Not Hitting All The High Notes

The High Note Poster

            Another pandemic weekend, another chance to release a movie on to streaming services to try and keep some normalcy alive.  This weekend, a movie that snuck up on me until about the beginning of May arrives to your rental pleasure.  It’s a film with potential drama, comedy, and music, as a potential gaze through the window of stardom tries to make itself relevant in the modern day.  Robbie K here to assess the quality of the latest movie to home release as we look over: 

Movie:  The High Note (2020)

Director:

 Nisha Ganatra

Writer:

 Flora Greeson

Stars:

 Dakota JohnsonTracee Ellis RossKelvin Harrison Jr. 

LIKES:  

Portrayal of the Music Industry

Some Comedic Moments 

Kelvin Harrison Jr’s moments

The Ending 

The Music 

DISLIKES:

Disjointed Opening

Much Different Atmosphere of the Movie

Glorifying Shallow Behavior 

Predictable For Much Of the Film

Bad Pacing Of The film

Throw Away Characters

The Lack Of Direction Leading to Missed potential. 

SUMMARY:

            When it comes to portraying Hollywood, movies sometimes go too much magic and not enough reality leading to extreme views of the entertainment business.  I’d say from my studies and talking with friends who have professionally sang, this movie has it’s fingers on the pulse of the difficulties of the music world.  The High Note shows all the red tape, connections, and fickle shifts that can happen in building and maintaining one’s career.  In essence, this is the underlying tale to connect much of the early part of the movie and was the factor keeping me engaged into the film despite all the drama at hand.  To help break up the monotony there are some romantic parts, but the comedy was the more engaging part to liven up the movie with Ice Cube’s part being the main chuckle fest in his delivery and timing, though his scenes did get a little old after some time.  Instead the actor who really saved much of this movie for me was Harrison Jr’s role, the young man bringing a combination of acting and singing that will be those flash in the pan moments that will renew your attention and potentially inspire you to care about one of the characters.  Harrison’s scenes often held the most dynamic moments in all of the film, again expanding on rather shallow characters and adding the pizazz to the music industry movie.  He especially comes to life about half way and near the end of the film, which helps me transition into the next like of how the ending manages to tie stuff together with a little bit of surprise to help add some band, which given the start of this movie is definitely needed.  The ending finally starts making sense of the direction the film is going, and hits with those final emotional punches and gimmicks that left me satisfied and somewhat impressed given most of the movie I watched.  However, the biggest clap for me is the portrayal of music and the brilliant pokes this film does at the trends created over the decades.  The High Note is an homage, and almost a study, of the power of music, helping poetically dissect impact of songs, show the motivational power of the tracks, and even how tastes very for the sake of safety and commercialism.  Covers and plays of the original tracks await the ears of the viewers, but for me the original work holds a lot more heart and emotion to potentially lead to soundtrack sales in the near future.  

            Now those were the likes that I had to stretch out, but this movie definitely has a lot of shortcomings that I personally did not enjoy.  For starts much of the movie is disjoined, nearly the first 45 minutes a finger-painting mess of plots and genres that turn grey instead of a fabulous spectrum of colors.  Curiosity kept me going, but one again directors and writers seemed to try to cater to too many gimmicks to make a cohesive opening.  From viewing the trailers I expected this film to be a drama of pressures of assistant/music life that developed into a buddy movie, but that was only a sliver of the complicated weavings this group chose.  The change in atmosphere was not to my liking mostly because the atmosphere was not smooth, the chaos again just not working given my expectations I walked in with.  Of course, the shallow behaviors of greed, cheap laughs, and elaborate fashions await this film too, and while it works so well for painting the celebrity/high roller life, it at times also becomes too much the focus of the film.  Lost in this setting, dialogue suffers, character development becomes lazier, and the forced insertion of a track gets a bit stale, especially when the diva/bad behavior gets in the way of the messages and power the film I think was aiming for.  While the political aspects  are fortunately kept on a short leash, when they rear their head it’s bit in your face, not so much annoying, but again derailing the fluidity of the scene before me for what would be foreshadowing for an already predictable plot.  I think most of these errors could have had more slack by me, but they are magnified by the very slow pace this movie takes.  Yes, I know I like faster paced genres, but this film’s dragging out, bloated run time with no direction was an uphill battle I waded through, only finding it’s pace nearly 50% of the way into the film where that monotony started going away.  Yet even the second half cannot correct the throw away characters this film holds, which outside maybe four of them, plague this film’s writing.  Rival stars, self-centered best friends, loyal roommates, and even agents are secondary messes that play their part and nothing more, with many reduced to simple one-liners.  Little character development and integration makes this cast feel sort of mashed together, potential plot elements and feeling heavy anchors dropped to sink into the shallow dismay of a mention and nothing more.  Hopefully this review highlights that the film did have a lot of nifty ideas and potential paths for developing a struggling woman in a very chaotic field, but to repeat once more that lack of direction tears much of it to shreds with only the last 30 minutes present to tie it altogether and end with the things I sought out in this movie. 

THE VERDICT: 

            The modern age of movie writing seems to have a lot of agendas, changes, and catering pushed in favor of cohesive plots.  High Note hints at the potential it could have brought with the realistic dives into the entertainment world, the talent of some of its actors, and the awesome music that brings the biggest punches in this drama/music special.  Sadly, it is the lack of direction mixed with too many aspects that really destroys this film for much of the 2-hour run time.  With throw away character, shoddy plot development, and bad pacing with an already unfocused story, you will not get the full bang for the twenty-dollar rental in this reviewers eyes.  As such, this is a big wait for watching at home via streaming, and one should instead find the soundtrack and enjoy the numbers this group brought to play.  Overall, the movie gets the scores of: 

Drama/Music/Romance:  6.0

Movie Overall:  4.0 

I Still Believe In Balanced Religion Movies

I Still Believe Poster

 

Religion is a touchy subject to many out there in the world, especially given politics of today and the verbal sharing of the world.  Yet, there is something inspirational in the stories that are told and the miracles they can bring in their messages .  Tonight is another one of those movies that hopes to bring the word of the Lord to life, in a format that’s slightly more modern than the bible they are based on.  Yet, the movie sometimes loses its focus when it gets too preachy, and only those are major devotion will enjoy those moments to the max.  Will this latest romance/drama follow suit, or will we be treated to a fun surprise.  Well sit down and enjoy the ride as we hit up:

 

Movie: I Still Believe (2020)

 

Directors:

Andrew ErwinJon Erwin

Writers:

Jon ErwinJon Gunn

Stars:

Britt RobertsonK.J. ApaMelissa Roxburgh

 

 

LIKES:

  • Cute
  • Moves At A Decent Pace
  • Passionate Scenes
  • Cool Display of Miracles
  • Some Of The dialogue
  • The Musical Performances… when they happened

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not Much Story With The Family Or Other Supporting Characters
  • Not many Songs or Length Of Songs
  • Almost Feels Incomplete
  • The Acting at Times Is Very Forced
  • Diluted The Impact Of The Story With limited writing
  • Preachy

 

SUMMARY:

A movie with young romance is often very cute in a movie like this, to which this film succeeds at achieving. The relationship may start at awkward, but eventually evolves into something that is adorable to see unfold, especially at the energy it brings to what can potentially be a depressing movie.  Unlike some other movies, the film manages to keep a good pace, always keeping the romance moving towards what will surely be an intense lesson and minimizing how many tangents these films can sometimes take.  Eventually, the movie crosses a barrier though, and drops into a passionate story that shows you just how much these two people love each other.  From all the acts the guy and girl do for each other, this true story is inspiring to see that there just may be hope for the world at times.  The miracles that come out of the woodwork in this film are also pretty cool as well, displays that no one can expect (unless you read about them) again helping drive you to the faith and salvation that comes with it.  Messages like these are only further emphasized by some amazing writing, which could have been adapted from the live letters the couple donated, that are poetic, heartfelt, and even brings tears to much of the audience.  Finally, the musical moments that show off not only praising, but the talented voices of our actors, helped add a little variety to the mix, my favorite being the beach scene that seemed to culminate the power of music. 

 

However, the movie happens to fail on some other things for me that took away from me from this film.  First, despite this being a movie about coming together in the name of the Lord, the family’s involvement was actually a little limiting. Their impact has its moments, but I felt very disconnected with most of the other members, as the two protagonists danced around their relationship, which I guess is what most go into looking forward.  Now maybe the songs make up for it, after all there are plenty of these films where the music comes in to save the day with a stunning performance.  This movie has one moment to have you lift your arms, but outside of a few numbers, the songs are mostly sound bites and quickened performances that get lost to dialogue.  My friend and I both really could have enjoyed the musical spectacles, but alas they did not put stock in it.  As such, the film feels very incomplete in terms of involvement and integration, a shame given the potential of the film from the trailers.  In terms of acting, they are okay, nothing that blew my mind, but was believable in the moments that counted.  However, the movie feels very forced at times, the dialogue in particular coming off a bit cheesy as the actors try to make the words come to life as the chemistry is developing.  Humorous at times, whether meaning to or not, I was hoping that some better writing or adaptations to the lines could have really stood out (which got better as the movie neared its finish).  It’s not that it’s bad, please don’t take it that way, but compared to other movies… the writing did not really amplify this tale like I expected.  Finally, you know it’s coming, but the movie dives into the realm of being preachy again.  If you are a devoted worshipper, this will not impact you one bit, and though faithful to the word I have to put my bias aside.  There are times where the dialogue is very forced to the written word, going to the preachy side that will make people roll their eyes and potentially turn away from the message at hand.  I’m warning you again to go in expecting this, and if you can filter the… cheesy moments out, the message can still get to you.

 

The VERDICT:

            I Still Believe has the intended audience built into the title as a passionate, religious focused movie that will either make you raise your hands up or roll your eyes at the antics.  A cute relationship with inspiring moments, the movie manages to move at a fast-enough pace to be entertaining, yet focus on those key moments to nail you with the religious prowess that they wanted.  However, the movie sort of leaves out the other characters, primarily their families that I would have thought would have been front and center in the relationship at hand.  In addition, the acting feels forced, the impact of the scenes dwindled down by incomplete storytelling, forced dialogue, and preachy moments that needed a little more magic.  Throw in that for a song singer there are not many songs to get into… and well you may be disappointed by the full-on presentation.  The key demographic is those of heavy faith, for the majesty of God’s words will fill these audience members with renewed energy.  However, this is not my favorite of the worshipping films and I think others are better at delivering the message at hand.  I think this film is best suited for home viewing, unless you can get a church group to go.  My scores for this film are:

 

Drama/Music/Romance:   6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

A Photograph Best Left For Streaming

 

The Photograph Poster

 

It’s Valentine’s Day and I guess it’s a good idea to put a love story out to try and go with the theme of the holiday.  Today’s last review is all about the latest tale to go over the theme of true love and the drama around it.  A movie less advertised, the few trailers I have seen suggested a potential for a powerful movie.  Will this film live up to demands, or are the trailers making this package a little more appealing than it actually is?  Robbie K coming at you with another look at the movies as he reviews:

 

Movie: The Photograph (2020)

 

Director:

Stella Meghie

Writer:

Stella Meghie

Stars:

LaKeith StanfieldIssa RaeChelsea Peretti

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Acting
  • The Two stories Presented
  • The Cultural Representation
  • The Music of the Movie
  • Lil Rey Howery character
  • The Short Run Time

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • The Predictable Plot
  • The Weird Transition Points
  • The Incomplete Tales
  • The Forced Moments
  • Boring At Times Due To Slow Pace
  • Artistic Nature Again Supersedes The Entertainment

 

The Summary:

 

Great romance movies rely on great actors and I had fun with the group who took charge of this movie.  While not the most memorable roles and certainly not the Oscar Winning roles, this film’s characters sell a more realistic relationship than the usual fantasy films.  Issa Rae manages to tone down her comedy roots to pull out a good drama story, awkward and testing the waters, yet strong in her ability to take charge of the situations.  Meanwhile LaKeith hits the typical lead role with a little less grandiosity and arrogance, coming off as a laid-back character with good instincts and romantic drive that was fun to watch.  Their chemistry is not the Nicholas Sparks formula, but it made for a fun relationship to watch and see that love does take work.  Okay, so onto the stories, the Photograph has two tales overlaying one another, in a manner trying to help build a suspenseful conclusion and provide background information to tie the modern story together.  It gets points for trying to give past and present tales a chance to foster, especially in some of the secondary characters that are important to the tale.  Yet, this love story seems to make a valid attempt to implement the culture of the ethnic groups and cities this film takes place in.  Unlike, the usual romantic comedy, this film I felt managed to showcase a variety of traditions and responses to the drama at hand.  It somewhat enhances the experience, and helps add some layers to the typical plots these films take, and helps you get immersed into the setting even further. This is particularly true for the music, a nice collaboration of modern-day music, New Orleans Jazz, and a little New York attitude to help further sell the mood of the movie.   It’s these little touches that really help add some atmosphere to the movie and my favorite part of the film overall.  As for my other two likes, Lil Rey Howery works his comedic magic once again, simplistic dialogue and delivery capturing the comedic atmosphere just right and having me in stitches.  In addition a short run time helps to lessen the dislikes I had for this movie, which are coming up.

 

Being a romantic comedy I’ve come to expect the predictable plot and I got it.  The problem is, though artistic, the movie’s presentation does not help take the predictable edge away and thus leads to a bit of a boring tale for yours truly.  The two stories, while decently detailed, have weird transition points back and forth, leading to a haphazard baton pass that does not deliver quite the punch I think they were going for.  In addition, both stories felt a little incomplete for me, having just a few highlights that actually worked to provide character details, while the rest was drama fluff that only bloated the run time and bide the inevitable conclusion. Perhaps, a little more creativity and integration would have strengthened both tales, but a rushed conclusion just did not have that power the buildup was.  In addition, the forced moments of the comedy, romantic interests, and cheesy dialogue did little to add to the story and went back into eye rolling territory for me.  It may be part of the formula for these movies, but after seeing the cultural pizazz this film was doing… I had hoped to see a little more development was needed.  With all this disorganization and predictable story, the movie’s artistic approach sort of supersedes the entertainment aspect that quite honestly was boring at times.  The constant dance around the issues, the lack of creativity to help expand the relationship, or even the missing fun that this genre is known really could have been improved upon to make this film more fun and entertaining.  While artistic nature is always important, when it gets too convoluted to make the film boring is when you lose this reviewer.  Thus, other audience members and I agreed that if you did not relate to the culture, or enjoy the convoluted truncated tales, you might not enjoy this film fully.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            The Photograph has intricate pieces that suggest it is going to be a deeper love story that defies the traditional rom com story this genre is famous for.  While it’s got good acting, a unique presentation of two tales, and lots of cultural integration that classes up the act, the movie gets a little lost in the artistic nature that it makes the movie less entertaining.  Truncated plots, rushed finishes and a slower pace did not mix well for me and only extended the run time to a predictable ending was not the way to go for me despite the artistic approach.  The movie needed to mix in a little more of the fun stereotypes that we love in rom com to help offset the more lackluster parts.  A little more focus on design, details, and integration would have helped them get a better movie out of it and have that passionate project they were going for.  Should you go to the movie theater to see it?  The answer for me is no, unless you love a more cultural piece than detailed, complete story.  Otherwise hit this one up in the streaming future. 

 

My Scores are: 

Drama/Romance:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

These Little Women Are Growing Up InTo The Modern Era

 

Little Women Poster

 

It’s been done a thousand times, yet the it still remains a timeless classic that has the masses flock in.  When Ms. Alcott wrote her book, she hit gold in regards to the representation the story brought and how it would work regardless of the generations.  Through movies, television specials and even plays/operas, the tale of the four Little Women continues to find property in the homes of many.  So despite only a year passing since the last installment, I’m back in the trenches to once again review the latest twist on:

 

Movie: Little Women (2019)

 

Director:

Greta Gerwig

Writers:

Greta GerwigLouisa May Alcott (based on the novel by)

Stars:

Saoirse RonanEmma WatsonFlorence Pugh

 

LIKES:

  • Surprisingly moves
  • Nice Twist On The Presentation
  • The Recreation Of History
  • Very Good Writing
  • Classy And Contained
  • The Acting

 

DISLIKES

  • The age difference did not transition well
  • Did not use the Characters To The Fullest
  • Too Much Amy At Times
  • The Political Rants At Times
  • Sometimes a New Twist Gets Lost
  • Some Incomplete moments
  • Meryl Streep’s Untapped Potential
  • Laurie’s Character At Times

 

Summary:

 

As a reviewer, I do my best to acknowledge the majesty of the source material, but Little Women was never my favorite book when I read it back in the day.  Despite how slow the book moved for me, this rendition I felt captured the essence of the book, while keeping it entertaining and moving for the 135 minutes  To keep this tale fresh, the movie managed to put a new twist into the movie by telling the tale via a series of flashbacks.  While I missed the linear part of the tale, the flashbacks did occur in a linear fashion as to how Jo’s life changed.  The transitions of her remembering were fantastic, and clever, holding that artistic style and connection between past and present that I so very much like.  Where last year’s rendition was all about modernizing the tale, this year went back to the traditional 19th century world, bringing class, poise, family, and hardship back in beautiful details.  The setting screams Civil War design, the cultural mannerisms between social classes blended into the story in a naturally flowing manner that helps bring the story to full strength.  The costumes only elevated it further, showing how society really held confidence in the clothes, all while helping bring out the hardships of the time and the envy of the fancy dresses they wore.

Presentation aside though, Little Women succeeds in bringing dialogue to life and filling it with rich, meaningful material that should be inspiring, realistic, and representative of the source material.  Don’t expect too many meme and one-liners quotes to fill this movie, it’s much deeper, capturing the importance of education and societal banter that the book was all about.  Despite the new political fervor that this movie holds, the writing was able to take the progressive movement and keep it relevant to the story, with few times stepping off the path to rub the moments in my face.  I appreciate this balance and more so how Gerwig managed to keep much of the story focused on the character development than the political components it’s built on.  Finally, it all is brought to full life by the actresses that played our characters.  There are too many to really go into too many details, but I’ll come out and say the chemistry of the bunch works to establish the rag tag, dysfunctional family and all its endeavors.  Saoirse Ronan is the point character, and her fiery passion was perfect for the role of Jo, in all her strong, assertive tones.  Florence Pugh brings her strong presence to the film, managing to keep her calm demeanor for the cultural side, while bringing the juvenile emotions to the younger side out in full force.  Timothée Chalamet as well makes a very quirky Laurie as well that I liked many aspects of.  Overall, the cast was great and I felt it was a wonderful group to help bring the tale to life.

 

In terms of the things that did not work for me though, it starts with the lack of aging between the two-time gaps.  I found that for everything accomplished in this day and age, the ability to make younger and older characters is starting to be easy street.  Yet, Little Women did not even try to make the women look older in the future, outside of a little height, some heavier eyes, and that’s about it. It’s a little lazy for me and I think I would have enjoyed seeing the transition a little smoother, but this a minor component. A more major flaw is the imbalance of characters for me at times.  Jo of course is the center stage, and while the other girls get their time, they just did not have the same oomph as Jo.  This is especially true for Emma Watson and Laura Dern, two great actresses that got their acting prowess in, but there was more that could have been done.  Meanwhile, Amy was the character with much focus, and the stubborn antics and whining were not my favorite components to see for nearly 2 hours.  I understand it’s part of the source material, but I really wish it had a better balance.

In regards to the story components, they worked for me for the most times, but the new presentation style sometimes got foggy in regards to the placement in the story.  I felt that the flipping back and force started to lose the pacing and balance near the end, where they realized how long the movie was running and had to make cuts that chopped up the ending tales.  As such, the story at times feels incomplete, or watered down such as Meg’s marriage, Jo’s feelings for other characters, and even Beth’s major ordeal.  Though 2018 may not have been the best story, I’ll admit I had more emotional connection than this one near the end.  In addition to the character imbalance, the legendary Meryl Streep capitalizes on her scenes, but once more I wanted to see more of her character integrated through the tale, especially given the antagonistic character she plays.  Finally, Laurie in this one has such potential and shows off the full emotional spectrum, but again at the end felt his ending was rushed and lacking the full emotions.

 

The Verdict:

 

            With so many renditions of this movie, new features are always the way to expand the shelf life of this movie.  This tale of the classic title accomplishes the goal of bringing the classic tale back to the big screen, and balances the classiness with the fire that comes this day and age.  Great settings recreated the culture and to have the unique twists of flashbacks to help establish the writing and characters was fantastic for me.  The acting brings it out even further and is probably the biggest selling point of the film for me.  Yet, the main limitation for me is that the movie starts to lose its balance the farther the film goes in.  I would have liked to have seen more of the characters balanced in, while also not getting too lost in the new presentation style and balancing the story amongst others.  If it ran another hour, it might have been the perfect time, but hey, a three-hour movie is a lot to ask this day and age.  My scores are:

 

Drama/Romance:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Will This Christmas Flick Deliver A Holiday Gift?

Last Christmas Poster

 

There is always something about the Christmas time of the year that brings out the good will in movies.  Somehow the monotonous television specials, the move theaters itself, and even the atmosphere are all given a renewed glow that seems to lighten us up.  Yet, in a flooded market trying to capitalize on the big time of the season, we can sometimes get things crammed in that don’t need to be crammed in.  So in November at this early stage of the holiday months, getting a Christmas movie makes me wonder how the quality of the film will be if coming out this early.  As always, Robbie K coming in to give you his thoughts on whether or not the movie will match what the trailers suggested it would be.  As such, let’s get started as I take a look into:

 

Movie: Last Christmas (2019)

 

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Good Acting

Comedy That is Not Overdone

Fun and A good atmosphere

Good Message For The Times

Fast Run Time

The Music

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

Dryer Sense Of Humor Required

Needing More Time To Tell A Detailed Story

The Semi-Superficial Romance

The Overdone Ending

Lacking That Big Punch

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

Let’s face it, I was not the most excited seeing the trailer for this film, but I was hoping that there would be some Christmas magic to assist with bringing it to life.  Well my wish came true in the form of acting, with all the leads making for an entertaining, dysfunctional group.  Emelia Clark was of course my favorite, especially taking center stage, bringing the roundabout character of Kate!  Henry Goulding’s charm works to offset the theatrics of the supposed messy character, his calm level headedness bringing its own magic that lvies up to the theme of the movie.  And as for Emma Thompson, well another new light for the woman who wears so many faces.  Outside of the quaint characters with major flaws, Last Christmas attempts to find the means of being different while still sticking to its guns from the trailer.  For those looking for a typical American based comedy, you’re in for a surprise as the movie turns to British roots for a comedy style that is a bit drier and catered to a more finite audience.  Despite not being the comedy line craziness that most are expecting, the movie maintains a fun atmosphere, capturing the meaning of the season and sort of infecting you in the Kate’s journey with this strange man.  This atmosphere of feeling good compliments all the previous mentioned likes and somehow gave me some energy to stay immersed in the film.  Of course a Christmas movie has to have a good message right?  Well, Last Christmas delivers its morale laden plot right in your face and manages to keep the time honored tradition in line with the movie without being too cheesy or over the top.  Yet for me, the music is the key to why I had fun.  Last Christmas does not saturate in the Christmas themes, but instead blends both traditional songs with some other tracks to keep things lighthearted and in rhythm with the messages.   If all of this does not sound good and you are being forced to go on a date, the fast run time should keep you satiated and not lose too many minutes of your life.

 

So let’s get into things that people will most likely not like or expect.  First off the movie is predictable.  A fine attempt at a twist, I had the surprise figured out well before stepping foot into the movie (yes the trailers were that obvious).  It’s a fine attempt, but the bread crumbs were a little too traditional so I can’t say I was moved like many of my fellow audience members.  As stated earlier, you need to have a drier sense of humor, and while I appreciated the wit, at times a nice wet joke sequence could have helped lighten the mood a little more.  Thus again, be warned this is not your average rom-com.  While the time limit may be beneficial in terms of getting out of there, it also limited the detailed story I think most were looking for.  Last Christmas held potential to balance all these elements it wanted, but like much of today’s trends the stories were sort of rushed and irrelevant plot points were hastily tied up when not needing to be included. This included the semi-superficial romance that while cute and endearing at the beginning was also not the romance aspect I expected they would go, (there are many Hallmark movies that do better than this one).  Again its sincere and  a bit more sentimental, but it needed more time to get the full effect for me.  When the ending does finally arrive, it finds almost the perfect place to stop, but then like the ending of Return of The King, the movie goes one step too far to show how things are going to be okay.  This ending montage approach is nice to show the future, but about five minutes earlier would have been better for me.  Finally, I think the thing most are hating is that the movie is lacking a big punch that Christmas movies need for the theater visit.  This movie sort of lacks that and I think from some of the thing said by fellow audience members, I have to agree that it needs that final ounce of oomph to get to gold star status.

 

The VERDICT:

 

What you see in the trailer of Last Christmas is almost what you get with this film.  The cast shows good chemistry and brings their bag of tricks to the mix to make for a fun cast of characters that I think will charm most.  It’s nice that a Christmas comedy managed to still have heart and fun, not overdoing the humor and giving me a film that had good life lessons and positive atmosphere to enjoy, with a fun accompanying sountrack.  Still, the movie fails for me in terms of bringing that big Christmas punch that I expect from these films, suffering from superficial gimmicks, semi complete story lines, drier humor, and a relationship that is sentimental but not what I thought it would be. Overall, the movie is enjoyable with a group, but I think it would find a better home on Hallmark or a local streaming.  However, if you are looking for a feel good Christmas movie this early, check this one out.

 

My scores for its genre are:

 

Christmast/Comedy/Drama/Romance:  8.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

 

 

Trying to Shine In New Lights. A Contemporary Romance

 

The Sun Is Also a Star Poster

 

New week and time for a new style of review.  Today’s first review is all about the wave of hits that the drama and romance genres hold in teenage culture.  Another book turned to film, Hollywood is hoping to take this week as a means to capitalize on the author’s work.  Yet, much of the market is flooded with generic knock offs and repeats that come famous on channels like Hallmark and Lifetime.  Will today’s film be all about seeing if it can defy the trend of mundane and become the next staple in cinema history?  Robbie K here to provide a review on:

 

Movie: The Sun Is Also A Star (2019)

 

Director:

Ry Russo-Young

Writers:

Tracy Oliver (screenplay), Nicola Yoon (novel)

Stars:

Yara ShahidiCharles MeltonKeong Sim

 

 

LIKES:

 

Good Acting

Fitting Music

Nice Use of Background Details/Connecting

A Bit Different of A Twist

 

DISLIKES:

 

Very Cliché

Predictable

Very Rushed

Cheesy At Times

Other Characters Only Substantially Used

Stories that are Blunt

Ending That’s Mundane

Does not Feel Like A Love Story

Fans Who Like These Movies May Like This Film:

Notebook

Fault In our Stars

Five Feet Apart

One Day

 

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

In regards to this film, The Sun Is Also Star feels more like a buddy adventure than a true love story.  The acting between Melton and Shahidi has good chemistry, filled with a dynamic that holds the emotional spectrum that is common of the characters in these types of films.  It helps bring a relationship to gear on to and will most likely be relatable to the key demographic.  Their story holds some unique flavor to it compare to others by offering a twist in the form of a very set timeline along with an ending that offers a refreshing take on these types of films. My favorite part would be more so the background details that somehow tell another part of the story, hidden nods for details that will later be revealed in the ending. 

Yet, the film does not quite deliver in the usual pizazz that these movies hold, getting too caught up in the one-day time limit to deliver on the quality cries and emotions these films like to use. Still it does not escape the predictable and cliché story telling that fans love, but rather than true love and a believable romance we instead get a very cheesy tale that offers little sustenance.  The film feels more like two friends starting out on a friendship, that rapidly changes as each hour passes.  In addition, many of the tales have blunt finishes, with the secondary characters adding little to the movie overall, which was a shame given all the personal problems the leading characters had with their family’s style of raising them.

Overall, the movie is not bad, a nice attempt at changing the formula that has been a staple in the genre.  Sadly, the movie feels a little rushed, leaving much of the meat of the book remaining in the pages instead of onscreen.  This adventure is not quite the epic love story that so many fall in love with, but at the same time it at least brings some emotional moments and a relationship that has believable components to it.  It’s a relevant story to the target audience and I feel that it has good value as a home viewing rather than a theater visit, but overall missing that full spark that romance movies bring. 

 

My scores are:

Drama/Romance:  7.0

Movie Overall: 5.0

A Shot In The Rom Com Dark: Cute and Fun, but Predictable

Long Shot Poster

 

In the day of comedy, the name Seth Rogen is a champion for many types of roles and writing.  Often the king of stoner comedy, Mr. Rogen somehow takes his dorky looking self to new heights as he makes us laugh our heads off with his similar stories. Today, another piece to his collection is released in the form of a new spin on political comedy, as he teams up with another gorgeous beauty to tell his own Cinderella story.  Will this film hold a new form of comedy, or are we just writing another check to a mediocre film?  Robbie K back with another review on the film:

 

Long Shot: (2019)

 

Director:

Jonathan Levine

Writers:

Dan Sterling (screenplay by), Liz Hannah (screenplay by)

Stars:

Charlize TheronSeth RogenJune Diane Raphael

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Good Chemistry
  • Funny At Times
  • Cute
  • Moves At A Good Pace
  • Good Music

 

SUMMARY:  Despite the looks of Rogen, the guy manages to find some stellar cast mates to work with. Theron and Rogen have a great chemistry that brings the relationship to life, making for an interesting pairing that is fun to watch.  Long Shot’s central actors bring with it a dynamic spectrum that ranges from awkward crushes to stoned moments and the two really play off each other’s energies well.  The result is some sensationally dynamic comedy antics that work to inspire and drive the entertainment factor.  Clever references, slapstick relief, and even the well-timed simplistic one-liners all work to make a diverse palette for most audience members to enjoy.  Long Shot knows how to cater to a wide variety of the audiences.

Yet the comedy is only part of the magic and Long Shot holds a cute atmosphere to it that was promised in the trailer.  A love tale graces this film and has that classic nerd and gorgeous woman motif that is both inspirational and just sensational to watch.  While it’s not the most unique or magical, there is a very cute atmosphere about it and that will draw fans into the mix as well.  Making for a good date movie, the love story here is very cute, with some endearing motifs brought in to inspire and chop up the aggressive comedy.  With these stories mixed in, it actually puts this tale at a good pace, dropping the mundane circular banter for something with a little more pacing and fun.  And finally, the music that is played throughout the movie sort of bridges a good number of decades, with fantastic utilization to bring nostalgia and character to the scene. If you are forced to go to this movie, then hopefully the tracks will keep you interested in the nearly 2 hour run time.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • A little preachy
  • Stoner Comedy going overboard
  • The Villain character
  • The Other Love Interest
  • Predictable
  • Lazy Writing

 

SUMMARY:

 

When you try to put in good messages, especially ones about changing the world and the social hierarchy, you sometimes run into the world of preachy cinema.  Long Shot does those moments in quite a number of scenes going out of their way to put in these moments to be the inspirational piece the story is going for. Not awful, but sometimes a bit much these moments are just the small imbalances that stack up in this movie.

Instead the movies sometimes runs away with its comedy, relying too much on jokes to offset the story for Rogen’s usual brand of comedy. Some of the drug humor managed to get caught in the whirlwind of mindless banter, our “heroes” stuck in roundabout wonder, in their throngs of substance induced bliss.  It is funny at times, but sometimes a bit too deep for me leading to some stale tactics by the tent minute of the scene.

Other imbalances for me were the “rivals” of Theron’s groups that acted as potential story plots.  The Villain character by legendary Andy Serkis was a parody of makeup and villains, an antagonist who is there only for a few plot devices, but never serious enough to pose a threat outside of showing off stylized makeup.  Also an offset was the potential love interest in the form of pretty Canadian prime ministers.  A few mindless laughs and some rapid character introduction, this character held some potential that was lost in the grand scheme of comedy.  These unnecessary characters just made for threadbare plots that further endorsed the predictable plot that this movie held.

  Yet it’s the lazy writing that gets me as the biggest limitation.  I’m not talking about the story or the clever comedy, that’s actually good for me.  No, it’s the monotonous cursing that is famous in Rogen’s arsenal of films.  Long Shot suffers from focusing too much on the slander, replacing much of the human vocabulary with genitalia descriptions that are laced with consistent swear words. If you can’t get enough of the F bombs, you’ve come back to the familiar watering hole, but Long Shot still needs some unique flavor added to the punch to escape this weakness for me.  By not expanding up on the vernacular some of the scenes were missing their true potential due to again stale verbiage.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Long Shot is fun and surprisingly cute, making for a fun film that holds some story and laughs to behold.  It’s a generational movie that will speak to many, and the broad audiences it will appease too makes for a promising movie night out with the group.  Yet, the factor that holds it back is some unnecessary plot devices, some wasted characters, and the fact that once again lazy writing seethes in to the clever jokes at hand. It makes for a generic comedy, but sometimes those are the fun films to share with friends and family, so long as they can handle the crude humor.  So therefore, grab your friends and hit this delightful film up as a group, but otherwise stick to streaming for this for it lacks much of the theater worthy quality.

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Romance:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

Five Feet Apart From The Other Films In Romance/Drama

Five Feet Apart Poster

Teenage romance movies always hold special places in a lot of people’s hearts, but depending on the decade your familiar with, the elements and presentation are a little different. Eighties brought comedy with emotional drama, nineties was the Nicholas Sparks beginning with the cute, cheesy tactics, early 2000s were all about the Nicholas Sparks, super dramatic stories that hold a lot of places in the hearts of the public.  Then came the 2010s and the twist was now romance, but put some type of terminal illness with it to sweeten the deal… So tonight’s movie continues this current trend, taking another story in hopes of invoking tears and pulling the heart strings of the audience at the same time.  Yes, tonight is Five Feet Apart and yours truly is here to write his reviews as always and share his opinions.  Let’s go:

 

Movie:  Five Feet Apart (2019)

 

Director:

Justin Baldoni

Writers:

Mikki DaughtryTobias Iaconis

Stars:

Haley Lu RichardsonCole SprouseClaire Forlani

 

 

LIKES:

  • Acting
  • Character Use
  • Comedy
  • Appreciation of Art
  • Beautiful
  • Romantic
  • Nice Surprises

 

SUMMARY: The latest movie fills the formula of sad, drama meeting the romantic teenage plotlines. Fortunately, the acting is there to bring a fantastic dynamic to latch onto in the form of Cole Sprouse and Harley Lu Richardson.  Their chemistry is amazing, bringing the two sides of the romantic cone to life in a very sweet, charming, and surprisingly realistic way.  Five Feet Apart takes these characters and does a fantastic job advancing them past the carbon copy templates most of these films do.  The supporting cast does a wonderful job of being integrated into the story, their own tales and dynamics meshing well to bring out the main characters in new ways.

Of course the movie somehow manages to add on to the simple romantic story by appreciating other dynamics that can be included in romance movies.  The comedy is simple and classy, fitting very well with the tone of the movie without being too forced.  For those enjoying symbology in the visual arts, the rooms and works of our proverbial Romeo and Juliet have plenty of artistic bite that is quite impressive to behold, instigating a little jealously in my mind about their artwork. 

As for the romance component itself, again I give them props for finding a way to bring love and beauty into a realistic way that was both poetic and fun to behold.  Five Feet Apart takes most of the cheese factor out of the romance, and instead makes it an adventure that is fun to go on.  The ordeal of the disease contending with the blossoming love is a driving force of the film and somehow manages to be fresh despite how plotted love tales are. Perhaps it is also the surprises that come in at points that assists with keeping the adventure going, finding ways to divert from the film, without going too far away from the tale at hand. With all these components it works very well for me.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Predictable
  • Cheesy At Times
  • Scientific Stretches
  • The Parent Components?

 

 

SUMMARY: No surprise, the movie follows much of the same formula, and my friend and I were able to predict much of the movie based on the trailers we had seen.  Fortunately, surprises were able to help with this, but they still held some trouble keeping the romantic movie cheese fest from happening. Five Feet Apart leaves much of the mushy, gushy, Nicholas Sparks like drama that is difficult to get away from, which is a selling point for most going to these movies, but for me could have used a little more spice up. 

In addition, some of the scientific plausibility for one with my mindset are difficult to get over in terms of the miracles vs. the statistical chances of the real life.  Some of the interactions, primarily in the ending occurring the way it did, was very unrealistic and seeing these miracle moments only added to the cheesy coincidences that this series is famous for.  If that’s not something that bothers you, no worries on this, but for me this is just something to warrant on.  As for the parents, they were okay, but I felt that for something as intense as the themes in this movie, some more involvement would be seen. Five Feet Apart’s weakest characters are actually the parents, reduced to a few lines of dialogue and the background images.  Sure, it’s not about them, but in the other films similar to this, the parents were very active in the support of the kids.  What happened here?

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, Five Feet Apart was much better than I had anticipated, with a lot more heart, artistic beauty, and adventure than many of the romance/dramas that I’ve seen.  A strong cast, character usage, and surprises in terms of comedy and plot were the selling points for this reviewer in regards to this film.  It still has predictability and cheese factors, primarily in the scientific stretches, but the good far outweighs the bad for me in regards to this category of movies.  I think this is one for the theater in regards to dramas.  If not check this one out for a rent/stream because it’s got the heart that movies are known to have.

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Romance:  8.0

Movie Overall:  7.0

  

 

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

A Second Act Of Recycle J-Lo Plots

Second Act Poster

 

Welcome to the abbreviated reviews of Robbie K reviews. Today we hit the latest romantic comedy to storm the sea of cinema for the holiday season.  In this world of increasing competition and unequal opportunity, is there a way for one to climb the ladder of success despite not taking the same choices others did?  That’s what this film’s motif is all about as I review the latest Rom com/Chick Flick entitled:

 

Director:

Peter Segal

Writers:

Justin ZackhamElaine Goldsmith-Thomas

Stars:

Jennifer LopezVanessa HudgensLeah Remini

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Good Chemistry
  • Use of A Majority of the Characters
  • Fun Approach that isn’t mushy
  • Good Life Lessons
  • Jennifer Lopez’s style
  • Pace

 

Summary:  Second Act’s strengths lie in how well it uses its characters to tell the stories it wants to show.  Lopez and Hudgens are a fantastic duo, whose energy feeds well off of each other and provides the solid relationship the movie flourishes off of. As the other secondary and tertiary characters hover around the rivalry, it opens the gates past the typical rom com and instead makes it a very fun film where each character helps to bring the life lessons to bear, and mostly staying relevant to the story. Utilizing a quick pace and bypassing a majority of the stereotypical mushy themes and going for a stronger moral based theme that is a little closer in representing life, Second Act really brings that girls night out fun/date night film that will hopefully appeal to more fans.  In addition, Lopez still always has that stylish flare that makes her incredible, bring the poise and prowess despite the role she was directed to play.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Cannibalized plots of J-Lo Movies Past
  • Plot points rushed over or lacking build
  • Predictable
  • The Boyfriend semi-pointless
  • Forced Comedy at Times

 

Summary: Second Act may be fun and quick, but it’s originality is lacking which may take away from the audience.  Previous J-Lo films have been ripped apart put together in this mosaic of references that are decently intertwined.  As a result, many of the plots are only semi developed, a few trying to have built, but then revealed in a very calm demeanor.  Sure there is some emotional bond to it, but the rushed approach to  many of these predictable story lines denies the satisfying plot telling her previous movies had done super well on.  Perhaps the weakest of the stories for me was the boyfriend element, to which that particular cast member Milo Ventimiglia, has been promoting on the various talk shows, did little to advance the movie.  His integration into the film is very thin, offering little emotional turmoil, or any real character development, which was a missed shot. Finally, some of the comedic antics are beautifully executed, but for others it’s another example of jamming the stockings with as much comedy gimmicks as you can.  These moments did not do it as much for me or the audience, and could have been focused on developing the plot more.  Oh well cute jokes are the lifeblood of comedy these days.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the movie is exactly what the trailer promised, fun, simple minded comedy that is just a nice break from the big budget films that are super popular.  While certainly entertaining at times due to the great acting chemistry, character usage, and Jennifer Lopez’s style classing it up, the movie still fails to drop the same quality he earlier films did.  Too many unoriginal, predictable plots we’ve seen done better plague this film, and with the rushed storytelling, it felt this was a mini-series that could have been executed better in episodic telling of TV and Netflix specials. Still, definitely a good group night out or date movie, but best reserved in the comforts of your home. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Romance:  6.0-6.5

Movie Overall: 4.5-5.0