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

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A Second Act Of Recycle J-Lo Plots

Second Act Poster

 

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

 

Director:

Peter Segal

Writers:

Justin ZackhamElaine Goldsmith-Thomas

Stars:

Jennifer LopezVanessa HudgensLeah Remini

 

 

LIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

DISLIKES:

 

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

 

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

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

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

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy/Romance:  6.0-6.5

Movie Overall: 4.5-5.0

What Does Life Itself Hold In Store?

Life Itself Poster

 

This Is Us, a drama that brought an interconnected story, where twists occurred around every corner, and often punched you straight in the face with emotion.  Due to its popularity, Hollywood seems to be ready to draw upon their talents to make a movie that can do the same.  Tall orders from the popular writers, tonight’s movie is a tribute to their work, one that will hopefully hold the same quality, and perhaps leave you in tears at what lies in store. Robbie K here with another review of:

 

Movie: Life Itself (2018)

 

Director:

Dan Fogelman

Writer:

Dan Fogelman

Stars:

Oscar IsaacOlivia WildeAnnette Bening

 

 

LIKES:

 

The Acting: You know from Fogelman’s work that the stories weigh heavily on the characters and the stars that make them come to life. For this guy, the acting is certainly the strongest like.  Much of the cast holds the ability of bringing the characters to such realistic portrayals, controlling their emotions in this very heavily feeling based position.  The chemistry with each other is fantastic, each phase holding these dynamic performances that life holds in its mystical throngs.  These characters are who you have to grip to, and fortunately the acting is there to do it.

 

The Realism:  It may be overstuffed with emotion like a mega burrito, but Life Itself is all about the realism of life.  This mega drama will drop much of the fantasy quirks of Hollywood to give you that slice of life to immerse in.  If you want the closest thing to life in a film version, Life Itself is the one for you.

 

The Twists:  You like those jaw dropping revelations that This Is Us is capable of dropping?  Well, maybe not to the same extent, but Life Itself doesn’t do too shabby a job of unleashing its own surprises to help link all the tales together.  What many movies (like Valentine’s Day) have tried to execute the combination of stories, they often fall flat into some grand stretch to make it all work.  This film, not so much.  Instead, it’s a well thought out plan, where these stories are designed around the connection and not vice versa.  These connecting points are the key to the twist, and they hope to bring the same pizazz the TV series does.  It’s not quite as impressive, but it is a start!

 

The Make-Up/Costume/Setup: Hands down, the movie has some solid artistic attributes to add to their characters that I like to give a nod too. Costumes are stylish, but not overbearing or too primary to overshadow the performances.  Pregnant prosthetics are curtailed to the actress and decently integrated to again be balanced into the character.  And as for the make-up, a fantastic blend of pallets to bring out physical attributes of aging as the scenes jump forward in time.  It’s stunning to see what they can do and really impressed me despite not being the most unique or out of this world project.

 

The Guts:  Life Itself does something many movies fear to do and that is hit the hard-hitting topics.  This film is all about facing the ups and downs with life, doing a decent job of portraying these very tough, rigorous trials that life brings and how to go about working through them.  And while it may be difficult to see some of these components, you’ve got some fantastic morals to teach you for preparation of many things.  Well done their guys.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Slow Pace:  Let’s get this on the table, I like faster paced movies so I don’t fight sleep.  Life Itself is not one of these movies, for it decides to move at a slow pace to make sure you become entrenched in the character’s tale.  While this wasn’t too bad at first, by the third chapter, I was battling my attention span’s limits to not walk out.  Those who like a drawn-out tale will not fell this way, but for those wanting a little brisker pace, you’ll be dreading this film.

 

Missing The Story/Development:  Most fans of This Is Us I talk to love how much you are immersed into the character’s lives, following their tales and uncovering every little detail at just the right moment.  Life Itself had the makings of that, but it didn’t quite have the same magic that they really were going for.  A strong opening was quickly fizzled out by montages, shallow dialogue at times, and even some messy wrap ups that showed they were running out time.  What this movie suffers in this category, is not having enough time (e.g. multiple seasons and episodes) to tell the story and therefore it did not accomplish the goals set out.

 

Depressing:  Let’s be honest, this is a movie that is not for the faint of heart, the overly depressed, or hating sad stories.  Life Itself is much like real life and those ups and downs can really tax the emotions and leave you feeling down.  When you combine with the dislikes above, you might have an even harder time staying in the theater to heart the surprisingly powerful finish.  So, heed words guys, this is not a movie for when you are feeling down, so please take heed and don’t fall victim to the antics.

 

 

The VERDICT:

 

            Life Itself was ambitious in its goal to take the popular drama field and unleash those same emotions onto a bigger screen. While the acting, realism, artwork, and guts are all there, they aren’t enough to bring the half-baked stories to full effect.  There are key points that really stand out, but much of them don’t have the finesse they needed, mostly due to time restraints.  Nevertheless, this depressing film moves at a snail’s pace and doesn’t quite have the well mapped out writing to warrant the nearly 2 hours. Instead, Life Itself should have taken the carbon copy components and made a spin off show for a streaming service instead.  Still, not the worst thing I have seen.

 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Romance:  6.5

Movie Overall:  5.5

Forever A Mediocre Love Story

Forever My Girl

 

Another weekend, another massive launch of movies and this weekend my reviews start with a little romance to spice up January. I’m talking about Forever My Girl, the movie utilizing Nicholas Sparks name to rope customers in.  The trailers make this one to look cute and another generic romance movie, but you never know what will come out of the fancy wood work of Hollywood.  Robbie K is back with another review to help you out with selecting your viewing choices.  Let’s get started!

 

LIKES:

 

Cute:  The trailers didn’t lie at how adorable this movie is.  While many will flock to the gritty action films of darkness and bullets, others will enjoy the calmer nature of this film.  The film is that same cute mush that romance movies bring, filled with both family morals and promises of true love surviving anything. As down home family life begins to settle on the screen, my audience members oohed and ahhed at all the sympathetic madness the film brought in spades.  Yet the cutest thing in this movie is adorable little girl that ties everyone together, and speaking of which…

 

The Little Girl:  Billy is by far a crown jewel of the film, a blend of sweetness and sassiness with great writing to help her stand out from the kid roles of Hallmark Channel. Abby Ryder Fortson was a perfect casting pick for the film, her high pitched voice, cute face, and silly antics a perfect reflection of the adventurous nature 8 years have.  She somehow managed to deliver her lines in a manner that was very fun, energetic, and not too annoying, which is difficult to do with a kid role. Fortson gets bonus points for how natural the role felt and not forced upon me.

 

Not Slow:  Romance movies often are slower for me, not only because of lack of action, but more so for how many tangents they go down.  Forever my girl was able to avoid treading down these diverging paths decently, easily able to loop back to the main path and get back to the love story at hand.  It keeps things moving, gives you the superficial thrills that many crave, and does it all in a nice 100 minute run time.  Exactly what the attention span of modern audience members want.

Jessica Rothe:  If you read my review of Happy Death Day, you’ll know I loved the lead actress Jessica Rothe, and this movie shows her dynamic abilities quite well.  Again the woman blew me away with her performance, capable of injecting so many emotions in what was such a simple role.  Strength, love, heartbreak, and hope are all components she portrays well in her character and does it in a manner that will appease romantics, while also not sending you into eye rolling territory.  While her beauty certainly draws your eyes to her character, I fell in love with the qualities of this character and more so how she seemed to fit well in the setting of the movie.  Plus, she was able to play a sentimental, romantic movie role that didn’t want to make me slam my head into the armrest.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Unoriginal: Sadly, the movie starts losing points with how unoriginal the story was.  I know, the original tale is essentially dead, but this movie really didn’t make any big stretches to be unique.  Much of the plot is a carbon copy of Nicholas Sparks and Hallmark, unable to blend them into any special presentation.  As a result, the movie is very predictable, with few twists to bring in any suspense or excitement to spice things up.

 

Too Many Plots To Balance:  All the mashing of romantic movies into one piece can sometimes be an incredible thing, but in this film… it didn’t work for me.  A strong foundation was promised by the trailers, and in truth it had a firm ground to spring off of.  However, one soon gets to see all the plots come crashing into a messy pile up of underdeveloped, half-baked moments that only semi-fit.  These entangled tangents didn’t do much for me, and all these shallow semi-stories left me wanting more. Had they sacrificed some of these plots and added some impasses, this charming story could have been more engaging and won points for more suspense to amp up the love.  I think there was just too much to work with, but too some more is better.

 

Too rushed: This goes back to the balance issue, but surprisingly I think this movie moved a little too fast.  I understand things move fast in a movie, but many films are able to create the illusion of time passing by, or at least putting a lot of struggles to develop the character in a short amount of time.  Forever my girl though, did not accomplish this task, with things settling too fast to: 1) be believable and 2) be deep enough to maximize the emotional response of the film.  In addition, it left little time for the secondary characters to flourish themselves or become super relevant to the plot.  It would have been great to expand on these roles, but alas there was just no time.

 

The Acting:  I’m not saying these were the worst performances at all, but there were times where the acting was a bit of a stretch for me.  While Fortson and Rothe stayed pretty consistent and at the top of their game, the other characters were not so skilled/fortunate.  Many of the country accents seemed a little forced for me, constantly teetering between impressive and phony.  A few of the actors really could not get the emotions off the ground, and others tried to force too much stress in their roles that came out at half mast for me.  Even the lead Alex Roe struggled to handle all the emotions his character had, sometimes feeling unmotivated to his character Liam.  Again, it’s not horrible, it just needed more polishing to really get things together.

 

The Verdict:

 

            Forever My Girl is sweet, angelic, and moral packed tale that these movies are famous for in this Hollywood, cinematic world.  A charming cast with a moving plot are the highlights of this movie, and a good filler for those waiting for the steamier stories to come.  However, this glorified Hallmark movie suffers from too many plots coming together and an improper balance to handle them.  The result was a very rushed movie where characters, acting, and sub-plots all suffered from their inability to decide on the plot.  Therefore, this culmination, while entertaining, suffers a lot from this fast paced approach and leave one wanting more out of this film. 

 

My scores are:

Drama/Music/Romance: 6.5

Movie Overall: 4.0