Tag: Comedy

Benny Loves You

Another killer doll. Why do dolls love to kill? Because they are given to children who might be rough with them. We all know that is the right answer. That is why we got Toy Story 3, right? 

The real answer is because it is fun to take something known for being cute and put it in non-cute situations. Like killing. That is appealing. It is jarring. It stands out.

Well, it used to stand out. It has been done a lot, so there needs to be a great reason for another killer toy to come to life without just feeling like another copy cat iteration. Technically it doesn’t have to prove its existence in order to be made. That sounds mean. But it does have to prove it is a worthy addition to cinema by my own snooty little standards. If it feels like more of the same thing, why should I bother.

Benny Loves You? That’s good to hear. I would hate it if Benny was completely apathetic to my existence. 

scare
“Okay, Benny Loves You. But do you give a flying fuck about Benny?” – A Night At The Roxbury…ish

Dolls can be evil. But we will get to that. Instead we will focus on Jack (Karl Holt), who still lives at the same house with his famous. He thinks it is okay. Free rent. His job doesn’t pay well, he helps design toys, but he isn’t that great at it. At home, his parents still treat him like a kid, and he basically acts like one too. But in his 30’s, on his birthday, he finally gets the house to himself! You know, after his parents both die in a freak accident. 

It isn’t even a year later that his house is now decrepit and falling apart, because he doesn’t know how to function as an adult. He is behind on all bills, he doesn’t clean well, he is about to lose his job. But then he finds Benny packed away. A toy from his youth. Well, he doesn’t need that anymore.

Trying to get rid of Benny turns out to be something harder than expected. Benny has a mind of his own. He wants to protect Jack from anything that might hurt him, or anything that might try to replace Benny. Anything that Jack seemingly loves, or anything that is a threat to Jack, Benny will try to end, with extreme accuracy. Not a good time to finally find a lady, nor is it a good time to grow up, it seems!

Also starring Anthony Styles, Claire Cartwright, Darren Benedict, George Collie, Greg Barnett, and James Parsons

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Bunny isn’t a killer. That knife clearly cut something like a lasagna. 

The beginning of this review might sound a little bit bitter, but that isn’t the goal there. It is just to note what I am looking for in another killer doll story. Is there any originality?

Well, this movie is directed, written, and stars Karl Holt, who is a first time director from the UK who had this idea and put it on himself  with some other actors. It is ambitious for anyone to do something like this, let alone a first time director. And in that scope, it isn’t that bad. Maybe a little bit better than you’d expect from someone on their first attempts. But in the grand scheme of cinema, this was hard for me to enjoy. 

It feels like its been awhile since I saw the movie before I was finally able to write it. But I feel like a few scenes early on really feel disconnected from the rest of the narrative. The death of his parents did come out of nowhere and was quite gruesome, but that ended up being the highlight of the movie for me. It is just another situation of trying to do a comedy/horror film that doesn’t seem to excel in either genre, despite its best attempts.

The main character is hard to care about and so are the side characters. Live, die, whatever. Doll wins or loses doesn’t matter to me by the end, because I became indifferent to the whole picture. It is just such a hard line to balance that comedy/horror genre. But I know I can leave double disappointed if nothing scares me and nothing makes me laugh. Again, outside of the ridiculous parents death scene, which shocked me. Just nothing could surpass it, leaving me disappointed for most of the rest of the film. 

1 out of 4.

Thunder Force

“Shit we better get into that super hero genre game” – Netflix, probably, after losing their Marvel Shows. They didn’t want to get bamboozled again, so they figured they would just buy a movie by someone who was making their own. Enter Ben Falcone, ready for his next bi-yearly (usually) basic comedy starring his wife, Melissa McCarthy.

Their last film, Superintelligence, made my worst of the year list. I don’t remember fully how the other ones did, but I don’t recall it ever being met with high amounts of laughter or praise either, so there is that. 

Honestly, based on the cover of Thunder Force, it just seems like a movie they would put out entirely to make fat jokes with their heroes? I fucking hope not. I can hope they can do better than that overall. But I still wouldn’t put it past them given the people involved with it. 

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Pickle jokes too. Definitely gotta have some pickle jokes. 

Back in the 80’s, some sun shit happened, that gave some people super powers! Unfortunately, this only went to people who would be classified as sociopaths, which wasn’t a good thing for anyone out there. They were named Miscreants, and began to take a toll on society, and make things unbearbale. 

At this time, young Lydia and Emily became unlikely friends. Lydia was crass, but protected Emily, who was smart. Emily’s parents were killed by Miscreants, and she had to live with her grandparents. Emily dreamed of one day figuring out how to give powers to the good guys, and that was her life goals.

Decades later, these two eventually grew apart. Now barely functioning as an adult, Lydia (Melissa McCarthy) is an adult construction worker and has nothing important to say about her life. Emily (Octavia Spencer) is rich, a scientist, a mom, and really close to getting some super powers. Once they get reconnected, unfortunately, Lydia gets given the special juice to make her super powered, so now she is in the experiment. Their first goal is to just control these powers, but stopping crime seems like a necessity. In fact, the Chicago mayor election is happening, and one of the Miscreants, The King (Bobby Cannavale) has been in charge of the city to put a leash on the other super powers, but he doesn’t like the idea of any sort of super heroes trying to stop them, or him. 

Also starring Jason Bateman, Pom Klementieff, Melissa Leo, Taylor Mosby, Marcella Lowery, Melissa Ponzio, and Ben Falcone, of course. 

science
Actual footage of Cerebro trying to find more Melissa’s to put into this movie. 

This film doesn’t really need a long in depth review to fully understand it, I imagine, but I will still go for it for a bit. First off, on the fat joke department, there was only actually one, which was surprising. I think I only laughed at one joke the whole film, a dinner scene freak out about sea food, because it was a good set up with the characters. At the same time, that scene was very slow and messed a lot with the pacing of the film. Why add that romance at all to the story? Not enough filler?

I was hoping as these two ladies were costars that it would feel like Spencer was getting a bit out of these supporting actress roles where she is there just to help the protagonist realize their true potential, or some shit. But it doesn’t. Despite the costarring, she still feels like second fiddle to McCarthy’s character, and thus is just supporting the crass member of the team into being the star. They also decided to do almost nothing with her powers. One gets super strength, the other can turn invisible and then…taze people. That is about it. Weak.

McCarthy’s character isn’t just annoying, but I have to wonder why she didn’t get powers as a kid. Her character, although not fully a sociopath, is a huge asshole. When this is a movie about good people getting powers to stop crime, but one of them isn’t really good? It is very uncomfortable. McCarthy’s character is showboaty and egotistical. She also uses her powers to get free food from places that were just getting robbed? Like. It left a big sour taste in my mouth, as she prevented a robbery, while then technically robbing at a smaller scale. 

This film has very low stakes, and these people who have superpowers rarely act like sociopaths. Is this something that affected the whole world or Chicago? Because in 20-30 some years, I would expect a whole lot more bad stuff going on than just mostly normal Chicago with the occasional gas station getting robbed. What is happening else where? Actual bad stuff? 

Low concept, low thought out film, but thankfully the humor isn’t completely bottom of the barrel. 

1 out of 4.

The Paper Tigers

What a year for martial arts films it has been!

We have The Paper Tigers, which this review is about and …!

Oh I think that is it so far? I definitely haven’t reviewed any more. There might be some out there I guess. We still have a lot of year left, so there is time.

But the good news is, I liked The Paper Tigers, so even if it is the only martial arts film that releases this year, I can still say it is a good year for martial arts films.

standoff
If there shadows fought separately, this would be the best martial arts film year. 

The Paper Tigers were a feared (not like, for your life, but feared like in awed) group of martial artists, trained by Sifu Cheung (Roger Yuan). Why were they feared? Because the trio never lost. That means in an official bout, of one on ones, or even in a trio match where the best 2 out of 3 wins. So there is some wiggle room there, but overall, they have never lost as a team, and they were gonna go far.

But then, their ages got older, joints got achier, and life got harder. Danny (Alain Uy) used to be the strongest of them, now he has a corporate job, a kid and is getting divorced for being so distant and a bad father/husband. Hing (Ron Yuan) has lost his hair, gotten fatter, but hasn’t lost his humor, and Danny (Mykel Shannon Jenkins) has his own dojo, but has still softened up in his age, despite still training daily.

Their lives come together again when they find out that their Sifu has died and have to go to their funeral. There is some mystery in their lives that made them drift apart, but when they determine that it is likely that their Sifu was murdered? Well, now they are going to have to investigate together to avenge his death. And if it means getting back into fighting shape in order to battle some more youthful fighters, then so be it.

Also starring Peter Adrian Sudarso, Yoshi Sudarso, Gui DaSilva-Greene, Raymond Ma, Matthew Page, Ken Quitugua, Jae Suh Park, and Joziah Lagonoy.

old men
Tea breaks are important for training. And dum dums. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into The Paper Tigers, as it began with a few kids starting training, and then followed up with a montage of them training and getting older, in home movie formats, before we get to the modern day. We got to see these kids grow up and train and get swole and fast, and become champions. It was up up and up for them, for us to get juxtaposed with our protagonist as an adult and trying desperately (and failing) to find a parking spot.

Because that is the major theme of this film is getting old and honoring your past. Reconciliation with your past as well, fixing mistakes, in order to grow as a person.

But also, martial arts!

The Paper Tigers I was able to find funny and emotional at the same time. It never made me cry, but the emotions did run rampant near the end, because the final fight scenes had some high stakes. You really pull for the protagonist, even after finding out he hasn’t been the best of a stand up guy lately, because like all great husbands, they start off as fixer uppers and we can see them become great! (That is a joke, please do not be in a relationship with someone to fix them up). I did like his relationship with the son by the end, when he realized he was doing wrong, and when he became more serious.

The main characters are all really exciting to cheer behind, purely because they have weaknesses and struggles. Entirely relatable, even if you cannot do any sort of martial arts. The fight scenes are well shot as well, visible, and amusing at points as well.

The Paper Tigers is the best martial arts film this year. So far. And I have no idea if we are getting any more, but this one you might have never heard about before now is definitely recommended.

3 out of 4.

The Mitchells vs. The Machines

The Mitchells vs. The Machines is one of those films that you are hopefully going to hear about from word of mouth. I know I didn’t notice it pop up on Netflix. I know if I did, I would have just ignored it most likely for a bit, and watched it by myself a week or two later. The cover for it on Netflix doesn’t look appealing to me at all. It doesn’t do the actual animation style any justice, and just looks like a cheaply made piece of crap. And let’s be honest, The Mitchells vs. The Machines is not a title that screams out “watch me.”

I don’t know the Mitchells. Why should I care about the Mitchells?

I guess every famous cartoon family has its start, and if their goal is a franchise, they can constantly have them battling other entities. I guess.

I am getting off track. I didn’t want to watch this movie. I was told I should watch this movie. I am glad I watched this movie. You should also watch this movie. And now, here is a review.

pose
This is apparently an action film with guns, dinosaur bombs, and a dog faced pirate. 

The Mitchells are apparently going to have to save the world. And they are not a perfect warrior clan. They all have faults, barely have any cohesion, and sort of hate each other depending on the circumstances. Katie (Abbi Jacobson) feels like an outsider from her family. She has always been into films and creating her own strange movies, that her parents just don’t understand. Her dad (Danny McBride) is Mr. Nature, doesn’t do anything with tech, can fix a lot of problems, and loves to build. Her mom (Maya Rudolph) is pretty mom stereotype, caring and all of that jazz, believes in everyone. Her younger brother (Michael Rianda) is just super into dinosaurs, starring in his sister’s movies, and is afraid of being alone. Also they got a dog that is barely a dog. 

Katie got accepted into her dream school in California, for Movie makers and is exited about leaving her home and finally being with people in her life who get and understand her. The “weirdos” and such. Unfortunately, she gets into a big argument with her dad the day before they leave. And his solution? To cancel her plane ticket away from this dump, so they can road trip to College, making her miss out on orientation, but letting them bond one more time.

And unfortunately, during that time, a big robot rebellion begins! Fuuuuuuu. And purely by accident, they find themselves to be the only group of humans not captured. I guess they gotta figure out how to save our entire species. 

Also featuring the voices of Eric André, Olivia Colman, Fred Armisen, Beck Bennett, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Charlyne Yi, Conan O’Brien, and Blake Griffin

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You know, I am not even sure that is a dog…

If I had done my own research I would have found out that I definitely wanted to see this movie. Besides the stacked voice cast (including McBride doing a great impression of Seth Rogen has a father role, based on my confusion on checking IMDB, I would have been able to see that the executive producers of this are Lord/Miller, and I have never not loved something they produced or helped create. 

As for the actual film? Damn, what a roller coaster. But it is a roller coaster that just keeps going in loops and is mostly full of really exciting ups. This is a bad metaphor. It has some strong messaging about reliance of technology. Pretty obvious stuff overall, but it doesn’t harp on the message and say that technology is evil. It is necessary for our hero after all to follow her dreams, and allows her to do something she wants in life, so it is awesome still. It is more the corporations who suck, and we can all agree on that.

This film was surprisingly funny. I really didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did, especially out loud. My kids could enjoy it too, for similar reasons. It had jokes for all, and some good throwback jokes to technology issues in life. It is also full of colors and perfect for the ADHD riddled world we live in, but never really annoyingly so.

I was surprised about halfway through the movie (with a plot point that felt like it would be close to the end) to find it had so much more movie left to go. But it didn’t really feel boring, if not a little too long near the end in the final scenes. A small amount of editing/cutting near the end would have been fine. But again, I still love the movie overall.

Give it a watch. I believe it went to theaters for a bit, so it should be eligible for awards next year. Raya and the Last Dragon was good, and now this. Shit, is animation back this year? Will Luca actually be good?! 

4 out of 4.

Se

The Never List

Never have I ever….made a list.

Actually, now that I made that dumb first sentence, I will note that there has been a few horror films based on dumb drinking games. We’ve had Truth or Dare. Would You Rather. Has there been a strange horror movie made on Never Have I Ever? Someone needs to get on that if not.

The Never List is not a horror film, or based on a dumb teenage drinking game. But it is horrible, and it is dumb, but I will get more on that later.

kiss
Hey look, they cloned Olivia Munn and made her young again. 

Eva (Fivel Stewart) and Liz (Brenna D’Amico) are best friends. Known each other their whole lives. Eva is a bit of an overachiever and doer-, Liz is a bit more wild, but they hang out, pretend to be rock stars, draw and like the same things. It is a good relationship.

It was good. Until Liz had to go and die one night, presumably in a car crash (they don’t really explicitly say). Eva is now devastated. Her best friend. Gone. During her junior year of high school, which is usually one of the top 4 hardest years in high school. Eva has a lot going on. She agreed to run for class president for her senior year. She is trying to pick out a junior prom theme. She is trying to get good grades for colleges. Her parents (Keiko Agena, Matt Corboy), especially her mom, are making sure she is always doing things to make her life in the future better.

Well, Liz and Eva had made up cartoon characters that they drew in stories. They were actually more badass than either of them. And they would make up things for them to do, that neither of them would ever dream of doing. It made up their Never List, because they are good girls, damn it. In a moment of weakness, Eva decides to sexually assault someone running in the park, one of the items on the list! (Well, it was to pinch a stranger’s ass, and she did it, so I am not wrong with my description).

Liz has a lot going on, and she wants to just throw it all away to be an artist. She wants to raise money for a summer program with her favorite graphic novelist, because her parents would never agree to that. And sure, if she gets stuff done on the list, that would also be swell. Who cares if she throws away the rest of her life in the process. Grief is weird I guess?

Also starring Andrew Kai, Anna Grace Barlow, Jonathan Bennett, and Ryan Cargill.

consolting
Hey, you know what really helps with grief? Cocaine. 

Normally this sort of film, which plays out like a made for TV movie, would be the type of thing I still probably would have avoided and given a 1 out of 4 if I had to see it. It isn’t fun, or dramatic, not sure which way it really wants to go. It is pretty damn basic. The things on the list range from harmless, to sexual assault. Not just ass pinching. She needs to trick someone into taking Viagra to embarrass him in public. This leads to a bunch of homophobic slurs being used, and the movie does a really poor job of quelling that aspect. Like…really poor.

The acting was really low across the board. Especially when it came to the sad scenes about the characters death. Just absolutely unbelievable acting. It was also true in the extremely predictable pot brownie scene. And the extremely predictable lies to protect people scenes. Yeah, that is all this is.  Predictable garbage.

But what really put me over the hump to make this a 0 instead of a 1, was the bad audio in two music based scenes. There is a concert scene, and then later on during junior prom, a live singing scene. Both of them sounded so fake and clearly just audio being played it allowed for zero emersion. The club had no noise and chatter and rough sounds, and people talking or cheering or shouting. It was bizarre. And the ending fun scene went from regular talking to, oh, this singer is a superstar, different voice, music appears, background vocals, you name it.

I don’t think I am petty here. It was just already a bad movie. And just things like what I mentioned above, combined with the acting and assault stuff, in this year, just seems like a bad movie from the 90’s coming out 20 years too late. Shit, maybe that actually is a young Olivia Munn? Who knows.

0 out of 4.

Secret Magic Control Agency

When I first found out about Secret Magic Control Agency, I figured I was definitely not going to watch that movie. Its poster/images just screamed a straight to DVD, low effort, low budget, animated film. I loathe those types. They always make me so angry. They are extremely basic on story, and hide behind the fact that they are a kids film in order to say they don’t have to stand up to the quality expectations of an adult.

Fuck that noise. Kids deserve quality too. Should we only ever feed our kids hot dogs, and never let them try pork roasts, or steaks, or turkey? No. Kids can know good stuff exists too, even if it means coming to terms with the fact that a lot of basic stuff out there is, in fact, basic, and not worth their time.

So why did I watch it? Because it actually released on Netflix. A much bigger platform than expected, so I need to check it out quick to see if it is worth time before people get stuck wasting their own time potentially. Or you know. maybe it was great and I needed to spread the word.

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Corgis, by definition, are low effort as well. 

In this magical kingdom based on (checks notes), ugh, fairy tales, we have kings and queens and magic users and all of that. But because of shenanigans in the past, magic is now regulated by the Secret Magic Control Agency. I guess they are like the CIA force of this world. I don’t know what they actually do most of the time (make sure people doing magic have the appropriate bureaucratic paperwork? Capture people using magic like a villain?) but right now they have a very important job. The king was kidnapped!

Led astray by some mysterious food. Oh no. So the agency is going to get one of their top up and coming agents on it. Gretel (Courtney Shaw)! Why just one person? No, the powers that be think they need to get a thief as well to join her, someone who knows how to lie (something that the agency should be able to handle given their normal job functions…?) and they specifically search out Hansel (Nicholas Corda / Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld). Yes. Siblings.

But they are grown up, one is a charlatan, the other a law enforcer. And they want them to work together to get the king back before everyone realizes he is gone. So they have to put away their differences and you know, do that.

Also featuring the voice work of Erica Schroeder, Johanna Elmina Moise, Marc Thompson, Mike Pollock, and Tyler Bunch.

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Captured but unlimited dessert? There are worse places to be. 

Low. Effort. Films. That could be enough of my analysis and end, but I guess I will be specific.

This could have been a generic fantasy film about completely new entities. But they decided no, we NEED this to be Hansel and Gretel. Why? WHY? The fact that they are these characters doesn’t do really anything for this story. They make a bread crumb way back home reference. There is one line about the Grimm Brothers writing up their shenangians, but in charge of changing the details to make it sound like a story instead to…hide the truth? From who? Is this set in the past in this world? This has a lot of advanced stuff in here, and wouldn’t make sense to be set in our own world, let alone the past. That is a bad joke and they should feel bad.

The only thing they needed for the plot would be to have a brother and sister. Almost all of this is new material. Just because something is on the public domain, doesn’t mean it has to be used. No child is going to be picking movies and be iffy about this film, but see that it has H&G and go “Oh shit, hold on momma, this got my favorites in it lets get it!”. No one cares and it just makes an already lazy movie feel more lazy.

Honestly, if this was an original story that wasn’t relying on name recognition of aspects in order to tell a story, it would fall easily in the 1 out of 4 territory, because at least there was effort. But the lack of effort just pisses me off, especially when the makers would probably acknowledge that this film isn’t great themselves. They would just mark it off as a kids movie and say it works for that level, and that is unacceptable.

0 out of 4.

The Terrible Adventure

Along my travels as a movie reviewer, I have certainly seen some things. I have seen the best of movies, and I have seen the worst of movies. I have seen movies you haven’t heard about before, and those that destroyed the box office. I have seen movies in movie festivals that eventually saw the light of day, and those that stayed in the darkness forever.

I have seen many a good and bad movie. I have seen many a great and a terrible movie.

I have seen so much. I have seen a movie that filmed scenes inside of a house with the first battery alarm going off and no one thought to stop it, creating a disjointed mess, where one angle it was going off and the other it was not. I have seen a movie starring one person talking to others on the phone the entire time.

And yet despite everything, I was still not prepared for The Terrible Adventure.

kid
Nothing could prepare me for this child and the rest of the cast. 

Okay, here we go. Olivia Johnson (Olivia Thompson) and Jackson Johnson (Jackson Thompson) are two kids, in a nice part of Florida, being kids or whatever. Their dad, Brad (Brett Engle) is going through a divorce with their mom, Janet (Jillian Chiappone). And she is an outright horrible person for some reason, yelling, throwing stuff, whatever, Olivia finds it funny.

A billionaire (Ron Beau Phillips) who owns an ice cream company, Huncha Muncha, which appears to just be ice cream sandwiches and that is it. He is holding a contest in various parts of the world. On his ice cream bars is different questions, and if you know one of them, you will get to move on to the next round. This is a scavenger hunt with “harder and harder” questions, with a big money prize at the end. And I guess it is meant to be region based the scavenger hunt, so many of these going around the world. Whatever.

Because of their parents divorce and job problems, Olivia gets a bar and solves the first problem because she likes science. She gets her brother involved and they go on an adventure on their own to try and get more and more clues to solve this stuff.

Oh, and for some reason along the way, there is a corrupt ice cream truck man (Santo Curatolo) who hires a homeless guy (Ciro Dobric) who is also corrupt, and they just keep following our kids trying to take the clues and continue on for the big prize.

Also starring Kristina Maria Day as a spy.

ice cream
“I don’t like cream on my face…not a drop!” 

It was only a few minutes in, maybe ten, when I realized I was watching something that may end up being one of the worst films created of all time. I will describe the scene.

A sports car drives up into the driveway and lawn of our main characters house. A blonde woman gets out and starts yelling at the dad. Just insulting him over what feels like nothing. he then starts throwing the last of his “things” at him, including art, and microwaves, and he just stands there being disheveled. This stuff gets get broken and destroyed! She continues to berate him, before driving off. All of the while, the main character Olivia sits there on her bike behind her dad, just smirking and giving the most “Oh you” face known to existence. Like this is humorous, her parents divorce and yelling and stuff being broken. Then they drive off.

That is when I realized this was not an ordinary bad movie, this was a top of the line bad movie. This is a movie that didn’t give a fuck about telling a good story, or acting, or dialogue. This was going for comedy, in a sense that no one would find it funny.

I also noticed it sounded really weird during this scene. I realized quickly that this dialogue was recorded not live during the scene, but at some other point. I realized it first when I noticed that the mouths didn’t always match up with the dialogue. I noticed it more when I realized it had absolutely no outside sounds, just complete perfect vocal track and that is all. This audio issue persisted throughout the movie. It wasn’t just one redone scene. (I cannot confirm the whole movie had to redo the audio), but it was certainly a lot of it.

And it was certainly true for every scene with the ice cream men, who started to feel completely fake, with the voices that came out of the men. They might have actually done the audio, but because it matched so badly, it was like watching a dubbed film except there was no reason for it to be dubbed.

This film lacked any amount of humor outside of slapstick. It had a basic story, that was also hard to follow due to its own implausibility. The contest didn’t even make sense, nor did it apparently have anyone actually trying to solve it.

This film was made to showcase Florida and to talk about Global Warming, but no one will give a fuck about a message if your film is a piece of shit.

The director and writer, Kel Thompson, is the literal dad of the two kid stars. They even have their actual real name as their character names. They have no acting talent and it shows. They tried to go out of their way to make them smart, but the only way to do that was to put them near two characters who had a -3 intelligence. The kid actors weren’t even given an IMDB page like the rest of the cast. How can you have an IMDB page where your two main characters aren’t even listed in the credits apparently?

And when they got dirty and went home and went to bed, why did they never clean? Why did they not change clothes? Why did it stay that way?

We even have at one point a very white male character playing someone Hispanic, doing a pretty racist accent reminiscent of Speedy Gonzalez.

I could go on and on about how terrible this film is, but there is no point. Statistically, zero people will watch this movie who see this review, and you likely would have never seen it out either. I can’t for the life of me figure out at what stage the people involved realized this was shit. But I hope that it did happen at some point. I can’t imagine them living a life this distorted from reality to think any of this was worth their time or ours.

0 out of 4.

A Week Away

You know what is exactly one week away from today? Whatever day it is today again! Hooray never changing cyclical weeks of 7 days!

The only thing I knew about A Week Away going into it was that it was about a troubled teen and maybe a musical. A musical I never heard about? You certainly have my attention, random movie drop on Netflix. In fact, its musicalness is why I decided to not watch it on my phone but instead at a better place/time when I could give it my full attention.

With musicals I need to pay attention to the dances, the plot, the lyric choices, how they filmed various fun scenes, all of that. I can’t just give it a listen and a half watch.

It turns out, A Week Away is exactly worth an eighth of a watch.

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At least they are all fans of black power. 

Will (Kevin Quinn) is some troubled kid. He is in the foster system, both parents dead, and he is just completely rambunctious. We are talking something ridiculous like, 80 schools in 2 years. That is an exaggeration on my part, but whatever they said in the movie was larger than what should be likely as well. He is about to go back to juvenile detention because no one else will take him in. Oh noooo. “Please I can change despite my arrests and saying I can change before!”

So he gets a shot. A mother (Sherri Shepherd) and a similar aged boy, George (Jahbril Cook). They aren’t taking him in, but they are going to take him to a week long camp. Will thinks that is quite dumb, but its better than Juvie, so fine. And when he gets there, he sees all the happy teenage kids his age, also wearing no branded clothing, and they sing a song together and mention…God?

“Wait, this is a Jesus camp” both Will and the audience will say together at some point. Did I misshear a lyric? Did they say God was a glorious leader? That sounds like North Korea stuff. Anyways. Not only is this a church camp that Will got sucked into. This is also a religious film that you got sucked into, and you had no idea! Me neither! At least the second song hints at the theme and the third song makes it quite damn obvious.

Anyways. Will has to do camp things, which is great, because he likes a girl Avery (Bailee Madison), and he will lie about his past, to help his team win the camp stuff against the other teams, and also help other romances.

Also starring Iain Tucker, Kat Conner Sterling, and David Koechner. Wait, Koechner? Todd Packer from The Office? And all of those crude and crass roles? Why is he in a religious film? Is he part of the trickery to swindle people into watching it?

guitar
Is there anything more dangerous than a white boy with a guitar?

I feel duped, I really do. I was excited to watch a musical about who knows what, that came in under the radar and no prior hype from me. I was ready for it. Musicals are a rare commodity. But faith films are not that rare, and generally most of the time, they are pretty darn bad. I do actively avoid most of them it turns out for that reason. Every once in awhile you can get a big movie that is faith based and not terrible, but they are huge exceptions, for many reasons. 

A Week Away is not a bad movie because it is a faith film, however, it is just a regular bad movie. I am not sure if it is going for the High School Musical crowd, if so, they are like a decade too late. That is definitely how I can describe this one, with better camera work (like from HSM3). But it turns out half of this movie is a Jukebox musical, as they take already existing songs. Did I know any of these songs before hand? No. but I know how to research and I know how many of the songs felt very shoehorned in.

Darn it. To make a good musical, the songs need to give the characters growth. It needs to express things that words cannot do on their own. It cannot just be generic music, which a lot of the songs in this film end up feeling generic. Oh we want to do a remake of a song named Dive? That mentions rivers? Let’s just have the characters sing it on the beach of the lake, because water references. Boom. Musical song made.

Jukebox musicals are easy because hey, music is already written. Jukebox musicals are hard, because you need to take something already written and it has to adapt super hard to your work in a unique way so that it isn’t just a song being sung that kind of sort of deals with the topics. What would happen in RENT if instead of La Vie Boheme, they just sang some pop song about never giving up or whatever? It would have no emotion or feeling behind it. And that is true for most of the songs in this movie. They feel like they just want to do pop (slightly elevated Kidz Bop) religious songs that don’t help the story. 

The story itself is weak. I don’t know why it is a religious camp with so little religious stuff going on. It seems to be just an activity camp focused entirely on sports and games between three teams. And I guess that is church camp now? They go out of there way to even call a day Sunday, and no church happens that day. There is one scene around a bonfire that is Church-y, and who knows when that is supposed to take place. It can’t even commit to its theme.

I will say, the point system doesn’t make a lot of sense for the camp. The final talent show is crap. Having every single event center on our main people, in their boring sort of romances, including every game and activity is bizarre. Why did they have moment to even have sign up for events at the beginning if ever team already did every event? Come on now.

Heed my warning. Do not be fueled into the musical that is bad, but also a faith film that even tackles the subject of faith poorly. 

0 out of 4.

Slaxx

Ever since Rubber came out, we have all been thinking the same thing. When is the next “horror” film involving a normally non sentient object coming to life going to come out and blow us all away?

Rubber was weird. Rubber was ground breaking. Rubber had some existential questions that were never going to get answered, and it lead to a lot of confusion.

But what about Pants? People usually like pants, and people usually like rubbers (hehhh). Some people really hate pants. Can we have pants go on a killing spree and hurting people? That is what some Canadians asked themselves I guess, most likely really late one night, and that is now why Slaxx is in our lives and wants to party. But not at a pantsless party. They would hate that discrimination.

slurp
Is it absorbent? Can it soak up blood stains and not show?

Libby McClean (Romane Denis), who definitely has a name like that, is a bright eyed, bushy tailed young lady who is ready to make her mark on the world! How? Well, she just got a job at the ~~coolest~~ trendy fashion store ever. It is the best. Everyone likes it, and they have great sales and cutting designs and they do good for the world too. They really care about life and helping others and, well, fashion.

She gets to work on a very important night for them, because they are about to do a new product launch! This is something really special, a one size fits all pair of jeans. One that more perfectly forms to fit the wearer and learns their shape quickly. Its all in the fibers, or something.

And sure enough, once the door is locked, and someone wears the product early, they find themself quietly offed. And then the pants moves around to strike again.

There is a lot riding on this night for the store and its stakeholders. But maybe this is a pair of pants with a conscious? Maybe it is trying to right some wrong? Maybe this is about how the fashion industry is ruining the lives of people around the world? Who knows!

Also starring Erica Anderson, Hanneke Talbot, Stephen Bogaert, Brett Donahue, Sehar Bhojani, Kenny Wong, and Tianna Nori.

pants army
I’m gonna fight ’em all,
A nine pants army couldn’t hold me back. 

Well well well. I went into Staxx excited. I saw the poster and I knew that I wanted it. I knew that I needed it. I was ready.

And yet, here I am, extremely disappointed. It was a comedy horror, but the comedy elements were just forgotten about it. I guess it was light hearted a bit. Was that the comedy? Was it because of pants killing them it was just hoping that was hilarious enough? Was it supposed to be the level of extreme that some people felt about pants, or the influencer’s presence? Was it because the pants danced to Indian music? I don’t know, I just know I never laughed and thus the disappointment.

The message is fine. It raises some good points about the fashion industry and exploitation and how corporations try to seem woke but often lie about what they do in real life. Just hide and deflect and promise to change while changing to a different harder to detect bad method. You know.

But honestly the message really didn’t deliver by the end either. Not even the message of extreme commercialism and the need for something new. I thought the ending was pretty poor. Even the explanation for the pants was relatively poor, but it was better than I figured it would be going in. I literally thought it was supposed to be demonic, so that is a plus.

Slaxx didn’t deliver anything to me that it seemed to promise. It wasn’t funny or scary, it was just weird, but not in a good way. And with this conclusion, I can say, I still am not a fan of pants at all.

1 out of 4.

Yes Day

I don’t think there is a lot that has to be said about the movie Yes Day before going into the movie Yes Day. We know what it is about, and a lot of people can probably assume the hijinks involved.

So let’s talk about the director. Miguel Arteta. He has previous family film experience with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, where it also featured Jennifer Garner in the mom role, and a lot of shenanigans happening to a family during a day. Looking at other films, there are a lot of misses. Youth in Revolt, Cedar Rapids, last year’s Like a Boss (which was pretty bad, but didn’t make my worst of the year list, but almost did). Not a great track record, for a movie I am already sus about.

cars
Glitter and costumes are a plus for Yes Days.
You know who used to be cool? Allison (Jennifer Garner).  She used to go skydiving, travel the world, and say yes to lots of things. That is how she got married, by saying yes, to Carlos Torres (Edgar Ramirez). But now they are older, and they are parents. Allison has to say no a lot of the time, to make sure her kids are safe and don’t die. She hates that. Carlos has to say no at work at lot, as a lawyer and head person, and he hates that too. So he makes sure to be more fun at home and let his wife take all the heat.

And sure, now their kids (Jenna Ortega, Julian Lerner, Everly Carganilla) all hate their mom. Two of them submitted this information as school assignments and projects too, which is pretty fucked up. And because of a school counselor (Nat Faxon), Allison determined to be the cool person agrees for a Yes Day.

This is a day where the kids can’t be told, outside of some agreed upon ground rules. Like distances and costs. And they make an additional bet with the oldest daughter, that if the mom ever cracks, then the 14 year old daughter can go to a local music fest with friends and no parents. Yuck.

Oh what golly shenanigans will there be?

Also featuring Fortune Feimster and Arturo Castro.

armies
I believe three of these outfits already surpassed their proposed budgets.
The reason for the Yes Day is for the kids to feel like there is autonomy over their lives. A holiday for them for kids. And I immediately take some issues with that, because most holidays are already for kids. The pageantry of Easter and Christmas and Halloween and all of that is just kid fun frenzies. Even the more adult oriented holiday’s have kid appropriate activities to get them hooked young. So we are starting with a sort of gross representation on what kids can do for holidays.

Secondly, as mentioned in the second photo, holy shit, the rules are a lie. They tell us the budget constraints (and later on in the movie she gets rid of the rules yes), but the scene with the outfits takes place before anything was lifted. They gave a dumb excuse for how so many people were gathered for the event to. They could have just made it a real thing already going to happen with them joining in on that day, that would make sense. But to get hundred people, and outfits for all of them, and the family? Damn that is dumb. And the game didn’t seem to make much sense either? People could be eliminated if hit I think, but only if the ref saw and felt like calling it? I don’t get it.

Going to Magic Mountain was a bad twist too. Ain’t no body trying to go to a theme part in the afternoon, when the lines are the worst. Why would any child be happy with that? They know they’d get there and get on two rides and their day would be over. Why the hell is the mom freaking out about a regular rollercoaster when she used to skydive?

A lot of unplanned shenanigans also occurred at the end. We got dad trying to bail. We got theme park. We got jail. We got unaccompanied minors. The house party was fine. But I have never seen a kid every give a shit about some foam coming out of a tiny or large volcano. Ever. Anytime it is done in real life it is disappointing. But they love have little kids in movies and shows think it is the coolest thing ever.

The final concert scene was kind of cute. It took too long to be very effective I think, and apparently H.E.R. is a real artist?

More things that annoyed me. In the beginning of the movie, Carlos didn’t stand up for his wife at all. Holy shit, the video made about her was terrible, and he like reluctantly told the kids to apologize or say it wasn’t true. They didn’t, wife left sad, and he did jack shit. Damn man, time for some Hulk energy. Be the goddamn bad guy (no, his stint at the end of the movie did not give him any credit). Feel bad for Garner. She gave up 100% of herself for her kids and family, and even her husband walks all over her after 14 years of kids.

1 out of 4.