Current Mini Reviews (Ernest & Celestine 2, Dumb Money, Jawan, Camp Hideout, The Inventor)

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. I’ve been busy as normal but wanted to take a second and update you on everything I’ve been watching. As I get ready to start both the holiday and Oscar season it’s more important now more than ever to support quality criticism. If you can support the patreon it means a lot. You can find more information here.


The original Ernest & Celestine from 2012 is one of the most charming movies I’ve ever seen. So attempting a sequel was a risky enterprise to say the least; however, the team behind Ernest & Celestine have risen to the challenge and made something that’s still charming and has something to say about music, the rule of law and of course friendship.

Our pair head to Gibberitia so they can fix Ernest’s violin but unfortunately the city is under a martial law where only one note of music is allowed. Even the birds aren’t allowed to tweet or sing. This could be heavy-handed in the wrong storytellers but here it never tonally moves away from the sweetness of the original friendship story. We also get to understand Ernest’s family and how he became the crusty old bear we know and love.

I love the current era of hybrid animation that’s bold and crazy but it is also a welcome breath of fresh air to get simple sweet stories told with sketchy animation like we have here. I loved Little Nicholas earlier this year and this is its worthy companion. I think it’s great we are in a golden revival of animation where we get the best of all types and styles and this is about as perfectly crafted as you could hope for with this style. It’s one of those movies I can’t imagine anyone disliking. I’m sure there will be someone but it’s definitely not this critic.

9 out of 10

Smile Worthy


Dumb Money is one of those movies where the binary system of fresh/rotten or smile/frown prove difficult. It’s an ok movie. I didn’t hate it by any means but I do have some major problems with its storytelling. I,Tonya‘s Craig Gillespie (which I didn’t love as much as some but did recommend) tries his hand again at a creative take on a true story but in this case the story lacks focus and the screenplay feels very  surface-level.

The main problem is he is trying to tell too many of the stories of investors impacted in the GameStop “short squeeze” of 2021. There are  a dozen or so characters that all get arcs and all have stories but none of them are explored enough so it feels like we are watching people look at their phones for 2 hours and talking about should they hold their stocks or not… While very dramatic for them it’s not compelling for a feature film.

I can see why this would be more interesting as a documentary where you can spend more time explaining the complexities of a short squeeze and what was happening with the stock but that’s hard to do for a narrative unless you employ flights of fancy like they did in The Big Short. I would recommend watching that instead.

Also I really thought the music was strange and didn’t seem to fit with the characters or story.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy


Ever since I first saw Baahubali 1 and 2 I have really come to appreciate the world of Tollywood and Bollywood cinema. I do not pretend to be an expert on the genres and I am sure there are many films I should see from India but it’s been a fun experience of movie-going so far. Last year of course there was RRR and now we have Jawan which is by director Atlee S. Ramanagirivasa. It’s a movie you have to be patient for but it is worth the investment and ends up being a ton of fun.

Jawan stars Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan in 2 roles- one in current time and one in 1986. The movie flips around between the 2 time periods and it can get a little confusing but if you wait it all comes together in a satisfying way at the end. It also takes a while for the first song and dance sequence to come in but I enjoyed them when they did.

There’s simply an awe and spectacle to these films that I love. The violence is big and bloody but so over-the-top that it’s not offensive or jarring. I love the energy and sincere desire to entertain in every frame and that’s the case with Jawan. It’s a blast.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy


One has to wonder what the makers of Camp Hideout were thinking giving it a theatrical distribution. It screams Disney Channel movie (or DCOM) or Nickelodeon and probably could have found an audience there. The pre-teen protagonists at summer camp and the juevenile sense of humor would probably be very engaging for the 10-13 year olds that watch those channels but alas I have to judge it as a feature film.

The cast is pretty solid with Corbin Bleu and Amanda Leighton putting in nice work as the lead camp counselors and Christopher Lloyd piping in for a few scenes. The problem is they have a bizarre plot with mafia thugs that are following our lead teen Noah played by Ethan Drew. We even get the Home Alone style antics left over from the 90s with the thugs ending up in booby traps and covered in mud. Then they awkwardly try to wedge in faith-based heartfelt moments that seem like they belong in another movie. It just all doesn’t work.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

I was pretty excited when I saw a small stop motion animated film called The Inventor was coming to my local AMC. I had heard about it from Annecy Film Festival in France and usually such small films don’t get a big release (I usually have to go to the Broadway downtown if at all to see them.) I was hoping it would be a hidden gem but unfortunately I left underwhelmed.

There are things to like particularly the animation. The mixture of stop motion and 2D sketchy animation had an old UPA feel to it and I enjoyed the vintage aesthetic and tone in the film. Unfortunately the story just wasn’t there and I felt like I was watching those old education film reels I used to watch in elementary school. I like learning about da Vinci but even he has to be given something interesting to do. Perhaps this could have worked better as a short but I grew tired of it even with the enchanting animation.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

So there you have it! If you have seen any of these films let me know what you think of them. 

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