Bad Times At The El Royale

I have never had a bad time at a place called an El Royale. Just saying, for some sort of context. I haven’t been to any El Royales as far as I know. So neither good nor bad times have been had at any El Royales. I am an El Royale virgin. Or at least, I was before I saw this movie, Bad Times At the El Royale.

Alright, now that the nonsensical first paragraph, overall this felt like a movie that would be really enjoyable. I didn’t know what to expect, but I liked the cast of characters and thought it could have some really fun and interesting scenes.

After seeing so many duds lately, and great films, I needed something that would just be entertaining. I really wanted this to fill that genre gap in my movie watching schedule.

Dancing
It did fill a Hemsworth sized whole in my heart. And that is a very large whole.

At the El Royale? Well, it used to be a happening spot. Lively nights, plenty of guests, and a lot of raunchy shenanigans. This hotel is on the border of Nevada and California. So it has a more expensive and classy side and a gambling side. A side for all the types who may want to visit. Now the hotel is almost in rambles. The front desk is basically just one person (Lewis Pullman), who also is the cleaning man, the bartender, and everything. A one man show.

And tonight? There will be some guests. We have Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), a potential singing star who has a secret. We have Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), who seems to be losing his mind, and a man with a secret. There is (Jon Hamm), someone who really wants the Honeymoon suite, because he has a secret. There is the vulgar and unfriendly (Dakota Johnson), who clearly has a secret.

A lot of secrets, and a lot of bad stuff coming together. How are Chris Hemsworth, Cailee Spaeny, and Nick Offerman involved in the plot? Well, that’s a secret.

Raining
I’M SORRY. DID YOU THINK THIS PICTURE SPACE WOULD BE GIVEN TO SOMETHING THAT IS NOT SHIRTLESS?

Did you know that Bad Times at the El Royale is over 140 minutes long? Shit, this might as well be a Marvel movie at this point. Now of course if a movie is engaging and fantastic, the time doesn’t matter. BT at the ER is in fact entertaining with some cool scenes. It has nice songs/soundtracks to encompass the scenes. It is told out of order from multiple perspectives to help unravel the mysteries and keep things fresh. It is really impossible to guess where it is going and how it will end. And yet, it also feels way too long.

Sure, different perspectives is fun, but that does mean we have to see some scenes multiple times. And there is a lot of backstory at times that are cool for building characters, and at the same time, not always necessary.

I really enjoyed Hamm in this film. He was a combination of some of his previous roles and it was definitely a good fit for him. Potentially it can be used as an audition for an eventual super hero! Johnson was acting like someone completely different in this film and it was refreshing. Erivo knocked it out of the park for me in the film, she was the real star, in so many talented ways. And hey, Pullman was interesting as the, well, lobby boy. I actually thought it was maybe Tom Holland pushing some boundaries for most of the movie.

BT at the ER is a fun film, a different film, a Quentin Tarantino lite film, and one that will please a lot of fans. Especially those of Hemsworth. It just needed a lot more editing and maybe a more focused outcome by the end.

2 out of 4.

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.

Infinity Baby

Sometimes you just stumble across a film and you are not sure how you found it. Maybe it was in the depths of Netflix. Maybe it was clicking the wrong button on a Redbox. Maybe it was a strange comment on an internet forum that made you just discover something odd about the world.

Or maybe you are just trolling through Nick Offerman´s IMDB page and see something called Infinity Baby and go “Ohhhhh, that sounds weird!” and just go and grab it to watch it without even wondering what it is about.

Who really can say though? When the whole thing is a mystery?

Relationships
Oh yeah, the film is in black and white.

In this world, due to stem cell research something strange occurred. A miracle, maybe, but definitely something that no one intended. Certain babies were given a condition, a curse maybe. They would not age. They would stay in that infant, cry, poop, eat, sleep phase forever. Forever. So yes, similar to the plot point from The Boss Baby.

Why would they do this? Well it was an accident. And the government has determined to get these babies into homes. Other technologies have been developed, like special food pills for the babies. Things that put them to sleep most of the time, but still living entities. The amount of sleep and type of food they get means they only need a diaper change about once a week. The company Infinity Baby was set up to find these babies homes. I am unsure of if it is for life for them, or what, but an adult would get a large sum in the ten thousands to have them for three months. After three months, I dont know if they get more money or what.

Maybe those people who feel extra pampering would want this responsibility to be helpful. Who knows.

But Neo (Nick Offerman) is in charge of the organization. Ben (Kieran Culkin) is more of a hands on, day to day in charge of the operation, finding potential clients to take their babies. He has his own intimacy issues, and every time he feels his partner becomes too attached, he will take them to his mom´s house (Megan Mullally) and she will disapprove of them so that he can dump them.

And Malcolm (Martin Starr) and Larry (Kevin Corrigan) are two men on the ground, who actually have to go and deliver the babies to the clients. Their issue is a client has changed their mind last minute, so they decide to just adopt the baby together for that sweet cash.

Also starring Trieste Kelly Dunn, Stephen Root, and Noël Wells.

Couple
Would it be a big troll to say a movie is black and white, but really just one scene is, and you took the images from the same scene to trick people?

I hated Infinity Baby way more than I imagined. It is just a small indie movie with a lot of recognizable people, but the plot doesn’t go a lot of places and it presents an unnerving concept.

As a father, the idea of baby never getting past that infant early born stage is pretty damn sickening. I didn’t think that before I watched the movie, but during it. It makes me so sad and upset to even acknowledge that idea. Especially when I found out in this movie they use pills to make them mostly asleep and their lives basically meaningless. This sounds like a horrible fate to anyone.

Sure, some of the aspects are dealt with in the film. But half of the film is about Culkin’s characters inability to get a relationship. And I don’t know why that is attached to this film at all, besides a lazy parable about how other people can’t grow up either.

Maybe it was the black and white, maybe it was the plot that didn’t go many different places, or maybe, maybe, it is just the whole sadness for the babies things. But I would never want to see this movie again, nor would I really know a group who might enjoy it.

0 out of 4.

The Little Hours

Finally the talk of the summer is here. People have had 7/7/17 circled on their calendar, just waiting for the movie that everyone everywhere has wanted.

No not goddamn Spider-man. I’m talking about The Little Hours?

Oh you haven’t heard about The Little Hours? My bad! Surprisingly very little advertising, but it was directed by Jeff Baena who gave us Life After Beth. Which was decent, and also had very little advertising. Guess that is his indie theme.

Either way, the number of people you would recognize in this film is actually quite staggering, so that alone one would have warranted an advertising budget, but what do I know.

Girls
Oh, and I know every single girl in this picture too.

Picture this! A nice quaint nunnery, the medieval ages, pious and chaste women just doing their thing, trying to love Jesus.

This nunnery is run by Father Tommasso (John C. Reilly) and the head nun is Sister Marea (Molly Shannon). At this point, this nunnery might seem a bit more odd already.

Our main nuns that we are looking at are all relatively young and unsure about their lives. Sister Alessandra (Alison Brie) is just there temporarily, waiting for her father to set her up with a husband, and she does cross stitch to help make some cash for the convent. Sister Fernanda (Aubrey Plaza) is quick to temper and often misses events looking for animals that keep breaking out. Sister Genevra (Kate Micucci) wants to be a good nun, but is getting caught up in other nun-anigans and also questioning her sexuality.

And they are all mean to this one poor gardener. So eventually, he is fed up and leaves, putting the convent in a pickle. But no worries, a young chap Massetto (Dave Franco) is on the run from his kingdom, for being a little shithead, and he can take the place. He just has to pretend to be deaf and mute so he doesn’t get on the nerves of the nuns.

But he is young and cute and that causes even more issues.

Also starring Lauren Weedman, Nick Offerman, Jemima Kirke, Fred Armisen, and Adam Pally.

Scream
Yelling “Hey Fuckface!” at deaf people is the only way to know if they are really deaf.

I had no idea what to expect of this movie going into it. I wondered if it would be a serious film, with comedic actors, just to be weird. But as soon as Plaza started laying down the f-bombs, it became obvious that this was just going to be a very odd period piece film. I quickly then switched my mind to Your Highness, which was mostly improv and also quite strange.

And then something else happened. It got sexy. Not sexy like Natalie Portman in a medieval thong, but sexy erotic. Because those girls are young and curious, Franco is young and desperate, and there is a lot of sexual activity in the movie. Like, a whole lot. And the scenes aren’t super quick jokes, they kind of go on for a bit, and include sexy music.

What I am saying is, this movie sort of turns into a softcore porno. Or at least a skinamax-esque picture. And it came out of nowhere and kept happening. Add on the very naked ending bit, with lots of floppy bits, this is just a surprise from start to finish.

And most of the points come from being a surprise. I laughed a few times, but it was never a film that really captured my interest. It was also intentionally slow (and brooding?), but at least it is original. And for some people out there, this might be the type of film they have been waiting for, for a long time.

2 out of 4.

The Founder

Michael Keaton has been on fire. Not actual fire, but his comeback has been great. Better than Matthew McConaughey‘s come back!

In 2014 he almost won Best Actor fir Birdman, but lost to Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything. But hey, Birdman won best picture.

In 2015 he was probably hoping to get nominated for Best Actor for Spotlight, however he didn’t get the nomination despite doing really good. But hey, Spotlight won best picture.

So what about this year? He is the lead in a movie again, The Founder. Knowing nothing about it, I knew it was suddenly a contender for The Founder. Could he be the lead in the Best Picture film three years in a row? That has to be a record on its own. Or you know, he won’t and this is the beginning of the end of his come back.

McDonald
At least the praise in the movie seems genuine!

Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton) is a salesman at heart. He finds an idea he likes and runs with it, hoping to make a living out of it. His current item is a shake mixer that can do five shakes at a time, so he is traveling around the US, making money to put a roof over his wife’s (Laura Dern) head.

But he gets a strange order. A restaurant in California wants to buy SIX of these milkshake machines. So he drives over there to give it a gander. It is a small place, run by Dick (Nick Offerman) and Mac (John Carroll Lynch) McDonald. It is called McDonalds. They have a line around the block, but it goes fast. They don’t have carhops, people have to come to the door. And the food is instant. People are waiting about 30 seconds for their food, it is cheap, it comes in paper so they can throw away their trash themselves. They can eat it on benches, in the car, at the park, wherever. And the line just moves so damn fast.

So Kroc takes the brothers out to learn how and why. Turns out they made the system themselves, took a lot of practice, and developed a system where quality is awesome, everyone is working and churning out food that the people end up ordering. Genius! But no, they don’t want to franchise.

Kroc wears them down, eventually getting a contract between them, that will let him set up McDonald’s restaurants around the US. He has to promise to maintain quality, to not let them make their own food choices, and every change has to go through them. But hey, it is a start. And when Kroc begins to churn out their restaurants, complete with the brothers idea of Golden Arches, people can’t seem to get enough of them. And that is when the power dynamic starts to change.

Also featuring Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak, Justin Randell Brooke, Kate Kneeland, and Patrick Wilson.

McDonalds Bros
I really wish one or both of the McDonald brothers had a mustache.

The Founder begins with Kroc trying to sell a milkshake machine to reluctant buyer. Except he is staring right at the camera, looking right at the viewer, into your soul, as he monologues. And it is a wonderful introduction to his character. He doesn’t feel like the most conniving individual, but he feels like a real salesman.

The Founder tells an interesting story that becomes easily relatable to most viewers. Everyone has eaten at a McDonald’s, everyone knows what they are like and has seen them evolve over the years. But it turns out they started as something more wholesome, like most things in the middle of the 1900’s. The scene where the brother’s tell their story is fascinating and one of the highlights of the movie.

Unfortunately, after that, it didn’t maintain its high level of enthusiasm. Once Kroc was able to get franchises off the ground, there were some problems, some successes, some shitty moments, some great moments. And despite being the protagonist, Kroc is definitely a jerk. And at times, so are the McDonald brothers. But the story isn’t one that had me at the edge of my seat like I had hoped.

In terms of his last two films, Keaton might still act well, but the film just isn’t the same caliber. Still a good movie, sure, but the second half just feels unimpressive compared to the first. This is not the film that will finally get Keaton his Best Actor Oscar, although I see the potential of nomination. Next year he will be in Spider-Man: Homecoming (which won’t win him anything), and something called American Assassin which I guess will be his next big hope.

3 out of 4.

Sing

Sing is the last animated film I need to review that is a major US release!

I will be honest that I wasn’t really looking forward to Sing at all. It is the fourth anthropomorphic animals major release this YEAR (After Kung Fu Panda 3, Zootopia, and The Angry Birds Movie), in a year where we also had regular talking animal movies as well (Finding Dory, Storks, Ice Age: Collision Course, Norm of the North, The Secret Life of Pets). Fuck.

Basically everything is about talking animals this year. Moana and Kubo and the Two Strings aren’t fully about that, and that might be why they are my favorite two of the year. The only really big animated films I can think of are Trolls (talking magic things) and Sausage Party (talking food). 2016 wasn’t the most creative film year, and it is sort of a huge let down for animated films.

Oh but wait! This isn’t a talking animal movie! This is a singing animal movie. With a lot of popular songs being sung by animals, reminding me of recent very bad animated jukebox musicals. Please be better to me 2017.

Disappointment
The face you make when your realize Cars 3 is coming out in 2017.

Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) is a koala bear who fell in love with the theater as a kid. With the help of his father, he earned enough money to buy the theater and produce shows for hundreds more to fall in love with! But now, years later, he is far in the red, unable to pay his crew, or the bills, or his loans. He is friends with Eddie (John C. Reilly), a lamb son of a rich family, but even they won’t bail him out now.

But he has an idea! Singing competitions are all the rage, so he wants to host a local one, only featuring regular people that they all know and want to show off their talents. He will give the winner a $1,000 prize and hopefully get enough money to get back in the black. But his assistant (Garth Jennings) accidentally puts a $100,000 prize, putting the whole town into a frenzy and driving up expectations through the roof.

And our contestants are of course all over the map. There is Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a stay at home pig mom of 25 kids with a husband who is overworked. Johnny (Taron Egerton), a gorilla from a crime family who doesn’t really want to steal. Meena (Tori Kelly), a young elephant who has extreme stage fright. Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a old timey street musician mouse who just wants money and fame. Ash (Scarlett Johansson) and Lance (Beck Bennett), a hedgehog teenage rock duo, but Lance doesn’t want to share the singing spotlight. And of course Gunter (Nick Kroll), a German pig who has no fears when it comes to his body.

Who will win? Who will get screwed over? Who will die?!

Also featuring the voices of Nick Offerman, Peter Serafinowicz, and Rhea Perlman.

Pigs
Pigs are people too, and are tired of being dance shamed.

Sing is the type of film that will give you exactly what you expect. Animals, being human like, and singing pop songs. And if that is all you need to go on to enjoy a film, then you will be in for a treat. If you want something with a bit of more substance to its plot, you will be saddened and only a little bit toe-tappy.

The lessons of the film tell us to follow our dreams, no matter how many bills you wrack up, loved ones you hurt, and lives you ruin. It will all hopefully work out in the end.

McConaughey’s character seems to be a sort of more family friendly and desperate version of his character in Magic Mike. MacFarlane plays a rat who is so annoying right off the bat that I have no remorse for his character at any point in the movie. On top of that, they never resolve that characters plot line at the end. I assumed it would be an after credits scene but we were left with nothing.

Johansson as a hedgehog, Witherspoon as a pig, and Egerton as a gorilla all worked (but it took me awhile to accept the last one, because the gorilla look and clothing just felt off). I was most surprised by Egerton’s singing voice, but it isn’t the first time he impressed me this year.

Music wise, it didn’t seem to click or work until the end. And it damn well better by that point, when they put on their show and resolve all of their issues through the power of singing in public. Everyone feels like a winner. At the same time, I wonder what the entire purpose of the film was. A small story, no real steaks or issues to worry about, Sing becomes an easy movie to make on account of how easy it can merchandise.

A few of the trailers really gave away most of the bigger moments. I am most annoyed by the teaser trailer though, that decided to showcase a ton of different animals singing different songs. That is basically directly out of the film, with little editing and no more substance. We only get to see a lot of diversity for a little amount of time. And the worst part about that scene, the try outs, is they didn’t even try to make it seem realistic by having different people sing the songs. Instead it was jut playing the actual songs over their quick and quirky cast. What a let down.

If you give me an animal singing song, I want a unique voice singing that song, damn it. If I wanted to actually hear the song, I could always just use the internet myself. No amount of scantly dressed rabbit will make up for it.

2 out of 4.

Ice Age: Collision Course

After I saw the first Ice Age movie, I avoided the rest. It was okay, I just didn’t have any interest in future films.

But then I became a movie reviewer, and in 2012 Ice Age 4: Continental Drift came out, so I had to watch several movies in a short span and my brain became fried. Every film got less and less scientifically accurate.

After a few years I figured we were safe, but no, since Blue Sky Studios has practically no other films coming out, we were given Ice Age: Collision Course, involving outer space. Another frontier for science to be destroyed in.

GROUP
So many god damn characters now.

Look at all the people I get to talk about. Our original Ice Age crew is still around. Manny (Ray Romano), the mammoth. Sid (John Leguizamo), the ground sloth. Diego (Denis Leary), the saber toothed tiger. And by this time most of them have lovers and extra friends. Manny has Ellie (Queen Latifah), and her two opossum brothers, Crash and Eddie (Seann William Scott, Josh Peck). Diego has Shira (Jennifer Lopez) and they are only briefly thinking about kids. Oh and Sid is all alone, technically.

But Manny and Ellie’s daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer)? She has found a long term boyfriend as well now. Julian (Adam Devine), a mammoth who wants to marry Peaches and move her far away from the family. That sucks for the parents, but it would be great for the movie, because this cast of characters is already too large.

Scrat and his nut help cause a series of events that begins to hurtle a giant asteroid towards the Earth, putting a damper on their parties. The giant crew quickly runs into a weasel, Buck (Simon Pegg), who is some sort of extreme adventurer and smart entity, who has been living in an underground paradise. He believes the asteroid is being attracted to the Earth at a certain spot and that if they get there, they can stop it. But with him also comes a group of evil winged dinosaurs (Nick Offerman, Max Greenfield, Stephanie Beatriz), who also escaped extinction. They want the asteroid hit so that the mammals will die out and maybe they can rule again.

There you go! I think I got the basic plot in there.

Also featuring voice work from Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jessie J, Wanda Sykes, and Michael Strahan.

Weasel
Ah, Simon Pegg, always the light in the darkness.

The pattern seems to continue. Check mate, science. Once again, every further Ice Age film in the franchise decides to take a big poop on science, despite starting off strong. I will say that some of the past discretions are more egregious, most notably being off on Pangaea splitting up by 155~ million years or so. This time, we are being threatened by a meteor, going to destroy the planet. One that is going to hit the same place that killed the dinosaurs, and a previous mass extinction event. The MAJOR plot point is literally just to bring up a real event, and repeat it to give it an old ancient past feel, I guess.

Not only that, but they then go on to imply that events in this film would be responsible for Mars becoming a desert, life less planet RIGHT AFTER saying it would have happened billions of years ago, completely vandalizing our poor time line.

One isn’t supposed to get bent out of shape when faced with inaccuracies in a forgettable animated film, but when the film series used to be accurate and is still trying to showcase science, it gets quite annoying. What hurts me even more so is that Neil deGrasse Tyson not only lends his voice to narrate a few aspects, but they even make a character that is a flash in the pan to look like him for a couple more lines. Damn it Tyson, this movie is not helping get people smarter.

Outside of the science issues, this cast is way too large. No one gets killed off, everyone stays alive, and no one is leaving. So it started too big and then it grew further into the movie. It is beyond manageable and no one can really shine or matter. Not even the original trio. Okay okay, the new guy Buck shines a fuck ton in this film, and they thankfully make him interesting, but it is certainly not enough to save the movie in any way.

And yet, this is not the worst animated film of the year. This isn’t even the worst animated film of the year to imply coldness. Ice Age is lucky Norm of the North exists to give us more context.

1 out of 4.

Hotel Transylvania 2

Happy Marcho-wene! For those who read this months from now, I quite lazily decided to finally review Hotel Transylvania 2 in March. Hell, it even came out to DVD in January. No excuse valid, not even a busy Oscar season.

I thought Hotel Transylvania was only okay and really wasn’t surprised it had had a sequel. The animation isn’t top tier, so it is probably relatively easy to throw together a movie. And you know everyone in the voice cast is available for work. They keep busy, but they keep busy together.

Except for one person. CeeLo Green! He voiced the mummy in the last movie, but this time he is nowhere to be found. Instead they got Keegan-Michael Key to voice the mummy, keeping their “token black role” to one I guess?

GPA
Oh, and now old people might be voicing characters!

Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Jonathan (Andy Samberg) are getting married! But that isn’t the important plot point. They invite all of the family over, on both sides, except for Mavis’ Grandpa (Mel Brooks). He apparently doesn’t like humans. That will come back later.

Then they have a kid. A little ginger kid (Asher Blinkoff), gross I know. Because he is a male, Dracula (Adam Sandler) assumes he has inherited the vampire DNA (because his genetics is weird) and can’t wait for him to go doing Monster stuff. But instead, he can’t fly, has no fangs, can’t turn into a bat, and does a lot of normal baby things. Mavis is now very protective of the baby, living in the harsh Hotel monster environment. Jonathan just wants her to trust a babysitter and let them spend some time alone together.

Now it is like, five years later and it is still the same. Mavis wants to move to California, where Jonathan comes from, to live a normal and safe life. So Jonathan agrees to take her on a trip, but he likes the hotel and likes working there. So Jonathan and Dracula agree to hatch a plan: While they are gone checking out Cali, Drac will take the kid and go on a fear-adventure with his friends (Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key) to scare him into going full vampire. Jonathan will try and make her think California is terrible so she won’t want to leave. Can’t go wrong.

Also featuring the work of Rob Riggle (Which was great), Fran Drescher, Molly Shannon, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, and Dana Carvey.

Rainbow Teeth
Jonathan fucked up. How could you go back when you get rainbow teeth?!

Hotel Transylvania 2 doesn’t live up to its predecessor. It also doesn’t improve anything along the way, with the exact same quality of animation.

First of all, it takes a long time to really understand just what this movie is about. Sure, vaguely it is about the family the whole film, but that isn’t a plot, those are just characters. A good third of the movie happens at least before we find out that the plot is a dad and husband lying to their daughter/wife, on a very ridiculous idea.

Secondly, it is all over the place in terms of applying its own rules. Namely I want to talk about vampires. They early on make the joke about how vampires can’t have their reflection, commonly shown through mirrors, but also any other thing that would capture their image. So of course, the wedding photographs are a bit funny. But then they let the vampires use skype and appear on video cameras, like they are really anything different. And of course, if they were wondering if the boy had any vampire in him, all they had to do was take a picture of him and see what happened. Unless in this world the vampireness just can develop all at once, and literally zero traits show up before hand.

Finally, the ending is a complete disaster. It ends with a complete brawl, all of our main characters versus an army of other characters (I wouldn’t want to spoil it). But yeah, it basically ends the same way that Grown Ups 2 ends. The fight is unnecessary and a bit nonsensical. It is unnecessary because it is the type of thing that could have been prevented and stopped at any moment by one of the characters literally just saying something. The bad guys wouldn’t have a beef with most of the monsters either, so they’d have no reason to attack them. And it was nonsensical, given the extreme powers that apparently exist in tiny bat forms. They just wanted to end it on a silly note, and kids like brawls I guess. But it is a shit move.

There were the occasional funny jokes. But this film had no focus and had no great conclusion. Mavis should take the baby and leave her husband and family behind, I think.

1 out of 4.

Danny Collins

Danny Collins is a movie that sort of just sneaked into theaters. It wasn’t heavily advertised, it didn’t have more than 1 screening, and I honestly had never heard of it.

I might have even watched it when it came out, if it didn’t come out against Insurgent. Come on. Teen high school dystopian dramas > everything, am I right?

My biggest concern for this movie is actually Al Pacino, once a great actor, now a guy in a lot of bad movies, like Jack and Jill and Stand Up Guys. He is becoming a bit of a box office turn off for me, just like Robert De Niro. For the most part, they seem to be just showing up to do their scenes and not putting any heart to it, getting their easy pay checks. That is the one thing I will mostly look for in this film. Can Pacino try harder?

DC DC DC
This guy fucks.

Danny Collins (Pacino) used to be a big star. He was wildly famous in the 70s, with lyrics that compared to John Lennon and he was on top of the world. Now, 40 years later, he is still rich and famous and touring, but playing all of his old hits to old fans and kind of just going with the motions and never giving it his all. Huh, sounds a lot like something I talked about not to long ago.

Either way, his long time manager Frank (Christopher Plummer) let’s him know for his birthday that he found a 40 year old letter, written to him by John Lennon that never made it to him. A letter that basically would have changed his life and told him that money and fame aren’t everything. Well fuck, now he is old and feels useless. But there is still a chance. He should just leave his young cheating wife (Katarina Cas), check himself into a hotel and no longer worry about music but instead worry about his life.

So he is going to live in a Hilton hotel, to constantly hit on their manager (Annette Bening), and try to hook up the main receptionist (Melissa Benoist, who is in everything now) and the main valet (Josh Peck). But that isn’t his main goal, no of course not! He actually has a son, Tom (Bobby Cannavale, who is in everything now), whom he has a rocky relationship with. So he wants to fix that up real soon before someone dies and ruins it all. This means he also will have to befriend his wife (Jennifer Garner) and finally meet his granddaughter (Giselle Eisenberg).

Good. A man with a mission. A man who might go back to money fame drugs and playing for old people if he can’t fix his real life before it is too late. Also featuring Brian Smith as a booty call, and Nick Offerman, who has like, a minute of screen time only at the start, but looks cool enough to mention in this review.

couple
At least the casting department got something right. Cannavale could totally be Pacino’s son.

There you go Al Pacino! If you play a part that in some way mirrors your own career for the last five years, you might put some effort into it!

From Pacino I saw passion and I saw an actor who cared about playing his character. Great! And his own enthusiasm made me enjoy the performance and overall, enjoy the movie.

I thought the relationship aspects between Collins and his family felt realistic and avoided tons of cliches. The most unfortunate part about the family was Jennifer Garner though, who had a character that didn’t do a whole lot in the film, so it felt odd for someone of her talent to be used in such a way. This happens a lot with the mom role in films, for whatever reason, but since they had her, one would guess her role would be more substantial.

I was also very impressed with Bening, playing a hotel manager or something. She was able to pull off the professional/dealing with a huge celebrity/not caring about said celebrity really well. And of course, Cannavale was great for many reasons as well.

Danny Collins, a movie that I was afraid would be a bad VH1 made for TV movie, ended up having quite a few strong characters and a unique enough plot to really enjoy. Based loosely off of a real story, but I don’t care about that story, so I didn’t feel like talking about it.

3 out of 4.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

My first introduction to Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was described as “Like, The Fault In Our Stars, but better!”

Well, shit. Because I liked The Fault In Our Stars. It felt realistic, well acted, was surprising, and of course I cried. So I guessed this one was another teenage romance about dying kid(s). Or at least, this time the girl is the sick one. And judging by the actress, I can guess her fate since she seems to be type casted.

Regardless, this movie has an excellent title. It has a nice flow to it. So that gets my loins revved up regardless of any other factors. BRING ON THE DEAD TEENAGERS.

Friends
I meant literally dead. Not bored brain dead.

The titular character here is Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann) and he is a senior in high school. He is your typical high school movie loaner. You know, under the radar, tries to please everyone yet stay invisible. His best “friend” is Earl (RJ Cyler). Very similar despite their different upbringings. They like old classic films, are generally weird/antisocial, and have secret parody films of classics that they make together.

Nerd alertttttttttt.

And then there is Rachel (Olivia Cooke), the dying girl. She has leukemia now, and leukemia generally sucks. Greg and Rachel were never really friends, but their moms are, and Greg’s mom has DEMANDED that he hang out with Rachel and make her feel better.

Kind of awkward. Making someone hang out with a person just because they have got the cancer. But he has to do it. And this is the story of Greg, Earl, and a Dying Girl.

Don’t worry! There are more than just those three characters. After all, Greg has TWO parents (Nick Offerman, Connie Britton), and DyingGirl has a mom (Molly Shannon). There are other school kids, like Ill Phil the Drug Dealer (Masam Holden), Scott Mayhew (Matt Bennett) leader of the Emo kids, and Madison (Katherine C. Hughes) a hot girl whom Greg tends to get nervous over.

And everyone’s most hated actor from The Walking Dead, Jon Bernthal, plays the history teacher that everybody loves.

Dead Girl
Fuck, that kid can’t smile in anything.

I guess the easiest way to describe this movie, after seeing it, is like The Fault In Our Stars, but better.

I kid. They are pretty different. They might fall under the same overall genre, but The Fault In Our Stars is clearly heavily romance based and this one is definitely closer to the discovery of friendship.

I cant even begin to describe all the things I liked about this movie, but I will attempt anyways because this is a review and that is the point of a review. Mann gives a great performance as the lead, his best yet. Cooke hasn’t been in a lot of films/shows, but she is usually decent and she gives a very raw performance here. This is the first real thing for Cyler and he was hilarious in this as well. But literally everyone is great in this movie. Every single person. Well acted all around, good unique characters, and a touching story.

But that’s not all! The cinematography in this film is great. So many well shot scenes, conveying emotion through just the character spacing alone. Because the two males love old movies, the parody films themselves are brilliant as well. It is clearly a movie that loves movies, and as a movie lover, your experience will be even more gratifying. And of course, my personal favorite, some long, one shot scenes with some intense arguments throughout.

At the end of everything, I think I am mostly surprised at how funny the whole thing ended up being. I laughed throughout, even just a bit during the very sad points. I love a good comedy. This is actually Mann’s second comedy/drama film dealing with intense subjects. I also suggest giving It’s Kind Of A Funny Story a chance.

4 out of 4.

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