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

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Take A Drive With Baby Driver

Baby Driver

 

Baby Driver!  When I saw this trailer months ago I had no idea what to think about it just from the title alone.  Yet seeing a star studded cast that included Jon Hamm, Lily James, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx, I had hopes for a good movie.  So, with it rushing into a midweek premiere I managed to finally check it out this weekend.  What’s the verdict on the action/crime movie to hit the screen.  Robbie K here always appreciating your views on his blog.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting:  I don’t say this too much, but this cast was aces across the board. Let’s start with the lead Ansel Elgort who plays Baby.  At first I was only impressed with his ability to be the awkward silent type, but as the movie progresses Elgort is able to bring a little more to the screen to round out Baby.  His range broadens as more characters are introduced into the film and he has to balance between the two worlds that he lives in.  As kind of his looming shadow, the master villain Kevin Spacey continues to play that cool, calculating, manipulative role that he made famous in House of Cards.  Not too much to be annoying, but not too little to be cheated Spacey really brings depth to a cliché role and keeps things heated up.  As for Foxx, well his acting continues to improve me in spectrum he can cover.  Taking more of the jaded thug approach, Foxx adds the comedic heat to the film with the darker theme taking hold.  I could spend the whole review on the chemistry of everyone, but Baby Driver’s cast is stellar.

 

The Action:  For a crime thriller toting about the stunts and guns, the movie certainly delivers.  Baby Driver shifts the gear into R for reality and manages to deliver sequences that are exciting chases through obstacle laden courses with all the bells and whistles.  Unlike the Fast and The Furious, this movie keeps things on a believable level, requiring actual stunt driving instead of high tech gadgets.  Even the gunplay is exciting, finally adopting the crime motif we had in the mafia movie days instead of the explosion loaded productions famous of modern cinema.  The action is well directed, and used as a supporting tool to keep the film exciting and fast paced without being the only aspect of the movie.

 

The Story:  Most crime stories bore me these days because they get too caught up in either sex or malicious violence.  While Baby Driver is certainly darker in its own accord, it has a story that doesn’t dance in one area.  A combination of love, action, and crime drama, the storyboard writers get props from me for crafting a decently balanced story.  Baby’s character is complicated (though the trailers might mislead you), and they managed to gradually peel this character apart and help him transform into someone completely new.  To do this all while bringing forth a story that doesn’t put me to sleep but keep me on edge is certainly worthy of two thumbs up.

 

The Music:  The theme of Baby Driver is music (he is always wearing headphones if you haven’t seen the trailers), and that means you need a strong soundtrack.  Mission successful on this part too.  While I’m not quite familiar with some of these classics (yes boo me), they music directors selected a fantastic spread to entertain us with.  Across many genres and decades, your ears will be swallowed by a deluge of classics, each fitting with the tone of the movie and providing great sound support to the impressive visuals.  And if you don’t know these tunes, well the internet is still a wonderful thing when used appropriately.

DISLIKES:

 

No unifying crime plot:  In many crime movies, there is a big score, a key target, or some unifying goal.  Baby Driver though doesn’t have that big, impending doom I often like to see, choosing instead to focus more on Baby himself.  While certainly a small dislike, I felt the unifying theme or grand plan could have provided a little more oomph to the story and a way to integrate Spacey’s character even more.

 

Romance Aspect:  I’m not saying this is bad, and again I’m grasping at most straws, but Baby Driver’s romance component needs a little work.  Lily James and Elgort have some decent chemistry and work well together in the scenes where they are paired.  However, I feel that this component was a little glazed over up until the climax where the crap starts to hit the fan.  Expanding this role again would have tied some things together and integrated the cast a little better to complete the story.

 

Part of the Ending:  This dislike is again complicated, but I’ll do my best to explain.  Baby Driver’s ending is certainly unique and took many directions I liked in the form of being non-cliché, artistic, and exciting on many levels.  Yet about fifteen minutes of the ending was dragged out entirely too long and started hitting that ridiculous level Hollywood often hits.  The vicious parts were a little overdramatic and the predictable twists just led to more run time that wasn’t really needed. Still it wrapped up nicely and had a self-gratifying finish, it just didn’t need to be that complicated.  

 

The Verdict:

 

I agree with many that Baby Driver is one awesome film.  Despite the weird title (which yes is a song title), it works on many levels primarily in regards to a suspenseful action tale with strong story elements.  Baby Driver is an example of what movies can be if done right and I for one recommend hitting this movie in theaters. Of note, use caution when taking younger audience members due to the violence please.

 

My scores:

 

Action/Crime/Music:  9.0

Movie Overall: 8.0

Let Patriotic Pride Ring

patriots-day

 

Mark Wahlberg and disaster movies seem to go hand and hand these days and this weekend brings the latest installment in his library.  Today I got to see Patriots Day, a movie that dramatizes the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013.  Like all disaster movies, it holds the promise for inspiring the audience or stirring up emotion.  But has Hollywood hit its saturation point?  Hi Robbie K here, with a new abbreviated review of Patriots Day.  Let’s get started

 

LIKES:

  • Very Detailed
  • Good visual/audio techniques
  • Emotionally strong movie

 

Summary:  When it comes to historical movies we like details and Patriots Day does not fall short in portraying this tragic event.  From the bombings to the manhunt, you get to see the thrilling, and sometimes chilling, journey to bring the case to a close. The movie shows the events from the perspectives of many involved including victims, cops, and the terrorists themselves.  An even more impressive twist is the smooth integration of real life security clips that helps keep the facts in check, while also showing the inspiration of the movie.  When you take these clips, and mix them with the movie magic of scene and music editing, you get incredibly powerful scenes that are certain to inspire you.  I agree with the trailers that Patriots Day is one of the most emotional stirring pieces to grace the silver screen this year.  So many sequences promote the concepts of uniting in the face of danger, perseverance of spirit, and American pride.  It had many in my viewing sniffling and certainly got some goosebumps going in this reviewer.  Therefore, Patriots Day editing is certainly the selling point of this movie.

 

DISLIKES  

  • Movie magic overdramatizes
  • Some editing issues
  • May poke some snakes

 

Summary: As seen many times in Hollywood, the magic of the cinema sometimes steps into overdramatic role.  Patriots Day, despite how emotionally stirring it is, does cross into preachy side at times. While it certainly is inspiring, much of the ending moments (primarily the dialogue) is geared towards American pride that may be seen as boastful.  In addition, some people may not appreciate the portrayal of the various characters, perhaps thinking they were too extreme in their renditions.  Yes, some of the audience said this during the movie.  But outside of overdramatic moments and extreme portrayals, the only other component for me was some of the editing lapses in the movie.  There are certain scenes that attempt to show some of the background info on the characters (e.g. dating, guys getting high on weed, etc) which were certainly entertaining or aggravating.  However, these moments were either not timed right, or more often not needed for me to get the emotional kick of the movie.  And to be honest, most of these clips do extend the cast’s screen time.

 

The Verdict:

Patriots Day is a movie that will bring some sort of emotion to most audience members.  The detail is fantastic and makes you feel a part of the team in this epic manhunt, establishing that rage to capture the bad guys.  The special effects and audio score will only deepen your immersion into the story.  However, be ready for some political discussions and potential airing of grievances when you see the very extreme portrayals in this movie. Overall though, this movie is a solid opening to the year and a welcome break up from the mundane.

 

My scores:

 

Drama/History/Thriller:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.0

Cute, Cuddly, and Minion Antics on Steroids!

Minions

            We’ve all had moments where we speak gibberish, but none of us match the skill level of babbling utter nonsense like the Minions of Despicable Me. The cute, cuddly, yellow bodied blobs have entertained for the past few years with their antics, communicating in their special language that remains undecipherable to me this day. Turns out they are so popular Hollywood has decided to give them their own movie, one that is sure to provide hours of fun for all ages alike. So with all the advertisement and hype, you may be wondering what this movie has in store. Fortunately I am here to help, so sit back and read the latest review.

If I were to summarize this movie in one word it would be CUTE. The animation studio has managed to bring all the cuddliness of Gru’s henchmen and unleash it tenfold on the screen. Sure there were some adorable moments in Despicable Me movies, but Minions takes it to the next level with squeaky voices, petite faces and huggable goodness. Boys and girls, men and women of all ages will be awing as our three heroes traverse the elements to find their new boss. Bob in particular was the cutest as he jumps into the adventure with eager eyes, and a beat up teddy bear. In truth it is like watching three small children go on an impossible voyage, constantly failing, but doing so in a manner that pulls at your heart strings.

Minions is also a very happy and energetic movie, the youthful antics of the minions bringing a positive vibe to the theater that you feed on. The movie is simply fun, the pint sized aspiring villains living life to the fullest as they explore the city. Because of their enhanced biology, or whatever force makes them nearly invincible, the sky is the limit for what troubles they can get into. Normal devices that are meant to be horrifying, or extremely violent have now been diluted to playground level fun, sugar coated with the Minion cuteness to distract from their true meaning. Bombs, guns, bank robbing, etc, it’s all just a big game run by naïve munchkins and a world full of extreme personalities that make for very one dimensional characters.

Surely you are asking one thing in your mind though, is it funny? The answer is yes, Minions is definitely a humor filled movie targeted for the young and young at heart. Slapstick comedy unfolds as the Minions pull off three stooges ploys as they slap, crush, and blow up everything around them. Their klutziness, and again their versatile bodies, allows reality to be shattered and for them to survive anything. As you can guess the Minions gibberish is also very entertaining, the random babbling made funny in the delivery as they add their voice modifications to the mix. Again Bob has the funniest sounds, as his high pitched squabble makes him my favorite. Voices and slapstick aside, the funniest aspect for me are the built in references to the movie in terms of song and movie numbers. I spent my time trying to figure out what movies the scenes were from, having to rely on my mentor to help fill in some of the details, especially those that were about classic bands or plays. Whatever source you find funny, let it be known that Minions is going to get you chuckling at some point in the film. However…

Like everything there is a balance that is greatly needed in its film and the major downfall of this movie is doing too much of one thing. First the gibberish thing, it’s nice to get that ridiculous language in spurts like in Despicable Me, but in this movie it took too much focus. A lack of dialog was annoying, the mindless gibberish losing its appeal to me without supporting dialog to provide relief from the Minion’s language. The slapstick saved it somewhat, the variety in the comedic situations assisting with keeping things fresh. My friend pointed out that Minion antics are fun in small doses, but this movie abuses their antics to the maximum level. The young and obsessed won’t care, but I could have used a better story to ground the adventure a bit. The simplistic tale was also not the most thrilling, the tale very formulaic and lacking in character development. Even the villain Scarlet Overkill didn’t hold much strength, and was thrown to the back behind the minions. In addition, about half the movie had been revealed in the six trailers they have shown, especially the fun opening, but the parts that weren’t ruined are still entertaining. The limited voice acting is decent, but when all you are doing is babbling like an idiot, there isn’t much to really be impressed with, even with the great Sandra Bullock leading the group.

Minions is the adventure you are all expecting it to be, a mashup of cute, positive, fun that will have you chuckling most of the way. Chances are if you are obsessed with the little guys in Despicable Me, you are going to find no fault in this movie. However, Minions leaves a lot to be wanted, including story, character development, and some more clever humor that could work with the language. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed myself with a lot of the humor here, but my scores have to entail everything and this movie could have been made straight to TV. I recommend a trip to the theater with a group, or taking your young ones, but please don’t be persuaded to see the 3-D version.

My scores are:

Animation, Comedy, Family: 7.5-8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5-7.0