Hi friends! I really wanted to post longer reviews on each of these films (I’ve been doing pretty good with that recently!) but I just ran out of time and wanted to get the reviews in. Overall it’s been a pretty uneven summer particularly for blockbusters, but there are some hidden gems worth seeking out.  So here goes:

Flamin’ Hot

Directed by Eva Longoria Flamin’ Hot tells the story of Richard Montañez (Jesse Garcia) who invented the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos spice. Montañez works as a janitor for Frito-Lay but dreams of getting out of the factory and building more for his family and community.

One day he gets the idea for the hot spice and pushes until we have have the product many enjoy today. I know many have said this film plays fast and lose with the truth but my job is to review the movie presented not to become a research consultant on every ‘based on a true story’ I watch.

On the level of a sweet inspirational family story this fills the bill; although, I wish the script had gone through a few more passes. The dialogue is clunky and people talk more in inspirational quips than actual realistic dialogue. Still, all the performances are good and if you are looking for a quick pick-me up it’s serviceable and only 99 minutes. Available on hulu. (It’s too bad it didn’t go to theaters because we would have sold a lot of hot snacks at concessions.)

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Joy Ride

Every once in a while I try to go out of my comfort zone for movies and am rewarded with a hidden gem. The new raunchy comedy (and it is raunchy!) Joy Ride is such a film. It definitely won’t be for everyone but I found it to be hilarious and at its core a sweet story of friendship most will be able to relate with (particularly women and anyone who is adopted.)

Ashley Park shines in the lead as Audrey a business woman who was adopted from China by her parents as a baby. She was basically forced to be friends with the other Chinese girl in her school Lolo (Sherry Cola) and they love each other but also resent the fact they have to be friends. Then you have actress and diva Kat (Stephanie Hsu) and the awkward but wonderful DeadEye (Sabrina Wu.)

I’ve said it many times before but when it comes to comedies all that really matters is if I am laughing and this movie got me going loudly and frequently. I also loved the comradery between the women and how their relationships evolved. If you like a movie like Bridesmaids I bet you’d like this. (I know many of you are probably shocked I liked this, but I can’t tell a lie! It was just that funny!)

9 out of 10

Smile Worthy

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

What’s Love Got to Do With It technically came out last year but I had never heard of it until my recent plane flight to Christmas Con in Kansas. Intrigued by the cast and premise I put it on and was delighted by a thoroughly entertaining little rom-com.

Lily James plays a documentarian who decides to follow her Pakistani neighbor as he pursues an arranged marriage put together by his parents. Sure this is all predictable but I enjoy a sweet rom-com (check out my work on Hallmarkies Podcast) and I appreciate it tried to have some nuanced conversations about marriage, religion, cultural and parental expectations and romance. The cast is also great with James having lovely chemistry with costar Shazad Latif and Emma Thompson grounding the entire production as James’ mother. If you like this genre I bet this one will be a winner!

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

No Hard Feelings

With how much I enjoyed Joy Ride I was hopeful I would be on board for another R rated raunchy comedy with No Hard Feelings. Unfortunately this one didn’t do it for me and feels like a major missed opportunity.

My major problem with the film is I didn’t buy any of the characters choices and the script isn’t funny enough for me to ignore how illogical (and often mean-spirited they are). For example, Jennifer Lawrence (who does give a very brave performance, giving it her all) gets maced by Andrew Barth Feldman when she first tries to come on to him (she is hired by his parents to get him out of his shell.) Then just minutes after thinking she’s attacking him, he asks her out on a date. This makes no sense.

Like I said, this is the problem throughout the script, which would have been fine if I was laughing more but I wasn’t. The screenplay does try to tackle bigger issues of gentrification and modern friendship but I just didn’t buy the characters so none of that worked for me. I do appreciate they never break Feldman’s agency. His consent is always respected by Lawrence but it still feels more icky than funny and I grew tired of the tit-for-tat between the actors that went nowhere. I would definitely see Joy Ride if you are looking for a raunchy comedy this July.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

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