Saturday, March 28, 2020

Movie Review: “Fighting with my Family”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13
Run time: 1 hour, 48 minutes

Based on a true story, Ricky (Nick Frost) and his family make a living running a business called ‘World Association of Wrestling.’ The family has wrestling deep, deep in their veins. Brother and sister Zak (Jack Lowden) and Saraya (Florence Pugh) have been wrestling since they were little and get a call from Hutch Morgan (Vince Vaughn) from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Zak and Saraya get the opportunity to try out for the WWE.

Out of all the people who tried out, only Saraya (wrestling name Paige) makes it to the next level. Although Paige begs Hutch to also take her brother, his mind is made up. This leaves Zak feeling left out and angry. While he is hurt, he encourages Saraya to go and wrestle for the family.

Paige flies to Florida where she struggles a bit during tryouts, but makes it past the first elimination. Zak and his girlfriend have a baby, but he is still fixated on getting into the WWE and even calls Hutch again and pleads for a second chance. Hutch still isn’t interested.

When Paige gets a chance to wrestle in a Next Generation (NXT) Divas match, she is not well received and chokes on her introduction. In response to this, she changes her physical appearance, but really struggles during training. Hutch asks her how she thinks it will end for her and more than suggests she should just quit.

For a moment, she does and tells Zak she’ll not be returning after the Christmas holiday; it’s just too difficult. She asks Zak to keep this information from their parents, but Zak is so envious, he tells their mother, Julia (Lena Headey) and their dad. Both her mom and dad think she’s making a bad decision, but eventually, they respect her choice.

Zak continues to struggle with jealousy; he and Saraya talk it out. Saraya tells him that just because millions of people aren’t cheering while you do something, doesn’t mean it’s not important – easily the best line in the entire film.

Paige returns to Florida with a new attitude and begins making friends. She’s working even harder than before to prove to Hutch she wants to be there. She has success in the ring and makes it past the second elimination.

Will she make it to the WWE? Watch the film and find out!

This was not the laugh out loud movie I was anticipating. However, it was very good. It had several funny parts and many wrestler cameos. It also concludes with a nice message. So, as we’re all couped up together, whether you’re a wrestling fan or not, I recommend this feel good movie. Two championship belts way up! So the whole crowd can see!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Movie Review: “Spenser Confidential”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

A police officer, Spenser (Mark Wahlberg) who lost his cool and pleaded guilty to assault is about to get out of prison, after spending five years behind bars. In the beginning of the movie he is seen in the prison library quietly reading. He is approached by Squeeb (Austin Post a.k.a. Post Malone) and soon, three other large guys enter the library. They tell Spenser he needs to leave Boston, once released. The five then get into a big fight and Spenser does his best to defend himself.

Now out of prison, he meets Henry (Alan Arkin), a longtime friend who lets him stay at his place where Spenser also meets Hawk (Winston Duke), who is also staying with Henry. He reconnects with his girlfriend Cissy (Iliza Shlesinger) and they have a somewhat complicated relationship.

A police officer, Terrence (Brandon Scales) has been killed and some other bad things happen. Despite no longer being on the force, Spenser wants to get right down to how and why this happened and bring justice to the officier’s wife, Letitia (Hope Olaidé Wilson).

As Spenser tries to prove Terrence’s innocence, he and Hawk become friends. The two trace down a car spotted on a convenience store security cam the night Terrence was killed. They track down the guy and follow him.

Later, Spenser visits Squeeb in prison and Squeeb gives Spenser one tip: look into a place called Wonderland. Spenser talks with former crime reporter, Cosgrove (Marc Maron) after he learns Wonderland is a soon-to-be-built casino that may not be ‘on the level.

Letitia comes home one night to find her place completely trashed. Spenser really wants to know: Why this happened? Who might have done it? And what were they looking for?
Do Spenser and Hawk find the answers to these questions? This weekend might be a good time to watch the movie and find out.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad movie. A Mark Wahlberg movie set in Boston where he seeks justice isn’t the most original plot, though there was a lot of decent fight scenes. I did find it drag in parts and I felt like it was about 20-30 minutes too long. Iliza Shlesinger was one of my favorite parts of this movie; she was very funny. There is a great action scene at the end, that makes the slowness of the movie worth the wait. If you can’t find anything else to watch, this is, at the very least, entertaining.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Movie Review: “Standing Up, Falling Down”

By Matt Pascarella

Not Rated
Running time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

A down-on-his-luck 30 something and a stuck-in-a-rut 60 something form an unlikely friendship.

We meet Scott (Ben Schwartz) who has just moved back home after four years in L.A. trying to make it as a standup comedian. While at a club he literally bumps into Marty (Billy Crystal) as Marty stumbles into the bathroom. Marty is a dermatologist and notices a rash on Scott’s arm. He tells Scott to come see him and the diagnosis is rash caused by stress. There are several factors in Scott’s life that could contribute to this rash; his family, a former girlfriend who still lives in the area, his career, living with his parents, etc.

Scott runs into Marty again, and the more they get to know each other, the more they slowly become friends. One night, Scott and Marty are talking, and Scott tells Marty he thought he would have things figured out by now. Marty tells him no one has it all figured out and everyone moves at their own speed. Marty has a non-existent relationship with his son and it’s very apparent that Marty is lonely. We later find out more about Marty’s life, but I don’t want to give anything away; however, this is where the movie takes a bit of a darker, more serious turn.

Scott and his dad have somewhat of a hard relationship. His dad thinks Scott should get a “real” job and give up on “this standup comedy nonsense”.

Scott runs into a former girlfriend, Becky (Eloise Mumford). After seeing her, he is convinced she is not happy, and wants a second chance to maybe be with her again...although she’s married.
Scott continues doing comedy at a well-known local club and has a very good set, getting lots of compliments from the audience; even Becky, who texts him, suggesting the get together sometime.
Meanwhile, Marty is having a hard time and goes to reconcile with his son Adam (Nate Corddry). 
Scott gets together with Becky and they begin to talk about the past...and the possible future.

Will the two achieve the outcomes they both want and be able to find some kind of happiness?

Definitely worth the rental; this movie starts out funny and becomes somewhat of an emotional roller coaster. After learning that Marty has led a hard life and that Scott has a myriad of feelings regarding Becky and their past as well as general uncertainty toward the future, what started out as a friendship, takes a bit of a twist.

This movie has several life lessons: everyone struggles, no one has it completely figured out, life throws you curveballs, etc. Towards the end, this comedy is a bit of a tearjerker. It makes you laugh right up to the final seconds though. And has a nice twist that fulfills some advice Marty gave to Scott, “Lightning rarely strikes twice, but if you keep your eyes can strike again.” Two thumbs up.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Movie Review: “The Invisible Man”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: R
Running time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) is in a relationship with Adrian (Oliver Jackson-Cohen). He is very controlling, manipulative and abusive. Cecilia wants out of the relationship. Adrian does not want her to leave. “The Invisible Man” takes a literary classic and gives it a thriller-esque, horror spin.
Cecilia is seen in the very beginning, escaping from Adrian’s home (which has cameras and tight security all over). Just as she has gotten in the car with her sister, Emily (Harriet Dyer), Adrian appears and breaks the passenger’s side window.

Two weeks later, Cecilia is staying with a friend, James (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter, Sydney (Storm Reid). Cecilia is terrified to leave the house. She fears Adrian will come after her.
Then, Emily stops by and tells Cecilia that Adrian has died. Later, Cecilia receives a letter from Adrian’s estate that states she will be receiving five million dollars to be paid out in installments. Everything is nice and easy for a while.

It’s not long before Cecilia realizes someone, or something is watching and following her. She realizes this might be Adrian. She tells his brother, Tom (Michael Dorman), who disagrees.
“He’s gone,” he says. “I saw his body. Don’t let him win, by bringing him back to life.”
“He’s not dead, I just can’t see him,” Cecilia argues.

She has several more instances that support her argument. She decides to go to Adrian’s home and discovers something that might support her theories. Cecilia and Emily have dinner and what happens next, happened so fast and caught me completely off guard; I’m not going to say anymore. Just don’t blink.

No one continues to believe Cecilia and she begins to break down. Between this point and the end, there are several twists and turns, so, seriously, don’t blink.

Cecilia is moved to a treatment facility. Because of Cecilia’s condition, (and maybe a twist/turn or two) the payments from Adrian’s estate are stopped.

Is Adrian still alive? What will happen to Cecilia?

This is a very good remake. A solid thriller/horror movie. It’s semi fast-paced with several jump scares and a few ‘did that really just happen?’ moments. As the movie progresses, it kept me wanting more, wanting to know what will happen next and to answer the questions the main character(s) brought up. The end left me asking “what’s really going on and what really happened there?” Which, despite the ambiguity, I enjoyed. While you can probably wait for this one to come out on streaming and DVD, watching “The Invisible Man” in the theater will give an added effect and make it that much better. Two knives up.