Thursday, December 31, 2020

Netflix’s ‘Over the Moon’ a heartwarming animated adventure

By Daniel Gray

"Over the Moon," an animated movie that was released on Netflix in October, follows the story of a young Chinese girl named Fei Fei (Cathy Ang) along with the ancient Chinese legend of a moon goddess named Chang'e (Phillipa Soo).

The movie is bright but has meaningful tones of loss from both Fei Fei's perspective and the moon goddess' that's heartwarming by the end.

First and foremost, the legend of the moon goddess is a very important part of the story, so here is the boiled-down version. There was a woman named Chang'e who loved a man named Houyi, however, one day Chang'e took a pill that granted her immortality, and she became a goddess while he stayed and died on Earth.

With that out of the way, let's continue with Fei Fei's story.

At a young age, Fei Fei lost her mother and the family suffered from the loss, though just a few years later, Fei Fei's father brought in another woman. Distraught, Fei Fei is sure that if her father believed in the moon goddess like he had when her mother was alive, he would not want to marry again.

Eventually, Fei Fei hatches the plan of forcing her father to believe that the moon goddess is real by flying to the moon herself in a rocket ship. She goes through many trial and errors before finally, she’s able to take off and almost crashes immediately.

Before she can get close to hitting the ground, the moon goddess herself rescues her and brings her up to the moon.

Once she reaches Chang'e, the goddess is annoyed when she finds out Fei Fei did not bring 'the gift' that will grant the goddess' wish of bringing Houyi back. Until she finds the gift, she cannot take a picture of Chang'e to prove that she is real.

After a small adventure, Fei Fei finds the gift and brings it to the goddess, but it is too late to rescue Houyi and he cannot be turned immortal. Chang'e falls into a depressive state that Fei Fei helps her get out of through her own grief and mourning over her mother.

The moon goddess helps bring her back home, but not before teaching Fei Fei that she can learn to move on from her sadness and look forward to a new family with the happiness it brings. 

This movie was heartwarming in every sense of the word. There were several points that had me on the verge of tears, especially when Fei Fei and the moon goddess were bonding with grief towards the end. The only issue taken with the movie is how it lacks the moon goddess' story and how it could have been expanded a bit better for western audiences.

The animation was beautifully done, and I found myself entranced by the visuals. It's a worthy watch and definitely something I would revisit over and over again. <

Friday, December 18, 2020

‘Bad Therapy’ should require movie malpractice insurance

By Daniel Gray

Special to the Windham Eagle

What happens when your therapist makes your life worse than how it started before sessions? Bad Therapy, released April 2020, is a thriller that follows a married couple Bob (Rob Corddry) and Susan (Alicia Silverstone) that have a few bumps that Susan feels that could be resolved with a marriage counselor. However, the one they find wants to ruin their marriage instead of strengthening it in this film available on Amazon.

 

They meet Judy Small (Michaela Watkins), a recently unsilenced therapist that had accidentally killed her last client due to unorthodox methods. In only a few sessions, Judy soon has the two turn on one another to sate her own compulsive desires.

Judy has Susan believe that she needs to 'even the score' between herself and Bob, since he had a small affair before they were married with an ex-girlfriend. Susan, however, does not believe this will benefit her marriage and starts to realize that Judy isn't the best fit for her and Bob. All the while, Judy is trying to edge Bob onto the conclusion that he needs to have an affair because he is a man with needs and that she can help with those needs.

Later on Susan says that she does not want to continue counseling with Judy since Judy doesn't seem to be listening and instead egging her to conclusions. When Susan goes out of town for the night, Judy drops by to seduce Bob for her own desires. She finds herself infatuated with the man and simply wants him to herself. 

After Susan finds out about Judy and Bob, she kicks him out of the house and Bob spends the night alone at a motel, going to Judy the following day and begging her to make things right with his wife. It's very clear that Bob loves Susan and only has eyes for her, which enrages Judy. Thus, making her drug him and plan to keep him captive as her lover.

In the end, Susan does come to rescue Bob from Judy, and Judy is taken into police custody. The two then are seen happier than ever when the credits roll.

This movie was very interesting, to say the least. There could have been a lot more with Judy's character to make this more of a thriller genre.

Instead, it seemed more like a cliché drama than anything. The acting was incredible, and the actors did an amazing job, but there are so many plots that are happening that seem to tangle the movie up. The movie itself is also just bland in the plot department.

 

If it had just focused more on the main plot of Judy as a malpracticing therapist and given more backstory as to what happened before Bob and Judy, I feel like the movie could have benefited greatly.

As a final stance, the 'bad' in Bad Therapy is my rating for this so-called 'thriller'. <                    

Friday, December 11, 2020

‘Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey’ has potential to become a classic

By Daniel Gray

Special to The Windham Eagle

Released Nov. 13 on Netflix, “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” might be a film you have heard about but from the only brief clips seen through commercials, and not many knew what the film is actually about. The film follows a famous toy maker Jeronicus Jangle (Forest Whitaker) and his sad tale of betrayal, but is also the story of a happy ending with just a bit of believing.

The toymaker runs his own store dubbed Jangle and Things, where he sells his inventions to the public as toys for children. He runs the shop with his wife (Sharon Rose), daughter Jessica (Anika Noki Rose), and apprentice Gustafson (Keegan-Michael Key). The townsfolk love to roam into his shop to buy and see his inventions, but they won’t be visiting too much longer.

After finishing one of his newest inventions that will be sure to make him famous, Gustafson steals it, along with Jeronicus' book of inventions. This made Gustafson very wealthy and rich, while it left Jeronicus and his family in shambles.

Jessica and Jeronicus cease talking with one another once she is old enough to be on her own, having a family and a lovely daughter, Journey.

Years later, Jeronicus invites Jessica to come back to the shop and instead, Jessica sends Journey. She is a bit of an inventor as well and she hopes that she can spark a little bit of belief in him. Their relationship was rocky at first, but soon Jeronicus and Journey warmed up to each other.

While exploring Jeronicus' old work room, Journey and Eddison find an unfinished robot and get him to start working again, with the robot running off of people believing it can work. Gustafson looks on through a telescope and, soon after, he steals the robot to claim it as his own design.

The two children go to his rescue and save him from Gustafson however the bot suffers from damage trying to save the kids in the process.

So, Jeronicus fixes it up with the unlikely help from his daughter, Jessica. She had come to pick Journey up early and instead the two made up after years of silence between them.

The movie ends with Gustafson getting arrested for stealing all of Jeronicus' ideas and Jeronicus gets to be a famous inventor once more.

The movie was much more musical than I had thought it would be, having eight songs squeezed into the two hours. Despite this, they were very well scored with amazing dance sequences to match.

Not to mention that “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” has a mainly black cast, which isn't something you see very often from the movie industry. While this wouldn't trump classic holiday movies such as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” or “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the film “Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” can easily slide into your family's traditional holiday movie list. <

Friday, December 4, 2020

Netflix film ‘Holidate’ a decent romantic comedy

By Daniel Gray

If you're a fan of somewhat raunchy-style movies but also enjoy the fairy tale sweet endings of Hallmark classic movies, then is this a perfect flick for you. 

 

“Holidate,” a romantic comedy that premiered in late October on Netflix, follows the hopeless romantic Sloane (Emma Roberts) during the span of an entire year with her 'holidate,' Jackson (Luke Bracey). 

 

Sloane and Jackson are two 30-somethings that are tired of either having no dates or insane ones for the holidays, so they make a pact to be together for the holidays to avoid loneliness during them. 

The two first meet at the returns section a day after Christmas, annoyed that they can't return their presents and end up taking it out on each other briefly while in line. The anger soon turns playful with Sloane agreeing to be Jackson's date to a New Year’s Eve party. 

 

From New Year’s onward, the two continue being each other's holidate for every holiday possible.

 

Valentine’s Dayh, Easter, Cinco De Mayo, even Mother's Day, these two continue with their holidate shenanigans to Sloane's mother's dismay. She wants her daughter to stop wasting her time with someone she doesn't like and to actually go on real dates. Despite her mom, they continue going on their dates and get to know each other better in the process.

 

Feelings start to bloom for one another, only to have them shatter after a wedding.

 

Sloane's younger brother is getting married and she needs a date and, despite it not being a holiday, her sister encourages her to ask Jackson. If he wants to come, then that must mean he likes her. Meanwhile, Jackson tells his friend about the wedding and his friend warns him not to go to the wedding with her. The two end up going with different people and are jealous, and the tension continues to grow when Halloween rolls around.

 

Halloween morning, the two sleep together and almost immediately after, Sloane's sister barges into her apartment and she has to quickly usher Jackson out. This hurts Jackson immensely, nevertheless, he returns for their annual holidate the following month.

 

Thanksgiving ends with a big fight between Jackson and Sloane. They do not spend Christmas together this year, but soon see each other afterward.

 

Christmas comes and goes, and these two meet up at the mall just like in the beginning. Sloane tries to chase after Jackson but ends up having to go on stage where a choir is currently performing to give a heartfelt speech to him about how she loves him. Jackson returns the feelings and they share a romantic kiss then and there.

 

I'm not too much of a romantic movie kind of person, but I do have to give it to Holidate, it was pretty funny.

 

All in all, it's probably one of the best romantic comedies I've seen in a long time and I think it would be worth watching with friends during a Netflix binge-a-thon. <

Friday, November 27, 2020

Movie Review: What to watch now that it’s officially the holidays

By Matt Pascarella

The holiday season is right around the corner, 2020 is finally on its way out, and holiday movies are here. While you and your family are recovering from a Thanksgiving feast, here are a few of my personal favorites to bring in the yuletide cheer.

Muppet Christmas Carol

Without a doubt, this is my favorite of the holiday movies. A kid-friendly adaptation of Charles Dickens’ famed classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ featuring the Muppets with Michael Caine as grumpy miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. I feel like this is one kids and adults can enjoy. Five out of five red scarves. Available on Disney+.

The Grinch (1966)

This cartoon short is, in my humble opinion, the best version of the tale written by Dr. Seuss. All the Whos down in Whoville, liked Christmas a lot, but the Grinch who lived just north of Whoville, did not. Can he stop Christmas from coming? Will he have a change of heart? Five out of five cans of Who Hash. Available to rent.

Home Alone

When little Kevin McCallister is accidently left home alone, he has to protect himself from two less than intelligent criminals. He discovers how to fend for himself and learns the importance of family. This is a classic. Five out of five broken ornaments. Available on Disney+.

The Santa Claus

A certain fellow in a red suit with a big white beard takes a spill off Scott Calvin’s roof. Not to fear! SC fills in and helps out the big guy, only to realize he may have stepped into a more permanent role. Five out of five cups of cocoa. Available on Disney+.

Elf

I’ll admit, this is not a must-watch on my list, but it is a decent holiday movie with a great cast – Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart, James Caan, Peter Dinklage – just to name a few. Buddy the Elf, or so he thinks, travels to New York City in search of family. What follows is funny and heartwarming. Three out of five curly slippers. Available on STARZ and to rent.

It’s a Wonderful Life

When George Bailey, the man who always put others before himself, hits a bit of bad luck, he contemplates doing something that would change everything. That’s when George gets a glimpse of what life would be like if he were never born. Available on Amazon Prime.

Die Hard

What would a holiday movie list be without an appearance from John McClane? When German terrorists take his wife hostage during a Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza, it’s up to McClane to save the day. Four out of five Yippee Ki-Yays. Available on HBO MAX.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Clark Griswold only wants to give his family the best Christmas he possibly can. If only relatives, a boss who shorts him a Christmas bonus, nosy neighbors, and a well-meaning, but aloof brother didn’t get in the way! Keep an eye out for Seinfeld’s Elaine in this one. Four out of five tangled strands of Christmas lights. Available to rent. <

Friday, November 20, 2020

Movie Review: Showtime’s ‘Apple Seed'’ an okay movie with nice lessons

By Matt Pascarella

Prince (Michael Worth) is down on his luck. The bank won’t give him a loan, his father died, and his girlfriend left him. On some misguided advice from a bartender, Prince decides to go on a road trip back to his town of Apple Seed to rob a bank – the bank he feels has wronged him after so many years of loyal service. After meeting an eccentric older man with a zest for life named Carl (Rance Howard), the two embark on a journey.

When Prince first meets Carl they are complete opposites. Prince is very reserved and not talkative, where Carl at one point draws a crowd just speaking in his lively manner. I found this movie to be moderately enjoyable, but a little on the long side.

At a motel, Carl’s wallet is stolen by Rocky (Sarah De La Isla). After the problem is remedied, she joins their road trip. They also meet singer Dallas (Dasha Chadwick) who joins their bunch.

Prince gets into a fight and is saved by Carl. It’s here Prince learns Carl is an ex-convict.

After dropping Dallas off at her desired destination, Carl seeks to right a wrong and pays a visit to Sirom (Robby Benson), who was part of Carl’s team when he robbed that bank so many years ago. Sirom is happy to see him and they spend some time with him. At this point Rocky leaves the group.

Shortly after their car breaks down, the two hop a train and ride the rails. Carl seeks to right another wrong and visits his son, Hughie (Clint Howard). Hughie isn’t pleased to see him. He’s angry that Carl wasn’t there when Hughie’s mother died.

There are lots of motivational/inspirational quotes in this movie. When Carl and Prince reach the end of their road trip and part ways, Carl tells him, “Whatever you hope to find ... or whatever you hope to make right, the past is only good for reminding you, you still have a future.”

Prince still plans to go through with the robbery, even after all he has seen with Carl and all the things Carl has told him.

Will Prince rob the Apple Seed Bank? What will happen to him? Will he ever meet up with Carl again? Is there more to this I’m leaving out?

The movie starts all about Prince and how he’ll make up for his shortcomings but turns into more of Carl leading by example of how to get the most out of life. This movie has several valuable lessons about living life to the fullest, seizing the moments and knowing that going through life with others is better than going alone.

It has a fairly strong first act and a decent second act, but the third act, while somewhat exciting with twists and turns, needed more explanation for why some character decisions were made. It does have a nice soundtrack. I enjoyed 90 of its 120 minutes. I give it only one cowboy hat up.

Available on Showtime. <

Friday, November 13, 2020

Movie Review: “Knives Out” a slow burn with a decent ending

By Matt Pascarella

There’s been a murder! Well, maybe there’s been a murder. When patriarch, Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) is found dead, his family and those who worked for him are questioned by detectives. As the motives begin to present themselves, private investigator Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) rules everyone is a suspect and requires this combative family to remain at Harlan’s home until this mystery is solved. Is everything as it has been presented to Blanc?

This witty comedy/mystery, while on the longer side, is a solid murder mystery.

After the funeral of Harlan, his family returns to his home where Lieutenant Elliot (LaKeith Stanfield), Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan) and private investigator Blanc (Craig) are there to begin questioning everyone. Jamie Lee Curtis plays Linda Drysdale along with husband Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson). 

Toni Collette, Michael Shannon, Frank Oz, Riki Lindhome and Katherine Langford round out the cast. Harlan’s nurse Marta (Ana de Armas) is among those being questioned and she announces right away she cannot lie without vomiting; which is quickly confirmed.

As each family member is questioned, it’s clear they have different motives. However, everyone’s stories matched; no one was unaccounted for. While on the surface, this seems like it could be an open and shut case, the detectives have a disagreement about the motives and how (or who) might have been involved in Harlan’s death. Blanc has suspicions regarding the case. Everyone had something to gain from Harlan’s death.

We travel back in time to Harlan’s 85th birthday party, the night before he died, and someone realizes a mistake was made.

Ransom Drysdale (Chris Evans), son of Richard and Linda, arrives just in time for the reading of the will. Blanc then tells the other detectives everyone had something to gain from the alleged murder of Harlan except one individual.

Part of what makes this a comedy is dry humor like this line:

“Think of a will reading as a community theater production of a tax return.”

Lines similar to this are featured throughout the movie.

The will reading doesn’t go as planned and tensions rise between the family members. It’s at this point that a revelation is made in regard to Harlan’s inheritance and this angers the family more and shows their real colors.

Blanc comes upon a clue which may help identify who might have been responsible for Harlan’s death. Blanc suspects foul play and has eliminated no suspects.

How did Harlan die? Who was involved? What about his inheritance? Who gets it?

Blanc identifies this mystery as a truly twisted web that needs much untangling. I found this to be a decent murder mystery, however, one that is a slow burn. I was interested to see where this was going and who might be responsible. I was satisfied with the ending, though this is a longer movie and drags in several places. The twists and turn make it worth the time though. The characters dry humor and wit lightens the sometimes tense scenes. I’d recommend this one. Two knives up – or out, your call.

Available on Amazon Prime and to rent. <

Friday, November 6, 2020

Showtime’s ‘Ode to Joy’ provides entertainment and education about a real condition

By Matt Pascarella

What if you fainted every time you felt a strong emotion? What if that emotion was happiness? Such is the case of real-life person, Matt Frerking, who this movie is based on. Frerking has narcolepsy with cataplexy. If he feels strong positive emotions, it can cause his brain to tell his body to go to sleep.

In writer Max Werner’s film, “Ode to Joy,” Martin Freeman plays Charlie, who has a very similar problem – any feelings of joy cause him to fall right to the floor. This fun movie is based on a piece done by WBEZ Chicago’s “This American Life” about Frerking and his condition.

Charlie lives with his brother Cooper (Jake Lacy). Cooper has looked after his brother all their lives. Charlie, who has concocted ways to keep happiness out of his life, like wearing boring clothing to avoid compliments, or putting tacks in his shoes in an effort to feel pain and avoid joy. This changes when he meets Francesca (Morena Baccarin) who enters and wants to bring joy to Charlie’s life.

They meet when Francesca’s boyfriend dumps her in the library where Charlie works. His first impressions of her aren’t great, but after some coaxing from a co-worker, he decides to ask her out, but very carefully. She says yes and while their date goes well, it ends with Charlie in the hospital. He ends things with Francesca and suggests Cooper date her. Charlie later meets Bethany (Melissa Rauch), who is a little less exciting, and she and Charlie begin to date.

When the two couples spend a weekend at a bed and breakfast, it becomes clear that Charlie and Francesca have more in common. This weekend doesn’t go well, as both Charlie and Cooper get dumped.

Francesca lives with her aunt (Jane Curtain) who is battling cancer and understandably, this is hard on Francesca. When Francesca sees some gifts that Charlie bought for her, she realizes there might be a future. It takes some convincing from Cooper for Charlie to make the same conclusion.

Will Charlie and Francesca get together?

I’m sure you have already predicted how this ends. It’s not a hard prediction to make and the end might make you smile. This atypical rom-com is a feel good movie that’s only minimally sappy. On a sappy scale of one to 10, I wouldn’t give it more than three or four, tops. The plot moves along nicely and there are only a couple points where there’s a minor lull in the story. It won’t have you tearing up with laughter, but I thought it was pretty funny. When I learned this was a real thing that actually happened to someone, cataplexy, it made the movie interesting. “Ode to Joy” has a nice message about finding someone who accepts you for you. Two boxes of joyful tacks (or pushpins) up.

Available on Showtime or to rent. <

Friday, October 30, 2020

Netflix series ‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’ a slow burn that will surprise you many times

By Matt Pascarella

I’ll admit I had not planned on reviewing this nine episode Netflix series, but after watching several of the episodes, it’s too good not to review, especially with Halloween coming up. This season stands alone, but with small connections, to its 2018 first season “The Haunting of Hill House.”

“The Haunting of Bly Manor” follows Dani (Victoria Pedretti) as she arrives at Bly Manor to be an au pair to children Flora (Amelie Bea Smith) and Miles (Benjamin Evan Ainsworth). While the series jumps back and forth in time, I believe a majority of it takes place in 1987. At Bly Manor there is housekeeper, Hannah Grose (T’Nia Miller), chef Owen (Rahul Kohli) and gardener Jamie (Amelia Eve).

The series begins with a woman telling several guests at a wedding a ghost story. The story initially focuses on Dani and her time at the manor, but also gives a bit of backstory regarding some of the previous events that happened at the manor, how it may have affected the children and who may have been responsible. The more I watched, each episode would drop a bombshell or reveal a crazy cliffhanger that kept me wanting more.

Dani arrives at Bly Manor, from the states, and is excited to have secured a new job as an au pair. While she seems relatively carefree at first, she has a few secrets. Dani has been hired by Henry Wingrave (Henry Thomas) to care for orphaned Flora and Miles. As the series progresses, you meet Henry’s business partner Peter (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who was involved with the previous au pair Miss Jessel (Tahirah Sharif) and could be responsible for her whereabouts ... or lack thereof.

While this is a series in the ‘horror/thriller’ category, it’s not gory; there are several jump scares along with mild language and some violence.

Each episode will have you asking questions and questioning what is real and what might not be. As you get further into the series, you’ll discover secrets, twists, turns, you’ll learn about dream hoping, they’ll be creepy children and startling revelations. There’s even a romance.

I loved this show. I was a fan of the first season, at Hill House, which I’d also recommend. This season at Bly Manor was just as good, if not better. My only complaint is the series can be hard to follow at times with several storylines and a lot going on.

Parts of the series can be a little slow, but even the slower parts are leading up to a sometimes, jaw-dropping moment, so stick with it. At the end I felt like all questions were answered and enjoyed the wedding connection. This is a series worth a watch; but maybe keep the lights on. <

Friday, October 23, 2020

VUDU’s ‘Save Yourselves’ starts strong, but ultimately fizzles

By Matt Pascarella

In the film “Save Yourselves” a couple, Su (Sunita Mani) and Jack (John Reynolds), are rarely off the grid. Like many, theses millennials use some sort of device several times throughout their day. When the two decide to go device-free for the week at a friend’s cabin, they picked the wrong week to do so. Is there a right week to do anything, when aliens attack?

Su and Jack attend a wedding where Jack’s friend Raph (Ben Sinclair) offers the two his cabin for a week. Su and Jack make a pact to go device-free for the week, in an effort to become more authentic.

They begin their week by going on a hike where they hear gunshots in the distance and don’t give it much thought. Later that night, after Jack is unable to start a fire, they see what they think are shooting stars lighting up the night sky. Are these really shooting stars?

“The urge to take out my phone is really strong,” says Su.

One of these shooting stars hits the Earth. And there may or may not be chaos slowly happening all around them, but Su and Jack are so tuned into being authentic they do not notice.

What they do notice is a pouffe, a round hairy something, like a hairy soccer ball in the cabin. They later notice the pouffe can move.

Su and Jack trying to be authentic leads to some arguing and a truthful discussion where Jack admits he doesn’t know how to do ‘manly things,’ like gut a fish. Afterward, Su breaks their pact and checks her phone where she has many voicemails and text messages informing her that these pouffes have begun taking over. Su and Jack decide it’s time to turn their phones back on.

From the information in the texts and voicemails the two have received, these pouffes or possible aliens, are attracted to ethanol. This makes Su and Jack’s car a paperweight. The two freak out but develop a plan. They find a working car in Raph’s shed.

From here things really begin to unravel and get very strange. On their way away from the cabin, they see a pouffe kill two people. As Su and Jack are driving by, they realize this couple had a baby in their vehicle and Su and Jack decide they need to try and save him.

While saving the baby and trying to escape these pouffes, a pouffe attacks Jack.

Will he survive? Do they both escape? What is going on?

This is billed as a comedy and it is mildly funny; let me stress mildy. The first two acts are relatively strong and actually pretty good. It’s the third act where this movie lost me. It just gets too weird, with too many strange turns that didn’t seems to add to the overall plot of the story.

I rented this movie and while it wasn’t a total bust, I would save yourself from “Save Yourselves.” <

Friday, October 16, 2020

Movie Review: Netflix’s ‘Hubie Halloween’ delivers laughs, frights and a familiar feel

By Matt Pascarella

The character of Hubie Dubois may be new to the screen, but in Adam Sandler’s ‘Hubie Halloween’ Sandler, who plays Hubie, brings a very familiar feel from his past movies, like “Billy Madison” and “Happy Gilmore”, to this new character’s story. Several big names, and a few surprise cameos, round out the cast of this relatively new, hilariously spooky Netflix film.

It begins with orderly Hal L. discovering someone has escaped from the psych ward in Salem, Massachusetts.

It’s the day before Halloween and Hubie (Sandler) is preparing for the big day. Hubie is a laughing stock around town. Everyone, kids included, constantly tease and are mean to him.

Hubie meets Walter Lambert (Steve Buscemi) who has moved in next door to Hubie and seems very nice, but Hubie soon notices something is off about Lambert.

Hubie lives with his mother (June Squibb) who tells him he needs to stick up for himself more. The only person who doesn’t tease him is Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen) who he has had a crush on for many years.

The big day is here – Halloween. The movie’s scenery provides a very, what I would call, classic Halloween feel. Salem is preparing for their annual parade. As daylight is fading fast, where is the escaped psych ward patient?

Every year, Hubie dubs himself the Halloween monitor and goes around monitoring the streets to make sure people are being safe.

He hears noise coming from Mr. Lambert’s home and goes to check it out, only to make an odd discovery.

While policing the streets, all of Salem teases Hubie; it’s even said that “messing with Hubie is a Salem tradition.”

Soon, some kids go missing. Then several adults. Now there is a mystery on Salem’s hands and Hubie is on the case. He even gets accused of making these people disappear.

Was Hubie responsible for the disappearances? What about the escaped psych ward patient? Will the lost people be found...alive? And what about Violet and Hubie? What does their future hold?

I am generally a fan of Sandler’s movie’s, though my two favorites, without question, are “Billy Madison” and “Happy Gilmore.” I only mention these two because this movie had a very similar comedy feel to those Sandler movies of the mid 1990s. 

This movie is very slapstick, with potty humor and several call-back jokes to the above mentioned movies; can you spot the references? It does have some language and a fair amount of sexual humor in the form of several risqué t-shirts, worn by Hubie’s mom. I wasn’t a fan of the voice Sandler gave Hubie and I felt the stupidity was a little over-the-top at times, but still enjoyed this movie and would recommend it. It has great music and great cameos.

Two retractable thermoses up – or is that out? Sideways maybe? <

Friday, October 9, 2020

‘The Addams Family’ shows the lighter side of macabre

By Matt Pascarella

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky, they’re all together ooky, The Addams family. The macabre family and their wacky antics are brought to life for a new generation. The movie features a star-studded cast: Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Chloe Grace Moretz, Martin Short, Bette Midler, Catherine O’Hara, Tituss Burgess and Snoop Dogg – yes, Snoop Dogg!

What started as a comic strip in the 1930s, a TV series in the 1960s and later multiple movies and multiple animated series in the 1990s, is now a computer animated movie with jokes both kids and adults can enjoy.

The movie begins with Morticia (Theron) and Gomez (Isaac) getting married and the entire Addamses family is at the ceremony when it is interrupted by angry townspeople calling them monsters and saying the Addams family isn’t welcome in their town. They are soon under attack.

The funny gags appear right from the start. As Morticia and Gomez try to escape, they cut the pants of the torch-carrying villagers, revealing an assortment of underwear. The two eventually escape the angry villagers.

Morticia and Gomez later meet Lurch, a servant of theirs, and the three moved into an abandoned insane asylum. 13 years later, they have two children, Wednesday (Mortez) and Pugsley (Finn Wolfhard). 

We meet Wednesday as she awakens for the day, wearing her noose earrings (a nice touch), and seemingly bored of the same routine. Pugsley is playing with a rocket, when he should be practicing for his Mazurka, ‘the most important day in an Addams’ life’ his father tells him. Family members from all over will be coming to watch Pugsley. Wednesday has never left her home and is curious what is beyond the family gate. The family visits a nearby town.

Here, Uncle Fester (Nick Kroll) cracks jokes, while the movie conveys a message about conformity. The family meets Margaux Needler (Allison Janey), a home renovator who offers to give the Addams’ home a makeover. Margaux seems innocent enough at first but may have an ulterior motive. Morticia is not interested and turns her down.

Wednesday makes a friend with Margaux’s daughter Parker (Elsie Fisher). In an effort to break her perceived monotony, Wednesday goes to junior high. Meanwhile, Gomez is worried Pugsley will do poorly during his Mazurka.

Margaux leads a charge to get rid of the Addams family.

Will the Addams family be driven out of town? What happens to Wednesday? How will Pugsley do at his Mazurka?

I was never a fan of the 1960s TV show or the 1990s movies and animated series. This was a good movie though. It had a decent storyline that works for kids and adults. It had a nice message about being different told through Wednesday’s and Parker’s storyline. There are a few scary voices or what could be considered frightening scenes, but overall, I found it relatively tame. Available on Hulu or to rent.

‘Thing’ gives it one thumb up! <

Friday, October 2, 2020

Netflix’s ‘Enola Holmes’ a tale of empowerment and mystery

By Matt Pascarella

There is a mystery afoot. On the morning of her 16th birthday, Eudoria Holmes (Helena Bonham Carter) went missing. Eudoria is mother to Enola (Millie Bobby Brown). Enola’s father died when she was very young and her brothers, Mycroft (Sam Clafin) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill) (yes, that Sherlock) moved away soon after.

Her brothers have come home to help find their mother. The relationship between the three is strained. They haven’t seen each other in so long, it’s almost as if they are meeting for the first time.

When the brothers first arrived, they seem more interested in making sure Enola is on the correct path she should be on, rather than finding their mother.

However, Enola has no interest in going to “Miss Harrison’s (Fiona Shaw) Finishing School for Young Ladies” and takes it upon herself to begin looking for her mother. She quickly realizes her mother has left her clues. The clues take her on quite a journey. While on a train to London, she meets Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether (Louis Partridge) who is being chased by a man (Burn Gorman).

We later learn this man is related to Tewkesbury. Enola saves Tewkesbury from this man and the two part ways when they reach London.

When Enola arrives in London, she knows she must stay hidden from her brothers, who will be searching for her. In order to do so she must become unexpected. As she travels from place to place, spot to spot, I wondered, what has Eudoria planned? Where is she? What are her motives for doing this?

Sherlock is on Enola’s trail; though she still remains out of his grasp. Enola is now on the trail to find Tewkesbury, who is in danger. Enola finds his treehouse and meets his grandmother, who seems nice enough – at first.

Enola and Tewkesbury find each other again. She tells him she is searching for her mother.

Enola is caught by her brother Mycroft who sends her back to finishing school where she does not enjoy it. She and Sherlock discuss where their mother might be.

“Perhaps she wants to change the world,” says Sherlock. “Perhaps it’s a world that needs changing,” says Enola.

Tewkesbury has another run-in with that disgruntled family member and once again, needs saving.

Another family member appears claiming the future of the country is at stake. This statement is made in response to a reform vote that Tewkesbury could alter.

Where is Eudoria? What will become of Enola and Tewkesbury? Will Enola ever find her mother?

While this is a good movie, it’s slow burn. It has a central theme of making a difference and finding your own path. You have to make some noise if you want to be heard. It also has an underlying political thread.

This is a mystery with a decent amount of action. I found the end satisfying and unexpected, though the reasoning is slightly complex. It’s a fun movie I would recommend. Two sticks of dynamite up – that’s how you make the noise. <

Friday, September 25, 2020

Halloween movies to make you laugh or scream

By Matt Pascarella

Halloween is a little over a month away and if you like it as much as I do, you might be thinking about what to watch as the holiday approaches.

Scary

The Exorcist

I’ve seen a lot of scary movies and I still remember the first time I saw this one. I was legitimately scared and had to turn it off. A little girl shows signs of being sick. As it turns out she’s slowly becoming possessed by a demon and her mother turns to the church to perform an exorcism, but it’s not that easy. Nine out 10 shaking beds. Available on HBO MAX.

US

Definitely one of my top five best horror movies. A family takes a vacation to a summer home where they are terrorized by their doppelgängers. Can the family escape? What do their doppelgängers want? Edge of your seat excitement. 10 out of 10 pairs of scissors. Available to rent.

Hereditary

Also, in my top five best horror movies. After her mother dies, Annie and daughter Charlie follow an unsettling path of secrets and terror that lead to their own bloodline. With jump scares, an overall disturbing tone, and many cringe-worthy moments, this is a great addition to Halloween viewing. Eight out of 10 birds – you’ll see why. Available on Amazon Prime.

The Strangers

A creep out rating of 10 out of 10 skulls. A couple comes home from a romantic evening that turned out to be not so romantic. When a woman knocks on the door asking if Tamara is home, the couple becomes concerned. And things go wrong. And get worse. Available to rent.

Not Scary

Hocus Pocus

This is one of my favorite Halloween movies and a must-watch every year. Max and sister Dani have just moved to Salem, Massachusetts where every Halloween the town becomes consumed with the legend of the Sanderson sisters who were hung during the Salem Witch Trials. When Max, Dani and Max’s crush, Allison bring the Sanderson sisters back from the dead, trouble and hilarity ensue. 10 out of 10 witches brooms. Available on Disney+.

The Nightmare before Christmas

It is debatable whether this is a Christmas or Halloween movie, but it can be both. Jack Skellington is king of Halloweentown and has become bored with their routine of frightening. When he discovers a portal to Christmastown, he becomes very excited and wants to become king of Christmastown too. He comes up with a plan. The clay animation is amazing by 1993-standards. This does have some scarier/frightening parts. Eight out of 10 spooky ghosts. Available on Disney+.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Technically, not a movie, but still a Halloween favorite of mine. Every year, Linus waits for the Great Pumpkin to rise out of the pumpkin patch and bring toys to all the children of the world. While everyone else goes for ‘tricks or treats,’ he convinces Sally to join him as they wait for the Great Pumpkin’s arrival. Will this be the year the Great Pumpkin finally shows up? Eight out of 10 pumpkins. Available on YouTube and to rent. <


Friday, September 18, 2020

Review: Netflix’s ‘Love, Guaranteed’ an enchanting date-night film

By Matt Pascarella

Can a dating website guarantee a user will find love? That’s the question to be answered by lawyer Susan Whitaker (Rachael Leigh Cook) for her client, Nick Evans (Damon Wayans Jr.) in Netflix’s ‘Love Guaranteed.’

Nick is suing the dating website ‘Love, Guaranteed’ because when he signed up, in the fine print it promised after 1,000 dates love was guaranteed. He’s documented every date and refers to them like episodes of the TV show “Friends” (the one who talked about cats, the one who brought her parents, etc.) He claims the website is profiting off lonely souls.

At first, Susan is skeptical of Nick and thinks he might be scamming. She calls him an opportunist. 

In the beginning of the movie, it looks like Susan might be a little lonely. She lives next to her sister. Susan is a workaholic for her own law practice which is struggling financially.

She finds out that ‘Love, Guaranteed’ will be represented by Tamara Taylor (Heather Graham) who is an extremely rich mogul. Whitaker tells her staff they need an airtight case.  As she is about to prepare for the case, she admits she’s never been on a dating website and is talked into joining one - for research purposes only. She goes on no more than three dates and is exhausted. She’s also interviewing Nick’s dates to make sure he just wasn’t working his way to 1,000 dates.

As Susan and Nick begin to spend more time together, they hit it off. Early on, they both make preconceived judgments about one another that they later realize were hasty.

They both meet with Tamara and her group of lawyers where they turn down an offer for $100,000. At this point, Susan and Nick are getting along more and more. Susan realizes it might be a conflict of interest and will give Tamara ammunition for her defense.

Susan also speaks with Nick’s ex-fiancé, Arianna (Kandyse McClure) who will take the stand at the trial.

One of Tamara’s lawyers, Bill Jones (Jed Rees) gets wind of the time Nick and Susan have spent together and what might be happening and uses a loophole to figure out a way they can win the case. Bill Jones gives Susan and Nick one more chance to take the $100,000 deal. They turn it down again and Susan tells Nick they shouldn’t see each other.

How does the trial go? Does Nick win? What happens to him and Susan?

I would recommend this movie. It’s funny, slightly predictable in parts and has a solid ending that also features a twist I didn’t see coming. Yes, it’s pretty cheesy from time to time; not sickeningly cheesy though. Just a sprinkle of cheesiness. It only dragged a little in the middle.

If you’re looking for a ‘date night’ movie, this is it. Two Tiffany (the singer) cassette tapes stuck in a car’s cassette player up. <

Friday, September 11, 2020

Movie Review: ‘The Rental’ an uneasy, heart-pounding thriller

By Matt Pascarella

Two couples book a picturesque house on the edge of a cliff for a weekend getaway and that’s the start of ‘The Rental,’ a new film available for streaming from VUDU. As the weekend progresses, a few unsettling discoveries makes it apparent this rental isn’t as charming as it initially appeared to be.

Couple Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Michelle (Alison Brie) book a vacation house for a weekend with couple Mina (Sheila Vand) and Josh (Jeremy Allen White). Charlie and Mina work together, and Josh and Charlie are brothers.


The house is amazing. However, once they meet the owner/renter Taylor (Toby Huss), he’s weird from the start. He says things like “why would you need a telescope in the city? Are you guys like peeping toms?” when Michelle expresses disappointment because she forgot her telescope. He’s also bigoted towards Mina. But that strange and inappropriate behavior is just the beginning.

As they are checking out the property when they first arrive, Josh finds a door under the deck with an electronic lock on it. Unusual? Only time will tell.

Later that night, Mina and Charlie kiss, which ends up turning into more.

The next day, when they are all supposed to go on a hike and Charlie and Mina stay behind; the two agree that what happened the previous night can never happen again. Meanwhile, while Michelle and Josh are on a hike, some secrets come out about Charlie that upset Michelle.

Mina makes a very alarming discovery in the bathroom that makes Taylor even creepier than he may have originally appeared. This angers both Charlie and Mina who need their secret night not to get out.

When the hot tub breaks, Michelle calls Taylor to have him fix it; unaware of Charlie and Mina’s irritation with him. Taylor comes over and is confronted by Josh. Tensions only continue to rise from there, turning into an altercation when Mina confronts Taylor about what she found in the bathroom. From there, things go from bad to worse.

Everyone begins to freak out a little and Michelle is so distraught, she takes their only car and leaves after she makes a discovery of her own. She doesn’t get far though.

Is Taylor or someone else following the four of them?

Why? What happens to the group?  

I was expecting a decent thriller and that’s exactly what I got. The well-paced plot sets the scene for something to obviously go wrong with this picture-perfect, Airbnb-type rental. While some parts of the movie are predictable, there were other parts where the plot didn’t go where I thought it would. There is some drug use, language and sex and a few gruesome scenes.

The plot is plausible and particularly unsettling, because renting a house for a weekend is not an uncommon occurrence. As this perfect weekend begins to unravel, I wanted to know how the characters were going to deal with everything and what was going to happen next.

‘The Rental’ is worth a rental. Five stars. <

Friday, September 4, 2020

Netflix’s ‘Project Power’ leaves viewers with questions

By Matt Pascarella

If there was a pill that would give you a superpower for five minutes, would you take it? Even if the effects could be detrimental? What if you could use those powers to help people? Would you take it then?

Biggie (Rodrigo Santoro) addresses a group of young ‘entrepreneurs’ and makes them an offer in the beginning of the movie. He will give them a product, a pill called Power and they sell it on the streets of New Orleans. A gentleman called Newt (Colton Baker) has some questions and says this sounds too good to be true.

Six weeks later Power is on the streets of New Orleans and teenager Robin (Dominique Fishback) is attacked by three guys who are looking for it. Detective Frank Shaver (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) shows up just at the right moment. He and Robin work together to catch guys who are trying to buy Power.

Robin has been saving the money she makes from working with Frank to help her mom (Andrene Ward-Hammond), who has diabetes.

We meet Art (Jamie Foxx), whose daughter, Tracy (Kyanna Simone Simpson) is missing, as he is walking along an apartment complex looking for Newt. Art wants to know who is supplying Power. Art breaks into Newt’s place. Newt takes Power and his body turns into fire. Art and Newt fight which leads to Art having a flashback about losing his daughter. Power is wreaking havoc on the streets of New Orleans. Biggie is also looking to expand his market.

In his search for answers about his daughter, Art kidnaps Robin. After a shootout between Art and some distributors of Power, Robin manages to escape. Despite their weird ‘meeting,’ Robin wants to help Art find his daughter, for a price.

Robin and Art find Biggie and where he is hiding. Frank catches up with Robin. Art, Biggie and Biggie’s crew have a shootout. Frank helps Art escape and arrests him. As Frank brings Art in, Robin follows them. Frank realizes he and Art have similar goals. They all head to a tanker where Biggie is planning to leave that night for a new city. Robin, Art and Frank all end up on the tanker. Later Robin finds Tracy.

Will Tracy see her dad again?  Can they stop Biggie? Will they all make it off alive?

I thought this was an interesting concept, though it’s a bit of a knockoff of 2011’s ‘Limitless’ where a pill enables the user to have 100 percent of their brain’s abilities. Instead of brain abilities, Power offers the user superpowers, like invisibility, becoming fire, super speed, super strength, the ability to become gigantic or it can also cause death. Some scenes are gruesome and bloody. There is a quite a bit of violence; a lot of gunfire and explosions. There is also language and drug use.

This movie had a slow start and only picked up a little as it went on. The special effects are cool. This was an action-packed movie, just not one that kept me on the edge of my seat or wondering what was going to happen next. The end left me with questions about Tracy and the fate of Biggie and his crew. It’s not a bad movie, just one that wasn’t for me. Five out of 10 explosions. <

Friday, August 28, 2020

Movie Review: HBO Max’s ‘Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind’ a treasure

By Matt Pascarella

Earlier this month was the anniversary of the death of actor, comedian and all-around bringer of joy, Robin Williams. This documentary has friends, family and those who knew him talk about him. There are clips and interviews as well as footage from Williams’ stand up specials, USO tours, movies, TV and more.

I have been a fan of Robin Williams from the moment I first saw – actually, it was when I heard him on the big screen. I was 7 or 8 and I saw 1992’s “Aladdin” in the theater. The genie made me laugh. I remember the impressions he did and the way his voice changed to match his impression; like Jack Nicholson for example. I’ll be honest, at seven or eight you don’t know all the people he impersonated as the genie, but it made me laugh and that’s where it counted. From that moment, Robin Williams was on my radar.

A year later, I would see Williams when my parents took my brother, a friend of mine and myself to “Mrs. Doubtfire.” I remember trying to mimic the impressions he did. That movie remains a favorite of mine to this day.

Williams has always been a Tour de Force of energy and comedy from his late night appearances to when he played the character Mork on ”Mork and Mindy.” A fourth camera had to be added to follow him because three were not enough. 

The documentary opens with a scene from Williams’ appearance on “Inside the Actor’s Studio” with James Lipton. This appearance is a good example of how fast he thought and how energetic he was.  

Williams was interested in theater early on, and later gravitated toward improvisation and then stand up comedy. It is said later in the documentary, that he was more comfortable on stage than off. He attended The Juilliard School, but left during his junior year. It was after this that he got in to improvisational comedy. Standup soon followed and a former writer made the observation that “being a writer for Robin’s stand up is like being a pinch hitter for Barry Bonds – you’re not necessarily needed.”

Once the success of “Mork & Mindy” hit, it hit big. Williams got into drugs, but after the death of his friend and actor John Belushi, Williams got clean. He married, had a child and began making movies. It was around this time that he made classics like “Good Morning Vietnam,” or “Moscow on the Hudson” and “The Best of Times.”

He later got divorced and did theater and made even more movies like “Awakenings,” or “The Fisher King” and “Hook” (just to name a few). He continued doing stand up and remarried and had more children.

His oldest son Zak, said “his pathos was seeking to entertain and please.”

I highly recommend this documentary. I’ll warn you about the last 10 minutes, it gets rough. I knew what was coming, but there was a part of me hoping for a different ending. There is some language and sexual humor, but overall, it’s the story of man who just wanted to make people laugh - and share his spark of madness with the world. As Williams said, you’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it. <

 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Movie Review: HBO Max’s ‘An American Pickle’ not a typical comedy

By Matt Pascarella

It’s the early 20th century. You work at a pickle factory. One day, you fall in a vat of pickle brine and are preserved for 100 years.

When you awaken, the world has completely changed and you know no one, except for your great grandson. Based on Simon Rich’s comic novella ‘Sell Out,’ this movie tells the story of Herschel Greenbaum (Seth Rogen) and Ben Greenbaum (also Rogen).

Herschel and his wife Sarah (Sarah Snook) moved to America in the early 20th century where he worked in a pickle factory. After he fell in a vat of brine, and woke up in the 21st century, he feels very scared and alone. His wife is dead, his child is dead, and he doesn’t know anybody.

He meets his great grandson, Ben Greenbaum who is very welcoming and excited to meet Herschel. Ben grants a dream of Herschel’s almost immediately after meeting him.

Herschel is amazed and overwhelmed by the current world. He is amazed that Ben owns 25 pairs of socks. As would be expected, Herschel is confused by some aspects of this ‘new world.’

Ben shows Herschel a photo album with pictures of his grandson and son. Ben’s parents have died, and Ben doesn’t like to talk about it. The two go to find Ben’s parents’ grave.

Herschel finds Sarah’s grave which is now under an overpass and in front of a giant billboard. This upsets Herschel and he gets in a fight with a construction worker and he and Ben go to jail. They are quickly released, but this upsets Ben as he had to pay bail. It then has a negative effect on an app Ben was developing. Ben has had it with Herschel and kicks him out.

Herschel begins selling pickles with found ingredients. They are a hit and his pickle business takes off. Ben sabotages it. Herschel is able to turn his business around and returns to Ben’s apartment to help Ben. Ben sabotages Herschel at least twice more. Herschel makes some bigoted remarks and people turn on him. He goes to Ben for help, unaware that Ben set him up all along.

What happens to Herschel? And Ben? Do they ever find common ground?

This is not your typical Seth Rogen movie. The movie follows the novella fairly closely but includes some things the novella doesn’t and vice-versa. It starts out very heartfelt but takes a turn.

While Ben’s anger toward Herschel for landing them in jail is justified, Ben is vindictive for a lot of the movie. Herschel does some things that aren’t great, and he does say some things that are not politically correct in both the film and the novella. Ben started off very welcoming and turned on Herschel pretty fast.

While this movie is billed as a comedy, I didn’t find it particularly funny. It’s funny in parts, but you won’t be laughing for 90 minutes - or even 50.

It’s still an ok movie and if you’re interested in seeing it, I say go for it. I give it one pickle up and one pickle down. <

Friday, August 14, 2020

Review: ‘You Should Have Left’ a creepy thriller

 By Matt Pascarella

If this movie has a central theme that runs through it, it’s nightmares. The characters rent a house where nothing is as it seems. And you find that doesn’t just apply to the house.

“Violent or upsetting dreams are merely the minds attempt to release the pressures of our daily thoughts and fears,” says the narrator of a meditation relaxation tape.

Theo (Kevin Bacon) is infamous for a crime he was found not guilty of and his wife, Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) is an actress. They decide to get away with their daughter, Ella (Avery Tiiu Essex) for a little while and rent a house in picturesque Wales. The house is enormous and is very nice inside and out.

Right from the start, you notice something is more than a little off about this house. Ella is the first to notice it when she’s playing shadow puppets.

On a walk one day, Ella asks Susanna ‘why people hate daddy so much?’ Before they left, Theo had mentioned to Susanna that he had been recognized when he visited her set. Susanna explains to Ella that before she met Theo he was married, and his wife died. Now, a jury did find him innocent, but there are people who think he had something to do with it.

More house-related weird things happen when Theo goes into town to buy groceries. The clerk asks if anything has happened in the house and if he’s met Stetler yet. And when Theo leaves, a woman is waiting for him at his car and gives warnings about the house. He brushes this off as just weird interactions.

Theo suspects Susanna of cheating and goes through her devices while she’s taking a bath. He finds nothing.

Theo is constantly noticing that doors seem to appear in places where they weren’t and when he tries to show Susanna, they are not there (of course). The house seems to be one big maze from time to time and Theo has trouble deciphering the dreamworld from the real world. This is most evident when he finds himself trapped in the many hallways of the house, looking for Ella. This comprises a very intense few scenes, with Theo even cutting himself to see if he’s asleep or not.

After talking it over, they decide to leave the house. Something stops all three of them from going.

What’s the deal with the house?

Who is Stetler? What role does he play?

Are the three of them able to get away from the house?

I’ve seen a lot of movies about haunted houses, but this isn’t one. This house has its own issues that have nothing to do with ghosts. This movie kept me interested through most of it and there are many details about the house that just don’t make sense and had me wanting to know more and more. It’s not particularly scary, but there are a few extreme scenes. It has some mild sex (no nudity) and language. Stetler creeped me out. The actor who played him did a fantastic job at making the viewer feel uneasy with what they were seeing. This is not an edge-of-your-seat thriller, but it’s a decent rental that will have you guessing why the house is doing what it’s doing to Theo and Susanna until the end. Two creepy hidden doors up.  <

Friday, August 7, 2020

Movie Review: Sequel ‘747 Meters Down Uncaged’ meets criteria

By Matt Pascarella

The Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week will happen this year and is right around the corner. So, in preparation, I chose the sequel to 47 Meters Down on Amazon Prime as something to hold me over until Shark Week is here.

If you haven’t seen the first 47 Meters Down – not to worry. The sequel is pretty much exactly the same premise, people go into the water and must escape sharks, except with a larger cast. Unlike Shark Week, don’t expect to learn anything from this movie, except that sharks don’t like big speeches about how you’re going to outsmart them.

Mimi (Sophie Nelisse) and Sasha (Corinne Foxx) are step-sisters, who aren’t particularly close. Mimi is being bullied at school and Sasha doesn’t really stick up for her. When Mimi’s dad (John Corbett), a cave diver, gets them tickets to a shark tour, Mimi and Sasha skip the tour and go cave diving with friends (Sistine Rose Stallone and Brianne Tju) instead. Everything is going well, and everyone is having fun when out of nowhere, chaos ensues. The group gets separated.

Fortunately, they run into a friend, Ben (Davi Santos), but he’s no help. The group soon discovers they are not alone. More chaos happens around them and part of the cave collapses and the girls have to find a way out. In trying to do so, they only get more lost and oxygen tanks are starting to run out. Mimi knows her dad is working close to where they are and breaks off to try to find him. She eventually finds him. He helps the girls by leading them to a harness that will pull them safely to land. If only it were that easy. The harness gives way and falls into the water. Now, they are right back where they started.

Will they all escape?

Is there enough oxygen to do so?

How many sharks are they surrounded by?

While this film dragged a little and didn’t have my heart racing with excitement (or terror), I still enjoyed it. It had a few jump scares. That being said, it’s not as amusing as one of the many ‘Sharknados,’ but those are big fins to fill.

Parts of ’47 Meters Down Uncaged’ are predictable and in other parts it’s hard to see. I found it was sometimes hard to keep track of where each of the girls were, especially in the scenes where it’s much darker. There is a bit of blood in the water, as the sharks do kill a person (or maybe two), so if you’re squeamish, heads up. But I didn’t find it overly gory.

If you’re looking for a cheesy shark movie, this meets the criteria.  Two fins up – above the water, so look out. <

 


Friday, July 31, 2020

Movie Review: SCOOB! introduces Shaggy and his friends to a new generation

By Matt Pascarella

It’s an origin story, kind of. One with a modern twist. A new generation of fans are introduced to Scooby and the gang and will love their goofy humor and hijinks in this sweet and funny movie.

We meet the talking pooch while he’s being chased by the police after stealing a large block of liverwurst. A sad, lonely, young Shaggy (not his actual name) is listening to a podcast when it tells him he needs friends and should put himself out there. Moments after hearing this he meets an unnamed dog with a lot of liverwurst. When the police catch up to the two, he asks if the dog is Shaggy’s and what his name is. Shaggy names him there on the spot and a lifelong friendship is made.

It’s Halloween. Scooby and Shaggy go trick or treating. Bullies grab Shaggy’s candy and toss it in the old haunted Rigby house. Just as Shaggy and Scooby feel all is lost, they meet younger versions of the rest of the gang: Velma, Fred and Daphne. The group decide to go after the candy, but things don’t go as planned. The end of this particular scene brings back a well-known line uttered by bad guys.

Fast forward several years and the group sits around a diner table and discusses ways to expand their mystery solving business, ‘Mystery Inc.’ Shaggy and Scooby break off from the group and go bowling. It’s here that things get weird; and then they get weirder. Shaggy and Scooby get recruited by Shaggy’s childhood hero, the Blue Falcon and are asked to join the Blue Falcon’s mission.

To Velma, Daphne and Fred, this looks like Shaggy and Scooby were kidnapped. The three put their heads together to try and figure out where the pair could be. They meet bad guy Dick Dastardly and his group of robotic minions. Dastardly is after Scooby because Scooby is the last descendent of Peritas, Alexander the Great’s dog and only Scooby can open the door to a room of riches.

The Blue Falcon befriends Scooby and they go to fight Dastardly together which leads to Shaggy feeling left out. Velma eventually hacks into the Blue Falcon and the two groups meet. Fred warns Shaggy that Dastardly is on his way. But Dastardly is closer than they think.

What happens to Scooby? And Shaggy?

Can these meddling kids save the day and defeat Dastardly?

Or is there a twist here?

I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest Scooby Doo fan, but I liked this movie. It was a nice re-introduction of the classic characters from the original series and movies. With an all-star cast, it does have a similar feel to the Scooby Doo cartoons from the past. 

There are famous lines, similar sound effects and the classic hijinks any Scooby Doo fan, including the smaller ones, have come to love. Even the classic explanation “jinkies!” It features a nice message about friendship and being a hero. 

I recommend it whether you’re a big fan of Scooby Doo or just kind of a fan. One Scooby Snack u–wait ... let’s make it two, because Scooby could never have just one. <