Tag: Comedy

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania

Here we go again…again.

Hotel Transylvania hasn’t been a shining example of a good animated franchise. Its jokes are cheap, its concept is meh, its animation is on the lower tier of big releases.

But there is now a fourth one. Hotel Transylvania: Transformania. Why didn’t they just call it Hotel Transformania? The world will never know, because clearly the FOR is meant to indicate the fourth one.

This was set to come out early October last year, same day as The Addams Family 2 (which also wasn’t great), but sold to Amazon before hand. And then everyone was surprised when it wasn’t out. Turns out the release date wasn’t finalized. Early January next year? Fine.

And a lot of people also found out that Adam Sandler wasn’t even involved with this one. Only him and Kevin James cut the plug, every other older famous person remained. Why did they leave? Where did they go? Maybe only Cotton Eye Joe knows.

Unrelated, did they ever say why there are so many of Dracula’s friends at the hotel, all the time? They don’t work there right? Are they on some permanent free vacation at their friends place of business? Honestly, if this was a first movie question, I have forgotten by now. If so, those early movies are a good metaphor for how Adam Sandler’s movies have turned out the last decade.  He admitted that himself that his movies can just be paid vacations for him and his friends.

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Turning Jonathan into a monster is going to make some weird fanart porn now.

So what is up with the hotel of monsters?

Well, the 125th anniversary is happening, and of course, Jonathan (Andy Samberg) is fucking things up. They had a big evening planned, so he did a lot more nonsense to surprise Dracula (Brian Hull), who hates surprises. Honestly, calling Jonathan a clumsy person with a big heart at this point seems ridiculous, since he knows what Dracula prefers and ignores all of his well wishes when it comes to things for Dracula. That means Jonathan is really just doing it for himself, or at least, for exciting Mavis (Selena Gomez).

Dracula was going to announce his retirement and giving the hotel to Mavis (and technically, also, Jonathan since they are married), but they find out early and piss him off again, so he lies and says he can’t give Jonathan the hotel, since he isn’t a monster. Some old made up real estate law. And so Jonathan finds someone who has a transformation ray, that turns someone into monster or human, and sure, goes monster. Dracula knows this will piss off Mavis, so he does the thing he always does, tries to hide stuff and not communicate.

Sure enough, he gets turned human (and his friends do also), the ray gets broken, so Dracula and Jonathan have to go on a long perilous journey for another crystal. Eventually the friends and Mavis and them join too. They gotta switch everyone else back, damn it.

Also starring a lot of returning voices, you know, except for the two who weren’t. Brad AbrellFran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Jim Gaffigan, Kathryn Hahn, Keegan-Michael Key, Molly Shannon, and David Spade.

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Hey look, it is that scene with the monster ray! How fun. 

I don’t care if it is an animated film, but…characters should be able to grow and change over time? And having four movies in a row where Jonathan does the same mistakes, learns a lesson, then does the same sort of thing again isn’t growth. When Dracula distrusts his daughter making decisions, and lies to friends and family, learns a lesson, then does that same sort of thing again next movie isn’t growth. Adding children to a movie and more characters, isn’t growth.

What the heck is the point?

One of my least favorite parts of the third film was the extended dance sequences they decided to have with each monster doing the macarena. Slowly. Over and over. Multiple times in the movie. That was a bizarre waste of time. This movie tried to test me early on, as they had the Cha-Cha Slide and started to do the same thing. Thankfully, it didn’t last as long as the macarena, but I feel like it was done intentionally to troll me.

The movie itself isn’t great. There is no reason for most of the adventure. It could be saved a lot of time if they just…fly…further. They know a lot of monsters who can fly and travel. Fuck. Mavis in bat form could do most of the work in the country, go to the cave herself, and get a crystal from looking safe without all the danger. It is such a nonsensical journey adventure, that exists purely for the movie, when clearly there are many work arounds for it.

Why the hell did the Slime DJ turn into a jello dessert? The goddamn ray said HUMAN and MONSTER. It didn’t say revert to some non-monster form on it. It can take a non-human and make it human. That is it. They had a giant monster dog get zapped and it turned into a regular dog. That isn’t a human either. These are just fundamental issues that make up a movie of lazy writing.

I will say it is technically better than the third film for me. But only because it has less dance sequences. I guess they are turning this into a TV show, with different animation style. Or already did. I don’t know. I won’t watch it.

0 out of 4.

Sing 2

Hey remember Sing? Yeah? But why do you remember Sing?

I remember Sing being an incredibly average film. The trailers definitely implied a lot more songs might be featured in it, but most of them were just used in a montage audition scene. It was a mediocre film mostly because it had a very basic plot, and pretty standard tropes when it came to the plots of the individual main characters. The lead character wasn’t someone I looked at and cheered for. They let the mouse, despite being a dick all film, have a happy ending without making amends, which is shocking for a kids movie. And then you know, it ended.

It definitely didn’t feel like the type of thing that would get a sequel. But with Illumination Entertainment, anything they make that can be franchised and soaked for money with a lowest common denominator of jokes, they will do it, I suppose.

So hey, let’s see what nonsensical reason they come up for a sequel for Sing 2.

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That button isn’t ominous enough. Needs to do something like open a trap door, or hit a bigger gong.

What’s going on with the animals, after they put on a fun little singing show for their friends and family? Well, they are still working together to put on original shows. They made a version of Alice in Wonderland, but you know, with other pop songs being song for it. They constantly sell out their show, which is impressive in their regular sized community, but alas, they want more.

Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) invited a talent scout to see the performance, but she leaves halfway through because it is not right for her employer, Mr. Crystal (Bobby Cannavale). He has a big hotel and theater in a Las Vegas like city, and he needs a new stage show. The scout didn’t think their show was good enough to even bring for an audition. Rough.

But Buster convinces his crew to head to the auditions anyways. And they will lie their way to the audition, and lie their way to a show start, by making promises he can’t guarantee, about a show that isn’t written. Good times. Follow your dreams haphazardly. Promise that you will get a big star, Clay Calloway (Bono) despite him being a recluse for 15 years.

Starring the returning voices of Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly, Nick Kroll, Garth Jennings, Jennifer Saunders, and Nick Offerman. And now we get voices of new characters voiced by Adam Buxton, Eric Andre, Halsey, Letitia Wright, Pharrell Williams, Chelsea Peretti, Julia Davis, and Peter Serafinowicz.

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Word a Lion eat a porcupine? Probably.

In all honesty, I went in expecting to hate Sing 2. Let’s be clear. It really doesn’t make sense to exist. The idea behind this is that now that the con-artist found some actual talent through the rubble that is his town, he wants to make them a bigger famous act, basically singing cover songs, to works as entertainers? Ehhh.

I find it hard to find the lead character charming at all. He is a guy who just constantly lies because he feels he deserves greatness? He lies about things that might not be even conceivable, like the prize money in the first film. Things worked out for him, and that is great, but ehh. Not my kind of message for kids.

A lot of the side plots are pretty trash. The plot of our Gorilla not dancing well, and needing to dance well for his scene? Whatever. It was very much not in character for the choreographer to do what he did during their final show, and that ruined that potentially cool scene for me. The Elephants plot was also extremely basic, about not knowing how to fall in love. The plot of the musical they put on was shit, because none of the planets had any actual storyline for their musical.

The heart of the film comes from the Calloway character, a famous older star, who lost his wife, and gave up his career, to live alone with his deep lion thoughts. Bringing him into their fold took them time, and his moment on the stage was a bit charged up in emotions. I did cry during it. Those bastards. And despite the terrible way for the plot to unfold, from its beginning lies, to its terrible subplots, it was a fun show they put on for the experience. It was a bad musical, but a fun show.

One final note. What is going on with the songs here? Like, as far as I can tell, all of these people are aware they are singing cover songs of someone else? There is more evidence of that given that when they sang a U2 song, they talked about it belonging to Clay, of course voiced by Bono. And in Sing, it is not like all those townsfolk just had songs they made up on the fly ready to go. So they are all covers and exist. Why the hell is everyone so bananas over people singing cover songs? Why did Ash have any level of a successful rock career just singing cover songs? This is very unrealistic. There is going to be a Sing 3 probably, because hey, money. And people like cover songs in cartoon movies. But trying to figure out why people go bananas for them in front of them is bizarre.

2 out of 4.

Spider-Man: No Way Home

Ready for that new movie, Spider-Man: All the Hype in the World?

Oh, it is called No Way Home. Fine, that is fine. It could have also just been called “Print Money for us Please” because a lot of people are going to see this movie and they are going to see it fast. This is arguably the most excited people have been for a movie since Avengers: Endgame. After all, in our last Spider-Man movie, we were given a very strong credits scene. [Note: I hated that this was a credit scene. That scene was really important for the film. It made the ending really work. The fact that it was “credits” scene and arguably less important really bugs me]. It helped build up the hype.

I personally am hoping that this movie does…something to help establish what the actual fuck Marvel (even if Sony is helming this film like always) is doing with their time. If I see one more “Present Day” tag line in the MCU this year I will lose it. No one has any clue when any of these movies are taking place, because they all are in the future based on the Thanos Snap.

Is this one in 2024? 2025? Who knows. Will the movie know? Doubtfully.

JUMP
Is she enjoying this ride? 
Spider-Man: No Way Home takes place basically right after the end of Long Way Home. Mysterio’s last trick. Telling everyone Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) identity and blaming the bad stuff on Parker.

Now everyone knows! Now everyone knows about his friends and his girlfriend (Zendaya) and that causes issues. Some still love him, some now hate him. Some just want to make his life miserable. Hell, it is even affecting his ability to get into college. Because they know his name, and they aren’t sure if they want that publicity or trouble. Is he a MURDERER?

Needless to say, Peter feels like shit about this. And he hates it more that it is affecting those who love him and he loves in returns. So he wants things to change. Maybe time travel? Maybe people can just forget the whole thing happened? Maybe magic can be involved?

Well, once magic gets involved, and potentially unstable magic at that, it seems like the reality Peter knows is not going to be the same forever. Time to face old villains for the first time.

Also starring some other people you know from these movies. Tony Revolori, Jacob Batalon, Angourie Rice, Jon Favreau, Marisa Tomei, Martin Starr, J.B. Smoove, J.K. Simmons, Benedict Wong, and Hannibal Buress. Also (checks trailers to see what is and isn’t a spoiler) Alfred Molina, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church, Rhys Ifans, and Jamie Foxx!

Anyone else? Maybe! Maybe we also get other villains played by Paul Giamatti, Dane DeHaan/James Franco, or Topher Grace? Maybe we get villains in the last two movies showing up, like Michael Keaton and Jake Gyllenhaal. Will we have past Spider-Men like Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire? Will DONALD GLOVER appear as old Miles Morales?

Doc Ock
This isn’t a spoiler, this is the main advertisement! 

Spider-Man: Oops! All Villains! edition. Frankly, I wondered if this would feel crowded. Crowded is what they were going for after all. And arguably, crowded villains helped kill the last two Spider-Man franchises. “But no! This time we will do it better!” And how is that? By giving us previously established villains so we don’t need an eight hour movie. Sure, it requires a five film commitment, but they figure if you are watching these new ones, you probably already committed to the over 20 that is the MCU at this point.  So why not five more, assuming you didn’t already have them?

It works though. For those without the previous films, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I can’t get myself in that headspace. It is a risky move, and a ridiculous move, but damn it, trying new stuff is one of the reasons I watch movies. To see those that make risks, and this film is so risky. I don’t care what the past has told us, MCU printing their name on it doesn’t always guarantee success. Having a likable cast can help a lot.

This is the most emotional we have seen Holland as our web crawler before, and that includes the time when he didn’t feel so good in outer space. From the villains, Molina brings the same despair and anger he had before. Foxx felt better and more confident than the shit they gave him in his original. Ifans/Church were very underutilized, in more ways than one. I just assume the actors couldn’t really be involved that much with the film.

But Dafoe? Holy shit Dafoe. He has had like, twenty years to forget how to be the Green Goblin, and I was honestly worried about him the most. I know he is a fantastic actor, but even early on into his scenes in this one, I was skeptical, but that dude NAILED IT so hard. That is some real good review writing right there. What an absolute madlad he is. Why did they kill him off in that first film? So sad.

Honestly, people will get mad at me if I say much more. So in order to keep things vague and mysterious, I will. Let’s just say, I cried once, and it is not likely a moment you would fully expect. There is obviously an early credits scene, and an end credits scene. Feel free to leave early after the first one, in my opinion. The post credits scene is trash.

4 out of 4.

Being the Ricardos

Daa-daa-daa dadaDAH-dahdaahhhhh.

I Love Lucy is an iconic show in TV and American Pop Culture History. When there were barely any channels, it was basically the most watched thing ever. Around the world, people (non-kids) can recognize Lucy Ricardo and Ricky Ricardo, and maybe they can recognize her wail as well.

Now of course, for me, this is where I get to say I have never seen a full episode of the show. I have just seen clips. Never searching them out either. They just love showing clips of the show in documentaries, in movies, in other shows. How else will you know what decade it is without an I Love Lucy on the TV set in the background?

I do love Aaron Sorkin though. And I know that his fictional behind the scenes look at the making of an episode of I Love Lucy combines some of my favorite Aaron Sorkin based moments. People will argue about scripts and the writing. People will make last second changes. And people will have a lot of things going on in their heads at the same time, often switching between them on a moment’s notice in their dialogue so we have to keep up.

So let’s go Sorkin. Teach me about the show from a fictional perspective based on reality.

Lucy
You don’t have to be a real red head to play Lucille Ball. She wasn’t a real red head! D:

Lucille Ball (Nicole Kidman) runs her show with an iron fist and an attention to detail. She won’t let sloppy writing affect her show, because she wants her shows jokes to be believable, and not just playing dumb to the camera. Lucille Ball is quite smart and clever, damn it, even if she plays a bit of a silly simple potato. 

Her Husband, Desi Arnaz (Javier Bardem) also helps run the show, running different aspects. He keeps the money coming in, he deals with the press stories that affect them, he warms up the audience, he keeps it a smooth sailing ship. They are the perfect couple, fictional or otherwise. Or are they?

In this week on I Love Lucy, we have to deal with a lot behind the scenes. A sudden pregnancy and how it will affect the show. Reports of Desi cheating on Lucille. A bit of the sketch that just won’t work. Side characters feeling inadequate. And oh yeah, reports that Lucille is a communist. 

Hopefully they can tackle these issues while also putting on a good show for the audience, and hopefully they can stay on air this early into their second season. 

Also starring J.K. Simmons, Nina Arianda, Alia Shawkat, Jake Lacy, Tony Hale, Clark Gregg, and Nelson Franklin

lucygrapes
Is this the real life? Or is this just grape smashing? 

I am old enough, and have seen enough movies, that I know what to expect when going in to an Aaron Sorkin movies, and this is basically what I expected going into an Aaron Sorkin movie. But this is only his third movie where he has both written and directed it. The first one, Molly’s Game, didn’t remind me a lot of his previous work, outside of the dialogue. The Trial of the Chicago 7 did remind me a bit of his past work, since it was a courtroom drama, but it still wasn’t fully there. 

Being the Ricardo’s reminds me of older Sorkin. It reminds me of his TV shows specifically, basically all of them. Yes, even Sports Night. And Steve Jobs. It has a hectic feel, despite being over the span of a week. It has layers to it, we also get a lot of flashbacks of the couple as they met, and their careers before the show. It feels like the classic Sorkin, the one who only wrote and didn’t direct. He was able to capture the style that his writing dictated in all of those works, and I am all here for it.

I don’t have any real basis for who should have been cast in these roles or who should not have, because I don’t know the old show. But I did learn a whole lot, and while going back to look things up, I was shocked how much wasn’t made up. Just the timing of things are really what was changed. 

Kidman and Bardem are wonderful together. I want them to be different people and be in a real chaotic relationship together. The rest of the cast was good too, and I was surprised at how much it highlighted other people who worked on the show and the producers. 

Being the Ricardos feels like a movie that should be made for fans of the show, but it made me a fan of the show. Will I go and watch it? Hell no, let’s be honest. I ain’t got time for that. I got enough of it from clips. But I will say I appreciate the real Lucy, Lucille Ball, a lot more than I just assumed before. 

4 out of 4.

The French Dispatch

Seven years, Wes? SEVEN YEARS?

No. Don’t blame this on the Pandemic. The French Dispatch is your first live action movie in 7 years. Honestly, I thought The Grand Budapest Hotel came out earlier than that, so 7 years is a little shocking, because it certainly feels like a decade. Yes, I know we had Isle of Dogs, but that was stop motion.

Come on Wes. You used to churn out these films like buttah.

And it took a long time for this quirky little number to get made and released. This should not have been a 7 year wait. Did you have to wait for Timothée Chalamet‘s schedule to clear up?!

panic
That Timothee, so hot right now.

The French Dispatch is sort of about a newspaper insert from a small town in France, that tells news of the world and Europe in their periodical, specifically for the people in Kansas, due to very specific plot reasons. You know. Quirkiness.

The writers for the paper are great though, and the main editor, Arthur Howitzer, Jr. (Bill Murray), has been running it for 50 years. He wants his writers to not be unlimited in their potential and will not try to limit their word count or cut sections out if it ruins their vision. As long as their articles sound like they wrote it that way on purpose and they don’t cry in his office, he will be fine.

This movie is actually about its final issue, because with Arthur’s death, in his will was to dismantle the paper and cease operations completely. This movie is about the final three main stories of the paper, a smaller city piece, and of course, an obituary.

Starring literally ever actor ever a Wes Anderson movie and more, a whole lot of people are involved in these three stories. Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Steve Park, Owen Wilson, Bob Balaban, Henry Winkler, Lois Smith, Tony Revolori, Denis Ménochet, Larry Pine, Christoph Waltz, Cécile de France, Liev Schreiber, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Schwartzman, Fisher Stevens, Griffin Dunne, and Anjelica Huston.

mirror
A lot of people close together staring towards the camera. Classic Wes shot.
Alright, so was the wait worth it? Or did I overhype it?

I probably overhyped it. I went in not knowing anything about the film, and honestly, a few smaller stories is not usually what I hope for in a film. A bigger plot with subplots, sure.

Technically there is one bigger plot, but it is also relatively minor compared to the three main stories. So why do I care if it is three main stories? Well, if two of the stories are great, and the other is okay, then the whole film doesn’t feel really great anymore.

I definitely feel the stories weren’t even in quality or whimsy. The middle story in particular left a lot to be desired for me, despite elements I liked. My favorite would be the first one, in the prison, although narratively, I don’t know how this person became a normal writer for the paper, and why they are telling this story in their issue that is so far in the past. The third story was fine, but confusing for a bit and that is…less fine.

Overall, this might be the most Wes-Andersy film ever that he has made, and it is incredibly weird. Probably his most black and white and just…strange. He did try a lot with this film, and I guess wanted to tell stories he didn’t think were strong enough for a solo film.

The cinematography, colors, and dialogue are superb of course, but that was to be expected.

3 out of 4.

Beyond The Infinite Two Minutes

Sometimes I don’t even know how I get screeners. I have a few sources, they are usually the same as the ones that invite me to the theater to see movies ahead of time. But I can get on other press lists accidentally, from lesser known companies, and hey, I appreciate it. Sure, let me see your movies I might have never heard of without this email.

And I do try to watch most of these movies, because they asked me to, but I will say sometimes these foreign movies I ignore if it doesn’t pique my interest.

Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is a Japanese movie that DEFINITELY piqued my interest. A one-shot take film that involves time travel? Fuuuuuuuuuuucking sign me up right goddamn now.

lottery
The future is wild and it has answers, damn it!

Kato (Kazunari Tosa) is a café owner/worker in Japan, who also happens to live in an apartment right over the shop. It is very convenient, and I believe this is common in Japan. To have various businesses/shops on the ground level, and apartment/homes on the floors above it. Not everyone gets to work and live in the same exact building though, so he is lucky.

Speaking of luck, while he is in his room looking for his guitar pick, he looks on his TV and sees something strange. It is himself, but it is not a reflection, as it has the inside of the café as the background. What?

The man on the TV, you know, himself, has a message for Kato. There is a time delay between the monitors, and he is two minutes in the future. They have a quick back and forth before Kato urges himself to quickly get downstairs so he can do the same conversation, but now with his past self. And that is just the start of these strange two minute delay messages. Talking to yourself from the future, and then talking to yourself from the past. When more people get involved, they wonder if there is a way to make money off of this, and if they can go even further into the future.

Also starring Masashi Suwa, Yoshifumi Sakai, Takashi Sumita, Haruki Nakagawa, Munenori Nagano, Chikara Honda, Gôta Ishida, Riko Fujitani, and Aki Asakura.

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Two minutes. What can be done in two minutes?!
Goddamn it, this movie is an experience and a wonder. How? And how? are some of the questions I had while watching. I didn’t have to ask “What is going on?” because they did a fantastic job of explaining the set up, and showing the set up, and building it up gradually in order for the viewers to understand it along with the characters experiencing this phenomenon.

The first similar film from recent years that came to mind was One Cut of the Dead, and while looking up more information for this movie, I saw a lot of other reviewers making the same comparison, so I know it is a universal comparison amongst those who have seen both and that is a good film to be compared to. I would say Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes is a film with the most ingenuity and audacity to attempt something so amazing.

Look. It is a one-take film. But also, it has to have the actors talking to themselves. That means they did pre-record scenes to play on monitors, but they had to pre-record both sides of the scenes, and then make sure the one-shot version didn’t have any mess ups in the conversation. Because if the dialogue or the delivery is different, we would be able to notice that in the film, as we already saw the dialogue once. In other one-shot take films, they can have some improv or mistakes, but this didn’t really allow that.

And to keep the time consistent? Such a short window to pick, it made this film feel very tense as the characters themselves also feel trapped and predetermined to take certain actions. It has a good run time, around 70 minutes, just enough to tell the interesting story, have it grow, and give us some amazing moments. The final confrontation and walk up to it was so great and again, unbelievable in terms of how they planned this whole thing.

I can’t talk enough about just how wonderfully this film was crafted, how much planning went into it, and how I cannot fathom how they got the idea or even pulled the damn thing. It is mind blowing and it will remain mind blowing.

I don’t know when this movie would be released in America, or how. But whenever that happens, do yourself a favor and set aside a time for your mind to be blown.

4 out of 4.

The Eyes of Tammy Faye

Sometimes the name of a movie is the name of a book as well, especially if it is based on it. That makes sense.

Sometimes the name of the movie is the name of another movie as well, especially if it is a remake. It makes sense. (Or it could just be a popular /generic phrase that has multiple very different movies).

But what if your name is the same as a documentary, about the same subject? That might be notable if it is again, a very specific name, like of a person, or a group. But for The Eyes of Tammy Faye? It was a documentary that came out in 2000 about Tammy Faye Bakker, about her life and what she is up to then dealing with scandals. This movie, of the same name, is just about her and her husbands life. So they are both about Tammy Faye, but it is so weird to specifically name this film the exact same name as the documentary, when the phrase, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, isn’t inherently a specific phrase or meaning.

gag
Oh heck oh golly oh don’t cha know.  

Growing up, Tammy Faye sought religion in her life, because her family went to church and she was banned because her mom (Cherry Jones) was divorced! Oh no. But she was a theatrical little kid, and she went full in, talking in tongues, so she was welcomed as a child of God and given meaning in her little life.

Later on, Tammy Faye (Jessica Chastain) was going to a bible college in Minnesota where she met Jim Bakker (Andrew Garfield). They had so much passion for Jesus, and wanted everyone to praise him so much, that they found each other, got hitched, and then got kicked out of college. That is okay. They are going to take their show on the road, touring the country, praising the Lord, using puppets, whatever. They had big dreams though, dreams of being on television one day, with their own proper Christian talk show, for adults, shows for kids, and more.

Hell. Maybe their own Christian network and satellite. That will show those non-believers!

They want to be rich and famous for Jesus. But where does the money come from? And where is it going? That is the realest question. Oh shit, is that the law coming? Shenanigans!

Also starring a lot of people in various levels of famous roles. People like Fredric Lehne, Gabriel Olds, Louis Cancelmi, Mark Wystrach, Randy Havens, Sam Jaeger, and Vincent D’Onofrio.

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We almost never get a transformation like this for actresses. 

Let’s talk Chastain. I think most people would put her into the great actress category. She has been nominated twice for Academy awards (although one of them is from a very ehhh movie), and generally if she stars in flops, it isn’t her fault. But like my joke above says, Chastain has never had to transform her body or looks into a role. Most actresses don’t have to do it. Arguably, neither should actors, but they do happen to do that a lot of the time. Lose or gain weight. Bulk up, whatever.

But Chastain looks nothing like Chastain for 80% of this movie. Her gradual transformation, with more and more makeup and change in hair style just feel so natural and yet so sudden. Outside of the college scene and right at the start of their marriage, this was clearly just a different person. It is a phenomenal change and acting on her part, it is clear she will end up being nominated for this role as well. I can’t say it will be a win, so early still in the year, but the change felt like the level of commitment that Gary Oldman did for Darkest Hour.

In terms of the rest of the movie, it is fine. Garfield plays a second charismatic person in front of camera for the second time this year (and maybe will a third time?). D’Onofrio played Jerry Falwell Sr. very strongly, and felt like a bad guy in a movie where most people are bad guys. Wystrach was only in a couple of scenes, but it felt good seeing him play a country Keanu Reeves.

I really enjoyed the focus on how manipulated Tammy Faye was through big sections of her life. Manipulated by people manipulating religion, or just outright gaslighting, and it was tough to watch and experience. It was interesting to see this point of view of one of the biggest scandals of the 1980’s. You can tell it definitely is one sided on most parts, and there is likely other pieces of the story missing.

This movie is entertaining and well acted, but I did find myself wanting more. It didn’t give me enough. I went out of my way to watch the original documentary on the same day, just to see what else it could have been or focused on. I wonder if the real Tammy Faye is actually a huge part of this scandal and we will never know. WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

See this movie for the acting and the interesting story. Even if some details are muddy and rushed.

3 out of 4.

Cinderella (2021)

Cinderella, Cinderella, there are so many movies about Cinderella. And books. And plays, I bet. Sometimes I wish things never made it to the public domain so we wouldn’t have to get new versions of the same thing a thousand times.

At the start of Disney’s “let’s make all of our old stuff into live action” phase, Cinderella was one of the first ones. It was pretty, but it was pointless.

So why now? Why another one? Well, this one isn’t Disney, so that is probably a plus. Maybe it will be more edgy. (Checks rating, it is PG). Nope, not that.

Oh, this one is a musical. And not just a musical, but a jukebox musical. It is really easy to make a jukebox musical on the most basic level, but it is pretty hard to make a GOOD jukebox musical. For every Moulin Rouge! there are ten Strange Magics.

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And frankly, at this point, this is a toss up.

Plot wise, you know the basics. Ella (Camila Cabello) is living with her step-mother (Idina Menzel) and two step-sisters (Maddie Baillio, Charlotte Spencer), and isn’t having a good time. They aren’t related, they are just in a house of convenience, so she has to do a lot more chores and takes a lot more scorn. She does make dresses though. She wants to have her own dress shop one day, but women can’t own businesses due to the laws of the land. That is horsefuckery.

Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) is a prince who doesn’t really want to be a prince. Fuck the responsibilities and expectations. He wants to just hang with his bros. Have fun. Live his life. He doesn’t want to be forced to be marry, and doesn’t look forward to taking over from his folks (Pierce Brosnan, Minnie Driver) in the future. His younger sister, Gwen (Tallulah Greive) definitely does want to lead, but she is, you know, a ~~woman~~ so she has no seat at the table. That’s a theme, damn it.

Anyways, step mother is going to be mean, there is going to be a ball, there is going to be a fabulous godmother (Billy Porter) and a clock is going to strike midnight. But does Ella or the Prince actually care about love and the old version of a happily ever after?

Also starring Romesh Ranganathan, James Acaster, James Corden, Fra Fee, Doc Brown, Rob Beckett, and Jenet Le Lacheur.

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Yes they say godmother damn it, and I am all here for that.

And here we are, shocked as all I can imagine, that I didn’t hate this version of Cinderella. Honestly, random themed jukebox musicals can bug the piss out of me. Even themed ones are usually disappointing. I feel like I hear a lot of the same songs in these musicals over and over again. How many times has Material Girl probably been used in other jukebox musicals? You can tell what songs have cheaper rights than others a lot of the time through this.

Another issue with these things is that the songs usually sound…the same as the originals. You can’t hear the artists actual voice, there is nothing new to it, no tempo, just here is a cover that sounds like the original. Boring. Yawn.

And yet, for Cinderella, for the most part, it seems like they definitely tried to avoid that. I would say at least half of the songs felt relatively unique, whether it be in the sound or the way it was presented. Opening up the musical with a Rhythm Nation / You Gotta Be mash up I would have never expected (but you can tell the makers loved that era of music). I was expecting to roll my eyes at Somebody to Love (I mean, we already had a medieval fantasy film use that, come on!) and then really enjoyed it in the film context for the story. Damn.

Honestly, my biggest issue with the music is unfortunately Cabello at the lead. I don’t know anything about her as a pop artist, I don’t know if I have heard of a song by her before. But a lot of her songs come across as a generic pop sound that was overly produced and autotuned. And that is unfortunate, because other moments seem to let her actual voice come out more (slower numbers with less music behind it) and it detracts from it. Similar to the problems that came across in Beauty and the Beast.

In terms of actual story, Cinderella does attempt to fix some of the problems with the Cinderella story. We don’t have a love at first sight situation between the two anymore. Ella doesn’t just work and be submissive until magic saves her. The step-sisters aren’t bad they just are more afraid of their own mother. The step-mother isn’t the worst (until she does dress stuff) and at least give us a reason for why she is that way (doesn’t redeem her, but hey, a reason). It gives us a happily ever after that came from work, and from years of effort, and not because of getting married.

Brosnan is in this film as the king, and seemingly was picked to be in this musical just because of the backlash to Mamma Mia! singing, just to have a joke about his singing. But as old angry king he is good. Porter as the godmother worked well and gave a decent enough statement to the idea of magic and its existence in this movie. And according Jenet le Lacheur, who plays a court friend of the prince, is likely the first openly trans actor to have been cast in a Hollywood musical film, which is worth noting and celebrating. A lot of these are things Disney wouldn’t have the gall to do.

Overall, I was excited with Cinderella by the time I was done with it. I went in expecting the worst, but a lot of the soundtrack worked, and the cast of characters made it a more enjoyable and worthwhile experience. I am just annoyed more that I can’t listen to the soundtrack until the films actually release date. 2021 is the year of movie musicals.

3 out of 4.

The Kissing Booth 3

Here we go, here we go, here we go.

First of all, I apologize for never writing out my review of The Kissing Booth 2. I had a lot to rant about and did it live in person a few times, but never got it all down on a review, and that made it worse since it made my worst film of the year last year.

So I knew with the final (better be) film I would make sure to jot it all down. The Kissing Booth 3, a movie that seemingly exists just to make it a trilogy, because they damn well could have finished the storylines established at the end of the 2nd film, but left it with a cliffhanger because they think resolving any aspect of a movie is pointless, I guess.

I am mostly fine with cliffhanger endings in general, in a planned series, but I also would demand that the film tells a complete story. Avengers: Infinity War ends with a sour note, kind of a cliffhanger (because the bad guy wins?) but it also tells a complete story and no one should leave unfulfilled. The second movie ended with a single decision to make and just suddenly decides to not do it.

Fuck that.

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Fuck this.
As you know, of course, the last time we left off, Elle (Joey King) not knowing where to go college. Harvard, or Berkeley. Because of course if she goes to Berkeley, which she has talked to going for years with her best friend Lee (Joel Courtney) and was their dream. But her boyfriend, Lee’s older brother, Noah (Jacob Elordi) is a year older and in Harvard. If she chooses to go there, she will pick her love life, her future, and you know, it is Harvard. Should she care about a promise to a best friend? Well, she is already lying to both of them saying she is wait listed on both, so she can take her time.

After a few weeks of travel with them and Lee’s girlfriend (Meganne Young), they still have a lot of summer left, and decide to go to Lee and Noah’s family beach house. But oh no! Their parents (Molly Ringwald, Morné Visser ) are going to sell the place after this summer! The kids somehow convince the parents to just let them live there the rest of the summer then, and they promise to clean it up and get it ready for the market. This is where Elle finds an old Beach Bucket list that she made with Lee. They decide to make it the best summer ever, especially since Elle has decided to go to Harvard.

But that isn’t all the plot! For example, her dad (Stephen Jennings) is maybe finding love after all these years, someone to help raise the much younger son (Carson White). And Elle hates it.

But that isn’t all the plot! Marco (Taylor Zakhar Perez) is still around, making Lee jealous. And Chloe (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) is still around, not making Elle jealous. Also Lee has to deal with the fact that he will be in a long term relationship with a girl he already has problems remembering, because he is a goddamn man-child. And Elle has to come to terms with the fact that she is in a relationship with Noah, who keeps having emotional bursts of jealousy (usually for good reasons), but also because he is a goddamn man-child. And Elle has to come to terms with her own shiftiness, because she is a goddamn womanchild.

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Wow, good pristine condition after 8-10 years. 

How does one start to talk about a movie, nay, a franchise, like The Kissing Booth. Something written by a teenager, and every aspect of that fact is obvious through every scene, decision, and dialogue choice.

The fact that it is called The Kissing Booth isn’t even an issue. It is, for all intents and purposes, a minor part of the first film and still fine to be a dialogue. The dialogue choices from the narrator to overhype the minor part, and constantly try to bring it back through relevance, is really what hurts. Because in the second movie, it has even less of a point on the plot, and of course, in the last movie, is just once again unnecessarily brought back up in the epilogue, six years in the future, because apparently that is where several characters need to meet up at and pretend they never really stayed in communication the times before that.  This aspect of the movie makes more sense if the movie was set in the 1920’s, where maybe there was never a kissing booth beside it, because then we could all understand the strange hype and obsession with it.

The main character Elle is a terrible person. And role model, in case anyone looks up to her for that. You can have movies about bad people, but usually those people have some sort of consequence for their action, or a really hard choice that they will live with for regret to get to their power. Important things to show that those who hurt are hurt in return. But Elle? The girl who actively cheated on her boyfriend while he was away at college, both physically and mentally, and kissed another boy publicly. The one who demanded all the free time of her best friend so much that he literally forgot about her girlfriend who for some reason stuck it with him.

So what does she do this movie? Well, she is more trusting of her boyfriend that he won’t cheat on her, which is great, because he never did. And she decides that means she can hang out and plan things with someone she did cheat on him with, who made it obvious he wants to still win her over? She also decides to get upset with her best friend who wants to do so many things with her, when it was both her idea to make him feel better for it (after lying for over a month) and she did the same thing last year with no care for repercussions?

Let’s be clear on the things that happen to Elle negatively this film. One, her dad is dating a woman and Elle gets mad at her, and lashes out cause of her other shit, over one of the worst board games ever made (Monopoly), and still doesn’t care, until her dad calls her out on her bullshit and makes her feel bad. Second bad thing that happens to her is her boyfriend broke up with her over her bullshit.

Wow. Well let us make it obvious. She has a lot of bullshit and keeps making mistakes and never learning from them. He should have never been with her over the events of The Kissing Booth 2.  But even more importantly, SHE SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN WITH HIM DUE TO THE EVENTS OF THE MOVIE THE KISSING BOOTH. Where he was shown to be emotionally abusive, and threatened other guys to leave her alone for years while he was on his own path of getting experience before trying out her. He is shown to not handle any really conversation or argument well time and time again, which is why he runs off and does dumb shit all the time. And so does she. They are both really bad people, which doesn’t make it a good fit for them. Nor does it warrant spending three movies to talk about this relationship.

The problem with this movie is the impressions it leaves on people. Since there is almost no real consequences for any of the characters being terrible, it just helps reinforce that being terrible is a great thing for people to be. After all, look at all the fun they are having. Did you see those costumes? [Editor’s Important Note: Why the fuck does the go-kart track at a water park have stands for people to watch. Do people just sit there all day and look for exciting basic races? It was more than just a parent sitting area.]

I could talk so much about the other technical problems with the movie. Like how all over the place it is in time. When was it set? When did they make the beach bucket list? Why is going to Berkeley on a beach bucket list? Why would they hide it in a hidden time box if the goal was to actually complete it, and they went to the beach every summer? Why does the box have a Super Nintendo Mario Kart design, as if it was set in the 90’s? That goes with my earlier question about time. Because things on the list don’t make sense for various age groups they would have written it.

This is a trilogy that trivializes high school, relationships, proper communication, and the ability to fucking apologize.

0 out of 4.

Zola

Do you want to hear the story about how Zola fell out with this white bitch?

Well, good news, you have multiple options now. The first, is the twitter thread from October, 2015. A whole lot of tweets tells the entire story. 148 of them in fact. All in a row, it went viral, I believe they were deleted, but this is the internet and nothing can leave the internet. Here, go for it. This is a compilation on Imgur, you can read the entire screenplay here.

Just kidding, but also not really. As told here is basically the story we get in the movie, the second way to hear the story about Zola and that bitch fell out. A story of sex work, coercion, and a wild ride to Florida between strangers who became besties and anti-besties in a short amount of time.

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Is this the beginning of a new franchise stripper battles?

Depending on who you heard the story from first might cloud your judgement, but lets take it from Zola (Taylour Paige) since she started this whole story off. Zola was a dancer and a waitress at Hooters. She also had a boyfriend (Ari’el Stachel) and was generally okay with life. She knew she looked good, so she made money using her body while she good, just stripping, none of that sex stuff.

Well, while at her waitressing job, she meets Stefani (Riley Keough) and her friend (Colman Domingo). Zola hits it off with Stefani, they do a lot of talking given how they want the waitresses to act at Hooters, and they find out they are both dancers and more and exchange numbers. And then like the next day, Stefani asks if Zola is down to a road trip to Florida to do some dancing. Zola has made good money in Florida dancing in the past, and well, fuck it. Sure let’s go.

Unfortunately, Florida doesn’t feel like a land of sunshine and rainbows on their visit. Zola finds herself in situations where she is expected to sleep with people instead, and with her life and home being threatened by this friend (well, pimp). This is not what she signed up for, and she really doesn’t know who to trust, but Zola is gonna make sure she gets out of this as untouched as possible.

Also starring Nicholas Braun, Nasir Rashim, and Jason Mitchell.

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If there was ever a “bitch you crazy” screenshot, here it is.

Have you read the original tweet thread? Why not, it is worth it, it is interesting, and it is full of emotion. I certainly would recommend it and it is pretty obvious why it took off like it did. And did you know, that the other girl in the story, also posted her own account of this same trip? Here it is on Reddit. They are very, very, very, very different stories. Freakishly differently. Almost nothing is similar, so who is lying?!

I guess we will believe Zola, this is her story, and I think some comment sleuthing on that reddit thread is able to find some arrest records in relation to that story, so it makes Zola the more believable person here. Which is good, because her story is more fantastic.

Like I said earlier, the movie itself is very similar to the tweet thread. We have a few less characters in the film, some names are changed, and not all of the events are used, but most of them to tell the same story. And technically, yes, I would say the tweet thread is better. I know, I have fallen into one of those traps that I try to avoid as a reviewer, not comparing something to the “book” it is based on. The story of Zola is fine as a movie, but based on the hype of the thread and the advertising, I did expect a lot more to happen in that weekend.

The leads do a wonderful job with their characters and the predicament they find themselves in, I will give that to Paige and Keough. The cinematography makes some interesting choices throughout it, which is a surprise given the type of story this tells. And, fun fact, you can see a whole lot of penises in this movie. I think at least five unique dicks, and some butts. This is good news for those who are clamoring more for more dicks in movies.

Zola as a film will serve as a good story to get people invested in what is now a six year old twitter thread with very little updates to worry about. It is a little bit of escapism and a strange funny yet dark tale. It is certainly not a film meant for everyone, however, so clearly watch at your own risk.

2 out of 4.