The Hate U Give

I have heard about The Hate U Give at least two years ago as a teacher in middle school. I had not read it yet, but I did want to read it. I just never got around to it. You know, movies and all.

I knew I had to wait until after I saw the movie. Maybe it would be like this year´s Wonder, in terms of book lovers all excited. Wonder was decent, and the book was decent. I assume there were a lot of fears about turning this allegedly very great book into a mediocre or shit movie. It has a big uphill battle, but at least its subject matter has been making good strides in cinema lately.

This year we already got Blindspotting and Sorry To Bother You, but neither of them are from the kid perspective. Of course, if there are already great movies on similar topics, it has a lot to live up to.

The Hate U Give has a lot of battles to climb, so on its own, it is its own representation of race relations. Another way to examine this is the IMDB rating, which at the time of writing is a 4.6, weeks before it comes out. Why? Oh, almost 200 votes for 1/10. Either this movie is very polarizing, or you know, racism.

Stare
Pretty sure we all know what she thinks.

A few years ago, the Carter family had to have ¨the talk.¨ So Lisa (Regina Hall) and Mav (Russell Hornsby) sat down their three kids, Seven (Lamar Johnson), Starr (Amandla Stenberg), and Sekani (TJ Wright). The oldest are just in their pre-teens, but it is time. No, this talk isn´t about sex. It is about what to do if they are in a situation where they are detained or pulled over by the cops.

This is a real talk that black families are starting to have to talk to, due to the violence and targeting that is going on in our country. It is not a great talk, but for families that care for each other, who know they cannot always be there to protect them, it is necessary.

It is the type of loving family that Starr grew up in, full of knowledge and strength. And now she goes to school outside of the hood she lives in. It is a white school, with white friends, white boyfriends (K.J. Apa) who won´t ever understand what she is going through at home. She has to balance these two lives. But it is when tragedy strikes her life and her friend Khalil (Algee Smith), she has her worlds start to crash together, giving her a whole new insight to this thing called life.

Also starring Common, Issa Rae, Sabrina Carpenter, Dominique Fishback, Megan Lawless, and Anthony Mackie as a bad guy drug dealer. Been awhile since he has turned south in his roles.

Hands Up
Hands up won´t protect her on its own, but that Carolina Blue shirt will help.

The Hate U Give is a powerhouse from start to finish. From ¨the talk¨ at the start of the film, to the different worlds, to the cop tragedy, to the protests, to the speeches, to the riots. It is full of emotion from unexpected places. My first cry was because the father was by his daughters side after a nightmare. She wasn´t screaming causing him to run in the door. No, she woke up panicked and he was already there. Just subtle clues to show that clearly he had fallen asleep in a chair by her side to protect her, to help her with the morning after, and just be a goddamn amazing father. And that is the type of stuff that gets me.

Sure, I did cry a few other times, not just a one and done deal. It is hard not to get wrapped up in the story. Hell, at over 2 hours it almost doesn´t feel long enough. I need more of the story, I need to be there to help comfort the characters, to rage against the machine or whatever it takes. I am definitely going to grab the book, and it is going to make me upset just like the movie.

And more importantly, it is going to get me more upset about real life. I am white, if my writing doesn´t make that obvious. I am a man, if you cannot tell with my boob tags. And this is the type of movie that can get people to see the other side of the fence if they come to it with any amount of openness.

Stenberg was fantastic in the lead role. She wasn´t great in The Darkest Minds, but no one was. She was good in Everything, Everything despite the fact that I didn´t like the movie. But she was outstanding in this film. She carries a lot of weight and emotion in her face. Hornsby as the dad is my goddamn hero. I hope I can one day grow into a worldly intelligent and caring man like him.

Just so much of this film is relevant, at this point, it is practically essential viewing. It deals with heavy topics that kids in their pre-teens can better handle unlike other films and will be seen in schools throughout the nation within the next year.

4 out of 4.

Naked

I do love a good stuck in time movie. It is just a shame that most of them are not good movies.

We recently had a few famous ones, like Edge of Tomorrow and Happy Death Day. The former was great, the latter not so much.

But what about Naked? This time it is a full on comedy, with this time focusing not on a whole day, just a single hour. And it involves a lot more man butts.

This came out over a year ago on Netflix. I wanted to see it right away, forgot and forgot, until I scoured my saves to find something new. No excuses, except hey, its still there if you want to see it!

Airport
Fun fact, I did NOT look up pictures for this movie at work.

Rob Anderson (Marlon Wayans) is a regular guy. He is a substitute teacher, but he doesn´t have big career aspirations. He is getting married to the love of his life, Megan (Regina Hall), and that is good enough to him.

His wedding needs to be perfect. Because her father (Dennis Haysbert), a self made millionaire, certainly doesn´t approve of him. And her ex (Scott Foley), he is super successful and keeps shoving his success in their faith. But he loves her and she loves him, it should be enough.

Unfortunately, the day of the wedding, Rob wakes up on the floor of an elevator. He is naked, he is confused, and he doesn´t remember the night before. He frantically tries to get to his wedding and understand what is going on, but he gets arrested for obvious reasons. At noon, an hour after he woke up, he found himself getting sucked through time and waking up once again in that elevator floor.

He not only has to figure out why he is being sucked back in time, but also what happened to him and how to fix all the issues his absences have caused.

Also starring J.T. Jackson, Eliza Coupe, Loretta Devine, and Brian McKnight as himself.

Naked
“Here are our selection of retro pants for maximum movie lols!”

I am not saying I am expert on “stuck in a time loop until everything is perfect!” films, but I do know most of the popular ones, and I think this is the first one to have the person literally sucked from their spot in time to get back to the previous point. Like flying through the air. As for originality, it is also the only one I can think of that repeats just a single hour, instead of a full day.

Unfortunately, the hour seems really off in this movie. It seems by the end too many things are happening from his reset point to realistically take the hour. I didn’t notice it was an hour until the first few times. The first time when he ended up in prison, it felt like a whole day event for him. They did a poor job of making that hour believable by the end, which is a real shame.

Another poor thing? Making it super funny. It was amusing, but I expected a lot actually laughing out loud and less smirks.

You know what? I really do respect the shit out of Marlon Wayans. He is in a lot of movies and he knows that people do not really respect him. They don’t like his acting, they don’t like his jokes, but I approve. Why? Because he really puts all of his energy into these movies. Every part of his body is acting in this movie, not just his head and hands. He seems to be the type to give 110% in anything he does. If he meets fans, he will sign everything and greet every kid.

He just loves what he does and you can see his passion in his work. So while not the best movie, it does try some new things, and obviously he puts it all out there for the viewers to pick apart.

2 out of 4.

When The Bough Breaks

I didn’t get a huge helping of sexual thrillers in 2016 like I had in previous years. It was a genre that was just severely lacking.

And of course, I missed it when When The Bough Breaks came out in theaters. One of the few films to really fit the bill. But I made sure to grab it right away when it came out to DVD. You know, just in case it is a giant pile of trash like a lot of similar genre’d films end up being. Remember The Boy Next Door? Addicted? I feel like both of them made previous worst of the year lists.

So sure, I went in expecting the worst, but I have been surprised before.

Family
Ah what a happy pseudo-family, pre bough breaking.

John (Morris Chestnut) and Laura Taylor (Regina Hall) are two very successful married people. They both have fantastic jobs, they make bank, have a nice hall, come from nice backgrounds. But they cannot have a baby together, for whatever reason. After multiple miscarriages, the two have spent years looking for a good surrogate who they trusted with their baby.

And they think they have finally found someone with Anna Walsh (Jaz Sinclair). She is a young and sweet girl, wanting to help others. She will also use the money to help get a good house for her and her boyfriend, Mike Mitchell (Theo Rossi). He is deploying soon, and with the her sudden extra income and his, they should be able to have their dream home.

Well, the surrogate is a success and she is pregnant. But it turns out that Mike is abusive, so they decide to protect Anna and let her live in the house with them. But Anna begins acting peculiar. Spying on John and refusing to be modest with her body. And she is still seeing her boyfriend on the side. He wants her to threaten to back down and keep the baby, they will pay her more money to give it up and they can get rich.

Also they lied about their names and their past. She is also becoming obsessed with John, to the point where she tries to tear their marriage apart and his life if she will not be with her.

Ah, yes, the old unborn baby hostage deal for that sweet Chestnut loving.

Also featuring Michael K. Williams, Romany Malco, Glenn Morshower, and Tom Nowicki.

Dress
“Oh sorry, I seem to have fallen on the floor and can’t get up or cover up.”

When The Bough Breaks wants to take a perfectly normal and already scary situation for a couple and go to the extreme with it. I won’t say there is anything morally wrong trying to scare people away from using surrogates, because technically there isn’t, but it is still a pretty damn dark and grey area.

As this isn’t just a drama type film, but a SUPER drama, the actors mostly end up having to over act instead of letting a potentially great thriller play out. The plan for the girl and her boyfriend was pretty dumb. Her way of slowly seducing Chestnut was pretty dumb. Hall’s character was completely absent and terrible in this film as well. Just a lot of badly working together gears not making a lot of progress.

And the ending where all the potential scares occur? Yeah, I was scared once when a character drops the baby safely strapped in its car seat, but none of the other tension was felt. It was instead all laughable, including its finish.

There won’t be any surprises in this film. Heck, there isn’t even nakedness to make a real sexual thriller. Just a laughable thriller, with a terrible idea for a plot, acted by people who normally do a bit better.

0 out of 4.

Think Like A Man Too

I had multiple chances to see Think Like A Man Too early, but things kept coming up. Heck, one showtime had both Kevin Hart and Drake in attendance. I didn’t go to that one because I knew there would be a long line and require at least 7 hours of my life to see it.

But hey, at least I was able to see Think Like A Man before hand which was my biggest worry. Given the way the first film ended, and that this one has nothing to do with Steve Harvey‘s book, I imagine the biggest worry from Kevin Hart was to make a lot of money.

Cray Cray
That’s his wild eyed, stuffing his pockets with cash, face.

The couples established from the film are all still together. Their relationships are just facing new issues all around the same time! Very convenient.

But they are now in Las Vegas. Why? For an extravagant wedding, because getting married in LV at not a quickie chapel is apparently a thing too.

Our Mama’s Boy (Terrence Jenkins) and Single Mother (Regina Hall) are getting hitched, the main reason they were picked was of course to include the nagging mother (Jenifer Lewis) in this movie as well. Their plot line, outside of getting married, is yes the mom still doesn’t like the girl and stuff will ruin their wedding.

The Non-Commiter (Jerry Ferrara) and The Girl Who Wanted A Ring (Gabrielle Union) obviously already got married, but now they are talking about having a kid, and it is scary for one of them.

The Dreamer (Michael Ealy) and the Woman Who Is Her Own Man (Taraji P. Henson) are both still in love, but their careers are taking them to different parts of the country.

And finally, the Player (Romany Malco) and the 90 Day Rule Gil (Meagan Good) are having commitment issues. And by that, the girl is afraid of his commitment, due to the number of women from his past that apparently live in Vegas.

Finally? Just kidding. Cedric (Hart) is still our narrator and freaking out over Best Man duties. We still have our happily married white guy (Gary Owen) but his wife is in this movie too (Wendi McLendon-Covey), and they don’t have many issues.

Also featuring Dennis Haysbert as smooth talking Uncle Harris to get the mom off their backs, and Adam Brody and David Walton as our Mama Boy’s old frat friends who join in the shenanigans.

Crew
Just like real life, they all wear generic colored outfits.

Overall, Think Like A Man Too is a movie that shouldn’t have been made.

For bad reasons, this movie is being compared to The Best Man Holiday. You know, both sequels in the last year, with large black ensemble casts. Although Holiday was given to use 14 years later where they had time to find a good story, and Too we had only a two year break if that.

But yeah, a lot just didn’t feel natural in this movie. Too much (all?) of the aggravation involved people not willing to speak truthfully to their loved ones. What? This is years later and they still have the same issues? I doubt these couples should be together.

Whenever it looked like something actually funny and interesting would happen (like the strip club), they ruined it and put the characters in a very unfunny place instead.

Actually, by the end, when stories were resolving, I thought some of them were cute. I thought the mama trouble plot line ended teribly, along with the job couple. The other two were fine endings, just the player past shouldn’t have been an issue at all.

Occasionally a funny moment, but overall, can easily ignore it. Here’s hoping there is no Think Like A Man Thrieve or whatever.

1 out of 4.

Think Like A Man

I am already starting to get overwhelmed with these movie screenings that are available to me. Too many a week, with too much of a time commitment. Why the review of Think Like A Man? Why, because it’s sequel, Think Like A Man Too is coming out shortly, of course! I missed the first one from 2012 some how, probably because I lived in the farming midwest and it never came to a local theater.

But then I move down South and I got the tickets to see this movie early. I would have, too, but first I had to watch the previous movie, damn it. Also, I didn’t want to drive 75 minutes, to wait two hours in line, to watch a two hour movie, and drive 75 minutes back home. No, that sounded dreadful.

But it gave me time to relax and watch Think Like A Man, without staying up super late at night to get it done!

Boys
I also had sports to watch watch.

This movie, based on the book, is about four relationships, and a few other people around them. All of the guys are part of a group of friends who play basketball together, which include Bennett (Gary Owen), “the Happily Married Guy” and Cedric (Kevin Hart), “the Happier Divorced Guy”. Thankfully, the four couples that exist are all presented in a nice way to split this review up into parts.

“The Mama’s Boy” vs. “The Single Mom”

Michael (Terrence Jenkins) is a man who listen’s to his mother (Jenifer Lewis) and helps her out with everything. He is about to start seeing Candace (Regina Hall), who has a son, the father is out of their life for good, and really wants someone that won’t just leave at the first sign of trouble.

“The Non-Committer” vs. “The Girl Who Wants the Ring”

Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara) and Kristen (Gabrielle Union) have been living together for awhile now and everything is just cool. Hell, Kristen likes everything Jeremy likes and doesn’t care that their relationship doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Psyche!

“The Dreamer” vs. “The Woman Who Is Her Own Man”

Dominic (Michael Ealy) has problems keeping jobs and relationships, because he has goals, but he never sets out to accomplish them all the way. He is about to meet Laruen (Taraji P. Henson), a young black woman CEO of a large company, successful, rich, and someone who doesn’t need anything from a man, but still would like one in her life.

“The Player” vs. “The 90 Day Rule Girl”

Finally, we have Zeke (Romany Malco), a guy who hits the clubs and sleeps around, who runs into Mya (Meagan Good), who is tired of “giving up her power” and sleeping with men just for them to forget her name and not return phone calls. So she decides to resist the temptation, and make this new guy wait.

What do they all have in common besides basketball? The women have all found and read Steve Harvey‘s Book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man, which is a real book in which Steve “sell’s out his gender” and gives women advice on how to secretly control their men and get what they want out of the relationship. However, two can play that game, as the men also find the books, to play on defensive.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES, GO!

Books - Public Enemy #1
Steve Harvey is Public Enemy #1. How could you Steve?! How. Could. You?!

Well, I will just say that I think there were far too many characters involved with this film. Four couples, means eight people. Some have additional characters like friends, parents, children. Then we have Kevin Hart, Steve Harvey, and Gary Owen too. I guess Gary was mostly ignored, but Kevin Hart was butting into most of the friend’s lives, so there was just so much going on.

I am not going to say it would have been better without Hart, because he was decently amusing, mostly serving as a good narrator. Just. There was so much going on, in two hours, to make it not confusing, they had to make the narrative structure very simple to follow in order to not get lost.

So, it is good that it was super simple to prevent us from getting lost, but at the same time, it was still super simple and didn’t break too much new ground in the making of this movie. It is like four different romance/comedy plotlines, only two of them which could probably stand on their own legs as their own film (dreamer/OwnMan, and noncommiter/wantaring), but then, they have been done before too.

The film had some amusing moments in it, and it also had some lame moments in it. Overall, it was adequately average.

2 out of 4.

About Last Night

Ah, nothing creates a romantic Valentine’s Day movies like remaking films from the 1980s.

About Last Night… is seen as a classic romance movie by some, starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, and others wildly hate it. So why did they decide to remake it? YOLO, that’s why.

The remake, About Last Night, is quite different from the original with one big huge glaring difference. Yep, they got rid of the ellipse in the title.

Baseball
I am so color blind, that I have no idea what any of the pictures I post on this website are. They all look like blank.
DO THE JOKES MAKE SENSE? I DON’T KNOW!!

The story is about four people who go about love in different ways.

First, Bernie (Kevin Hart) and Joan (Regina Hall) meet at a club and have drunken incredibly weird sex. But they love it, and they want to meet up some more, so they both bring their friends to meet each other too. Joan brings Debbie (Joy Bryant), her “boring” roommate, and Bernie brings Danny (Michael Ealy), his work bro.

Somehow Danny and Debbie hit it off, thanks to their mutual disgust they both show from the excessive display between Bernie and Joan.

Aw, everyone is dating now. But Bernie and Joan hit troubles and really quickly start to loathe each others existence. However, things for Danny and and Debbie are progressing quickly. They turn their adulterous relationship into love, and even move in with each other. Aww. But in the end, both couples seem to be making poor decision after poor decision.

Maybe none of the four actually have all of the right answers?

Also, Christopher McDonald is in this movie, and he doesn’t play a villain. That was maybe the most surprising element.

Strippers
Even more surprising than that Halloween “costume.”

It has been a long time since I saw the original movie, so I don’t actually remember how much the new version differs. The expected plot lines and times throughout the year when they occur are the same, but everything else from what I can tell is different.

And it is hilarious. Technically, the main plot line is serious and dramatic and sad and romantic. But the side plot line with Hart and Hall killed it. It absolutely had me in stitches. Their charisma and banter was amazing. I am willing to say that the humor presented by these two is worth the price of admission.

I am not saying the dramatic elements from our main two characters are bad, they were good too. But they weren’t super entertaining. It was just “okay” acting, and the characters made strange decisions that I never really understood. But I got over it.

The enjoyment I felt overall from laughing every time Hall/Hart were on the screen overpowered the lesser aspects that presented themselves in the story. Is it the best movie ever? Not at all, but About Last Night makes me feel a bit giddy, and that’s why I ended up liking it.

3 out of 4.

The Best Man Holiday

I’d imagine it is really hard to make a sequel for a film fifteen years later. Especially a movie that wasn’t a big commercial success, but that is just what The Best Man Holiday decided to do. If Before Midnight can complete an eighteen year trilogy, set that many years apart, why can’t this film do the same?

For those of you looking to watch this film without the first film, The Best Man, I would advise against it. Holiday does its best to catch you up through an opening credit montage, but without the first film, you will probably be lost for at least a good half hour into the film.

Boy Band
But you don’t have to know the first film to know that this scene gunna be gud.

After all, its been 15 years since our gang of friends last hung out, since the wedding of star New York Giants running back, Lance (Morris Chestnut) to his lovely lady Mia (Monica Calhoun). But Mia has been persistent, and really wants all Lance’s old friends back into his life. After all, he is set to retire from the NFL after the last game this season, in which he might break the all time rushing yard record. So eventually the gang agrees to spend their holidays in New York, despite the turmoil in their own lives.

Like Harper (Taye Diggs), who hasn’t had a best selling book in awhile and was recently laid off from NYU thanks to budget cuts. The good news is, his wife (Sanaa Lathan) is finally pregnant and almost due (despite years of bad luck on that front). The bad news is they are broke. His agent suggests he gains the rights to do the biography on Lance, his old friend, as a sure way of getting him back into fray.

Julian (Harold Perrineau) has gotten his life together and started up a school that runs solely off of donations, with his wife (Regina Hall) with an administration position. But when her past profession as a stripper comes up through a YouTube video, losing Julian $2 million in funds, will he be able to still accept the past that he knew he was getting in to? His ex, Shelby (Melissa De Sousa) went from controlling to drama queen, and is a star of one of those “Real Housewife” shows now. She is a friend of Mia, so of course she gets invited too, just to make Julian miserable.

Quentin (Terrence Howard) is loving the single life, a general foul-mouthed comic relief, and a music producer or something. Let’s just say he too is pretty rich.

Jordin (Nia Long), the woman Harper used to like before his wife, is now a head executive at MSNBC and dating Brad (Eddie Cibrian), a white man.

All of these issues and a lot more come up during the week, as disease has also taken hold of one of our members, turning this comedy-drama into a drama-comedy for the second half.

Dressed
Best dressed goes to Michael with the bow tie, I think.

I never thought I would have a lot to say about The Best Man Holiday, but here I am. I should note I never saw the original movie when it came out, seeing it for the first time earlier this week. It was okay and was interesting to see a lot of now bigger stars in some of their first big roles. I was pleased that it was a movie with an all black cast, their color had almost nothing to do with their characters/identity and everyone was just a person. Holiday continues that theme, and more.

Morris mother fucking Chestnut.

The biggest surprise of the movie to me was that man. All the other actors are well known for for their movie or TV roles in the last fifteen years, but not so much Morris. He is only well known for playing a detective/officer in films (Examples OneTwoThreeFour).

Needless to say, these roles never really give him a lot of time to really develop a character or have an amazing personality, but this film allows that to happen. His character is a god and family loving, moral, athletic superstar. It is really hard to not like him, but more importantly, Morris knocks it out of the park. I have never seen him so good, so in character. I want him in more movies, and darn it, I want him to be a lead role.

The movie itself is definitely a tearjerker. There were not many people during my showtime but throughout it I could see and hear sniffling from the fellow movie goers. It wasn’t just sad moments, thankfully, but a back and forth between sad and uplifting.

Overall, I would say I enjoyed watching The Best Man Holiday and think it is way better than the first film. Unfortunately, it is also entirely filled with cliches and moments you can see coming from miles away. Nothing is really surprising in the film and it doesn’t really offer anything new. Of what the film does offer, it offers a lot of it, and you may get lost in some of the plot lines, but eventually everything will feel in place. If you enjoyed the first film, you will love the sequel.

2 out of 4.