Monday, April 23, 2018

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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Acrimony shows you what UNHINGED looks like

Movie Title:      Tyler Perry's Acrimony

Grade:  C

Rating: R, 2 hours

In a Nutshell:  This is a Tyler Perry drama that’s being touted as a psychological thriller.  What they mean is that it features a total psycho.  

The movie trailer is misleading, probably intentionally, to make you think the film is going to go in one direction, but there’s a little switcheroo.

For what it’s worth, the more I thought about the movie, the more I liked it.  There’s a huge paradigm shift that’s pretty clever.  Maybe I’m giving Tyler Perry more credit than he deserves.  Maybe that’s just how I interpreted his intention for the movie.  Either way, it’s not that great of a movie, but it’s an interesting journey.


Tips for parents: 
  • Lots of profanity, including MANY F-bombs.
  • You see the naked rear of a man several times.
  • Sex scene with some skin.   
  • You’ll read the definitions of words like acrimony, bewail, deranged, and nexorable.  The best word to describe what you see is UNHINGED.
  • Infidelity, adultery, pre-marital relations.
  • Serious anger management issues.                                                  

Uplifting theme: 
  • Love and infidelity
  • Revenge
  • Forgiveness, Trust
  • Persistence in reaching your dream.

Things I liked:
  • Music of Nina Simone Her Greatest Hits.  Robert (Antonio Madison) says, “Her music is like going to church.”
  • I like that you don’t know exactly what happens after the movie ends.
  • A lot of reviewers on IMDB loved this movie.  A lot of YouTubers hated it.  It goes to show you that movie critics only give THEIR opinion and it should only be taken with a grain a salt.
  • I really like Taraji P. Henson.  Unfortunately, she could only do so much with the material she was given in this movie, but she still did a great job.
  • The film was shot in only 8 days.  Wow, that's impressive.
  • Ajiona Alexus played the younger version of Taraji's character, just like in the TV show "Empire."  If you missed it, click here to see the Pilot of that award-winning TV drama.
  • Maybe this movie will help young people look for the red flags that often show up in relationships.  When you see them, RUN!

Things I didn’t like:
  • I didn’t like either of the main characters.  They both lacked integrity and had anger management issues.
  • The acting was over-the-top and mediocre at the same time.
  • Lots of screaming, fighting, and profanity.  It was like watching crazy people on Jerry Springer.  I can’t stand that.
  • There were some really dumb things that happened.
  • The dialogue is often completely ridiculous.
  • Sometimes outdoor scenes are filmed on an obvious green screen.  Why wouldn’t the director just film outside?  
  • Below is another version of the movie poster.  It came out first and was later replaced by the one above of Taraji Henson.  Maybe Tyler Perry thought it would give away the story too much?

Interesting lines:
  • “Have you ever asked me what I wanted?” – Melinda (Taraji P. Henson)
  • “You cannot negotiate with crazy.” –  Diana (Crystle Stewart)  Ain't that the truth?!



Friday, April 20, 2018

I Feel Pretty just might give women more confidence

Movie Title: 

Grade:   B+

Rating: PG-13, 110 minutes

In a Nutshell: 
Every female is going to relate to this movie.  I think it’s fairly safe to say that every woman has insecurities about herself.  

Whether it’s a lack of confidence about how we look or speak or do certain things, we all wish we felt better about ourselves.  We can be our own worst enemy. The mirror certainly doesn't help.  This isn’t a movie about body shaming, but one of having self-confidence and trying to be your best self. In an interview with with Gayle King, Amy Schumer explained it as a journey, both the struggle for feeling good about one's self and her own career.

It’s kind of a mix between Jack Black’s comedy Shallow Hal and Tom Hank’s charming movie Big (I loved both of them).  It’s a fun chick flick…meaning, take your besties to the theater, share a giant bucket of popcorn, and don't beat yourself up for not being so perfect.

Tips for parents: 
·      Some profanity.
·      You see a lot of Amy Schumer’s cleavage, mid-section, and bare naked back side a couple of times, complete with tramp stamp.  There is also a scene with a bunch of beautiful women in skimpy bikinis.
·      There is a lot of talk about sex, as well as a super awkward sex scene where you see some skin.  Pre-marital relations.
·      2 gay men.
·      Renee (Amy Schumer) gets drunk.
·      One of the girls confesses she has HPV and explains it away by saying, “Everyone has HPV.”  Um….nope.  That’s not true.  Guess what?  If you don’t sleep around, you won’t get it.

 Uplifting theme: 
·     “Believe in yourself.”  - Renee Bennett (Amy Schumer)
·      It’s confidence that makes you beautiful and sexy.
·      “Change your mind, change your life.” – Soul Cycle teacher
·      “We are real women.  What a great thing to be.” – Renee Bennett
·      Do YOU really see people?  Do you judge people just by how they look?

Things I liked:
·  Michelle Williams is hilarious and awesome.  She's so effective in dramas, but it's also nice to see her in a comedic role.  She has had an amazing few months in the success of The Greatest Showman , as well as All The Money In The World .  She's on a roll!
·   Most young people won’t know who Lauren Hutton is.  There is a picture towards the very end of the movie that shows Lauren Hutton when she was at the peak of her modeling days as a young woman.  I thought it was really fun to have her in the movie as Lily LeClaire.
·      Yep, it’s true.  Kentucky Fried Chicken does use Hidden Valley Ranch dressing.
·      I liked that the Soul Cycle teacher told all of the class participants to “set an intention.”  If we were all more mindful and proactive about our lives, we’d be surprised at how much better things turned out.  Renee (Amy Schumer) wears a sweatshirt at the beginning of the movie that says “Get it Girl!” which is the anthem of the movie.  Take your flaws and STILL believe in yourself.
·      It’s refreshing to see how brave Amy Schumer is about making fun of herself and flaunting her more than size 2 body.  Her stand-up comedy bits have always been completely honest, although extremely raunchy. I admire that she doesn't let Hollywood make her feel terrible about herself.
·      I’ve been a big fan of Saturday Night Live ever since my college roommate and I would watch it together on a tiny TV in our dorm room.  I love seeing a lot of the comediennes from SNL on movies lately.  This one features the talented Aidy Bryant and Sasheer Zamata. 
·      You’ll see a lot of beautiful women like Naomi Campbell and Emily Ratajkowski.
·      I laughed at the beginning when the camera scanned all of Renee’s beauty products in her bathroom.  Most of us spend ridiculous amounts of money on products, hoping they will FINALLY be the magic pill to make us look prettier and feel better about ourselves.  The ironic thing about this movie is that Renee works for a cosmetic company and her speech at the end sells more make-up.
*  I loved Renee's color-coordinated boxes behind her desk in the China town basement.  

Things I didn’t like:
·   You know what else is attractive?  Virtue and humility.  While Hollywood has been pumping out a lot of "be who you are" movies lately, there is a serious lack of movies that celebrate women, or men for that matter, who are virtuous and humble and chaste.  Religious values are, more often than not, mocked in Hollywood movies. Yeah, that doesn't exactly get laughs or sell box office tickets, but I sure would like to see more well-behaved, good girls in movies being honored for a change.
*  Everyone loved Amy Schumer when she first hit the scene, but for some reason, it’s now popular to hate her.  Her stand-up routines are super trashy and she seems to celebrate being a skank, but I love that she doesn’t apologize for not being the skinny model that Hollywood thinks she should be.
·   I thought it was funny that they grouped Busy Philipps with the “average” girlfriends, because I’ve always thought she was pretty.
*  I thought for sure that some time during the movie we'd hear a modern version of the famous  West Side Story song, I Feel Pretty.  Nope, it never played.  Missed opportunity, right?
*  Women are definitely going to appreciate this movie more than men.

Funny lines:
·      “Can I be you when I grow up?” – Ethan (Rory Scovel) 

Interesting lines:
·   “I think a lot of people are confused about themselves.” – Ethan
·      “I started to believe that if I wanted it bad enough, all my dreams could come true.” – Renee Bennett
·      “What if we never lost that little girl confidence?” – Renee
·      “This make-up line won’t change your life – only you can do that.” – Renee
·      “I know I look good.  I don’t need a room full of drunk guys to confirm it.” – Renee
·      “I am brave.  I am blonde.  And I got this!” – Mason (Adrian Martinez)



Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rampage pushes the PG-13 line

Movie Title:   Rampage

Grade:   B

Rating: PG-13, 
1 hour 47 minutes

In a Nutshell:   My 4 sons used to play the 1997 Midway Rampage video game, so I was curious to see how well director Brad Peyton would adapt the game to a movie for the fans. 

Historically, movies that take video games to the Big Screen are horrible.  Well, yeah.  This movie requires you to turn off your brain and not care.  If you just want to see some monsters destroy a city and watch the ROCK do his thing (he’s awesome), then this movie is for you.  If storytelling and character development is important to you, then you’re going to have trouble watching this.  The monsters look great; it’s the humans in the movie that feel more like they’re in a video game.


Tips for parents: 
  • George , the silverback gorilla, flips the bird several times.
  • There is a HUGE body count.  There are a lot of bloody bodies and some of the deaths are almost portrayed as a joke, which was a bit alarming.  Lots of blood splatter.
  • Lots and lots of destruction and violence
  • Some profanity
  • People in perilous situations
  • Talk of poachers.  You’ll need to explain to your little ones what poachers are and why they’re so bad.
  • Cleavage
  • Inappropriate joke at the end.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Family
  • Friendship
  • Loyalty
  • Animal protection

Things I liked:
  • Some humor, although there could have been more since the movie already feels like a cartoon.   
  • According to IMDB, an original cabinet of the Rampage arcade game can be seen in Claire Wyden’s office.  That’s a fun Easter egg for fans, but it doesn’t make sense for her to have it. Midway Arcade Origins - Xbox 360
  • The movie shows George, the gorilla, living in the San Diego Wildlife Sanctuary.  As far as I know, that doesn’t really exist, but the San Diego zoo is fantastic.  They actually have a really good gorilla habitat there.  About 40 minutes outside San Diego is the awesome Wild Animal Park.  I used to live in San Diego and can highly recommend both!
  • I think Malin Akerman’s eyes are so pretty.  I hated her stiff hair that looked like plastic.  Her character, unfortunately, was ridiculous.  If you're a Billions: Season One fan, you'll like that she gets to finally play the boss.
  • Well done CGI.  The monsters look really cool.
  • You see Dwayne Johnson get out of some zip ties.  First of all, his biceps are soooo massive!  Second, you actually can do it and big biceps aren’t required.  A former CIA agent taught me how.  Make sure the zip lock thing faces up.  Then, lift up your arms above your head and quickly pull them down to your hips, pulling your elbows back as fast as you can.  Ta da!
  • SPOILER: Jeffrey Dean Morgan does a bad guy so well.  He was so maniacal in The Walking Dead Season 7 [DVD] that I had to stop watching the show.  Seriously evil.  Luckily, he has a heart in this movie.
  • You’ll actually learn a little bit of sign language.  My niece married a deaf man, so I’m always thrilled when sign language is used in movies.  Another movie that uses sign language and is currently in theaters is A Quiet Place.  I thought it was really good!  You can read my movie review of A QUIET PLACE by clicking here.
  • I thought it was a respectful nod that the city rampage occurs in Chicago, the headquarters of Midway video games.

Things I didn’t like:
  • There were quite a few differences in the movie and game, although George and Ralph keep their names in the movie.  Lizzie’s name is never mentioned as the crocodile.  George was never an albino in the game.  The biggest difference is that the monsters in the video game were mutated humans, not mutated animals.
  • The villains are terrible, but not in a good way. 
  • Some characters are introduced in the beginning, but completely disappear from the story.
  • There are some really dumb details that could have been easily fixed if anyone working on the movie had been paying attention or cared.
  • The young male gorilla that is new at the Sanctuary in the beginning of the movie looks totally fake.  George looks much better.
  • Naomie Harris doesn’t really do anything, other than run around and rely on the ROCK to come up with a plan.
  • The clip in the movie trailer that shows the gorilla crack the crocodile’s jaws open like King Kong does to the dinosaur in his movie didn’t actually make it into this movie.

Funny lines:
  • “Of course the wolf flies!” – Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson) 
  • “You know there are other ways of dealing with people, don’t you?” – Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris)
“Of course I do, but that’s no fun.” – Davis
  • “That’s a big arm.  Don’t fight it.” – Davis
  • “Who are you?  Homeland? CIA?  Justice League?” – Dr. Kate Caldwell  
  • “Girls love him.  I should shave my head.” -  Nelson  (P.J. Byrne)



Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Forever My Girl is a sugary flop

Movie Title:    Forever My Girl

Grade:  C-

Rating: PG
 1 hour 48 minutes

In a Nutshell:   This toe-tapping, sugary chick flick is based on a New York Times best-selling novel by Heidi McLaughlin.  Heidi even appears in the funeral scene as an Extra. 

It sure feels like a formulaic Nicholas Spark movie or something you’d see on the Hallmark channel, although it's not nearly as good.

Tips for parents: 
  • No profanity.
  • Liam gets drunk.
  • Billy informs Liam about all of the dangers of convertibles.  While they’re true, I still drive my convertible and love it.
  • Talk of pre-marital relations
  • Liam teaches his daughter, “Sometimes you just need to let go and live on the wild side.”  How do you feel about that advice?
  • Young rom-com fan girls will probably like the movie.

 Uplifting theme: 
  • Your choices will define you.
  • Family
  • Community
  • Loyalty
  • Forgiveness                                                                                                                       

Things I liked:
  • Abby Ryder Fortson, who plays the precocious Billy, is adorable.  She did a really great job, although her lines are much more advanced than what they should be for her age.
  • If you liked Jessica Rothe in Happy Death Day, you'll be happy to see a softer side of her in this. 
  • The cast includes Alex Roe, John Benjami Hickey, Abby Ryder Forstson, and Judith Hoag, with a special cameo by Travis Tritt, who sings the original song, “Slowin’ Down.”
  • The small Louisiana town of St. Augustine is picturesque and charming, but actually filmed in Georgia.  I lived in Alpharetta, Georgia for 15 years!  I absolutely loved the Southern Hospitality and magical fireflies.  What I hated was the humidity and the fire ants!
  • I was expecting a slap to the face, but the stomach punch was much better.  Ha ha
  •  It was directed by a woman, Bethany Ashton Wolf.
  • Country music fans will enjoy the soundtrack.

Things I didn’t like:
  • The protagonist, Liam Page (Alex Roe), is not very likable.  He easily gets forgiven for being such a jerk to everyone, not just to Josie.  He never really gives a good reason for humiliating and leaving her on their wedding day.  He clearly has a drinking problem, but it's never addressed in the movie...ever.
  • Some pretty terrible Southern accents. 
  • Very slow moving.
  • What ever happened to the burgers?
  • Ultimately, it’s pretty forgettable.
  • Yeah, sure, it’s easy to forgive someone who is rich and famous, but what if Liam had become a homeless bum with nothing to offer Josie?  
  • Fans of the book may be thrown by the fact that Josie and Liam have a son in the book, but a daughter in the movie.

Funny Lines:
  • “I said I wanted to meet him, but I never said I’d be easy on him.” – Billy 


Monday, April 9, 2018

A Quiet Place is gripping

Movie Title:  
    A Quiet Place

Grade:   A-

Rating: PG-13,
   90 minutes

In a Nutshell:   We all fell in love with John Krasinski when he first appeared in The Office: The Complete Series.  

He has since gone on to show us his action hero chops in movies like 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and his creativity and humor in "Lip Sync Battle." This is now his third time directing and I'm convinced he will continue to bring us something fresh.

If this movie were a typical talking horror movie, it wouldn’t have been nearly as frightening.  The tension and suspense are magnified in the silence.  #StayQuiet


Tips for parents: 
  • There are a lot of subtitles kids will need to read.
  • The alien monsters are pretty scary looking.
  • Children are constantly in perilous situations.
  • Bloody, dead body.
  • You see a pregnant woman's "water" break and later you see blood when she's getting ready to give birth in a bath tub.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Family, unity
  • Sacrifice
  • Resourcefulness
Things I liked:
  • I loved seeing John Krasinski and his lovely, talented wife Emily Blunt in a movie together.  I can’t wait to see her in the upcoming "Mary Poppins"!
  • My niece learned American Sign Language and later married a deaf man who has a cochlear implant, like the one seen in this "silent" movie.  It’s so wonderful to see capable deaf people portrayed in films.  Another movie that puts ASL in the spotlight is "Rampage."  Millicent Simmonds, who plays Regan Abbott, is actually deaf in real life.  This is her second movie; her first was Wonderstruck.
  • Yes, you get to see the aliens.
  • Every time I saw a trailer for this movie, the audience would get completely silent and you could feel the tension in the theater.  That’s how gripping this movie is.
  • More often than not, horror movies have a lot of characters so that people can be killed off.  The result is usually that we don’t care about them.  In this movie, we’re only given one family and we become quickly invested in them.
  • I always get annoyed by the dumb choices characters make in horror movies, but this family is pretty smart and has figured out how to live in a silent world.
  • I like that this movie starts on Day 89 after the alien invasion happened.  It would have been a much different movie if it had shown Day 1.  Not knowing many details about what happened added to the tension.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It didn’t make sense to me that Regan Abbott would even need a hearing aid in a world where silence is what keeps people alive.  Interestingly, it’s her hearing aid that becomes an important part of the story.
  • The viewer is never told where the alien creatures come from.  It appears they simply kill noisy people, rather than eat them.  The little we know about them comes from old newspaper headlines that are hung in the family’s basement and a few TV sound bites.  Fans of this movie are making all kinds of YouTube videos to talk about the details they wish they knew.
  • There are some little details that might annoy you, so just don’t worry about them.
  • If you watch this in a theater, PLEASE be quiet so that everyone else in the theater can enjoy the quiet experience.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Love Simon is a coming out and coming-of-age dramedy

Movie Title:
  Love, Simon

Grade:   B

Rating: PG-13, 109 minutes

In a Nutshell:  Nick Robinson stars as Simon Spier in this coming-of-age dramedy that shows how difficult it is for a teenager to “come out” and reveal who he really is to his friends and family.  

Add a mystery man and you get an unconventional love story that critics are calling fresh and romantic.

Based on the popular book, the movie adaptation deals with a serious issue in a light-hearted way.  I have a lot of LGBT friends and have tried hard to assure them that they are loved and accepted by me.  Everyone deserves respect and kindness. 

Those who struggle with the same decisions that Simon does in this movie are praising the film for addressing a complicated social issue in a delicate way and giving it the Big Screen attention it deserves. 

Tips for parents: 
  • Within minutes of the movie starting, you hear crude language and carefree conversations about sex.
  • Profanity, crude language, and one F-bomb
  • A black transvestite and a gay boy get bullied.
  • Simon’s high school puts on a musical performance of Cabaret I remember when I was in high school and our theater director wanted to do that play.  The parents and school district leaders told us to pick another play because they thought it was completely inappropriate and too mature for kids.   What do YOU think?
  • Teens laugh at parents who don’t know what the Grindr app is.  (It’s a hook-up app for gay men.)
  • It’s a “talking movie,” so young kids might get bored.
  • The entire subject matter is mature, so parents need to decide at what age they want their children to be to see this.  It certainly starts a conversation.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Tolerance
  • “No matter what, announcing who you are to the world is pretty terrifying, because what if the world doesn't like you?” – Simon   - The truth is that we ALL face this same scary challenge, whether we're straight or gay.
  • Being brave enough to be who you really are.
  • Everyone is battling with their own secrets.  Be gentle with yourself and with others.
  • Tolerance goes both ways.We're all on our own journey in life, so it's not helpful to judge or criticize others whose path or values are different from ours. (Some people will simply not want to watch or accept this movie and that's OK too.)             


Things I liked:
  • SPOILER:  Besides a few thug-head jocks in the school, everyone was really accepting of Simon.  I thought Simon’s mom was especially supportive and loving.  There will always be haters, but we live in a more accepting world in many ways.  I absolutely adored the recent movie The Greatest Showman, which also celebrated our differences and tried to show that everyone deserves to be loved.
  • One aspect of the movie that I haven’t heard anyone else talk about is how friends and family actually WANT their loved one to come out to them.  One of Simon’s friends feels this way.  I have known that a dear friend of mine is gay for many years, yet he has still not officially come out to me.  He has told others, but not me.  It actually hurts my feelings, because I absolutely adore him and accept him 100% for who he is. 
  • Teens will like the intrigue of trying to figure out who the mystery man/love interest is who chats with Simon online.
  • Nick Robinson does a really great job.  He doesn't try to make us feel sorry for Simon, but only to relate to him. Simon explains, "I'm just like you."
  • There were some home d├ęcor things in Simon’s house that I really liked, like the chalkboard walls around his bed, and the cozy kitchen benches.
  • I loved Leah’s Papillion dog that she walked down the street, because I have one too!
  • I thought it was adorable that Nora (played by Talitha Bateman) was into cooking and that her family showed patience and love while she tried to develop her talent and figure out who she wanted to be too.  Simon wasn’t the only one changing.  A good family is made up of imperfect people who show support while each one tries to stretch and grow.  The family in this movie did exactly that.
  • Good soundtrack.

Things I didn’t like:
  • The antagonist is goofy and easily dismissed, despite the fact that he could have caused serious trauma or even a suicide.
  • Simon is very self-absorbed, like most teenagers, focusing solely on how his life will change when his big secret is revealed.  He never thinks about what his family and friends might go through when he tells them.  
  • Lots of jean jackets.  Ha ha
  • The teens drink a LOT of coffee.
  • I wish there were more focus on the romance and less on the sex.
  • Mr. Worth (ironic name, right?) was too much of a cartoon character.

Funny lines:
  • “Stop with the Selfies.  You’re not all that.” – Mr. Worth (Tony Hale)
  • “I have something more important to say than the ‘National Anthem.’  No offense America.” =  Martin (Logan Miller)

Interesting lines:
  • “I’m just like you.” – Simon