.

Graphic
I am sorry I am showing something so graphic in a review.

Going into this movie, I expected that they would do some gross stuff with Muppets, but overall, it would try to be your normal, run of the mill, buddy cop crime comedy entity. Boy was I wrong. This movie wanted to do “gross” stuff with puppets, and that is it. It is almost entirely void of humor in this regard. The first 2-3 times having a Muppet swear or do something adult like can constitute an original joke. But then to just repeat that same punch line 100 times and call it a film is not what anyone would define as a good time.

In fact, we only get really one sex Muppet joke. Their version of adult is just drugs, alcohol, smoking, swears, and murder. But we all really know that to be an adult, you gotta do the sexy stuff. There is just one sex scene and it is extremely regular. If I have two Muppets having sex, I don’t want them to just be loud screaming while people are uncomfortable. That is normal ass lazy joke humor right there. There needs to be something Muppet centric really about it. They do one act that makes it apparently unique to Muppets, something that would put Aziz Ansari to shame. But you know what we didn’t get? We didn’t get Muppet Dick. We didn’t even get Muppet Nipples. Technically, we got Muppet Vagina, but that joke was quick and a common throwback, still making it unoriginal.

Don’t gloss over that last point. If I am going to watch an adult Muppet movie, there better be Muppet titties. That is all I am saying.

Another non subtle feature is that Muppets are shit upon by the humans of society. And a lot of them are prejudice against them. Oh, okay, this is another metaphor for racism. Except it feels incredibly tacky, never super relevant, and maybe sort of belittles civil rights things in general? Hard to say, but their goal of adding it to the film felt extremely shallow.

To try and add on to a different point, let’s point out two glaring things that happened in succession. One, several cop characters claim a character was found at the scene of ALL of the murders. But at that point, he was never seen at one crime scene when it happened, and had never interacted with the character for years. So it was a bit confusing to hear that multiple times.

And two. They have an FBI character suspend a Lieutenant cop. At what fucking point can an FBI agent do anything like that to a cop? Is this movie assuming that the FBI are just bosses to cops? It goes Sergeant, Captain, then FBI field agent? It isn’t even an accident, because they made several attempts at jokes to make sure you knew that character was in the FBI.

Minor nitpicking? Maybe. But that was just two nonsensical errors I remember specifically for happening right after one another. This film is probably even more full of shit like this. The Happytime Murders isn’t original, clever, or fun. It is lazy. They spent all their time on designing sets instead of designing something worth being watched.

0 out of 4.

Never Goin’ Back

I chose Never Goin’ Back over Dog Days, and at least at the time of writing this I really feel like I made the best choice.

Sure, I have never seen Dog Days and probably won’t until December at least. But it can’t be good, right?

Sorry, this isn’t a bullshit review of a movie I haven’t even seen.

Never Goin’ Back is set in Texas and that’s why I needed to review it right away. That is the reason it won the screener lottery.

Store
At least it has the Texas feeling of walking into a grocery store right.

Life in Texas can be hard, especially if you have to live near Dallas, which everyone agrees is the worst part of Texas (Houston pride). Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Camila Morrone) are roommates in a poor house. Sure, they are just 16 and 17. But they are under guardianship from Angela’s older brother (Joel Allen), who is sharing this home with them and another roommate (Kyle Mooney).

This house is not a nice place to live really. There is a lot of drug doing and lesbian stuff (oh no!!), all from our girls. However, the brother does like to frequent in drug dealing occasionally, which is way worse.

Jessie wanted to do something nice for Angela’s 17th birthday, because they have had bad birthdays in the past. So she spent money on a weekend cabin on the beach! I mean, it is just Galveston, but they have always wanted to do this. It just happens to be their rent money due in about a week.

Oh well, they will just work a shit ton at their waitress job, double shifts every day, to earn it back. Then they can have the best weekend ever.

Unless everything starts to go wrong. Then yeah, that can be an issue.

Also starring Marcus M. Mauldin, Kendal Smith, and Matthew Holcomb.

Work
Get tips, get high, get beach.

Never Goin’ Back is a simple story about girls wanting to leave their hum drum life, if only for a moment, to experience what they feel like is bliss. You know, Galveston’s beach. Galveston’s beach is known for being quite lame, but acceptable for being one of the only fully commercialized beaches in the area. Even other characters mock them when they hear that they are only going to Galveston.

Either way, I laughed quite a few times overall. The situations were relatively unbelievable/over the top, but the girls had a lot of chemistry together, especially Mitchell (Who was one of the stars of Teen Beach Movie and Teen Beach 2!), who was a firecracker with her lines and ideas. Morrone was more of a follower in this film.

And technically the events of this film stem from an issue that isn’t their fault, it is really hard to feel bad for them. The protagonists are main characters who continually make bad decisions, just like those around them make bad decisions. And the fact that it ends in a very gross way doesn’t feel funny, just, well, gross. And of course, the lessons learned at the end of the movie are…um…exist and do bad things and everything will work out at the end?

Either way, Never Goin’ Back does provide some laughs and plenty of shenanigans, but still has a lot to be desired in terms of great story.

2 out of 4.

Puzzle

Honestly, with a title like Puzzle, I didn’t know what the movie would be about. Certainly some sort of drama. But I could also consider a mystery or thriller. The stars could be in all of the genres!

But more importantly, I didn’t know it was based on a foreign film. Not even until the credits roll was this made obvious to me. It was a 2010 film from Argentina of the same name! Well, but in Spanish.

The other film title was Rompecabezas. What an amazing word. Puzzle itself is a fun and amazing word. But Rompecabezas? Hot damn.

Puzzles
Look at all those Rompecabezas pieces.

Agnes (Kelly Macdonald) has a very unfortunate name, reserved for old ladies, and maybe that is why she in fact seems like a very old lady. She doesn’t have a job of her own, or any real notable hobbies. Her husband (David Denman) owns and works an auto repair shop. He has a crew, he works every day, he works hard. He gets home and supper is on the table. Everything is taken care of at home. Agnes cleans, she prepares, she shops, she goes to church group. She doesn’t need or want that smart phone for her birthday.

But someone got her a gift, a puzzle, a whole thousand pieces. And she decides to try it out. And there goes her time! Hell, she puts it together twice, because why not.

And it turns out she is really quite good at this puzzle thing. When she goes all the way to NYC to a shop to buy and look for more (because that is where the first one was bought), she finds a note that someone is a puzzle champion looking for a partner. A puzzle partner? For competition.

Agnes doesn’t really do things. And this is way out of her way. And it would be with a man (Irrfan Khan). These are not things her husband would be able to understand. Not that it matters, since they have been disagreeing more lately, especially about the direction of their sons (Austin Abrams, Bubba Weiler).

No. Fuck it. It is Agnes time.

Drinks
I am sure her married won’t be tested at all.

Puzzle was a very simple film that had a few weird stretches, but overall gave a wonderful performance by our lead Macdonald.

Well, I guess I will give more details. Both sons played their roles well, as catalysts and having their own personality. Denman seems forever plagued to live in roles of bad husbands and lovers. It just must be that face. (Logan Lucky aside, but he was still clearly a jerk in that relationship).

But Macdonald is a goddamn quiet force in this picture. Her mannerisms, her quirks, her voice, her attitude and face, and her growth throughout the picture. It is clearly her film and her life and we are just passengers along the way. I love, love, love her performance.

And in all honesty, yes, I wish the film would have ended differently than it ended it up going. And it took me over a week to write this review, but I believe it is a great ending for her character and breaks a few cliches. A surprise in that regard.

Who would have thought that a movie about joining a puzzle competition could be so captivating? Probably the same people who made movies about spelling bees.

3 out of 4.

The Darkest Minds

Didn’t you know? Didn’t you know it was time for another young adult dystopian book to transition into movie magic?

Because we need more of these teenage trilogies to copy the success of The Hunger Games. You know, start off strong, and get really terrible and no one care by the time the final film comes around.

I didn’t want to watch the trailer for The Darkest Minds before going into it, but I had to make sure my kid could see it as well. And the trailer is more than enough to know to pass on this film.

Rails
Let’s stand around naturally, yes, yes, good. This is how kids hang.

Set in the future, or not, maybe just some other Earth, kids start dying. They don’t know why, but a long disease with a long acronym is blamed that scientists are trying to stop. Just people under 17, spaz out and die suddenly. Like SIDS on steroids I guess. But not all kids die. In fact, quite coincidentally, the ones who do not die get powers instead.

No, not random powers. Just one of a set of five. They are going to get super smart, levitate items, or create/control electricity, probably. These are the most common and “acceptable” level of powers. They correspond to the colors of green, blue, and yellow. Next is Orange, and it involves memories, mind control, thought shit. Ruby (Amandla Stenberg), our hero, is going to be like this. The government when they start rounding up these rabble rousing kids wants to terminate the oranges on site, because they are scary. And then there is Red. And ooooh boy, apparently Red is so big bad and scary they gotta keep it a secret from us assholes, and they are also on the to be killed level.

Ruby has had these powers for six years in a concentration camp, pretending to be a green, and anyone that would test her or question her she would just mind control them into believing her lie. Good times. Until her secret gets too far out, meaning she has to bust out with some helpful adults. Because this is a dystopian novel, no one really means anything they say they mean. And now Ruby has to run around this world, trusting few, guessing, and getting misinformation and very few details because bad plot reasons.

Also starring Bradley Whitford, Mandy Moore, Gwendoline Christie, Harris Dickinson, Patrick Gibson, Miya Cech, and Skylan Brooks.

Color
Guys, guys, guys. Let’s just not acknowledge color, that will fix things.

Oh goodness, it was worse than I thought. I figured this could be cool if it really played up the X-Men element and less the cookie cutter young adult element. But alas, powers barely seem to matter.

Because they decided to make powers fall neatly into five categories, all nicely color coded based on how the eyes bright up when powers happen. Oh good, it is time for cliques and boring grouping again. Grouping is a common and lazy theme in these novels.

There are a lot of holes and stupid plot points in this movie. I feel like throwing a few out there that I recall, some that could be spoilers. Some of these are things thst can be explored in the book but are happily ignored in the movie.

For example, we have a diseases that kills everyone 17 and under? Not at once but over a time span? And the people who don’t die from it also at the same time get powers, but only one of five specific but very different things? Like, why? Why? This is something that might be explained by book three, but there is certainly no one in the movie even asking the most basic questions right now and that is non sensical.

The powers are so stupid. Smarts, telekinesis, electrical control, okay. Those are the main three? Fine. Orange being mind control and memory things? Fine again. Cool. But to make red seem like an extremely scary thing as well, and story wise keep it a secret also makes no sense. It is supposed to be a big surprise, and I was surprised only on how boring it is. It’s fire. It’s fire everyone. Like shooting fire from mouths specifically. Okay. Why is that worse than lightning? Who the fuck knows.

The movie went the boring exposition route of having the main character be new to the events around her so she is just a passenger. It allows the film to explain all these groups to us and to her but never the full story. Because suspense. That’s now how people talk.

When traitors are revealed it isn’t a surprise, it was obvious from moment zero. There is no reason to trust this person at all, and yet, it happens. When the red powers are finally shown we see them fuck up the place. But, the place is supposed to be used over and over. Why are they blowing shit up now when it should be a normal occurrence? Why did we have a long montage of an abandoned mall that seemed to be only in one store, and then finally an attack? Based on their explanation they would have attacked right away.

Why do powers fluctuate? Why would two people who have the power of being smart argue about a situation that has one right answer? Can someone be more smart from the magical same power? Why do we have an orange make everyone kneel and obey but not the four people who are causing problems and trying to escape? Why is there powr disparities when it is convenient? Lazy writing.

What happens to kids when they are above 17? Do powers go away? Will new kids die or gain powers? Why are so many things based on sound frequency difference of ages when presumably people who were 17 and powers now are 23 and powers and not affected by these measures?

Anyways. I’m done. This film is bad. It is rushed. Things aren’t explained. Effects are whatever. Just a mesh of other things with a non unique approach and a waste of time.

0 out of 4.

Get Me Roger Stone

Oh yes, political documentaries.

There are gallons and gallons of these things pouring out, trying to keep up with the scandals and political movements forming.

Trump hasn’t made anything easy, but he has given jobs to people who want to make documentaries. It also seems like ant documentary, regardless of subject, will involve Trump somehow and the state of the world and blame him. It’s insane some of the connections.

Now, for Get Me Roger Stone, it is inherently political and related to the Trump presidency. It is about Roger Stone, an extremely famous Republican political advisor, infamous for his past and the lengths he would go to in order to win.

And yes, Roger Stone is potentially the reason why Donald Trump ran in the first place and eventually won.

GMRS
Oh, everything about this is punchable.

I will admit that learning about Stone was rather interesting. He was technically involved in the Watergate scandal when he was only 19 years old. He wasn’t a big part or anything, but involved nonetheless. This fame led to more opportunities, including eventually leading the Young Republicans.

Eventually, he became a lobbyist and had a big firm that also represented Republicans. He helped elect them to positions of power and then lobbied them for favors. It was previously unheard about before.

He also worked with Paul Manafort, who you may know is going under trial for many various reasons relating to his work before and during the Trump campaign. Unfortunately, this documentary came out in 2017, well before a lot of this information became public.

At this point there is no reason not to assume Stone as well was involved in some underground things. This documentary doesn’t talk about Russia at all, but in a few years it can probably be updated with at least an hour of content.

It is a shame that I am left feeling that this story isn’t finished. But really, this documentary is about Stone’s past and how he helped shape the 2016 elections (and many more). What we know now is that this documentary unknowingly probably didn’t tell the full story. There is a lot more moving pieces and it is just extremely unfortunate for the documentary.

But really I can’t hold it accountable for that. It is still very detailed and yes I learned a lot.

Give it a watch, it is on Netflix and it will make you hate aspects of politics even more.

3 out of 4.