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. <