Current Mini Reviews (Downton Abbey, Chip ‘N Dale, Along for the Ride, Top Gun OG)

Hey everyone! It’s that time again where I give some quick updates on the films I’ve been watching. Unfortunately I just don’t have the time to write up a full review on every film I see. It’s impossible!

Aside from Men, which I hated, it’s been a pretty good month of movie-watching. Particularly in animation we are getting a lot of creativity and innovation which makes me happy to see (especially since I didn’t like Turning Red from earlier in the year).

So here’s the reviews:

Downton Abbey: A New Era-

I was a big fan of the 2019 Downton Abbey film and the show so I came into this new film a little biased to enjoy it. However, I have heard from a number of friends who haven’t watched the show that they have enjoyed the movies so it might surprise non-fans. Either way, this new entry Downton Abbey: A New Era is everything I want in this very fun frothy continuing journey of the Crawley family and their downstairs staff.

Writer Julian Fellowes does a great job balancing a ton of characters and story-threads which is particularly difficult this time because we have the group splitting up- half going to visit a villa in the Mediterranean and half managing the house while a movie is being shot by new to the series Hugh Dancy playing director Jack Barber.

My only nitpick is with Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery). I wish they could have gotten Matthew Goode in the movie as her husband. What they came up with instead was frustrating. All the other plotlines I really enjoyed. It’s particularly fun when the servants get a chance to dress up to be in the movie.

The highlight is always Maggie Smith as Violet and she’s spectacular here. My advice is have some tea, take your friends and go back into time for a delightful experience at the theaters!

(And check out our catch up podcast on the series and first movie above)

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers Review - IGN

Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers

I have to say I was as skeptical as anyone going into this movie. I didn’t like the trailers and the images I saw looked like a lame nostalgia grab. However, count me shocked because I had a blast with Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers. It all comes down to the script by Dan Gregor and Doug Mand, which is chocked full of gags and laughs that particularly animation fans will go gaga for.

I don’t want to spoil the gags for you but evidently they were going for a Who Framed Roger Rabbit feel and I think they totally succeeded. We have cameos from not just Disney like in Ralph Breaks the Internet but from studios like Sony and Netflix. And there were just a lot of hilarious gags like I loved the setup of Dale doing the comic-con circuit and getting ”CGI surgery” to relive the glory days. That’s clever.

The voice cast is also excellent with John Mullaney, Andy Samberg, Will Arnett and more. This should entertain both kids and adults so definitely worth your time on Disney Plus. It’s a hilarious time with our dynamic duo.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Along for the Ride' Review: Netflix Dips Into Sarah Dessen Library | IndieWire

Along for the Ride

New on Netflix is the rom-com Along for the Ride. It is based on the book by Sarah Dessen and has lots of beautiful beach scenery but unfortunately that’s all I enjoyed about it. Teen love stories are usually not my favorite but this does try for some deeper themes with our lead Auden (Emma Pasarow) dealing with divorce, a new baby sister and trying to make friends in a new town of Colby.

I didn’t think Pasarow and her guy Eli (Belmont Cameli) had much chemistry and the plot dragged on without much to engage the viewer. i wasn’t invested in the relationship or much beyond her relationship with her Father (Dermot Mulroney) and Step-Mom (Kate Bosworth). Andie McDowell is also good as her Mother.

I hate to say it but this one was dull. It’s about insomniacs and it just about put me to sleep. Also the acting was weak at times. I’d skip this one.

4 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Tom Cruise Top Gun Top Gun Maverick: film confronti Festival di Cannes. Foto | Style

Top Gun 1996

With the release of Top Gun Maverick coming soon I wanted to log my review of the original Top Gun for rotten tomatoes. I just had my friends over for a watching party and we had a great time. I can see why some find it too cheesy but in my opinion that’s part of the appeal. I like the posing, corny dialogue, and volleyball playing with the campy 80s music in the background.

The flying scenes still hold up with terrific sound design and music from Harold Faltermeyer. It also has a good mixture of light and heavy moments with a cast that has chemistry including of course a young Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards and Meg Ryan to name a few.

Everyone around me seems to be loving the new film but I will always have a fondness for the original Top Gun. It’s what you want in a big bombastic cheesy blockbuster.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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[REVIEW] ‘Hit the Road’ or Take a Ride with This Wonderful Film

In this era of big spectacle and cinematic universes it’s amazing how simple making a great piece of cinema can actually be. In his feature film debut Hit the Road, writer/director Panah Panahi has taken the road trip movie and crafted a moving, touching, funny family drama that anyone should be able to relate with. It’s as close to a masterpiece as I’ve seen in a long time and the more I’ve thought about it the more it resonates with me.

The film centers on a family traveling through the beautiful Iranian countryside (seriously this movie makes you wish you could go visit Iran and just drive. Gorgeous). It is a typical crammed in suv but the occupants don’t seem to be on a vacation. In fact, they are racing to get across the border into Turkey, having left their hometown in a rush to try and smuggle Big Brother played by Amin Simiar out of the country.

Big Brother obviously has a great deal of anxiety given his situation but this is countered by the joyousness of Little Brother played by the adorable Rayan Sarlak. He steals the movie but he is also an important element providing laughter and joy into an otherwise tense film. Pantea Panahiha is the ideal Mother trying to keep her family together and both her sons hopeful but the fear behind her eyes is ever-present.

Then we have Hassan Madjooni as the Father who is struggling in the backseat with a fully-cast broken leg. It itches and it’s hot and miserable. He tries his best to be a team player but it’s obvious it is a tough situation to be in.

But the real star of Hit the Road is the script. Panahi has done such a great job crafting a family we care about, a story that surprises and dialogue that touches on so many important modern issues. It’s a film the entire family can watch together and be entertained and edified. I’m not sure what the roll-out is going to be but I can’t recommend it more highly. A moving family story you won’t soon forget and if there is any justice we’ll hear about it come awards season.

9.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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[REVIEW] MEN or How to Really Annoy this Woman…

Alex Garland's Horror Movie 'Men' Has Trailer With Jessie Buckley, A24 - Variety

It’s a little hard to formulate my thoughts on Alex Garland’s new movie Men. I know I found it very annoying and difficult to get through but explaining why is challenging. I’ll do my best. I should start by saying I liked Garland’s Ex-Machina but I did not like his scifi film Annihilation in 2018. The former was an engaging AI scifi while the latter was a pretentious slog. Now we have Men, which purports to give us a ‘folk horror’ movie, but instead serves up a pretentious, heavy-handed, non-scary piece of arthouse junk. No thank you!

Men' trailer: Alex Garland ditches sci-fi for his most human movie yet

I will start out by saying I love Jessie Buckley so much. She won my heart in Wild Rose and I’ve loved her in everything I’ve seen her in since. The failure of Men is not her fault. In fact, she does a great job in a challenging performance. The film also looks nice with some great cinematography and small-scale visual effects.

The problem is the story and the fact it thinks it has something interesting to say but it doesn’t. At least something like Promising Young Woman has an unreliable narrator that hates men for a reason and her toxicity along with the men played out in interesting ways.

In Men Garland doesn’t give us any such nuance or engaging story.  Buckley’s character Harper is grieving over the loss of her husband (Paapa Essiedu) when she meets Rory Kinnear’s Geoffrey when renting his vacation home. We don’t really get to know her well and only have minimal backstory or insights into her character. She’s a classic case of someone who doesn’t act but is acted upon within the narrative.

Spoiler Alert: Men Movie Review - THE HOLLYWOOD MIRROR MAGAZINE

Kinnear plays several characters and each one of them embodies different shades of toxic masculinity. There’s a petulant boy, a creepy vicar, and even Adam and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (yes they go way back…). I guess this treatise on gender could be interesting but it doesn’t have anything to say beyond the fact that toxic men exist. We already know that! Again at least PYW had a message about how we treat victims. This is nothing. It’s not scary and the screenplay just gets more annoying as it goes along.

If he’s going to comment on half the human race I’d think Garland could come up with something better than they are all terrible and selfish creatures? Then the ending is so dumb I almost left the theater. I guess I can’t say it because it would be spoilers, but I hated it and they repeat it 3 or 4 times!

There will be people who will claim this is brilliant but I don’t see anything great about what it was trying to say or do.  Why not have one sympathetic man so Harper is confused and doesn’t know who to trust? This would be scary and provide a more layered view of how toxic masculinity and abuse happens. Instead we get this pretentious “horror” film that fails in nearly every respect.

2 out of 10

Frown Worthy

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Current Mini Reviews (…Massive Talent, Everything…, Polar Bear, The Bad Guys)

Hi friends! I really wanted to write long reviews for each of these movies but alas I simply ran out of time. Shorter reviews will have to do because I want to get the word out (on most of them) as they are part of a strong April at the cinemas.

So here we go!

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

SXSW Review: 'The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent': Nicolas Cage –  Deadline

After years of making schlocky underwhelming films Nicolas Cage seems to be having a bit of a renaissance with films like Pig, Mandy and Spider-man Into the Spider-Verse. With this in mind it perhaps the perfect time to release a film like The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. In this comedy Cage pokes fun at his persona, Hollywood in general and tells an endearing story of friendship with the great Pedro Pascal (who was one of my favorite parts of Wonder Woman 84).

In this meta-story a version of Nic Cage, the actor, is hired by Pascal to come to his Birthday party and hopefully read his movie script. Unfortunately while there Cage gets recruited by the CIA to investigate Pascal who is involved with organized crime and abducting the daughter of a fellow mob boss.

The truth is I could have gotten rid of all the espionage plot and just had the movie been about Pascal and Cage becoming friends (make it a My Dinner with Andre but with these 2 dudes) and been perfectly content. They have great chemistry together and I bought them as friends. There are other strong supporting roles from Sharon Horgan, Neil Patrick Harris, Tiffany Haddish and more.

Something like Massive Talent could be smug and annoying but it never loses its sense of humor and spirit of fun. I had a great time with it and I agree with its conclusion that Paddington 2 is the best…

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022) - IMDb

Everything Everywhere All at Once

If Massive Talent is too meta for you than you definitely should stay away from the new film from distributor A24 Everything Everywhere All at Once. To say this indie martial arts family drama is bonkers would be an understatement. Normally I don’t like movies which feel jumbled and confusing but for whatever reason I had a good time with this one.

The story of the film is about a woman named Evelyn played by Michelle Yeoh who stumbles into an interdimensional portal when visiting her auditor (Jamie Lee Curtis). This portal includes different versions of herself and her family (Ke Huy Quan who is so fun as her husband and Stephanie Hsu as her daughter). We also see the great James Hong as her father.

There are times when the multiverses feel like they are trying too hard to be edgy and weird but it was all in a spirit of fun so I enjoyed it. The weirdest one they have hotdogs as hands!

Such a bonkers film won’t be for everyone but I loved all the homages to classic films thrown in like a whole In the Mood for Love section. The music is also strong by Son Lux and I laughed throughout at the madness. If you are up for something weird give it a shot.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Polar Bear' Disney+ Review: Stream It or Skip It?

Polar Bear

Now we have for something totally different the latest documentary from DisneyNature Polar Bear. Like all the films in this series it helps us get to know a species of animal (in this case polar bears) and tries to teach kids about the world around them. While this one is harmless and has a good message, I must admit it is one of my least favorite of the DisneyNature docs.

For Polar Bear they don’t give the bear a name but they have Catherine Keener narrating the film in first person. This leads to lines like ”I had the best day of my life”. I mean come on. How could they possibly know that? LOL. These nature docs are always cheesy but this one laid it on especially thick.

Also the film is very heavy-handed on the climate change messaging. I suppose there is a place for that but it made it all less fun and was strange when put up against the cheerful ahtropomorphization of other sequences .

I guess this is harmless for kids but not one of my favorites.

4.5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

The Bad Guys Review: Heist Comedy Is One of DreamWorks Animation's Best

The Bad Guys

One of the most exciting trends in moviemaking today is the hybrid 2D/3D animation method. I love the flat, yet rich, designs of films like Spider-Verse, The Mitchells vs the Machines and The Peanuts Movie. Now our latest entry comes from DreamWorks animation with The Bad Guys.

Based on the graphic novels by Aaron Blabey The Bad Guys takes a simple concept of a group of ‘bad guy’ thieves and asks if they can be the good guys? It’s not so different from Wreck-it Ralph in that regard except for here you have more than one character who needs reforming and animation that is truly special.

There are a lot of reasons the animation is stunning in this film but I particularly loved the way the action was shot. I can’t think of a film that has better animated car chases and fight sequences except maybe the web-slinging sequences in Spider-Verse. It was a joy to watch.

I also really liked that it was set in LA with recognizable landmarks. Most animated films are set in fictional cities so that was a fun aspect here. The voice-cast is also excellent without being distracting. I loved Sam Rockwell as our lead Mr Wolf with Awkwafina stealing the show as the cute Ms Tarantula.

The story in The Bad Guys is a basic heist plot and it is definitely predictable but everything else was so great I didn’t care. I’ve seen it twice now and loved it both times. The whole family will enjoy following these bad guys on this very good time!

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

 

So there you have it. If you get to see any of these films let me know what you think!

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[REVIEW] ‘Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood’ or the Power of Memories

Have you ever sat with an elderly person and listened to them tell their stories? There’s something powerful about that experience even if the stories don’t particularly go anywhere. I know when my Grandparents were still alive I loved hearing them talk about what their parents were like, what cars they drove, food they ate, what it was like to serve in WWII etc. As they shared their stories I’d think about my own life and how despite the different eras we weren’t that different after all.

Sometimes film can capture this experience. Some might call it nostalgia, and it is, but when done well it can be a gift, helping to bind generations in a special and powerful way. This is the experience offered in Richard Linklater’s new film Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood. It’s nostalgia in the best sense of the word, and I adored it.

Some may watch Apollo 10 1/2 and want more plot but I’m glad he kept it simple and wistful. It’s interesting because both Licorice Pizza and Belfast from last year have similar story structures, but I prefer this film to either of those (I liked both of them). I think part of my response is because I love animation (even rotoscoped animation) but the other part is I connect more with a story of a big family in the suburbs than the families in the other 2 films.

As I said, the animation in this film is rotoscoped, or traced from live action. Linklater has used this style before in Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly. I haven’t seen the latter but did a whole episode on Waking Life with my friend Stanford you can find here. It’s  way more pretentious and existential than Apollo 10 1/2, but I still enjoyed it.

Linklater has long been a favorite filmmaker of mine. I loved Boyhood and the Before moves are transcendent. But Apollo 10 1/2 goes back to his early films like Dazed and Confused and Slacker. He does such a good job of taking you to a time and place and helping you see the glory in the small moments of every day living.

For example, there’s a great scene in Apollo 10 1/2 where the kids go from playing games outside on the lawn (statue tag) to playing games inside- board games like Life and Clue. As someone from a family that loves games this was so comforting to watch. It made me want to get my family together and play games again.

Such a yearning for a simpler time is the power of Apollo 10 1/2. I don’t know if that time actually existed but it’s comforting to imagine it did. The incredible soundtrack also helps in that escapism with bands like CCR, Johnny Cash, and The Byrds (much like Dazed and Confused which has one of the best soundtracks in movie history).

We also get to experience young Stanley’s fantasy about getting plucked into the space program for a secret mission to the moon. Plus, we see the stories of the NASA officials as they work on the Apollo 11 mission. This part of the story probably gives the structure and plot some will need, but I could have had the movie be just the everyday living and been perfectly content.

But in truth, I loved everything about Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood. It made me happy in a way few films have since the pandemic started, and I felt a desire to watch it again as soon as I finished. It’s on Netflix so gather the family together and watch a sweet film about a family of the past. You won’t regret it.

9.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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[REVIEW] ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’ or Can We Ignore the Other 2 Films?

There was no movie I was more skeptical about going into 2022 than Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. I didn’t like the first in the new Wizarding World series and I really hated the second film Crimes of Grindelwald. However, my thoughts began to change when I found out they had brought back writer Steve Kloves, who adapted almost all of the Harry Potter books into movies instead of JK Rowling (who should stay away from screenwriting!).

Just by chance, I had the opportunity to interview Steve’s wife Kathy Kloves for Hallmarkies Podcast last month. We talked about her 2 very popular Hallmark movie scripts from 2021 but then I also asked her about her husband’s experience writing for Harry Potter. It’s a neat interview. Check it out.

What a difference a writer makes! I’m not just saying that because I’ve gotten to know Kathy a little bit.

While not perfect, Secrets of Dumbledore is so far superior to the other 2 films I wish we could start over and have this one be the first of a different trilogy. I know they say they are going to have 5 of these movies, but I doubt it. I’d be surprised if we see any more (of this chronology at least).

I want to be careful to not give this movie too much credit for being better than the last one which was practically unwatchable. It can’t completely right all the wrongs. It’s cluttered with too many plot-points and some underwritten characters (also a very strange election that didn’t make sense) but it at least it has a mostly-comprehensible plot with some whimsy and heroics. I certainly think most Harry Potter fans will be happy with this entry.

The cast is all excellent with Mads Mikkelsen a big upgrade over Johnny Depp as Grindelwald and Jude Law playing Dumbledore. Unfortunately their gay romance doesn’t amount to much. It’s mostly just talking about the past, a love vow and holding hands. I guess it’s a start but it’s not much. I’ve always found Eddie Redmayne’s Newt to be tough to connect with, but I liked Newt’s brother Theseus played by the dashing Callum Turner. More of him please!

Most of the stuff with Alison Sudol’s Queenie and Dan Fogler’s Jacob has been ruined by choices in the last movie and Ezra Miller’s Creedence makes no sense. I’m also not sure what this grown-up trilogy in the Wizarding World is trying to say. Obviously something about tyranny but the Harry Potter stories were much more nuanced with characters like Snape and Dumbledore making complex choices and Harry learning to forgive them for those choices.

All that said, if you are a fan of this world than this will be the movie you are waiting for. I hate to use the word fun but this is. It jumps around the globe with our characters trying to defeat Grindelwald and for the most part does a good job at that. The action is entertaining. The banter is bubbly. One might say the magic is back.

So for the first time I am going to recommend a Fantastic Beasts movie. It’s no masterpiece but if you are looking for an energetic blockbuster this will do the trick.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

 

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Current Mini Reviews (Anything Goes, Sonic 2, Jujutsu Kaisen 0)

Hi everyone! I wanted to take a second and update you on a few new releases I have been able to see recently. I still have to review Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore but I want to do a full review of that this weekend. (Sorry I’m so behind!). I also plan on watching Richard Linklater’s new animated film Apollo 10 1/2 this weekend so that will be coming soon.

Anyway, here’s my thoughts on a few films:

Anything Goes

I just completed a trip of a lifetime to NYC where I saw 7 shows in 5 days, so needless to say I love a Broadway show. I also saw nearly 80 shows and concerts in my quest to support local theater in the last year. Can read more about that here.

Honestly this proshot of the London production of Anything Goes might as well be an 8th show on my trip. It was so well done I felt like I was there watching it live. The dancing is phenomenal. The singing outstanding. I’ve seen Anything Goes once before locally and absolutely loved it and felt the same about this production. The catchy Cole Porter songs are so much fun and the throwback characters are sweet and hilarious. Sutton Foster fills up the whole theater (and screen) with numbers like ‘Blow Gabriel Blow’ and Robert Lindsay is fantastic as a mobster pretending to be a priest in numbers like ‘Friendship’.

There’s honestly nothing I would change about this show. It’s perfect. If it counts it’s my favorite film of 2022 (I counted Hamilton in 2020?)

10 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

I am in no way a video game person, but I enjoyed the first Sonic the Hedgehog movie and was looking forward to the sequel. What I liked about the original was the sweet friendship between James Marsden’s Tom and Sonic and the old-school villain antics of Jim Carrey’s Doctor Eggman.

Now we have the sequel, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and I for the most part enjoyed it as well. Like a good sequel should do, this film takes what worked in the original and adds on to it with Sonic not only having his friendship with Tom but he gets a new friend like him in Tails, who is so cute. They also have to face off against Knuckles (Idris Elba). Sonic is such an appealing character I have consistently found charming and likable. It’s ironic they had to redesign the character for the first film because it’s hard to imagine him any differently than he is.

There are problems in Sonic 2. It feels bloated and it tries to be more epic than it needs to be (do we really need another pillar in the sky superhero movie?). There’s also a long subplot involving a wedding where Sonic and Tails aren’t present and it drags. However, I still enjoyed spending time with Sonic and Tails and found Knuckles to be a fun antagonist. Take the family and I bet you will have a good time watching another sweet movie featuring our super-fast friend.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Jujutsu Kaisen movie: It's worth watching for newcomers and fans alike.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0

I’m always excited to see the latest anime property but sometimes it can be challenging when I haven’t seen the accompanying series. Last year we had Demon Slayer: Mugen Train that was excellent, and all of the My Hero Academia movies have been great. Now we get Jujutsu Kaisen 0 which is actually a prequel to the anime series so it is more approachable than it might appear on the surface.

Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is about a boy named Yuta who begins to study at a school for sorcerers who are trained to fight curses. When a villain releases a thousand curses on the city things get wild and it’s a visceral exciting animated experience.

I don’t think this film is good for anime newbies or people who turn their noses up at the medium. It’s too frenetic and all-over-the-place for them, but I had a good time. It was a raw and exhilarating watch and it definitely made me want to check out the show for the action alone. If you are open to anime give it a shot.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

This turned out to be a positive mini-review update! 3 movies, 3 smile worthy scores. Have you seen these films? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments sections. Thanks!

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[REVIEW] ‘Morbius’ and ‘RRR’: Two Contrasts in Action Blockbusters

Last week I had the chance to see 2 action blockbusters- Morbius in the morning and RRR in the afternoon. The former is the latest comic book movie and the latter is the new spectacle entertainment from Indian director S.S. Rajamouli. While I didn’t hate Morbius as much as most, it pales in comparison with RRR and the contrast demonstrates what is so often missing from current blockbusters. Let’s talk about both films:

Morbius

Morbius stars Jared Leto as Dr Michael Morbius (Marvel names always have that alliteration) who is a biochemist who at the beginning of the film gets a noble prize for his research into artificial blood and transfusion research. He needs this because of a rare blood disease he and a friend named Milo (played by Matt Smith) have- a disease which causes him to be isolated and depressed.

Much like a comic book movie from the past Morbius lets a science experiment go awry (this time with vampire bats) and turns into a vampire. Milo also becomes involved in a rather expected way. What works in Morbius is when it leans into the camp and particularly Smith has fun with monster movie silliness of it all.

Unfortunately those moments are too far between and Leto takes his role too seriously. I know many criticize the MCU for being too light and jokey but I could have used more of that here in Morbius. As it was it was dull and generic which is a real shame because the cast is talented and the premise has potential to be weird and exciting. In the end, it’s just forgettable.

4.5/10

Frown Worthy

RRR

Now let’s talk about an actual good movie, RRR. Like I said RRR is directed and written by S.S. Rajamouli who helmed my introduction to action Indian cinema Baahubali 1 and 2. Those films were fantasy action where RRR is based on a true story. It is set in 1920 when a girl is abducted by a British governor and 2 men, Ram (Ram Charan) and Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao Jr) seek to find her and become great friends along the way.

As we follow the friends on their quest we are treated to incredible action spectacle and musical sequences I am still thinking about a week later. As I was watching I forgot about the 3 hour run time and was engrossed in one amazing moment after another. I don’t know if it is as good as either Baahubali film but all 3 films show Rajamouli is one of the greatest directors working today and is making something truly special. It’s cinema!

I especially loved a whole song devoted to friendship and another where they are dancing at ball challenging the British to a dance-off. Not only are both of these scenes a blast but they also serve as piercing commentary on colonization and traditional male roles. With all the bombastic energy of RRR it’s not just spectacle, it has something to say and characters that are easy to root for. The cinematography is big and bold and everything is done with gleeful abandon. It makes for a special film I expect will end up on my best of 2022 lists.

9 out of 10

Smile Worthy

So there you have it. One blockbuster that is forgettable with Morbius and one that makes a huge impression with RRR. Have you seen either? Let me know in the comments section!

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[REVIEW] ‘THE LOST CITY’ or Welcome Back Sandy B and the Adventure Romance

All of my regular readers know I love a good romance. This is true with all kinds of romances- comedies, adventure, tragedy etc. Unfortunately for me and other fans of the genre Hollywood hasn’t given us much to enjoy in the last few decades. This is what has led romance fans like myself to turn to Hallmark and Netflix to get our romance fix. The adventure romance is a particularly fun genre that plays on tropes of rescue, opposites attract and escapism. My friend Alysa Lucas and I just did a whole episode of Hallmarkies Podcast talking about 4 fun adventure romances:

It was with all this in mind I was extremely excited for the new film The Lost City starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum. I’ve been on a bit of a rough streak lately so I was ready for a movie I loved and as I’m a huge fan of this genre it seemed aimed to please.

And it did…

I don’t know how others will feel but this film did everything I needed it to do. It lets its 2 stars shine with terrific chemistry, the adventure sizzles and most importantly it’s laugh out loud funny. I particularly liked the way it pokes fun at erotica and romance novels without demonizing them or the joy they give many women.

The Lost City review: A big screwball swing for old-school action-comedy | EW.com

And it’s not just Tatum and Bullock that shine in the film. Brad Pitt is extremely funny in an extended cameo (more Pitt in the inevitable sequel please!). I also enjoyed Daniel Radcliffe as the antagonist Abigail Fairfax (yes the name is a funny joke). Oscar Nuñez pops in for a few funny scenes. Patti Harrison (who I loved in Together Together last  year) gets a few laughs and Da’Vine Joy Randolph does a good job as Bullocks exasperated publicist (although they probably do spend too much time on her subplot).

The Lost City: See Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock in New TV Spot | PEOPLE.com

There is a long scene where we get to see Tatum’s tooshie, which I thought was hilarious, but more traditional romance viewers might take issue with. It’s also very silly and over-the-top so anyone expecting a realistic jungle story might be disappointed (but then why are you watching this movie?).

The Lost City' Box Office Opening Weekend Estimates - Variety

As I said, some of the subplots go on a bit too long but I didn’t care because I was laughing. It also wasn’t as much of a Romancing the Stone rip-off as I thought it would be. Pitt’s character is a riff on the Jack T Colton character from that film but Bullock’s character is more confident than Joan Wilder played by Kathleen Turner. Yes both films are about neurotic romance writers but they are executed quite differently. Plus, Tatum’s character Alan is actually quite shy and awkward, which I wasn’t expecting.

If you are like me and love adventure romances you will love The Lost City. It’s a great time at the movies I’ve missed! I’m also so glad to see Bullock back in rom-coms. She’s so good at them and it’s been a long time (since The Proposal in 2009!).

8 out of 10

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