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

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Joining The Aimless, Action Packed Hunt

The Predator Poster

 

In 1987, a new science fiction icon was established, an apex hunter that proved its merit by tackling the threat of mercenaries led by America’s action star Arnold Schwarzenegger.  Yes, it was Predator, the franchise about alien hunters setting out to… well I guess hunt. Filled with gore, cheesy stories, and interesting technology, the Predator franchise has continued to secure its foothold in science fiction community, continuing to please the super fans in its numerous media. Tonight’s review is on the latest addition to the field, with a gigantic cast, a controversial media story, and what looks to be another special effects fest.  Robbie K is back with another review as he gives his opinions on:

 

Movie: The Predator (2018)

Director:

Shane Black

Writers:

Fred DekkerShane Black

Stars:

Boyd HolbrookTrevante RhodesJacob Tremblay

 

 

LIKES:

 

Acting (primarily Olivia Munn and Jacob Tremblay):  It’s a star-studded cast loaded with talent. And this rag tag band of crazy mercenaries feels like a modern assortment of the classic squad. While more diverse than our original group, this squad had enough bite to their acting to make the characters diverse, and the crazy believable as they brought the hammer down.  While I nod my head to all performances, Olivia Munnand Jacob Tremblay were my favorites, their character balanced, involved, and the performances detailed in their respective quirks. 

 

The Special Effects: The evolution of technology means flashier graphics, bigger explosions, and more detailed imaginations coming to life. No surprise, The Predator is back and abusing the heck out of the computer generating images, crafting deadlier, more brutal aliens who are ready to kill in the goriest ways.  Fluid movements, detailed costumes and designs that are brought into beautiful displays, and technology that is the edgiest arsenal we have seen.  These effects are going to immerse you into the hunt, and really drop you into the blood bath that this series has been famous for.

 

The Story (kind of): Okay, it’s not the most basic of the predator stories, and it has sort of diverged from the straightforward kill for thrills that the franchise has bathed in for years.  It attempts to springboard a new connecting arc, that attempts to give a point past the hunt, and parts of it really did work for me as they connect the series.  As such, the series could utilize this new story element to bring with it a new turn of events, it just depends on the execution components.

 

The Comedy: Half the cast is from the comedy genre era, so you were expecting laughs.  The Predator has some nicely timed, clever jokes unleashed like a laser blast from the Predator’s cannon.  References to the first film, famous movie tropes, and some insult comedy go a long way in this film, many of which work to relief the bloody tension that comes with the thriller.

 

The Predator Feel: While not the most traditional of the bunch, The Predator still has much of the same components you love of the series. The Gore, the overkills, and the grandiose displays of gunplay vs. alien technology are there to keep you engaged in the bunch.  It is ridiculous, it is over the top, and brings with it a lot of satisfying Predator goodness that was established back in the 80s.

 

The Action:  I’ve hit the nail on the head multiple times, but I have to say that this installment has the fastest paced and the greatest number of sequences of the film.  The Predator takes many potshots at the action angle, utilizing the chaos to bring about more chaos in an attempt to keep our heart pumping fast.  Some of these fights are off the chain exciting, while others don’t quite live up to the snuff.  Nevertheless, the pace is thrilling to keep you engaged in the film.

 

DISLIKES:

The Sloppy Character Development:  It’s a Predator movie, I know it’s not the point of the series, but this film tried to try to elaborate on the backstories of the group.  Nodding to their attempts at change, if you are going to try to establish characters, do a little more to really get us connected to the group. Should this franchise out, we need a little more sustenance to the group, so that we can actually root for them in the end.  However, Jacob Tremblay did get a good development so kudos to them.

The Grandiose Speeches: We know this series is hard to take seriously when it comes to the dialogue, but this movie did a little too much inspirational preaching for my blood.  It was fun at first, but by the fourth speech, the lines had become stale, the timing inappropriate, and the emphasis/passion of the speech was missing. It was pointless to me at these points.

 

The Over Excessive Cursing: Shocker, I don’t like the haphazard use of the F bomb, but Predator’s lazy writing just kept rocking it from the speakers with no end in sight.  It’s a small dislike, but something that shows writing still has a long way to go in the art of balance.

 

The Story:  While I appreciated the springboard ideas, Predator still has a long way to go to achieve the story it wants.  It offers not so much a challenge, as a very shallow, cut to the point, ridiculous fest that Sci-Fi genre loves, but has started to cross into the eye rolling zones.  As the movie ends, there is potential, but the movie needs to pick a direction to roll, is the main limitation is the film’s inability to decide which plot setting it wants to go.  The Predator just tries to take too many paths, and seems confused as to which one it wants to stick with as it tries to reach new levels of campiness.

The Comedy:  Some of the comedy is great as I mentioned before, however this installment tries too hard at times to get a laugh.  Predator is meant to be indirectly funny, but this one was a little too forced on me that it didn’t see fitting to be in this franchise.  As such, the relentless humor takes away from the movie and leads to some of the mixed reviews that you are reading.  Again, the comedic relief is appreciated when timed, but too much of a good thing usually goes bad.

Sterling K Brown’s Character:  I get it, bad guys are supposed to not be liked, but this particular villain is more obnoxious than threatening/evil.  Again, this comes from incomplete character development and an aimless story idea, but Mr. Brown’s talents were not the best utilized in this film.   I would have liked more development, more threats, and less unyielding taunting that they took the character in.  Not the best antagonist in the series, and certainly not the best film editing techniques with him either.

Quantity vs. Quality Action wise:  As much as I like action, I like scenes where the fighting has impressive choreography, strategy with creativity, and lasts a decent time to make the skirmish worthwhile. The Predator has these moments that I love, but many are short bouts of carnage that seem to be just fillers to extend the movie length and show more special effects.  Quantity is good for pacing, but The Predator needs to focus on quality to really seal the deal for the next installment.  Utilize that suspenseful nature with the technology like the end game, and you’ve got potential to make some of the best fighting scenes in the series.

 

The Classic Predator: From a story aspect, I understand the inclusion, but the trailers really focused on differentiating the two as the selling points.  Sadly, outside of some contributions, the classic model doesn’t do as much as you hope it will.  The focus was more on the super predator and it would have been nice to see more done with the creature that started it all.  Sorry, but the studio needs to make up its mind as to which predators they want to focus on, instead of just creating new ones for the sake of creating new ones.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

Overall, The Predator is a mixed bag of tricks in terms of the quality it brings.  On the one hand it’s got all the science fiction action you could want with the carnage and special effects to maximize the chaos. Like all Predator movies, the fans will enjoy the hunt and the poor extras who try to face this colossal sized creature and it offers some major potential for them to follow up on. However, the movie struggles to find the directions it wants to take, primarily in the story vs. action. Vs comedy and that is where it divides people.  The series needs to research its origins and choose the direction for the next installment, making sure to emphasize quality instead of quantity.  Still, it’s worth a trip to the theater for the special effects alone and will certainly rattle your ear drums with the deafening sounds.

 

My scores:

Action/Adventure/Horror: 7.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

“Wonder”full Message And Acting:

Wonder

 

When people with differences come into our world, most treat them differently often in ways that hurt their feelings.  As often represented in films though, it’s these different individuals who often change the world and make it better.  This is the theme of yet another book turned movie, entitled Wonder, centering on a boy named Auggie (Jacob Tremblay) who after numerous surgeries looks a little different from the physical scoring. Upon his debut in high school, Auggie is introduced to the world he has hidden from, impacting it more than he ever imagined. Robbie K back with another review on Wonder!

 

LIKES:

 

Casting: Another example that a great cast can pull out some awesome work, Wonder’s assortment of actors and actresses bring this tale to life.  Tremblay himself has the victimized role down well, controlling his emotions and unleashing them in a realistic manner of a kid tortured by cruelty of others. His energy is infective and bleeds not only into the other kids, but into the audience on his journey of growth. The central role of the movie, Tremblay manages to connect well with his co-actors, and further strengthening their chemistry. Julia Roberts, no surprise, brings her magic to the screen, charging the movie with that intensity and control that the maternal role requires. Izabela Vidovic has some emotional charge to her role, a balance of anger, confusion, and excitement that breaks some of the tension this movie has.  And Owen Wilson, though not as involved as you expect, nailed his role with well-delivered comedy that again breaks the tension.

 

Pace is good:  For a movie all about drama, this movie moves at a good pace to keep the adventure entertaining and meaningful.  Wonder has to cover a lot of stories and perspectives established by the book, which meant potential convoluted storytelling and drawn out plot dynamics.  With the exception of a few plots, the team did a great job addressing each character’s story, moving them together at a speed that felt complete, yet didn’t feel like molasses flowing down a hill.  Mix this with all the great comedic devices and challenges, and I felt fully entertained and emotionally fulfilled by the tale at hand.

 

The message: Of course, the biggest thing Wonder has is the message that Auggie and the gang bring in regards to a lot of life qualities.  The importance of family, not judging a book by its cover, and lessons about friendship will ring loud at the presentation this movie brings.  While some of the dialogue is cheesy, with a little over/under playing involved, much of this movie hits you with a strong, hammer blow to crack the stone casing our hearts may dwell in.  The end scene in particular really speaks volumes and had me believe that not everyone is a carbon copy of the rude nature this world breeds.  Wonder’s message is simple, see people for the inside not the outside, and learn how to accept people for their differences.

 

DISLIKES:

 

Sadness:  A good sad scene can really draw a movie together and solidify the emotional punch of the movie.  Unfortunately, Wonder is chock full of depressing moments that can really bum you out in the long run. The bullying aspect is only the start of things, as other family turmoil reveals itself, one will find their mood further going downhill, bumming them out as you wait for something good to happen to this family. If you have a lot of depression on your mind, then do me a solid and steer clear of this movie, or you may find yourself further depressed at the end of the movie.

 

The Loose ends: Wonder’s storytelling is unique in that it tries to culminate a number of the characters and get into their heads.  Sadly, despite getting a nice underlining motif to their behaviors… many of these stories are a little shallower than I expected.  Like a wading pool, a lot of the characters give you a mere 1-2 sentences of their backstory before turning attention back to Auggie.  Others, don’t even get that shot to elaborate their story.  Such one layered storytelling was not only disappointing due to laziness, but also unnecessary for me, when much of their problems were again explained in their interactions with Auggie.  So perhaps not rushed ends, but another example of poor editing choices.

 

The character interruptions:  The group took a gamble mirroring the book and trying to break things into chapters.  However, as mentioned above, these little excerpts weren’t really needed and took away from the momentum of the movie for me. Why did I need to see so many flashbacks in this movie, when a simple dialogue or editing tip could have done this without interrupting the flow of the film?  The answer is… I didn’t, and no matter how unique this shout out to the book is, for a cinema presentation though… this film needed to rethink this option and tie them all together in the more formulaic manner.

 

The VERDICT:

 

Wonder is a beautiful, soulful movie that is all about teaching you important qualities that we should already know.  It feels much like a book in much of its delivery, keeping in time with the novel it is based on, which will most likely please many of the fans.  In addition to the great moral lesson, the pace and casting are the selling points of this movie that will charm your way into your hearts.  The real limitations to this movie are more in the presentation and how much it tried to copy the book, interrupting the momentum of the movie to try to give you a complete picture, but didn’t make it feel necessary to me.  But despite these limitations and sadness, Wonder works on many levels and is the heartwarming family movie of the weekend. 

 

Drama:  8.0

Movie Overall: 7.5

Shut In, Shuts Out Some Quality

shut-in

 

Another Friday, another excuse to release a horror movie in the sea of mediocrity. Robbie K here, and today I join two other souls to review Shut In starring Naomi Watts and Jacob Tremblay, a supposed thriller movie that flew under the radar.  But is Shut In going to deliver the thrills, or like many just give you chills from the AC.  Let’s get started shall we?

 

LIKES:

  • Realistic
  • Good psychological portrayal
  • Nice Twist

When it comes to horror movies, there is a fine line between boring and corny scares. Shut In treads this line well dropping the monsters, grandiose serial killers, and aliens for a more realistic source of fear. You, the audience, will be subjected to the worst monster of all, the human psyche forced to figure out what is real and what is an illusion as Mary tries to uncover the mystery at hand.  This film drops all the theatrical gore and maiming of the stereotypical horrors and forces your imagination to paint a scarier reality that gets under your skin. The team also loves the use of darkness to play with your mind, utilizing both sound and video editing to maximize the feeling of isolation in the domestic setting.

Even more impressive is the portrayal of schizophrenia or parasomnia in this case. Hollywood often designs sequences to be trippy, horrifying, or overdramatic.  In this movie though, the hallucinations are accurate to those described by mentally disturbed patients.  You’ll see nightmares illustrating guilt, terror at the inability to distinguish fact from fiction, and the lack of peace associated from hearing noises that go bump in the night.  Shut In is certainly all about getting locked in, but not so much the house as in your mind.  The result of this approach, is some added suspense to get you invested.

But the real surprise is the twist that pops in the end, which is somewhat hinted in a few scenes.  While certainly not the biggest surprise (hello Arrival), Shut In’s revelation takes the tale down a different road and leads to a semi satisfying, albeit dragged out, conclusion.  And unlike some films in this genre, the twist actually fits in well with the realistic tone of this movie instead of dropping it into the dimension of corny, convenient write ins. 

 

DISLIKES:

  • Not that scary
  • Not that suspenseful
  • Could have been a Netflix Movie

 

Despite all the realism and psychological shocks in this movie, Shut In didn’t really frighten me that much.  For one, the team decided to use the usual array of scare tricks (e.g. camera angle of an abandoned hall, music going silent, and dialogue that foreshadowed the coming jump scares) which after the third time grew stale. In addition, there wasn’t an entity that got under my skin or would give me nightmares.

In addition, the supposed suspense was lacking for most of the movie. The underlying mystery was certainly intriguing to say the least, but I didn’t find my heart rushing, my eyes darting, or my butt at the end of the seat.  The suspense did pick up once the twist was revealed, but the sequences drowned out and diluted the threat thereby reducing the adrenaline rush.  Does this mean it was bad?  No, it just wasn’t the spine tingling chill the trailers made it out to be.

Yet the thing that probably took away from the film the most, was how much it felt like it belonged on Netflix.  Outside of acting and good use of speaker sound effects, Shut In really doesn’t have much uniqueness to warrant big theater release.  It’s very simplistic with formulaic scares, that lacks the bite you hope a movie brings.  As I made this realization, I found myself bored. 

 

The VERDICT:

 

Overall Shut In has the realistic horror element most films lack in this genre.  The added psychological element helps keep things intriguing alongside the mystery of the little boy, and Naomi Watts is still a stunning actress to watch.  Unfortunately, Shut In uses stale tricks to scare you and is bland in the grand scheme of things, not counting the twist.  The good news is it runs at a short run time of 90 minutes, so you’ll get out of the theater rather quickly. If you are reading this review, you can guess this movie is best left to Netflix or Redbox. 

 

My scores are:

 

Drama/Thriller: 6.5

Movie Overall: 5.5