Wonder

As a middle school teacher, Wonder is a book I have seen before existing that I have blatantly ignored. It had an interesting cover, sure, but a guy can’t just go and read everything that is hip and cool with the kiddos.

I was still excited for this one, as I knew a lot of librarians and English teachers and students who talked highly about the book. So sure, I would watch it and hope for the best, and not worry about comparing it to the book.

Oooh, I wonder wonder what’s in a wonder film.

Family
Maybe that helmet is full of wonder balls.

August “Auggie” Pullman (Jacob Tremblay) is a boy who had a lot of problems right out of the womb. He has been in the ICU, and has had many surgeries. There were many problems, and basically, he now has a really different looking face when compared to other kids. Because of his issues, he has been homeschooled his entire life by his mother (Julia Roberts), who put a degree on hold. His dad (Owen Wilson) works and tries to keep the humor in the house, and his older sister, Via (Izabela Vidovic), just has to deal with most of her problems on her own.

His family thinks it is time for him to finally join the real world. It will be hard for him to go to a real school, but it will be harder the more they put it off. So he is signed up for an academy for middle school that starts in the fifth grade and does a lot of advanced science work. Auggie loves science, dreams of being an astronaut, and has been using a space helmet to hide his face when going out in public.

Middle school is going to be a hard adjustment for Auggie. But he doesn’t realize is that many kids are finding it to be a hard adjustment. And that school itself is a hard adjustment, across its various levels. Auggie will realize the value of friendship, betrayal, and more, and that he also is not the center of his own universe.

Also starring Noah Jupe, Mandy Patinkin, Bryce Gheisar, Elle McKinnon, Daveed Diggs, Ty Consiglio, Kyle Breitkopf, Millie Davis, Ali Liebert, Danielle Rose Russell, Nadji Jeter, and Ben Ratner.

Woods
When they recreate frame by frame that scene from Deliverance? A bold choice from the director.

My first initial thought about Wonder: The movie only made me cry three times, what a shitshow. A good film needs five cries minimum.

But then I got over my not super salty cheeks and thought about the film and story as a whole. The film isn’t just about a dude with a messed up face learning to cope. It is about his whole family moving on with his condition. It is about his sister finding herself, i is about his friends realizing their own fuck ups. Shit, it is even about his sister’s friend realizing she is a fuck up.

It is a really easy conclusion to come to as well, because the film is formatted in a way to (quite obviously) show several different point of views. I have been told the book does it more frequently and better, but I did really appreciate it when it happened in the film. I got giddy with each iteration. If anything, one of the reasons the rating isn’t hire is because the film didn’t go deep enough in this method. Don’t introduce point of views and do it half-assed. Basically every time it did so, it did it only once, and then didn’t do it for enough characters. Let me see all of the other side characters who acted weird, go all in damn it.

I was able to connect with a lot of the characters, including Auggie, despite only having a minor facial deformity myself. Except the deformity I have made me really really attractive, so I guess people stared at me for other reasons.

Acting is swell, and honestly, a shout out to Wilson. He was more than a generic joking dad. He had some really sweet and tender moments as well, less than the mom character, but he did a lot with his lesser screen time.

3 out of 4.

Smurfs: The Lost Village


The Smurfs and The Smurfs 2 were met with a lot of mixed results, especially on this site. But you know what? A lot of things really worked.

Like Hank Azaria as Gargamel. He was great as the voice and character himself and felt perfect. I also enjoyed Neil Patrick Harris as our human contact.

But the sequel bombed because it was a poor movie. However they blamed it on the real actors for whatever reason and promised that the next Smurfs movie would stay in Smurfs land. No real people, just CGI for everyone. And now we have Smurfs: The Lost Village as a sort of reboot on the franchise where people won’t realize that things are different.

Adventures
Hundreds of smurfs, and we will only focus on a handful of course.

In this movie we are reminded again that Smurfette (Demi Lovato) was created by Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) to find the smurfs and be evil, but Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) did some of that smurf magic to make her blonde, and thus, nicer. However, Smurfette feels weird because she doesn’t know what her smurf talent is. After all, all the men smurfs have an adjective to describe their talent, but her talent is just being a girl I guess.

After some fun time, Smurfette, Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi), Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello), and Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer) find some other smurf like thing who runs into the forbidden forest, blocked by a huge wall. And through some plot, Gargamel finds out that in that forest is a hidden smurf village that no one knew about before. If he can’t get the close smurfs, he might as well get the ones that don’t even know he exist!

So now these smurfs go out on an adventure, alone, to try and race to the lost village to warn the smurfs about Gargamel before it is too late.

Also featuring Ariel Winter, Dee Bradley Baker, Ellie Kemper, Frank Welker, Julia Roberts, Meghan Trainer, and Michelle Rordriguez.

Girls
Blonde just has to stand out I guess. Blue all the way down otherwise.

Why is it really that whenever we get a smurfs movie, they can only handle an actual handful amount only, and never like 10 or more? Oh we get one off jokes for a few of the smurfs. Vanity and Nosy got a few jokes I guess, but everyone else was one scene and done for the most part. Such a goddamn waste when there are like a hundred of them. Such lazy writers. Clumsy being there is just for comic relief, at least Hefty and Brainy have a purpose.

Wilson does a terrible Gargamel. If Azoria was never Gargamel in the past, I don’t know if I would be saying that, but at least comparison, it is so much worse. It just feels like some dude talking, not an evil grouchy balding wizard. He has lost his snarl in this movie and never feels threatening.

The story itself is just so generic. The adventure has bullshit perils, generic bad plantlife and lacks any amount of creativity.

But the worst part is that the ending is complete crap. For whatever reason, Smurfette is suddenly immune to a spell from Gargamel because she really isn’t a smurf. However, that same spell worked on rats and Gargamel, who also aren’t smurfs, so I am not sure why that it is relevant. And apparently what that really means is that Gargamel can’t cast spells on her at all. And that is how the plot gets finished, because she saves everyone by tricking him. And it serves absolutely no logic at all.

There are few okay moments and decent jokes, but it is a huge shit show. And it is not because of any human people this time. Also, Demi Lovato as Smurfette is a poor man’s Katy Perry. It is true and you know it.

1 out of 4.

Mother’s Day

Garry Marshall is a man with a plan. He directs a lot of films, a lot of them women centric as well. From Beaches to Pretty Women to The Princess Diaries (and its sequel), he makes films about women for women.

But lately he has changed his mind. He has had holidays on his mind. Holidays with a lot of people and interconnecting plot lines. Yes, he is that guy. So he gave us Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve and now, Mother’s Day. There was a lot of hope that he would get super into this and give us weirder shit like Flag Day and Cinco De Mayo, but unfortunately he passed away this year and we only will get these three films.

I also could have reviewed this a long time ago. Like, end of 2016. I wanted to watch it and Bad Moms back to back, and so I watched them both to see if they would qualify for my Worst Films of 2016 list. And as you can tell, this one did not make it, it wasn’t that terrible, so instead, I just saved it for the next Mother’s Day instead.

That’s right. I am writing this in 2016. So if my site still exists in May? That would be nice. To date this review further, Obama is still president, I am 27 years old, and I have not seen The Belko Experiment yet.

Gay gay
All of these actresses are currently alive at the time of my writing this as well.

Alright, big cast of characters here we go. And don’t worry, I already decided to not tag any of the kid actors.

Sandy (Jennifer Aniston) is divorced, with two kids, but she is still friends with her ex, Henry (Timothy Olyphant), and maybe curious about getting back together. Who knows. Oh wait! He is married now, to Tina (Shay Mitchell), a much younger woman. And the kids love her. And he wants them on Mother’s Day for a little bit too coming up, because hey step mom. Yayyy.

Bradley (Jason Sudeikis), is not a mother, but his wife (Jennifer Garner) is! Or was. She died, in the war, because she was a soldier. [NOTE: Garry Marshall loves having female soldiers in his movies]. He has two daughters, one of them in the mature age, but he just wants to wallow at home. He does still work, he runs a gym, and he has a large group of ladies (Loni Love, Lucy Walsh, Beth Kennedy, amongst others) who want to set him up with friends.

Jesse (Kate Hudson) and Gabi (Sarah Chalke) are sisters and sharing a house together, both working on families. Jesse is married to Russell (Aasif Mandvi) and they had a boy. Gabi is a lesbian, with her partner Max (Cameron Esposito). And their parents (Margo Martindale, Robert Pine) know nothing about the kid or the sexual preferences and show up to surprise them.

Let’s see, we also have Kristin (Britt Roberson), who was adopted and wants to learn about her mother. She is long term dating a guy (Jack Whitehall) and doesn’t want to get married despite having a kid with him. He is a stand up comic trying to win a local club event run by Wally Burn (Jon Lovitz).

And a famous lady who sells jewelry on TV? That is who Julia Roberts plays.

Mom
She is worried her boys might see too much of their new step-mom.

Mother’s Day is exactly as one would expect it. Four or five plot lines, all briefly interconnecting in a big city, all around the holiday of Mother’s Day.

And unfortunately for me, my favorite character was played by Sudeikis. The only of the leads to be a man. And yes, it is because I could relate to him most of all. But also Sudeikis makes me happy in most of larger films, so it is just more him and less me being lame and not relating to women.

Aniston’s plot line was a bit more annoying, as it made Olyphant out to be such a bad guy because it was from her point of view, when it is obvious she is overreacting and getting on our nerves. The “old fashioned parents” being anti-everything also felt awkward in this movie. Character Actress Margo Martindale was such a bad person in the film and she technically never really got better. It ends with her happily telling racist jokes to Russell’s mom basically.

Mother’s Day isn’t bad. It is just emotional drama porn. Julia Roberts is in here because she is in most of Marshall’s films, and it is a very wasted plot line.

But the good news is? It is still way better than Moms’ Night Out.

1 out of 4.

Money Monster

George Clooney, you little vixen you. That little grinning face of his, I cannot help but swoon.

But I also can’t help but note he has been in a lot of meh lately. Tomorrowland, The Monuments Men, and A Very Murray Christmas, ugh. I actually enjoyed Hail, Caesar! but it had very mixed reviews.

So now I am looking to George to try and fix this ship. Give me something good. I did end up seeing the trailer for Money Monster before some movie and hey, it interested me. I tend to love hostage situations (in film), and I am definitely interested in people angry about financial crashes, thanks to The Big Short.

Give me something to cheer for, Mr. Clooney.

GUN
Oooh guns. I love cheering for guns!

Lee Gates (George Clooney) is basically Jim Cramer from Mad Money, that is your main introduction to him. But he also can dance! He has been on the air for a long time, his director/control room person is Patty Fenn (Julia Roberts), and she too is good at her job.

The stock of the company IBIS crashed in a big way the day before and the CEO Walt Camby (Dominic West) was supposed to be show up for an interview but was somewhere else around the world, so they couldn’t explain it. Instead, a PR lady (Caitriona Balfe) was going to badly explain the situation, but hey, a gunman (Jack O’Connell) showed up!

With a gun!

And he is pissed. He lost all of his money thanks to the IBIS crashed, which Lee Gates promised was the best stock ever. Sure, he only lost $60,000, and some people lost way more, but he has a pregnant girlfriend (Emily Meade). And he is depressed. And he wants answers.

Also starring Aaron Yoo as mysterious Asian man, Dennis Boutsikaris as angry executive at IBIS, Giancarlo Esposito as a police captain, and Lenny Venito as the world’s most dedicated camera man.

Control Room
And let’s not forget how much money this hostage situation will make the channel.

Guns and Money, Celebrities and Scandals, Money Monster is potentially one of the most American movies ever. It is directed by Jodie Foster, who hasn’t directed a film since the wonderful The Beaver. The Beaver was weird, unique, and touching. Money Monster is none of those things, but at times, it is a bit interesting.

I think the beginning and middle of Money Monster are the more interesting elements. The ending just starts to get weird once they leave the studio and decide to walk down NYC, straight to the source. Not weird in the good way, just awkward.

Clooney, Roberts, O’Connell were all fine in their parts, but no one in particular really stood out and seemed exceptional. The message is one that has been hounded before in many better films. And, overall, the ending is a bit uninspired.

I didn’t really get my big cry moment like I do in a lot of hostage films. Or the large amounts of witty banter, or really anything.

Movie watchers will not get anything new out of Money Monster. But hey, it got a little close at some points, so it could have been a lot worse.

2 out of 4.

August: Osage County

Here’s a totally non surprising confession.

I. Love. Plays.

And musicals. But that live shit, on a stage? It is great. I especially love plays because the entire focus point of the play will generally always be people conversing with one another. No amazing special effects. Just acting and great dialogue. Mmm, great dialogue. I fancy myself a shitty writer. The only good part about my stories is the dialogue, so I think I need to write plays.

This is me blabbering on, and not talking about August: Osage County, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. So of course it was turned into a movie. Of course it was nominated for awards. And of course, I watched it.

Family
If you look closely, you will see a confused and bewildered Benedict Cumberbatch.

The year: Who knows. The month: Probably August. The location: Osage County, Oklahoma.

Why? Well, Beverly Weston (Sam Shepard) has flown the coop, and left his house without notice. Known for being a drunk, he at least hired a maid (Misty Upham) to clean up the house. His wife, Violet (Meryl Streep) is extremely distraught. She has mouth cancer, and is addicted to a lot of pills, so she calls in her family during this time of woe.

We do have a big cast of people coming over. Of course her sister, Mattie Fay (Margo Martindale), is there, with her husband, Charles (Chris Cooper), and their son Lil’ Charles (Benedict Cumberbatch). Her youngest daughter, Ivy (Julianne Nicholson), still lives in the town, so of course she is there right away too.

The eldest daughter, Barbara (Julia Roberts), who left for Colorado, has brought her husband, Bill (Ewan McGregor), and 14-year old daughter, Jean (Abigail Breslin). Her middle daughter, Karen (Juliette Lewis), has brought along her new fiance, Steve (Dermot Mulroney), from Miami.

Lot of faces, lot of family, and a lot of time apart. It doesn’t help that very early on (not a spoiler), Beverly is found dead after he wandered away, so the family is now grieving. Perfect opportunity to air out grievances, abuse drugs, and tell people what is really going on, no matter who it hurts.

Death Laugh
“Oh, he died! Ha ha ha!” Creepy women, yo.

Let’s keep this short and simple, self. I gotta remind myself to not go overboard with these analyses sometimes.

I loved every character in this play. A lot of them are horrible people. But I loved every single one. Every person had a reason to act the way they acted. The movie explained the reasons for everyone eventually, and not much was left open by the end. Sure, there was a general “Where do they go from here?” but that one is completely fine and worth being left open ended. I loved every character, so of course I loved every person acting in this movie as well. They all brought something to the character, and conveyed information with more than just words and loud noises.

That’s right, this is a movie for people who like great acting and a decent plot, nothing more. The plot itself is of the dysfunctional family variety, and even by the end I was surprised to find out some of the secrets that were kept hidden. Sure, they made some plot lines a bit obvious and easy to figure out, but others came from quite far out of left field, it was a joy experiencing them all.

My only issue with the movie is that the beginning felt a tad bit slower, up til the funeral. Post funeral is where the movie really kicks it into high gear, and then stays at that level of intensity until the credits roll.

4 out of 4.

Mirror Mirror

As promised, Mirror Mirror review slightly after Snow White And The Huntsman. I had to give myself time to fully digest the plot from my system. Because no one wants to see two similar movies so close together.

Unless you really really love Snow White based content, then I don’t know.

Snow whites picture
If you are that above person, check this shit out. It’s Snow White. Fuck yeah, right?

In this movie, Snow White’s (Lily Collins) mom died during child birth. Very sad. Her dad (Sean Bean) thought it would be good for her to have a mom, so he found a beautiful woman to call Queen (Julia Roberts). Many years after that, there is rumors of a Beast in the forest, to which the King goes to investigate but never returns! Ten years after that, hey look, Snow is turning 18.

She has been shut inside, the Queen making everyone thinks she is afraid of the outside, in order to make her a bad ruler, while she taxes the kingdom to poorness for rich parties. Boo. Well, the Baker Margaret (Mare Winningham) is Snow’s biggest supporter, and lets her know that shit is going bad and she wants to investigate. Well it sucks. Eventually she wanders the forest where she finds Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) and his assistant, tied up, attacked by giants! Or at least dwarves dressed up as giants. They go to the castle and thank the girl.

Oh shit she is a Princess, they find out later, and the Prince likes her a lot. Pisses off the Queen, who demands her death, but instead, she escapes to the forest and finds the dwarves. Queen banished them from the kingdom and they are forced to live alone! And they are all midgets. Like Jordan Prentice and Ronald Lee Clark.

They agree to let her join and train her to fight and steal, and increase her wit so they can steal from the queen the taxes and return them to the city! She is even able to fend off an attack from the Prince and a group (partially under spell). Once the Queen uses more magic to have a wedding, the group steal the Prince and attempt to break the spell. But will the beast that lives in the forest come a knocking? Why does the Queen waste her precious magic on turning her assistant (Nathan Lane) into a Cockroach for a bit, instead of like, some torture.

Training
The fact that she gets trained and is more than one fight makes her arguably more of a warrior than the Snow White in that other movie.

Alright, so that the films are a bit different, Mirror Mirror ended up being the “comedy one” instead of the “Serious one” (which there has been numerous of both in the past). If I judged the latter poorly on being a bad serious movie, then I would have to judge this based on its comedic value. Well, not much was too funny. I thought Julia Roberts was pretty bad in this movie as a Queen. Charlize Theron blows her out of the water (“Just review this movie, damn it! Stop comparing!” – Reader. “Fine” – Me”).

But I felt this was an overall more complete feeling movie, with a bit better plot. Cheesy as all heck, but everyone likes Cheese. The visuals were vivid as shit, because this is done by the same guy who gave us the Immortals, which focused more on visuals than a decent and coherent story. (Alright alright, no more other movie talk). The ending also, out of no where, featured a weird Bollywood number, which I enjoyed, but uh, the lyrics/singing weren’t good.

I think overall the beginning was a bit too slow, but it picked up once Snow White was “killed” and left the castle. Dwarves were sweet, Prince was amusing, and Snow White was more bad ass in this film than the other (Hah! Still did it anyways. Neener neener). But still weak in other parts. Oh well.

2 out of 4.

Fireflies In The Garden

Fireflies In The Garden is one of those movies that is finished and released to a festival in 2008, but takes over three damn years to come out on DVD. I hate those movies. Similar things happened for the movies The Joneses and Leaves Of Grass for me, prompting me to download them. Don’t worry, I bought them once they finally were released. But even if I had downloaded this one, I would for sure not buy the movie later.

Angst Hipster
Teen Angst and Hipster Glasses aside.

This movie is about a family, like so many are, and tells a story in the present and probably about 25 years in the past. The story is also mostly about Ryan Reynolds and his relationships with his parents, Willem Dafoe playing the dad, and Julia Roberts the mom. Childhood was rough. His dad was mean, belittled him a lot, and gave him unreasonable punishments. His mom didn’t like it, but she was powerless to stop it.

But in the present, he is now more successful and has a beard! He is a writer, of course, and people like it. But he has a new book coming out, a tale of a dysfunctional family and a tale of abuse. Oh man, reminds me of the plot of Peep World. On his way home, though, his mom dies in a car accident, but the dad is fine. Awkwarddd.

Ryan hates his dad, and it shows it. Lots of passive aggressive talk. His aunt of around the same age is also there, kind of awkwardly watching it go down. The aunt is played by Emily Watson, but in the past, was definitely Hayden Panettiere, who had to live with them for a month or so, making Ryan’s character have very impure thoughts.

Hayhay
Yeah, this picture is way weirder (creepier? awkwarder?) knowing that she is the aunt.

The movie conveys a lot of destructive behavior, throughout the movie. From catching of the fireflies (And then doing what you do to fireflies), to “fishing” (with explosives), there is a big expectation for a destructive final. But nope. It doesn’t happen. Just ends. It has an ending, the ending is just lamer than expected based off the clues of the movie. Super disappointing movie, almost makes you feel like the whole thing was pointless. I hate that feeling!

Now I know why it took three damn years, I guess. Technically the relationship conveyed between father and son is pretty powerful, and what becomes of it. But its not enough to redeem the movie for me.

1 out of 4.

Larry Crowne

Of course when I first heard of the movie Larry Crowne, I thought of The Thomas Crown Affair and was for some reason disturbed. How dare a main character have a name that is spelled the same and spelled differently. There is no room for that in my movie world. But I haven’t ever seen the latter, just Larry Crowne now. So I guess Larry Crowne is better on that merit alone.

Crowne
That other movie was a remake? I don’t believe it.

Tom Hanks plays the titular character and he just got fired from his big box store. Why? No college education, can’t advance. Well shit. There is only one solution. Sell a bunch of your valuables, switch to a Scooter, and go to a local college. Take economics, speech, computer classes to get far in the business world, and TAKE BACK THE NIGHT! He can thank Cedric the Entertainer, his lotto rich neighbor the help.

He meets people in school too. Including a scooter gang he gets to join, run by Fez. His teacher for 8am Speech, Julia Roberts, hates her life. Because she is married to Bryan Cranston, and as we know he makes meth. Well, that wasn’t addressed in the movie, but he did like them big titties.

More or less, this is a story of how a guy can start his life over. Getting that knowledge, meeting knew friends, and seducing his college teacher. What? For shame Tom Hanks. She is married.

Half of the reason people take college classes is if their teacher is cool. It is a bonus if that teacher has a good voice to listen to. I think that also explains why so many people are in George Takei‘s Economics class.

Takei Phone
If anyone can take Tom Hanks phone away, it is George Takei.

It was an interesting movie. Kind of a feel good ish flick. Happy ending. But nothing in particular was that spectacular about the whole thing. Disappointing in that regard, cause its Tom Hanks! I need some more epic, sir.

2 out of 4.

Eat Pray Love

One of my friends joked to me a long time ago that Eat Pray Love could just be renamed “First World Problems: The Movie” (probably a stolen joke) but I didn’t get it now. Holy shit, I never knew the journey to self empowerment would be such an expensive endeavor.

Julia Roberts
Sure she is roughing it. But she is roughing it in Italy with a safety net.

The movie stars Julia Roberts as she travels around the world to experience life and find herself. She was living very well off in NYC with her husband, Billy Crudup, but got bored by the marriage. While trying to get a divorce (which he didn’t want), she fell for James Franco, who she then also had problems with. Her obvious solution was to pay for a trip to Italy, India, and Indonesia.

In Italy she was supposed to focus on her eating, and find happiness. In India, she would focus on her spirituality, and in Indonesia she would hang out with this weird medicine man and figure out her love life. Despite being packaged into nice little boxes, the overall theme of the movie was love. Everyplace she went, she had to deal with other social stigmas on her for not having a husband/being divorced. Some would call her courageous, but others stupid.

The transition was weird for me to watch too. Once she got to India, I felt like she was only being berated by Richard Jenkins for a long time. She got mad that he was speaking in “bumper stickers”, but she really didn’t have a better message. I barely even noticed her getting to Indonesia, minus the medicine man dude. Where, from what I could tell, all she was doing was hanging out with the rich Javier Bardem.

Javier Bardem
Not to be confused with the evil killing Javier Bardem.

Anyways. Most of the movie she seems to be complaining about love, and trying to get over her past two loves. Despite the eating and praying portions. Not only does that happen, but she complains a lot. Apparently her life is so bad that she had to leave the USA. By the end of course she “finds herself”, whatever that means, and in doing so…a new man. I thought they were trying to set us up for an independent woman thing, but somehow it still ends with a man. That man not being Billy Crudup, who she left brokenhearted in NYC.

I cant’ speak as a woman, but from what I can tell, it still promotes the fact that they need a man in their life to be truly happy, and that journeys require lots of money. If you are stuck at home, oh well, maybe you can journey to a nearby town. Doesn’t seem like the best messages. For shame, Julia Roberts. For shame.

1 out of 4.