The Journey

Think about a movie called The Journey. What sort of genre would you think that movie is?

Well, first, I know I would think of maybe…adventure? Yeah. Adventure. If not an adventure film, maybe a war/action movie. If not a war/action movie, then something spiritual, a religious film. If you thought historical drama, I would think you were a liar, and I would no longer make bets with you.

And that is what The Journey is. A “True story” or, a true-ish story. But I will get into detail on that.

The journey they speak of is more of a drive and a walk through the woods.

Northern Ireland and Ireland have had a lot of issues in the past. Religious stuff which led to extremism which led to people bombing places, straight up government based military groups, to get people to see different points of view and you know…go on a war basically. It also led to this song from The Irish Rovers about a dysfunctional marriage.

This is set after a lot of the physical conflict, when people were still pissed, in the mid-2000’s. The territories were on the verge of creating a new agreement, to put a lot of the past behind them. Not rejoin as one unified country or anything, but at least start working together better and look more unified (I think, hard for me to tell as a non European).

Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) is the head of the Catholic people, and Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney), former member of the IRA, is I guess leader of the protestants now. Honestly the whole thing is fuzzy to me what their titles are, but they have the ability to enact change. On the verge of the agreement being signed, Paisley has to return to his home for a celebration on his 50th Wedding Anniversary. The other side is worried that when he gets back with his people, they will convince him that the agreement is bad and he will pull out last minute.

Thank the weather gods, they have cancelled Paisley’s flight, and to show a sign of goodwill, the other side agrees to let him use their plane in Edinburgh for him to get home. But, McGuinness argues he must join him on the trip. Due to rules of travel, if both leaders are in the same vehicle, it is unlikely that anyone will try something nefarious. McGuinness and others think that if they get Paisley talking, they can find common interests between them and really work out and finalize this agreement.

The problem is, these gentlemen have never talked before in their lives. But this journey to their airport, and plane ride, will be their last chance to pull this thing together.

Also starring Freddie Highmore, John Hurt, Toby Stephens, Ian McElhinney, Ian Beattie, and Barry Ward.

And if they don’t agree quickly, Norman Bates will finish the job!

In real life, this agreement did take place. And in real life, these two people never talked to each other or cared for each other. In real life, they did take a car ride and plane ride together, and in real life, they suddenly became really close friends. And in real life, both of them are now dead.

The things that might not be real include their stops on their journey and the events that happened to them along the way, like the flat tire. The things that definitely did not occur is any of the conversation they decided to highlight in the film. It is a complete guess, it is where the storytellers can become storytellers. To guess the sort of conversation these great men might have had, how they would have acted towards each other, and how they would have slowly come to terms.

I am not saying it is bad that they are guessing, just setting the picture, because I obviously don’t need my movies to be 100% factual all the time. I do like my movies to be entertaining, or at the very least feature some nice acting moments.

I went in expecting I would be bored out of my mind throughout this film, but it surprisingly kept my interest once it got going. It wasn’t entirely easy to follow all the time, because of referring back to historical events that have no effect on my upbringing, but that is okay. I became involved with what they were saying and felt like a passenger in the vehicle.

And yet I could still only describe this film as okay. I would never watch it again, and I would never really recommend it to anyone. Spall and Meaney do some pretty good acting based on their previous works that I know of, and definitely give it their best jobs. But I am still just left asking why this movie was made, as, historical, this significance doesn’t mean squat to me.

2 out of 4.

Norm of the North

Norm of the North? What in the flip is Norm of the North?

What? You didn’t hear about the Lionsgate animated film coming out mid January? What? Did you also not hear about Strange Magic last year around the same time, which ended up as my #2 Worst Movie of 2015?

Norm of the North has also not received many trailers or TV spots. It is the type of film they are releasing and not expecting much. And let’s not forget that the critic screening of the film is Thursday night, at a time when normal people can already pay money to see it. That is where you put movies you don’t really want the critics to ruin.

But maybe they do expect something out of it. After all, two sequels have already been announced. The sequels are only planning to be 45 minutes long and straight to DVD, but they are still planned!

Here is the real question I wonder though: The Nut Job 2 was also scheduled to be released on the same day, but it has apparently moved its date. However no one out there knows where it was eventually pushed. It has disappeared off the map. Did Norm of the North somehow eat it?

He is looking kind of chunky.

So, we have a polar bear named Norm (Rob Schneider. And now you know what you are working with here). Lives in the arctic. And he can speak Human. We learn this when he tells a seal his life story about why he cannot eat the seal because he is a terrible hunter and doesn’t do polar bear things anymore. Just humans. He in particular likes to dance, of course. He calls it the Arctic Shake. Remember that. That will be important later.

The only other animal who could speak Human was his grandfather (Colm Meaney), the king of the Arctic, but he has disappeared. Speaking of shenanigans, there is a house suddenly on the ice! Fully furnished and ready to be lived in. Apparently it is a model home and some group is shooting a commercial, hoping to sell homes to get people to move to the Arctic. It is an untapped reservoir luxury gold mine. Or something.

Norm tries to get them to flee but only helps them make a good commercial. The owner, Mr. Greene (Ken Jeong) just wants to rip people off. He also has the idea to use an actor to dress up like a polar bear to sell their idea to the world. Of course Norm sneaks to NYC to become that actor and put a stop to everything. But he also feels bad for the PR lady, Vera (Heather Graham) who just wants to get her daughter (Maya Kay) into a good school.

Time to Arctic Shake his way into America’s hearts and stop the Ice take over from happening.

Also featuring the voice work of Bill Nighy, Loretta Devine, Gabriel Iglesias, and Michael McElhatton.

And these little fucks.

Oh where do we begin. Sure, the lemmings. That is what those tiny things are, and three of them join Norm on the adventure. They are apparently indestructible and can do anything, making them a perfect plot device to solve any and all problems. Except for tense moments near the end when characters decide to not use them to untie them for some reason. Oh and they are vulgar too. They pee a lot on things and fart and burp and teehee. They are going for the fucking Minion market and it is despicable.

The plot is paper thin. Points move too fast without a lot of explanation. For some reason none of the animals will believe Norm about the house, despite it being a physical thing anyone can go to, and a lot of witnesses (The Lemmings) and a respected community member. They just laugh at him…for some reason. And in the conclusion, despite none of these same animals going on the journey, they totally believe everything because The Lemmings say so, which is totally contradictory to how they behaved earlier. There is no sense to any of it.

Part of the plot involves getting America to like him shown by some fancy real time approval ratings graph that everyone can just access about things. And after going on a talk show, says one thing, he dances, dances in the street, and everyone loves him. Yay resolution! Well done bear. It is ruining Shut Up And Dance for me now.

The animation was poor and blocky. A final storm scene was almost painful to look at. The Coca Cola polar bear commercials have better overall quality to them

I can’t find any real pictures from them in NYC, just promo art.
But at the same time, look at that background bear and see how terrible it all is.

The director had his button on a fade out button and used it constantly to go between scenes. I was going to vaguely describe an example of it being used improperly, but it hurt my head trying to describe the scene.

I kid you not, my four year old step daughter turned to me twice during the movie and told me this was a bad movie. She didn’t laugh at all. I laughed at a joke that could be misconstrued as a pedophile joke. It also had a decently offensive gay joke, to throw the whole thing more under the bus.

I don’t feel like I am done. There was a love interest. But I didn’t even link her above because she had all of three lines throughout the film and ended up being not important, despite literally marrying her at the end. The final plan of the bad Mr. Greene, which he kept secret, was simply recording Norm talk and changing his words around. And after that happened, Norm basically gave up. “Oh ho, they heard me say something else now. Nothing I can do about it!”

Just. Fuck. This was bad.

0 out of 4.

One Chance

Finally, the moment everyone has been waiting for. A comedy biopic about the life of Paul Potts!

What? You don’t know who Paul Potts is? I mean, come on, he is… uhh. Shit. I never heard of him either. This is a real story? I just thought it was a comedy about a guy wanting to sing Opera and people getting in his way.

So this guy got famous for winning Britain’s Got Talent, which is the first iteration of that show, and thus the first ever winner. I guess that makes him special? Sure.

One Chance is a reference to the show being his only opportunity to make it big and stop selling cell phones, and I guess the name of his first album.

And who can really hate a sad clown?

Before Britain’s Got Talent, Paul was just a fat kid in a choir. He sang like an angel, typical of kids, and got beat up for it, also typical for kids. Yet somehow into his early adult life, Paul (James Corden) was still getting beat up by local yokels every once in awhile. Bunch of savages…

Well, things are about to change. A girl he was talking to on the internet is coming over to visit! Julz (Alexandria Roach), and she was a real woman! Internet success! His job as a cell phone salesman is okay, but the manager (Mackenzie Crook) is inept. Either way, they like each other, and he just recently won a talent competition for cash. This will let him travel to Venice and take a real Opera class and maybe meet the Pavarotti.

I have been told this Pavarotti is a real big Opera name.

Either way, he does good there too. Performing with Alessandra (Valeria Bilello), he is able to earn a chance to perform for Pavarotti. But the theme of this movie and his life is that something goes wrong.

Paul is hit with injury after injury, with some freak accidents, to always take his career steps back before he gets his next “One Chance.”

Then you know, eventually Britain’s Got Talent does something.

His parents are played by Julie Walters and Colm Meaney.

Oh shit, he wins! Surprise!

Once he auditions for BGT, the movie quickly recaps that he wins and becomes famous, tours, sings for the queen, and then end.

Huh? What? But how did fame change him? We don’t get much of that story. I guess being a success isn’t as interesting?

One Chance is an incomplete biography that is comical in nature, in that bad things keep happening to him. Unfortunately, while watching it I could help but wonder who the hell care? Knowing how he got famous, and knowing that it was produced by the same people who did BGT, it just feels like an awkward advertisement to make their show seem relevant.

“See? We are awesome. We saved him!”

Yeah. Who cares?

A guy who is unlucky does not on its own an interesting movie make. I don’t know if James Corden was actually singing, but it didn’t seem like it, and felt pretty awkward.

I feel like this film could have been a lot better, but after viewing, the trailer makes for a much more enjoyable and time saving option than the film itself.

1 out of 4.