Sundance 2022 Log Day 3: (Free Chol Soo Lee, Master, The Exiles, Framing Agnes, Summering, Dual, Resurrection, Lucy and Desi)

Saturday proved to be a very busy day for me at this year’s virtual Sundance Film Festival. I saw 7 films, which might be a record for me. It’s certainly a lot of movies for one human to watch in a day! I still haven’t found anything I’m over the moon about but there were some good ones. Here are my thoughts:

Free Chol Soo Lee-

First up a documentary called Free Chol Soo Lee about a significant moment in the Korean-American community that I had never heard about. In the 1970s a man named Chol Soo Lee was incarcerated and put on death row for a crime he didn’t commit. The film chronicles the grassroots effort that came about to help get Lee a new trial and an eventual acquittal. Like I said, I knew nothing about this story so it was interesting to learn about especially how the media covered the story- there was even a movie made called True Believer that is evidently terrible (I’m curious to watch it now).

Free Chol Soo Lee does what you need a documentary like this to do. It is fascinating and an insightful and definitely worth a watch.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Master

College campuses have long been the settings for horror films probably because they contain lots of pretty young ladies who are primed to be a final girl. This is no different in the new film Master. Director Mariama Diallo tells a story about 3 women at a Brown-esque college: 2 faculty members (Regina Hall and Amber Gray) and a student (Zoe Renee). It turns out one of the halls is haunted by ghosts and disgusting bugs. The more Hall looks into these supernatural events the more crazy things become.

Master isn’t a classic horror movie or anything but I had a good time with it. It is benefited by strong performances especially from Hall. It struggles to balance tone a bit and is more cheesy than scary but I’ve certainly seen worse in that department (the recent Black Christmas is an example on how to do this badly).

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

The Exiles

Next up we have a documentary called The Exiles which follows documentarian Christine Choy as she tries to start up a project she was working on after the Tienanmen Square protest. Choy is quite the character with strong opinions on many topics. I kind of wish the documentary was just about her. Flipping back and forth between Tienanmen and her makes both subjects feel underserved and frustrating. It’s not terrible or anything but I feel there is a better movie in there than The Exiles provided.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Summering

Going into the festival Summering was one of my most anticipated. The cast of young girls looked appealing and director James Ponsoldt has done good things in the past with films like The Spectacular Now. Unfortunately this film was very disappointing.

The problem with Summering comes down to authenticity. One summer day the  children in the story stumble upon a dead body and they spend the next few days diving into the mystery of who the man is and how he died. Maybe this story could have worked but the kids don’t respond like kids (or adults for that matter) would. They never have a discussion about calling the police or telling a parent. It’s like that throughout the film. Everything felt so phony I couldn’t get into the story or buy any of the performances. Even the adults didn’t talk like actual humans or make choices that made sense.

3 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Resurrection

Every year at Sundance there is a movie that is nuts and I don’t know how to feel about it. This year’s entry is Resurrection. It is a bonkers movie that doesn’t really work but I admire its crazy chutzpah. It stars Rebecca Hall as a woman who lost a baby years before in a bizarre way and her attempt to exact revenge on her ex played by Tim Roth.

Just to give you an idea of how weird Resurrection gets the plot involves cannibalism and a man having a baby out of his stomach. It’s wild and Rebecca Hall is good in it, but I didn’t get what it was trying to say with all the madness. For a film to work you need a story that makes sense not just wild images.

4.5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Dual

There are a lot of horror/thrillers this year at the festival (and maybe that’s why I haven’t found anything I’ve loved yet). Fresh is going to be the one to get most of the buzz but it was too scary for me. Dual is more my jam. It’s a sci-fi thriller starring Karen Gillan (who I don’t think is the best actress but I liked the movie any way). She plays 2 roles as Sarah Prime and Sarah Clone. In the dystopian world they live in you can be cloned when you are given a terminal diagnosis. Unfortunately Sarah gets cloned and then is healed from her disease and doesn’t die. This leaves clone against clone.

Unlike Resurrection, Dual takes a nutty concept but crafts an engaging story around it. I’ve seen a lot of sci-fi lately that takes itself very seriously with lots of scenes of deep staring into space and I’m tired of it. Dual isn’t a comedy by any means but it also has a good time with its concept and a script that kept me guessing. It’s a movie that will invite conversation as we debate which Sarah did what? I’m not sure everything makes sense, but I didn’t really care because I was enjoying the ride. (Aaron Paul costars and has nice chemistry with Gillan).

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Lucy and Desi

It’s always interesting when a documentary and narrative film about the same subject open around the the same time. This is what happened with Being the Ricardos (which I did not like) and Lucy and Desi (which I did like). They both tell the story of Hollywood legends Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz but the documentary in my opinion has a much clearer focus on their relationship and I felt like I learned so much more about them from watching it.

It’s interesting because Being the Ricardos set itself up as a faux documentary and then does nothing compelling with that concept. It doesn’t do much with any of its plotpoints, leaving a jumbled mess instead of a good story.

Here in the documentary we learn about how Lucy and Desi met, their struggles with infertility, the reason why they created their iconic show to begin with and more. I had no idea how big Desilu Studios actually got and how involved Desi was in the creation of many iconic television shows and films. This was all fascinating.

Director Amy Poehler also showcases Lucy’s comedic chops and how they developed from being a B-movie glamor girl and model to the funniest lady on television. I also appreciated Carol Burnett sharing how Lucy had helped her as a mentor and friend.

Lucy and Desi doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it does a good job helping us get to know such a famous couple and how their love changed the world!

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

So there you have it! Those are the movies I saw on day 3 of Sundance. Have you seen any of these? If so what did you think? Take care!

Sundance 2022 Log Day 2: (892, Fire of Love, Living, After Yang)

Another day of virtual Sundance has come and gone. On day 2 I watched 4 films making 7.5 total with the weekend probably many more than that coming up. So far nothing has wowed like a Blinded by the Light, Step or Maiden but they’ve been mostly good. A lot of slowly paced films on the boring-side if I’m honest. But here goes my thoughts on the Day 2 films:

892

892 was a bit of a mixed bag but it has positive attributes. John Boyega stars in this based on a true story of Brian Easley- a man who robbed a bank with a bomb in his backpack to try and get the $892 the VA department owed him. The movie does a good job building up tension and the performances from Boyega and the late Michael K Williams as a negotiator are compelling. However, I don’t think the movie did a good job of getting us to sympathize with Easley or explaining his motivations. Why did he pick that bank, on that day and why did he have to put these poor women through such an awful experience?

I kind of wish the movie had been told from the women’s perspective (Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva). They had this day of horror and yet the movie basically uses them as props. The same is true for Connie Britton playing a news reporter. I felt anger at Easley for what he was doing more than I felt sympathy for his experience with the VA.

In the end, I give 892 a mixed review for a mixed film

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Living

I am admittedly not the biggest fan of famed director Akira Kurosawa. I find a lot of his movies to be bloated and tedious. However, one I do like is his film Ikiru. I watched it for blind spot a few years ago and felt it was a very well acted character study. Now we have a remake of that film from director Oliver Hermanus called Living. The interesting thing about this remake is they took the script and translated it from Japanese to English and that’s it. It’s the exact same script but in a different country and language.

Fortunately, they got Bill Nighy to play the lead, Mr Williams and the amazing Sandy Powell to do the costume design that helps transfer you to the 1950s. Mr Williams is a man of routines and doesn’t like conflict or making waves for himself. Then one day he is diagnosed with a fatal disease and his rather boring life is put into perspective. This story is compelling and the performances are good but it can feel dry at times and be  too slow in its pacing. However, I still overall enjoyed it because of the performances and thoughtful script.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

After Yang

A24 is a studio that always swings for the fences but that’s not always a good thing. In After Yang they try for contemplative sci-fi but instead have a bland, dull film that never had anything interesting to say. Others seem to be enjoying this more than I did but I was very bored.

After Yang stars Colin Farrell, who is always excellent as the father of a young girl who is being raised by a robot named Yang. Eventually they attempt to save Yang’s life but the film is not as exciting as that sounds. Outside of a really fun dance opening credits scene it felt like scene after scene of people staring out into the distance and having the same conversations over and over again. There wasn’t enough story and the characters left me flat.

In general I’m not the biggest fan of slow contemplative sc-ifi but sometimes it can win me over like with Dune and Ex-Machina. This unfortunately was not for me although it does have some pretty cinematography and a beautiful score.

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Fire of Love

My favorite movie of Day 2 was a documentary called Fire of Love. It chronicles the love story of volcanologists Katia and Maurice Krafft. They are a french couple that explored volcanoes from the 1970s to their death in an eruption in Japan in 1991. Director Sara Dosa has found a treasure trove of footage of the couple and the unbelievable volcanoes they chased. It really is shocking the beauty and awe of the earth in these incredible shots. It’s amazing they lasted as long as they did.

Dosa gets filmmaker Miranda July to help her with the narration and that works for the most part. My only flaw is I wish they had more interviews from people who knew the couple. I felt like I didn’t know that much about them after having watched their documentary. We got to watch them with the volcanoes but I would have liked to learn more.

Still, for the footage and the incredible love story I recommend Fire of Love. It’s a winner.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Sundance 2022 Log Day 1: (The Princess, When You Finish Saving the World, Emergency)

Hey everyone! Welcome to my coverage of the Sundance Film Festival! This is my 7th year covering the festival and we started Day 1 pretty well (2/3 ain’t bad). Of course the festival itself got started off badly when the in-person portion got canceled and Sundance refused to give us our money back. It never feels good when an organization steals from you and then says ‘but you can use it as a donation if you want’. Thanks a lot!

Anyway, that’s not the filmmakers fault so I am trying to go in with an open mind to everything I watch. I even recorded a preview show with my friend Justin profiling 12 films we are looking forward to

Like I said, my first 3 films were a pretty good start to the festival. Here are my quick thoughts on all 3:

Jesse Eisenberg's When You Finish Saving the World Is a Great Debut |  IndieWire

When You Finish Saving the World

Unfortunately the festival started with a disappointment. I had high hopes going into When You Finish Saving the World. It’s A24 (which I admittedly have a mixed report card with but it’s at least usually intriguing) produced film written and directed by Jesse Eisenberg but it was not for me. It tells the story of a Mother and teenage boy who can’t stand each other and turn to replacements that they think will better fit. Julianne Moore plays the Mother and her fixation on a young teen boy staying at her domestic abuse shelter is creepy and honestly predatory. If it was a man playing the same role with a young woman everyone would be repulsed.

Finn Wolfhard plays a teen youtube music star who is terrible at writing songs and doesn’t have near the talent or chemistry to be a star. He becomes fixated on a liberal activist classmate of his and that’s just as annoying as it sounds. This movie is everything I hate in a Sundance movie. Smug, weird for no reason with narcissistic characters devoid of charm. No thank you.

3 out of 10

Frown Worthy

The Princess

With everything from Diana: the Musical to Spencer to The Crown we have gotten so much Princess Diana coverage in the media lately. The latest is a new documentary by director Ed Perkins. His new fresh take is the film is made completely of edited clips from media coverage of her life from dating Prince Charles to the aftermath of her death. This is an effective technique particularly when it comes to the chilling scenes of paparazzi eating lunch together chatting over her life like it is a big joke.

I don’t know if I learned anything new from The Princess but it was engaging enough to recommend. That said, can we give Princess Di a rest for a while? Everything that needs to be said has been. Let’s move on and make a Fergie movie for once 😉

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Emergency

The highlight of day 1 is the drama Emergency by director Carey Williams. It tells the story of 3 black college-aged friends (RJ Cyler, Donald Elise Watkins, and Sebastian Chacon) who end up having to deal with a young drunk white girl in their apartment after a big frat night partying. Each young man has a different solution for dealing with the girl based on their differing upbringings and world-views. This leads to all kinds of craziness and confusion.

Similar to 2017’s Get Out, Emergency manages to combine a message with tension and humor. It’s a dynamic which is very difficult to pull off but I was engaged almost the whole way through. The movie starts off with a classroom scene that I thought was a little heavy-handed but it gets its groove once the boys start dealing with the young lady. It also has one too many puking scenes for my liking but it’s still an excellent film that should inspire a lot of conversation especially amongst young college students.

For a tense, exciting and funny time at the movies check out Emergency

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

[REVIEW] ‘Hotel Transylvania: Transformania’ or A Sandler by Any Other Voice…

Most people who read my reviews know I am not the biggest fan of Adam Sandler’s comedies. I actually don’t mind him when he works on other people’s projects (Spanglish, Punch Drunk Love, etc) however most of his Happy Madison produced films I’ve loathed. Movies like The Ridiculous 6, Little Nicky, and That’s My Boy should barely be referred to as films.

Fortunately there has been one bright spot in Sandler’s career. Since 2012 the Hotel Transylvania movies have been pleasant, well animated romps with Sandler in the lead as Dracula and directed by the visionary Genndy Tartakovsky. Of course, I wish Genndy’s more ambitious projects like Primal could get the same attention but alas Hotel Transylvania will probably be what he is most remembered for. And I guess they are fun enough films.

I actually enjoyed Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation film the most. The 2nd one flirts with a bold message but then cops out at the end and the first is just ok fish out of water story. The 3rd is a vacation movie with the most humor and sparkling animation.

Now we have the 4th entry Hotel Transylvania: Transformania which has Genndy as only a screenwriter and Jennifer Kluska and Derek Drymon taking over as directors.

We also have Brian Hull taking over for the voice of Drac, which honestly he does a near flawless Sandler impression. It has got to be a weird thing to be Sandler and hear someone doing your voice so identically. Unfortunately Brad Abrell is not as adept at taking over for Kevin James in the voice of Frankenstein.

As far as the story it’s cute enough. Drac’s son-in-law Johnny (Andy Sandburg) stumbles upon Professor Van Helsing’s (Jim Gaffigan) ‘monsterfication ray’ and turns himself into a monster. Then Drac and the monsters get turned into humans. It’s a one-joke premise but executed with enough manic energy to be entertaining. I particularly enjoy any time Fran Drescher’s Eunice gets to shine (they don’t give her enough to do in this franchise but she’s always hilarious). David Spade also gets some good laughs as the Invisible Man who isn’t so invisible any more!

Hotel Transylvania: Transformania is a good film to go to streaming. You can turn it on with the kids and have some laughs while folding laundry and getting things done. Maybe that’s a low bar but it’s a reality. It’s no masterpiece but it will have the whole family laughing and that’s important. I say give this scary hotel one more shot.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

 

[REVIEW] ‘Single Mother By Choice’ But COVID Not a Choice

So far this COVID experience has been difficult to transfer to media. Most shows and movies have chosen to ignore it in the guise of escapism but there have been a few standouts. Interesting enough 2 of my favorites focus on the female experience with Stop and Go and I’m Fine Thanks for Asking. Now we can another compelling entry with the new film on HBOMax Single Mother by Choice.

In 2019 Selina Ringel and her husband Dan Levy Dagerman decided to make  movie chronicling her pregnancy but make the character a SMBC or Single Mother By Choice. This is obviously where a woman becomes pregnant through a sperm donor and has the child without a partner.

Then COVID happened and the lockdown and the story changed. All of the sudden the expected loneliness became magnified and Selina’s vulnerability and yet strength all the more exposed.

Ringel said “The lockdown as a result of Covid-19 plays directly into this theme. My character gets exactly what she wished for, to take care of everything by herself, but at a whole other level than she imagined and the lonlieness that comes with that is unbearable.”

Obviously this film is shot on a small budget but I felt it really captured the highs and lows of being single in the lockdown. I worked from home so I didn’t think it would be that hard but it was, and I can only imagine if I had all that while being pregnant!

I almost wish it was a series so I could keep following mother and child. One of my favorite parts was when she is interviewing roommates- something I can relate with as I had to find new tenants for my basement apartment during the pandemic.

Also all the zoom chats and the googling information about COVID and the baby. At one point her doctor tells her ‘stay off of google” LOL. It’s an interesting dichotomy because at the same time she’s doing this bold confident thing she’s also never been more isolated and alone. She both realizes she can do it on her own and that she needs people all at the same time. I think we all can relate to that understanding over the last few years.

Selina says “It has been through doing some deep work on myself that I have realized that asking for help is a strength, I think it is important to start seeing vulnerability as a positive attribute.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Single Mother By Choice is a moving insightful look at the female experience in the era of COVID. Definitely worth a watch if you get a chance.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

My Best and Worst Movies of 2021

Hey everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I had a great time covering all the Christmas movies (125 watched and reviewed at Hallmarkies Podcast) and celebrated by going to Disneyland this week. While there I published my Best and Worst Movies of 2021 videos on youtube. Please check out the videos and give them a thumbs up. I would sure appreciate it!

Best of 2021

1. tick, tick…Boom

2. The Mitchells vs the Machines

3. Belle

4. Summer of Soul

5. Single All the Way

6. Us Again

7. Flee

8. Encanto

9. Cyrano

10. Together Together

11. Luca

12. Coda

13. West Side Story

14. Dream Horse

15. Free Guy

Worst of 2021

1. America: the Motion Picture

2. Earwig and the Witch

3. Home Sweet Home Alone

4. Taming the Garden

5. Boss Baby: Family Business

6. Diana: the Musical

7. F9

8. Charming

9. Bigfoot Family

10. Addams Family 2

Late entry: Matrix Resurrections

 

Let me know what your lists are and what you think of my picks! 

2022 Blind Spot Picks

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well and having a terrific Christmas Eve! Tomorrow I will not only be celebrating Christmas but I will be heading off to Disneyland for a trip. I have actually caught up with my podcast and am able to take almost a whole week off! Wow! I can’t wait. Make sure you follow me on instagram to get all of my travel and other updates!

Before I leave I wanted to announce my Blind Spot picks for 2022. This will be my 7th year of reviewing ‘blind spots’ each month. These are popular or critically praised films that for whatever reason I have not seen. I love having a variety of Oscar films, cult classics and indie darlings. Sometimes I don’t enjoy the picks (Beverly Hills Cop…) and then other times I love films I didn’t expect to enjoy (Halloween).

So without further ado here are my Blind Spot picks for 2022:

January

Clerks (1994) - IMDb

Clerks

With the Sundance Film Festival coming back in January (hopefully) it seems appropriate to check out one of the darlings of the festival, Kevin Smith’s Clerks. I know it is a pretty hard R so I haven’t seen it but I think you will find this year I am check off some more mature films in blind spot that I haven’t seen until now. Hopefully this indie comedy brings the laughs and I have a good time watching it.

February

About Time - Trailer - YouTube

About Time

I can see all of your shocked expressions now. Rachel, the rom-com girl has never seen About Time? It’s true! It’s not that I’ve been avoiding it. I’ve just never seen it for some reason. Now that will be solved because I will finally watch it for the February blind spot!

March

Shaun of the Dead is a near-perfect movie - Polygon

Shaun of the Dead

Again, because I didn’t watch many R rated movies in the past I have never seen Shaun of the Dead or any of the Cornetto trilogy. It’s only fairly recently I’ve started to get into horror comedy as a genre and I’ve enjoyed movies like Warm Bodies and Anna and the Apocalypse. So I bet I will enjoy Shaun of the Dead. We’ll see!

April

Logan' Review from Berlin Film Festival 2017 - Variety

Logan

Most people are probably shocked to find I have never see Logan. I don’t in general love violent movies but I think it is time for me to check this gritty superhero movie off of my list. I hope I like it as much as everyone else seems to.

May

Barry Lyndon

I don’t know a ton about Barry Lyndon, except it is a period piece from Stanley Kubrick based on the novel by William Thackerary. I love period pieces so that alone has me intrigued to see what Kubrick can bring to the genre. I hope it is a good one!

June

Mystic Pizza Is The Movie That Launched Julia Roberts' Career

Mystic Pizza

The beginning of summer seems like a great time to finally watch the 1988 film Mystic Pizza. It’s a film I’ve heard of for years because it introduced the world to Julia Roberts but I am intrigued to finally watch it because a Broadway show is coming based on the film.

July

Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou' Review: 2004 Movie – The Hollywood Reporter

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

I have seen most Wes Anderson films but I’ve never seen The Life Aquatic. I usually like his movies and I enjoy Bill Murray who is the star so hopefully it will be a fun time for me. What do you think of this quirky Anderson film?

August

In the Heat of the Night Soundtrack Music - Complete Song List | Tunefind

In the Heat of the Night

I love Norman Jewison as a director so it is surprising I have never seen his 1967 Best Picture winner In the Heat of the Night. This film stars Sidney Poitier and went on to influence countless police procedurals and crime dramas. Plus, it inspired the line ‘they call me Mr Tibbs!’.

September

Let's Go Crazy: Why Prince's 'Purple Rain' Is a Masterpiece - Rolling Stone

Purple Rain

Recently I was with a group of critics who were shocked to find out a friend had never seen Purple Rain. I didn’t admit to the group I have also never seen Purple Rain. Probably because I am not as familiar with the music of Prince as I should be. Nevertheless, let’s fix that in September and watch this music themed film classic!

October

How to Watch the 'Nightmare on Elm Street' Movies in Order - How to Watch the Freddy Krueger Films

A Nightmare on Elm Street

As you all know I’m a big of a horror movie wimp but I’ve been trying to do better lately. I’ve seen and enjoyed Scream, Halloween and other scary films. Now I am going to watch one of the classics of the genre- the original A Nightmare on Elm Street. Hopefully it won’t haunt me too much in my dreams!

November

The Lost Boys' Cast: Where Are They Now? - Biography

The Lost Boys

I’ve seen a lot of vampire movies but I’ve never seen the cult classic The Lost Boys. Directed by Joel Schumacher this should be a fun break for me in November when I am deep in Hallmark season of 2022. What do you think of this 80s favorite?

December

'Tangerine' Magnolia Pictures

TANGERINE

Back in 2015 an indie favorite was Sean Baker’s film Tangerine. He shot the film all on an Iphone and it starred trans actress Mya Taylor in the lead role. I didn’t know at the time it is set on Christmas Eve so it makes for the perfect December pick.

So there you have it! My Blind Spot picks for 2022. What do you think of these films? It should make for an eclectic and fun year catching up with these classics!

[REVIEW] ‘The Jesus Music’ or Glory Imperfect Music to God

Today is my day to celebrate the Erwin Brothers because I just reviewed their film American Underdog and now I am talking about their documentary The Jesus Music. As I said in that review Jon and Andrew Erwin are making films in the faith-based genre that nobody else is making. They may not be perfect but they are so much better than their contemporaries and that continues into the documentary format with The Jesus Music. This is a solid chronicling of the history of Jesus music from the 1960s to its current day.

Despite not growing up as a traditional Christian I still enjoyed the Jesus music of the 80s. I’ve always been a big Amy Grant fan. In fact, she was one of the few artists my Mother and I agreed on and enjoyed listening together. I also loved Michael W Smith and he was the first concert I ever went to with a friend of mine out at the county fair. Both of them feature heavily in the documentary as well as other artists I did not know like the heavy metal band Stryper.

The Jesus Music': Movie Review | CBN.com

I don’t think you have to be a follower to enjoy this documentary. As I said I am not a traditional Christian or an evangelical but I found it fascinating. It’s not afraid to be judgemental and call out the Christian audience and it showcases a wide variety of artists not just worship music.

Plus, the music is really good! It made me want to search out new artists and learn more about others song catalog. It’s also uses Kirk Franklin and other artists to talk about the diversity problem within the genre and that they could have embraced it from the beginning more than they did.

If you love Christian music you will love The Jesus Music. If you don’t you might still love it. It’s one of the best documentaries of the year!

8/10

Smile Worthy

[REVIEW] ‘American Underdog’ or How to Inspire Right

One of the toughest genres to make a quality film in is the faith-based film. It is very difficult to portray conversion and a spiritual life in a way that doesn’t feel forced and cloying. However, the Erwin Bros, Andrew and Jon, are doing it about as well as can be done. I first noticed them in 2018 with I Can Only Imagine, which made a non-religious friend of mine weep, it was so good. And then I Still Believe released just before the pandemic that was another solid inspirational true story about musician Jeremy Camp. Now with their latest film American Underdog they are moving to sports to tell the story of come-from-behind football star Kurt Warner and they have another win!

There are a couple key aspects that make American Underdog work. First, the story is compelling and doesn’t try to start a ministry. What Kurt Warner accomplished coming from an undrafted status to winning Super Bowls as a quarterback is remarkable. He literally did go from stocking shelves at the supermarket to an MVP in the NFL. That kind of story doesn’t happen every day and is exciting.

American Underdog (2021) - IMDb

Second, the Erwin’s got quality actors for the film. We all know Zachary Levi is charismatic and likable but so is Anna Paquin who plays Warner’s girlfriend/wife. Dennis Quaid does strong work as coach Dick Vermeil in a small role and little Hayden Zaller is wonderful as Warner’s step-son Zack. The whole cast makes for a story that’s easy to find inspiring because we like the characters and we want to cheer for them.

Finally, for this kind of movie the script is relatively gritty and honest. For example, Kurt and Brenda live together for a long time before getting married. They also meet in a bar and characters get intoxicated on occasion. It’s not like you need these elements to make a story work but it’s also nice the filmmakers didn’t shy away from them to appease their Christian audience either. It makes the victory in the end all the more enjoyable when you see where they come from and what they have overcome.

This holiday season if you are looking for something that will make you stand up and cheer check out American Underdog. It’s a rousing crowd pleaser for the whole family!

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy