The Grinch

The Grinch would be the biggest Dr. Seuss effect on society if it wasn’t for that feline that wore head accessories.

Speaking of the Cat of the Hat, I have still never seen that live action movie. But it was supposedly terrible, so bad that that the Seuss family said no more live action films. Just animated. Which means that eventually we got to have The Lorax from Illumination Entertainment, a company normally on my shitlist, because they make shit to average films.

And despite seemingly having any Seuss thing to work with, they figured they could just do The Grinch again. Why? I don’t know. We have a successful animated 2D version, and a successful 3D live action version, so I guess we need another version, this time animated and 3D.

If it was a better company, I would be annoyed because they could have decided to do One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish instead. Maybe Tim Burton will tackle that one after Dumbo.

Snowman
One way to ruin Christmas is to teach the local youth about jerking someone else off.

Oh yeah, this is the section where I talk about the plot of The Grinch.

So uhhh, there is this place called Whoville, where all these Whooligans live in splendor and wonder. They are overtly happy and cheerful, and for whatever reason, they all enjoy the shit out of Christmas. Decorations, noise, presents, togetherness, food, you name it. Christmas is number one. Celebrations all month long.

But someone doesn’t love Christmas. No, he hates it. The Grinch (Benedict Cumberbatch) lives in a mountain outside of Whoville, alone and bitter, with his dog, Max. He just wants to be left alone, but he has to visit Whoville to buy food occasionally. Normally he hides up all December to avoid the festivities.

This year, however, he has to return and get involved. Because they are putting everything bigger, 3 times bigger at least, and that he cannot stand. He must steal this Christmas from them, to make them feel as sad as he does all the time. That will show those Whos who’s boss.

Also featuring Angela Lansbury, Cameron Seely, Kenan Thompson, Rashida Jones, and Pharrell Williams at the narrator.

Santa
That’s not Santa! Santa Claus is a black man!

There is only really one major point I want to harp on, so I will get to the quicker stuff first. The Grinch doesn’t seem mean, just sad and lame. The film felt too long, and featured what turned out to be an unnecessary reindeer plot to pad the time. And the backstory they gave to him paints the city of Whoville as a terrible place to be with a bunch of assholes, and also sort of makes his behavior completely justifiable. Great.

However, besides all of that, I have a question. Do you think the Whos in Whoville worship Jesus or believe in any sort of god? Because in the last two movies and the book, they have not made any references to Jesus or religion. They celebrate Christmas like Americans, the secular ones at least. Presents, Santa, food, and togetherness.

There are no mangers in Whoville! This is not Earth at all, it is its own planet or city or entity. Shit, maybe it is on a snowflake.

But not in this movie. The first sign was when a choir was singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in what was definitely a minute long and silly scene. It took me out of the movie. They had Angels on trees, which isn’t as bad. But then even later, there was a singing of Silent Night, another very religious song.

These movie makers are so out of touch with the material, that they are getting their own potential Christmas traditions mixed up with Whoville Christmas traditions and that is a problem.

Come on, you know it is true. A fundamental breakdown of this magnitude is either agenda driven, or a lack of intelligence, neither of which should be celebrated.

1 out of 4.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Right off the bat, I will say I was not looking forward to Bohemian Rhapsody. The song is fine. And I love Queen! I have very fond memories growing up, watching Wayne’s World and hearing Queen’s greatest hits. My family owned two VHS tapes collecting their music videos. I saw them all the time. I really enjoyed I Want To Break Free because the men were dressed like ladies with facial hair, but the instrumental part freaked me out.

Hey. I was a kid.

But why don’t I care about this film? Because production woes made me indifferent. I was in love with the idea of Sacha Baron Cohen playing Freddie Mercury, it was perfect, and he could sing!

Production woes! Cohen left! Creative differences! The band wanted a feel good movie about the band and PG-13, the actor wanted the real story, the R rated stuff, the Oscar winning Mercury stuff. And eventually we now got this movie. Let’s not forget that the director, Bryan Singer, probable diddler of young male talent in Hollywood, was kicked off the project when it was almost done, and they had to finish it without him.

Even the well edited trailer did nothing to me. I got to hear so many Queen songs in under 3 minutes. With Mercury singing. Is this whole thing going to be a film with Queen songs just spliced on top? Fuck. On my films, even my biopics, I want the actors do the singing, at least in a studio. I don’t need to see Remi Malek doing an air band performance for a few hours.

Mercury
And aerobics!

In the 1970’s, times were changing. Disco wasn’t yet in a full swing, but people still liked music, and still had dreams. Like a young Farrokh Bulsara (Rami Malek), who later would change his name to Freddie Mercury. He didn’t want a normal job at an airport, he wanted to sing in a band. And he just so happened on a band who just lost their main singer. That is where he met Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy). A guitarist and a drummer. They didn’t want him, due to his teeth and look, but his talent did not lie. They eventually found a bassist in John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) and the rest was history!

Oh, and some more things happened. Not an instant success, but honestly, it didn’t seem to take long either.

They were a band who worked together and competed together. To get songs on albums, to try new things, to go into places they had not gone before. Especially true for Mercury, who found himself eventually with men, despite being married with his long term love, Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) and with kids.

There were a lot of influences on their music and on their lives. Roadies, managers, other lovers, groupies, fans, and what not. And of course, eventually the story ends in tragedy, but not before one of the best live concerts televised around the world.

Starring Aidan Gillen, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers, and Aaron McCusker.

Band
They definitely look cooler in this picture. Too cool. Ice cold.

Behold, for I am disappoint.

People will praise this movie for several reasons, and these are things you should be leary about. The number one aspect being nostalgia. Hey, they like Queen, so a movie with Queen songs is alright. Just having music that you expect to hear inside of it is not a reason for something to be automatically good. Queen music is expected.

Malek’s performance is praised because he gets to prance about on stage like no fucks are given, with some big facial expressions. But you know what he didn’t do? Sing. I think maybe once, or twice in this movie he actually had to sing, and when he did it was all very little. Basically all of it is just actually Mercury singing and again, if I wanted to hear Freddie Mercury sing, I have YouTube and CDs for that. Is it weird to have a double standard when it comes to performances? I want my actors if they are playing singers to actually sing, but of course I wouldn’t care if an actor is actually playing piano, guitar, or drums, although it can surely help make things authentic.

Honestly, one of my favorite aspects of the film ended up being the other members of Queen. I just loved that these members looked so much like their counterparts, who I recognize from seeing their music videos over and over again. They all also had their own personalities and traits, consistently through the film. I guess it is easy to get them right when the real figures are alive and backing the film. They weren’t outstanding acting performances or taking away from Mercury, but they felt like real people and that was a good change.

The way they chose to portray actual events in the film is really what bugged me. Honestly, it took way too long to have Mercury come out as gay in the film. They had hints about it, like stupid teases. Sure, being gay at that time was way more frowned upon, but as modern viewers, there is no need to keep such an obvious and important focal point hidden. And honestly, about 3/4 of the way through the movie, I was wondering if they would even say the word AIDS in the movie. I almost thought they wouldn’t mention it at all (they did). But they did it first through a weird news cast that Mercury happened to see. And the scene where he went to the hospital and was tested was just so…odd looking. It ended with a fan singing at him, and felt way too much like an awkward TV PSA about…drugs or anything really. It didn’t feel impactful, it felt awkward.

Biopics often have moments where they have people who doubt their talent who later are shown regretting it and being angry. These scenes are ALWAYS bad, and seem petty and unnecessary. But they really went full out with it in this movie. First, they had Mike Myers as the character in question. They made him say a line about how teenagers would never be banging their head to Bohemian Rhapsody, obviously referring to the scene in Wayne’s World decades later. We get to see him angry in his office later in the movie, because why not. Also during the Bohemian Rhapsody scene, it decided to have news/review quotes fly through the screen about how it was a bad song and destined for nothing.

Like, was the entire point of this movie actually to just rub it in some critics faces that people ended up liking Bohemian Rhapsody? Enough to name the Queen biopic after the song (which feels unoriginal and uninspired), just to prove that people like it.

The whole thing is incredibly average and standard as a biopic. This feels like a disservice to a band that was anything but average and standard. And because of that, I disliked it even more. This movie played it safe and boring. I, for one, will be ready for the better film in twenty years.

1 out of 4.

Bodied

With a film called Bodied, I really didn’t know what to expect. I mean, it seems like a horror film, doesn’t it?

Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies) was a comedy/romance, so this could be going in that direction.

Or maybe like, an action film? Or a boxing film. That would work.

But a street rap battle film? One that is sort of a musical, sort of a comedy, and sort of a anger inducing suspense? All in one?

Well, you had my curiosity, but now you have my attention.

Crew
This is not a group of people waiting at attention.

Way back in [Current Year], a man was trying to turn his love of street rap battles into a dissertation for college. That man was Adam (Calum Worthy) and he was extremely white. How white is he? Well, he wants to write scholarly about rap, that is one thing. Adam so white, his dad (Anthony Michael Hall) is a professor at a university, and is like, the best professor at poetry and stuff. Adam so white, he feels bad about his whiteness. Adam so white, he cannot come up with a good nickname.

Adam is attending one of these street rap battles with his uninterested girlfriend, Maya (Rory Uphold), when he gets to have an interview with Behn Grymm (Jackie Long), his favorite rap artist. Adam knows everything about the different rapper’s rhyme schemes, how they can build up a diss, and all of that. The only thing missing is actually competing in the rap game.

But Adam is white. Super white. If he jumps in, and is successful, he doesn’t want to seem like a culture vulture. Even if it is his dream, it would shame in from his family and friends, all of which are very liberal (like him).

Despite this, Adam gets challenged on the streets, and despite being awkwardly white, he destroys the playa who tried to front and becomes somewhat of a viral sensation. So what is a white boy to do? Follow his dreams and throw away his family and former friends? Or go abck to his paper writing and always wander what if?

Or maybe a third option. Follow his dreams and throw away his family, former friends, and new friends too! A weird option, but an option nonetheless.

Also starring Jonathan Park, Shoniqua Shandai, Walter Perez, Charlamagne Tha God, and Dizaster.

Argument
Adam so white, he doesn’t respect people’s personal space.

Bodied is a hard film to sell and a harder film to describe. It is the type of film that seems to have way too many problems associated with it and to be a disaster. And maybe because the film is constantly on the edge of disaster is why the movie works in the first place.

My best description of this movie is like watching Breaking Bad. Not the entire series mind you, but the end of season four. Walter White had done some desperate things things in the show, and despite them being deplorable, they seemed to still be related to his general survival. But by the end of season four, you certainly know that things have changed by now. This is not the man you remember from season one. He is a bad guy, and you have been sort of rooting for a bad guy this whole time. Bodied is like the first four seasons of Breaking Bad.

And yes, that implies it ends before the various arcs we get in season five. And that is okay.

Our main character is not the nice guy he claimed to be. This film tackles so many subjects in such a unique and fresh way. Like cultural appropriation, systematic racism and oppression, and what is fair and not fair. What it means to be a friend and what someone is willing to sacrifice to win it all. Thanos would approve of our main character.

I didn’t know that a film with so much rap battling and recklessness could hold my attention. But the two hour run time just flew by me and was captivating, despite being about a topic I never cared about before. I am so conflicted at the end by so many characters. My wife came to talk to me during one of the final rap battles, and I had to shoo her away because “this is important”. I was cringing and almost crying, not sure how I should be reacting to what was on the screen.

In the end, Bodied is unique, both in terms of plot and how it chooses to tell a story and make its characters feel fresh. it is a wonderful addition to film and something you should not overlook.

4 out of 4.

Bad Times At The El Royale

I have never had a bad time at a place called an El Royale. Just saying, for some sort of context. I haven’t been to any El Royales as far as I know. So neither good nor bad times have been had at any El Royales. I am an El Royale virgin. Or at least, I was before I saw this movie, Bad Times At the El Royale.

Alright, now that the nonsensical first paragraph, overall this felt like a movie that would be really enjoyable. I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked the cast of characters and thought it could have some really fun and interesting scenes.

After seeing so many duds lately, and great films, I needed something that would just be entertaining. I really wanted this to fill that genre gap in my movie watching schedule.

Dancing
It did fill a Hemsworth sized whole in my heart. And that is a very large whole.

At the El Royale? Well, it used to be a happening spot. Lively nights, plenty of guests, and a lot of raunchy shenanigans. This hotel is on the border of Nevada and California. So it has a more expensive and classy side and a gambling side. A side for all the types who may want to visit. Now the hotel is almost in rambles. The front desk is basically just one person (Lewis Pullman), who also is the cleaning man, the bartender, and everything. A one man show.

And tonight? There will be some guests. We have Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), a potential singing star who has a secret. We have Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who seems to be losing his mind, and a man with a secret. There is (Jon Hamm), someone who really wants the Honeymoon suite, because he has a secret. There is the vulgar and unfriendly (Dakota Johnson), who clearly has a secret.

A lot of secrets, and a lot of bad stuff coming together. How are Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, and Nick Offerman involved in the plot? Well, that’s a secret.

Raining
I’M SORRY. DID YOU THINK THIS PICTURE SPACE WOULD BE GIVEN TO SOMETHING THAT IS NOT SHIRTLESS?

Did you know that Bad Times at the El Royale is over 140 minutes long? Shit, this might as well be a Marvel movie at this point. Now of course if a movie is engaging and fantastic, the time doesn’t matter. BT at the ER is in fact entertaining with some cool scenes. It has nice songs/soundtracks to encompass the scenes. It is told out of order from multiple perspectives to help unravel the mysteries and keep things fresh. It is really impossible to guess where it is going and how it will end. And yet, it also feels way too long.

Sure, different perspectives is fun, but that does mean we have to see some scenes multiple times. And there is a lot of backstory at times that are cool for building characters, and at the same time, not always necessary.

I really enjoyed Hamm in this film. He was a combination of some of his previous roles and it was definitely a good fit for him. Potentially it can be used as an audition for an eventual super hero! Johnson was acting like someone completely different in this film and it was refreshing. Erivo knocked it out of the park for me in the film, she was the real star, in so many talented ways. And hey, Pullman was interesting as the, well, lobby boy. I actually thought it was maybe Tom Holland pushing some boundaries for most of the movie.

BT at the ER is a fun film, a different film, a Quentin Tarantino lite film, and one that will please a lot of fans. Especially those of Hemsworth. It just needed a lot more editing and maybe a more focused outcome by the end.

2 out of 4.

The Predator

I don’t think I saw the first Predator movie, nor did I see the next one. I did see both Alien vs Predator films though, and of course, Predators, from a handful of years ago.

I think I would enjoy the first Predator movie, it sounds like it is really well made and will have high levels of tension, especially in the end. I will put it on my list. I still know roughly the events of these films, because hey, geek and movie culture.

But to continue the string of very nondescript movie titles. this one is going to be called The Predator, because I guess there is only going to be one. That is some Highlander stealing shit right there. And since it is directed by Shane Black, I can only assume that it will take place during Christmas.

Pred1
Time to hang up the people stockings.

Let’s all head to Mexico! Where there are drug deals, of course! Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook) is an asshole, but he is our asshole. He is also a good soldier and sniper. Sure it basically cost him his marriage, being all soldier-y and out a lot, but he is still a good soldier. And during a mission, a space ship crashes nearby with a scary creature with invisible capabilities.

So he does what any hard working American would do in that case. He steals some of the monster’s equipment and mails it to his P.O. Box at his home city. Thanks to plot though, they go to his home, so his young autistic son (Jacob Tremblay) can find it and mess with alien stuff.

Through other plot, the alien gets captured by secret space force people. We got a real mean dickhead (Sterling K. Brown, who seems to be getting younger in his roles) who wants to unlock their potential. We got an alien biologist (Olivia Munn) who is surprisingly good at shooting things with various weapons. Hell, we have a whole bus load of “crazy” PTSD soldiers that they are hiding away who are going to be dealing with this thing.

But most importantly, this will end up taking place over Halloween. Damn Shane Black, way to trick us.

Also starring Yvonne Strahovski, Trevante Rhodes, Thomas Jane, Keegan-Michael Key, Jake Busey, Augusto Aguilera, and Alfie Allen.

Pred2
Well I guess instead of hanging stockings, they are just hanging Halloween decorations. Makes more sense.

The Predator is basically a trash movie. A movie that feels like an incredible waste of time, and did not live up to any of the expectations that I went in with. And honestly, I didn’t have many.

People tried to talk about what the trailer implied, but I didn’t see it, so I didn’t know where they were coming from. Instead, I just know it is a crap film. Why? Well, this film is basically a comedy. It is very much almost a slapstick comedy. Because we have this group of men with zany personalities (because of mental disturbances) they all have quips and one liners. This means everyone, starting with the guy who is supposed to be the joke maker, all the way down to the more serious characters. It is like they wanted to make The Avengers, but you know, PTSD army folks.

Gosh, the humor was so annoying. At no point could a viewer feel threatened or scared by the predators. When everything is a goddamn joke, it is hard for anything to really draw the viewer in. Tense moments are wasted by jokes and by extremely bad cut jobs. This film moves all over the place, and it is hard to judge how time works. We quickly go from a night scene to an early morning scene, a literal night and day difference, in the final action sequences. If there were a lot of practical effects (/people in suits) it is wasted by the other CGI effects. The kills aren’t too great. And the predator v predator fight is not worth any amount of hype.

AND HOW THE HELL ARE THEY GOING TO HAVE A FILM CALLED THE PREDATOR WITH MORE THAN ONE PREDATOR.

This cannot be the movie people were hoping to get. Somewhere a better film might exist, but really, it needs a plot upheaval and most of it to be re-shot with a different cast. Yeah, we just need a different movie.

1 out of 4.

BlacKkKlansman

I am by no means a Spike Lee expert. I haven’t seen the majority of his work, let alone the stuff that made him famous. I was only a child then.

The last movie of his I saw before he made BlacKkKlansman was Chi-Raq, which ended up being a film that I really loved. It made my top of the year list. I knew I had to give him more of a chance, since the only other films I had seen were Inside Man and He Got Game.

And then, I didn’t I was still too busy. Apparently he has had a few smaller films come out since Chi-Raq and this one, and I hadn’t even noticed. They were small, little advertising, maybe didn’t even make it to the big screen. Regardless, he clearly has a big work ethic, churning out films on topics he cares about, and has been doing it for decades to help raise awareness.

ID
And with a fun name like this one, it is sure to be a hoot.

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is just a brother who wants to make a difference in the world. He finds himself in Colorado, and they seem to want black cops, so he applies, and he gets to be a detective! Hooray, diversity!

Now strangely enough this isn’t in the 1950’s or 60’s, but 1979, and Colorado Springs was apparently still lacking on having black applicants and police officers. Either way, he gets the job, is put undercover quickly to infiltrate a potential black power rally. You know, he has to find out information if they are going to do anything illegal or go to war with the cops.

While doing that assignment, he gets the undercover itch, and decides to try and find out about the local klans group in town. He talks to the owner on the phone, and gets an invite. But of course, he isn’t white. So he has to enlist a partner, Flip Zimmerman (Adam Driver), who happens to also be Jewish (not good for the klan either), to pretend to be him in person and infiltrate their group, while Flip is him in person.

Things can easily go wrong of course when dealing with white extremists. And they often do. But hopefully this undercover assignment can lead to them getting news about potential cross burnings or worse before they happen, in order to make the world a better place.

Also starring Ashlie Atkinson, Jasper Pääkkönen, Laura Harrier, Paul Walter Hauser, Ryan Eggold, and Topher Grace as David Duke.

Power
With so much black power on one screen, I was ready to raise my fists as well.

BlacKkKlansman, unlike my review of this film, is incredibly timely and relevant to our modern world. It had its wide release the same weekend as the one year anniversary of the marches in Charlottesville, Virginia, which of course had Nazi and Klansmen rhetoric going on with them. It wasn’t subtle about its connections either, with this film ending with footage from these few days of events and from the politicians who spoke out or famously did not speak out against it.

It is well acted by Washington, who has not had many roles, and is definitely the son of Denzel. It had great shots, a good story, and a nail biting finale that lasted a good while and kept the tensions really high.

It also made sure to try and keep things realistic, as it was based on a true story. Some liberties were taken of course, but all of the characters felt real and never turned into a cartoon. It didn’t try to do anything silly, like sympathize with any of the klansmen, because fuck them.

Overall, it is a powerful film, a relevant story, and a message about how far people can get with a little bit of can do attitude despite working against systematic racism.

3 out of 4.

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.

Blindspotting

I first saw the trailer for (and heard about) Blindspotting before Upgrade. That is also when I first saw a Sorry To Bother You trailer. A pretty intense set of movies.

From absurd to realistic, they all have similar themes. Okay. Upgrade really doesn’t. But Sorry To Bother You deals with race, acceptance, and fucked up governments. Maybe in a more extreme manner. Blindspotting is aiming to be more realistic.

And I was very excited to see it starting Daveed Diggs. Like most people, I was introduced to him from Hamilton as Lafayette/Jefferson. Since then he has been in a good amount, which is surprising of Broadway actors. He had a role in Wonder, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Black-Ish, and Ferdinand. But these are all straight up comedies, or who cares roles. This is a movie where Diggs should be acting and maybe making us cry.

Hair
He would make me cry if he ever cut that hair off.

Collin (Daveed Diggs) was in jail for two months for a felony charge. It involved a fight, and some fire. After jail, he has a whole year of probation. You know, staying in the county that houses Oakland, California (where he was already living, and his mother lives, thankfully). He has curfew. He can’t be involved in any criminal activity. He has to live at a halfway house as well. Just normal probationary things.

And with three days left on his probation, almost a “free” man (with a glaring felony tag that will follow him throughout his life), while returning home he gets to see a police shooting. Right in front of his work vehicle, a cop firing four shots on a running black man who dies quite unceremoniously. And he has to get home before curfew, but he saw a guy get straight up murdered by the police. Was it because he was black? Was it because of an actual threat to society? Was it because he looked at a gentrifying white hipster the wrong way and get involved in stuff way over his head that escalated beyond any one person’s comprehension levels? Is Collin speaking from experience?

Collin just wants to survive. Survive in the city that he was born and raised that is changing for the worse. A city where he feels like he is being kicked out, or killed out, so that others can take his place and make it “better”. He wants to hang out with his life long friend, Miles (Rafael Casal), but Miles might be considered a bad influence on him. And well, he is white and can probably get away with more.

Collin fears the future. Collin doesn’t know where his life is going, but he knows where he wants to be. Safe, alive, and free.

Also starring Janina Gavankar, Jasmine Cephas Jones (the original Peggy from Hamilton), Tisha Campbell-Martin, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Ethan Embry.

Friends
Wanna know how I know where he is from?

Blindspotting is an example of a good comedy drama. It has heightened elements of both without feeling jarring. It is funny, like a good comedy, and it is tense and real, like a good drama. One side does not harm the other in the slightest. It just feels realistic and important and realistic and important.

The director, Carlos López Estrada, hasn’t done anything this big before, but what really sells this movie are the leads, Diggs and Casal. It should be noted that these two are actual real life friends, Diggs from Oakland, Casal from Berkley, wrote this script over almost a decade. They wanted to portray the area in a way that was being overlooked. They wanted to highlight the changing identities of that area of California, the problems with police brutality, racism, and of course gentrification, the latter issue which is in no way subtle.

They hit all of these points and they hit them naturally. This film flows so well, it is like a rap song, if I understood rap songs. Part of me is saying that just because rap is heavily influenced in the script and dialogue.

The ending is really what sells this film. The “final” confrontation that was definitely unexpected. There were plenty of good scenes before that as well, especially the phone call, the post party scene, the flashback, and more. But the ending is powerful and one that will be played over and over again once the film gets to that point of internet digestion.

4 out of 4.

Sorry To Bother You

Sorry to Bother You is one of those films that sort of snuck up on me with a roar. I heard idle mentions of it earlier in the year, but didn’t go out of my way to do further research.

I knew the star. I guessed the theme. And yet none of that would prepare me for the trailer.

The trailer felt very fresh and told me that this. Would be a movie with a lot going on. A sort of extreme satire, maybe very political, but whatever it is it has a message and will be both subliminal and superliminal with that message.

I was excited and ready for this screening, without really knowing what it might give me.

Japan
I am getting a Japan / sumo wrestler headband vibe here.

Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) is your regular, down on his luck, poor, brother. He is living in a garage in the house of his uncle (Terry Crews), with his long term girlfriend artist (Tessa Thompson), and they aren’t having a lot of luck making money.

But Cassius is able to get a job working as a telemarketer, working for commission. It is better than nothing. And he has the promise that if he does good, he can go to the top floors of the company. He can ride in the special elevator. He can be a “power caller,” and make the big bucks. No one really knows what they sell up there, but it ain’t magazines and book sets.

Cassius is told to just stick to the script, don’t get out of line, and make money. Once he makes money, he can make more money and more and be a success for once. Especially if he taps into his white person voice.

Starring David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Lily James, Forest Whitaker, and Rosario Dawson! Or at least their voices. Also starring Jermaine Fowler, Steven Yeun, Omari Hardwick, Armie Hammer, Robert Longstreet, Danny Glover, Kate Berlant. and Michael X. Sommers, that would be their voices and their bodies.

Drinks
This is how white people drink champagne.

Strangely enough, the trailer for Sorry To Bother You only gave you a slice of the whole story, so I tried to do the same with my plot. There is a whole lot more that goes into this story. Topics of slavery (multiple levels) , class warfare, poverty, selling out, and American indifference to clear wrongs in the world. This movie coming out now is extremely well timed given the border problems that keep getting swept away by other media distractions.

It is not a film to use subtle clues to drive the point home. No, these clues are obvious, with a hammer. Fuck, one of the most uncomfortable scenes was the precursor to a “rap” where the chants, the disparity of the cast, made everything all too real and uncomfortable.

Stanfield is amazing in this film as our lead. His senses will probably always align with the audience on the scale of what is right and wrong and when to finally draw the line. Oh yes, you will know when that line is drawn. It was good seeing Yeun in a role very different than his previous work. Thompson was great. Hardwick was as well, despite more limited time, and Hammer was a blast going full crazy CEO for this film.

Unfortunately, areas do feel a bit clunky and jarring. Especially in the end, time seems to go by strangely and not everything seems to have the same attention to detail as earlier on in the film.

Sorry To Bother You will be looked back as an important work, with extreme topics in order to get the point heard loudly.

3 out of 4.

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