Current Mini Reviews

It’s time for another edition of my Current Mini Reviews where I give shortened reviews of recently released films. If you are new to the site you are going to think I’m a super big grumpy pants because I didn’t like any of the movies being covered. Sometimes that’s the way the movie Gods see fit to provide, and it’s a good thing because it makes me grateful for the great films! So here goes:

The Sun is Also a Star

First up is The Sun is Also a Star. This is a romantic YA drama based on the book by Nicola Yoon. I actually read the book and enjoyed it. I thought both Natasha and Daniel were well developed and interesting characters and that helped me care about the instalove gimmick. Unfortunately as you can see in my youtube review the movie did not work. The director used too many gimmicks with spinning cameras and heavy-handed narration that got in the way of the characters. Without their development the romance felt very corny. The two leads are pretty people but the script didn’t work for me.

Frown Worthy

3.5 out of 10

A Dog’s Journey

KINÓWKI.pl

Don’t worry this is not a sequel to A Dog’s Way Home, which came out in January, and I gave a marginal recommendation to. No, this is a sequel to the 2017 film A Dog’s Purpose, which I didn’t enjoy, but this manages to be even worse. This is a PG family film, and we get multiple dog deaths, human deaths, parental abuse, alcoholism, a toxic teenage relationship, car crashes and cancer. Good grief! The only thing I liked about the movie aside from the cute doggies was the relationship between Kathryn Prescott and Henry Lau. I’d watch them in another movie- maybe a light-hearted romantic comedy and not this massive downer…It makes Old Yeller look like a laugh-fest.

Frown Worthy

2 out of 10

The Dead Don’t Die-

dead dont die

Last year I loved the delightful indie zombie Christmas musical Anna and the Apocalypse. It was creative, funny and sweet. It even made Best Films of 2018. So when I saw a trailer for The Dead Don’t Die I got very excited. The trailer was hilarious, and I love the cast. My hope was it was going to be a Wes Anderson meets Zombieland film. Unfortunately I was very disappointed. The Dead Don’t Die was an unfunny, self-indulgent, frustrating experience. The cast is woefully wasted, and they strain for the few laughs the script offers. The metaphors are also rammed in to the ground by narrators and characters breaking the 4th wall. It is my first film from director Jim Jarmusch but the critics at Cannes and other places don’t seem to be enjoying it either, so it appears to be a just a big miss. It’s frustrating because it had so much potential and it all falls flat.

Frown Worthy

3.5 out of 10

Wine Country

wine country

In recent years Hollywood has produced several popular comedic films starring and geared towards women. Whether it is the Bad Moms movies, Girl’s Trip or Bridesmaids these films have an audience. Unfortunately the successes for that audience are few and far between. In the latest from Netflix, Wine Country, a lot of funny women are brought together for little to no laughs. It boggles my mind that so many talented people like Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, Ana Gasteyer and more could all get together and produce so few jokes. It felt like an R rated version of a sitcom episode stretched into nearly 2 hours. I also am so tired of the trope that women doing raunchy or outlandish things is inherently more funny than when a man does the same things. It’s so lazy and that’s how I would describe Wine Country. Buyer beware!

Frown Worthy

2 out of 10

So there you have it. 4 pretty terrible films all in the same month! I bet you’re not so jealous of my job now! If you get to see any of these movies let me know what you think. Thanks

Pottersville Review

There are some movies that defy description. That you watch and then sit in stunned silence after wondering what you have just witnessed. This year’s Pottersville is such a film. As someone who watched 35 Hallmark original Christmas movies this year as well as films on Ion, Up and other questionable networks, Pottersville is the worst holiday film of the year and one of the worst I’ve ever seen. There is some argument to be made for ‘so bad it’s good’ entertainment but right now I’m just baffled by it and even more baffled that so many great people cosigned to be in it. It’s a festive train-wreck that must be seen to be believed.

Let’s start off with the fact that one of the great actors working today, Michael Shannon, leads this film. He stars as Maynard Greiger a simple general store manager who goes home one day to find out his wife has become a furry because country life is boring. Let that sentence sink in…

I have no problem with furries to be honest. Whatever people like to do in their free time is fine with me but the way this movie uses them is so weird and mocking in tone but then sincere is perplexing to say the least. They somehow got Christina Hendricks and Ron Perlman to play the furries! What on earth?

The devastated Maynard then decides to spice up his life by dressing up and becoming Bigfoot, which sends the town into a flutter. I repeat- what on earth? (And he drinks from a pee fountain at one point).

Then Thomas Lennon shows up as Brock Masterson, host of a Bigfoot hunting reality show and it is so bizarre. He flails about the forest with a bad Australian accent and it seems like he should be a crazy person but he’s not. He’s just in this movie. There is one scene with him defecating outside while talking to one of his producers that goes on forever. The attempts at physical, mad-cap comedy are so bad it defies description. I just couldn’t believe this is a thing that was made by top tier talent?

There is also the Christmas aspects to the film, which are bizarre. Like how about the many references to It’s a Wonderful Life? Because that’s the first movie I think of when making a list of silly holiday comedies. Also the ever-present strange holiday soundtrack that is surprisingly traditional for such an anarchist movie. And I’ve seen about 10 ‘save the ____’ Christmas movies this year but this expects you to feel warm and fuzzy about this ‘Bigfoot’ sighting literally saving the town when its dilapidated town mill becomes a tourist attraction. What on earth?

Pottersville is one of those movies that is very difficult to rank because it is so bad it is fascinating and must be seen by all. Do I rank this over a mediocre bad movie like The Emoji Movie? Pottersville is worse than Emoji Movie but it is worse in more interesting ways. People were trying to make a holiday classic and it failed spectacularly where nobody was really trying to make a great movie with Emoji.

The only thing I can think to compare it with is last year’s 9 Lives but this is even stranger narratively. I just don’t know what to say or how to adequately describe this film.

It is available on Netflix so watch it for yourself and see what epically bad movies can achieve.

By the way check out my podcast on Hallmark movies I’ve been doing with my friend Amber. I’m super proud of it.

Pitch Perfect 3 Review (Some Spoilers)

Let me start by saying to most people Pitch Perfect 3 is just a lame comedy but to me it hurt my heart quite a bit. I don’t have many live action comedies I like these days. Most are so vulgar and obscene that I don’t even bother seeing them let alone loving them. However, the original Pitch Perfect was an exception to this rule. It was funny, empowering and had some great music, and I loved it so much.

I went to a college where acapella music was kind of a big deal, so that music will always be nostalgic for me, but even beyond that nostalgia these girls were good singers, and the arrangements were creative. I also loved the characters particularly Rebel Wilson’s Fat Amy who wasn’t just a fat joke but owned who she was and was hilariously self-confident. Anyway, I loved the first movie and it will always be special to me.

And then there was the second movie, which I probably gave more of a pass to than I should have. It had just enough funny parts but it was a decent step down in quality. Of course, it made a ton of money so we all knew there would be a Pitch Perfect 3 . Honestly, the resulting film is not a pretty scene you guys.

Pitch Perfect 3 kind of sucks and it makes me really sad.

The cast of the Bellas are all back and they are all trying. There is chemistry there and some of the singing is good (but a little boring this time). The problem is the plot is super weak and it’s not funny at all. I don’t know what they were thinking with this story. I felt embarrassed for these actors especially John Lithgow who should be banned from Australia with the accent he tries to pull off.

Basically the Bellas reunite and go on a USO tour which is also a competition for some rapper. Most of that is very boring with terrible jokes sprinkled in usually about how fat Amy is. Fat Amy has gone from empowering to a complete joke. Then in a completely baffling second act the girls get abducted and Fat Amy becomes an action hero taking out bad guys with karate chops. I just sat there thinking ‘what have you done with my sweet little comedy?”

All of the relationships from the previous films are abandoned except for the Bellas and Becca (Anna Kendrick) immediately abandons her dreams of producing music because pop stars are difficult to work with- what the heck? There was never any sense of her wanting to be a solo singer or that being a dream of hers in the previous films. Literally she doesn’t even want to join the bellas because it will detract from her producing work.

But all of that wouldn’t matter if it was funny but the humor was insultingly bad. They don’t even get any laughs from Gail and John commentating. It just sucks. My advice is to buy the album and listen to a few songs and watch the first movie again. Pitch Perfect 3 deserves to be pitched in the trash. To use a pun from the movie- it is acaterrible.

Worst Movies of 2016

All right.  The gloves are out. It’s time to take out the trash with the worst films I saw in 2016! I still have some best movie candidates to see so that list may not be for a while but I felt pretty confident in the junk. So here goes! (this is very therapeutic for us film fans!)

15. Suicide Squad-

Incompetently made. Doesn’t feel finished. Hated the Joker. The first act of the movie is Amanda Waller sitting at a table looking at binder. Enchantress was horrible. The script was full of inconsistencies and problems. The fact it made so much money is proof people will see anything with a superhero label on it these days except Fantastic 4.

suicide squad cereal14. X-Men Apocalypse-

This movie annoyed me more than any other live action superhero movie of 2016. It had a fractured story interrupted by callbacks to better XMen movies. It ditches the metaphor that makes the franchise special in favor of a big boring villain in Apocalypse. This is the kind of movie that made me turn against superhero movies for 3 years after seeing Green Lantern. And we get to see Pyslocke in a skimpy outfit fighting at Auschwitz. Just no

xmen apocolypse213. The 5th Wave

One of the most cynical movies I saw all year. I hate these dystopian teen movies and this is one of the worst. It is violent and boring with a twist that is so obvious. None of the characters have any personality or heart to them especially the males. It’s awful. My only hope with it is that with it and Allegiant doing poorly we won’t be getting any more of them.

5th-wave12. God’s of Egypt

White washing issues proved to be the least of this movie’s problems. There is some ‘so bad it’s good’ enjoyment to be had here but holy cow this is awful. Everything is over the top and ridiculous and unintentionally humorous. The characters are inconsistent. Entire storylines do not matter and are forgotten by the script and the acting is hilariously bad.

gods of egypt411. Huntsman: Winter’s War

Sequels to bad movies are typically a bad idea and that is certainly the case with this movie. It can’t decide what it wants to be. It is part sequel, part prequel, part Frozen rip-off and all bad. The acting is awful from normally reliable actors like Jessica Chastain and Emily Blunt. The production does look pretty good but the story makes no sense and you just feel embarrassed for all involved while watching.

huntsman-winters-war10. Mother’s Day

It’s a shame Garry Marshall had to leave us with this dud. He could be a great storyteller but this has nothing insightful to say about mothering or motherhood. All of the mothers depicted are caricatures who oddly do almost no mothering in the film. It wasn’t funny. The performances are awful and 2 parent characters are shockingly offensive and not in a funny way.

mothers-day9. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

I LOVE the original Greek Wedding film. It’s honestly one of my favorite comedies and so I was so disappointed by this sequel. It’s one of those sequels that decides to take anything that worked in the original and make it ten times bigger; thereby, ruining what worked so well. The acting was bad. The writing was bad and it really ticked me off.

greek wedding28. Nine Lives

There is some bizarre ‘how did this happen?’ value in Nine Lives but that’s about it. It’s one of the laziest movies of the year. They can’t even get the meowing right in your cat movie. The thing is the Kevin Spacey character isn’t a bad dad. He works a lot but he is actively trying to bond with his daughter and holds a meeting to decide on her birthday present. The script takes some bizarre turns and it’s incompetently made in every respect.

nine-lives7. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

This movie bored me more than any movie I can think of in a long time. I sat there hoping it would end. Every scene is characters explaining things to us and I just didn’t care. All the performances are flat and boring. Even Burton’s usual magical touches are nowhere to be found except for a scene with skeletons. He’s really lost all of his edge as a filmmaker. It makes me kind of sad.

peregrine46. Alice Through the Looking Glass

A follow up to the 2010 big hit was a miss at the box office for a reason. The story is beyond stupid with the catalyst for both films turning out to be a lie over tarts! #Tartgate. Johnny Depp is annoying in it and everyone else looks bored. There’s weird touches that come off as grotesque like vegetable people being eaten instead of magical. It is a joyless enterprise which is sad for Alice!

alice-through-the-looking-glass-poster-alice5. Me Before You

I admit this movie is well made but it really offended me. The assertion that suicide is a valid, even brave, choice for those dealing with quadriplegia is offensive and disgusting. We don’t see the lead character go to therapy or try living a full life. We just see the manic pixie dream girl hired to care for him take him to concerts and the beach and then his decision is supposed to be valid? How about you give him a job or help him contribute? It’s most morally repugnant film of the year

me before you64. Batman: the Killing Joke

Speaking of morally repugnant, I have another candidate in Batman: the Killing Joke. This movie takes the graphic novel and turns it into a disgusting portrait of female victimization. Barbara Gordon has no autonomy as a character. She is a tool for the screenwriters to move around whenever they need her to be raped, beaten, and demeaned. The gay character is embarrassing. The supposed relationship between Batman and Batgirl is right out of a soap opera and the interesting questions of the novel are barely addressed. The animation is also very mediocre.

Batman-The-Killing-joke-movie-poster3. Warcraft-

The most befuddling movie going experience of the year. I had no idea what was happening most of the time. I didn’t understand the world or the rules of the world. The characters all looked the same and the conflict between the two groups was confusing. It was boring and the acting was really bad especially from the human characters. I want to give it credit for its scope but I really cant because the story made no sense.

warcraft52. Norm of the North

Quite possibly the worst animated film I’ve ever seen in the theaters and I’ve seen Strange Magic and Home…Everything about this movie is awful. Awful story, characters, writing, jokes, sidekicks, villain, villain plan, animation, etc. You get the idea. It’s the stain on what was a pretty amazing year of animation. Only film I have nothing nice to say

norm1111. The Do-Over

I wish Adam Sandler could have a do-over on his career. This isn’t even a movie. It’s Sandler and his friends going on vacation and filming hateful stuff. The story is awful and mean-spirited. There isn’t one laugh. It’s misogynistic, hateful, homophobic, disgusting and the story is so flimsy it seems hard to believe anyone agreed to air it. It may go down as one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen.

the_do-over_poster

 

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (Review)

greek wedding2Guys I feel genuinely sad. While everyone else is bummed out over an underwhelming Batman v Superman this weekend, I’m sad about My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.  It kind of broke my heart. 😦

I love the original Greek Wedding from 2002.  It’s one of my favorite comedies of all time.  Why does it work?  Because it is focused on one character Toula and her becoming an independent woman and getting married.  Along for the ride are her parents and crazy family.   The writing is funny and most people with loud obnoxious families can relate to what Toula goes through.  I certainly could.

So now all these years later we get a sequel and like  most comedy sequels it is a disaster.  Whether it be Dumb and Dumber 2, Zoolander 2, Caddyshack 2, most comedy sequels suck.

greek wedding3What did Greek Wedding 2 get wrong?  Well…

To begin with it decides to not focus on one person’s story but it splits up the focus on a variety of subplots.  We get Toula and her stale marriage, her daughter Paris going to prom, Paris deciding what college to go to, her parents finding out they aren’t actually married, her cousin revealing he is gay, her father wanting to be related to Alexander the Great, her trying to plan her parents wedding etc.  The list goes on.

None of these plots are given ample time by the screenplay to grow and be more than a sitcom.  It’s like I could practically hear the laugh track in the background behind every situation.

They also take jokes we liked from the first film and run them into the ground.  For example, Toula’s Aunt Voula has a great joke in original about a growth on her neck.  Here we get 3 jokes about her body including one about having one working ovary. Another example is Toula’s father and his making all words Greek.  In the original you get it twice.  Here it is repeated over and over again.  Same thing with the windex and the awkward sex talk/ sex situations we get at least 3 times.  All of these jokes land with a thud.

greek wedding7They even bring back Toula getting taunted by the girls at school over her strange lunch from the first one.  I wanted to say ‘let it go!’  Toula had moved on from such nonsense and become a strong woman and it felt petty and kind of judgemental on her part.

As I was watching I got angrier and more irritated.  So much so, I almost considered walking out of the theater. It was such a disappointment to these characters I loved in the original.

The other problem is they forget that the crazy family antics were relatively spaced out in the original.  A ton of time is spent on Toula, her and Ian’s relationship, their courtship and nice quiet moments between Toula and her brother, mother/family etc.  The craziness made you laugh because it felt believable within the context of a wedding or big family event. Weddings are nuts for big families.  That’s believable.

greek wedding6Here it is so overdone.  For example, Paris has a college career fair at school and the entire family- cousins, aunts, uncles, all come.  This becomes annoying instead of funny because it no longer feels like a heightened version of reality.  I mean there are a lot of grandkids in that family and if everyone comes to every college fair/minor activity than they must not get much done.  It is believable for a wedding or big event, not every day life.

greek wedding5The other disappointment in the film is Nia Vardalos’ acting  She’s wooden for much of her line delivery and her and John Corbett seem to have lost the chemistry that made them so great in the original. Her responses are either bland or way over the top. It’s one extreme or the other.  There is a scene for instance when she out of nowhere unleashes at her neighbors who are watching the commotion next door.  It frankly felt bizarre.

Other elements don’t work like the wedding being stopped because Toula’s father is tipsy at the alter.  You just feel sad for Lainie Kazan’s Mother character and I think the movie wants us to laugh.  Either way we haven’t spent enough time with her character to be emotionally invested in the situation.  It just ends up feeling awkward and uncomfortable.

greek wedding4Another example is they are setting up for a wedding and out of nowhere a man tells the Joey Fatone character something like ‘well, at least he isn’t hiding any more’ and it turns out they are partners. There’s nothing wrong with that storyline in the film but it is literally shoehorned into a cleaning scene and then quickly dispensed of- leaving no laughter or emotion for the audience.

It’s like they thought they had to give everyone in the family (even the Grandma gets a storyline) a subplot so they all leave us under-served and frustrated.

But most importantly they didn’t make me laugh. Family hijinx aren’t in and of themselves funny.  It has to be balanced amid people we care about or it is just annoying and that is the case here.

Lainie Kazan does her darndest to squeeze some emotion out of her desire to be proposed to by her husband but again the movie doesn’t focus on her enough leaving me unmoved in the end.

Some people on my facebook liked the film and that’s cool but it really bummed me out.  I know technically speaking Norm of the North and The Choice are more poorly made movies but as far as disappointing me My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is the worst movie I’ve seen in 2016.

At the very least it begs the question- YOU HAD 1 JOB AND THIS WAS THE BEST YOU COULD DO AFTER 15 YEARS!!!!  Darn it all…

Overall Grade- F

Top 10 Worst Animated Films

So Norm of the North inspired me to create a top 10 list of the worst animated films I’ve ever seen.  Here it is:

lorax22210. Lorax- This bright, messy film ruins Dr Seuss’ subtle message into a story of bland corporate greed.

mars needs moms9. Mars Needs Moms- Gray, drab, motion capture film with a strangely dark message for kids of Moms getting abducted by aliens.

legends of oz8. Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return- Some of the worst animation I’ve ever seen.  It does not look finished.  The story is cluttered and I nodded off more than once. It is not worthy to bear the name of Oz.

Pound_Puppies_Big_Paw_poster7. Pound Puppies Movie- The worst of the corporate toy movies from the 80s with no creativity or cleverness.  We get the origins of Puppy Power and that’s as lame as you might guess.

fly me to moon6. Fly Me to the Moon- Basically a script of unending fly puns and toilet humor.  Poor animation, annoying characters, stupid story.

hero of color city5. Hero of Color City- Terrible Toy Story rip-off about crayons who come to life.  The animation is awful, the story is boring, humor falls flat.

hunchback44. Hunchback of Notre Dame 2- Takes the subtle dark message of the original and turns it into a maudlin atrocity. Terrible animation, horrible villain and a bell with jewels on the inside is stupid.  The worst of the Disney sequels in my opinion.

norm1113. Norm of the North- Call it recency bias but this may be the worst animated film I’ve seen in a theater.  The story makes no sense, animation is sloppy, villain super lame. Not one good thing to say about it

crazy nights2. Eight Crazy Nights- Disgusting animated film from Adam Sandler featuring jokes in poor taste to put it mildly.  His vocal performances are insulting and annoying.  The songs wouldn’t even work in a bad SNL skit. Terrible film in every way.

dogs christmas1. All Dogs Go to Heaven Christmas Carol- You guys know how dear Christmas Carol is to me and this film adds hypnotized dogs and a she-devil spirit called Belladonna who wants to destroy Christmas.  Making Carface Scrooge doesn’t work because he isn’t the primary villain trying to ruin Christmas.  The Tiny Tim dog is the worst and  The animation is terrible and the songs unoriginal.

Worst Movies of 2015

fantastic 415. Fantastic 4- I didn’t hate it quite as much as bigger comic book movie fans but it certainly isn’t good.  The characters are forgettable to muddled- especially the villain Dr Doom who’s powers and abilities made no sense.  The story didn’t work and the acting wasn’t good.  But by far the worst part was the special effects, which were some of the worst I’ve seen in a comic book movie since Superman 4.

heart of sea14. In the Heart of the Sea- A film I was looking forward too that was a big disappointment.  It was gross, dull with surprisingly poor visual effects.  I wanted an action adventure at sea and what I got was a grim survival story and not a good one at that.  The acting is fine but other than that really didn’t like it.

minions13. Minions- The cute sidekicks of Despicable Me movies can’t carry their own film.  It’s supposed to be an origin story and yet we don’t really find out anything surprising or new about them.  Most of the jokes are about the 1960s and I’m not sure why that is funny?  They didn’t get one laugh from me; nor did any other part of the movie.  I didn’t like it after first watching it and disliked it even more on the rewatch.

terminator412. Terminator Genisys- At best a forgettable entry into the terminator films but this made the huge mistake of going back into the timeline and altering some of the events of the good terminator movies! The acting is underwhelming, the plot is full of holes and it gives nothing new or different.  Arnold is good and that’s about all I can say for it.

suffragette11. Suffragette- Probably my biggest disappointment of the year.  The acting is good but I hated how it was made so much.  The extreme close-ups and shaky cam made me nuts.  I wanted to leave the theater it bothered me so much.  Also focusing on a fictional character made it all feel maudlin and predictable.  It’s a real shame when you have real life characters you could have focused on.  Meryl Streep is completely wasted in the film.

little boy10. Little Boy- I’m typically a defender of faith-based films but this one about a little boy with great faith in WW2 was a complete snoozefest.  The little boy isn’t a good actor and it definitely goes into the ‘Jesus is magic’ territory Christian films sometimes dip into.  I don’t care for that approach to faith.

strange magic9. Strange Magic- The script really sinks this animated film ‘from the mind of George Lucas’.  It’s supposed to be a ‘girl power’ movie but all the girls are dopey and stupid.  The songs are so on the nose that they became annoying.

pixels108. Pixels- The premise for Pixels could have been fun and there are a few good moments but I just can’t get over that in 2015 a woman is given to someone as a trophy for valor in a fight.  The plot is full of holes and all the women are mopey, whiny, sad sacks that need Adam Sandler and crew to save them.  Some of the visuals are cool but that’s about it.

home-poster7. Home- What a stinker from Dreamworks.  The plot makes no sense and the characters are inconsistent.  The voice talent doesn’t work.  The music seems out of place.  The ending made me roll my eyes.  I explain more about my dislike for Home in yesterdays post

Walt_Before_Mickey6. Walt Before Mickey- A movie I actually had a good time at because it is so so awful it made me laugh.  There are so many scenes I couldn’t believe what I was seeing like when Walt befriends a mouse and carries it around in his pocket talking to it.  Then he loses the mouse and goes into a panic attack looking for it.  Things like that are just too silly! So rent it if you want a good laugh.

aloha5. Aloha- What happened Cameron Crowe?  This movie is such a mess.  It’s baffling how with so many skilled actors and a place as beautiful as Hawaii he could make a movie as bad as Aloha.  It all comes down to the editing.  Most of the conversations seemed like they were spliced together from other conversations.  So  many of the plotpoints felt wedged in and then you have Emma Stone playing a Japanese woman because that makes sense…

chappie24. Chappie- There are some interesting ideas Neill Blomkamp in Chappie but unfortunately it focuses on the wrong characters.  There is a band called Die Antwoord who are some of the most shrill, awful, annoying characters I’ve seen in a film.  I hated every time they were on screen and that was a lot of the movie.  Plus, it is way more violent than it needs to be and the band takes you away from the interesting discussions and characters in Hugh Jackman and Dev Patel.

paul blart 23. Paul Blart Mall Cop 2- I actually liked the first Paul Blart but this sequel is basically a giant ad for the Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas.  We even get a tour at one point.  Not a gag works and when they don’t work they last forever.  It’s honestly like a bad Saved by the Bell episode without the warmth or charm of that series.

hot pursuit32. Hot Pursuit- A terrible buddy/road trip movie with Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara playing shrill, unlikable, awful women.  All of Sophia’s bad behavior and traits are excused because she’s Columbian or a hot latino which I found to be a little racist and uncomfortable.  There’s over the top gags that don’t work and the lesbian jokes never stopped.  I honestly don’t understand how anyone making this movie thought this stuff was funny.

ridiculous 6-3

1. Ridiculous 6- How could there be something worse than Hot Pursuit?  Well, leave it to Adam Sandler and company in this atrocious Western parody.  It is gross, racist, bigoted, awful and way too long.  The actors should all be embarrassed.  Netflix should be embarrassed.  No wonder Native American extras and representatives walked off the set.  Even with how awful Adam Sandler movies have been of late, I  couldn’t believe how bad the Ridiculous 6 was.

Walt Before Mickey Review

Walt_Before_MickeySo today was looking at my local theater line-up and I notice a film called Walt Before Mickey.  What is this? How as a Disney aficionado have I never heard of this film about the big man himself, Walt Disney?  I had a little bit of time tonight so I figured I’d go check it out.  I mean my blog has Disney in the name so I think I’m obligated to do so.

Well, my friends there is a reason I hadn’t heard of Walt Before Mickey.  I can confidently say the only encouragement I can give you to see this film is if you like inadvertently funny ‘so bad it’s good’ type of entertainment. That’s right, Walt Before Mickey, had me in stitches but not in the way they intended it too.

It’s really bad.

That’s not to say they don’t try to make a good movie but the script is so bad there were times I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

walt before mickeyAs the title suggests, Walt Before Mickey is about the mostly business life of Walt Disney before he created Mickey Mouse.  It begins with some of Walt’s early life drawing horses for his neighbor.  We will occasionally flashback to these scenes and in one scene it seems like Walt is terrified of his father and in another he loves and adores him.  While that may be partly true it feels inconsistent and random here.  Most of the time he is giving out great wisdom but then out of nowhere he will be harsh and cruel.

Eventually we get up to him as a young adult played by Thomas Ian Nicholas .  After working for a local advertising agency Disney meets Ub Iwerks played by director Armando Gutierrez.  We also meet Rudy Ising (David Henrie) who evidently answered an ad for a Cartoonist but has never heard of animation before and has to be shown a flipbook…

A lot of this is true as far as names and faces but it is handled with such dew filled sepia lighting its tough to take seriously.  It feels like a movie we’d see in Sunday School class not a feature film.

And then the script just piles it on.  Like we get lines such as

“This story is drawn in my own blood!”

or

“You will never be a failure Walt!  You have too much goodness inside of you”

or

“I wished upon a star and look what it gave me!”

If you aren’t laughing at those lines than you have a higher tolerance for cheese than I do.

One of the most insane scenes I wish I had a picture of is Walt after Laugh-o-grams is closed down he becomes friendly with a a mouse that he starts to carry in his shirt pocket.  He even dives in the dumpster to get food for the mouse and when it scurries away he goes into full-on meltdown mode.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.   This isn’t just a subtle hint at a friendship with a mice.  This is whole on Cinderella talking too and interacting with him in multiple scenes. It makes you wonder why it took him so long to come up with Mickey!

walt before mickey6

The acting isn’t that bad.  Even Jon Heder from my favorite Napoleon Dynamite, is fine. It also looks nice as far as sets and costuming but I promise you Robert Deniro, Meryl Streep and Marlon Brando could not have saved this script.

walt before mickey5Another laughable character or caricature I should say is Conor Dubin playing Charles Mintz.  This is the greedy Jewish guy who is counting his money and scheming to thwart the talented white guy you used to see in movies from the 40s.  I felt embarrassed for everyone involved whenever his character was on screen.

Walt Before Mickey is really on the Unauthorized True Story level Lifetime has been churning out for the likes of Saved by the Bell or 90210.  It’s hero main flaw is not being able to pay people because he dreams too big.

Evidently there were a lot of problems in the making of the film.  One report I read crew members were walking off set, actors didn’t get paid and they had to finda  new director after starting filming.  There are times when you can’t hear characters and editing and focus will be sloppy.

walt before mickey3

The editing was also badly done.  In one scene Walt’s boys will pay his rent and practically lay down in traffic for him and then minutes later he is storming into the office throwing things off of desks and making a mess (the bad movie sign of stress).  All of the characters are inconsistent like that and despite the best efforts by the actors it ends up feeling embarrassing.

There’s another movie coming out this year about young Walt called As Dreamers Do and that looks equally cringe-worthy and he’s talking to a mouse in that one as well!

I loved Saving Mr Banks so there is proof a Disney bio pic could be good but they have to be actual films and not visuals for the Walt Disney Sunday School course.  The great man certainly deserves better that is for sure.

Here is a trailer to Walt Before Mickey if you want to get more of an idea.

Overall Score- D-

 

A Seuss Strike Out pt 2: The Cat in the Hat

cat in hat

There are some movies that are just bad ideas from the start.   A live action Cat in the Hat was one of those movies.  Unlike the Lorax where we have a fairly strong narrative with a fable-like story, the lovely Cat in the Hat by Dr Seuss is basically a story about having fun on a rainy day.  There’s just not enough heft there for a feature film.

But nevertheless they made the attempt in 2003 and what you got was one of the worst movies ever made.  I have yet to hear of anyone that likes this movie.

The story of Cat in the Hat is 2 kids Conrad and Sally bored on a rainy day.  Their Mother is gone and they have nothing to do when in walks a cat with a hat who is determined to show the kids some fun.

“It is fun to have fun but you have to know how”

This fun consists of balancing a lot of stuff on a ball while the kids fish complains he is making a mess.  When that doesn’t work he unleashes 2 creatures called Thing 1 and Thing 2 who fly a kite in the house and make a mess.  Eventually the Cat helps them clean up and everything is good.

That’s it.  That’s the story.

What does the movie do with said story?  They turn it into a ghastly looking, shoutfest, with double entendres, potty humor, and a general mean spirited nature.  Part of the problem is the film confuses chaos with fun.  Characters shouting and making messes is not in and of itself pleasant to watch or entertaining.  Or maybe it is for 1600 words but not for 82 minutes in a movie!

Mike Myers is the lead cat and it is one of the most ghastly makeup jobs and creatures ever put into a movie.  I’m sure someone could redo the film and turn it into a horror movie.  In the book the cat looks more lean and lengthy but here it is awful.

cat in hat7Spencer Breslin and Dakota Fanning are the kids and they mostly scream at the Cat for making a mess and getting them in trouble. Again, not fun to watch.

cat in hat2The fish is there but like most things in this movie looks very disturbing instead of cute.

cat in hat9Thing 1 and Thing 2 arrive and don’t just fly kites but end up taking kids on amusement park type ride and destroy the house.  It’s not funny or interesting just exhausting.

cat in hat10Then they add plotlines with the kids Mother played by Kelly Preston and her horrible boss played by Sean Hayes.

cat in hat6She also has a horrible boyfriend played by Alec Baldwin who of course hates the kids and wants to send Conrad to military school.   I guess they were trying to add some kind of villain into the mix but it isn’t funny or compelling or fun in any way.

cat in hat5The worst of all is their nanny Mrs Kwan is a narcoleptic who they mock throughout the movie.  Some of it I found to be kind of racist and it is all thoroughly mean.  She’s treated like a human doll to beat up on and I suppose if she was some awful person that would be one thing but she pretty much sleeps the whole movie.  It’s not funny to see a woman treated like that.

cat in hat4Then to top it off we get a rave party scene with Paris Hilton making an appearance.  You know who you always want in your children’s movie- Paris Hilton in a skimpy party number. What were they thinking?

cat in hat8The Cat in the Hat creators need to spend more time with kids to understand what fun is for a child because their attempt to create it falls flat every time.  Nothing is funny and nothing is fun.  When a kid plays they are random but not usually complete chaos.  They may combine their Star Wars and GI Joe characters together in an epic story dominating Barbies (random) but they aren’t just flailing about throwing their toys around the room and if they are they don’t do it for 82 minutes.

That’s what was so ingenious about the Lego Movie.  They captured the randomness of a kids mind better than any movie I’ve seen.  You had the pirate, Harry Potter and Abe Lincoln all together but there was a story and an inventiveness that worked.  It wasn’t just madness all the time.

I suppose the writers were trying to take Myers Shrek style of comedy that was so successful at that time and apply it to this movie.  The problem with that is at least with Shrek (not a big fan of those films) there was an actual story and more than one performer to bounce the humor off of.  The little asides and adults only jokes are obnoxious in Shrek but I’d watch all 4 of those movies on repeat rather than sit through Cat in the Hat again.

cat in hat3Everything doesn’t need to be a movie and Cat in the Hat should have been stopped at the idea stage.  Some of the sets look bright and colorful but in total it feels like an assault to the senses so even that isn’t pleasant.

Badly done Hollywood!!  Seuss deserves better than this atrocity.

Overall Grade- F