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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[REVIEW] ‘Single All the Way’: Deck the Halls with Family Happiness

In the world of the holiday rom-com of which I spend most of my waking life we often hear calls for ‘family friendly films’ or ‘clean films’ and what that really means is movies that pretend like LGTBQ people don’t exist. Fortunately, things are changing in this corner of the movie-sphere and people are being pushed to accept love stories from all kinds of perspectives and experiences (and we are all a lot better for it).

I bring this up only to emphasize how special the new comedy Single All the Way is. Not only is it funny and romantic but it’s one of the most joyous depictions of family I’ve seen in a long time. I LOVED it!

On the surface the story in Single All the Way is rather pedestrian. The friends to lovers and fake relationship tropes are well worn and predictable. However, it’s like I always say it’s not a bad thing to use tropes. It’s what you do with them that makes it stand out!

Michael Urie plays Peter a gay man living in LA who is unhappy in his work and his love life is even worse having been recently dumped. Rather than face his family alone he invites his longtime roommate Nick (Philemon Chambers) to come with him and pretend to be his boyfriend for the holidays.

The ruse doesn’t really last long when his Mother sets him up with a hot local man named James played by Hallmark hunk Luke MacFarlane. As Peter gets closer to James, Nick begins to realize he may have more than just platonic feelings and things go from there.

What made Single All the Way special is not that it was a queer story, although that is nice. Happiest Season last year mined similar terrain last year to less success. What makes it stand out is how funny it is and how joyous it is (huge contrast from Happiest Season).

The cast is full of heavy-hitters including a hilarious turn from Jennifer Coolidge as Peter’s eccentric Broadway dreaming aunt who is putting on the Christmas pageant. There’s also Kathy Najimy and Barry Bostwick as Peter’s parents and they couldn’t be more warm while still being funny.

Urie and Chambers have fantastic chemistry and the whole family is rooting for their relationship. When revelations are made everyone cheers and is happy. It was so refreshing to see a family that loves each other unconditionally and is again joyous to see Peter in love. It made me happy to see them so happy. Maybe some people will find Single All the Way too trite and fluffy but I just loved it. I thought it was one of the best rom-coms I’ve seen in years and that’s saying something coming from me. These are 2 people, Nick and Peter, that I was rooting for the whole time and was so happy to see them get together. Isn’t that what we want in a romantic comedy? It is for me.

We should see more joyous families in movies and TV. Sure the dysfunctional families can be funny and help us relate to our own moments of dysfunction, but the movies should also be aspirational.  They should show us something to work towards. The family in Single All the Way gave that to me. I hope I am as joyous towards everyone in my life, friends or family, as this family was for Peter and Nick. It was great. I loved it. Watch it. I hope you love it too!

9 out of 10

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[REVIEW] ‘The Broken Hearts Gallery’: Female Friendship and Oh Yeah a Romance Too

Being the founder of The Hallmarkies Podcast  many of you probably assume I am going to love a movie called The Broken Hearts Gallery just by the name alone. Well, you would be wrong. Just read my review for Desperados and you will quickly see I do not give all romcoms a pass. In fact, what I enjoyed the most about The Broken Hearts Gallery wasn’t the romance at all; although it was very sweet and enjoyable. My favorite part of the film is the friendships it depicts. It showcases the best kind of sisterhood that especially thrives in your post-college years and in the age of quarantine I miss a lot (I haven’t even been able to attend book club in person for months. Sad face).

The Broken Hearts Gallery stars Geraldine Viswanathan (who I loved already this year in Bad Education, so she’s rapidly becoming a favorite) as woman named Lucy (that’s such a romcom name). In our opening scenes she is dumped by her boyfriend in a very public fashion and she does not handle things well. Luckily she has her very forgiving and eclectic roommates to help her grieve. Molly Gordon plays roommate Amanda who is married to the mute Jeff and Phillipa Soo (of Hamilton fame) is lesbian part-time model Nadine. They are both hilarious, and I loved them so much.

Through an adorable meet-cute Lucy meets hunky Nick played by Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things), and they start renovating a boutique hotel together. Bernadette Peters also figures in to the story as a gallery owner and Lucy’s former boss. As the title suggests, Lucy creates a gallery of items she and others have saved from their failed relationships. It becomes an instagram phenomenon, and you can guess where the story goes from there.

The point of a movie like The Broken Hearts Gallery is not to tell the most original story. You know where it is going each step of the way. The point is to spend time with likable people, have some laughs and feel good about the world for 5 seconds. This movie does a great job with all of that, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think men and women will equally enjoy it as the male characters have personality and aren’t just tools in the plot for the women (except maybe Jeff but that’s hilarious). My friend went with her husband, and he enjoyed it because he was laughing at the witty dialogue. It’s very engaging and funny.

The one warning I will give about the film is it is a strong PG-13. In fact, I am a little surprised it could get away with that rating. I would check a content review site before seeing it to make sure it is something you are comfortable with.

If you do feel comfortable than make your way to your local theater or drive-in and watch The Broken Hearts Gallery. It’s a really fun time!

8.5 out of 10

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