Current Mini Reviews

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well! I have been very busy watching a bunch of big and small films. After a strange Spring and Summer it is fun to be back busy watching and reviewing movies! Today I have 3 quick reviews for you of smaller films- 2 of them are part of the Fantasia Film Festival which I am grateful to have been granted press access for. I hopefully will have more coming up in the next week.

You Cannot Kill David Arquette-

I really like character piece documentaries and You Cannot Kill David Arquette is a good example of one that really works. The documentary follows actor David Arquette as he returns to professional wrestling after a stunt world championship win in 2000 that angered the wrestling fanbase. Some of the pain Arquette goes through is tough to watch but by the end it feels like quite the underdog story. We also get to hear from Arquette’s famous family, ex-wife and current wife and experience him go through this along with trying to maintain his sobriety and keep his family together. It’s both sad, fascinating and triumphant at the same time. We perhaps get a bit too much wrestling for my taste but still worth a watch.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Northwood Pie-

Made on a very small budget Northwood Pie is another movie that tries to do the indie raunchy teen comedy game but in order for that to work the characters need to be appealing (Dazed and Confused) and the laughs need to be there (Booksmart). Unfortunately that wasn’t the case for me with Northwood Pie. Young Crispin played by Todd Knaak doesn’t have the charisma of a John Heder in Napoleon Dynamite or a John Cusack in Say Anything. But I can’t really blame him because the main problem was the script that just wasn’t funny and seemed to think the f-word is an excuse for a joke, which gets old fast. I hate to be too hard on super small films like this but it didn’t really work for me.

3 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Savage State (L’état sauvage)-

The new film Savage State by director David Perrault will probably end up being quite divisive. It reminded me a little bit of The Beguiled by Sophia Coppola from a few years ago. Both are slow female-centric stories set in the past. I didn’t love The Beguiled even thought it was well cast and shot and I feel the same about Savage State. All of the energy and tension was sucked out of The Beguiled when compared the original and I felt the same way about Savage State. Everything looked beautiful and the actresses were trying their best but the story was not interesting or engaging. Esther (Alice Isaaz) and Victor (Kevin Janssens) do have good chemistry so that helps. I just wish the screenplay had given them more to do.

4.5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

So there you have it. If you get to see any of these films let me know what you think. I would definitely recommend You Cannot Kill David Arquette out of the group!

[REVIEW] ‘Unprescribed’ or A Compelling Case for Pot

If you have followed my content for a while you know I am a big fan of documentaries. Whether it be 30 for 30 and other sports documentaries, historical documentaries like Ken Burns makes or more issue focused documentaries I really enjoy the genre. Today I got the chance to watch a new documentary called Unprescribed which makes a compelling case for medical marijuana that everyone should watch.

These kind of topic-specific documentaries can feel like propaganda so they should be taken with a grain of salt but we can still learn the arguments for one side of the story. such is the case here in Unprescribed. They are not trying to paint a fair argument on both sides of the cannabis debate, merely present one side of the story as compellingly as they can.

The main perspective of Unprescribed comes from our brave military  men and women. Director Steve Ellmore dives into the epidemic of veteran suicide and how the cocktail of drugs they give our returning soldiers is not effective in dealing with their problems. I know from people in my life the damage opiods can have especially on someone with an emotionally damaged psyche as these soldiers have with PTSD. Putting them on opiods is the absolute worst thing we can do for them.

Given the horrible effects of the drugs they give veterans for PTSD it doesn’t make much sense to prohibit them from taking marijuana, a drug with very minimal side effects. Surely nobody can argue that the side effects are worse than the opiods we are giving them!

Unprescribed does not have the flashy celebrity interviews or narration you might see in other topic-specific documentaries (think Michael Moore…). However, I appreciate that it told normal human stories and gives a face to the unfairly demonized pro medical marijuana community. If you are interested in this topic give it a watch. It’s not very long and will help make the case for one side of a very heated national debate.

6.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Blind Spot 56: ‘The House of Flying Daggers’ Review

I’ll be honest with the glut of films to watch this week I almost forgot about the blind spot for August. Last year I loved Shadow by director Yimou Zhang and it made me curious to see more of his films. This is why I selected his film The House of Flying Daggers when making this year’s blind spot list. I like more grounded martial arts films such as Enter the Dragon starring Bruce Lee or Rumble in the Bronx and Drunken Master with Jackie Chan. However, I do not like more fanciful films like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. I know everyone else loves it but it was not for me. I particularly disliked the flying as it took me out of the movie and interrupted the action every time.

Watching Flying Daggers made me realize I don’t think I am a fan of the wuxia style of martial arts films. These are films that involve fantasy and supernatural elements including flying and magic. They are pretty but I find it hard to get into the movies when the problems can be solved with magic or simply flying away. Flying Daggers is in that style (where Shadow was more grounded) and I really did not enjoy watching it.

First of all I will concede Flying Daggers is a beautiful film with stunning cinematography and production design. I also enjoyed some fight sequences like one where they are bouncing off of trees almost like Tarzan swings through trees.


The problem was this horrible love story where two men Jin (Takeshi Kaneshiro) and Leo (Andy Lau) over the love of a blind woman named Xiao Mei (Ziyi Zhang). I found all 3 of these people to be extremely unlikable especially Leo who we are supposed to be rooting for. There was no chemistry between Mei and either men and at one point Leo tries to rape her and is only stopped by her superior Nia who throws a magical dagger into his back. There are so many scenes of Mei and Leo awkwardly kissing or finally making love, and I hated every one of them. As a confirmed romantic it did not work for me at all.

Like I said, the action can be quite good but the magic of the daggers wasn’t interesting and the sequences feel repetitive and dull. It reminded me of a Chinese version of Twilight to be honest with this horrible love triangle. I was thoroughly bored by it, which I know might be shocking to some but it’s true. It wasn’t interesting, charming or exciting just lots of meaningful staring and then fighting with magical daggers. No thanks.

It’s hard to know what score to give The House of Flying Daggers because this style of movie doesn’t seem made for me but I know many enjoy them. If it seems like your kind of thing than give it a watch but I certainly won’t be revisiting it any time soon.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy



[REVIEW] ‘The New Mutants’: Satisfying Teenage Angst 3 Years in the Making

Very few films have the rocky journey to the box office that this week’s new film The New Mutants had. Originally slated for a 2018 release it was delayed for reshoots and then got washed up in all the problems with the Disney acquisition of Fox in 2019 with it getting 2 more delays in 2020 because of COVID19. Now we finally have it and is it worth the wait? I might be in the minority on this one but I think so. It’s not perfect but I enjoyed this little teenage superhero origin story film.

I should start out by saying I am completely unfamiliar with this run of comicbooks and I did not use the 3 years to read up on them. Sorry! If you are a fan please let me know how they did in an adaptation in the comments section. I would love to find out. I also should warn horror fans who are hoping for a scary take on superhero storytelling they are likely to be disappointed. There is one character I found scary but the rest wasn’t scary in the slightest- so let go of that expectation and you’ll enjoy the movie more.

There are also messy parts of The New Mutants. It starts very small and can’t quite bear the weight of its ending. In addition, some of the cinematography and visual effects felt more of the CW variety than a major superhero property. Nevertheless, I still had a good time watching this film!


The best way I can think to describe The New Mutants is a combination of X:Men Dark Phoenix and the movie GLASS. The beginning is more like the latter and the ending is more like the former. To begin the film our group of mutants are held in a psychiatric hospital (similar to the one in GLASS) and are told they are there to learn to control their powers. This is led by Dr Cecilla Reyes (Alice Braga in a very one-note performance). Dr Reyes is particularly trying to get to the bottom of a the skills of a new patient named Dani played by Blu Hunt. She is surrounded by other mutant teens played by Charlie Heaton, Henry Zaga, Anya Taylor-Joy and Maisie Williams.

The beginning therapy sessions asks a lot of the actors but they all worked for me and the ending while messy was better than a bunch of other X-Men movies like X-Men Apocalypse (which I hated) and X-Men Dark Phoenix. I was way more invested in the survival and growth of these characters than anybody in either of those films and it’s certainly leaps better than something like X-Men Last Stand or X-Men Origins: Wolverine.


In a world of bloated superhero movies The New Mutants is also a blessed 94 minutes. This is just long enough to keep me engaged with the characters and have a lot of fun with the small-scale action towards the end. I won’t spoil it but I particularly liked the relationship we get between 2 of our teen characters. They had chemistry and I wanted them to be free from this hospital/prison so they could be together.

I have a feeling The New Mutants is going to be slaughtered by my fellow critics and it does have its flaws. For me I liked the coming of age approach to a superhero origin story. I liked The Breakfast Club for mutants feel to the screenplay. The likable young cast (not so young any more! LOL) worked well together and it clipped along nicely. I don’t know if you need to watch it in a theater but when it comes to streaming I’d recommend seeing it. If you do let me know what you think.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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[REVIEW] ‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’: More Laughs Please Dude

I recently saw an interview with actors Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves where they talked about the great affection they have for their popular characters Bill and Ted from the franchise that bears their names. The first film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure came out in 1989 and was a surprise hit. Then the quite possibly funnier sequel Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey was released in 1991. Like Winter and Reeves, a generation has grown up with a fondness and affection for these two silly boneheads and have asked for a sequel to follow up on them in the new millennium.

Now after nearly 20 years we finally have it in Bill & Ted Face the Music which is available on VOD and in theaters starting today. Unfortunately while all involved clearly have the best of intentions with this sequel, it sadly falls prey to the problems of most long-awaited comedy sequels. Almost everything the screenplay puts our heroes through falls flat leaving little laughs and not much else to enjoy.

bill and teds face2

In Face the Music Bill and Ted are told by The Great Leader (Holland Taylor) they must create a song, which will save the world. This causes our heroes to go back and forward through time mostly meeting up with various versions of themselves. They also go to therapy with their wives with a few laughs from Jillian Bell as their exasperated marriage counselor.

The problem with Face the Music is it is simply not funny. There are a lot of winks to the former films. Those pretty much all fall flat. The dude dialogue of the duo can be amusing but it’s hard to believe they couldn’t come up with more for them to do than running into versions of themselves.

Brigette Lundy-Paine and Samara Weaving play their daughters and I kind of wish the movie was about them instead of their Dads. They are going around time collecting famous musicians, which was a nice homage to the plot of the first film. (It’s a wink to the original without it being a pointless unfunny cameo).

I did enjoy the music in Bill & Ted Face the Music and the message at the end is nice. Unfortunately by then I was bored and ready for it to be done. I have friends who are anxiously awaiting this film, and I sincerely hope they enjoy it more than I did. We all can certainly use some laughs but I honestly laughed more at The Personal History of David Copperfield which I saw on the same night. However, if you see Bill & Ted Face the Music and find it funny let me know. I would love to hear your experience in the comments.

In the meantime party on dudes!

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy


[REVIEW] ‘The Personal History of David Copperfield’: Making Dickens Fresh

If you have followed my reviews for any amount of time you know I love my period pieces. Whether it is Austen, Dickens, Gaskell I like going back to the times of manners and rules and getting swept away in the journey (and usually romance) of it all. Even this year my favorite movie so far is the latest version of Emma.

While admitting this taste for the past, even I must admit that sometimes these films can be a little bit stuffy, and I can see why they do not appeal to everyone. However, one thing I’ve noticed since Yorgos Lanthimos’ film The Favourite we’ve been getting period films with more of an edge to them. Indeed even the aforementioned Emma made some creative choices like having a memorable nose bleed where a kiss would normally come.

Now we have the latest edgy take on the past with a new adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic  novel The Personal History of David Copperfield. This version is directed by Armando Lannucci and at times it felt like a cross between Lanthimos and director Wes Anderson. It had the sarcasm of the former with the whimsy of the latter. It definitely won’t be for everyone but I really enjoyed it.


The outside the box thinking in this David Copperfield starts with the eclectic colorblind casting. This works because it is not trying to be a realistic version. At one point a character sticks his hand through a house so we are asked to go with the flow and not care. It also doesn’t hurt that Dev Patel plays David who I have loved ever since Slumdog Millionaire and recently in the Oscar nominated film Lion. He is not only extremely handsome and talented as an actor but he has a warmth to him that makes him easy to root for and he brings all that likability to the table playing the often down-on-his-luck David.

I also loved the production design and costumes in this David Copperfield. It’s probably the best in either of those categories I’ve seen this year. I particularly adored a little house made out of a boat that seems to come from David’s imagination but also his own life. All the hats are stunning and the dresses full of flare. It’s so much fun to watch.


My favorite part of this David Copperfield is it feels fresh. It’s not only quite funny but it’s also unpredictable and surprising. Granted I am not very familiar with this particular novel like I am with something like A Christmas Carol or even Great Expectations so it is easier to surprise me but so many of the choices were unexpected and new. Even the transitions between scenes were cleverly done with wipes and techniques I haven’t seen before in a movie like this.

The only downside to this film is at times it can be too random to the extent it is hard to follow. I was honestly glad to be able to watch this at home so I could read the plot summary as I went, which helped make things clearer. Other people more familiar with the novel may not have that problem but nevertheless the film can sometimes be a bit all over the place.

In addition to Patel, the cast is wonderful (and hilarious) with such talents as Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi and Ben Whishaw. Their skills and the fresh take on the material make The Personal History of David Copperfield definitely worth a watch whether it is in the theater or at home. Enjoy and let me know what you think especially if you are more familiar with the book.

7.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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[REVIEW] ‘Words on Bathroom Walls’: #EndtheStigma

jen and I

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well and getting through these tough times as smoothly as possible. I know it is impossible for some people to go to an indoor theater and I know some of you think I am crazy for doing so but we are basically open for new movies here in Utah and I’m here for it! (I fully support anyone who has chosen to not attend a movie theater btw). I have insured I have my mask on during the entire screening, have the back row so nobody is behind me, sit on the aisle so nobody is to the left of me and have typically had almost the whole theater to myself. I understand this is not enough safety with santization and cleanliness but it is for me.

All that said, I was able to go to a new movie with my friend Jen, who is my #1 movie buddy. This is our second time to the theater since quarantine and the first time we got to have one of our big epic chats at the end of it. I missed those sooooo much! It was so good for the soul.

The film that brought us back to the theaters is the coming of age story Words on Bathroom Walls (yes, the name is stupid).

Before I write this review I want to make it clear that my knowledge of schizophrenia is limited and I tried to find some reviews of this movie (or even the book) from the perspecitve of a person with schizophrenia and I was unsuccessful. My perspective is purely an outsider pov and how I think the movie encouraged a discussion on the topic.

Words on Bathroom Walls is based on a novel by Julia Walton and it tells the story of a teen named Adam who starts to hear voices and see personalities around him. There’s a chill New Age girl, an angry bodyguard and a slick cool guy. All these voices fight for his attention along with his love interest Maya (Taylor Russell) and single Mom (Molly Parker) and step-Dad Paul (Walton Goggins). Andy Garcia also appears as the priest at the new Catholic school Adam begins attending after he faces with some bullying at his public school.

The first thing that really works in Words in Bathroom Walls is Charlie Plummer’s performance. He is without a doubt one of the best young actors we have today and if you need proof of that watch him in the criminally overlooked Lean on Pete, which was one of my favorite movies of 2018. He was great as Pete but he’s also great as Adam, showing the anger, frustration and sweet sides of his personality making you invested in his character and anxious for him to get the help he needs.


That’s the other positive trait of this movie- it gets viewers especially teens talking about mental illness and working to END THE STIGMA. In the film Adam asks his shrink why when someone gets a disease like cancer everyone is kind and understanding but if someone gets a mental illness like schizophrenia they back away in fear? This is wrong and we needrt to tell the stories of those with all kinds of mental illness especially when it comes to teens who can be so lonely and confused. It needs to stop and we need to provide better health care in this country for those that are dealing with a chronic or crisis mental health condition.

Where Words on Bathroom Walls is a weaker is the last act that feels uncomfortable in ending with any kind of uncertainty. All the characters have to be made nice (although one moment had me crying on my mask but I won’t spoil it for you). All the challenges have to be overcome and that definitely feels a little too tidy for the realism of the rest of the movie. On the other hand, it’s hard to overly fault a movie for being too hopeful and trying to inspire its audience too much, so I’m inclined to be forgiving.

It also felt like some of the depictions of the schizophrenia in the film are a little sensationalized for dramatic effect. Again, I don’t know this for a fact but I remember when  A Beautiful Mind came out some people with schizophrenia said that movie didn’t capture the experience very well and I have a feeling they’d have the same complaints here but if anyone can provide further insight in that regard I would love to learn more.

All that said, if you have teenagers I recommend watching Words on Bathroom Walls and having a discussion about Adam and his struggles. What can we do to end the stigma and make things better for those with a mental illness? As someone who has faced panic attacks this is extremely important to me so this movie really hit a chord with me even with its flaws. If you get a chance to see it I recommend it.

7 out of 10

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By the way if you want to get a smile worthy mask like I am wearing in the photo check out the merch store

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Reader Zach reached out to me and we talked about schizophrenia and how it was portrayed in this film


[REVIEW] ‘Unhinged’ : A Tense Thriller that I Hated

Writing a review for the new thriller Unhinged challenges my skills as a critic. On one hand I can’t deny the film does its job as a thriller in building tension and suspense. On the other hand, I hated the experience of watching it and found the film to be an extremely cynical and mean-spirited exercise. I am also left baffled at why on earth the studio fought to have this of all movies as the first large film to be released after quarantine. Is it supposed to be a cautionary tale? Good grief!

Unhinged stars Caren Pistorius as a woman named Rachel (maybe too close to home with that name!) who gets involved in a road rage incident with a man in a truck played by Russell Crowe. He then decides to make this the worst day of her life and stalks and attacks her. This even includes preying on her family and friends.


The problem with Unhinged is the film isn’t content to just be a thriller with an innocent being preyed upon by a deranged man. From the opening credits it wants to say something about technology and modern empty consumerism. It honestly tries to justify the actions of Crowe’s character as if he has simply taken a truthful response one step too far. No spoilers but in the end Rachel even learns the lesson he was trying to teach her from the beginning- as if that in any way justifies all that he has done.

The whole process is incredibly cynical and assumes the worst of human nature. That we all can only be pushed so far until we turn into The Man (Crowe’s character has no name). Some may find this thrilling. Some may even believe it to be true. I do not and did not.


The other problem with Unhinged is they don’t go all the way with the gritty realism/social commentary. There are scenes where people are not behaving in logical ways or making much sense. Particularly a scene in a diner felt ridiculous and extremely unlikely. I guess this is a movie where you are supposed to ‘turn off your brain’ ? The problem is it tries to be a deep metaphor so you can’t just have ‘dumb fun’ with it!

There are also some moments of sloppy filmmaking. In particular there’s a scene with terrible ADR that for the budget and time they had to work on it is unforgivable. You think with all the delays they could have at least gotten that right?

Like I said, some people will enjoy Unhinged because it does build up tension well but it’s not satisfied to be just a simple thriller (think last year’s Crawl as a good movie that was happy to be a silly fun thriller). Unhinged has to try and be more and teach both the character and all of us watching something. It is in that cynical and frankly repulsive message that the film loses me. Sure we live in a society that can be lost in technology and forget the humanity of others, but we also have goodness and compassion demonstrated every day in a thousand different ways (sometimes even on that very technology). No thank you Unhinged and your supposed cautionary tale. No thank you at all!

3 out of 10

Frown Worthy


Current Mini Reviews

Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well. It’s time to get caught up on a few movies I’ve been watching that I haven’t had the time to write up a complete review. In the next few weeks things are going to be very busy for me with new movies coming to theaters and VOD so reviews should be coming. Make sure you are subscribed to my youtube channel and my podacasts (here and here) to get all of my content!



I’m not the biggest horror fan but I do enjoy a good alien story and a well done creature scares movie.  It is with these tastes I was hoping I would enjoy the new alien horror film out of Russia called Sputnik. Indeed, the film looks great and the scenes with the creature are chilling and quite gory. Unfortunately when they leave the aliens and focus on the humans it becomes a bit of a slog. This is a film I’d actually be interested in seeing a remake where they can have a bigger budget allowing for longer visual effects sequences. As it is, it’s too uneven to recommend; although I am definitely interested to see what the director Egor Abramenko does next in his career.

Sputnik is available to stream on VOD and in theaters.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy



I love me a fascinating person documentary, and I love the Disney Renaissance films so I was primed to love the new film about Disney Legend lyricist Howard Ashman. He was taken far too soon from the AIDS epidemic, but it is amazing to watch the impact he did have in the time he was given (it’s bittersweet to think of all he could have done in the many years following his passing. Tragic). The documentary doesn’t break the celebrity bio-doc mold but it’s a must-watch for any Disney fan. Especially the time spent on The Little Mermaid and behind the scenes on Beauty and the Beast is wonderful to watch.

Howard didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about Howard Ashman but it was still fun to see his talent. I particularly loved seeing him work with Jodi Benson and his performances of Poor Unfortunate Souls had such vibrato and energy. No wonder he got story credit on the The Little Mermaid! He invested his all into the film. It also all has special meaning now as we are going through this pandemic. I wonder what documentaries are going to be made of those lost too soon to COVID19? Howard is available on Disney Plus and I highly recommend it!

7 out of 10



As a huge life-long Olympian fan this documentary The Weight of Gold is tough but important watch. Narrated by star swimmer Michael Phelps it profiles the challenges Olympic athletes face obtaining the proper mental health care they need to deal with the intense pressure of competition. The athletes interviewed include a wide variety of disciplines from both the summer and winter Olympics including Apollo Anton-Ohno, Lolo Jones, Bodie Miller and Shaun White. I have dealt with my own mental health crisis in my life so it’s a subject that means a lot to me.

This stigma against mental health care needs to stop and it doesn’t matter if you are an athlete or have any other type of job we need proper care. Help needs to be easily accessible and encouraged. We’ve lost too many to suicide and despair. Enough is enough! The Weight of Gold is available to stream on HBO Max

9 out of 10

Smile Worthy


magic camp

I love live action family comedies and dramas but lately they have been few and far between. Aside from Disney Channel movies Disney has been happy to stick to live action remakes and sequels rather than the small family features they used to be known for. However, with Disney Plus they have been doing more of these films with Togo, Timmy Failure, Noelle and more, which I am very excited about. Now we get their latest film, the long in development Magic Camp starring Adam Devine and Gillian Jacobs.

Magic Camp has a nice message with a simple story of the misfit kids learning to be believe in themselves we’ve seen a lot. Devine is fun and has chemistry with Jacobs, and they both try to make the movie work. Where I fault Magic Camp is, I hate to say it, the kid casting. They are a very bland group of ,kid actors that I struggled to stay engaged with. This is especially true if you compare them to the kids in something like The Sandlot or even The Mighty Ducks. There is no comparison. It makes the movie drag and it’s never funny enough to work as an outright comedy.  I’d say skip this one on Disney Plus watch and just watch Timmy Failure again.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

So there you have it! Have you seen any of these films? What did you think and are you going to be going to the movie theaters to see upcoming films like New Mutants or Tenet? Let me know in the comments sections!