Friday, December 31, 2021

Movie Review: What to watch as the new year approaches

By Matt Pascarella

2022 is mere hours away, and as you wait for the ball to drop you may be looking for a movie (or two) to pass the time. Here is an earlier favorite plus a couple others to close out 2021.

Happy New Year!

The Harder They Fall   Rated: R   Runtime: 2 hours, 19 min

I regret waiting so long to watch this; it’s a great western. When Nat Love (Johnathan Majors) was young, Rufus Buck (Idris Elba) killed his family. Now, years later, Buck is out for revenge. This movie grabs your attention from the start and offers a few surprises. When Rufus is released from prison, Nat Love rounds up a crew to go after Rufus. This movie has a great soundtrack and solid action. It is fairly violent with rough language – they are cowboys. Starring Zazie Beetz, RJ Cyler, Regina King, DeWanda Wise and LaKeith Stanfield; two six-shooters up. Available on Netflix.

Ron’s Gone Wrong   Rated: PG   Runtime: 1 hour, 51 min

Marc Wydell (Justice Smith) has created an algorithm for friendship with the world’s first Bubble Bot – your best friend out of the box. A B*Bot helps kids connect through social media; and everyone at Nonsuch Middle School has one, except Barney (Jack Dylan Grazer). Barney has trouble making friends and his dad (Ed Helms) is concerned. When Barney finally gets a B*Bot, Ron (Zach Galifianakis), it’s a little defective. Barney goes to return Ron but realizes he might not be as defective as originally thought. However, the Bubble company is aware of this defective bot and wants it back. This is a nice movie about friendship with lessons about the importance of not being glued to our devices. “Ron’s Gone Wrong” is an uplifting story to take you into the new year starring Olivia Coleman, Rob Delaney, Kylie Cantrall and Ricardo Hurtado. Two robot shaped beanies up. Available on Disney+

Queenpins   Rated: R   Runtime: 1 hour, 51 min

Connie (Kristen Bell) and her friend JoJo (Kirby Howell-Baptiste) love couponing. They are always looking for new ways to save and make money. When Connie complains to a manufacturer about a stale box of Wheaties, she receives a coupon for a free box – which gives her an idea. An idea where she and JoJo sell coupons and make a boatload of cash. However, their efforts do not go unnoticed. Ken (Paul Walter Hauser) and Simon (Vince Vaughn) are tailing them. And aside from that, things spiral a little more for Connie and JoJo. Based on actual events. A funny, feel-good crime drama starring Lidia Porto, Joel McHale and Bebe Rexha. Two coupons up. Available on Paramount+, Showtime and to rent.

Ted Lasso   2 seasons

American Football coach Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) takes his knowledge of European soccer – which is nothing – to manage AFC Richmond, an English soccer team that could use a little help. The owner of the league Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) hired Lasso to make the team worse in hopes of seeking revenge against her cheating ex-husband. However, Lasso and his assistant coach, Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt), might change her mind. “Ted Lasso” stars Phil Dunster, Brett Goldstein, Juno Temple and Nick Mohammed. An all-around winner. It is only available on Apple TV+, but I promise, “Ted Lasso” is well worth $4.99 a month. Two biscuits up. <

Friday, December 10, 2021

Movie Review: ‘8-bit Christmas’ reminds you what season is all about

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG

Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes

It’s Christmastime in the late 1980s and there is just one gift on every kid’s mind ... Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It was so awesome it wasn’t just a console; it was an entire system.

Jake takes his daughter Annie to visit her grandparents for the Christmas holiday. They arrive early and no one is home. Annie is bored and Jake seizes this opportunity to tell her how he got his Nintendo, which Annie says looks like Tupperware.

Like Jake, I didn’t have an NES growing up and it was something really special when I got to go to a friend’s house who had one.

Before Jake begins his story, he tells Annie it’s probably the most amazing, dangerous story of all time. Given what followed I don’t know about all time, but it certainly was a very good story that is filled with thrills, spills and chills.

This fun, family-friendly movie stars Neil Patrick Harris, Winslow Fegley, Steve Zahn, June Diane Raphael, Bellauna Resnick, Sophia Reid-Gantzert, Che Tafari, Santino Barnard, Max Malas, Chandler Dean and David Cross.

Annie (Reid-Gantzert) isn’t overly impressed when her dad, Jake (Harris) tells her he wanted a Nintendo even more than she wants a phone. She tells him that’s not possible. They begin to play, and you see some classic Nintendo setup techniques like blowing in the bottom of the cartridge to make it work.

It’s the late 1980s and the only kid in Batavia, Illinois with a Nintendo was anger-driven Timmy Keane (Dean). On Saturday mornings he would allow 10 kids into his home where they could be able to play this glorious machine, if Timmy let them.

Young Jake (Fegley) knows he needs his own system and will stop at nothing to get one. Since it is Christmastime, he asks his parents (Zahn and Raphael) who are a “no-go on the ‘Tendo.”

Young Jake enters a wreath selling contest through the Ranger Scouts where a flyer shows that first prize is a Nintendo. He does everything he can to make sure his list has the most wreath sales on it.

Every kid in town is working very hard to be the top wreath seller. Despite their efforts, something happens to alter the results.

Other plans are made between Young Jake and his friends. Do they work? We already know Jake eventually gets a Nintendo, but how did he get it?

Young Jake is very focused on this goal but is reminded what the season is all about by a scalper (Cross).

I think this is the perfect definition of a family Christmas movie. Adults might get nostalgic for this video game system they had when they were kids. And kids can learn what video games used to be like.

This is a very funny movie that, in all honesty, made me realize my age. At one point Jake is telling Annie something happened at a roller rink and Annie has no idea what that is. Why would she?

There is a sweet ending that will warm any Grinch’s heart and is wi – I should stop. Trust me, this is a good one.

Two NES controllers up!

Available on HBO Max. <