Hearts Beat Loud

John Carney is an amazing director. From Once, to Begin Again, to Sing Street. Great films, great songs, a lot of heart and love.

This movie, Hearts Beat Loud, is not made by John Carney, but it looks like it could have been.

Instead it is directed by Brett Haley, who did The Hero. It is a film I meant to watch and didn’t, that also probably didn’t have music in it so whatever. Basically, I know little of his work, but by golly, with a movie like this, I guess I should go back and check them out.

Family
With smiles and beards like this, you know this film is infectious. In multiple ways.

Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman) is a man who has run a record store in New York City for 17 years. He loves music. He loves making music. He wanted to be a star. But he did not reach his fame.

Sam Fisher (Kiersey Clemons) is his daughter, in the summer before college, and she is taking pre-med classes to get ahead. She is going to UCLA, which is far away from NYC. She also enjoys music, but doesn’t have time for it anymore.

And her mother / his wife? Well, she is gone. She has been for some time. It has been hard. Hell, Frank was performing with her. Maybe they would have made it big together. Maybe. They just never got the time to make it fully work. And now they are about to be separated. Things are changing. This is sad. It feels sad. I’m sad.

But in a last hooray, in a jam session between the pair, they make a song finally just work. It is emotional, it is a good mix of pop and soul. And it is about to take off on the internet.

Also starring Ted Danson, Toni Collette, Sasha Lane, and Blythe Danner.

Love
Also some stories of love, those are the ones that really get you.

I already mentioned how this feels like a movie by an acclaimed director. I am so surprised that this director tackled these heartfelt song and jam session scenes so wonderfully. They draw the viewer in, and as long as there are good speakers, you will feel like you are there and just want to jump for joy.

My audience actually had people cheering after they finally finished their first song, and this isn’t some midnight release crowd, so it was odd to see.

Hearts Beat Loud is emotion. It is hope, it is sadness. It is loneliness and anxiety. It is fear of change, and fear of trying something new. It is excitement, joy, and of course, love. Offerman and Clemons just feel so realistic in their roles that it is hard to not go on the roller coaster with them.

I loved the music in this movie. Surprisingly it only made me cry once. I am guessing because my own daughter is a decade and a half before moving out and being an adult, so those scenes didn’t take as much of a hold on me.

Hearts Beat Loud is a feel good movie overall, and just a movie that feels like it needs to exist right now.

4 out of 4.

The Only Living Boy in New York

First of all, you are welcome, because I almost started this review with a Rihanna reference, so I saved you from this joke.

Secondly, this movie came out months ago. And after my screening, on August 22, I totally forgot I had seen it. It was a replacement screening that night, I meant to see Good Time but it got moved around. And later that week, we had a hurricane hit my city, which put my site into a flux for awhile, with some reviews taking forever to get published.

As of 2-3 weeks ago, I thought I had finally already caught up with all the missed reviews, but holy crap, I missed this one. So sure, I am writing it over three months after watching it. And I have fallen asleep while setting up this review. What I am getting at is that I definitely did not enjoy this film, and the whole experience behind just getting it on this website has been a trainwreck.

Friend
Kind of like falling in love with a friend for five years. A bad idea that only sometimes works in movies.

Thomas Webb (Callum Turner) is a boy, living in New York, and he is trying to make it on his own as a writer. Well, maybe writing, maybe something else. But he is going to do it on his own, not with the help of his rich parents. His dad (Pierce Brosnan) is a straight up publisher, his mom (Cynthia Nixon) mostly just stay at home depressed at this point.

Webb is secretly in love with his book loving friend (Kiersey Clemons), but she has a boyfriend. He also lives in a tiny crummy apartment, where he gets a new neighbor (Jeff Bridges) who is extremely nosy and a bit of a drunk. Who the hell talks to their neighbors? He reluctantly talks to the stranger, because hey, why not, he has someone new to vent to and talk about his problems with.

A some point, change actually starts to happen in his life. He finds out his dad is having an affair, with a coworker. A younger woman (Kate Beckinsale). Time to get all obsessed and stalkery without having a plan on what to do with this new information, Thomas!

Also starring Tate Donovan and Wallace Shawn.

Hot step mom
Maybe if he pushes her she will realize she is being a total butthole.

It is really hard to put into words just why The Only Living Boy in New York is so bad. Partially, I am sure, thanks to writing a review months after watching the movie.

Let’s start with the actors. The lead we are given is an incredibly whiny and privileged boy, and for him to feel like he is the center of the world (With another character encouraging this thought process) is incredibly unexciting. Your main character doesn’t have to be likable in order for a film to be good, but to watch a rich white 20 something complain so much, despite having everything given to him on a platter is exhausting and a bit painful. Bridges and Brosnan give very little to this film and mostly feel like phoned in performances. Beckinsale is the only main performer who feels like she gives a damn about a good performance, but the plot and story make her character behave completely erratically so it is hard to tell.

Story wise it is also poor. Main character complains, tries to use the friend zone, s someone, and then changes a lot of people’s lives seemingly accidentally. I am not sure how much he learns by the end of it, in terms of actual character growth. The side characters are bland, are not believable, and technically, nor is the lead. It is just like watching rich paint dry.

The Only Living Boy in New York is a film that is not as good as it thinks it is. Sure, it is not as delusional as something like The Room, as there are actually well done locations, camera work, and editing. But this is still an inexcusable mess of a story that no one should have to put up with at this point in time from professionals.

0 out of 4.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

Comedy sequels have gotten a bad rep lately. Like Zoolander 2 and Dumb and Dumber To. Okay, those had many years between sequels, but like…The Hangover Part III and Horrible Bosses 2.

So I went into Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising with a skeptical face. I enjoyed Neighbors and rewatched it the morning of the screening, still holds up decently.

But the problem with comedy sequels is the direction you take it. Do you give them more of the same? If so, then it isn’t original any more. If you give them something completely unrelated, then why even make it a sequel and not an original movie?

Neighbors 2 might just be Neighbors with more women.

Ughhh
But you know, regular, chill, want to kill you women.

After Neighbors, Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) returned quiet to their neighborhood. But now, Kelly is pregnant again, so they want to move to a new house with more rooms and with less neighbors. They put an offer on a house and they were accepted! However, their current home isn’t sold yet. It is on escrow. So the buying couple has 30 days to check it out and do tests and can back out at any time.

And at that moment is of course when some new people move in. Shelby (Chloƫ Grace Moretz), Beth (Kiersey Clemons), and Nora (Beanie Feldstein) want to start their own sorority, that can party and smoke weed and promote their own feminist values of sisterhood. They just have issues getting enough money to rent the place for their dreams to come true.

That is where Teddy (Zac Efron) comes in. He is feeling pretty pathetic, everyone in his life is becoming successful except for him. And Pete (Dave Franco) is now totally gay and about to get married to Darren (John Early), which means Teddy needs a place to stay. He decides to become a sort of sorority consultant to the girls in order to find value, and maybe screw over the people who gave him a criminal record and all.

Woo, prank wars!

Some smaller roles are played by Selena Gomez, Clara Mamet, and someone called Awkwafina. Also returning, albeit briefly include Hannibal Buress, Chistopher Mintz-Plasse, Jerrod Carmichael and the best friends Ike Barinholtz and Carla Gallo.

Hween
This is how I dress up when I want to look young.

Neighbors 2 actually does a good balance of keeping things original with appropriate call backs. The picture used right above ended up being one of the funniest scenes in the film and was entirely new and fresh material. My second and third favorite moments were both call backs to airbags. There are several great humorous scenes that really carry the film and overall make this film a good time while watching it.

But when comparing it to its predecessor, it doesn’t hold up as well. My main faults lie with the chemistry between Moretz, Clemons, and Feldstein, the leaders of the new sorority. It is practically non-existence. Yes, before the events of the film, they didn’t know each other, but most of their comedic scenes together never really feel too funny. Their logic and reasoning for wanting to create their own sorority is actually a good one. The film delivers a real message about sorority culture and the need for change. They just failed to make it funny.

Most of our humor is reserved for our old people roles and Efron, while the sorority side remains mostly serious in their own goals. It is a strange dichotomy in this movie.

And honestly, the ending tried to tie everything in a nice bow, but the solutions that were found don’t make a lot of sense when you examine it for just a few seconds.

Again, some great funny scenes in this movie, and strangely enough, some character growth, but they are unable to deliver their message while maintaining the funny throughout.

2 out of 4.

Dope

Sometimes when I like to pretend that I am cool, I use words like Dope and Chill. I will admit, when I first saw the screening listing for Dope, I honestly got it confused with the Straight Outta Compton movie coming out, figuring they renamed it for some reason. (How White am I? I spelled that first “Straight Out Of Compton” because I really didn’t know).

I mean, could there really be two movies about black youth in California, despite being very very different topics, in the same summer? It is strange to say but it is actually hard to believe that.

But I am excited. I am all for diversity in my movie watching. And since I know absolutely nothing about Dope going into it, I feel kind of excited at what it might be about. Hopefully the references aren’t too hip for me.

Gang
The trio is basically a themed gang from The Warriors.

When the movie started, I knew I was immediately wrong with any preconceptions I had. I honestly thought it would be set in the early 90’s on the poster alone, but it is actually a modern day movie about some kids who just really liked the 90’s music scene.

Malcolm (Shameik Moore), Jib (Tony Revolori, of The Grand Budapest Hotel fame) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) are loaner geeks who have banded together to form a friendship. They are from a generally poor neighborhood and don’t really want to become gang bangers selling dope and going to jail. So they start a punk band and avoid getting into trouble to get into college!

That is until the night of Dom’s party (Rakim Mayers aka A$ap Rocky (I don’t know what to call him?)). Sure it may seem strange for them to go to a party of a thug dope dealer, but they want to live a little bit during their senior years before it is too late. Plus, Nakia (Zoe Kravitz) promised to dance with Malcolm if he showed up.

I don’t know what they expected, but the party of course was full of drugs, booze, and hot tunes (I could rap, probably). They have a pretty awesome night! Until the cops show up, raid the place, and the next thing Malcolm knows, his bag is full of drugs and a gun that he doesn’t notice until the next day at school. Yeah boyyy. Now he has to deal with this dope, not knowing who to trust with the information. Sketchy phone guys? Some mysterious AJ? Sell it on his own? Shit, he has Harvard to try and get into. And he doesn’t want to go to jail so dang close to getting out of the hood!

Also featuring the talents of Chanel Iman, Quincy Brown, Roger Guenveur Smith, Blake Anderson, and some narration by Forest Whitaker.

Donuts
Please be a punk song about donuts. Please be a punk song about donuts.

Dope is the first movie I have seen from director Rick Famuyiwa, who also was the only writer of the movie, and if his past films are of any comparable quality then I should probably check some of them out. It should also be noted that the main producers was also our narrator, Whitaker, and an executive producer was Pharrell Williams. So despite its relatively unknown cast, it had some star power behind it. Although it should be noted, the narration was only at the beginning and felt quite excessive and unnecessary. Didn’t match the rest of the film.

But let’s go back to that cast. I was personally happy to not recognize any of the main characters (outside of the Lobby Boy). For our lead, the only movie or show I would have seen him in was Joyful Noise, where his character name was “Our Lady of Perpetual Tears Choir Master”, so I can’t even tell you if he had a speaking role. Moore blew me away, in all honesty. Everything about him felt sincere and real. Moore conveyed so much throughout the film through facial expressions alone, which is especially helpful since he didn’t play a smooth talking confident character for the most part. He was relatable and he was awesome.

The film was also surprisingly up to date with current technologies and they do a good job of introducing concepts that not a lot of people know about. Dark web stuff. It makes a lot of sense that this is the first movie that is allowing tickets to be bought via bitcoins.

Favorite part about the film would be just how realistic the portrayal of modern hood life is like. It isn’t just gangs, just drugs, just poverty. There is a lot of hope and a lot of people just trying to fit in. None of the characters were extreme stereotypes, providing some slightly thought provoking conversations despite the urban language throughout.

Overall, Dope is a surprisingly funny, realistic and a feel good movie that came up out of nowhere. I am not going to listen to MC Hammer today out of respect for that.

3 out of 4.