Table 19

Ah, Anna Kendrick. She had six movies come out in 2016, and I was disappointed in the five I saw. I am sad to say The Hollars, which looks great, I still haven’t gotten around to.

I used to love Anna Kendrick, since I saw her in Rocket Science and Up In The Air. But her choices that don’t involve singing in the movies have been bad choices, and that really just sucks.

So on that note, I wasn’t rushing to see Table 19. For a lot of reasons, but even the Anna Kendrick appeal was losing its lure on me. At this point it just feels like I should just wait until Pitch Perfect 3 before trying to trust her again.

And then Kendrick might have more than one person following her around for paparazzi.

Ah the joys of a wedding. What a splendid time where people come together to laugh, sing, dance, be merry, all in celebration of the love of a couple!

Except for those who feel like they had a pity invite or shouldn’t be there. Or maybe people there for alternative reasons. Or maybe you are just Eloise (Anna Kendrick). A month ago you were the bridesmaid, but you bailed out of the wedding due to an awkward situation. You are great friends with the bride (Rya Meyers), but you were also dating her brother, Teddy (Wyatt Russell), the best man. And a month before the wedding, he broke up with you over text. Oh yeah, lot of confusion now over what you should do. ‘

But Eloise still shows up! She decides to come anyways, for her friend, and maybe for rekindling love, but it is awkward. And she is now put at Table 19, with the random people who they couldn’t put anywhere else. The people who came but really, why?

Like Jerry (Craig Robinson) and Bina Kepp (Lisa Kudrow), who own a diner, have a lose connection to a family member of the bride, and sort of hate each other. There is Renzo (Tony Revolori), a high school student looking to just get lucky, who is young and unaware of how to be social. We have Walter (Stephen Merchant), a cousin who is awkward and a criminal. And we have Jo (June Squibb), the bride’s first nanny who they love so dearly, maybe.

Eloise now has to exist in misery with this group of strangers who have issues, while hoping she doesn’t also accidentally ruin the entire wedding.

Also starring Andrew Daly, Amandra Crew, Charles Green, Jay Klaitz, Margo Martindale, Richard Haylor, and Thomas Cocquerel.

Oh my god look at these freaks and weirdos.

Table 19 is a shocking film. Not in the extreme graphic language, violence, or nudity way. Not in the amount of laughs that it provides. But how different it was from its advertising, which most people would assume is a comedy with a bunch of weirdos, doing weird stuff. But it was hardly ever funny. There were some amusing bits, but it was extremely lacking on the actual humor.

Yep, we have a drama comedy that is more drama, with a bit of romance. It just drives the film into the average territory as it goes for several genres without excelling at any of them. If you have read certain films this year that I have reviewed, like Get Out or Colossal, I praised them for their genre bending. But the difference between them and Table 19 is that when the genres change, each the movie is awesome on each level. Table 19 is just middling, where the shifting doesn’t help it but hinder it.

Sure, it is realistic. But a lot of the story lines feel like missed opportunities. Kudrow/Robinson story felt like it didn’t help anything, Merchant’s story didn’t feel finished, and Revolori’s plot was just disappointing. The only other character to have a decent story was Squibb, who really brought the whole film together.

Table 19 has some cute moments and the occasional laugh. But the selling points of the film are how Kendrick and Squibb carry themselves throughout the movie, the realism they bring to the whole thing, to give the film a little bit of heart.

2 out of 4.

Would You Rather

Would You Rather came out a few years ago, and is pretty strange title to randomly show up on my reviews. I mean, I have been pretty consistent doing things from the current year or year before, and rarely two years prior. But Would You Rather came out in 2012, straight up 5 years ago, which is theoretically the end of my always shifting bar for reviews.

And honestly, I watched it because I really wanted to. I needed a psychological horror, and I discovered this one with plenty of actors I knew. I don’t know if this went into theaters, or straight to DVD, or what, but it exists and I really haven’t heard people every talk about it.

So watching it was for an itch. Reviewing it? Well, it was worth talking about. And I am weirded out that the title doesn’t have a question mark. Even though sure, the three words are the beginning of a question and not an entire question, it still feels strange without it.

“Kind of like a dinner with only three courses,” – Rich version of myself.

Iris (Brittany Snow) lives alone with her younger brother, Raleigh (Logan Miller), who also is dying. He needs good insurance and a blood marrow match for a big surgery, or you know, he is going to die. And Iris can’t even get a job to help maybe pay for it. Life sucks. But Iris’ doctor, Dr. Barden (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.), knows something that might help.

You see, there is a rich dude, Shepard Lambrick (Jeffrey Combs) who runs a charitable foundation. They want to invite Iris to a dinner, and afterwards there will be a game. The game will have one winner, and the winner will get what they need monetary wise for everything to be wonderful again. And she is desperate, so she goes without giving her brother the specifics.

Long story short, they have to play a game of Would You Rather. But not only do they have to choose (and have to choose in 15 to 30 seconds), but they have to do the task. And they involve violence, and pain, and have a good chance of killing people. Oh joy. And if they try to back out, they die. Only one winner, and one survivor.

Iris quickly makes two friends in Cal (Eddie Steeples) and Lucas (Enver Gjokaj). The other contestants include Peter (Robb Wells), a gambler from Vegas, Linda (June Squibb), a woman in a wheel chair, Travis (Charlie Hofheimer), an Iraq war vet, Conway (John Heard), a skeptical old man and former alcoholic, and Amy (Sasha Grey), an evil looking hot girl.

Also featuring Bevans (Jonny Coyne), a very skilled manservant, and Julian (Robin Lord Taylor), the sun of Shepard.

This party is poppin’!

I wanted a psychological thriller, and really, I got only a bit of one. The first round was relatively lame, but still, it started off the game immediately with pain. Less on the mind game side, more on the torture side. The second round was…well, also just various torture, with more death potential, and more focused on being mean. The third round there was no subtly, but basically a task for every person that could kill them. And the fourth round had some mind games, thankfully.

What I am getting at is that this film scratched the surface of a good film, but couldn’t really deliver. Too many of the eight people died “outside of the game.” The would you rathers were never really that fun or exciting. The characters themselves excited me a bit, but never enough to fully love the film.

And let me just say that there was a moment that had me somewhat shouting at the screen, because it was going to be terrifying and gross. My wife had to come and check on me to make sure everything was okay, causing me to quickly shout at her to not look, it would be terrible. And then the film didn’t even show the terrible act, it cut away, no CGI or props or anything. It would have been a defining moment.

The film also had a weird subplot with the doctor character, and I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE PURPOSE WAS. I might have missed it, but I think it went nowhere. The ending was also pretty predictable.

2 out of 4.


In my attempts to watch everything nominated for the Academy Awards, I was afraid that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to see Nebraska before the actual ceremony. It was the one movie I knew least about, and honestly, Ames doesn’t usually get those types of movies.

We didn’t even get Silver Linings Playbook until weeks after last year’s Oscars!

But hey, maybe things are now on the upside in this city!

Old Man
Maybe this whole story is just another Jesus allegory.

The story is about Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), a very old man who has won a million dollars.

Or at least, that is what he believes. He has received a letter in the mail that says he has won the million dollars, but it is a publisher clearing house like thing, and most definitely a scam to buy magazines. He doesn’t care. He wants to go to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim it, as he doesn’t trust the mail with a million dollars, and will walk there if he has to (from Billings, Montana).

Fed up with his own current situation in life, his youngest son David (Will Forte) agrees to drive him to Nebraska. David is also tired of having to find his dad wandering the streets and highways.

Yep, we got ourselves a road trip movie, although a stranger one than most given the characters involved. Due to some complications, they end up having to spend a few days in Woody’s hometown, a few hours outside of Lincoln. That means Woody is stuck dealing with old family and friends, when he just wants to get his money and run. Although, being treated as a rich celebrity comes with its perks as well…

June Squibb plays his wife, Bob Odenkirk his other son, and Stacy Keach his old business partner.

Home Ward Bound
Ah yes, the whole family, looking all black and white.

In case you didn’t notice, Nebraska is a black and white movie. I think it was done that way in order to enhance the themes. You know, the ones about getting old, repressed memories, and living in a simpler time.

The director is Alexander Payne, and apparently I have seen the last six movies he has made, including Citizen Ruth from 1996. Sure, I was only 8-9 at the time, and probably not intellectually capable enough to understand a dark comedy about the abortion debate, but I remember still finding it entertaining.

Looking back at Payne’s work, he is an diverse director, covering a wide range of subjects. A few of them about getting older, but none about getting this old.

Dern was excellent as the main character, and Squibb was cute as his ever nagging wife. I am surprised there is no talk about Forte in this movie, as he is a central character, going through his own journey alongside Dern. But I guess it takes a lot for a former SNL cast member to really get praise. Either way, the cast had great chemistry together, and they really felt like a family.

It was a very simple movie, where silence carries a lot of weight, but yet it is still a movie that is not afraid to surprise you either. I don’t see it actually winning any of the awards come March, but I can understand how each person earned their nomination.

Not my favorite movie from 2013 by any means, but a very solid movie.

3 out of 4.