Hustling Up A Dynamic Of Dance Of Superficial Entertainment and Deep Messages

Hustlers Poster

            They say you can’t judge a book by its cover and in today’s master of advertising the movies are certainly one of those very moments you don’t want to judge.  Many films hold great surprises to those going in with open minds, but yours truly went in not expecting much from tonight’s movie.  Based on true events, tonight’s film is all about how appearances can be deceiving and lead to very bad consequences despite the pretty package it’s wrapped up in. Yes, in all the splendor of the human body, we look at Hustlers tonight in hopes of getting a drama that is a little more sustenance and less show off of the naked form.  Robbie K back with another review this time on:

 

Film: Hustlers (2019)

 

Director:

Lorene Scafaria

Writers:

Jessica Pressler (magazine article), Lorene Scafaria (screenplay)

Stars:

Constance WuJennifer LopezJulia Stiles

 

 

LIKES:

 

  • Decent Pace
  • Good Dance Numbers
  • Funny
  • Decent good Morals/Story
  • Liked the Medium Told
  • Fashion
  • Acting
  • J-Lo

 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Predictable
  • Story A Bit Over The Place
  • The Bloated Excess of Drug and Con Scenes
  • Secondary Cast A Little Too Secondary
  • Some Lazy Writing Moments
  • Last Part Of The Ending Was Rushed
  • Glorification of Other Morals

 

SUMMARY:

Believe it or not, Hustlers turned out to have more surprises packed in than I had anticipated and it starts with the pace.  For a nearly  two-hour film, most of the film moves at a quick enough speed to not be too bland, though it does have its moments.  Yet much of the “boring” parts are going to be offset by the flashy spectacles that modern audiences love and it starts with dance numbers that are, let’s face it hot and sexually charged.  Hustlers is all about the art of deception and using the gorgeous figures to accomplish it in various sequences of touching, dancing, and some other stuff. If that’s not your cup of tea, then you’re in luck, because the writers have jammed in plenty of other fun things to help get the pizazz on.  Comedy wise, it’s got decent laughs, throwing in well-time jabs, some smack talk, and girl gossip that though dramatic and ridiculous, somehow seems relatable to most.  Fashion lovers are going to be amazed by the costumes chosen, a wardrobe that emphasizes the rich lifestyle and again showing off that form.  Superficial stuff aside, there are some layers to this movie to start expanding past the eye candy and into something with a little more depth.  Despite the overall premise of the movie, Destiny’s tale with Ramona dives into well-developed subplots that are all about the character development.  The main tale is loaded with dramatic moments, but Ramona’s heart of gold and desire to accomplish her goals is an adamant yet dark story that contradicts the morally obligated responsibility that is Destiny’s tale.  Mostly linear, Hustlers presentation is balanced between past and present, told over a semi-formal interview that tries to help set up for surprise and further emotional charge.  It works in terms of originality, and my friend and I appreciated the use of this perspective to try emphasizing the effects each part of the story had on our characters.

How is this accomplished though is also due to the acting, with all the strippers and cons in the group acting well, all their unique personalities coming off in heavily designed in the writing and persona.  Wu runs ahead of the rest and expands the character to broader levels that portray a human facing the dark skeletons in the closet, countering some of the sinful acts this movie throws. As my fellow reviewers have said though… Jennifer Lopez steals the show and finally breaks out of the generic roles she has mastered.  Ramona shows the complexity and spectrum that a character needs, with again well-developed layers that allow people to determine whether or not you like the character.  A hero to some, a villain to others, J-Lo accomplishes bringing this complexed role to life and anchoring all the chaos together. 

 

  Still the story ironically suffers for me in terms of the superficial components that others enjoy more.  For one thing, the tale is predictable with much of the foreshadowing and trailers usurping the “surprises” they wanted to stuff into the film. Second, the story, while good at times, is a bit all over the place, struggling to pick the tale it wants to tale in favor of all the components brought in.  Perhaps symbolic, perhaps a representation of life, but I would have liked less jumping around and instead focus on utilizing the present to tell the past.  Maybe this would have been achieved with fewer moments of lust and stripping, as the excessive look at the exotic dances and glimpses at their lifestyles bloated the run time to the two hours.  Perhaps leaving these advanced looks to the director’s cut would have been a better use of time and reduced the run time to less than two hours (it wasn’t that necessary to be this long).  In addition, some of the other characters were a little too dropped into the background for me, primarily Cardi B’s character and Kiki Palmer’s who I would have thought would be a little more involved.  The secondary characters do fill their parts, but not quite the family aspect I was expecting from the trailers. Outside of excessive cursing at times, the last part that seemed odd and forced was the ending where the climax comes and goes rapidly, and the finale is sort of crammed into the final minutes.  Emotional and fulfilling at times, random story elements primarily with the other members of the crew are sort of wedged in, trying to be complete, but a little sloppy for me.  Julia Stiles character in particular feels oddly wrapped up, while Lopez and Wu’s characters feel sort of semi-incomplete, minus the dance finish at the end.  Finally, for those with a different mindset, you may not like the glorification of the negative characteristics that this movie thrives in.  Those who don’t like drugs, effective kidnapping, fraud, and some truly deep manipulation are not going to enjoy the package the better morals are wrapped in.  So watch yourself before coming in.

 

            The VERDICT:

            Truth be told, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie.  Hustlers manages to con you with the trailers and open you to a whole new world of adventure.   It’s going to speak to the intended audience members, and is a charged tale that holds a lot of heart primarily about the lives beneath the shiny surface of stripping. Hustlers manages to balance fun with deep stories and add that punch that people want in a story.  It’s primarily accomplished by the acting with Constance Wu who takes leading role, but Jennifer Lopez is the real shining star whose complexity and broad emotional spectrum tie the group together.  As the morals start pour out of the shiny fashionable package, the movie achieves the desired girl power and family aspect you might want to see. Yet, the film loses the balance for me in the obsession of glorifying the superficial things instead of the heart of god components below.  Extending the run time to nearly 2 hours, the extra stuff the added details of the movie sort of diluted the story aspect, and took away from the secondary characters that high profile actors were portraying.  Throw in a rushed ending and sort of sporadic storytelling and the movie loses a little of the glitter.  However, if you stick with it and enjoy both aspects shoved in (entertainment and lessons) and can get over the focus of the darker components they emphasize, you should really enjoy this movie. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Crime/Drama: 8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5-7.0

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Blinded By Balanced Stories, Inspirational Moments, And A Killer SoundTrack

 

Blinded by the Light Poster

Music icons are those that seem timeless, maybe not in the way of new hits, but in the impact they leave behind.  Musical works speak to us on so many levels, potentially why we are able to play them as often as we do without getting sick of the tracks.  Yet, do we really understand how music impacts people?  Do we think about how music can motivate, inspire, and even more so revolutionize the changes that they incite on many people?  That is the theme of the final movie I review this week, a film that is all about the impact that movies have and what they can motivate to do.  So let us take a look as I dive into:

 

Movie: Blinded By The Light (2019)

 

Director:

Gurinder Chadha

Writers:

Paul Mayeda BergesGurinder Chadha  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Viveik KalraKulvinder GhirMeera Ganatra

 

LIKES:

 

Good Pace

Delightfully Funny

Nice Look At Culture and Music

Great Use of Music

Emotionally Deep

Decent Balance Of Most Stories

Relevant

 

DISLIKES

 

A Bit Preachy

Perhaps A Little More Investment In Two Other Stories

Hollywood vs. Reality

Cliched stands out

 

SUMMARY:

 

With movies like this that go to make a statement you sometimes wonder if the movie will move or potentially fall to the pace of being artistic.  In this case, the Boss’ journey movie seems to movie at a good enough pace to remain entertaining but yet still accomplish the statements it wants to make.  It’s charm comes in the form of the heartwarming tale, that manages to be funny without even trying and yet deliver the messages of inspiration and art that it wants to do.  The movie is a nice look at how music influences the world around us and can inspire those brave few who can be fueled to use their gifts for the greater good.  In addition, the cultural lifestyle is certainly a major part of this film’s energy, somehow managing to capture some components of a culture or two and yet paint in a way that is super relevant to many.  The tale of the main character holds a lot of heart behind it and seeing that journey unfold feels like a realistic heroes journey that many dream to accomplish.  But defying a culture is not the only tale, for Blinded By The Light manages to accurately represent the facets of life from the concept of love and friendship, to the aspiration of trying to live your dreams.  It’s emotionally deep and will speak to many members as the relevant tales begin to come to life and perhaps allow you to sort of walk alongside the characters as they face the fears.  Yet, my favorite aspect is the nice integration of the Boss’ music into the film, for like a musical the legendary tunes are solidly integrated into the sequences to deliver the emotional kick of the scene or perhaps just make a fun little cover in a bold attempt to please a character.

 

Despite all the fun I had in this movie though there are of course areas that acted as a somewhat limitation to the film.  Motivational as this movie is, it can come off a bit preachy at times too, a little too forced in the inspirational tale and focus and perhaps steering away from the balance I was enjoying.  In addition, the movie sometimes gets a little more reality vs Hollywood for me at the inconsistencies that real life deals vs. the magic of things working out in the Hollywood atmosphere.  Not the biggest dislikes mind you, but something that does not quite fit in the same light as some of the other parts of the movie.  I guess my biggest limitations come in the form of some of the story imbalances and cliché moments that start to take precedent the farther the movie goes in.  In regards to the stories, there are a few plots that I’ll admit could have taken a little more focus to help bring all aspects to full circle.  One has to do with the love story and integration, yes a surprise given my previous reviews, and the other with the racial tension that was in this movie.  I understand it’s not the main focus, but it might have allowed for other Springsteen songs to get integrated in about these issues and maybe add a little more suspension and challenge to the movie.  That’s the other component that would have been nice to see is breaking up the cliché moments and adding a little more challenge to the mix.  Blinded by the Light is a little too easily pushed through, and perhaps in adding the obstacles and suspense, the full emotional passion could have burst out in full strength and break up the predictability/monotony of it.

 

The VERDICT:

 

As you can see, the movie has more likes than dislikes for me, with many of the limitations pickiness to help give that movie the final push.  Blinded by the Light turned out to be better than I anticipated, with a nice steady pace filled with a plethora of components that includes well aligned story arcs, emotionally deep lessons, inspirational sequences, and of course the timeless music of Bruce Springsteen.  Yes, it’s preachy and cliché and some stories could have been tuned up and given greater preference to really maximize everything.  However, I applaud the balance and entertainment of this film and state that though it lacks the usual mechanisms for the theater (special effects, a big adventure, or a concert experience, I still suggest a trip to the theater for this one.  If you can’t get in to hear the Boss through the big speakers, then definitely set your sights on this one for a home viewing.

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Drama/Music: 9.0

Movie Overall:  8.0

Book To Movie: Where Did The Rest Of The Cast And Story Go?

Where'd You Go, Bernadette Poster

 

Another day, another time to review movies and weeks two of the 5 movie reviews a week continues.  Hi Robbie K here, and today we will be looking at yet another book turned movie, as pop culture icons and interesting concepts are interpreted for the silver screen.  Now you know the usual sayings, movie versions are often not as good as the literature counterparts, but that does not mean it’s not worth a chance to see the visual interpretation unfold.  Well, once again yours truly is back in the artificially lit trenches to determine if this is a movie worth your time.  Let’s get started:

 

Movie: Where’d you Go Bernadette (2019)

 

Director:

Richard Linklater

Writers:

Richard Linklater (screenplay by), Holly Gent (screenplay by)  | 2 more credits »

Stars:

Cate BlanchettJudy GreerKristen Wiig

 

 

LIKES:

  • Good Acting
  • Nice Portrayal Of Mental Illness
  • Cute
  • Good Morals
  • Fairly Good Pace
  • Cyndi Lauper Tribute

 

DISLIKES:

 

  • A Little Melodramatic
  • Dryer Comedy
  • Some rather useless characters/Plots
  • A Little More Connecting
  • No Mystery Whatsoever
  • The Abrupt End

 

Summary:

 

The movie in a way feels much like a book performance or big budget play.  Blanchett in particular does a lot of heavy lifting with the grandiose character of Bernadette and is truly the person to captivate you in this story.  Sure the other supporting actors hit their marks, the confused husband of Billy Crudup, the controlling neighbor played by Kristen Wiignot too much from the Bridesmaid character, and wise friendship of Laurence Fishburneare all good, with really the daughter Becky being the next outstanding performance of the bunch (Troian Bellisario) who is integrated into the films.  Yet, it’s really the focus on Cate managing to portray that storm that is mental illness that impressed this writer, not only in physical mannerisms, but even the pressured speech, the inconsistency, and more so the denial of handling the problems that gave me respect for the role.  Past the pillar of performances, the movie is a cute film that captures the spirit of the book (or what I have read of it) taking good morals about creativity, finding one self, love, and understanding and managing to smoosh it together into a rather audience friendly form that groups can enjoy.  It’s pace is okay, I think perfect for the key audience members, to really get the snapshots of Bernadette’s journey without being dragged into the detailed pits of despair that sometimes are seen in these profile movies.  Yet it is missing something that some book movies achieve so well.  And of course, who would not like to see some fun tributes and use of icon legend Cyndi Lauper come into play that’s a hoot right?

 

While the portrayals and the performances are nice though there is something about this movie that is a little too bookish for me. I love reading, but books give you that ability to spread the journey across time while movies are not quite that luxury and this movie emphasizes the point for me.  The melodramatic components of this film make for a great performance, but overshadow a lot of other features of this film, almost taking the Lifetime approach without the pregnancy, murder, or adultery.  For a comedy, the movie did not quite have the balance of laughs I know Cate can pull off, relying a little too much on the dryer sarcasm than anything else, which I think only hits a finite audience.  Yet the things about this book that get me are more so the inclusion of the other characters.  For a movie about essentially about reconnecting, to the world, the inclusion of the cast is not as good as I expected.  Despite decent performances, characters are limited to small bouts of banter with the main character, or merely just making appearances in shots in a hasty attempt to concise the healing process.  Other plot points including rivalries, cleaning up her mistakes, and even a particular gossip rival are swept to the sidelines to keep the focus on the journey to beautiful shots galore of the Antarctic peninsula. As such, I would have liked better connections than what I got.  However, for a title and trailer that suggest mystery, this tale has practically no mystery whatsoever.  In an attempt to either parody or touch Gone Girl, Bernadette’s journey offers no real challenge to the audience or the characters about where the titular character has gone.  You know every step of the journey and thus that aspect is essentially lost to the attempts to do the character connection mentioned earlier.  Finally, the ending, when all is said and done, and the “mystery” is concluding, the film sort of truncates the potential for an emotionally powerful finish and leaves you with a montage that while interesting is not the ending I had expected.  If this is how the book does, I might have taken another 15 minutes of creative liberty to give a fitting end, but hey that’s just me.

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Truth be told, this movie is a stunning example of how performances can sometimes do a lot of heavy lifting and while not my favorite role, Cate really leads the charge in this near one woman show.  The movie again feels like a book, managing to keep a finger on the pulse of reality/book, and fill it with the cute, heartwarming, moral-filled lessons we love.  Yet, the flair for the dramatic components, alongside a disjointed attempt at deep character connections/development just did not have that story push I love.  Too much happening in too short of a time and a mystery that was ironically missing, the visual tribute to Bernadette’s story is not one of the best adaptations for most audiences looking for this type of movie.  As such, I think this movie is reserved to theater visits for a small few, and would have been better on the Lifetime channel, or OWN as a made for TV movie.  My scores for this film are:

 

Comedy/Drama/Mystery: 6.5

Movie Overall:  5.0

These Good Boys Make Adventure Cute And Fun, Though Crude, Comedy

 

Good Boys Poster

 

Middle school is a time that can be trying.  As hormones kick in and bodies change, a lot of social status updates, and of course the concept of major bullying kicking into high gear that leaves one feeling different.  Today’s movie decides to analyze that, but in a different light that hopes to be entertaining while touching at the same time.  From the minds of half the stoner comedies and off the wall humors, comes tonight’s review of a movie that did not quite rope my interest.  But like the times they portray, you never know what surprises you might find in the halls of school.  Robbie K coming at you with a look at:

 

Film:  Good Boys (2019)

 

Director:

Gene Stupnitsky

Writers:

Lee EisenbergGene Stupnitsky

Stars:

Jacob TremblayKeith L. WilliamsBrady Noon

 

 

LIKES:

 

Good Pace

Cute

Surprisingly Deep

Good Acting

Some Great writing at times

Funny

Decent Use of Cast

Story

 

DISLIKES:

 

Lazy writing

A Little Too Aggressive For Me

Predictable

Some Forced Dialogue

Over Board On The Trailers Again

 

Summary:

Looking back at the movie, this was a tall order to try to succeed in putting adult scenarios in the hands of kids.  Yet, Good Boys accomplished this at times for me in the art of representing life in such a young cast.  The film has the comedy pace, keeping things moving quickly, and managing to take time to flesh out the characters.  It’s surprisingly tasteful at times and wrapped in a cute atmosphere as the naivety of the three boys manages to dull the blow that comes with the adult themes in this movie, which worked for me in terms of adding a new spin to freshen things up. In addition, the film manages to accomplish a story telling element that does not involve just getting drunk or stoned, but instead adding that kid perspective to the mix to help keep things ground and allow the laughs to keep coming.  If you have read my reviews, you also know I’m big on character utilization and surprisingly the Good Boys writers again succeeded in using the three young musketeers evenly.  There is good development of each member, enough differences for them to stand out, but have that similarity that friends seem to have.  The kids manage to sell that relationship and their acting is great as they capture the spirit of the awkward middle school friends trying to find their way in a new setting, or settings in this case.  As such, I give them props for being able to make a relatable tale, managing to capture the nuances of life in this youthful setting, and in a way that helped grip me and some of the audience into the ridiculousness at hand.  But you are really asking is it funny, after all it’s a comedy and it needs to be funny. Well at times the writing is dead on with timing, design, and delivery to make me laugh hard.  A few of my fellow audience members were unable to stop laughing, enjoying the Seth Rogen like comedy spewing from a smaller frame at a higher decibel.  If you like the comedies of Superbad, Knocked Up, and This is the End, then I have a feeling you are going to love the formula they used in this movie once more.

 

That being said, there are a few things of this movie that did not quite impress me as some others in the audience.  For one thing, despite the story actually being in this film and grounding, there is a little predictability thrown in that did not impress me.  Relevant as it was, the typical plot falls left me a little bored, waiting for either unique comedy or a deep scene to save me from the chaotic adventure.  And while I got some magic moments that were golden in terms of timing, character development and delivery, there are other times where the comedy genre writing took over.  Good Boys still suffers from excessive cursing, which although funny out of the lips of a child, is still not my favorite thing to watch and not the most unique writing component.  At times I felt the comedy forced, or the lines pushed a little too much on me, in an attempt to squeeze that last bit of crude and crass out for shock factor or a simple laugh.  Other times, I felt some of the comedy was a little too aggressive or over the line for me, mainly in the form of drug or sex humor that skirted under the trailer radar. This brings me to probably the sour note in the film, the over abundant advertising that really gave many of the big scenes away. I agree with others there is a treasure lying in wait for the adventurer to go to the theater, but some major elements have already been effectively beaten to death if you watch the trailers enough.  The convenient store scene, the swing scene, and the teenage girl scenes I knew were coming and left me feeling bored after how much I had already seen them.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Good boys turned out to be better than I anticipated, managing to ground a relatable story as the foundation and building the comedy around.  It’s pace, charm, and cuteness from the sensational actors is that factor the R rated comedy needed and those aspects will bring much of the laughs.  Throw in the deeper elements to help tone the aggressive edge down and my fellow audience members are correct in saying it’s a nice, versatile picture.  However, it still suffers from over aggressive cursing, lazier writing to fill in moments between the more aggressive styles, and worst of all, big scenes already presented frame by frame in the commercials.  Still all in all, this film is fun, though I’m not quite certain this one is the most theater worthy film, and may remain a better home viewing picture.

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Comedy:  8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

The Art Of Depressing People Until They Cry

The Art of Racing in the Rain Poster

 

Books to movies hold the potential to be some of the best films to hit the screen. With stories laid out for the directors, one would think that an adequate investment could bring the words to life.  Yet, as often the case, the movies can only do so much with a budget to get the mindset and perspective the books bring, often not being able to match the magic of the written word.  Still, they are a popular option to the masses and often the focus of my reviews.  So Robbie K back with a 4threview this week on the latest book turned movie as I look into:

 

Movie: Art Of Racing In The Rain (2019)

 

Director:

Simon Curtis

Writers:

Mark Bomback (screenplay by), Garth Stein (novel)

Stars:

Kevin CostnerMilo VentimigliaAmanda Seyfried

 

 

LIKES:

The Cars

The Acting

The Musical Effects

The Dog Himself

 

DISLIKES:

The Pace

The Dragged-Out Components

The Depressing Atmosphere

 

 

SUMMARY:

I can’t comment on the book as much as I have only read half, but the film has not done a half a bad job following the atmosphere and plot line of the book.  So rather than going down how accurate it is, I’m focusing on some other aspects that I liked for the audience.  A movie about racing means you got to have beautiful cars (yes I know this is symbolism), and this film succeeds in bringing powerful vehicles in beautiful designs to the screen in all shapes, colors, and sizes.  Past this superficial component though, the highlights really come in the form of the acting of this dramatic piece.  Milo Ventimiglia takes his Gilmore Girls and This Is Us roots and throws them full force in the smoldering way he does and if you love that then you’ll eat this up.  Seyfried as well does her job well too, though not quite as involved as I would have hoped nor in the same manner I have seen her in the past.  Costner though wins the best role for me as the voice of Enzo and like many great voice actors does a lot with little.  He hits a good dynamic range of emotions and sells the comedic delivery of the lines, matching quite well with the adorable golden retriever that represents his avatar.  Speaking of which, the dogs they get for movies continue to impress me in their training, not only in their ability to do tricks, but more so in how they can personify human emotions.  This dog, or dogs depending on his age, accomplish the goal with good camera work to really sell the emotions of the book and was the character I, not surprisingly, latched onto.  Helping to also bring all the emotional turmoil to perspective is the music editing, the use of orchestral pieces and sound editing to really add the background ambience to layer extra emotion to the mix.  As monologues pour out of Enzo’s thoughts, the musical work compliments this well and may just impress you if you open your ears.

 

Unfortunately, the book’s emotional atmosphere is one of those that may not be the most exciting thing to show in a movie and I believe this made it difficult for me to enjoy in the movie.  We start with the pace of the film, a rather unbalanced component that seemed to have difficulty finding its footing.  One part too fast, the movie seems to skip the early adventures, getting to some heavy stuff within the first hour of showing which did not quite match the pace in the book.  Upon hitting these heavy events, the movie’s pace suddenly shifts back to a lower gear, really maximizing on these moments and dragging out the suffering/drama of these moments.  If this is the kind of drama you want in your movie, then fans will enjoy diving into what feels like hours of somber approaches then you have got it.  Me, I like a little more pep in my dog movies, and this movie failed to give me much of that.  Enzo’s tale contains wisdom, spirituality, and some great outlooks in life, but overall the feel of the movie is depressing which almost seems to maximize the sluggish pace.  Movies like this are beautiful representations on life, but for this reviewer it is difficult to fully enjoy when there is little to break up the drudge that comes with this. 

 

   To quote my friend Austin, the title sort of gives you an idea of what to expect with this film.  It’s a beautiful movie that takes life’s problems and gives us a unique perspective on how to handle it.  With some great dramatic acting, musical overtures to emphasize the emotion, and a wonderful four-legged star to pin your hopes on.  Yet, like modern day ABC dramas, especially This Is Us, the movie is super depressing and left many in my theater with teary eyes and sniffles.  While I’m sure the book holds much of this too, I myself would have rather handled this content in a book, as my biggest issue (outside of the depression I felt) is the pacing having difficulty balancing the hope and sadness.  Still, if you are a fan of dramas like this and want the spiritual, sob fest for a film, then this is the movie for you this weekend.  Balancing all of this, my scores are:

 

Comedy/Drama:  7.0-7.5

Movie Overall:  6.0 – 6.5

Can You Say: Fun, Family Friendly, Movie?

Dora and the Lost City of Gold Poster

 

Childhood television shows hold a special place in our hearts, bringing us back to the days where adventure lied in every episode. Eager minds waited for the next episode to come, fooling ourselves that something different was going to happen to our hero and push them to the edge, only until we realized it was predictably the same ending.  So movies that come out to potentially extend a hand back into the past and relive those moments are very intriguing and we may just find ourselves flocking to the movies to figure out what they writers could have in store for our heroes.  Well, today that movie trend tries once more, this time in a pop culture icon who had mixed reception depending on the age you started with her.  Robbie K here with another review on the former cartoon now brought to life in the trend of live action movies.  Yes, I review:

 

Movie:

 

Dora the Explorer And The Lost City Of Gold (2019)

 

Director:

James Bobin

Writers:

Chris Gifford (based on the series created by), Matthew Robinson (screenplay by)  | 5 more credits »

Stars:

Isabela MonerEugenio DerbezMichael Peña

 

LIKES:

Short

Fast Paced

Good for Kids

Funny

Feels Like A Dora Episode

Nostalgic

Boots

 

DISLIKES:

Predictable

Simplistic

Lackluster Ending

Under Utilized Cast

Still Too Kiddy

Preachy

 

Summary:

For a movie that is based on a kid’s program, the Nickelodeon studies managed to keep the kid-friendly atmosphere alive and appropriate for the younger audience members. Utilizing the young adult morale issues for the generation to latch onto and have a rapport with. Those who aren’t looking for the preteen dilemmas and high school shenanigans though will enjoy the humor in this film.  The director and writers knew that the older population would be looking for something more enjoyable and the movie hits that mark by making fun of itself and trying to rationalize how Dora had the adventures she did.  It’s this self-punching humor that had me laughing up a storm and if you get the references remain into the movie at what next piece of humor you would get.  And for fans like me who had younger relatives obsessed with the explorer, you pick up a few references that bring back the nostalgia of the animated adventures and the ridiculousness at hand.  As for Boots, the little monkey is adorable and funny, bringing a dynamic set of jokes to the mix and relieving some of the other plot devices.

 

Yet the movie fails on the story aspect, working too hard to hit itself with the absurdity of the whole story.  The adventure is predictable with lots of obvious foreshadowing laid out in the first third of the act.  Trekking through the jungle lacks the bite Indiana jones and others had, again diluting to simplistic sequences that were perfect for the little kids it targets.  The end of the path holds a rather disappointing, lackluster finale that leaves much to be desired in terms of wow factor, though it manages to nail that morale heavy lessons we all want in a Nickelodeon themed movie.  Much of the disappointment for me was the underutilized cast, many of Dora’s friends, rivals, and even other characters like Swiper were overshadowed by the fabulous explorer and her can do attitude.  In doing so, the supposedly threatening group to antagonize the trip were one-dimensional throw away that served mainly to give slight suspense to the film.  Yet, there was still plenty of time for them film to put those preachy lessons right at the end, with music, forced dialogue, and everything else to the delight of families. 

 

  Dora’s real-life adventure is a cute dive to help bridge a lot of audience members.  I concur with the rest of the reviewers that it is better than you expect, primarily in the humor, pacing, and fun references that are all contained in the short 100 minutes run-time.  Sadly, the humor and kid friendly atmosphere left much to be desired in the form of story, acting, suspense, and overall finale for the adventure.  I applaud them for making this thing short and fun though, and would say that this is a decent family film if you are looking for one to close the summer on.  Yet, if you need a more quality film overall, look elsewhere, as there are several other films that will assist your viewing pleasures. 

 

My scores are:

 

Adventure/Family:  7.0

Movie Overall:  5.0

Once Upon A Long-Winded Review

Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood Poster

 

Hollywood, the glamorous place that holds the dreams of so many aspiring to be rich, famous, and fashionable.  It’s a place that has changed faces much like the stars change make up, and to keep on top of modern trends to keep the ever-consuming monster satiated.  Yet, in the shiny metropolis lies stories that aren’t so flashy or happy, dramatic tales that are sad and filled with anguish that some can’t handle.  Yet, for directors like Quentin Tarantinoit’s a medium that holds potential to open the eyes of the blind.  That story, or at least a comedic rendition of it, lies in this movie of our review with hopes of being a contender in the quality film industry. Robbie K here ready to give you a taste of another review as we take on:

 

Movie:  Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)

 

Director:

Quentin Tarantino

Writer:

Quentin Tarantino

Stars:

Leonardo DiCaprioBrad PittMargot Robbie

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Setting

The Costumes

Special Effects

The Writing

The Tempered Down Tarantino Effects

The Acting

The Nostalgia

 

DISLIKES:

 

The Occasional rants of cursing

The Disproportionate Story Telling

Needed More Margot Robbie

The Pacing

The Run Time

The Ending… sort of

 

SUMMARY

 

    The wow factor for this movie is the homage Tarantino paid to the glorious mega studio in so many aspects.  In particular all the movie magic of effects, wardrobe, settings take you back to the classic world where so much changed, as the 60s/70s.  In the fantastic setting of retro Hollywood, smart writing that is blend of drama, comedy, and smart dives into the psyche of those famous people we admired.  By tempering down the Tarantino cascade, it allowed for a different film that wasn’t overwhelmed by the flash in the pan effect this director flourishes in.  To help further bring this message to life, the acting of the three tiled characters gets big acknowledgement, with heart throb DiCaprio bearing much of the load of the tortured actor trying to find his way in a changing world. Pitt’s character was my favorite of the supporting character that was a blend of looks and comedy that went well with the supporting story, while Robbie’s dive in the star trying to gain new light sort of provided the intensity relief.  Yet, all of this is overpowered by the bouts of nostalgia from the various entertainment venues this time period had.  Radio shows, famous songs, television programs, and all the memorabilia that referenced this was the real factor that made the movie a fun adventure filled with messages and meaning.

 

Yet, the movie does have some cleaning up for me that would potentially make it more favorable to the general public.  First of all, while Tarantino’s energy has been tempered, it’s not eliminated and the moments where it comes out in full rush did little for me.  Minor dislike aside, the story telling, while good, is a little imbalanced, primarily in Margot Robbie’s character who felt more like an incongruent tangent that only touched on the graph of this film’s main plot.  Because of this sort of unbalance, the movie seemed to fall in to a frame of being too slow, the pace for a nearly 3-hour film was dragging and very tiring.  Much of this had to do with the bloated sequences of lots of driving, or dragged out bits of conversation that could have been left for a director’s cut. Throw in  the incongruent story of Margot Robbie’s character and you get extra time that is not really need.  Perhaps it would have been worth it had the ending gone the way I had expected, the buildup of the incident ending in that comedic violence that is both satisfying and not quite the terror I had expected.  Thus, the long-winded journey did not quite have the finish that I think he was getting at.

 

  Overall, Once Upon In Hollywood is smart writing, diving into the lives of the fleeting fame that is Hollywood and how the transitions can affect one person.  The special effects and settings will be the ultimate nostalgic for fans to dive into, and the acting is certainly going to have candidates in the Oscar running. Yet, the films suffers from bloated storytelling and disproportionate focus on each aspect leading to a very drawn out tale that may not be for everyone.  Thus, if you are looking for the entertainment factor, this one is not worth a trip to the theater, but if you want the artistic love letter to the thing that brings so many hits, then check this one out. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy-Drama:  8.5

Movie overall: 8.0