Tag: Comedy

Happy Death Day

Get Out did a lot of things for movies in 2017. It started the year off with a bang (a bang that I think Split also helped open) where it was definitely some sort of horror film, but with other genres molded into it. The comedy elements that normally turn something into a parody film were present, helpful, but not overshadowing.

Those movies helped pave the way for something like Happy Death Day to be released. A film taking a familiar concept (reliving a day over and over) and tacking on a serial killer. Great. We have a reason for the day to be relived, we have a horror element which is new, and we have a goddamn mystery.

I remember missing this movie earlier in the year because four screenings were happening at the same time, so I ended up picking Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, which honestly still feels like the right move. But I had high hopes for this film, let’s just say that.

Cupcake
I also had high hopes for a big lavish birthday cake, but fuck me right?

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) has a stupid name, but that won´t bring her down. She is in college, she is smart enough, she likes to drink and party and is in an amazing sorority. She is sleeping with a professor for grades (And love?), and yes, it is in fact her birthday.

She woke up unfortunately not in her own bed, but in the bed of some boy named Carter (Israel Broussard). She doesn´t know him, she was drunk, clearly mistakes were made. Oh well, she can walk of shame it to her house for her birthday, no biggy. She just has to deal with other dumb college people, her annoying roommate (Ruby Modine), trying to sex up her professor (Charles Aitkin) without his wife (Laura Clifton) knowing, and of course, dealing with Sorority Drama.

But on the way to what is most certainly a surprise party for her, something strange happens. She gets murdered by someone in a big baby mask, straight up killed. And after she dies, she wakes up, back in Carter´s bed, confused and scared. Thinking it is some really intense dejavu, she goes on like normal, only changing up her route to the party, and sure enough, she finds herself dead, again, and back in Carter´s room. Oh no.

For some reason, Tree is dying every night by someone murdering her in the face, and she is waking up each day, more and more tired and concerned for her safety. She has to enlist help to determine who the killer is, but it is like everyone she needs to help her has short term memory. It sucks. Worst birthday ever.

Also starring Rachel Matthews, Rob Mello, Jason Bayle, and Phi Vu.

Watchout
Baby got a bat, better run run run.

Overall, I found Happy Death Day to be pretty disappointing.

When it comes to uniqueness, it only is unique in that the other repeated day stories and movies did not have horror elements. Or at least that wasn’t their main element. But can a repeated day film really be that scary? Well, for the most part, there will not be a sense of surprise. We know that she makes it until the end of the day, and unless it is purely random when she gets stabbed (it isn’t), then we know when to expect stabbing. It is hard to get scared in these situations, so the movie doesn’t work well as a horror.

On the comedy side, it too was weak. Most of the comedy came from the occasional weird kill, but a lot of it was just regular interactions between college students. Parts were amusing, but nothing really would cause someone to laugh out loud. As you can see, this is a multi-genre film that doesn’t really do great at any genre.

The main character is such a lame character, that no one would ever root for her. She is a mean sorority girl, and frankly, her getting killed doesn’t seem like a big deal. We can have films about unlikable characters, but that doesn’t mean we should want to root for them.

The ending is also a dud, where the main red hearing based solution is just so nonsensical, it is annoying how they wasted so much time on it. Any viewer would know it is incorrect, but we have to suffer through almost 30 minutes (it feels like) on that notion that it is excruciating.

Happy Death Day is a movie with a good idea, just terrible execution all around.

1 out of 4.

The Star

As of writing this introduction to The Star, there is only one mainstream / mainstream movie I have yet to see for the year, and at this point I can say that 2017 just overall sucked.

So many sequels of films that didn’t need them, offering nothing new. We have stories that are based on books and don’t rise up to their level. We have original works that don’t focus on the smaller elements. We have two fucking LEGO movies.

And then we have The Star. The cherry on top of the year. I haven’t released all the reviews I just mentioned, because at least one or two films were actually good, but I will let them happen eventually through the rest of this month and January. But it should be obvious I was not looking forward to The Star in any level.

Donkey
No film has starred a donkey successfully since Shrek.

The film starts off at “9 months B.C” because they need to make it obvious. This angel talks to Mary (Gina Rodriguez) that God is about to give her that baby, and she is like yes!

Now, months later we can focus on the real hero, Bo (Steven Yeun)! Bo is a donkey, a mill donkey, who spends most of his day walking in a circle, moving the mill. Hard labor. He has big dreams though. He wants to get out of the mill and carry around important people, like royalty, like the horses. Oh yeah, that would be the life. Eventually he does get to break out and finds himself in the barn of Mary and Joseph (Zachary Levi). You see, they just got married, and Joseph is of course worried about her baby bump. But she says it is from God, and he prayed so it must be okay.

What is not okay is some animals have spread the story of the angel and the future king, which has gotten to the ears of the current King. The new King doesn’t like that and sends people out to look for and kill this dude. Also, they are having a Census, so everyone has to travel to Bethlehem, or else! I don’t know what the or else is, but no matter the condition they must go.

So Mary and Joseph are traveling when she is about to pop, with a Donkey and a bird (Keegan-Michael Key) and a lamb (Aidy Bryant), and along the way they get into many shenanigans.

Either way, this story is pretty common, so you know where we are going with it and the whole thing is basically spoiled.

There are so many goddamn people who they grabbed to get presumably tiny quick paychecks. Because the more famous people you cram into a film, the more people will come to see it. Just ask Movie 43. We have as animals or the occasional other human: Christopher Plummer, Ving Rhames, Gabriel Iglesias, Kelly Clarkson, Anthony Anderson, Patricia Heaton, Kris Kristofferson, Kristin Chenoweth, Mariah Carey, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Tracy Morgan, Delilah (from the Radio), Joel McCrary, Phil Morris, and Joel Fuck The Poor Osteen.

Camel
Winfrey, Jordan, and Perry are camels. Seems…racist.

Just like I have mentioned in previous films about mythology, I don’t care if they change aspects from the original stories, because who cares, they are made up stories as well. I didn’t care with The Rock’s Hercules, I didn’t care with Percy Jackson, and I don’t care with the Star.

But if I was Christian, I would be insulted by this film. To take one of the hallmarks of your religion and turn it into a big awkward joke. To have Mary and Joseph worry so much about the donkey and bird hanging out with them, making light of some king dude, and basically implying everything worked out well due to some animals.

Shit, the manger scene before it was set up had the horses basically making meta jokes about how convient it was for there to be this space, this manger, and a big awkward shining light on it that had been bugging them for weeks.

However even worse, I am going to quote the end of the film. This is Oprah as a camel, talking about the ending (spoilers?). Seriously, real words here, it took me awhile to get it all down: “You know, I think people are gonna remember this night. What happened here around this manger will be celebrated for thousands of years. Families will come together and exchange presents and sing carols, all to remember the grace of this moment that we are witnessing right now.”

That isn’t even funny at this point, as they basically stare at the camera to update us on what sometimes happens around Christmas.

The plot is full of mostly filler material, a lot of non exciting chase scenes, a very gullible husband, a very confident wife, and a shit ton of actors earning some money. But hey, at least the colors of Mary/Joseph were attempted to be correct.

0 out of 4.

Molly’s Game

Aaron Sorkin Sorkin sorkin. If you would have told me he never directed a movie before I would have raised my finger in the air and declared “Oh no! He must have!” Sure he is known for being a writer and a great writer. But I just can’t imagine him never directing anything. Especially given the number of TV shows he has worked on.

But alas. The truth is sometimes hard to swallow, and usually that phrase is for much bigger events than this one.

Despite the fact that this is an original Sorkin directed film and of course, writer, it is unfortunately based on a true story. A true story that was written about in a book with the same name, Molly’s Game. And so even though he wrote the screenplay, he based it off of someone else’s words, and maybe the dialogue would be affected in some regards.

Cleavage
Or even worse, maybe Sorkin will get distracted by other things while having to direct as well.

Molly (Jessica Chastain) was very close to heading to the US Olympics as a downhill skier, doing the moguls. Her father (Kevin Costner) was an intense man, who wanted his kids to be athletes and great at school, constantly pushing them to achieve greatness at all costs. He was a bit of a dick. But Molly didn’t qualify due to a freak unlikely accident, and he life was forever changed.

Instead of the Olympics, Molly found herself putting off law school, living off of her friend’s couch until she found some job and some life experience. It led her to becoming the personal assistant of Dean King (Jeremy Strong), an asshole, a piece of shit, but she got money so whatever. This led her to running a weekly poker game he was hosting, which featured big celebrities, CEOs, high money people. It gave her a lot more in tips, so Molly began to learn the art of poker, about being a host, so that eventually she could do this on her own.

Thanks to the help of a mysterious celebrity (Michael Cera), eventually she got her foot in the door, ran a bigger game, with higher stakes, more tipping, and all legal. And yet, years later, she is arrested despite no games in a long time, with connections to mobsters, and she needs legal help to get her out of the jam (Idris Elba). Basically, a lot of shit is going down, we got flashbacks, we got a slight mystery, and we got sexy card game shenanigans and stories and gossip.

Also starring a ton of people, some playing unnamed celebrities, some CEOs, some attractive people in general. This includes Natalie Krill, Stephanie Herfield, Bill Camp, Madison McKinley, Justin Kirk, J.C. MacKenzie, Graham Greene, Chris O’Dowd, Angela Gots, and Brian d’Arcy James.

eYES
I’d let Idris Elba represent me in court, even if in real life he doesn’t know a damn thing.

Damn it, and now another recent movie has made me want to read the book. First Wonder, then The Disaster Artist, and now Molly’s Game. Although a little bit less interested in this book, as I feel like the movie must have done a great job of explaining the topic of the book. And I have fear that the narration of Molly’s Game, which is assumed to be book quotes, has been made better by Sorkin instead of left alone.

Not to mention I know that reading this book will not secretly identify any actors or celebrities who were parts of these games. These things were combed over by insiders already, and since I know jack shit outside of just movie gossip, I got absolutely nothing. Especially since this happened over a decade ago or whatever.

In terms of acting, Chastain does a really good job. She is powerful, assertive, and confident for the most part, a strong leading lady. Her cleavage plays a large role in this film as well, definitely important to the plot. Cleavage hasn’t been this important to a plot since Erin Brockovich, and this one is definitely more important. It deserves its own tag credit.

Elba is fine as the lawyer, given a lot more of the fun moments early on, and gets at least two great speeches near the end. The ending is where we get a lot more Sorkin level dialogue between the characters, especially between Chastain and Costner (who has done his best work in several years with this role).

Honestly, a fun story, it is gripping at times, it was very popular half a decade ago, yet still not quite big news. The only issues I probably have with it involve the direction. After the intro, which was wonderful, the story felt really weird. We had a lot of strange camera choices, fade overs, switching of timelines. It eventually started to come together, but it didn’t feel very coherent and great until after the poker games were already going.

Sorkin’s next film is called The Politician, also a true story. Huh, stories about the law and politics, this is strange new territory for Sorkin.

3 out of 4.

Pitch Perfect 3

In 1992, The Mighty Ducks came out, introducing a lot of youth to hockey and bringing an okay film to the world. It had a team of irregulars come together to win a competition. Standard story. Two years later, we were given D2: The Mighty Ducks, a much superior film, funnier, stronger, better. We got more exciting characters, the stakes were raised as they now had to compete and win in an international tournament. It gave us the knuckle puck!

Then another two years later, Disney had reached too close to the sun and tried for a third film. But where do you go after your group of kids have won a world championship? There is no intergalactic hockey (barring the Mighty Ducks TV Show). So they instead just made them go to a school, and play the varsity team of older players. It was a terrible idea, it was boring, no one cared.

That is what my concerns are for Pitch Perfect 3. In the first film they won the US, in the second film they won the world, and in the third film they are just…singing for the troops. What’s the point? The only real difference I could see is that at least in Mighty Ducks the second film improved upon the first, while in Pitch Perfect 2 it lowered in quality due to lesser plot lines.

Oh well, let’s see how it manages to justify its existence. And that is coming from a fan!

Group shot
Well at least they are patriotic, so they can

Our third film is taking place probably around 3 years after the events of Pitch Perfect 2. Our heroes (?) now have all moved on with their lives, in graduate school, or with jobs, or no jobs at all. Who knows.

Becca (Anna Kendrick) is officially a music producer, but dealing with shithead artists who have bad tastes makes her quit and question her future in the business. Thankfully, the Bellas are having a reunion show at an aquarium, so she has that to look forward to since her life is falling apart.

All the girls are there (Alexis Knapp, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Chrissie Fit, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Kelley Jakle, Rebel Wilson, Shelley Regner) and even their protege Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) is there. At this show, everyone realizes that their lives suck, they are sad, and they just want to sing and be happy. Thanks to plot magic, they are able to quickly agree and get invited to a USO show to entertain the troops.

And lo and behold, this is secretly a competition. They are performing alongside three bands with instruments and sound systems, but apparently DJ Khaled is there sponsoring it all, and his favorite band will get to open for him on tour. I learned after the fact that this is a real famous DJ playing himself in this movie, not another character.

Oh joy, a competition, in order to really bring out their best. Also, John Lithgow is in this movie to play Fat Amy’s elusive father who was apparently a criminal in the past. Starring Elizabeth Banks, Ruby Rose, John Michael Higgins, Matt Lanter, and Guy Burnet, who is playing our Jesse replacement. Because Jesse/Benji/Bumper were written out of these stories, with only two of them getting a line to explain what happened.

Sing
0-3 on Riff Offs because these people used instruments.

Let’s start this analysis with another franchise comparison. I don’t like Cars. Some people do like Cars. No one liked Cars 2. Cars 2 had the main character change and a terrible no good very bad spy theme.

Pitch Perfect 3 starts off with the group actually on a boat performing, then danger guns explosion. “Oh gods,” you wonder, “Did they change this to a spy series and not put it in the trailers. Oh no no no.” And then you forget about it. You hope it is just a movie in the movie scene, maybe they become fake stars. Sure.

And then the terrible Fat Amy father plot continues, with Lithgow acting quite terribly at being a thief or whatever. It was such a bizarre aspect to add to a very lackluster film. When they finally were back up to that boat scene I started falling asleep in the theater. Oh it was so bad and unnecessary.

As for the main plot, it was so bad and unnecessary. Banks and Higgins were trash in this movie, their quips less good and they felt so useless. The competition aspect was forced, with an extremely long into and “riff off.” They spent all this energy into setting up their first USO show and raining down shit upon the group and their antics to be loved. After that? We were given a montage over the other performance, and hey, apparently now everyone loves them and all that strife was just filler. They fixed their goddamn problems and got popular again after two bad events magically through montage.

The second film did really well monetarily so they probably felt like they had to make this one. But with forgettable performances, less mashing up, forgettable and enraging plot points, this is not a movie that needed to be made at all. But sure, some side characters had good one off jokes. That’s the plus.

1 out of 4.

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle

¨It only took twenty years, but we finally have a Jumanji sequel…” said no one ever about this movie, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.

Especially since everyone of course remembers that Zathura: A Space Adventure totally exists!

But also because when this movie was announced, a lot of people got pretty angry. Saying things like it would tarnish Robin Williams´ legacy, that it was changing too many things, that it didn´t feel like Jumanji, and everything else. People seem to think that movie studios were sitting on this idea for years, just waiting for Williams to fall over so they could move on. Williams did not own the rights to Jumanji.

When I saw the trailer initially I was actually a little bit excited. Getting sucked into a video game is not a new prompt. It has been done many times as one-off TV show episodes, entire shows have been based on them, and movies as well, but it feels like when it happens it is usually shit. And since I like a lot of these actors, I had a bit more hope for this one.

Group
A diverse cast of characters in a jungle, WHAT YEAR IS IT?!

Don’t worry purists, this film takes place in the same universe as the first Jumanji film! As it starts in the mid 90’s, boardgame found on a beach. However, board games are lame, so the kid doesn’ play it and goes back to his video games. So what’s an evil sentient-esque game supposed to do but morph into a playing system? That is how they will get the kids hooked.

Flash forward to modern times, and we have four kids, very distinct histories and likes, who end up getting detention at the same time. Spencer (Alex Wolff) is our nerd/video game lover, we have The Fridge (Ser’Darius Blain) who is good at sports, Bethany (Madison Iseman) a popular cute girl addicted to her phone, and Martha (Morgan Turner) who also is nerdy but more reclusive. They have a task of removing staplers from hundreds of magazines in a basement, hooray child labor! They of course instead find this old video game, all agree to play, because fuck work, and lo and behold, they get sucked into a video game!

Now, they are all the avatars they chose as their characters. Spencer is now Dr. Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), good at everything, while The Fridge is Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart), the backpack guy sidekick, Martha is now Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan) a fighter good at fighting, and Bethany has become Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), an overweight cartologist.

They must work together to balance their strengths and weaknesses in their new bodies to save the jungles of Jumanji, and also, get themselves back home.

Also starring Bobby Cannavale, Rhys Darby, Nick Jonas, Marc Evan Jackson, and Colin Hanks.

Shock
The Rock showing emotion, WHAT YEAR IS IT?

As previously mentioned, most “jump into video game movies” are poorly made. Just look at the third Spy Kids movie. The problem with all of these films or tv shows is they just never seem to “get” video games. They make them awkward puzzle based challenges, but mostly a lot of…non gaming things. The closest we have to a movie understanding video games has been Edge of Tomorrow.

If there is anything you can say about Jumanji 2, it is that it at least understands video games. Our characters have multiple lives, sharing lives, strengths and weaknesses, there are obvious levels, there are boundaries, there are goals, NPCs, weird interactions. It feels like people interacting with a video game world for the most part, that is wonderful.

It is wonderful, until they contradict themselves. For example, one of my biggest issues with this movie is Dr. Smolder Bravestone. He has no weaknesses, and his strengths include Fighting, Strength, Endurance, Speed, and being Fearless. Yeah, he has a bunch. And all the characters in avatar form obviously have strengths or weaknesses that are not normal. But hey, Ruby can actually fight despite being weak in real life. And Smolder can run fast, jump high, and all that.

Except for apparently his Fearless trait. Because a recurring plot point is watching Johnson scream at the slightest and smallest of animals, running in terror, over and over again. It causes one of his deaths. It is such a ridiculous oversight, it really bugs me because everything else was on point and this one felt glaring.

Overall, the movie is just okay still. The video game aspects are fine, the plot is really week. It doesn’t have an overall sense of awe or wonder like its predecessors. Everything is of course just extremely CGI’d and action scenes, with too many of the scenes focusing on human bad guys instead of swell animal problems. We don’t even get natural disasters, despite the several plant or weather based issues that Jumanji gave us.

A fine film, it just still could have been a lot better.

2 out of 4.

Ferdinand

When I was in the first grade back in 1945, I distinctly remember seeing Ferdinand with its really dark red cover, bull, and designs on it. It stood out amongst the children’s books merely for its boldness and not pastel everything color scheme.

So I definitely remember reading it, feeling proud at having read it. It was one of the first books I can recall reading that weren’t super basic.

This means I was a bit excited that eventually a movie was going to come out about it. It was coming out around Christmas time with no other animated film competition. Maybe it would be amazing! That would be great, given my disappointments this year on the entire genre.

But also, I didn’t remember the story, so I wouldn’t care about the plot of the film versus the plot of the book, which is something I definitely always strive for.

Goat
“There was no goat in the book, 0 out of 100!!!” – Book elitist.

When Ferdinand (John Cena) was just a kid, he lived on a ranch and was in training to be a man fighter. I guess that is what you call the bulls in bull fighting matches. But Ferdinand didn’t want to train and butt heads with the other bulls, he wanted to care for flowers and just enjoy the fucking sunshine. One day, his dad was chosen as an honor to head to Madrid and become a man fighter, Ferdinand waited for days hoping his father would return victorious, but alas, he did not.

So Ferdinand escaped. There was nothing left for him at his home except for sadness, angst, and bullying. Because of bulls. He escape and, luckily, found himself at a peaceful farm where they actually grew flowers for a living! And there was a little girl there, Lily (Lily Day), who loved Ferdinand and raised him as a pet. He wasn’t mean, he just loved flowers and was a big goof ball.

But when Ferdinand got older, he was extremely large, larger than most bulls. Ferdinand was a gentle giant, who accidentally caused a lot of trouble one day thanks to not listening and due to a bee sting. This put Ferdinand back into captivity, back at the place he escaped long ago, with a Matador fight looming that he knew he would not come back from alive.

Also starring Anthony Anderson, Peyton Manning, David Tennant, and Tim Nordquist as additional bulls, Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs, and Gabriel Iglesias as hedgehogs, and Flula Borg, Sally Phillips, and Boris Kodjoe as German show ponies.

Oh and Kate McKinnon as a goat, Bobby Cannavale as a rival bull, Miguel Ángel Silvestre as a famous bull fighter, and Jeremy Sisto as Ferdinand’s dad.

Drive
Oh. Animals driving trucks during the ending conflict. Lovely.

The book Ferdinand story was big huge bull, didn’t want to fight, liked flowers, got taken away when he accidentally messed up a village after a bee sting, went to fight a Matador, refused to fight and was saved. Simple book, and hey, that is the basic point of this movie too.

We also just get some extra kid backstory, rival characters, several groups of side characters, extra human characters, and more. There are so many goddamn animals in this one. Not just the bull friends, but we have some extra 1 of animals only, then a group of hedgehogs, a group of horses. It just seems like I was drowning in side animals, most of which were unnecessary and one dimensional. Although the hedgehogs made me laugh occasionally.

Thanks to all these characters, we got one of the worst scenes I have seen in an animated film since the entirety of Norm of the North, when there was a “dance off” between the bulls and the horses. It was bad, it didn’t match the characters, it went on too long and just was aggravating.

As for the rest of the film, the beginning was very boring, the voice acting was weak, and the film seemingly killed off characters willy-nilly without any big amount of remorse. Or at least it seemed that way, but actually the extremely efficient slaughterhouse has no actual employees. Seriously, they show up instantly to take away a bull not good enough, but when the bulls head to the place to save them, we have no employees, no people attempting to stop them, just an extremely elaborate and nonsensical “ground beef” making machine.

Add in the ending where we have our animals driving vehicles, because every goddamn animal movie needs that now, a way too long chase scene through Madrid, and an ending where, sure, Ferdinand and his friends make it but without any long term changes made.

We all know bull fighting is terrible at this point. It is a relic of the Roman Colosseum, killing animals in front of crowds for sport. It is awkward that basically every bull is super stoked about the idea of being chosen for most of the film, until they realize how bad it is. It is even more ridiculous when you’d think the goal would be to end all bull fighting to save the bulls, but apparently just their group of six is good enough.

Ferdinand had a treasured book to work with, and they used that material. Unfortunately, the people who gave us the bad franchises of Ice Age and Rio have seemingly, once again, failed to produce a quality product. Not surprising I guess.

1 out of 4.

Ingrid Goes West

Way back a long time ago, when I saw the movie Colossal, I had just learned about Neon Films, a distribution company run by Alamo Drafthouse. Colossal was amazing and everyone should see it. I believe Colossal was their first big release.

They had trailers for two other films specifically from them as well, Buster’s Mal Heart, and Ingrid Goes West. Both trailers were really well done, and I knew I wanted to see both of this films. I thought Neon was starting off really strong.

Well, Buster’s Mal Heart was indeed weird, but not something I could get behind. And Ingrid Goes West I decided to wait until it could be rented, because my wife was also really interested in it, especially since we were watching Parks and Rec at the time. Again, another delay, but that is okay, still hit it in 2017.

BFF
Did they both just conquer some natievs? Whats with the victory signs?

Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) just loves her friends, like, a lot. I mean, mostly she stays in her room, eating junk food, but thanks to social media she can keep up with their posts and going ons. She is one like away from joining in on the fun. But fun time is over, because Charlotte (Meredith Hagner) had the gall to get married, not invite Ingrid, and also imply all of her friends were with her on that special night. That bitch. So Ingrid heads over to the wedding to crash it and give her a piece of her name, putting her in a mental institution for awhile and giving her a restraining order.

Once Ingrid gets better, she heads home to an empty home, her mom now dead and gone. With Charlotte’s Instagram now set to private, Ingrid has to find a new BFF. And that is how she found Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen). A social media pseudo celebrity, the type with a ton of followers so she can make money by posting images of products. She lived a perfect life, one that Ingrid would like to become.

And since she has all this inheritance money, she upends her life, flies to California and hopes to find Taylor to become real life BFFs with her, not just internet pals. She can become popular and awesome too. She rents a small apartment owned by the neighbor, Dan Pinto (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and sets off to be friends with Taylor at any cost. At. Any. Cost.

Also featuring Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen, and Pom Klementieff.

bf
Ice Cube’s son gets real warm with Aubrey Plaza.

Films that are about mental illnesses have a lot of weight to them. For example, a few years ago I watched the movie Young Adult, when my reviews were still poorly written but frequent. I used words like crazy to describe her and eventually realized that what I was doing was not okay to do. I didn’t get that movie.

Now, old (and as an intellectual~~), I understand more the right way and wrong way to speak about certain things, and other times I still don’t fucking care (hooray swearing in reviews). I just also know that if you are going to make a film about someone with a mental illness and their illness shouldn’t be the brunt of the jokes. Jokes can happen, but if you are just making fun of illnesses, that is bad. And honestly, at this point, I really can’t tell if it goes too far in Ingrid Goes West.

Ingrid is a tragic character, who gets obsessed with what she feels is perfection, until things go to ruin. We get to see her in an institution, and who knows why she is like that, or when her mom died and if it is related. Characters getting pissed off at Ingrid over her actions? Totally justifiable in the movie. But the movie makers made a choice and chose to not make their movie in a way that seems to understand that they can’t just call a character mentally unstable and run with it. There needs to be justification, a reason, some sort of closure, and not just a gag.

And again, since it seems like it is hard to tell if they really treated it with the appropriate gloves, it probably means they didn’t. I can see elements there, just not enough.

The film on its own wasn’t really that funny though. It took awhile to really get going, maybe they were going for realism. Jackson Jr. was hilarious though, every time he was on screen I ended up laughing, which is maybe the only reason this made it to a 2.

2 out of 4.

The Florida Project

When I think of Florida, I rarely think of projects. I usually just think of Ponce De Leon, Disney World, Recounts, and Flo Rida.

And it turns out that The Florida Project wants me to think about Disney World, as apparently Disney World was first called The Florida Project in initial design phases.

This movie is brought to us by Sean Barker, who famously brought us Tangerine by filming the whole things on iPhones. Don’t worry, this film is filmed with traditional cameras. Well, except the ending, that one was filmed on iPhones for legal reasons.

Kids
Legal reasons like how creepy it would be if he filmed a whole movie on his phone of 6 year olds.

Welcome to the Magic Castle! which is just a motel in Kissimmee, Florida, right outside of Disney World! It is a cheap place, but it relies mostly on tourists who doesn’t want to stay in the fancier hotels in order to save money. And at this motel lives a girl Moonee (Brooklynn Prince). Yes that is right, I said lives. She lives in a single room with her mother (Bria Vinaite). They get around the rules by leaving the motel once a month to go to another hotel, so they aren’t officially “living there” like a lot of people at this same motel.

Her mom is in a rough place, being a young single mother. She has no discernible skills, outside of slightly good looks, but she has still been recently fired from the club she worked at. Now they have to rely on more handouts, borrowing more money from friends, and scamming tourists in order to survive. If necessary, she also will have to resort to selling her body.

In order to not go insane, six year old Moonee basically has free control over her life. She can wander around the city, across the various motels with her friend Scooty (Christopher Rivera) and new friend, Jancey (Valeria Cotto). They like to pray pranks and be general nuisances on the public. Moonee has close to no filter, and will yell and scream if necessary. She doesn’t fully understand the problems her mom has to deal with, but she doesn’t care as long as she can continue on her free spirited ways.

Also featuring Willem Dafoe as the most considerate motel manager I have ever seen. And also Caleb Landry Jones, Mela Murder, and Macon Blair.

Dafoe
Really he is just everyone’s dad in this movie. All of them.

The Florida Project gives a unique look at what I have to imagine is a real subculture of people, not just in Florida, but around the world. Families who are practically homeless and living in cheap motels with reasonable managers turning a blind eye every day. A lot of the better aspects is just watching how these people live, what they do with their spare time and their justifications for their actions.

It is clear watching this why children put through these measures would grow up to be unreasonable entitled individuals. The kind who take handouts while voting Republican thanks to the American dream. The kind who end up in prison systems because they never had a fair shot of growing up in a good environment.

And the kids are just so realistic, kids being kids, running around, causing trouble, being inquisitive creatures that are learning on the streets. I can’t imagine those actor kids are actually that shitty, so they are actually acting on some level and they do their own impressive performance. Dafoe in this movie is probably his least likely role ever. A caring man, who has patience, and empathy in others. That is not normal for Dafoe’s choice of roles. It was so bizarre given the actor, and it is likely to earn him nominations at the same time.

The Florida Project is quirky, but faithful to the people whose story it tells. It is not a group of wholesome people, but they are not villains either. It does a great job of toeing the line. The only thing I’d really want is a better conclusion and more information on what happens after the credits role.

3 out of 4.

Leap!

2017 has been a shit year for animation. That is basically how I begin everything for animation at the end of the year, by the way.

At this point the only films I gave okay ratings to were Coco and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, which is saying a lot about my opinions on these films.

Well, Leap! was released at the end of last year in France and Europe, but didn’t make it to America until August. I had been waiting for a bit and waiting even more. When it finally came out, no one seemed to care, due to lack of advertising, and even I forgot about it.

It is one of those weird films that is already in English, but has a slightly different voice cast depending on the country. Not many changes were made, but the European version had Dane DeHaan as the boy lead. And honestly, without hearing it, it was probably a good change. We don’t need to hear 12 year olds with extra deep voices as if they are constantly pretending to be batman.

Dancer
Now if DeHaan had voiced the lead? I would pay extra for that uncomfortable version.

Felicie (Elle Fanning) is an orphan in a small French town, in a Church. She doesn’t want to be there of course, she wants to escape and become a famous dancer! Partially because the only thing she has from her mother is a dancing figure in a music box, her main treasure. Her best friend, Victor (Nat Wolff) also wants to escape with her. He has dreams of being an inventor and is focusing a lot of his efforts on a flying machine.

Well, Victor finds a flyer for a famous ballet school in Paris, so they decide they should run away and make it there! And they do!

But they immediately get separated, so Felicie is on her own to achieve her dreams. She finds the dance hall, sees an amazing dancer, but gets found out by the groundskeeper and almost given to the police, but a cleaning lady saves her. Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen) walks with a cane, clearly having once been a dancer and had her life ruined by something or another. She stays in the guest house of a mansion, she just also has to clean it up as well. And the owner, Regine (Kate McKinnon), is a huge bitch.

She is rich though, so she can be a bitch. She has raised a bitch daughter too, Camille (Maddie Ziegler), who just so happens to be a dancer. And because she is a bitch, Felicie steals her invite to the dance school and pretends to be Camille to get a shot of her dream coming true. She just has to be good enough every day to not be the one person cut, so she can have a feature spot in the upcoming Nutcracker show.

Also featuring the voices of Shoshana Sperling and Mel Brooks.

Friendship
Oh he is definitely in the “best friend for years until she loves me” role. Silly boy. This isn’t the 90’s anymore.

Leap! tells a very standard story about a girl and a boy running off to achieve their lofty ambitions, and do so, quite easily! How they both fall into their respective positions is meant to be quick and easy, which is part of the comedy and charm, so that is not an issue.

It has its moments, both funny and cute. The animation is fine, Victor makes a good comic relief, and Felicie a great go-getter lead! The film also had some Karate Kid moments, just to keep things interesting.

But the devil is in the details, and this film was a mess. I first noticed it on my own, after three very specific references happened, and I was curious if they all were around the same time. That would be, The Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, and Sherlock Holmes. The first Holmes story was in 1887, the Eiffel tower started being built in 1887, but the Statue of Liberty was already in America in 1886. So to show it barely built at the same time as the Eiffel Tower was barely built is just wrong. And it had the statue already green, which is also quite annoying.

So I figured it must be set in 1887 and they had one mistake, sure. But apparently the film was set in 1979, years before all of these things. In addition to those facts, the dancers were trying out for a part in The Nutcracker, which came out in 1892. I learned the last fact and more from IMDB’s goof section, after I already found out these inconsistencies. If they are going to set the film in a lively part of the world and go for a realistic story, then it just seems terrible to have so many references just wrong.

Another aspect that just consistantly threw me off was the soundtrack. There five or more pop songs used as montage music mostly, including songs from Sia and Jepsen, and these things took me out of the experience. They never quite melded well with the scenes behind it. Given the subject matter, actual ballet, opera, classical, anything music wise like that would have felt better for the story.

Despite being called Leap!, this film was unable to rise above other animated films this year. It just ended up okay like the rest of the best.

2 out of 4.