Thursday, December 28, 2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri surprises you in every scene

Grade:  A

Rating: R,  115 minutes

In a Nutshell:  From the minute Francis McDormand appears on the screen and starts chewing her fingernails in contemplation, you know you’re seeing an award-winning performance. 

To date, she has been nominated for Best Actress in a dramatic role by the Golden Globes, surely with an Oscar nod to follow.   

Director Martin McDonagh has also been nominated for a Golden Globe and the movie is on the short list for Best Picture.  This movie is that well done.  The movie balances dark humor with tenderness, racism, revenge, and rage, sometimes all in the same scene.

What makes this movie especially impressive to me is its unpredictability.  I see a LOT of movies and can usually guess what’s going to happen.  Not with this film.  Characters made surprising choices and scenes unfolded in ways I never would have imagined.  For me, that’s a delight and why I love movies so much.


Tips for parents: 
  • TONS of profanity.  Soooo many F-bombs.
  • Use of the “N” word and lots of other racial slurs.
  • Disrespectful talk of homosexuality 
  • Talk of civil rights
  • Talk of rape and abuse
  • Robbie talks so disrespectfully to his mom all the time and uses extremely ugly language about her.
  • Someone commits suicide.
  • Lowest body count (2) in a Martin McDonagh film.
  • Very strong, tough female lead. She basically stands up alone for what she believes against an entire town.
Uplifting theme: 
  • Life, death, and everything in between
  • Parenting decisions, family
  • Choices and consequences
  • “Hate never solved nothing.” – Woody
  • “Anger begets greater anger.” – ex husband
  • Hope
  • Justice, revenge
Things I liked:
  • Francis McDormand is amazing as always.  She thought she was too old for the role and initially declined, but her husband said, “Shut up and do it.”   
  • Entertaining conversations.
  • Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell are extremely entertaining, as always, and the entire cast knocks it out of the park.
  • While the movie title suggests that it was filmed in Ebbing, Missouri, the location was actually Sylva, North Caroline, where my mother was born!  I read that the production staff welcomed the locals in Sylva to watch the filming.  After a scene was shot, the actors would sign autographs.  Woody Harrelson gave an impromptu guitar performance.
  • Pay attention to books people read and TV shows that people watch.  They actually have meaning to what the characters’ motivations are.  I love that
  • Many of the characters have arc, which is what you want to see in a movie.  There is personal growth and understanding, which gives the film depth and meaning.
  • I first noticed Zeljko Ivanek in the popular TV show Madam Secretary: Season 1 and have liked him ever since.

Things I didn’t like:
  • I couldn’t quite figure out what kind of accent Abbie Cornish was going for.
  • The excessive profanity is tiresome (for me), although appropriate for the film.
  • The ignorant racism towards African Americans and bullying of a gay man is jolting.

Funny lines:

  • “I don’t know what the compensation scheme is before you throw a guy out a window, Ma. I guess I shoulda looked into that beforehand.  I should Google it.” – Officer Jason Dixon (Sam Rockwell)
  • “Do you think I care about dentists?  Nobody cares about dentists.” – Sheriff Bill Wiloughby (Woody Harrelson)

Interesting lines:
  • “You aren’t trying to get me to believe in reincarnation or something are you, cuz you’re pretty, but you ain’t her.” – Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand)


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

All the Money in the World will leave you dumbfounded

Movie Title:      All the Money in the World

Grade:   A

Rating: R, 2 hours 12 minutes

In a Nutshell:   If you have ever been to the famous Getty Museum in Los Angeles, you’ll get a new appreciation for what you saw there.  If you haven’t been, put it on your list of places to see next time you’re in California.  What’s ironic is that the entrance ticket is free.

Inspired by true events, Ridley Scott gives us another compelling movie that has already earned him and the lead actors nominations for Golden Globe awards.  As an added bonus, we learn that ransom money can be tax deductible if you do it right.  Ha ha
Uplifting theme: 
  • “Money is never just money; it always stands for something.” – Mark Walhberg
  • The value of life
  • Family
  • Money

Things I liked:
  • Christopher Plummer was absolutely fantastic, well deserving of the Golden Globe nomination he just earned.  He did all of his scenes in only 2 weeks! You'll notice on the movie poster above that it lists Kevin Spacey.  He was replaced with Plummer as soon as sexual allegations made headline news against him at a cost of $10 million dollars to the picture. I'm sure Spacey would have been great in this, but Christopher Plummer was outstanding.  What Ridley Scott was able to do in such a short amount of time deserves an A grade alone. Another movie Plummer was magical in during this year's Christmas season was The Man Who Invented Christmas. I really enjoyed it, but it flew under the radar for most people.
  • Good for Michelle Williams for having two great movies in theaters at the same time!  Her other film is “THE GREATEST SHOWMAN IN THE WORLD.” She does a great job in both and earned her 5th Golden Globe nomination for her role as Gail Harris Getty.  I wonder if Angelina Jolie regrets declining the role.
  • Most of the movie is filmed in Rome, which I adore.  There are beautiful vistas and scenery.
  • It was fascinating to see J. Paul Getty pay obscene amounts of money for artwork, yet he couldn’t see the value of human life.  Twice, he admires a painting of the Madonna and child, saying breathlessly, “There you are…beautiful child”, while his own grandson was being tortured as a captive.
  • Oscar winner Timothy Hutton and Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg also give excellent performances.  Because of the reshoots, Mark Wahlberg had to be refitted for his suits.  He had lost 30 pounds for another movie he was shooting.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Have you ever noticed that people who arrogantly say, “I can take care of myself!” are usually the ones who need to be rescued?
  • I thought it was interesting that J. Paul Getty thought he was a reincarnated Roman emperor.  He sure lived like one.  And yet, he was such a cheapskate that he had a phone booth installed in his house in case his guests needed to make a phone call.  Yikes.
  • Sometimes I couldn’t understand what Cinquanta (Romain Duris) said, because he had such a thick accent and mumbled a lot.
  • Other than being young, we're not given a lot of reasons to really care about Paul Geddy, the grandson who got kidnapped.  He seems like a spoiled wanderer, so I would have liked to know more about him.
  • It is truly mind-boggling that a billionaire wouldn't be willing to pay money to save his own family.
Interesting lines:
  • “If you can count your money, then you’re not a billionaire.” – J. Paul Getty
  • “I don’t have any money.” – Gail Harris Getty (Michelle Williams)
“Get it from your father-in-law.  He has all the money in the world.” – Cinquanta
  • “Everything has a price.  The challenge in life is to discover what that price is.” – Getty
  • “There’s very little in life worth paying full price for.” – Getty
  • “You never really know anyone until you get divorced.” – Getty
  • “You’re not a person anymore; you’re a symbol.” – detective 
  • “Guns are for people who don’t have money.” – Getty
  • “Getting rich is easy.  Any fool can and many do, but BEING rich is different.” – Getty
  • “There’s a purity in things that I’ve never been able to find in another human being.” – Getty
  • “What would it take for you to feel secure?” – Fletcher Chase (Mark Wahlberg) 
“More.” – Getty

Tips for parents: 
  • Some profanity and F-bombs.
  • Some spoken Italian with no subtitles.  Otherwise, most of it has subtitles.
  • Lots of smoking and drinking.
  • Bloody, violent deaths.
  • Burned, charred body.
  • You watch bad guys slice the ear off of Paul.  It’s bloody and disgusting.
  • Young children will be bored.  This is a long movie with lots of talking and not that much action.


I, Tonya has ice-melting performances by Allison Janney and Margot Robbie

Movie Title:  
   I, Tonya

Grade:   A-

Rating: R, 119 minutes

In a Nutshell: Tonya Harding is old news, but Margot Robbie and Allison Janney are two powerhouses that, combined, make for an entertaining biopic movie that somehow feels fresh and worthy of awards for the two outstanding actresses.

Robbie and Janney are so amazing that they were just nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance in their roles.  Well deserved.

At the beginning of the movie, there is a message that says, “Based on irony free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews with Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly.

 Tips for parents: 
  • F-bombs and sooo much profanity.
  • Most people under 30 won't even remember this ice skating drama and will wonder why on earth Tonya Harding is even being featured in a movie now.  Good question.
  • Two scenes with a topless woman half-heartedly dancing in the background at a strip bar.
Uplifting theme: 
  •  Hard work
  • Athletic ambition
  • What people do to be loved...
  • Truth

Things I liked:
  • I love Margot Robbie in everything she does. Her career is still pretty new and she just keeps getting better and better.  She was actually a member of an amateur ice hockey league before the movie.  She trained for the role and did a lot of the skating, but they had to use visual effects and CGI to make it look like she was doing the triple axel that very few people in the world can do.  If you Google "triple axel", you see videos of Tonya Harding.  It really was an impressive accomplishment what she did.
  • When the audience is introduced to LaVona Golden (Allison Janney), the song Devil Woman is playing.  Perfect.  She is so incredibly awful that it's just a pleasure to watch Allison Janney work her evil magic.  Her haircut, oxygen tank,and pet bird are hilarious. Allison Janney had actually trained to be a professional figure skater when she was young, but had an injury that dashed her leg and her dream. Professional ice skating's loss is most definitely our win. I first took notice of her in The West Wing: The Complete Series Collection and thought she was absolutely fantastic, certainly worthy of her 4 Emmy awards for her role as C.J. Cregg.  Everything she does is stellar.
  • It was fun to see the evolution of Tonya's ice skating outfits.
  • Great ending.
  • I always like seeing footage of the real people at the end.  You get to see Tonya do her famous triple axel.  Keep watching during the credits at the end.
  • I thought the scene where Tonya puts on her makeup was really clever.  For a minute, she looked like a clown, which is what the ice skating community thought of her.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Sooo much profanity.
  • Sooo much white trash behavior and violence.
  • Why is this a movie now?  I wonder if Tonya is getting any money from this film.  She's certainly getting the recognition she constantly craved.
  • Maybe I missed it, but I didn't hear the title phrase in the movie. It sounds like something she would say while giving testimony in court, but there is no scene like that.  Why do you think the director chose that for the title of the movie?
  • The movie was just nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture in the Musical or Comedy category.  While it's extremely well done, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.  I'm not saying all movies need a happy ending, but I do wish that Best Picture winners were ones with redeeming values that made you a better person by having watched it.  I know, that's asking a lot.  I also know we can all learn from bad examples too.  In that regard, this movie wins.
  • The news cycle.  AAAAH!

Funny lines:
  • “So, do you like food?” - Jeff’s big pick-up line when he first met Tonya. ha ha
  • “We don’t even know anything.” – Tonya
“Well, that must make life difficult.” – FBI agent

  • "What do you think I should do?" - Jeff
  •     I don't know.  I really think you should kill yourself." - Tonya
  • Apparently, when Tonya Harding saw the movie, she said she really liked the line, "Suck my dxxk" and wished she had said that in real life.  Weird, right?  Shouldn't she be completely embarrassed by this film?

Interesting lines:
  • “Ordinary.  Nothing special there.” – LaVona Golden
  •  "I was loved for a minute.  Then I was hated. Then I was just a punchline.  It was like being abused all over again." - Tonya



Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Downsizing has a big message

Movie Title:  Downsizing

Grade:  C+

Rating: R, 2 hours 15 minutes

In a Nutshell: Alexander Payne directs this social satire that introduces some interesting environmental ideas, but ultimately reminds us that a life lived for others has the most meaning.

Tips for parents: 

  • Paul takes the Lord’s name in vain and gets immediately scolded by Ngoc Lan Tran.  She uses the “F” word a thousand times in one scene and he tries to teach her it’s a vulgar word.  There is some more profanity in other scenes.
  • Pre-marital sex and discussions about it.
  • Oddly, there is a LOT of full body male nudity.
  • Kids will mostly be bored.
Uplifting theme: 
  • “The door to happiness opens outward.” – poster on the wall during Paul's high school reunion
  • We are meant for something better.
  • “The world is filled with things to see.” – Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz)
  • “I finally have a chance to do something that matters.” –   Paul Safranek (Matt Daman)

Things I liked:
  • Hong Chau was recently nominated for a well-deserved Screen Actors Guild Award for her role as Ngoc Lan Tran.
  • Christoph Waltz always brings such colorful characters to the big screen.  I thought he was fantastic in Big Eyes.
  • It was interesting to see how Downsizing  was used in different ways: save the planet, punish criminals and poor people, allow the average person to live a life of luxury, reflect on the meaning of life, opportunity to begin again.
  • Gorgeous scenery in Norway.  Parts of the movie were also filmed in beautiful Canada.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Some people have been very critical of Matt Damon’s bland performance, but I think that was just Paul Safranek’s character.  I love Matt Damon in anything.  Because Paul rarely smiles, it would have had a lot of impact if the movie had ended with him grinning from ear to ear like in the 1988 movie The Accidental Tourist (which I loved).
  • It’s a little slow moving.
  • It’s very preachy about global warming and over-population.
  • The trailer made the movie appear like it would be a comedy, but it’s really not.  The idea of downsizing could have made for a very funny movie, but it strives to be something much deeper and comes off feeling uneven.
  • A lot of plot points are glossed over without much explanation.
  • The trailer makes it seem like Matt Daman's boring call center job is what contributes to his wanting to leave his life in the "real" world and downsize, but he actually gets that job after he downsizes!  The trailer scene with Kristen Wiig's character working at a shoe store doesn't even appear in the movie.  It always annoys me when trailers paint a different picture from what the movie actually is or when they show lines that don't appear in the movie.                                           
Interesting lines:
  • “Not a very successful species these homo-sapiens.” – Dr. Jorgen Asbjornsen (Rolf Lassgard - This is his first film in English!)
  • “Lots of people are in pain, Mom, in all sorts of ways.” – Paul Safranek (Matt Daman)   That’s really true.  We should never judge others, because we don’t know the pain they might be going through.
  • “Human life on earth is unsustainable.” – TV talking head
  • “Friends tell friends the truth.” – Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz)
  • “When you know death comes soon, you look around things more close.” – Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau)
  • Downsizing is about hitting the reset button.” – Dave Johnson (Jason Sudeikis)
  • “It’s humbling, huh? Nature is such a patient sculptor, grinding a tiny bit each day, slowly, slowly for thousands of years to make such a supremely beautiful thing.” – Dr. Jorgen Asbjornsen
  • Downsizing is about saving yourself.” – comedian guy is about saving yourself.” – Dave Johnson  (It's true.  The more we get rid of all the stuff and things in our lives, the more free we are from the things that fill our lives with unimportant nonsense.)


Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas from the Movie Review Mom

Merry Christmas Card On Plate Between Fork And Knife

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Pitch Perfect 3 is the swan song of the franchise

Movie Title:  
    Pitch Perfect 3

Rating: PG-13, 1 hour 33 minutes

Grade:  C+

In a Nutshell: I admit that Pitch Perfect is one of my guilty pleasures. I’ve seen the first two movies in the Pitch Perfect franchise several times, and so I was really excited and curious to see what was going to happen in this final installment. 

While it was fun to see all of the Barden Bellas together again, their swan song ended on a bit of a low note.

Tips for parents: 
  • EXTREMELY crude language.
  • LOTS of sex jokes.
  • The Bellas are generally NOT good role models for your daughters.  There is a lot of cleavage, foul language, alcohol, an unwed pregnancy, and they say things like, “Let’s get slutty!”

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Your real family doesn’t hold you back.  They lift you up.” – Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson)
  • “Age wrinkles the body, but quitting wrinkles the soul.” – Aubrey (Anna Camp)
  • “I’m part of a group and we all have something special.” - Becca (Anna Kendrick)
Things I liked:
  • Great, fun music as always.
  • Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson carry the show.
  • This time the Bellas go to the south of France.  Ooh la la  They also spend a little bit of time in Spain, where I lived for 2 years.  Woot!
  • Finally, Jessica and Ashley get a little more attention.  Ha ha
  • If you like DJ Khaled, you’ll get a kick out of his appearance in this movie.  In fact, he plays a big role in the story.
  • Keep watching during the rolling credits at the end of the movie.
  • SPOILER:  We FINALLY get to meet Aubrey's dad who has all of the crazy sayings.
  • A lot of the Bellas experience some kind of final resolution in their lives and stories in the end.
  • Hailee Steinfeld and Brittany Snow are delightful as ever.
  • John Lithgow was a surprise!  The trailer did a great job of hiding his role in the movie.  He's pretty amazing and can do dramatic roles as equally well as he does comedic ones.  He most recently won an Emmy for his impressive role as Winston Churchill in Crown, the - Season 01 , which my husband and I binge-watched and loved.

Things I didn’t like:
  • The final song in the first two movies actually made me tear up with some emotional depth, but this one not so much. It just felt like a fond farewell.
  •  If you haven't seen the first two movies in the series, you won't understand a lot of the inside jokes, but you'll still be entertained enough.
  • Fat Amy's story gets chaotically crazy.
  • If you're not a Pitch Perfect fan, you'll think this is a really dumb movie.  If you are a fan (like me), you'll put up with the nonsense and enjoy the last hurrah.
  • Ruby Rose as Calamity is so mesmerizing.  I would love to have seen more of her.

Funny lines:
  • “You can go wherever you want!” –  Fat Amy's dad (John Lithgow)
“Urban outfitters?” – Fat Amy
  • “When am I ever going to learn to open my mail?” – Fat Amy
  • “This is way too much cardio.” – Fat Amy
  • “As my dad always says, “Always give 100% unless you’re donating blood or getting a divorce.” – Aubrey  


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle offers a classic reboot for the video game generation

Grade:  B+

Rating:  PG-13, 112 minutes

In a Nutshell:   This fun franchise is still alive and entertaining audiences!  Start with a cast of fresh faces and add in a hefty serving of Dwayne, The Rock, Johnson, with a half pint of Kevin Hart and a good dose of Jack Black and you get an entertaining third movie.

It pays respectful tribute to the popular first Jumanji movie, which I loved, and offers a video game twist with a soulful lesson for the young video game generation.  Dwayne Johnson explained that it’s not really a reboot, but a sequel to the original movie and a tribute to the wonderful Robin Williams.  There is a scene where the characters get to Seaplane McDonough’s camp with Robin Williams’ character’s name on it: Alan Parrish.  Sweet.  I sure miss Robin Williams and love that they tried to honor him with this movie.

Tips for parents: 
  • Young children won’t understand a lot of the subtle references to other movies, but they’ll still really enjoy this one.
  • The bad news is that some of the teens drink alcohol, but the good news is that most of them don’t like it!  Ha ha
  • Two of the boys cheat and then lie about it.
  • Some profanity.
  • A LOT of discussion about male body parts.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “We only have one life.  Which guy are you going to decide to be?” – Fridge/Kevin Hart
  • Sacrifice for others, friendship, loyalty
  • Confidence, self-esteem
  • “You can’t waste lives.  Each one matters.  Like it or not, we have to do this together.” – Spencer/Dwayne Johnson    (TRUE!)

Things I liked:
  • Lots of humor.  The running joke is that these great comedic actors play against type.  Surprisingly, it doesn’t get old and makes for a fun ride.
  • Dwayne, the Rock, Johnson.  I love him in everything he does.  Lots of smolder jokes.  I love that he can laugh at himself.
  • I always get a kick out of movie references inside movies.  In this film, you’ll hear and see clever nods to classic kid movies like The Breakfast Club, Freaky Friday, and The Goonies   
  • While Nick Jonas isn’t a great actor, he was just nominated for a Golden Globe for his song Home in the movie Ferdinand.  Good for him!  His character in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle was going to be played by Tom Holland, but he was already busy filming Spider-Man: Homecoming .
  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE Guardians of the Galaxy (Theatrical), but it was nice to see Karen Gillan’s real face instead of her completely covered in make-up as Nebula.  Her skimpy outfit was actually inspired by Lara Croft’s outfit from the original Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition - Xbox One video games.  She makes a joke about how ridiculous it was to wear such an outfit in the jungle.  Ha ha  Some people have been critical of her sexist outfit, yet it’s pretty true to how women are dressed in video games.  By the way, a remake of the Tomb Raider movie hits theaters in 2018!  
  • The movie was filmed in beautiful Hawaii.

Things I didn’t like:
  • You can’t always understand what Kevin Hart says.  Actually, he rarely “says” anything…he yells everything.  Hart is the personification of caffeine.  Sometimes it’s just too much.
  • Funny gross kiss.  Bleh.
  • Creepy, crawly bugs go in and out of Van Pelt’s ears and mouth.  Ick.  Van Pelt is the name of the villain in the first movie too, where he is an animal hunter.  In this one, the villain (Bobby Cannavale) has control over animals and insects in the jungle.
  • Although necessary to bridge the gap between the last two movies and this one, there is a long expository scene to help you understand what is happening.
  • It always bugs me a little bit when the lines in trailers are actually different from what plays in the movie.  Speaking of the trailer, the Guns N Roses song Welcome To The Junglenbsp;plays in it, which is one of the reasons why the film’s subtitle is Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.
  • The original Jumanji is much better and cleaner.

Funny lines:
  • “The fact that I’m not Instagramming this right now is insane.” – Bethany/Jack Black
  • “You don’t get in water with a backpack.  Everybody knows that!” – Fridge/Kevin Hart
  • “That was so intense.  I like can’t even with this place!” – Bethany/Jack Black
  • “Now sparkle like an anime character!” – Bethany/Jack Black
  • “A nibble goes a long way, girlfriend.” – Bethany/Jack Black
  • “There are so many diseases out here.” – Spencer/Dwayne Johnson
  • “You’re aware there are other people in the world, right?” – Teacher (Maribeth Monroe)
  • “Are you going to help or are you two pretty?” – Young Martha (Morgan Turner)
“I’m too pretty.” – Young Bethany (Madison Iseman)


Interesting lines:
  • “I’m so focused on myself I don’t see what others are dealing with.” – Bethany/Jack Black
  • “Board game? Who plays board games?” – Teenager (Mason Guccione)