Blind Spot 79: The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

When it comes to director Wes Anderson’s work I’m a bit of an agnostic. Some of his films I really enjoy like his animated films, with The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom being my favorites. Then there are others which I am more lukewarm on like Rushmore and The French Dispatch. This month’s Blind Spot entry belongs in the latter with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. It has some of Anderson’s quirky style but I mostly found it dull without an engaging story.

This film centers on Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) of the title who leads his eccentric group of explorers under the sea to film nature documentaries like a Jacques Cousteau type of character.

Included in the crew is Zissou’s estranged wife Eleanor (Anjelica Houston), his son Ned (Owen Wilson)  and a pregnant reporter covering the shoot named Jane (Cate Blanchett), among many other characters (Willem Dafoe, Jeff Golblum, Michael Gambon and more all have small roles on the ship).

For his latest documentary, Zissou is trying to hunt down a “jaguar shark” that killed his friend Esteban. Unfortunately, Anderson’s script meanders away from this central plot too often making it hard to stay invested. To be frank, I tried watching the film 3 times and each time found myself fighting sleep and I wasn’t that tired. The story just didn’t do it for me.

The production design of the ship is impressive and the cinematography by Robert Yeoman is full of whimsy but none of that matters if the story isn’t interesting. Same goes for the performances which are all well done.

I would recommend one of Anderson’s other films over this one like Moonrise Kingdom or Fantastic Mr Fox. Those have far better stories than this underwater tale.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

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Current Mini Reviews (Paws of Fury, Hallelujah, Mrs Harris Goes to Paris, Love Accidentally, Zombies 3)

Hey everyone! It’s time for a quick update on the new films I’ve been watching.

First Trailer For Paws Of Fury | Movies | Empire

Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank

My feelings concerning this movie are surprisingly complicated. Ever since I first started reviewing films back in 2014 I heard about Blazing Samurai and it seemed like a project we were never going to see. Now in 2022 we finally have it and considering the production history it’s not half bad. Then again I might be giving it too much credit because of very low expectations.

The strength of this film is the humor and the animation. I laughed quite a bit, and the animated action looks great. The downside is the plot is quite dry and slow. The pacing could have been better. Still it’s a harmless action comedy the family can enjoy (it should have gone to streaming).

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris: the fairy-tale myth that endures - BBC Culture

Mrs Harris Goes to Paris

In a world where the cinema seems crowded with superheroes and explosions it’s nice to take a break and watch a movie about human beings with simple dreams. Such is the case with Mrs Harris Goes to Paris.

The film stars Lesley Manville as the Mrs Harris in the title and she is a cleaning lady who decides to travel to Paris and buy a couture Dior dress. While there she meets Isabelle Huppert’s Claudine who runs Dior and doesn’t know what to make of this British woman who wants such a fancy dress.

Manville should get nominated for an Oscar for her performance. She’s so good in this role. You feel for her desire to be recognized and that she is worthy of great things like a Dior dress. The costumes are also obviously gorgeous and there’s a lot of escapism in all the fashion.

My only real flaw with the film is we don’t get to see much of Paris as most of the movie is in the Dior offices. Might have been nice to get out into the city more just to break things up. This is a movie you can take your family too and all have a great time. It’s a heartwarming tribute to dreamers.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Love Accidentally (2022) Freevee Movie | About, Cast, Wiki

Love Accidentally

Everyone knows I’m a sucker for a romantic comedy so I was excited to see Love Accidentally in the new service Freevee, which is associated with Amazon Prime. This is not a great romcom but it is serviceable if you are in the mood for the genre.

It mostly works because Brenda Song and Aaron O’Connell are charming and have decent chemistry. It’s about a couple working together who end up in a texting relationship without realizing who the other texter is. This story has been done many times but it almost always works for me. It’s romantic the idea of falling in love with each other’s words.

Still we’ve seen this all before and most of the attempts at comedy fall flat but it hit my romcom craving so I give it a mild recommendation.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Disney+ Debuts 'Zombies 3' Trailer (TV News Roundup) - Variety

Zombies 3

I consider myself a bit of a defender of the DCOM especially the musicals. I think they have an energy in choreography, music and casting I enjoy. One of my favorites is the first Zombies film. It’s a cute little metaphor for tolerance with talented young actors and some entertaining choreography. Then we got Zombies 2 and now to Disney Plus we have Zombies 3.

Each entry in this series adds a new group the residences of Seabrook must learn to accept. First, zombies. Second, werewolves, and third, aliens. I still enjoy the cast of this 3rd film with Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly in the lead with new addition Matt Cornett as one of the aliens. I love him on HSMTMTS so was excited to see him get more roles.

Zombies 3 tries to tackle a lot and unfortunately the music and dancing get lost. It’s like Grease meets Wrath of Kahn meets Bring it On and that’s a lot for any movie, let alone a DCOM, to take on. The songs are also weirdly placed and not memorable. In the end, it’s too much and not enough at the same time.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song' Trailer | IndieWire

Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song

I am always fascinated by creatives and the process by which they come up with great music or art. In Hallelujah we get to peek behind the life and career of musician Leonard Cohen who wrote the incredibly popular song Hallelujah (you definitely need to like that song to enjoy this film as you will hear it about 40 times!)

This doesn’t reinvent the wheel for this kind of documentary but I appreciate how thorough this one is. They even go into the process for how Hallelujah ended up on Shrek and how they completely changed the lyrics for the film.

If you like this song than you’ve got to watch this documentary!

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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[REVIEW] ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’ or My New Comfort Watch

Before this Spring I had never heard of Marcel the Shell. Evidently he first appeared in a stop-motion short by director Dean Fleischer-Camp in 2010. Then in April we got the first trailer for a Marcel feature film and I was immediately captivated. There’s something so special and endearing about Marcel and his adventures that I couldnt help but become attached. At first I wondered if there would be enough for a feature film but Fleischer-Camp and team have made a truly charming film that should win over even the world’s biggest curmudgeons.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On tells the story of the little shell creature with one eye named Marcel who has been separated from his family by a careless human home owner who takes them when he moves away. Now it is just him, his Nanna Connie and the human tenant Dean (director Dean Fleischer-Camp). When Dean decides to make a documentary Marcel’s world opens up in ways he could never imagine, even eventually being featured on his favorite show, 60 Minutes.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On' returns in part three of this painfully adorable video series - ABC7 New York

Jenny Slate could not be cuter as Marcel, perfectly capturing what is needed for this character to come alive. So much of the character depends on the voice due to him having only one eye and a small mouth to capture emotion. Isabella Rossellini is also great as Nanna Connie.

Film Review:

I’m afraid in describing Marcel the Shell with Shoes On I make it sound more saccharine than it actually is. It is a very sweet film but it is also touching, tender and made me tear up more than a few times. It touches’ on serious issues like marital discord, family loss, death, and especially loneliness.

You have to wonder if the fact Fleischer-Camp and Slate divorced in 2016 added this layer to the screenplay they worked together on with Nick Paley and Elizabeth Holm. When Marcel asks Dean about his divorce it feels more than a little prosaic.

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is getting a pretty decent rollout by distributor A24 so check to see if it is at a theater near you. It’s an absolute gem.

9.5 out of 10 I’m tempted to give this a perfect score. It charmed me!

Smile Worthy

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[REVIEW] ‘Persuasion’ or How to Not Persuade This Austenite…

I would like to start out this review by saying I am not a traditionalist when it comes to Jane Austen. I’m a huge fan but I honestly get annoyed when I hear my fellow Austenites nitpick the film adaptations to death. I don’t like the versions that are name only that Hallmark does but for the most part I like most of the films based on Jane Austen’s glorious novels. I even like the 2 versions based on Mansfield Park that it seems like nobody likes. I loved the recent version of Emma, which some took issues with and I was a big fan of Love and Friendship which is almost nothing like the book but was wickedly good fun.

Now we have a new version directed by Carrie Cracknell of Persuasion, which is perhaps Austen’s hardest novel to adapt because of the demur heroine at the lead and I held out hope even as others criticized the trailer. “Come on. Give it a chance!” I cried out! Unfortunately now that I have seen it I must admit it is as bad as the naysayers feared and I’m super bummed out about it. Darn!

Let’s start with the positives. First, the core story of the novel remains in tact with Anne rejecting Frederick Wentworth as a young woman and then them being thrown into each other’s company years later and being forced to reexamine their feelings now that he is successful and she is under regency customs an old maid. All those plot points are there.

The cast is also generally good with Richard E Grant stealing the show as Anne’s father Sir Walter. There is also some diversity in the casting with Nikki Amuka-Bird playing Lady Russell and Henry Golding (who is barely in the movie) playing Anne’s cousin, Mr William Elliott.


The problem lies with the adaptation and screenplay by Ronald Bass and Alice Victoria Winslow. (And again I am fine with non-traditional adaptations but there are limits). In their version of the story they have completely changed Anne from a sweet, shy and meek woman who is kind to a fault to a rebellious, outspoken wine drunk (literally at one point she pours a bottle of wine all over her head after sad-drinking all day).

A friend of mine and I were talking the other day about how many Austen adaptations want to turn every character into Lizzie Bennett from Pride & Prejudice, which we can definitely see here but worse. They even condone Anne at one point for having too much pride, which is not her character at all. If you want to make another Lizzie Bennett than make another Pride & Prejudice! All that said, even Lizzie wouldn’t behave the way Anne does in this movie being a smart aleck and talking back to people.

I also had problems with the way they set up the romance. Dakota Johnson as Anne and Cosmo Jarvis as Captain Wentworth have no chemistry and they set them up as “friends” early on which gives no doubt that they will get together in the end of the film. In the book it seriously comes into question when he is so angry at her and  when he seemingly becomes engaged to Louisa Musgrove. It makes the ending with the letter impactful with the memorable line of “I am half agony, half hope…” In this version we don’t believe he is in agony because all he need do is propose and she is clearly his partner.

Persuasion' Movie Trailer: Dakota Johnson Stars in Austen Adaptation - Netflix Tudum

A lot of the other choices Cracknell makes are confusing. To begin with, Anne talks to the camera throughout the movie breaking the 4th wall. This is meant to give a saucy quality to her character but again, that’s not Anne’s character. It was very annoying. We also have her changing characters like making Golding’s Elliot a hero of love instead of a selfish villain as in the novel. The problem with this, like I said, is it takes away tension as he is clearly not an actual suitor for Anne or a threat to Wentworth.

In the spirit of Bridgerton they use modern music throughout, which I did not care for. In addition, Johnson doesn’t make any attempt at a British accent, which was a strange choice as many others do use one including her own family. The costuming is also a mess of periods and her hair is disheveled, often not pinned up, with no resemblance to any period I recognize. (All of these production details could have been fine if they got the characters right but they didn’t).

It’s all a bummer because what I wanted and hoped for is simple. We’ve never really gotten a great adaptation of Persuasion. Perhaps its heroine is too sweet and simple for cinema, but I was hopeful with the talent involved maybe they’d figure it out this time. Alas it is not the case. Instead I’d recommend the 2007 version with Sally Hawkins. It’s not perfect but at least has solid chemistry and the story I know and love. This is just not it.

4 out of 10

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[REVIEW] ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ or An Uneven MCU Storm

One thing I’ve noticed in the last few years is a lot of the biggest complaints I hear about the Marvel Cinematic Universe are actually the aspects I like best. For example, a lot of people seem to hate the quippy banter and I enjoy the lighter tone especially in a world where comic book movies often take themselves way too seriously. I also really enjoy the puzzle building aspect of the MCU. I like putting the pieces together from all the different movies and making it all work together. I like that a weaker film can be strengthened by a character returning in another entry or a story-thread that doesn’t come together in one film can be fleshed out in a new series or movie. I say all this merely to point out my opinion on Thor: Love and Thunder may be different than a lot of people (I don’t know) probably because my opinion on the entire MCU seems to be different.

Before talking about Thor: Love and Thunder I should say I really enjoyed the last entry Thor Ragnarok and found it to be one of the most joyous and energetic entries in the MCU. I love director Taika Waititi’s style of storytelling, and Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston are the epitome of charisma as Thor and Loki. I know some people think the humor was too much in Ragnarok and to them I have to say “to each their own.” I really enjoyed it.

Now we have a new entry (the first 4th film for a character in the MCU) and it’s less successful than Ragnarok, but in the end the good outweighs the bad. I still love Hemsworth as Thor, and in this film he is recovering from his depression in Avengers: Endgame by spending some time with the Guardians of the Galaxy (not much so don’t have your hopes up there). Eventually he gets called to help the citizens of New Asgard when their children are abducted by a vengeance seeking villain: Gorr the God Butcher played by Christian Bale.

Thor: Love and Thunder: 11 Easter Eggs & Details You Might've Missed In New Trailer

Bale is excellent here as a wounded man who once had great faith in the Gods and then they let him down in a very personal and upsetting way. Some are saying he isn’t in the movie enough. I don’t agree because the scenes he’s in are powerful enough that we wouldn’t want to overdo it and lose their dramatic umph. I suspect spiritual people will enjoy his journey the most as he grapples with themes of faith, and what do we do when we feel God isn’t listening, or that He did listen and has seemingly abandoned us.

Thor: Love and Thunder” New Footage Unveiled - Sada El balad

We also have Natalie Portman back as Jane Foster except this time she is Mighty Thor and has the guns to prove it! This definitely the best she’s been in an MCU movie and her and Hemsworth finally have some chemistry, which was lacking in the previous films.

I don’t want to give anything away but Thor: Love and Thunder works best in its start and ending. I really liked everything involving the children and the way things wrap up with Gorr is genuinely moving. However, the middle is where the movie loses me. Everything involving Russell Crowe’s Zeus majorly dragged, and I found myself getting sleepy. He has a weird accent, costume and the dialogue was not engaging. I couldn’t wait for them to get out of there and back to the story with Jane, Gorr, and the kids.

The tone can be inconsistent at times and that is a fault in Taika’s writing, but I’d rather have that than other superhero movies that hit the same dark and brooding note over and over again. I’m sure it helps I’m already invested in Thor’s journey so they don’t have to do the character work other new films have to do but again that’s the benefit of the MCU.

Thor: Love and Thunder runtime just got revealed, and it's fantastic news | Tom's Guide

At the very least fans of the MCU should be pleased, and those constantly complaining about the color grading in these movies should be happy with the bright, bold color palate and a wonderful scene in a black and white world. It’s definitely one of the most visually impressive films in the MCU and my recommendation is to see it on IMAX if at all possible.

Naturally Thor: Love and Thunder will be compared to the recent Dr Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and while MOM is messier there was never a part where I was bored like I was with the Zeuss section in Thor 4. Nevertheless, I enjoyed both of them despite their flaws, but your mileage may vary.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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[REVIEW] ‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’ or the Best Minions Sequel?

Anyone who has followed my reviews for any amount of time knows I am not the biggest fan of the Despicable Me franchise and in particular the gibberish-talking minions that took over the world in 2010. I even just did a podcast episode with my friend Stanford on how I think Megamind, which came out the same year with a similar story, is the better film.

I especially did not like the first Minions movie and found the screenplay to be off-putting and lazy. So suffice it to say I did not have much hope for the sequel Minions: The Rise of Gru and the fact I had to watch trailers for the film for 2 years did not do much to increase my enthusiasm.

Well, consider me surprised that I actually had a decent time with this film. (This is why I always try and keep my mind open to any film I sit down to watch.) I know it’s  damning with faint praise but it might be the best in the franchise since the original Despicable Me movie? It still has problems and I still find the minions to be annoying but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t laugh quite a bit in this zany adventure.

Minions Take an Airplane on a Wild Joy Ride in New Trailer For MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU — GeekTyrant

The minions at their best capture a the antics of a silent movie comedy. For example in this film there is a sequence where the 3 main minions Kevin, Stuart and Bob are flying a plane and it’s ridiculous but funny in a classic slapstick way (I think it is Bob that also gets stuck in the airplane toilet which is pretty funny.

Minions: The Rise of Gru' Review: A Delightfully Silly Sequel - Variety

They also spend big money on music for these movies and with this one set in 1976 they get a lot of humor off of famous song drops. One of my favorites is a funeral scene where the minions in a choir sing ”You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones. That was funny. Little Gru is also a big step up from Gru and Dru we got in Despicable Me 3.

Minions: The Rise Of Gru To Open Annecy Animation Fest In World Premiere – Deadline

Unfortunately there are some negatives to Minons: The Rise of Gru. The plot with the Vicious 6 drags and especially the action towards the end is bland. It feels like something we’ve seen a million times. I honestly just wanted it to get back to the slapstick laughs again. The animation is also fine but it doesn’t do anything to stand out or be visually special.

Also, this film is not helped by the fact it is so similar to the recently released The Bad Guys, from DreamWorks which is superior in every way. The animation in The Bad Guys is much better but also the script, story, characters and even the voice-work are better.

Perhaps Minions: The Rise of Gru is helped by extremely low expectations but I can’t deny that I laughed a fair amount. If you are a fan of the franchise you will enjoy this one and even if you are a skeptic like me it might win you over. At the least, I bet a lot of people will agree with me this is the best entry since the original Despicable Me film. Go figure!

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy


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Current Mini Reviews (The Black Phone, RISE, The Outfit, Love & Gelato, Trevor: the Musical)

Hey everyone! I am back with some more quick reviews for a lot of new films I’ve watched this week. There is quite a variety and a lot of good movies so let’s get started!

The Black Phone (2021) - IMDb

The Black Phone

I’m normally not a big horror gal, but I also try to have an open mind to every genre. My friends told me The Black Phone was more of a thriller than horror and so I decided to give it a shot, and turns out they were right. Not only is it a supernatural thriller but it’s a darn good one to boot!

Director Scott Derrickson takes a short story by Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son) and crafts it into a tight effective throwback thriller. Ethan Hawke plays “The Grabber” a masked man who abducts and murders children. We also see his latest victim Finney (Mason Thames) use a mysterious black phone to help him get free while his sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) channels her dreams to find her brother.

The Black Phone has classic beats we’ve seen before but done effectively with great child performances. However, it also has surprises especially using the supernatural elements to bring in heart as we get more anxious for Finney with every passing moment. There’s even a couple jump scares that certainly got my upright attention!

Even if you don’t like horror movies this one might surprise you. It certainly did that for me. Check out The Black Phone and have a great time with a summer horror with heart and chills!

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Rise | Disney+ Originals

Rise

Next we have Rise on Disney Plus. This continues the grand tradition of Disney Sports movies with films like Miracle, Glory Road and McFarland USA. This time we are learning about the story of the 3 Nigerian-Greek brothers from the Antetokounmpo family. Evidently Giannis is the biggest star at the NBA (I don’t follow sports or basketball)

The film starts when the boys are young and is really about the entire family emigrating to Greece and starting basketball. They end up trying out for the NBA and all 3 playing with Giannis getting drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2013.

At just under 2 hours, there are moments where Rise can drag but I appreciate it tells more than just one underdog sports story. It’s really a family and immigrant story more than anything else.  Yetide Badaki and Dayo Okeniyi are good as the boy’s parents and 3 acting newcomers as the boys, Uche Agada, Ral Agada, and Jaden Osimuwa, all hold their own and do a good job in their roles.

Rise doesn’t reinvent the wheel but it’s a heartfelt family story that should inspire just about anyone to go for their dreams!

6.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Review: 'The Outfit' features strong acting values and smart plotting | Datebook

The Outfit

Mob movies are often films I admire more than I like. The pacing tends to be sluggish and the characters not anything I connect with. Well, The Outfit is an exception to that rule! Now playing on Peacock, The Outfit is a well-crafted, engaging story that will keep you guessing until the very end.

The film tells the story of Leonard Burling (Mark Rylance), a tailor of high-end suits in 1950s Chicago. Burling is happy to make suits for the mob bosses who frequent his establishment and all he asks is that they keep him out of their goings-ons. I’m not always the biggest fan of Rylance but he is perfect for this role- that’s 2 wins for me from him this month with Phantom of the Open also being great!.

One night his shop becomes the place of intrigue when mob boss son Richie Boyle (Dylan O’Brien) and his cousin Francis (the fantastic Johnny Flynn) come in looking for an mob informant in their area. The script kept me guessing until the very end and the acting is all first rate. Dick Pope gives great style to the cinematography and the costumes are stunning by Zac Posen and Mark Bridges.

The Outfit is a definite hidden gem, which I highly recommend on Peacock.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Watch Love & Gelato | Netflix Official Site

Love & Gelato

Meanwhile over on Netflix we have the coming of age romantic flick Love & Gelato. Based on the book by Jenna Evans Welch, this is exactly the kind of light breezy escapism you expect from the title. If it sounds like something you will like than you probably will. If it sounds like a tooth ache than it’s probably not for you.

Susanna Skaggs plays Lina a young high school graduate who has lost her Mother and as a result is forced to go to Italy for a summer and experience the Mediterranean transformation her Mother did 20 years before. She even has her Mother’s diary to guide her through her experiences as she meets 2 hunky guys: slick Alesandro (Saul Nanni) and sweet Lorenzo (Tobia De Angelis).

Naturally Love & Gelato pays homage to classic romcoms like Roman Holiday and 3 Coins in the Fountain and it’s loaded with Italian vacation porn but sometimes in the summer we need that kind of escapism! If you are in the mood to be swept away to Rome with a story of young love check this one out.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Is Trevor: The Musical on Netflix? (Where to watch)

Trevor: The Musical

I’m not sure what I expected from Trevor: The Musical but I must own to being quite shocked by what I saw. It’s mostly shocked in a compelling way but it was not what I was expecting especially on Disney Plus. This is a very intense and quite brutal pro shot of a coming of age, coming out musical recorded at Stage 42 in New York City in October 2021.

Holden Hagelberger has a daunting role of Trevor (who would later go on to start The Trevor Project for LGTBQ youth) where he is required to go to very dark places and also be light and bouncy with his hero Diana Ross who appears frequently on stage as his musical muse. I would certainly want to talk to my child before watching a musical like this where bullying, suicide and abuse are depicted.

I’m not sure they get the balance between the intense and the fun right and none of the songs outside of the Diana Ross hits stand out but it’s hard to not admire its sheer guts. It could be the start of some good conversations but just make sure you know what you are getting into and that your children aren’t triggered by the intense moments depicted in the film.

I tell you one thing. It makes me want to take any bullied child out of school and kept where they can be safe and loved. It can be brutal out there.

(It’s kind of insane that people are complaining about a milisecond kiss in Lightyear when this is way bolder in its LGTBQ representation on Disney Plus. Not that we should be complaining about any of it…)

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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All Smile Worthy today!

[REVIEW] ‘Coast’ and ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ or a lot of Teenage Struggles

Summer is alive and thriving and that means it is time to break free and live your teenage dreams. Two recent examples, a film and series, are worth checking out especially if you are going through those tumultuous years!

Here are 2 recommendaitons:

The Summer I Turned Pretty (TV Series 2022– ) - IMDb

The Summer I Turned Pretty

First up we have a new series on Amazon Prime where newcomer Lola Tung plays Isabel or Belly (reminded me of Baby in Dirty Dancing in a lot of ways). She evidently has had a magical year and gone from nerdy to pretty in that time. Now when she goes to her yearly summer home with a friend’s family full of hunky boys they all notice her in a new  way. It literally is the Summer she turned pretty.

The hunky boys in question include her long-time crush Conrad (Christopher Briney), dreamy blue-eyed Jeremiah (Gavin Casalengo) and kid who looks very similar Cam (David Iacono). All of these teens look like they are in college and behave like they are young adults but a show like this is escapism for teens, so I am fine with it. It’s nice when teens in shows behave in more authentic ways but there’s a place for aspirational characters in teen stories just like any other audience. Teens will love this sun-dripped romantic show.

The North Carolina beaches are gorgeous and the whole cast has a nice chemistry together that it works. If you are a fan of writer Jenny Han’s previous To All the Boys… series of movies you’ll enjoy this one. We are going to be covering it on Hallmarkies Podcast so make sure you are subscribed!

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Coast (2021) - IMDb

Coast

In the world of movies we have an indie teen drama called Coast that is also worth checking out. This is set on the other side of the country on the California Central Coast and young Abby (Fátima Ptacek) hates living in the agriculture-based town of her Mother (Cristela Alonzo) and wants to stretch her wings. I much more relate to this feeling than the love woes of Pretty. I couldn’t wait to get out of my small town and experience the world when I was a teenager.

This need of hers is put to the test when she meets a boy named Dave (Kane Ritchotte) who is the lead singer for a punk band and he invites Abby to join his band. The relationship between Alonzo and Ptacek feels authentic without the theatrics you typically see in this kind of coming of age story. Even when Abby leaves her Mom is upset but she looks up at the sky and says a simple prayer her daughter will find her way back. Directors Jessica Hester and Derek Schweickart do a good job keeping scenes like this grounded and honest in and it makes the movie feel easy to relate with even if you aren’t a teen or into punk music.

It does feel derivative at times but it has the heart and the authentic performances to keep it going and make it a worthwhile indie to check out. You can rent it now on all the streaming sites. Oscar winner Melissa Leo has a memorable turn as a ornery hospital patient Alonzo takes care of.

7.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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Current Mini Reviews (The Phantom of the Open, Mr Malcolm’s List, Father of the Bride)

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. I have been a very busy this week but I hope you enjoyed my review of Elvis. I have a few more movies to catch you up on, mostly smaller releases that are hopefully finding their way into your theaters and streaming services in the next week or so.   So here goes!

Bridgerton Fans Will Love The First Trailer for Mr Malcolm's List

Mr Malcolm’s List

You all know I love me a good period piece romance so I was expecting to love Mr Malcolm’s List but must confess I did not. It probably should have been a clue when I did not enjoy the book so perhaps this story just isn’t for me but alas I was still hopeful I’d like the movie because of the great cast but it didn’t work for me.

The conflict resides around the entitled Mr Malcolm (Sope Dirisu) who has a list for what he wants in a wife. When Zawe Ashton’s Julia is found wanting of the list she starts a plan with her cousin Selina (Freida Pinto) to expose the list by crafting the perfect woman matching his list.

I’m not the biggest fan of the ‘liar reveal’ trope where 2 people have gotten to know each other but there is a lie happening and when it is exposed the lied to partner huffs and puffs about ‘how dare she lie to me.” Any sensible person can see she wasn’t lying about everything and a good chat could usually settle things.

This, however, could be ignored if I thought the couples involved had any chemistry, which they dont. In fact, the entire project felt belabored with the acting strained and artificial. I tried but just couldn’t get invested in any of the characters or the story. The costumes and hair are impressive but I need more than that in my period piece romances. Unfortunately an item on Mr Malcolm’s List is disappointment for this critic…

The trailer also makes it seem like Ashley Park has a large role when she’s barely in it making for another disappointment.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

The Phantom of the Open Review: A Feel-Good Movie About a Bad Golfer | IndieWire

The Phantom of the Open

If you follow me on social media you know I’m not the biggest sports person; however, I do like the occasional sports related film- especially if it is about an underdog. I love a movie that makes me want to cheer by the end for the unlikely hero. The Phantom of Open is such a film. It’s a charming movie about the world’s worst golfer and one the entire family will enjoy (it’s rated pg13 but I think it’s fine for younger kids personally).

Phantom tells the story of Maurice Flitcroft played by a delightful Mark Rylance, who manages to gain entry into the British Open for golf in 1976. He then shoots the worst round in Open history and became a bit of folk hero as a result. Think of him as the Tommy Wiseau of golf.

But really the golf is only the window-dressing for the actual story of Flitcroft and his family. His loving wife Jean is played by Sally Hawkins, who’s wonderful as usual. Then his disco dancing sons Gene and James are played by Jonah and Christian Lees with his more conflicted adopted son Michael (Jean’s son from a previous relationship whom he adopts) is played by Jake Davies. Everyone is great and it feels like a real family we are rooting for.

I am sure there will be someone who dislikes The Phantom of the Open and finds it too saccharine but not this critic. Writer Simon Farnaby has taken his Paddington 2 magic and made another heartwarming crowd-pleaser that I thoroughly enjoyed.

8.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Father of the Bride' Review: A Remake With a Cuban Twist - The New York Times

Father of the Bride

Some stories and tropes just work- no matter the era or actors attempting the project. Father of the Bride is one of those franchises. I love the films from the 50s and the 90s and to my delight I really enjoyed this new version from 2022. I was worried with it going to HBO Max it wouldn’t be well done but it executes all the elements I love about the previous films and adds its own flair and spark to the story. A real hidden gem.

This time around we have Andy Garcia as the titular father and the bride is Adria Arjona who comes home from working abroad engaged and ready to plan a quick wedding to her fiancé (who she proposed to!) Adam (Diego Boneta).

We then get all the madness of a hasty wedding with Chloe Fineman camping it up as the wedding planner. Of course things get over-the-top but that’s part of the fun of this franchise (I mean last time we had swans and a caterer named Honk). In between all the madness, however, they make the proceedings unique with Garcia and his wife Ingrid played by the great Gloria Estefan going through a divorce (such a better conflict than the fiancé buying a blender LOL).

The script also has some nuance in the family being Cuban but Sofia wanting to work for a non-profit in Mexico and her fiancé’s family being Mexican.

It maybe gets a little too silly with natural disasters and bridge collapses coming into play but by then I was invested enough in the people to enjoy myself. I think fans of romcoms and this series will enjoy this Father of the Bride. It’s sweet and endearing lark about family, love, and the madness of wedding planning. Who can’t relate to that?

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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