Downsizing

Alexander Payne has probably had one of the more interesting director careers out of anyone. Or at least anyone who isn’t an A-list always nominated amazing director.

I first saw one of his films, Citizen Ruth, when I was about 8 years old or so. It was NOT made for an 10 year old to watch, especially not on his own with no context, but I did it. Eventually I also saw Election, which I loved, and Sideways, and The Descendants, and Nebraska. At any of these points I never watched them knowing it was the director of these previous films I liked, because they are all so different and out there.

But for Downsizing, this is the first time I have gone in knowing the director, knowing his history and ready for something just bizarre.

Big
And the trailers and plot surely delivered on that front.

The world is falling apart, due to pollution, global warming, and too many goddamn babies. And scientists have been trying to find cures that the public would believe and trust and they may have finally done it! You see, Dr. Jorgen Asbjørnsen (Rolf Lassgård), the mad Norweigian that he is, has successfully shrunk some rats in a way with no side effects and no premature deaths. So he did it on himself, his wife, and dozens of volunteers.

Yadda yadda yadda, many years later, there are many communities around the world of little folk, people are doing it not to save the planet, but to live like kings. Because their money in the real average sized world is worth a lot more when you are tiny, and you can live in giant mansions, never working again! It is the life for some, and a good choice.

Paul (Matt Damon) and Audrey Safranek (Kristen Wiig) have been living very uneventful lives up to that point, never really going anywhere, gaining anything, or just really existing beyond a blip on the radar. Going small can make them happy. So why not, why not change their lives, try it out and take hold of their destiny.

And of course, of course, they will find out that being small isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Record scratch and everything. Also starring Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Ingjerd Egeberg, Udo Kier, Jason Sudeikis, and James Van Der Beek.

Flower
Flower Power becomes an actual usable form of energy!

The Downsizing trailer made me really excited for this film. A nice shrinking film from a different point of view, starring everyone’s favorite Damon!

And the film that actually exists is very different from the trailer. It is a little bit about global warming, but really it is just a film to talk about class imbalances in society. Not a bad topic for a film, and this type of story can be a good way to tell that story. Downsizing just told its story terribly.

Our main character is just a passive bitch who just really sucks. He doesn’t move much, he is boring, and it never really pays off. There are some exciting people around him, but they are side characters and don’t get the screen time. Chau gets a ton of screen time, but she seems like some perfect character that isn’t exciting for different reasons. And honestly, I cannot tell if it is offensive, or inspiring, or what.

The ending is a let down, although there is at least one twist I only sort of saw coming, so that was nice.

Downsizing is a little film with grand big ambitions. But the story just drags along and goes places that aren’t as interesting as they must have seemed on paper. And let’s just say, 2016/2017 were bad for Damon. Basically everything since The Martian, except one cameo role. Suburbicon, The Great Wall, and Jason Bourne have all failed to deliver, and maybe his career is just on the decline now.

1 out of 4.

mother!

What a month for horror. And to think it is September, not October.

It came out a two weekends ago and is smashing September box office records, which just means that people love being scared by clowns or feel nostalgia from the previous TV adaption.

But then we get mother! just a week later. Which advertising for has been all over the place. One thing for certain, we know it is a Darren Aronofsky film, so we can expecting something fucked up and hard to explain.

Or not?! mother! is getting a wide release and has a huge star attached, maybe this will just be a run of the film horror movie. Schyeah, and maybe David Lynch will make a straightforward film as well.

Wall
And maybe this wall is just a wall and not a metaphor about bees or some shit?

This film is about a woman (Jennifer Lawrence) and a man (Javier Bardem), living in a house in a field on their own. She is slowly rebuilding it after a fire some time in the past, and he is a poet who hasn’t written in awhile. They are both always working and their love is straining, but they are alone and they are alive.

And then a man (Ed Harris) appears at their door. He is old, sickly, and he thought their house was a bed and breakfast. The poet is a generous person and lets him spend the night, despite being a stranger. And the man is sickly and coughs throughout the night, but in the morning he is fine. And also in the morning, his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) shows up at the door. Huh, he didn’t mention anything like that, and now there is two of them. The poet is still generous, and fuck it, who cares what his wife thinks? They can stay too, because they like his work and he likes their approval. But house guests who make themselves at home can be quite annoying.

Especially when their sons (Brian Gleeson, Domhnall Gleeson) come over as well, arguing about estate and will disputes, and one son kills the other in their house. Holy shit, these are terrible guests.

Things get worse from there as more and more strangers enter their home, making our “mother” feel more distant from her husband, but that is all just the vaguest details I could get out about this film. Because in reality, it is a lot stranger, darker, and twisted than anyone should expect.

Oh, and of course, Kristen Wiig. Can’t forget about her.

Mob
“And no one is fucking using coasters!”

I wish I could have just sat in the theater after mother! and just reflected on the experience that unfolded in front of my eyes. But it was late and I had to rush home to pass out, needing sleep before work.

Days later when finally writing this review, it is still fresh on my mind. Partially because of the graphic nature and story in a story that it told. And partially because I knew that this film would have a hell of a shit storm from the regular movie going community. This is not the sort of film that should have gotten a wide release and marketed as some sort of home invasion horror. It is an art house film and it is being exposed to people who are going to expect something completely different and be upset about being bamboozled.

Like it or hate it, those are the only two options people will have from this movie. Anyone who said they thought it was okay is probably just lying. Despite its polarizing attributes (Which again, are going to amplify to the negative), people WILL be talking about it and remember it for a long time. That is not always a good thing, because being infamous for being really bad or gross doesn’t make a great film.

But in all honesty, this is a pretty great film. It did incredible things inside of a one location suit. It should make the viewer feel claustrophobic and a whole lot of other emotions. It should leave the viewer thinking and change their perspective on a few things. Or it will just be considered some strange torture snuff shit and have people walk out of it, especially when it ramps up even further near the end.

Good on Jennifer Lawrence for doing a project like this. She breathed hard and panted her face off in this film to make us uncomfortable, and it really worked.

3 out of 4.

Despicable Me 3

Oh my damn. Here we go. A continuation of a bad franchise, hitting its trilogy mark after an equally bad spinoff. Does that sound familiar? This summer is Deja Vu-ing.

I will be honest when I went in with the lowest of expectations with Despicable Me 3. I mean, how could it get worse? It really couldn’t. It would just be more of the same, probably.

But it was announced over a year ago that Trey Parker, of BASEketball, Cannibal! The Musical, and yes, South Park fame would be voicing the villain. Parker! Crude humorist! Apparently it is something a lot of R rated people do, voice a kids movie so that their kids can finally see something that they have done.

At first I thought it was just another rando-celebrity signing instead of a nice voice actor. But then I remembered that Parker is a voice actor, he voices a shit ton of characters. So it won’t just be his regular talking voice, but an actual character! Hooray!

And that character ends up sounding up mostly like Randy Marsh.

80S
And if you look closely, it should look a bit like a Randy too.

For whatever reason, this franchise still exists with the title of Despicable Me, because as we all know, Gru (Steve Carell) is now a “good guy” taking care of his girls and his wife, Lucy (Kristen Wiig), who needs no taking care of. They are both members of the Anti-Villain League, and you know, trying to stop the bad guys.

After a failed encounter with Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), an 80’s kid TV star whose show was cancelled due to puberty, and now world villain playing his character as an adult and relying on 80’s themed reference weapons, Gru and Lucy are fired from the AVL! Boo new director (Jenny Slate).

Sad times, being fired and jobless. But he promises to not resort back to villainy, for his girls (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Nev Scharrel. Note: the last one is new, Agnes used to be Elsie Fisher but I guess she got too old). Also, hey look at the timing, he gets a notice that his long lost twin brother is looking for him. Apparently his parents got divorced when they were babies and they decided to break up the twins. The fuck, right?

Blah blah blah, his brother is Dru (Steve Carell), super rich and lives in a land that is like Denmark, or Northern Europe. It is time for Gru to learn about the family business…being a bad guy! His dad was a famous bad guy, and now Dru wants Gru to teach him how to be bad. Oh no.

Also featuring the voices of Steve Coogan, Julie Andrews, and Adrian Ciscato.

Bros
Don’t worry, Dru also speaks in a high pitched voice to help tell them apart.

Despicable Me 3 is basically as bad as I had imagined, but not worse. For those keeping track, I am saying that Despicable Me 3 is a better movie than Cars 3. It had issues, but not as many. It had some better moments, but not too many.

It is another franchise that decides to keep adding permanent characters to keep things interesting, instead of just making an interesting story with the characters we have. Last one we got Lucy, now we have a now twin brother Dru. However, having Gru’s father being a very famous villain/criminal who was super successful, is shit. They show photos of him in the new lair, and yes, he looks like Gru. So somehow Gru, master villain himself, has never heard of another bad guy who is older than him but looks almost identical? Unheard of. It is such a cheap cop out to introduce sudden new family members, and quite lazy.

Speaking of characters, there are too many and therefore not enough plot for all of them. Like poor Edith, I think that is the middle kid. She just exists in this film. She has a handful of lines, but doesn’t have her own story like the other two girls. Their stories Margo and Agnes, are incredibly minor though and just feel like filler because of too many characters.

The movie has the minions leave Gru, because they need to be bad things and need a villain, but he doesn’t want to. Hooray less minions right? Nope. Two of them stay behind so we get to have them with Gru still, and we get to see their minion adventures as they wander the town and prison.

I guess I don’t have a lot more else to say. With Despicable Me 3, you get a lot more of the same. The plot is weak, the sideplots are weak, some catchphrases to get people quoting the film, the animation is kind of shit (where the characters are all extremes, like too thin, too fat, etc), but that has been the norm. Just another bad animated film in the year with a lot of bad animated films.

1 out of 4.

Sausage Party

I wanted to see Sausage Party, I honestly did. I loved the first trailer, avoided all other spoilers, and wrote it on my calendar. But then real life made me miss it and I had to wait weeks to see it. Having kids doesn’t help.

But I didn’t mean to see Sausage Party for today’s review. No, I went to the theater to see Hell or High Water, everyone told me I had to! Well, word of mouth is powerful and it was in a small dinky theater and sold out. Thankfully, Sausage Party was roughly the same time starting, so I easily went ther and just moved it up my schedule a couple weeks.

Hey. Sweet. Now I can have some laughs and review two animated films in a row this week! And also dick jokes. Dick jokes, sex jokes, death jokes, stoner jokes. Hilarious.

Party
I haven’t seen food party this much since Foodfight!

Frank (Seth Rogen) is a sausage. Not just any sausage. A horny sausage, ready to fuck. He has some other wiener palls, like Carl (Jonah Hill), Troy (Anders Holm), and Barry (Michael Cera), who is a bit deformed and smaller than normal. His package is right next to a nice package of buns, including Brenda (Kristen Wiig), his soul mate.

Or fuck mate. They really wanna screw. They want to get picked together by one of the Gods to go into the Great Beyond, outside of the supermarket. And soon is “Red, White, and Blue” day, so their chances of getting picked are high! And of course, the Gods have spoken, and they were chosen together to live out their wildest fantasies.

But then the unthinkable happens. The Honey Mustard (Danny McBride) was returned and he went crazy. He said the Great Beyond was a lie. Everything outside was terrible. And he caused a cart accident. Food went flying, Disaster. Frank and Brenda were left outside the cart to survive on their own. With Sammy Bagel Jr. (Edward Norton) and Kareem Abdul Lavash (David Krumholtz), who keep fighting.

Can they determine the truth of the Great Beyond? Or were they punished by the Gods for touching tips? How will their friends survive in the outside world? Can I ask more questions about the food sex?

Also featuring Bill Hader as a Native American stereotype, Salma Hayek as a taco, Craig Robinson as grits, Paul Rudd as a nerdy sales clerk/jerk, James Franco as a stoner, and Nick Kroll as a big douche.

Gasp
Some say a big douche is just the roll that Nick Kroll was born to play.

Sausage Party at its core is an insane film. Apparently it came out just wondering what a film would be like if food had feelings (something Pixar hadn’t touched on yet), and Rogen realized it would be an incredibly fucked up film. And a fucked up film is what we got.

It is basically the most adult animated film since South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut and even has a musical number! And by adult humor, I don’t mean sophisticated tax jokes, but you know, sex, language and drugs. So 14 year old humor, if you will.

It will make you cringe, make you laugh, and maybe make you cry. The references are out of control, including an amazing visual from Saving Private Ryan. It was constantly surprising with the direction it went, including two different turn of events near the end. You know, when they fight for freedom and celebrate their potential freedom.

Because like I said earlier, they just wanted to fuck. That’s life in a nutshell.

Sausage Party is raunchy and honestly a film I can imagine watching and hiding from my own kids for years to come.

3 out of 4.

Ghostbusters

Let’s get one thing straight. No one will take this review seriously. No one can take any review for Ghostbusters seriously. For the last 1-2 years, this film has been dragged through the mud of the internet. From director, to casting choices, to posters, to trailers. Everything has been heavily scrutinized and a lot of it met with extreme backlash.

Like it or not, biases exist in so many forms they are possible to escape. Even when I try and watch a movie by ignoring the trailers, ignoring plot summaries and more, I am still slightly affected by it by recognizing people in the cast and comparing it to their own past work. And that is a subtle bias. When you hear nothing but negative things about something for a long time it will take a toll on you.

What I am NOT saying is that the toll will be the same way to everyone. But extremes will happen and are bound to happen. People very well may end up actually hating this movie, but if they dislike it, they will be called sexist or misogynists or probably Moonboy for all I know. If you love the film, you will be seen as maybe some social justice warrior, liking it to high levels just as a counter to the hate. And both of these things are potentially true. Some people hate it for sexism, some people love it to counter the sexism. But also some people just won’t like it and some people will love it regardless of either.

This intro I wrote before seeing the review, but of course you can already see my rating. So when I say no one will take this seriously, I just mean that it is impossible for anything anyone says about this film to be taken with a grain of salt, outside of actual personal experiences and opinions.

Hemsworth
Am I sexist if I make my first picture of just him with no one else?

The year is current year, and Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) is up for tenure at Columbia university now for some hardcore physics stuff. She has to be careful to not embarrass the university in any way. So when Ed Mulgrave (Ed Begley Jr.) pops up to talk about a book she wrote a long time ago about Ghosts, things get awkward. Her co-author, Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) is working at much lesser university on paranormal related sciences and she put their book on Amazon to make some extra income. She is now working with an engineer, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and they are developing some sweet new technology.

Once they find out that Mulgrave runs an old museum/house with a potential ghost, they hop over to find out, and yep, there is a ghost! Their video goes viral on YouTube, Erin loses her job and they decide to start researching these ghosts full time. They soon meet another scarier ghost in the Subway, where they also meet Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones). Patty isn’t a scientist, but she offers them a vehicle so they let her join the train. They also get a receptionist, Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), who is really damn stupid but good looking and the only one to apply.

Long story short, this asshole unsocial dude, Rowan North (Neil Casey), is using his own devices to ramp up paranormal activity in the area, hoping to unleash a huge amount of ghosts to begin the apocalypse. Fun!

Also featuring Andy Garcia as the Mayor of NYC and Cecily Strong as his assistant, Michael Kenneth Williams and Matt Walsh as members of Homeland Security, Zach Woods as a tour guide, Karan Soni as a Chinese food delivery man, and all* of the original Ghostbusters cast as cameos. The biggest cameo is Bill Murray as a ghost skeptic.

Steams
Ah there they are, not crossing streams and all.

Here’s some background. I did not grow up with the Ghostbusters movie in my life. I didn’t see the first film in its entirety until just a few weeks ago. I knew what happened in it roughly, I knew quotes, I saw bits and pieces, and I of course knew the song, but I never really saw it. Similarly, I still have never seen Ghostbusters II, only because I didn’t own it to watch it. So it isn’t something that helped define my childhood full of nostalgia.

Coming from that background, thinking the original Ghostbusters movie was only okay, I also have to say the same about the sequel. Both are comedies and meant to be comedic in nature, but rarely did I find myself laughing. Maybe some smiles or cute moments and the surprise scare, but rarely a true laugh out of loud. But this isn’t a review of the old one, this is a review of the new film. Wiig and McCarthy were both playing relatively un-funny characters. That is because they had to be serious to really sell their passion. Their characters had a few jokes that were revisited and some slapstick but that is about it.

Jones and McKinnon were fine in their roles and a bit more interesting. They were the only characters that actually felt like they had personality and were generally consistent with those personalities. I can see why people find McKinnon’s character the funniest because, well, Wiig and McCarthy are just so drag in comparison. They should have had one less serious character and one more unique but not identical to McKinnon for more actual laughs. She did make me laugh a few times, but Hemsworth’s character did make me laugh the most. They made him stupid arm candy, a nice gender reversal, and they went so extreme with it that it was hard not to chuckle.

Outside of those three characters though the film just wasn’t that funny. Mostly slapstick and chaos.

Ghost
And now here is a ghost, now everyone is represented equally!

The film had a lot of wasted potential. They had Walsh and Williams as agents and they collectively maybe had three lines, they were no-name characters in the end and had no reason to be played by those actors. The cameos from the original cast were okay, but Murray was absolutely dreadful. He wasn’t even acting as a character in this film despite having multiple scenes. He came across as a guy bored out of his mind who was just getting a small pay check. It was embarrassingly bad.

The film was all over with its science as well. Like the original, they would say a lot of jargon that sounded cool but meant nothing out to anyone listening. Their stream weapons were inconsistent with how they worked, making the long final fight scene sort of odd.

And yes, the film was too meta about the message they wanted to send. They had to turn it into movie directly against the online (sexist?) haters as a sly joke. Years later they won’t make as much sense along with the other numerous pop culture references. But commenting about the hateful things people say on YouTube and the internet just took me out of the movie as the film collectively winked its entire screen at me.

But what do I know. I am a guy who gave this an average film. I have probably been biased on my own thanks to everything that has happened. Maybe I am just too afraid to give this a really positive or negative review, so I go into neutral obscurity hoping to maintain some level of unbias but still directly being influenced quite heavily. We will never know and this film or future films in the franchise will never be able to escape it.

2 out of 4.

* – No not Rick Moranis and of course not Harold Ramis.

Zoolander 2

Zoolander Zoolander Zoolander!

Fifteen years ish ago, I remember being a young impressionable teenager watching it for the first time. I laughed so much, so long. I quoted it so far for the rest of my life. It is probably one of my favorite comedies of all time and I am always in the mood for it. Hell, I remember putting in the DVD just to watch the Special Features Menu, because it was also hilarious. THE MENU!

The idea of a sequel has been kicked around for a long, long time. And yes, it has been delayed. But in this case, I am glad. If they forced a sequel, it would probably be shit. I expect they waited for a good script. I hope they waited for a good script.

Because it is clear that Dumb and Dumber To wasn’t waiting for the right script. They just got the idea, ran with it, and gave us a pile of shit. Please Zoolander 2, don’t be a pile of shit. Pleaaaase.

All
Bamblesport Cunnilingus was in it, so it can’t be completely shit!

Fifteen years ago, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) saved the Prime Minister of Malaysia with his Magnum look and changed the world of fashion forever. Mugatu (Will Ferrell), Katinka Ingabogovinanana (Milla Jovovich), and Evil DJ (Justin Theroux) went to jail! But bad stuff started to happen almost immediately.

Without spoilers, Zoolander soon found himself without his wife (Christine Taylor) and son (Cyrus Arnold), with Hansel (Owen Wilson) refusing to speak to him, and a laughing stock again in the world. So he left to become a Hermit, living alone in a cabin on a mountain.

Now, in 2016, he receives an invitation to Rome, by Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig), the new big fashion person. Derek, along with Hansal, are to star in a new campaign and revitalize their careers. Derek wants to do it to get his family back. Hansal wants to do it to run away from his problems, from being part of a family.

Also, a whole bunch of celebrities are being killed. Including Justin Bieber! When they die, they seem to have Zoolander’s classic look on their face. This investigation is being led by Interpol’s Fashion Police division, Valentina (Penelope Cruz).

And featuring Kyle Mooney as a fashion designer, Sting, Kiefer Sutherland and Susan Sarandon as themselves, Fred Armisen as an 11 year old boy, and the return of Billy Zane and Nathan Lee Graham as Todd.

Boobs
Zoolander’s hands are being played by Jerry Stiller.

Sure enough, Zoolander 2 is not as good as the first film, but in reality that was impossible. Humor was a different beast in the last 90’s and early 2000’s. If they went for a film with the exact same tone, it would most likely feel just dated.

But damn it, this sequel gave me Zoolander and Hansel back, and they are acting like they never went away. These felt like the characters, the movie was true to them, and they didn’t become warped caricatures. Well, maybe a little warped. But not terrible. I believed everything they did and said.

The film had a few unique laugh moments that had me in stitches. They rehash a lot of the old jokes, but it thankfully isn’t a majority of the film like how it felt for Anchorman 2. They come and go, sometimes they stick, some time they don’t. For instance, the Hansel being so hot joke? It was poorly placed and made it completely shit.

I would probably have given this a higher grade, for enjoyability and nostalgia, but the plot is almost incomprehensible. Looking back on it, trying to figure out character actions, none of it seems to make sense. I can’t even tell if Billy Zane is supposed to be a bad guy. It has a large conspiracy element like the first film, but this one is so badly done I can’t imagine how they thought it was a good idea.

And for the most part, the cameos were disappointing. The only two that had a large presence were Bieber and Sutherland. Everyone else was one joke and done, quite a shame.

Overall, you should definitely watch the film if you want more Zoolander. But you might not have to see it in theater.

2 out of 4.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Growing up, I never really felt like a girl. No, I didn’t skip from toddler to womanhood. I am just a dude. But still, I don’t know what it feels like to be a girl.

I never found someones diary and betrayed their trust by reading about their deepest and darkest secrets. Except for Anne Frank, but apparently she was cool with it since she was dead and all.

Thankfully, I have movies that tell me what it means to be a girl. And I also now have The Diary of a Teenage Girl, so I can get those few years of middle and high school. That is definitely the years I understood girls the least, given my friendship and dating record.

What? Oh this is getting too personal. Sorry, I confused a prestigious movie reviewing website for a Live Journal again. Ahem.

Mic
Now let me put the rest of my secrets on audio. No one can get to them then.

Minnie (Bel Powley) just had sex for the first time and she is only fifteen. Whoa. This is already getting too personal for me.

She has been wanting to explore her sexuality for awhile, but she is sort of shy, not the best looking girl and lacking confidence in her breasts. But she had sex finally after seducing Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). For those who can read actor names in the parenthesis, you will realize that he is not a high school aged boy, he is a super adult. That is because he happens to be the boyfriend of Charlotte (Kristen Wiig), Minnie’s mom. Oh boy. That’s a rape.

Except they get super into each other. Like. A lot. And I do mean into each other. This ups Minnie’s confidence to walk down her school’s halls and know she can take on the world.

But again. This relationship is not appropriate and bad. He is manipulating her. Or fuck. Is she manipulating him? No, that’d be crazy…

Also starring Abby Wait as Minnie’s younger sister, Miranda Bailey as Minnie’s friend, and Christopher Meloni as Minnie’s father.

Touch
If you look closely, you will see this picture is very inappropriate.

I have never felt so much like a teenage girl in my life before. That should be apparent given the introduction. Powley did such a fascinating job as the lead. Powley herself is 23 years old at this point, but she was a teenage girl before and frankly looks very young. So along with acting the shit out of being an actual teenager, it made me feel quite uncomfortable. Uncomfortable enough to look up Powley’s age.

The film was rated R for a variety of reasons, including GRAPHIC NUDITY, but surprisingly no actual male dick. The only penises you see are drawn/animated. Lot of boobs though. And a lot of very uncomfortable sex. Sex sex sex.

Moving on. The rest of the film, outside of the awkward teenager ness and great acting from Powley, was also good. The supporting cast felt realistic, the plot felt realistic. It was all just about a girl finding herself. There a quite a few films that fit into this genre, but this feels like it should go directly to the top tier.

This film happens to be up for several Spirit awards, including Best Actress and Best First Feature, meaning the director hadn’t done a film before this one. Pretty crazy to think about. Marielle Heller, not only directed for the first time, but also wrote the screenplay, which is also her first. It clearly takes a woman to really understand all the weirdness it takes to be a woman.

4 out of 4.

The Martian

Everyone knows that James Cameron really loves the ocean. He is stupid rich and just wants to conquer it.

In some ways, I am starting to think that Matt Damon is like a James Cameron-lite. He doesn’t like water, but he is starting to love the shit out of outer space. Three films in three years have featured a Mr. Damon spending time away from Earth. First in Elysium, he went from the slums to the orbit. But you know, he was just there for a little bit. In Interstellar, he was in space for a long..long time. And he was alone!

Think of it like a Three Bears situation. In Elysium he was in space for a small amount of time, in Interstellar it was too long. But maybe in The Martian, Damon will find his “just right” amount of space time. You know, then he can go back to Earth and start doing political things again. Or Boston things. Or maybe, just maybe, fingers crossed, he can go back to voicing Bill the Krill.

Alone
Damon had a lot of time alone to reflect on his career while pretending to be on Mars.

Set somewhere in the future, NASA has successfully put people on Mars! Yay! We rock! Speaking of Rocks, there are a lot of them on Mars. And sometimes there are dangerous rock storms. When a particularly powerful storm begins to develop, Commander Lewis (Jessica Chastain) decides that they need to evacuate the planet. There is a chance their escape rocket could tip over and then they’d be stranded! During the storm though, Matt Watney (Damon), a space botanist, gets hit by some debris and goes flying. All of their suit flashy devices say that his suit has opened and he has to be dead.

So Lewis and the rest of the crew (Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie) escape Mars to begin their flight home a few weeks ahead of schedule.

But it turns out, against extreme odds, that Matt is actually alive. However, he is now stranded. The mission only was supposed to last about 30 days, and they had made it to 17, so his rations aren’t that plentiful. He has a huge checklist of responsibilities suddenly that are all vital to his survival. He has to figure out how to grow his own food on a desert planet. He has to make sure his equipment doesn’t break, so he doesn’t run out of water or oxygen. He has to figure out a way to communicate with NASA. And of course, he has to figure out how to get himself home. Even though Matt wants to survive, he openly acknowledges his impending doom and realizes that almost everything he does is just prolonging his most likely catastrophic death.

Eventually, obviously, he isn’t 100% alone. Or else it would be an impossibility. Back on Earth, thanks to satellites, they are able to eventually note the differences of the site and realize he must be alive and kicking. This is where I can sneak in all the rest of the actors.

Who is involved in the mission to get him back? Well, of course, the Head of NASA (Jeff Daniels), a different head of NASA type guy (Chiwetel Ejiofor), head of the Mars program (Sean Bean), head…engineer…of the shuttle? (Benedict Wong), an Astrodynamics guy (Donald Glover), head of NASA PR (Kristen Wiig), and Mindy Park (Mackenzie Davis) who controls a satellite. Or something.

Storm
This unfortunate scene reminded me too much of Fantastic Four and now I am undergoing PTSD.

Ridley Scott has been not putting his best foot forward recently. Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Counselor were terrible, and Prometheus had a lot of issues. So I have to go into every new movie of his with a bit of a hesitation.

Thankfully, Scott did not disappoint this time and knocked The Martian out of the park.

The absolute best part of the film is its attention to detail and scientific accuracy. I don’t know how hardcore they went into it, but I will be checking Neil Gegrasse Tyson’s twitter to see if the stars on mars were at least accurate. But everything else is so damn sound and smart. I almost stood up in the middle of the movie to chant U-S-A and show off my Science Boner. That is a bit graphic, but the metaphor is necessary to emphasis how sexy it all was. It isn’t dumbed down and they just go full on smart people talk on the viewer.

After the science, we have to talk about the Damon. Damon plays what has to be the greatest Botanist ever on the silver screen. I don’t know how praise worthy that statement actually is. The writers made him smart, charming, witty and a guy with a morbid sense of humor. He tells jokes to logs where he notes everything he is doing, with the caveat that it probably won’t matter since he will most likely die. And he even got to say “Fuck” twice in the film, despite the PG-13 Rating!

Basically everyone in the cast was great in their roles. Even Stan, Mara, and Hennie, the crew members who people don’t care much about. I want to give special shout outs to Glover, who had a small role but was extremely convincing, and Wong, who was an important side character who for some reason didn’t even make the IMDB credit list.

The film is of course also visually wonderful. Mars, the future Houston space center, outer space, all of it is great. I don’t think 3D added much to the film, and it should be a good experience without it. It isn’t as necessary as Gravity.

Despite how much I liked the film, it only has one issue. There is a sort of epilogue after the events, so you can find out what happened to characters. It seemed off to me. It was also a bit sudden of a tone shift. The previous scene I was almost at the point of tears (You don’t get to know if from happiness or sadness, sorry), but they ended it too quickly for all the emotions to rile up in me. And the last few minutes were just…meh.

Oh well, 99% of a film is still pretty damn awesome.

4 out of 4.

Welcome To Me

If there is one thing I like talking about on this website, it is me. Yes, movies too, sure, whatever. But I am far more important, because a review has to give his/her thoughts on the movie, and knowing how they felt on previous films of that nature is the only way to know if you are compatible with that reviewer. Not only that, but you should know how they feel about other topics too. Like sharks. Or potatoes. Or that bitch Sally from the sixth grade.

You should know everything about that person, even their deepest and darkest secrets. The movie isn’t important, it is clearly whoever does the talking.

So a movie called Welcome To Me just makes sense to me. That is what the website is secretly about. Me me me me me me.

Swan
And swan rides.

Alice Klieg (Kristen Wiig) has borderline personality disorder. That is very serious and not a joke, although it can lead her to doing weird things. She is living on government benefits, is very selfish, always has a TV on in her home (for infomercials and Oprah!), and spends a lot of money on the lottery. She even has only one real friend, Gina (Linda Cardellini), despite her quirks. Then Alice wins about 86 million dollars in the lottery.

Well shit yeah. Time to go live in a casino and do whatever she feels like! Like stop taking her meds despite her doctor (Tim Robbins) strongly discouraging the act. She is a bit peeved her planned speech was cut off on the air after winning due to talking about masturbation, so she goes to hijack one of the late night shows hosted by Gabe (Wes Bentley), who sells weird shit. They think she is nuts and cut her off too. But she is rich now. So after a long discussion, with their company losing tons of cash, the main owner Rich Ruskn (James Marsden) allows her to have 100 two hour long episodes of a TV show she calls Welcome To Me, since she is paying for all the costs up front.

And what we really get is a terrible show, where she cooks food, talks about whatever is on her mind, and has reenactments of past events in her child hood in order to get back at mean people. Don’t worry, this is not at all like Holy Man.

Also featuring Joan Cusack, Alan Tudyk, Thomas Mann, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Couch
Like all recent action movies, orange and blue also feature heavily in this film.

First thing of note, this movie does not make fun of people who actually have borderline personality disorder. That would be mean and awkward and not something that happens a lot nowadays. I think. No, this movie instead shows the reality of the disease, which can put people in weird situations. Yes it is a comedy, but you best believe it is also a drama. There are many melt downs where Alice’s character loses it and does the unthinkable. During these Wiig shows herself to be a gifted actor.

Any comedian could be completely exaggerated in their roles to make fun of a serious condition, but for Wiig in the film it all feels so real and natural. She gives the role proper care and restraint. She is also completely 100% full frontal naked in this movie too. So you know it is a serious role for her, and not some throwaway straight to DVD quick cash job.

I thought the movie had a nice balance of drama/comedy. The comedy in the film isn’t the type that will make you laugh every second, but it is still quite amusing at points.

Overall, this movie won’t be enjoyable for everyone. Just make sure you are in a weird mood before hand and it might surprise you.

3 out of 4.

A Deadly Adoption

Although the circumstances are quite rare, every once in awhile I review a made for TV movie. The last few I did include Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story and Liz & Dick. The former I did as an accident, as I actually thought it was a documentary going into it. The latter I did only because it stared Lindsay Lohan as Liz Taylor, which just sounded hilariously bad so I had to give it a gander.

I generally avoid them if possible, because one of the best insults I can give a poor quality movie is comparing it to a made for TV movie. Their budget is lower, they usually have a shorter production window, and the tend to feature overacting and bad editing. After all, if it is on TV, you can’t show or say a lot of things to keep the rating down. If you wanted to be even more insulting you would refer to something as worse than a Lifetime TV movie, often considered to be bottom of the barrel, along with Hallmark films.

So why am I knowingly reviewing A Deadly Adoption, a few days after airing for the first time on Lifetime?

Well, that is because they are adding all the bells and whistles for this movie! They are celebrating 20 years of Lifetime movies, of overly sappy movies about women getting hurt, by making a parody film of their own films. It takes a lot of gumption to see you are a laughing stock and decide to run with it.

Cople 2
Speaking of gumption: facial hair.

Life is wonderful for the Benson clan. Robert (Will Ferrell) is a successful author and kicking butt, Sarah (Kristen Wiig) is pregnant and going to start selling organic vegetables to other cool kids, and their daughter Sully (Alyvia Alyn Lind) is well, a child. Everything is like a 1950’s white American suburb home, until Sarah falls off the dock and starts to drown in the water. Sure, her heroic husband saves her, but they lose something else in the process. The pregnancy is terminated. Oh noes!

Now, five years later, things are different. Robert still writes, but he is afraid of boats and leaving home. Sarah has her successful shop, but is sad that her husband won’t get over it. And Sully is older, but still a little girl and who cares. But they decide they should adopt a child, that might help everything! After a lot of searching, they find Bridget (Jessica Lowndes), who is pregnant and looking for a kind family to take in her child. However, she is living in a shelter and doesn’t have a lot of money. So they decide to bring her in until the baby comes out letting her stay in the guest room.

Everyone is happy! Unless. Of course. Bridget is not the nice girl she appears to be.

Also with some dudes, Jake Weary and Bryan Safi. They are not pregnant nor are they adopting.

Preg
Now where they pregnant and adopting, which is a rare but probably real category of people.

If there is anything the last 15 years of terrible movies have taught us, it is that the parody film is a hard movie to get right. It is very easy to make a movie full of references to popular culture while none of it is remotely funny. You know those films, so I won’t talk about them. But then there are very good unique parodies that are also celebrating the genre they are mimicking, so you can tell there is real heart behind the content.

A Deadly Adoption ends up being a mix of both. No, it is not full of pop culture references, thankfully. But it also doesn’t go to the extremes necessary to drive its point home. It is definitely aware of itself, and things are over acted with scenes overly dramatic. But it still lacks a huge amount of humor, despite its attempts. Outside of the intro and the last ten minutes, most of the film dragged on. Because it is a parody, it can be hard to differentiate between what is bad and what is supposed to be bad, to be funny. For the most part, the jokes just didn’t land.

Again, I will note the beginning and ending were fantastic though. They just didn’t know how to make the middle live up to its ends. The film would have been funnier if it was more outwardly aware of itself, instead of giving for all intents and purposes, an actual lifetime movie.

2 out of 4.

1 2 3