My Spy With My Little Eye… A Cute, Simple Family Comedy

            

My Spy Poster

Here we go with yet another movie review from the direct to streaming and this one promises to be interesting given it’s track record of delays.  What do you get when you combine a former wrestler turned actor and combine them with a cute little girl to teach them the art of being big hearted?  The answer is a lot of familiar movies that Disney made famous back in the early 2000s.  Rather than the Rock though, our former insane alien warrior Drax is ready to step up to the plate in hopes of making a splash in the world of kids entertainment.  Yet after so many delays, can this movie make the impression it wants, or will it drop into a mess of mediocre that the world of cinema teases today?  Robbie K here with his take on the new Amazon original entitled:  

Movie:  My Spy (2020)

Director:

 Peter Segal

Writers:

 Erich HoeberJon Hoeber

Stars:

 Dave BautistaChloe ColemanParisa Fitz-Henley 

LIKES: 

Decent Pace

Cute

Kristen Schaal is Fantastic

Some adult humor

Some Well-timed humor

The Dog

DISLIKES: 

Predictable

Much Of the Movie already ruined by trailers

Comedy is Forced 

The Relationships are Simplistic

Familiar Tropes

Character Development Lacking

Suspense Scenes are mediocre

Lacks Balance

SUMMARY: 

            A movie with a track record of delays like this did not bode well, but surprisingly there were some shining moments that I particularly enjoyed of the movie.  For one thing, the comedy/action movie has a decent pace, moving fast enough to get to the meat of the movie, but managing to take the time to get a bit of development in.  Primarily in the cute factor, My Spy is all about captivating the audience of family and pulling on those strings once more.  It’s heartwarming tales will hit close to home for those looking for the healing power of friendship and love.  This motif is broken up by a few attempts at a suspenseful spy film, some action, and darker moments, but primarily this film is all about being a comedic mess for an adolescent/preteen crowd.  Some of this humor is super well timed and executed, Bautista’s stoic awkwardness holding that special place that Drax made famous in Guardians that this director capitalized on.  These moments are often more mature than you would anticipate in a family film, but they work to help mix up some of the generational pokes this film thrives in.  Kristen Schaal in particular is the one who brought a lot of my laugh, her clumsiness meeting writing that holds a lot of references to other films holding a special place for me.  Of course the dog that makes an appearance gets recognition too, not only his well-trained moves, but also in how cute the little guy is… that’s about it he does not really hold much to the story like I think they wanted.  

            The problem for the film though is, these moments are few and far in between for me, stuck in a sea of forced, simplistic jabs that seem to be the go to these day in sacrifice of many things.  For one thing, the story is very predictable part due to the simplistic tale that this genre takes after, and part due to the over advertising that this film took advantage of many times.  As such, many of the jokes and much of the movie is stuck in this limbo and unable to escape into new territory that it so desperately needed.  With my memory and the number of times I have seen the trailers, it meant I knew much of what was going to happen.  As such, rather than thinking up new avenues and developing a deeper story, My Spy’s directive was to again find as much time to shove comedy and cuteness in, much of which was a little excessive for me.  The bullying/blackmailing sassiness of Sophie got stale, while Bautista’s reaction did not change much… at all. And much like the comedy, much of the relationship dynamic is simple, a shallow one-dimensional development that tried to take flight, but then got lost into more comedy to try and distract us from the lacking parts of the movie.  If the comedy was not working, the movie was happy to go back into the familiar tropes of the kid with adult genre.  While entertaining, and again sweet, the sweetness of the movie with lacking character just makes it a bit boring for me and craving something more that I felt this movie had.  In regards to the thriller aspect, the suspense scenes are mediocre at best, small diversions from the comedy to include some sideline characters and help “develop” the bad guy to be, somewhat of a threat.  Yet again, the point of including a spy story would suggest a crime or big threat for our protagonists to face, but again nothing in this film.  And the verdict again… is that the balance of the movie is lost to the common trends of entertainment.  It’s not that it’s bad, but the movie could have held a lot more potential given the cast it brought. 

The VERDICT:  

            My Spy had a lot of things going against it given the troublesome release, but I’ll say that the movie is indeed a cute adventure in testing the bonds of friendship and family that the world loves it.  The movie finds good home on streaming, where the humor, again warning a bit more adult than you expect, should entertain many and keep the movie going for those with short attention spans.  However, the weakness of the film comes with the fact that these tropes have distracted too much that the piece is a diluted, comedy that was boring, and a lack of adventure/suspense that this movie really need to break up things.  However, the movie is what it is and if you are looking for something to kill time and you can handle a little language and violence… you might laugh at the adventure to be had.  My scores for this film are: 

Action/Comedy/Family:  6.5

Movie Overall:  6.0 

The Jokes On You! A Fun, Big Episode Of The Famous Series

Impractical Jokers: The Movie Poster

 

Television based movies are always interesting to see because they try to capture the spirit of the show and yet add something bigger to it.  Sometimes these movies nail it (like the first SpongeBob movie) and sometimes they really lose their direction  (entourage the movie).  It’s all about making sure to find that balance Hollywood looks for to capitalize on while keeping the fans happy.  So tonight, a movie I never thought would exist.. actually exists and the result is could be a disaster depending on the way they take it.  What’s the verdict?  Robbie K sharing his opinions as he reviews:

 

Movie: Impractical Jokers: The Movie (2020)

 

Director:

Chris Henchy

Writers:

Joe GattoChris Henchy  | 3 more credits »

Stars:

Brian QuinnJoe GattoJames Murray

 

 

LIKES:

  • Great Opening
  • Feels Like A Big Episode
  • Super creative Pranks
  • Funny And Entertaining
  • Story Themed Drive To Pranks
  • Good Pace

 

DISLIKES:

  • A Little Forced Humor In the Branching Scenes
  • Just A Big Version Of The Show

 

 

Summary:

Impractical Jokers is a show that is all about embarrassing skits and seldom anything else.  Somehow, the movie manages to find that big budget intervention, with a filler to tie all the skits together and give a little meaning behind all of it.  The opening of the tale is the best filler for me, a giant point at how ridiculous guys are and seeing them “in their youth” is a hilarious opening to all the chaos to come.  Though not the “traditional” style to an episode, much of this film feels like a giant shout out to the show filled with the same energy, running gags, and even history that long-time followers love.  Thus, if you like that theme then you are going to really love this movie.  The Impractical Jokers have come up with their same bag of tricks, that are still super creative, super uncomfortable, and in many instances super funny.  My friends and I were laughing at the various exploits they did, with plenty of live punking and forcing people outside their comfort zones.  It’s all in the name of competition, that makes the whole action fun, but only if you are willing to see these too far jokes to fruition will enjoy the adventure.  Those who again are long followers of the series will appreciate the side pranks as I call them, designed to make the cast uncomfortable and show off the fears of the cast.  It’s a nice way to go character developing in a series you expect none in and thus helps bring you closer to the cast.  As such, the movie is certainly a rip-roaring adventure that might be stupid to many, but very entertaining if a fan of the series, all moving at a good pace, and having a little bit of story.

 

Yet there are a few things about this movie that take a little away for me.  One is the forced humor in the branching scenes.  When you see the story moments come in, there are great running gags that I thoroughly enjoyed, especially what will Murr do nextYet, there are other times where the dialogue is super forced, a bit cheesy, and just out of their creative flow that I thoroughly enjoy.  If you don’t mind a little forced humor, drawn out sequences, and an ending that really drops into forced “reality” like humor which may not be your bread and butter.  As such, these were the weakest moments for me.  The other dislike, which is also a strength, is that this is just one, big, glorified episode.  While this is great, and there are moments to help add that movie spice, much of this film could have been reserved for a made for television movie.  No major special effects, or overarching plot to offset the gimmicks my friends, and thus it makes seeing this in the theater difficult to promote. 

 

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Did the Impractical Jokers need to make a movie?  The answer is no, but this film accomplishes the task of keeping to the roots and adding just enough movie spice to say it’s a movie.  I had a blast watching this film, laughing at the skits, chuckling with my friends, and getting to see more to the four boys who look like adults get into trouble.  The big screen makes the theatrics fun, and the fillers help add that movie edge and slightly character homage to help tie all the shenanigans together.  It’s truly a group viewing movie and you should enjoy the heck out of it if you are a fan of the film.  Yet, the movie is not really that original, a giant, glorified episode with a few introductions that make it feel more like a movie.  As such, does it need to be experienced in theater?  Yes, if you are looking for a group outing, but otherwise save this for a watch at home where you can laugh at the cruelty in your own privacy.

 

My scores are: 

Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5

I’m Sorry Angels, This Mission Did Not Quite Succeed

 

Charlie's Angels Poster

 

Charlie’s angels, a lovely band of female agents protecting the world one mission at a time.  Long ago, these super skilled beauties showed us that style, beauty, and skills could come together in one of the most memorable series of the golden age of television.  The progressive presentation of this series proved you could be fun and still not put too many politics into the mix, something this reviewer likes.  Question for tonight is though, can the modern age of politics and representation welcome the same principles, or will it warp it into its own format.  That’s where I come in to give my thoughts on the latest movie, in hopes of guiding your viewing pleasure.  Robbie K coming at you with another review, this time on:

 

Charlie’s Angels (2019)

 

 

Director:

Elizabeth Banks

Writers:

Elizabeth Banks (screenplay), Evan Spiliotopoulos (story by)

Stars:

Kristen StewartNaomi ScottElla Balinska

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Music

Some Of The Comedy

The Pace

Kristen Stewart’s New Emotion

Ella

The Outfits

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Predictability

The Semi Dead End subplots

The Forced Humor

The Plot Itself

The Direction Of The Characters

The Focus On Clothes

Unnecessary Dance Scene

Gadgets Are Not As Clever

The Fight Scenes

The Political Roles Beat Into the Mix

 

SUMMARY:

 

Never good when one of my reviews starts out with music, but in this case the soundtrack adds to the attitude of the movie.  A variety of styles will come into tickle the fancy, and may just get your toes tapping if you appreciate upbeat music like I do.  As most won’t care about this let’s get to some other things then.  The comedy has some good moments, a well-timed jab, pun, or insult that made me chuckle at how cute and well versed it was.  These moments were far between for me, but several members found the comedy a bit more golden.  One thing my audience and I agreed on is that the film does a nice job of keeping the pace, almost like an extended episode of the show meeting modern trends of flashy sequences.  It might not be the most original, clever, or even suspenseful, but it works to promote the fun that this movie holds, especially for the key demographic.  My bigger surprise though was seeing Kristen Stewart’s new emotion in this role and the character that she played.  Finally breaking out of the somber, monochromatic Bella Swan, Stewart’s dive into the world of the Angels is a plus for me.  Her new lifestyle fit well into the film and I seeing her show more emotional range than previous roles.  It’s her partner in crime played by Ella though I enjoyed.  This lovely actress held charm, pizazz, edge, and a deeper side than I expected, bringing good chemistry with her fellow angels and a modern addition that was story and character centric (very smart move).  Finally, like Ocean’s 8, the style of the dresses and outfits should be more than enough to inspire a shopping spree, as the wardrobe department accomplished great feats of sexy meeting modern, and maybe utility depending on the scene.

 

Yet for the likes I had for this film there was a fair bit of things that were not to my personal liking.  For one thing the predictability of the story is  not impressive, all the ruses and diversion are obvious tactics and could have been used for better action.  Sub plots to build back story were surprisingly one dimensional, dropping in 1-2 lines and never taxing our girls for more than 5 seconds and thus the characters interest were more on their gimmicks and the actresses abilities to bring them to life.  Even more forced was the humor, which like most of Banks works does not know when to quit when its ahead and throw timing/cleverness for as many political punches as possible.  It leads to a rather spotty plot for me that is more of a comedy than a thriller, which I expected, but wanted so much more out of just fun characters.  Despite the political component of the modern age, the characters again were not directed the way I wanted either and though again entertaining and acted decently, I think the direction was not the best.

Plot and character design complete, what about the presentation of the movie itself.  Well to be honest, the flash in the pan role approach took the center stage in my eyes.  While the outfits may be beautiful, I’ll admit that they were a little too much of the focus for this reviewer, with more emphasis of showing off sex appeal than anything else. Various scenes that started to gain mojo were quickly finished or diluted for things like attempts at sexual humor or a dance scene that served merely as a foreshadowing device for something to come (while also being about showing off the outfits).  Gadgets, famous for any spy movie and a tool that can elevate the plot were kind of simplistic, lacking the charm and design from other series that knew how to merge things in a more imaginative way.  Why go through the eccentric shots of devices if we aren’t going to utilize them as much? Poor planning perhaps, or maybe there was something else taking the stage.  In regards to fight scenes, they are okay, but this reviewer found many of them to be short bouts of very stiff choreographed fights, that merely repeated movements or held simplistic gunplay. There is nothing amazing about the brawls, and outside of some slight moments that will stick in your mind are quite forgettable.  Yet the thing I am not the biggest fan of, is the political focus that comes with most modern movies.  You can see it in the trailers, but Charlie’s Angels is all about spouting the message of girl power, from the opening dialogue and credits, to the painstakingly planned scenes that are all about showing how much guys suck.  Movies are famous for these hyperboles of character, but for the whole film to do this, well you lose the other qualities for me with this in your face approach.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The trailers will not lie to you, at least on some part, that Charlie’s Angels is geared towards a certain audience.  It’s stylish presentation of looks, outfits, and girl power is going to be the main appeal to audience members, with some comedy to help expand to other goers and acting that makes up the rather bland characters.  Yet, the movie suffers for me from being too focused on the superficial and not enough on the elements I remember from previous installments.  Sure the nostalgia is nice but all the plots are rather truncated, the humor is a little forced on me, action scenes could use a tune up alongside the gadgets, and the political presentation got old after a while.  However, it’s got enough oomph to check out in the theater, especially if you are part of the key demographics that will enjoy this.

 

This mission gets a score of:

 

Comedy/Action/Adventure/Thriller:  6.0

Movie Overall: 4.5

 

Not Lying, This Convoluted Movie Is Slow And Not As Entertaining

The Good Liar Poster

 

Honesty, a notion that continues to get lost in the morals of the modern age as the ideas of furthering one’s interest overtake the logic.  While lies do have a place at some points, what happens when one makes a career out of it, with no thoughts of the consequences?  Tonight another book turned movie attempts to answer that question and potentially in a high-class presentation.  My last film of this weekend is one that holds great promise with two leading legends, and this reviewer hopes it’s going to be amazing finish.  Let’s get ready to rumble as I look into:

 

Movie: The Good Liar (2019)

 

Director:

Bill Condon

Writers:

Jeffrey HatcherNicholas Searle (novel)

Stars:

Helen MirrenIan McKellenRussell Tovey

 

 

LIKES:

 

Layered Story

Convoluted Game Of Lies

Nice Clues Set About

Acting

 

DISLIKES:

 

Some Layers Are Convoluted

Presentation of The Twists

Some Story ideas not necessarily needed

Not Quite As Big A Spy Thriller As I thought

The Pace

 

 

Summary:

 

Basing a movie about a novel is an art, and that can be difficult given the attention spans and time management they have to have.  The Good Liar feels very much like a book with a layered story that is worthy of a complicated Thriller, filled with not only a lot of twists to throw one off the trail, but also multiple layers to the characters.  In this convoluted game of lies, my engagement relied on trying to figure out what was truth and fiction, and more so what lied at the bottom of the well of deceit for both characters.  McKellen’s character in particular has multiple avenues to figure out, trying to piece all of them together to uncover the truth behind this quiet, intense character.  For most of the movie, there are clues being laid out to assist with figuring the truth, but as for others well those clues are a little harder to figure out, further opening up the mystery aspect of the film.  Yet, the factor I think most will enjoy and what I believe is the strongest aspect is the acting.  The Good Liar does not have much in terms of action, suspense, or even quick pace, so the acting has to be on point.  No worries on this aspect, for the two English legends show why they are masters of their trade.  Mirren has her part down well, and as the plot progresses, one gets to see her character evolve tow which she accomplishes with class.  McKellen on the other hand brings several characters from previous films to bay and does so with such poise, elegance, and tenacity that you wonder how he has not been in more Sherlock Holmes films.  Their chemistry together is wonderful, and seeing the gradual transformation throughout the film was fabulous to watch to see how well they play off of each other.

 

This movie though is not going to be for the general audience, for this movie is going to be less entertaining and more artistic in terms of storytelling.  For one thing, the layers of this movie are convoluted, stacked layers that require paying attention in hopes of gleaming any information.  It seems like the movie throws so much into the short time period that the focus is too spread and somewhat boring to discover.  When twists do get thrown into the mix, the distractions become so frequent that the haphazard throwing sort of gunked up the works and made for a lackluster presentation.  Finally when the twists arrive, they seem sort of random and out of the park, that it did not quite feel relevant or cohesive with the rest of the film until the final sequence.  My guess is that the book does a much better job at explaining the internal thoughts, and in that lies the secrets to the relevance of the true secret. I think the thing that fooled me was the spy thriller aspect I thought the trailers were presenting it as.  Instead, The Good Liar is much more about the drama component for me, so this made for a less exciting film for me at least in regards to suspense and thrills.  Finally, the pacing is probably the biggest turn off from me.  When you look at all the other dislikes I had, the very slow pace does not do much to sell sitting through nearly two hours of this convoluted tale.  It makes the movie sort of drag for me and the bloated story made it feel longer so I would strongly encourage having max energy for this one.

 

The VERDICT:

 

The Good Liar is certainly an example of fine artistic crafts of cinema.  It feels like a very classy movie that relies on layered characters, deception, and secrets to draw most of the entertainment value and keep you engaged in the film.  It also helps that there is great acting to bring out these complex characters, with the chemistry really showing between the two masters of the acting craft.  Yet it is this complexity that is also the limiting factor for most audiences.  All the attempts to redirect you, the story layers that require one to pay attention, the redirections that continue to fly at you throughout the film, and some semi-rando turns may make most look at the film in confusion.  In addition, the slow pace is going to be a turn off for those with short attention spans, so get yourself ready for that.  Overall, the movie is not awful, but the film needed a little more refinement for this reviewer to say go to the theater to see it.

 

As such here are my scores:

 

Drama/Thriller:  6.5

Movie Overall: 5.0

Fallen Into A New Regime

Angel Has Fallen Poster

            Epic action flicks are always a riot to see because they promise excitement, fun, and potentially some legendary sequences. The army of stars who have portrayed heroic figures continues to grow and in some cases those heroes drop into multiple installments that vary in quality.  Tonight is an example of one such franchise that continues to push that hero to new heights in an attempt to squeeze every dollar out of the franchise.  Could a third installment of the legendary Secret Service agent Mike Banning be one of those movies that is all about the cash and less about the quality?  Well Robbie K is back again to give some thoughts as we finish up the weekend with what will hopefully live up to hopes and expectations I have for it.  Tonight we look at:

 

Movie: Angel Has Fallen (2019)

Director:

Ric Roman Waugh

Writers:

Robert Mark Kamen (screenplay by), Matt Cook (screenplay by)

Stars:

Gerard ButlerPiper PeraboMorgan Freeman

 

LIKES:

  • Constantly Moving
  • Gets the Intensity Starting
  • Nice Use Of Characters
  • The Ending Battle
  • Nick Nolte

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Loud
  • Mystery Lacking
  • Not As Much Exciting Acting
  • Morgan Freeman’s Character Semi Lacking

 

Summary:

 

Like its predecessors, Angel Has Fallen is back in the habit of making a story that is all about moving from danger site to danger site. Banning’s latest journey does not take long to get things moving, bringing the incident to full, explosive power to get the antics going.  The new tale then takes that intensity and tries to run with it the full time, finding few times to quiet down before the next set of problems sets in.  Angle Has Fallen surprisingly does a nice job of integrating the characters, most of them, throughout the film, keeping them involved in the developing plot and having them contribute to find the solution.  Jada Pinkett Smith’s character is there to act as the cat chasing the proverbial mouse, all while helping dig into the mess that Mike has fallen into.  His wife played by Piper is working on her own components and rather than being left to make casual appearances, she actually gets decent inclusion in this film. Yet, it’s the living legend of Nick Nolte who takes the cake for the character of the film for me.  The rugged, rough voiced actor really brings the bitter humor to life, somehow saying so little , but doing so much.  I thoroughly enjoyed this character in what he brought and how he was an attempt to break up the Fallen series monotony.  Yet despite who you grip onto in this sort of action, mystery, crime feature, the ending is my epic conclusion I was hoping to see in this film.  Angel Has Fallen is all about those special effect frenzies that are littered with gun play, explosives, and one man defying all odds.  You won’t be disappointed with the final sequence, as it captures the spirit of the first two after the long wait.

 

In terms of areas of improvement though this reviewer notes that the predictability and lack of surprise makes the hidden/mystery element of this movie a little lame.  You know who is pretty much behind this operation, how they are going to try to execute the plan, and what will most likely happen to counter it.  In fact the only thing to question is who is going to make it to the end.  Had a few more surprises been thrown in, this movie could have had the nice twist to make it stand out.  Sadly, the story and plot were geared more towards the character inclusion and loud antics of the movie.  The Fallen series always struggles with volume control for me and if you have sensitive ears like mine, the intensity of all the high-octane scenes might take its toll on you hearing so look for ear plugs or folding your ears.  The minor things aside, the movie surprisingly does not do much with Morgan Freeman, and if you remember the previous films the president kind of has a big role in each of the films  Maybe due to scheduling or maybe trying to be different, it’s not until the end where the man in charge is finally brought back into the story in an attempt to wrap things up.  And speaking of action, I seem to remember the first two films having much more action than this instalment.  It seems that this film toned back on the action in an attempt to give us a little more story and mystery, which is a shame as I wanted the adrenaline fest these films are.  Certainly there are “exciting” moments, but they swapped many of their guns for some new spins that did not have the same suspense or quality of the memorable moments from the first two.  If that’s up your alley then you’ll love this, but remember the ending has the battles we love, you just got to make it there.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall Angel Has Fallen is starting to settle down and try out new venues for telling their story.  Certainly the speed of the film series continues, and the intensity gets things moving quickly to keep you into the film as almost all characters are brought into this chapter of Secret Service agent against the world.  Sadly, the same formula of fighting with lots of guns and ambushing via covert attacks seems to be resting for much of this movie, again trying new gimmicks to make it stand out and reserve the usual techniques for the ending.  It would have worked more for me had they kept the mystery/surprises going to add on to the intensity and leave your jaw dropping.  Still, it’s a fine addition to the franchise and one most will be wanting to see in theaters due to the special effects and speaker shaking loudness. My scores are:

 

Action:  7.5

Movie Overall: 6.5

 

 

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

Too Focused On Audience and Music Leads to “Ugly” Limitations

UglyDolls Poster

            The animated world brings many masterpieces, acting as a medium to bring imagination to life and craft impossible things that live action has not quite caught up to.  Given the intended audiences, new worlds and characters are crafted in hopes of delivering fun adventure, potential catchy soundtracks, and of course lessons that can help refresh the morals tarnished by time if left unchecked. This weekend, the latest adventure attempts to take the stage in the form of a band of misfit creations with the potential to change the world.  Will it be another blockbuster hit to withstand the test of time, or is it just more merchandising in a desperate plea to stand up to Disney.  Robbie K here giving his thoughts0. on:

 

Director:

Kelly Asbury

Writers:

Alison Peck (screenplay by), Sun-min Kim (based on characters by)

Stars:

Kelly ClarksonNick JonasJanelle Monáe

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Creative Characters
  • Colorful Environment
  • Cute Atmosphere
  • Voice Cast
  • Messages
  • Music

 

SUMMARY:  As mentioned in the opening, the animated medium offers the ability to let imagination flourish and create some unique looking characters. Ugly Doll takes the concept of “mistakes” and turns them into oddly shaped combinations that hold much value for future action figures and dolls.  Moxy (Clarkson) and her crew are odd and not the most detailed, but their personalities are etched into the design which goes in time with the world crafted. This world may not be the most realistic or detail oriented, but it’s color, angles, and sort of Hodge podge approach lead to a mish-mash world of fun that would be beautiful as a theme park. Ugly Dolls manages to add personality into each of the two worlds, mirroring the approach to life each collective bunch represents.  Regardless of which place you prefer, the movie holds the cute factor that is intended for the key audience, creating the safe, family friendly environment that parents would like their young ones to see.

To help further bring the world to life, a talented voice cast has at least been recruited with singers, comedians, and sassy actresses to assist with bringing that last bit of spark to the characters needed. Clarkson, Jonas, and Monae are the ones who take point using their vocal talents to not only deliver the simplistic writing of the film and even more deliver the lines of the soundtrack this movie was focused on.  The variety of voice talents were marginally used well and balanced to make sure every character got some screen time.

Through whatever means though, the movie has two big selling points that are the selling points with this film.  The first are the morals about inner beauty, self-worth, and believing in yourself.  Cliché? Absolutely, but an important lesson for the young generation, and their chaperones to learn in hopes of establishing new grounds for self-confidence.  That emotional gimmick, touched my heart personally, but for many of the group it may not quite penetrate the cerebral cortex like they wanted.  Instead the morals will be lost to the toe tapping tunes that this movie is going to use.  Much like Frozen, the soundtrack is going to be more memorable than the movie, with a number of reprises used to expand the soundtrack ever so slightly.  Plenty of these songs have much emotion, but it’s going to be the bubble gum pop beat that gets your kids going, bump up sales, and potentially get overplayed

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • Very Simplistic Plot
  • Other Characters Only Scratched
  • Rushed Story
  • Little Impasse
  • Unremarkable Moments
  • Too geared on kids
  • Too much focus on the music

SUMMARY:  When it comes to animated kids films there is a balance that I look for in my reviews so that they may bring more people into the film.  Ugly Dolls struggled with this for me.  It starts with the simplistic plot, essentially a linear plot that holds very few curves to mix things up.  It’s simple story is cute and endearing, but lacks some of the fundamental moments that Disney does so well.  Most of the characters do contribute in the form of comedy, but the character development is lacking for the others, leading to merely colorful outlines that will be perfect for action figures.  Perhaps this could have been accomplished if the plot did not seem so rushed, trying to get from start to finish in the rapid time limit they set. In doing this, the impasses for our dolls were not that impressive and easily bypassed, the threat level essentially nullified by the cute antics of our group.  The result is that the movie does not quite have the most memorable moments that will stay with us until the end of time.

Why is this the case?  I believe the two sources of weakness that took away from this movie are the kid focused atmosphere and the fixation on music.  Ugly Dolls is perfect for the early aged viewers in terms of lacking any really scary or haunting features. Yet, in removing the threats the plot became a little too boring as the adventure just devolved into sort of an elementary school education lesson.  Taking the adventure out of this movie therefore limits it for older members who will need to focus on the occasional adult joke and watching their young ones smiles.  In addition, the music was too much the theme of this film.  With all the singers casted, it’s not surprising they wanted to turn out a soundtrack, and sure enough the studio has put a lot of investment in the toe tapping music to boost sales.  Despite the catchy music, that focus took away much from the story as mentioned above, all in the name of cramming as many songs as possible to again boost their sales. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall Ugly Dolls is cute and I loved the themes, world building and energy built into its design and the presentation.  Yet, the movie fails to find the balance and sense of adventure that others have held from other studios with bigger budgets. More story planning was needed, and less focus on limited audiences would have been nice, with a little more maturity ingrained to help out.  Yet, the movie really needed to steer away from the focus on merchandising to leave an imprint and be known as one of the greats.  It is not horrible at all, but the limited audience scope is going to be the main hesitation to go to the theaters for this.  Instead, you might be better off buying the sound track and waiting for this to hit home. 

Scores:

Animated/Family/Adventure/Comedy:  6.5

Movie Overall: 6.0

Will You Take Your Holmies To This Screening?

Holmes & Watson Poster

 

Sherlock Holmes has many forms, some of which are immortalized in our minds and others we wish could get a face lift and some reinvigoration.  Nevertheless, the eccentric detective of Scotland yard gets another revisit this holiday season, this time with a much more comedic direction than most versions tend to focus on.  Can the legendary comedian team that gave us Step Brothers, step up to a new relationship? Robbie K is here to share his thoughts on the another review as I take a look at the film:

 

Movie:  Holmes and Watson (2018)

Director:

Etan Cohen

Writers:

Etan CohenArthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were created by the late) (as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Stars:

Will FerrellJohn C. ReillyRalph Fiennes

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Quick Run Time
  • Funny At Times
  • References To Other Versions
  • Secondary Character Was Funny
  • The Song

Summary:  As the reviews come in, you are seeing a lot of negative components, but I can say that despite this not being everyone’s cup of tea, the movie at least is short, running around the 1 hour and 20-minute mark, meaning you’ll get out of there fairly quickly.  In this short film, the movie manages to find some nuggets of well-timed lines that somehow held some wit behind the bantering.  Often for me it had to do with the references to other versions of the detective, with nods to the Robert Downey Jr and Benedict Cumberbatch creations that are super popular.  When it comes to these moments that is the component that I found the most entertaining.  Well that and the secondary character of Millie, whose simplistic bouts of nonverbal comedy had some of the better time laughs than either Ferrell or Reilly could drum up. Of note though, the little song number that Ferrell and Reilly get to perform had some zest to it, so I give them props for including that.

 

DISLIKES:

  • Paper Thin Story
  • Mystery Was Boring
  • Lazy Writing
  • Too Forced Of Humor
  • Missed Comedy Opportunities
  • Fixation on Banter
  • Diving Down Politically Heated Topics

Summary: Holmes and Watson’s first weakness comes from the paper-thin story they tried to sell with the comedy antics.  A very simplistic tale that tries to throw in shallow character development and a mystery, this version certainly did not focus its efforts on trying to have something to ground the comedy too.  The mystery itself is lackluster and overshadowed by the ridiculousness of the film and given the obvious answer as to whom is the culprit, makes for a plot that will have difficulties standing up to the law of good movies.

Of course, most fans of Ferrell may not really care or expect the story, because he is after all known for being the king of slapstick, banter, and inappropriate comedy.  While this movie follows that formula, it’s writing did not quite match the quality of other Ferrell flicks and not just because of the missing story. Holmes and Watson had trouble finding its stride, forgoing classic one-liners for mindless banter and arguing between the titular characters, or extended bouts of over the top slapstick that didn’t pack the punch the scenes sound effects had.  It was comedy that was too forced for me, the lines blunt displays of stating the political injustice we still complain about, which doesn’t have the intended prowess it wanted.  When those styles failed, they switched to the obsessive self-pleasing jokes that although had good chemistry between actors, again treaded down the gross pathway instead of the funny for me. And the worst part is, all of it is in forced accents, the characters pushing into overdramatic displays of emphasizing the words in very forced accents.  All of this boils down to work that either has grown too stale to work in the modern age, or was too forced and lacking the finesse earlier films held.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Holmes and Watson’s trailers have not sold you any lies, it’s a mess of predictable plot antics with overzealous comedic attempts that the two are famous for.  Yet the film does not have the same quality that the duos first film had all those years ago.  Is it because the comedy is stale, or is the focus on being too forced of comedy?  I don’t know the answers, but there is some serious need for plot development and better-balanced comedy to assist for any future installments.  As such, the movie missed its mark on a lot of things, needing to step back to the clever tipoffs, and timing than overstuffing the film with comedic banter. Thus, I can’t recommend this one for the theater, encouraging to hold out until Netflix picks it up.  Sorry guys!

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy/Crime: 5.5-6.0

Movie Overall: 4.0-5.0

Not So Little On Emotion, But Needs Some Big Editing

Little Women Poster

 

Robbie K with the last review of the night, and with it one that aims to look at the latest book turned movie remake.  A timeless classic constantly tweaked, tonight’s film hopes to bring the passion, drama, and emotional roller coaster ride that this story has been for ages.  Enough jabbering, let us get to business as I review:

 

 

Movie: Little Women (2018)

 

 

Director:

Clare Niederpruem

Writers:

Louisa May AlcottClare Niederpruem

Stars:

Lea ThompsonIan BohenLucas Grabeel

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting:  Certainly not the same performance of the previous installments but the new age twist of this movie brought with it plenty of talent to pave the way.  The girls had fantastic chemistry for me, a nice little community very knit together and crafting a family that although dysfunctional felt like a realistic display of the modern drama.  Passionate, yet somewhat controlled, each leading lady contributed greatly to the film overall, though I have to say Allie Jenningsand Lucas Grabeelwere my champions of the bunch.

 

The Modernized Twist: The originals love to tell it from a historical component/traditional side that holds its charm, majesty, and timeless sense of wonder.  However, the outdated version can be difficult to hold attention, so the modernized version appeared.  I myself certainly enjoyed the modern edge, finding issues that I believe will speak widely to the audience of today.  The girls face a number of issues including marriage, dating, peer pressure, and envy, all with valuable lessons that should appeal to the younger crowd.

 

The Setting/Prop Departments: I’m a sucker for making a setting look good and this Little Women accomplished the task of bring suburban life to full swing.  You’ll feel quite quaint in the girls crowded home, become a part of the adventures that they sail through in their youth, and during the more dramatic moments feel their pain in the confines of the castles they so wanted.

 

The Cinematography: It’s not the most dazzling sights or the ability to make fictional creatures come to life, but the camera work in this film is incredible in regards to amplifying the emotion of the moments.  Focusing on faces, utilizing the light and make up to shine, and even emphasizing those tears are all incredibly combined to get those tears flowing for other audience members.  Nice work indeed.

The Musical Score: Yet, much of this movie would be lost without the incredible score to support the scenes.  Powerful orchestra work, mostly led by the piano, is the means to which the emotion is maximized.  Having that beautiful, sad score only brings out the beauty even further, adding that nice supporting punch that gives you goosebumps, or at least resonates in your heart. Even the Indy music works in regards to helping add a little spunk to the fun moments, the lyrics probably a good poetic representation of the moments that is stronger than the dialogue.

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Time Jump: I always though the originals were a straightforward approach through life, but I haven’t seen these in a while so I can’t be sure.  This movie decides to jump back and forth between past and present, a nice symbolic representation of the mind set of Joe as she finds the inspiration to handle things in life.  However, for this film the flashback seems rather random, the purpose of them diluted and the placement hard to believe given my other dislike.  I think a straightforward approach would have worked better for me in the grand scheme, but points for creativity.

 

The Age Defying:  As the flash back scenes progress you would expect the girls to gradually get some aging to them.  This movie does a poor job of keeping to that consistency, with many of the girls looking the same six years later, despite them being in their prime growing years.  Age defying magic may be desirable, but it shatters the reality and annoyed me when suddenly the time jump happened and only one person really changed.  For a movie going for realism, they didn’t accomplish this.

 

Not Focusing On The Other Girls Enough:  The story is told through the perspective of Joe for the most part, and this time they decided to short sight the other ladies.  Sure there are enough details to give you the gist, but I felt that much of the girls emotional growth was left in the dust, especially  Lea Thompson’s character.  When some of the big dramatic moments happen, they are actually passed over quickly, a mere shadow of what they could have done.  Such discretion was a little disappointing to see, though it did keep the pace interesting and out of melodramatic territory. Though Beth’s tale is probably the exception to the rule.

 

Jo:  The character Jo is a strong one, bringing a central pillar to brace all the supporting subplots on.  While I can get on board with some of the times she reacts, Jo’s character was a little overdone/soap opera level for me to handle at times.  The overboard reactions for everything got annoying for me, and seeing her turn into the brat had my empathy levels really stretched to help understand her outlook.  Seeing as she overtook most of the plot and at times was removed from the rest of the group, this story development was not the best direction for me for a story about family.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Overall, the movie accomplishes the goal of being the emotional stimulator that it wants to be.  The modernization will help make it relevant to the modern generation, also helping improve the pace, to give you the movie version of the classic book. However, while the skeletal frame is still there, the movie lacks a lot of the details previous editions held and doesn’t quite have the same togetherness.  Still, a sob story lies in this film, with great morals and portrayals of life despite defying the aging process.  So for you drama lovers, this one is for you, but in regards to a theater visit, you’re best left until it hits home viewing in my opinion. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Family:  6.5-7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0

Does The Clock Go Tick Tock? A Review On The House With A Clock In Its Walls Review

The House with a Clock in Its Walls Poster

 

 

Robbie K back with another movie review, this time on the latest kid movie that hopes to bring families together and add some magic to their lives.  Yet, in this day and age, much is unsure about if the movie can survive when champions like Harry Potter, Lord Of The Rings, and Star Wars holds.  Hopefully I can answer some of these questions, as we provide an abbreviated review of:

 

Movie: The House With A Clock In Its Wall (2018)

 

Director:

Eli Roth

Writers:

Eric Kripke (screenplay by), John Bellairs (based on the novel by)

Stars:

Jack BlackCate BlanchettOwen Vaccaro

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting Chemistry

Good Visuals/Setting

Nice Make Up and Costumes

Charming and Cute

Fun Adventure

Decent Mystery

Good Merchandising

 

DISLIKES:

 

More Character Development

More Use of The Magic Antics

Anticlimactic

Darker Than Intended

A few times oversteps Comedic Boundaries

A Little More Investment In Other Aspects

 

In regards to this movie, it’s an adorable, fun adventure loaded with comedy and adventure to get little ones excited at the possible magic.  Much of this has to do with the impressive visuals, design, special effects, and of course the costumes that they sport.  As the world is built up in terms of all the fun merchandising, the main trio are fantastic, utilizing amazing chemistry they really bring the impromptu family dynamic to full force, complementing each other to strengthen the quirks of each member.  To help tie so many things together, there is a sense of mystery to be had that brings the adventure part, helping bring out the character development that you want, but never really leaving the search for the supposed clock that dwells within.

Yet, with how much fun I had with the movie, there are still some areas of improvement that would make the film even better for me. For one it’s the character development, which while there, holds so much mystery behind it and could have further strengthened the key pillar for me.  As this movie is primarily about the training of magic, I believe I would have liked to see more of the world and spells that the warlocks knew.  They again hint at the wonders they have, but unlike Harry potter, the lacking budget limited the visual portrayal of the powers, leading to disappointing action sequences.  In addition, exercise caution, because this movie dives into darker, more occult like bouts that could be a little too much for the younger age groups, primarily in disturbing them or causing nightmares at the least. These darker themes sometimes overstep their boundaries, and the comedy too can follow in those footsteps to get a bit annoying.

Overall though, the movie did accomplish the goal of storytelling, fun, and magic balance and really leaving me fulfilled with how much fun it brought.  Despite all this though, the movie’s dive into darker territory may limit the audience who can attend as well as limits the amount of magic one gets to see. There is a lot of potential to take this anticlimactic finisher and expand upon everything, but the Clock will need to keep ticking to find even better use of technology to expand upon the tricks of the trade.  So therefore, exercise caution in taking your little one, but unless you are looking for the best movie this week, this film is better left reserved for the RedBox.