Will This Christmas Flick Deliver A Holiday Gift?

Last Christmas Poster

 

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

 

Movie: Last Christmas (2019)

 

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Good Acting

Comedy That is Not Overdone

Fun and A good atmosphere

Good Message For The Times

Fast Run Time

The Music

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable

Dryer Sense Of Humor Required

Needing More Time To Tell A Detailed Story

The Semi-Superficial Romance

The Overdone Ending

Lacking That Big Punch

 

 

SUMMARY:

 

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

 

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

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My scores for its genre are:

 

Christmast/Comedy/Drama/Romance:  8.0

Movie Overall:  5.5

 

 

A Simple Review For A Simple Favor

A Simple Favor Poster

 

A good mystery drama, is often based on a good book, and tonight’s review is no exception to the rule.  Catching on the wave of popularity, another book turned film is upon us as it hopes to bring drama, mystery, and thrills to the audience as it competes with three other movies for first place in the box office. So, yours truly, alongside his friend, have checked into the theater and collected our thoughts on the latest film as we review:

 

Movie: A Simple Favor (2018)

 


Director:

Paul Feig

Writers:

Jessica Sharzer (screenplay by), Darcey Bell (based upon the novel by)

Stars:

Anna KendrickBlake LivelyHenry Golding

 

 

 

LIKES:

 

Great Acting

Solid Pace For Most of Film

Twists

Engaging Story

Comedy Timed At the Right Times

 

 

Summary:  The movie’s engaging characters are the stars of this mystery, each one having a deep, dark ravine that houses many secrets in it shadowy crevices. These characters convoluted profiles are only strongly supported by the fantastic acting of the leading ladies.  Lively is sexy, seductive, and mysterious, drawing on her darker roots to bring out the alluring visage that is Emily.  Kendrick’s character is a mixed bag of tricks that combines the traits of her previous roles into one character who is a good rival to Lively’s collected nature.  Golding acts as the medium between the two, his suave from Crazy Rich Asians still present, but the romantic aspect now replaced with darker skeletons.

As the lead actors work their magic, the solid pace keeps you invested in their work, moving briskly enough to keep the mystery fresh, but no so much to fly over details.  A Simple Favor’s simplicity is effectively gone when it comes to the story, as the twists begin to wiggle their way into the mix.  Presented in an engaging manner, there is always a tinge of mystery hanging in the distance to keep you together, with the promise of piecing them together at every step to challenge your brain.  It’s dark, it’s deep, and it holds all the pieces to suck drama-mystery lovers into the deep pool that is this story.  But don’t think it’s all dark pits of despair, because the comedy introduced in a spoof like manner brings some needed relief to spice things up. 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Pacing at the Beginning

Cheesy At Times

Predictable

Comedy Throws Theme Off At End:

 

Summary:  As the movie is better paced, the first hour hits a little bit of the breaks as it sets the plot up.  Drawn out dialogue, mundane montages, and some fashion style shows offs are going to be the primary focus, but power through this and you can find the deeper tale at the end of the bland rainbow. 

While there are plenty of twists and turns in this film, and a deep mystery, A Simple Favor does occasionally lose its balance and trek farther into the drama territory.  Much like modern day time and TGIT television, this film is not afraid to go into the soap opera/overboard themes to bring the entertainment.  While some of these are well received, a few of these plot devices are a little too convenient or over the top to really not roll your eyes at.  Fortunately, they do curtail these things better than most films, but it does not escape the predictable nature that these devices make.  I was able to guess most of the surprises, missing only the finite details the movie filled in that helped cement everything in the subplots of the film.

Yet my biggest dislike is how near the end, the movie almost becomes a spoof/comedic farce that is all about wrapping up the drama/mystery in a silly manner.  While the ending is fitting of the movie, the energy just felt off for me and the comedy situation just didn’t need to be so overdone to make me laugh.  It’s enjoyable, but perhaps needed that slight focus on the drama/thriller to tie up the ends and provide the closure this movie deserved.  Oh well, can’t be perfect right?

 

THE VERDICT:

 

            Overall, this is a mystery/thriller that performs adequately at its job of being engaging, interesting, full of drama, and providing those over the top punches.  A Simple Favor’s cast certainly is the solid pillar it’s based on, but the story itself feels like a well-designed integration to pull most audiences into the mix.  It sadly goes down some avenues that I didn’t enjoy, primarily in the soap opera tactics, and the comedy is sometimes a little overdone, but for those who love the thrillers of the television world, you are in for a treat for what it holds. Worth a trip to theater? Absolutely in regards to the acting a chilling plot, but not for those looking for a special effects extravaganza. 

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Crime/Drama: 7.5

Movie Overall: 7.0

Crazy, Rich Cliche

Crazy Rich Asians Poster

            In this modern day, the way of peace is about understanding cultures and trying to respect many things that come with someone’s values.  No this isn’t a political paper for a social studies class, but it makes up a big theme of the movie I’m reviewing tonight.  Tonight’s film is all about the traditions and heritage that comes with certain families and how they can complicate aspects of life for many. Naturally, we love the drama that comes with it, as it provides stories to become immersed into, especially when the pursuit of romance comes with.  Based on a popular book, tonight’s rom-com hopes to bring a lot of people into the box office in hopes of wrapping up the summer with a good romantic aspect to tie us over.  Will it work? Robbie K here to shed some light on the subject as he reviews:

 

Movie: Crazy, Rich, Asians (2018)

 

Director:

Jon M. Chu

Writers:

Peter Chiarelli (screenplay by),  Adele Lim (screenplay by)

Stars:

Constance Wu,  Henry Golding,  Michelle Yeoh

 

 

LIKES:

 

Fun:  The movie is overall a fun take on the romantic-comedy aspect.  It has plenty of drama, but somehow uses the traditions and culture to really craft an entertaining tale that incorporates a number of colorful characters to bring out the full emotion.  In addition, the movie has a lot of aspects that the rich culture brings that brings more entertainment to please the masses that come to the film.

 

The Tasteful Jokes: You’ll need to go in expecting stereotypes, but based on what modern TV and movies can do these days, Crazy, Rich Asians keeps it quite tasteful.  Clever wit, a well-timed joke, and the fantastic delivery of lines will have you howling in delight at all the awkwardness this situation brings.  Even better, is how most of the jokes are well embedded into the story, and not just thrown in for the sake of making a joke. Throw in a little justice being dropped and the result is jokes that will have people nodding or smirking in delight at the pokes it brings.

 

The Gorgeous Set/Sequences: With crazy money, comes the ability to get super creative with the parties and celebrations that fill this movie to the brim.  The elaborate houses are certainly a wonderful start, but the shores of Singapore are lined with tourist destinations galore that will have you craving a vacation sometime soon. As boats, towers, and shopping centers begin to unwind. In addition, the movie scores points at bringing a lot of fun into these immaculate settings, fully bringing out the fun and helping you dive into the celebrations at hand.

 

The Music:  The music is fun, fresh, and in the Asian tongues and melodies that fit well into the movie.  While certainly more covers than anything, Crazy Rich Asians does a nice job selecting tracks that either fully agree to the scene, or at least bring the emotions out in full force.  This is certainly most prevalent at the romantic intense moments, primarily in the wedding you saw in the trailer.

 

The Characters:  I’ve already said this before, but the movie’s characters are certainly my favorite aspect of the movie.  Constance Wu and Henry Goldingare fantastic protagonists, managing to bring the passion out in full strength, but not cross over into corny levels as we often see.  Gemma Chanand Michelle Yeohdo their parts justice as well, acting as subplots that run-in tangent with the main plot, but yet add to the story.  In addition, their support of the main story keeps their involvement relevant and fun.  Finally Awkwafinaand Nico Santos, steal the show in their own regards as they help amplify the fun and contribute to the growth of the characters in their own regard. As for the other collection of characters, they play their own part in crafting grandiose farces that are meant to only irritate the nerves of the audience.

 

 

DISLIKES:

The Cliché: It’s a romance movie, and sadly Crazy, Rich, Asian follows the tried and true plot of the genre.  It’s formulaic, romantic bouts are flattering, sweet, and full of that mushy love Nicholas Sparks fans loves, yet it is so bluntly predictable that it makes for a yawn inducing plot at times.  So, originality wise it doesn’t win points.

 

The Cheesy Tertiary Characters:  Dramas are all about extreme characters to stir the pot and get people addicted to the madness to come.  This film takes those moments a little too extreme, making these ridiculous characters even more eye rolling than needed.  I could have stomached it better had they integrated this group into the plot, but sadly they were reduced to a diluted farce whose sole role was to bring a big joke, or jab at the main character.  Not the best use of these groups, but hey at least we got a laugh.

 

The Incomplete Story: A book has load of time to develop the story and give you the in-depth details that many crave.  The film though did it’s best to balance the imagination into a 2-hour run-time and keep it entertaining.  While they accomplished the task of making the rich lifestyle explode on screen, and infuse the girl power, strong woman role, the other parts of the story were sub-par.  I’ve hinted this up in the characters, but there was strong underutilization of characters, including Awkwafina, and I would have liked to see their involvement span out more.  In addition, there were other family dynamics that showed potential, but then flunked out and went broke with only a few gags to try and recover.

 

Trailers Revealed Much: I don’t think there is much explaining, but there are a lot of scenes that have been elaborated too much by the trailers.  So hopefully you haven’t been obsessed watching the trailers too much.

 

 

THE VERDICT:

            Overall, Crazy, Rich, Asians works for the romance movie, not crossing too far into the cheesy realm, but still not escaping it either. You will find the scenes fun, entertaining, and at times charming, but the film is also a spectacle of what you can do with obscene amounts of money.  Still, the formulaic presentation is rather stale and incomplete, meaning you should rent the book and get the full story.  My recommendations are it is worth checking out, but better reserved for the home viewing over the actual theater minus maybe a date movie or girl’s night out.

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Romance:  7.0

Movie Overall:  6.0