Do You Smell What The Rock Is Producing? A Quality Comedy/Drama

Fighting with My Family Poster

 

Another day, another chance to review a movie, and this morning’s review is an interesting film that held much potential to be fun and unique.  Sports movies seem to be the theme of this week, though this film certainly is not the typical approach to a typical sport that is portrayed in the film.  Robbie K here to take a look at the British comedy about an American sports venue that continues to rake in the dough of Wrestling, and the hidden world that you might not know involved in the theatrical event.  Let’s get started as I take a look at:

 

Movie: Fighting With My Family (2019)

 

Director:

Stephen Merchant

Writer:

Stephen Merchant

Stars:

Dwayne JohnsonLena HeadeyVince Vaughn

 

 

LIKES:

 

Funny

Deeper Story

Training Montages

Casting

Good Utilization of Extras

Good Pace

Unique

 

SUMMARY:

 

Fighting With My Family may not be the typical comedy given a lot of approaches with this movie, but my friend and I both did enjoy the comedy that was presented.  It’s a good mix of dry and wet comedy, utilizing slapstick, with witty English humor to bring some epic laughs to the mix that aren’t shoved in your face.  By not focusing so much on the comedy, Merchant’s work was able to tell a deeper story about the WWE legend Paige, pushing into a number of elements that I had not expected from the trailers.  Character development, major themes of family, friendship, dedication, and many other subplots actually work well to provide an engaging film that isn’t quite the norm for this genre.  In addition, it reveals the hard work that goes into becoming a wrestler, and how physically/emotionally demanding the application process can be in something that many do not even pass a look at. 

The cast certainly does the job of bringing the tale to life with Florence Pughand Jack Lowdencrushing their performances with characters that drive much of the movie, the former in particular being the central pillar to base everything around.  Yet secondary characters played by  Nick Frost, Lena Headey and Vince Vaughn are utilized so well that they not only avoid overshadowing, but really mesh well with the main performers.  Even the tertiary characters have some good involvement in the film, showing that you can utilize the cast well and tell a very good story, even with a super celebrity in the mix.  Needless to repeat, but will anyway, this film utilizes its actors very well, crafting a family component.  And it is all done with a pace that is entertaining to watch, not being too caught up in the drama to be slow, and yet still going slow enough to tell much of the story.  Certainly this is a unique concept, but also a unique example of how a movie can be done.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Inclusion of the Extra brother

The Rapid Development of Character Relationships at Times

The Rapid Story jumps at times.

Dramatization Vs. Facts

Semi Predictable

 

 

SUMMARY:

Finding dislikes for me was a little harder than I anticipated, but here are few parts of the story that were a little off my element. While the characters were done well, the extra brother that got brought in I don’t think was utilized as well.  Yes, he has his place, but compared to some of the other characters, his arc had some drama and potential, but then kind of fizzled out compared to what I thought they were going to do.  In addition, the movie surprisingly made some good character relationships, but then progressed them a little too quickly.  I was hoping that there would be a little more time with tending to the flourishing relationship they were starting to build.  This is primarily during the wrestling training period where things go from zero to 100% in a relatively short amount of time, and while still good I wanted more development with them in terms of that story arc.  And because of trying to fit the tale in the shorter amount of time, the movie, especially near the end led to some hasty jumps that just as things were starting to develop were quickly transitioned to the next phase.  Again, I would have liked a little more fleshed out conclusions and integrations, but it certainly is not as short sheeted as some other films have done.

In regards to the dramatization, well it works to add that Hollywood magic to jazz up stories, but I do understand that those who know Paige’s story might want more fact than fiction.  I can’t really say I know the story, but the movie works well to blend the structures with that Hollywood magic to make it entertaining.  If you are fans of the story of the youngest Diva though, then brace yourself for some potential divergence.  In regards to the rest of the tale, the semi predictable plot is something else difficult to ignore, though again, the rest of the movie sort of offsets this component so it’s only a minor area of improvement.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

 

            Surprisingly, the movie worked much better than what I was expecting from the trailers.  It’s balanced on many levels, telling an entertaining story, with multiple levels than the typical comedy brings to you.  With great use of characters/actors, comedy that is a bit diversified, and a pace that brings the wrestling world to life, you have a fantastic film to get lost into.  Yet, there are still a few other components still in need of more time than anything else, to take those components they were building and strengthen them further. I enjoyed this film a lot to warrant a trip to the theater, but can understand if you want to reserve your trips to the more special effect frenzy that other films have going for it.  Definitely look for it at home though. 

 

My scores are:  

 

Biography/Comedy/Drama: 8.5

Movie Overall:  8.0

Running To Inspirational Messages In This Okay Sports Movies

Run the Race Poster

 

Sports movies, they have many presentations and styles that make them so darn popular, but it’s often the ones that have the deep motivational themes and heart that really get the attention.  We Are Marshall, Pride of the Yankees, and of course Remember the Titans are just some of the films in the hall of film fame that are “timeless” pieces.  Yet, unsung heroes often wait on the bench, hoping to have their shot at shining amidst the stars.  Tim Tebow’s production is hoping to be one of those rookies to make a statement this weekend and this reviewer is ready to share his opinion.  Happy Friday folks and welcome to another review, this time on:

 

Movie: Run The Race (2019)

 

Director:

Chris Dowling

Writers:

Jake McEntire (screenplay), Jason Baumgardner (screenplay)

Stars:

Mykelti WilliamsonFrances FisherKristoffer Polaha

 

 

LIKES:

 

Well Acted

Pretty Cast

Sports Fueled Moments

Inspirational

Deep

Decently Paced

 

SUMMARY:

 

Run the Race’s likes center on some surprising balance in this fairly realistic portrayal of faith and football.  The cast of pretty thespians and cute physiques will be eye candy as they bring some decent acting to the mix of the family facing interesting circumstances. Their journey finds ways to bring the sports montage into the mix, crafting the story around the sports without becoming too invested into the mix.  It’s inspirational, finding some sequences that utilize the movie tricks and crafted speeches to get people going into action in helping face their problems.  The film goes deep into trying to teach the religious based life lessons it holds, and can really get some emotion going, as was seen in my audience and showing. And surprisingly, it’s got some decent pacing to it as well, finding a means to keep all these elements juggling smoothly, in hopes of getting to the end zone or finish line depending on the sport you like.  Nonetheless, the movie’s a nice sized package of inspirational messages delivered by poster worthy stars.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Plot Inconsistency

Sports Avenues Are Not Made Up

Rushed solutions

Unrealistic Manipulations

Preachy

Predictable

 

SUMMARY:

 

Despite the inspirational components to the movie there are some things that take it away from the majesty of the theater.  For me, the plot inconsistency is sort of the start as the race is ran a little too fast for some fo the plot lines to keep up with.  Some avenues keep the pace going well, but others like the romance arc, the tension with the dad, and even the rivalry of some of the characters are not quite as present as the main story line, leading to them hastily cleaned up by the end of the movie.  In addition, the sports montages are very simplistic, keeping the realistic component with them, but lacking those epic moments that make you want to scream out in delight.  Again, while I appreciate the down to Earth approach, this film really could have used some magic to help pep up the exciting sports it bombarded us with, even resorting to unrealistic manipulations of the system that were eye rolling. Instead, the religious aspect is where this film leads, using very preachy dialogue that while strong, motivational, and certainly a spiritual component sets up much of the movie’s “surprises”.  The predictable finish took away much of the emotion component for me and left me a little bored as I waited for the ending.  Still, the avenue of preaching the good word is something to be forewarned, and if you don’t want a case of faith, then you need to maybe hold off on this one.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall, Run The Race is actually a decent movie when it comes to religion influenced sports movies. A pretty cast will take on the task of instilling good messages that are deep and inspirational, while trying to develop the characters in the 105 minute run time.  Yet, the movie still runs into trouble when it comes to the memorable sports intense films.  It lacks the movie magic for one thing, and the preachiness may not be for everyone, especially if case of faith is not your cup of tea.  As predictable as it was though, this Friday Night Lights themed movie could have been better with a little more balance in terms of handling the other story themes and may injecting some movie magic as well. Worth a trip to theater?  I believe this one is best served for streaming to be honest, but that’s just my opinion. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Sport:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Dragon Sized Adventure With Not So Hidden Ending

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Poster

 

 

Movies series are always difficult to let go when they are good.  It’s been years since a beloved book series turned animated film flew into theaters and brought with it a memorable friendship that has led to merchandising galore. Yes, it’s Dreamworks leading duo of Viking and scales, with the third installment to the trilogy hoping to tie things up nicely.  Robbie K back and ready to give you his thoughts on:

 

Movie:  How To Train Your Dragon 3: Hidden World

 

Director:

Dean DeBlois

Writers:

Dean DeBloisCressida Cowell (based upon the “How to Train Your Dragon” book series

Stars:

Jay BaruchelAmerica FerreraF. Murray Abraham

 

 

LIKES:

 

Voice Acting

Character Development

Expansion of Story

Animation

Funny

Emotional Infusion

Balanced

 

Summary:

The movie has been all about characters, which in turn has relied on voice acting to bring them to life.  Jay, America and the gang have filled the shoes again, adding the emotional depth to the characters who we have grown up with the last decade or so.  The movie has taken the foundations and built upon it taking the characters to new levels and helping push them to new frontiers that the series requires.  Expanding on the story like it did, this sequel accomplishes the goal of standing on its own, and yet helping the characters evolve into new beings and new stagesIt’s all gorgeously done in the animation we have come to love, and this installment has shown that Dreamworks can continue to push the details of their work to new depths and heights to help bring the mythical beasts to life without going too dark.

Yet, this is a movie meant for kids and you might want to know does it still have the effects that made the first two installments special.  The answer is yes on many levels.  The comedy is still there a good blend of one-liners, banter, slapstick, and adorable, charming presentation that works so well to bring the youthful energy.  Not too overdone, but yet not too adult, the comedy does well to support the other components of the story.  Emotion runs heavy in this film cascading through the emotional roller coaster depending on the scene. Want the thrill of flying?  It’s in there.  Need the touching bond between friends?  Again it’s in there!  Need some other touches?  You’ve got that too.  The third installment continues to find the ability to infuse the emotions and bring you fully into the scene, especially when one adds the musical score to support the visuals.  It works very well, because the writers have found balance of many aspects and it works beautifully to bring all the ages and fans together for the latest ride to the film.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Short

More Action/Thrills

New Dragon Designs

The Villain

The Trailer Syndrome

 

Summary:

For once I actually wanted a movie longer, more so because of some of the other areas I wanted to see improved in this film.  One of these is to get more of that action and thrill that the first two had, the sense of flying into the heart of danger, or through the skies in the daring mission.  Hidden World has these components, but some of the moments didn’t quite have the impact the first two installments did for me.  In addition, I had hoped for a few new dragons that held the designs of those in the journals, getting glimpses of designs that break the molds from those seen before.  It did this somewhat, but I’d have liked to see a few more changes to the mold.  All of these are minder areas for me the majors are next.

The Villain is not the worst and I didn’t hate it, after all the look and malice ooze from him in terms of design and acting.  Yet, the part that failed is I don’t think he had quite the same texture and depth that the previous villains held.  This guy has build up and some impressive skill sets, but I felt that they didn’t quite deliver the terrifying components that they wanted, sort of diluting the villain for the film.  Again, good for the most part, but no quite having the same punch I had expected it.  Yet the biggest thing I held, was that the trailers have given you most of the endings, so if you have the trailer memorized you have much of the film’s ending laid out for you.  So, while it is a good prep for those who are trying to get their kids ready for it, guys like me don’t like having everything laid out for you.

 

The VERDICT: 

 

            Truth is, the third movie didn’t meet the first one for me in terms of all the wonders I had, but it certainly accomplishes much and as a movie sequel is very, very good.  I hands down love this sequel and found it having the balance the series is famous for, but yet expanding up on it.  With fantastic storytelling, animation that brings it to life, and all the emotions for both adults and kids to love, this series ends on a mighty roar that will take many to new heights and leave you feeling many things by the end of the film.  It did not deliver to the same extent on some things, but the movie hands down took all the made it special and capitalized it.  I loved much of this movie and encourage many to come enjoy the experience in theaters. 

 

My scores are:

           

Animation/Action/Adventure: 9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0-8.5

Isn’t it Actually Clever!

Isn't It Romantic Poster

 

Rom Com’s, the genre that is all about establishing the hopes and dreams that love can be perfect, establishing the hope of a true happy ending. Yet, we all know that love is hard work, and that while a positive force, these movies can sometimes establish unrealistic dreams that can be distracting.  Last night, the movie of the holiday season hopes to put a little more realism into the love genre and bring with it some laughs to brighten up a potentially depressing season. Robbie K back with another review, this time on:

 

 

Movie:  Isn’t It Romantic (2019)

 

Director:

Todd Strauss-Schulson

Writers:

Erin Cardillo (screenplay by), Dana Fox (screenplay by)

Stars:

Rebel WilsonLiam HemsworthAdam Devine

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

– Short Run Time

– Fun Atmosphere

– Funny

– Clever Writing

– Good Message

 

Summary:  In a movie like this, length is not necessary, and I think that Isn’t it Romantic did a nice job of getting the holiday laughs out without taking away too much time from life.  It establishes a fun environment that is mindless humor, practically ripping apart the false themes of Valentine’s Day and romantic comedies to show you don’t have to be dating/in a relationship to have fun.  The fast-paced laughs, upbeat pace, and lack of care for telling a serious story, accomplishes the goal that the movies can do, which is to go out there and lose yourself into a fun movie, and I think it worked well.

For being a comedy though, you want laughs, and surprisingly this movie accomplished it by being able to make fun of itself and genre. While certainly ludicrous, Isn’t It Romantic has some clever design to the approach of making fun of love movies. Some of the things we either love or take for granted, such as the stereotypical montages and linear plot, they find a way to poke at as Rebel Wilson experiences them.  Off the side comments about how the locations change, the magical timing of a character appearing, even the time warp factor from those random scenes of transit are prey for the writing of this film.  In addition, Rebel Wilson’s usual style has been curbed to not be so raunchy and it works for me in allowing her comedic delivery/timing taking the load instead of just the random banter she is famous for.  That balance is what helped open up the fun factor for me and throw in the dance number(s) as well and you actually seal the deal.

Yet, the movie does manage to have a serious side, bring a few key messages alongside the comedic slew of one-liners.  Surprisingly, they are deeper than expected, managing to teach he audience some personality building traits, but keeping in tune with the fun atmosphere of the film.  Preachy at times?  Yes, but again it works in terms of not taking the movie seriously.

 

DISLIKES:

 

– Not original

– Corny at times

– The Hemsworth curse

– Trailer Syndrome, sort of

– Overdone at times

– Plot progressed a little too fast

 

Summary:  Despite how much fun I had at the film though, as a reviewer there are elements of the movie overall to comment on.  First off, the originality is not really there.  True, it was low expectations that it would be super original, but like the films it makes fun of, Isn’t it romantic does not have that dynamic originality that some scream for.  It’s predictable tale is very generic, with obvious plot components being set up minutes into the film, which could have used some deviation. And even funnier, I think that parts of the plot were pushed a little too hasty, which I get is the point of its movie, but still could have had a few extra minutes to offer some of the character building.

  In regards to the comedy, well as clever as it turned out to be there were still times where the usual, modern approach of trying too hard for a laugh came out.  For some of these moments it was the blatant corniness that was too much, less frequently than expected, but capitalizing on that cheese factor when it came out.  Like any Rebel Wilson comedy, there were also times where going too far with a joke or letting a running joke go too long happened again.  This was mainly in regards to the gay sidekick or the new rival (a plot point not really mapped out), which while still funny did at times go stale. Yet, the biggest aspect of the comedy was the Hemsworth curse as I call it, which involves taking the charming, eye candy for the population and turning him into a brainless idiot.  I get it, the genre can do this to people, recognizing again that’s the point of this film, but the Hemsworth character could have actually utilized the charm to have better comedic development than the blatant babbling that came from him. Most probably won’t have this dislike, but for me I would have liked the better character use of him like they did a few other of the counterparts.  And of course, the trailers have hit some key moments and bludgeoned them to death, so… don’t be surprised to remember a third of the movie depending on how much you watched it. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Despite all the predictability, cheesiness, and over the top acting though, Isn’t it Romantic may have been the movie I had the most fun with this week.  The movie makes fun of a series that is sometimes taken too seriously, and the fact that it has some respectable wit to it just proves that you can find some balance in the comedy genre.  That fun atmosphere was perfectly timed with the holiday, and really is a film that friends, couples, even singles can enjoy in the approach they took.  I’d say that while it lacks a lot of the theater quality effects (e.g. special effects, a booming soundtrack, and thunderous sound effect), it still accomplishes being able to get lost into the film and make for a fun time worthy of hitting the theater.  Therefore, I’d say to hit this one up in the week and have some fun like I did. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Fantasy/Romance: 7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0

New Loop, New Twist: Happy Character Development 2u

Happy Death Day 2U Poster

            Sequels often get a bad rep because of never living up to the expectations of the original, and sometimes insulting the name of the franchise. Often a sequel is not needed, an obvious cash grab to try and extend the franchise just a little longer in hopes of keeping interest.  So tonight’s review is one of those cases where a sequel was not really needed, but nevertheless exists.  I’m talking about the sequel to last year’s campy slasher/comedy Happy Death Day, a film that surprised me in how much fun I had.  Will the second fill follow suit, or are we stuck in sequel limbo?  Robbie K back with another review on:

 

Movie: Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Director:

Christopher Landon

Writers:

Christopher LandonScott Lobdell (characters)

Stars:

Jessica RotheIsrael BroussardPhi Vu

 

 

LIKES:

  • Jessica Rothe
  • Character Development
  • New Twist
  • Funny
  • Emotional

 

Summary:  Happy Death Day was all about Tree’s journey to being a better person and the sequel is no exception as it dives more into the former sorority girl’s life.  Rothe’s performance continues to amaze me as she brings Tree to life, expanding upon the character, as a good sequel does, and really bringing emotional twist to the mix. The second dive surprisingly brought some emotional punches into the fray and was very heartwarming (potentially tear jerking) in unexpected ways.  Secondary characters get a little more time to develop as well, moving past the superficial stereotypes and somehow remaining relative and pertinent to the story.

Yet the movie isn’t just about the lovely Tree going on a soul-searching journey of … death, but rather trying to find ways to bring a new twist to and outdated genre and still keep to its rules.  In regards to the story, Happy Death Day 2U manages to add a science fiction twist to the mix, that helps establish a new goal, story element, and connection to first film.  While not quite the slasher tale, the added dimension helps the movie stand out and avoid feeling like a carbon copy of the original that was only a year or so ago.  In addition, the comedy remains true to its gimmick of making you laugh as actors and writing blend together to become well-timed comedic antics.  It works beautifully and adds a fun pace to the film that energizes it all over again to reinvigorate the series.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not as suspenseful
  • The beginning gimmick
  • Comedy a little overdone

 

Summary: The sequel’s two areas of improvement for me are going a little too far into the gimmick at the beginning and the overdone comedy.  The new twist works, but at first it didn’t impress me in the odd presentation/rule bending it did.  Fortunately, they were able to get a handle on it, but at the beginning the odd transition didn’t work outside of a messy transition.  The other component that did not quite work for me, was a few moments where the comedy was forced on the audience, a little too drawn out or grandiose for my liking.  They were minor ones, but limitations that took away from me.

I think the biggest limitation was how the suspense was taken away for me like the first one had.  The slasher component is mostly gone alongside the mystery, leaving it a fun adventure but missing that darker edge that the film was famous for.  Sure the humor got a little darker than anticipated, leading to some rather disturbing scenes, though these carried the attitude of the film.  Yet, the prolonged bouts, the squeezed in extra obstacles, and the hasty wrap up led to some shortcuts being taken and decisions to put the movie more in a comedy sort of mood.

 

 

The verdict: Regardless of the twists, the movie still has the fun adventure that makes it one of my favorite comedies of the last few years.  Rothe leads much of the fun, but the new twists, energy, and true to its roots presentation also help to make it a decent sequel that expands on the first film. Yes, it got a little carried away with the science fiction and comedy elements, leading to a diluted suspense factor. Still, it’s worth a check out into the theater for the fun movie of the weekend.  Definitely check this one out in the near future.

 

My scores are:

Horror/Mystery/Thriller: 7.5

Comedy/Sci-Fi/Mystery:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0