Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BLINDED BY THE LIGHT

BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, just like my previous comparison of Goosebumps to Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark, is exactly what the recent film Yesterday should of been: a much more entertaining story that got its inspiration from a musical source. While Yesterday was about The Beatles, Blinded By The Light is based on the true story of journalist Sarfraz Manzoor (the character here is named Javed Khan) and how the influence of Bruce Springsteen and his music changed Sarfraz’s outlook on life living as a British-Pakistani Muslim in the late 1980’s. Yesterday, in my opinion, kind of looks at the music of the Beatles as an afterthought, not really digging deep into the meaning and inspiration of the lyrics and instead uses it as just a mere gimmick as an answer to a “what if” question. Bruce Springsteen’s influence is all over the screen here, really supporting the narrative and bringing something unique to a true life success story we’ve seen plenty of times throughout the history of cinema.

The story features a teenager named Javed Khan and his family living in Luton, England, in the 1980s, at a time where the National Front did not appreciate Pakistani’s immigrating to Britian because of terrorist rule and suppression on Pakistani’s homeland at that time. Javed’s father Malik, has just been laid off at his job, forcing the rest of the family to find jobs or do more with their current ones to feed everyone and pay the bills. Not to mention, Javed is one of only two South Asian students at his school and he is having difficulty coming out of his shell and sharing his writings and poems anyone outside of himself even though he has his English teacher Ms. Clay, played by the beautiful Hayley Atwell, keeping an eye on him as she sees his potential. Javed eventually bumps into the other South Asian student, named Roops, a big fan of Bruce Springsteen, who gives Javed several of his cassettes for him to listen to, as he feels that Bruce’s music and lyrics describe the very hardships they are going through currently. After a night of listening to both tapes straight, Javed is hooked and obsessed with Springsteen, whose melodies and messages gives Javed the inner strength he needs to overcome his obstacles and suppression and make a difference with his life.

The main focus of the story of Javed, other than getting his writing career a jump start kick to the pants, is his relationship with his father Malik. You’ve seen it in many movies before, the rocky relationship between father and son, where the son wants to be accepted by his father/parents for what he wants to do as a career in life, his sexuality, etc. A lot of those movies lose that focus about halfway through the film and then try to wrap it up in a nice and neat little bow in the last ten minutes of the film. Not this movie though, as it has that perfect balance narrative wise needed between Javed getting inspired by Springsteen’s music, getting a foot in the door with his writing career, and trying to be accepted by his father in a household where the father’s wishes and expectations are normally always met 100%. The film is a solid 2 hours of based on a true life storytelling, managing to even squeeze it Javed’s relationship with his child hood friend and getting to date and kiss a girl for the first time, without any of it feeling like filler or being overstuffed.

And I really, really, really, really, really love how they handle Bruce Springsteen and his music and lyrics here. We constantly see what Javed sees and hear what Javed hears while listening to Springsteen while in some of the scenes Springsteens words appear on screen to highlight the exact inspiration that Javed is feeling at the moment. You would think the filmmakers would accidentally use these tactics in the narrative too much to hit its point over the head, but thankfully the movie manages to sidestep that pitfall and only doing it sporadically and also feature moments where the audience needs to listen to the lyrics themselves to understand the feelings that Javed is having at that moment. It’s really quite clever when you see it. The director of this film mostly directs Bollywood films but you may have heard of another little great movie from 2002 that was all the rage at the time, Bend It Like Beckham.

Her name is Gurinder Chadha and not only is she a terrific actor’s director, getting fantastic performances out of everyone involved, but visually this film is terrific as well. Her shots combined with the gritty at times yet uplifting cinematography, fashion, and sets made me feel as though I was right smack dab in the middle of late 80’s Britain. Getting to the acting sides of things, everyone but Hayley Atwell is an unknown, with the incredible Viveik Kalra playing Javed with just the right amount of suppressed angst turned into influence without making the character feel overly sappy or sympathetic. He makes Javed a true hero of his story. Another strong and central performance is Javed’s father Malik played by Kulvinder Ghir, who at first you think is just going to be that hard-ass two-dimensional performance, but a break down scene to his wife in the middle of the film changes all that, bringing a bit of uniqueness to an other wise cliched role that audiences have seen one too many times.

If you had a choice between Blinded By The Light or Yesterday, I would pick Blinded each and every time. What is kind of funny is that the latter was directed by Danny Boyle, usually a really superb visionary director, shot that film plain Jane, where Chadha runs circles around him professionally with this film. It is a feel good and very funny movie that actually earns that feel goodness and laughs instead of trying to force feed you it like Yesterday kind of did (I know I’m ripping on Yesterday a little bit, even though I did recommend that film, this one is similar yet way better). Obviously I am going to recommend it to any Bruce Springsteen fan out there, but this movie transcends from just catering to die hard fans by bringing a film that, even if you aren’t that familiar with his music, you could still enjoy just the same amount as anyone. It is certainly a surprise to see this movie released in August, as usually this is the summer dump period of blockbuster rejects. Glad to see there is a speck of light in this blinded by dumb teenager shark sequels and action three-quels no one really asked for month.

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Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: VERONICA MARS (Season 4) **MAJOR SPOILERS**

It’s been out for a month now, and even though my headline says “binge watchin'” it actually took me a month to finally finish VERONICA MARS SEASON 4, which says a lot, as I am a huge Veronica Mars fan. Yes, I am going to get to THAT spoiler, THAT ending, but this season has a whole mess of problems other than THAT gut wrenching twist. To start, I feel like I need to reveal something about my knowledge of Season 4 before you read the rest of this review, my own little stupid twist if you will. After watching the first episode without knowing shit, I went ahead and took a peek at what happens at the end, including the who dun it, and the death of one of the main characters that has gotten fans up in arms, claiming they will not watch another season if it happens to be made (it probably will, and I call bullshit, you’ll watch it). Knowing what was going to happen, combined with having to wait to watch it with my wife, combined with my 2 year old always being around (this series definitely not suitable for him) are all factors why it took so long to watch. Thinking back on everything though, had I binge watched it all in a day, not knowing what would’ve happened before then, I would’ve still come to the same conclusion. Veronica Mars Season 4 is the worst thing to happen to Veronica Mars.

Yes, that includes the very mixed Season 3. For me, the first two seasons of Veronica Mars are masterful, and the movie is pretty decent. Season 3 has some greatness in it, but the main problem with it is that I just didn’t really much care for the overarching plots of the series, the Hearst college rapist and then figuring out who was Dean O’Dell’s killer. The greatness came from the non-overlapping story arcs. The individual cases. All these television shows nowadays mostly consist of individual episodes that solve one mystery/murder/what have you every 42 minute segment, but then the whole season has one big overlapping narrative that is usually a question posed in the season opener and then answered/resolved by the season finale. And here in lies the main problem with Veronica Mars Season 4, it ONLY has a overlapping narrative. In the 8 episodes that were all made available on Hulu the same day, there are NO INDIVIDUAL/MULTIPLE cases for Veronica Mars and co. to solve, it’s just one, and it is dragged out for SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNG, and ultimately is a disappointment, because I guessed the culprit in the first episode before I spoiled myself, and I was guessed correctly (TBH, I was 3/4th’s right).

The one and only main plot of these 8 episodes asks the question “who is the Neptune Spring Break bomber?” In the first episode, a local hotel/motel called The Sea Sprite is bombed, and then throughout the rest of the episodes more places and people are bombed. Who is doing it and why? Let me answer that with another question, who cares? Who is ultimately doing it and why (there in the end being two answers and two whys) comes off as a big disappointment. I put major spoilers in the title because I’m only going to reveal the last minute twist that has die hard fans stark raving mad. Let’s just say that the reasons behind everything are ho-hum at best, and have been done countless times before across countless movies/tv shows. If you want a hint, think of I Know What You Did Last Summer mixed with elements of the bad guys’ scheme in The Brady Bunch Movie and you have your answer. Overdone, over played, and the fact that all 8 of these episode are dedicated to this plot and this plot only, and that the episodes stretch from 50 minutes to one hour, and you can see how frustratingly long it all feels.

If this main plot was filled out over a course of a regular season of Veronica Mars back when it was on WB/CW, but with non-related individual cases each episode, it maybe could’ve fared better. Key word is MAYBE. But with all the information that is gathered during the course of the season, I could’ve even seen this bomb plot played out and solved in one or two regular individual episodes. There really isn’t that much too it. Sure, there are B and C plots that involve congressmen, bar owners, and the Mexican Cartel out for revenge for someone who was killed/injured in the main explosion, but ALL OF IT surrounds the bombings, and it just wasn’t that interesting to me. I didn’t care. The difference between me and the regular hard core base of Veronica Mars fans is that I honestly think they enjoyed most of the season and that the only thing that ruined it was the very last minute, stupid, bullshit, dumb, lazy, idiotic, written only for the purpose of being shocking and not at all to help advance realistic character development, twist that had all of them screaming their vile language and hatred toward creator Rob Thomas: The Death of Logan Echolls.

That’s right, Logan Echolls (a character from the first episode of the first season, the ultimate love of Veronica’s life) dies at the very, very end of Veronica Mars Season 4. There are no take backs. It’s true that we don’t see a body and we only see the explosion, but there is no question about it: he is dead (if it ever turns out Rob Thomas was joshing everyone and in Season 5 it tries to pull off the “Alias Season 5 Michael Vaughn faking his death” twist to protect him and everyone else all along, all of Thomas’s credibility as a storyteller will go straight out the window). But we are all pretty certain Logan is dead as there is a long enough epilogue that mentions a funeral, a sweet endearing voice message from him to Veronica, and then her leaving Neptune for good to help others because she just can’t take that city that has caused her so much pain anymore. And then there is also Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell doing multiple interviews explaining why Logan Echolls had to die. It was to keep the noir-ness of Veronica Mars intact and that they couldn’t imagine writing more stories of her solving more mysteries while she had a boyfriend or husband waiting back home. BULL and SHIT.

You are telling me that they couldn’t have maybe had some team ups and him and Veronica solve some mysteries together? Fucking please. Rob Thomas’ explanation makes zero lick of sense and I think he just wrote Logan Echolls death just to be shocking because he probably realized that the rest of the season sucked and wanted to go out with a literal bang. If his death was hinted at throughout all 8 episodes and planned better, maybe it would’ve made sense. But there are literally little to no foreshadowing hints, until about 10 minutes before it happens. And the fact that Echolls gets blown up right after Veronica and him get married was just soap opera cliched drama bullshit. It’s all a farce. He is essentially saying that Veronica Mars can’t have a happy ending doing what she does. I don’t think that is necessarily true. I agree it has to be true for a character like Jack Bauer, who defends the country from terrorists and a whole other bunch of violence each season, but not Veronica Mars. I think Veronica can have a happy life and ending but also solve these noir-like mysteries. I think that maybe Rob Thomas has finally lost touch with one of his characters/franchises. It’s really sad.

It would’ve made more sense if maybe Enrico Colantoni exploded in the car instead of Logan, as the whole season pointed to him becoming too frail and absent minded to continue being a private investigator, but nope, at the end it reveals he was getting frail because of a bad combination of prescribed meds, but it’s all fixed and he’s perfectly okay. Then it should’ve/could’ve went boom, he gets killed in the car explosion anyway, fate claiming its final victim for the season as that grim fate was foreshadowed all season long. But nope, Rob Thomas doesn’t know how to connect the dots. It’s a Game of Thrones type shame. But as I was saying, Logan Echolls’ death wasn’t the worst thing to happen to the season, but it will be the only thing fans will painstakingly remember. What everyone should be focused on was that the main mystery narrative was overlong, stretched way too far out, boring, and predictable, ultimately leading to no one really wanting to ever revisit it again, and just stop at the end of the movie, and consider the story done.

Man, I make it sound like there was nothing good to come of this season. That’s not necessarily true. Before that final death, all of the character development was spot on from seasons past with that little lessons that they learned from previous interactions sneaking its way into their personalities. The dialogue is as original, crisp and witty as ever, making that and the character interactions the only things that made this season even watchable. The fan service was nice, seeing characters from the past show up in little tiny arcs/conclusions here and there (I won’t spoil those), I just wish that maybe Percy, who was Veronica’s right hand man in the first several seasons, had more to do, but his reason for not being in the game anymore are completely legit. Then you have new characters played by Patton Oswalt and the great J.K. Simmons, who I kind of felt were wasted given their talents, especially Simmons. Oswalt had a little more meat to his role, but his character, Penn, could’ve still been written better.

I can’t just be one to write off Season 4 as fan fiction and non canon. It happened. We wanted more Veronica Mars, and we got more, just not the more we were deserving or expecting. Maybe Rob Thomas can course correct if there is ever a Season 5 or another movie. And I don’t mean course correct by bringing Logan Echolls magically back to life, I mean go back to the basics: have one overarching mystery with little hints and bits of narrative development in each episode, but then each episode has its own self-contained case to solve. If it is a movie, have a non-cliched, cool kind of mysterious caper, like the first movie was but just make the sequel bigger and better. Basically: Make Veronica Mars Fun Again or Make Veronica Mars Mysterious Again, whatever your fan slogan might be, it’s probably the right one. This season was too gritty, predictable, and the narrative was fucking abysmally lazy. It wasn’t mysterious and it wasn’t fun. Those are the only two ingredients needed to make those sweet, sweet Marshmallows reappear for another course.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK

SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK is exactly what Goosebumps should have been, a semi-hard PG-13 romp that not only took several of the stories we grew up on and combined them into one tale, but also took itself seriously. Goosebumps was too goofy and very, very light on the scares. Probably had something to do with Jack Black’s weird awkward impersonation of R.L. Stine…anyway, we aren’t here to talk about that mediocre movie, I want to talk more about this one. This is extremely well shot, acted, and just well made in general. When seeing previews for this (the marketing was kind of s0-so) in general, everything about it looked absolutely bland. While I only remember a few of the stories from those short story novellas, I knew that they were pretty dark and gloomy for kids my age, and everything advertised about the movie seemed too…I don’t know….light and campy? Thankfully, the finished product is much better than advertised, as I thought it was one of the most effective PG-13 horror films in a very long time.

If I remember correctly, I think there were a total of three of those Scary Stories books and I think I maybe owned one or two of them. So in the advertisements of these movies, I could really only pick up The Scarecrow and The Big Red Spot, and didn’t really know any of the other references. I just know that while the books had these fantastic drawings and stories of dread, none of it was ever really depressing, just a tale to give you some minor chills in the night before you went to bed, if you even wanted that. So why the hell I expected this to get an R rating and was a little disappointed when it was just PG-13 I will never understand, because this series of movies (this is the second weekend it is out, and has made enough to warrant a sequel), should never be are. They are exactly what they need to be, a medium to medium-hard PG-13 movie that provides some actual genuine scares. No cheap little jump scares with music accompaniment here…well, maybe one or two, but they are more earned than you know.

The film is gorgeously directed by Andre Ovredal, who I should’ve had more faith in, as I enjoyed his previous two films, Troll Hunter and The Autopsy of Jane Doe. Because he doesn’t sacrifice story for scares. This movie is about an hour and 48 minutes and he spends at least the first half setting up very strong character development, from all the kids involved. The film takes its time to get to the scares as well, clearly setting up the story before the first monster pops out. The plot is basically very, very reminiscent of Goosebumps to be sure, as a girl, two of her closest friends, and a strange but handsome new kid go to a haunted house on Halloween night. The girl eventually finds a book of a past child murderer in the house, a book where this murderer would write some truly scary stories. Legend told that if you asked this murderer, named Sarah Bellows, to read you a story, it would be the last story you ever heard. The main good girl protagonist asks that very question. The book begins to write new stories on the blank pages, and it involves her and her friends. Like Goosebumps, it combines several of the stories into the over all narrative, and the girl and her friends have to find a way not to be “killed” and sucked into the story.

But here is where Goosebumps went wrong to the point where I’m okay with Scary Stories basically “borrowing” it’s plot. Goosebumps didn’t have any scares, it was just goofy and fun “frights” and with Jack Black involved, it never took itself seriously. Plus, Goosebumps used WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY too many narrative threads and characters from the books in the first too films, it felt really, really over stuffed. We only get four here. This film takes itself very seriously, as there are very serious consequences for some of our characters. Not to ruin the ending, but the only thing I was sort of disappointed with the movie was there was several lines of dialogue at the end that gave hope to some of the tragedies that had just happened, maybe undoing some of what happened. The film clearly sets up a sequel, but hopefully the filmmakers have some time to figure out something to do without cheapening the effects of what had happened. Supposedly though, this to be an introduction film to really hard scary films though for teenagers, and I have a feeling they might actually do the undone route in the sequel. Who knows, but I will definitely be there for the journey.

There are mostly unknowns in this film, unless you are a really big fan of Breaking Bad like I am, but even then you only see Hank in a couple of scenes. This is the kids show, and all of the kids do a spectacular job of acting, especially the main girl protagonist, played by Zoe Margaret Colletti. The film uses a mixture of practical effects and CGI and I have to say it mostly did a pretty great job. With the except of some parts of the Jangly Man, which they actually had a guy that could contort his body all weird, those scenes looked good, except when they had to use CGI to contort his body where that performer couldn’t, then it looked a little weak. But yeah, this is actually week two of the film being out, and I initially wasn’t going to see it for the PG-13 rating and the marketing didn’t really impress me. But then a couple of friends saw it and recommended it, and it got a pretty decent Rotten Tomatoes score, so I decided to give it a chance, and was happy I did. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t even close to the greatest PG-13 horror film of all time, far from it, but it is an enjoyable, really well shot (the cinematography is top notch) and acted little scare fest that happened to pull it all off because it took itself seriously. Really wish that Goosebumps had done the same thing, maybe it will if there is a third?

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: 47 METERS DOWN – UNCAGED

“WHERE ARE THEIR PHOOOOOOOOOONES?!?” was a constant question Kim and I were asking (I’ll explain later) when watching this idiotic, moronic, stupid, full of shit shark sequel. 47 METERS DOWN: UNCAGED really tests the patience and intelligence of its audience. I have never been more bored watching four dumb idiotic teenage girls screaming for their lives, traveling through long claustrophobic tunnels with their asses hanging out of their thin bikini bottoms. I wanted all of their characters to die within 10 minutes of the film, and the only reason why I didn’t walk out of this movie, is because I don’t feel like I can review a film for ya’ll unless I watch the entire thing, and I was with a good friend….and the experiences ended up being worth it because film ended up breaking us….into huge fits of laughs and giggles at the very end (again, I’ll explain later). Uncaged is easily the worst shark film since Jaws: The Revenge, and yes, that thought includes Sharknado. Oh, and it’s easily one of the worst films of 2019. Shark tooth to my eye though I’d watch this again before Sextuplets.

This film, while being a sequel to the first one from 2017, is really just a sequel in name only. Mandy Moore isn’t back, it’s a whole new situation, and doesn’t involve people in cages (hence the title). The story features four dumb ass annoying teen girls that sneak off to a secluded little swimming spot no one else knows about in Mexico. This spot was found by one of the teens’ dad, who is in charge of mapping out this secret Mayan underwater city that his job just currently found. They decide since that Dad is farther away attending to a new entrance discovered a day before, that they will take his teams scuba gear and just do a quick in and out little excursion. Yet they get scared of a little blind fish yelling at them (I shit you not) and accidentally cause a cave-in and the entrance to the place is blocked. With limited air and limited time they have got to find a way out…all while avoiding these weird blind albino great white sharks that happened to live, evolve, and grow in these ancient tunnels. Who lives? Who dies? Who gives a shit? Because literally every tense and jump shot moment were stolen from other much, much, much better shark attack films. No originality whatsoever here.

The first 47 Meters Down was okay until one of the stupidest twist endings of all time completely shattered whatever benefit of the doubt I was giving it. Oh, and Mandy Moore and Claire Holt were actually half way decent actresses with the limited range the script gave for their characters. While it doesn’t have a stupid twist ending, it has a regular laughable one, and everyone’s character here sucks ass. Whenever one of their mouths opened, it was like they were screeching really loud in my ears, so much so I wanted to take the main protagonist girls’ shark tooth she had in her pocket and cut my own ears off. It was just complaining, bitching, dumb decision making, and constant screaming. Jamie Foxx’s and Sylvestor Stallone’s daughters play two of the main four protagonists here, and some back door dealing had to have been made to get them the roles, because they were absolutely abysmal and I hope they never get hired to act again. John Corbett (you know who he is even if you don’t) gets the coveted ‘and’ title in the credits, and is in it just enough to spout of a few lines as himself and then even try and steal Samuel L. Jackson’s famous speech and scene in Deep Blue Sea.

And that’s the third big problem of this film, other than the boredom and the acting, is that all of its thrills are stolen from other shark movies. A shark kills a person, and Kim and I would constantly guess when exactly the mangled body would float up and scare a different character, which isn’t anything new in a shark movie. I already mentioned above that they completely rip off Samuel L. Jackson’s moment in Deep Blue Sea. They also even rip off another moment from that film when a character finds a sharp object to stab the shark and escape while being held in the great white’s mouth. All of the jump scares are cheap and always accompanied loud, annoying, crescendo bang to the musical score to try and make you jump in your seat. The film rips off the Stephen King adaptation 1408 by trying to make the song sung by The Carpenters creepy again. A character fires a flare gun at a shark, etc. etc. etc. There is not an original bone in this films’ body. The Mayan caves aren’t even that interesting to look at.

While the sharks look okay, the rest of the CGI (including that small blind fish that scared the girls) is abysmal. There is this one scene near the end where the characters that managed to survive at that point have to go through this giant current tunnel thing. You can completely tell that the girls are in just a steady and calm location while “acting” and post production just lazily floods most of the rest of the screen with fast moving CGI water bubbles to make it seem like the sea is hectic around them. Completely unconvincing. You really have to suspend your belief with some of the shit that goes on in this film. And eventually, at the very, very end, the film both broke Kim and I with uncontrollable unintentional laughter. Near the beginning of the film, the teenagers have to walk a long, long way from their cars to get to this little water paradise spot. When they get there, they sort of high up, and instead of taking the path to lead them to the surface of the water, they just happily jump in. WHERE ARE THEIR PHOOOOOOONES?!?!? Did they leave them in their car? There is absolutely no explanatory dialogue either, no “we’ll just leave our phones in the car because we won’t be long” or “We need to leave our phones in the car so our parents can’t track us” and not even a “we’ll leave our phones in the car because we won’t get a signal at this place anyway and don’t want them to get wet.” Nothing, made absolutely no sense.

Then throughout the movie, there is a bunch of foreshadowed shit that Kim and I leaned over to each other and either just said “foreshadowing” or “this will come back later” and sure enough, we were right…but instead of spreading out these payoffs to the set ups evenly and all throughout the film, THEY ALL COME BACK IN THE LAST 5 MINUTES. Hence why it broke us. Especially the last one where I called what would happen with a certain shark tooth that was introduced only five minutes into the film. Once we knew it was about to come back on screen, it was uncontrollable giggles until the end credits. So which is better, the first one or Uncaged? No clear winner, they are both nasty shark chum. I looked up to see what other bullshit writer/director Johannes Roberts has done other than these two shark movies, and lo and behold…he also did the sequel to The Strangers: Prey at Night, which also had a bunch of idiotic shit like this film did. And he’s done other shit that I haven’t seen because all of his filmography is poorly reviewed. Good riddance. I really hope they don’t make another, but mark my words, we’ll probably see a third one green lit soon. But maybe not, maybe there is a chance that his career be attacked this shark and be buried at sea forever. This was one….dumb ass shark doo doo doo doo doo doo.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SEXTUPLETS (Netflix) (My New Worst Film Of All Time)

SEXTUPLETS is the worst thing since AIDS. It is now officially takes the top dunce cap spot as the worst film I have ever seen. It is probably going to be one of the final nails in the coffin of Netflix, which now has maybe two years left once Disney + and other streaming services arrive and take all their content back. You are telling me that Netflix is fronting checks to both Adam Sandler and Marlon Wayans for these types of shit films yet they fucking cancel Santa Clarita Diet? Fuck you Netflix. Once all of these other companies take their content, what the hell are you going to have left? 50 dumb Adam Sandler movies and another 50 dumb Marlon Wayans ones? All you have left is Stranger Things, and after one or two more seasons you won’t even have that anymore. You shit the bed with House of Cards (sort of not your fault) and you cancel everything else after two to three seasons because of financing issues. The only great original films you have produced was Mudbound and Roma. Everything else is absolute garbage except for passable good films such as almost everything you have with Noah Centineo or that one pageant film with Jennifer Aniston I can’t even remember the name of. Embarrassing. And I thought Wine Country was easily the worst film of the year. Sextuplets asked it to hold its fucking wine…

I’m reviewing this film to warn you all: DO NOT FUCKING WATCH IT. If you watch it and hate it, you are just wasting your time. If you watch it and actually think it’s a decent film like some dumb ass critic at Variety, please unfriend me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, wherever I’m linked to you on social media, because I will never talk to you again. That’s how bad this film is. I did not laugh, chuckle, or semi-snort one time. In fact, I was cringing half the movie of how badly it was written and acted. If you must know, the movie is about a guy named Alan about to have a baby, that doesn’t know any of his biological family medical history because he was adopted, so he gets a judge to unseal his adoption records, and he finds out that he is one of six children born at the same time, hence Sextuplets. Marlon Wayans decided to take the Eddie Muprhy/Martin Lawrence route and play all 6 of the characters (and a secret 7th one, but you can guess who he plays 15 minutes in before that character shows up at the very end of the movie). You thought Norbit was bad? This film makes Norbit look like the first remake of The Nutty Professor.

And each character that Marlon Wayans plays gets more ridiculous and more annoying than the last. The film starts out like a plain harmless Netflix comedy with no laughs, but once that first sibling, Russell I believe, shows up, everything goes straight to hell. Wayans plays everyone over the top, ridiculously annoying, somewhat probably offensive and stupid. 2 of them are fat, one of those being a woman (because why not?), one is tiny, small, and fragile (think that dumb film where Marlon Wayan’s face is on the CGI body of a baby) and has a bunch of medical problems, one plays a more mean, gross and perverted version of the original Alan named Ethan (just there so he can cut his hair and look exactly like Alan for some identity mix up stupid hi jinks bullshit), and then the last one plays a conspiracy theory black ginger. I shit you not. Some of these characters are going to be extremely offensive to some people (I don’t get offended that easily, but I can just imagine some people getting flabbergasted) and Tiffany Haddish now needs to sue Marlon Wayans, because the girl sextuplet he plays named Dawn, is basically just a more crass and loud fat Tiffany Haddish. Gun to my head, I couldn’t tell you which of the siblings was the worst, but I rolled my eyes a bunch at Dawn and Russell, and my eyeballs almost fell out of my sockets when we meet Jaspar.

What probably flabbergasted me the most is that this movie was based off a children’s book by the same name by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (I haven’t read it). The word BASED needs to be in bold and in huge letters because there is no way this film contains any of the books content, especially when a couple of F words and unfunny dick and fart joke humor comes flying about. I don’t understand how this film could’ve gotten made. Did anybody at Netflix or the director or any of the otheractors actually read the fucking script before green lighting it? Was Marlon Wayans last Netflix film, Naked, really that good to them (I thought it was meh)? I mean, this script is so, so bad. You have Michael Ian Black and Molly Shannon showing up in this piece of shit, and the latter does some pretty offensive long drawn out quips to one of Wayans’ characters midway through the film.

I just, I just don’t understand how this movie exists from Netflix, yet we will never get anymore of the masterful Santa Clarita Diet. Who is running the show here? The direction is awful, the make up is awful, the music is awful, the dialogue is awful, everything about this movie is abysmal. I then proceeded to look up the director, and of course he directed Marlon Wayans “hits” such as both dumb fucking Haunted House parody movies and the worse Fifty Shades of Black. They even warned other filmmakers in the film Tropic Thunder to stop making films like this with that Jack Black parody trailer, yet they still don’t listen (which I would watch a bazillion times before ever watching Sextuplets again). Please, for the love of God, even if you are laughing at my review and are curious to see how bad this thing is: DO NOT WATCH IT. DO NOT SUPPORT SHIT LIKE THIS. I KNOW I DID, BUT I MADE A SACRIFICE FLY FOR THE TEAM!!!

My last concluding paragraph is quite simple: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEETTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2 (now on video, minor spoilers)

To start my review, I’m letting you know right now that I didn’t like the original film, so if you want to ditch my review after this sentence, just know that if you liked the first, you are going to love THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2. Now while I did not love the sequel, I will say that, in my opinion, it is vastly superior to the original, for a whole bunch of reasons, but also for a whole bunch of reasons, I didn’t necessarily like it that much anyway. My tiny almost two year old son enjoys it, and so if we want to keep him calm, cool, and collected, I have no problem putting this on as he sat through the whole thing, attention dead center, the first time. For comparison, he’s up and about doing other things by minute 10 in the original. But considering I did not laugh at all, find the plot interesting or coherent, or enjoy looking at the animation in the first one, and laughed out loud several times, liked some of the plot, and enjoyed the some look of this one, I’ll consider any kind of improvement welcome in this case.

And don’t listen to my pessimistic ass at all if you and your family (especially the little ones) enjoyed the first one and haven’t seen and are looking forward to this (digitally it is out now, physical or rent-able in one to two weeks). I look too hard into these things. I really liked Incredibles 2 when it first came out, yet now I pick it apart like a fine tooth comb, and I didn’t like Finding Nemo at first but over time have come to appreciate it as a classic (the sequel, not so much), so my taste is all over the fucking place with animated/kids films. I like to say that I have an eye for some good storytelling though, and that’s why I didn’t really like the first film. When you sit me down and tell me that I’m going to watch a movie called The Secret Life of Pets, I expect a fun little adventure of some over-the-top albeit somewhat realistic adventure of what pets really do, think, behave and what-not while we are gone. The first film started out like that, with a couple of minor slight chuckle worthy jokes, but then Max the dog and the new dog in his life Duke go on this bizarre zany adventure where they end up in a sewer filled with all sorts of exotic animals, I think they drive a damn truck at one point (I don’t remember as I’ve only seen it fully once in the theater and then in passing as my wife has it on in the background for my son while he plays in the living room), and, I don’t know, it just didn’t feel like pets were living out a “secret life” in front of me.

Universal and Illumination were just plastering these pets on the screen and pointed and yelled in your face, “look, it’s cute fucking pets doing weird fucking pet shit while you are gone and then they go on this lazy awkward adventure, BUT LOOK HOW FUCKING CUTE THEY ARE, WE EVEN GOT KEVIN HART TO YELL INTO THE MICROPHONE AS A CUTE PET BUNNY, WE WILL KILL YOU ALL WITH THIS CUTENESS!” It may have worked on most of you, but for me, I turned to the filmmakers and answered back, “Why….why are you yelling at me?” The first film wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t work, and I found it maybe one step above the filth that are animated films that come and go out of theaters and no one hears from again, i.e. Ugly Dolls. Basically, not shit, just dull. Uninspired. So since my wife really liked the first movie, she’s seen it several times, and since we own it, unfortunately I knew that we’d have to own the sequel, because of my sequel rule (Rule: If you own the theatrical original, you have to own the theatrical sequels, although direct-to-video shit doesn’t count). But curiosity of course killed my inner cat and was wondering how the fuck would they make a sequel to a really dull original film?

Well, turns out, they fixed some of their mistakes. Notice I said some, as there is one part of the multiple plotted sequel that I didn’t care for, and all the stories ended up colliding with the part I didn’t care for, which made me really not like the 3rd act, but we’ll get to that in a second. Let me explain the three plots. Plot A: Max and Duke’s owner marries a guy, they have a kid together, and Max ends up caring so much for the kid that he thinks the outside world is dangerous, goes neurotic, and he ends up going to a vet, and then they end up visiting the husband’s brother and his ranch, who has a dog voiced by Han Solo, that teaches Max to bulk up yet calm the fuck down about life in general. Plot B: Chloe and Snowball meet Daisy, voiced by Tiffany Haddish because she’s getting all the roles after Girl’s Trip, and assist her in rescuing a white bengal Tiger from this circus owner and his insane wolves and pet monkey who are about to turn him into a rug if he doesn’t turn tricks at the circus shows. Meanwhile Snowball was dressed as a superhero at the beginning of the film and wants to prove he is actually one. Plot C: Gidget promises to keep Max’s favorite toy, Busy Bee, safe while he is gone out to that ranch, but she loses it to this old lady’s posse of cats, so with the help of Norman and lessons from Chloe, learns to be a cat to try and retrieve the toy back.

Sounds like a lot of plot huh? Will it surprise you when I reveal that even after the mid credits scene this movie is only an hour and 20 minutes long? I know right? Somehow though, they manage to pull it off even though it all feels too stuffy, where they could’ve added an extra fifteen minutes with Max, Harrison Ford, and the ranch to have it more well rounded (my favorite plot of the three plots btw). Guess which was my least favorite of the three? That’s right, Kevin Hart’s Snowball. How Kevin Hart doesn’t have a fucking migraine after his voice sessions is beyond my reason of understanding as he literally yells all of his fucking lines the entire film. It’s SOOO annoying, but I guess you can chalk it up to the fact that I’m not the biggest Kevin Hart fan around. But it isn’t just him, it’s his plot. The other two plots I enjoyed because it displayed the “secret” life of these pets and had jokes that I felt that landed, were a little over-the-top but also had their foot inside the door of some grounded realism. The Snowball plot? Ridiculous from the get go. And unfortunately for the 3rd act, Plots A and C I felt wrapped up too quickly and those characters took the lessons they learned quite fast so the whole thing could integrate into plot B and have that as the climax. And since I didn’t like Plot B, you can tell my enthusiasm of having it be the ultimate capper for the film.

What the filmmakers should have done was have plots B and C integrate into a more daring and elaborate Plot A climax. There was a bunch of stuff that could’ve happened on the ranch that Max and Duke went to that could’ve combined all three stories. But instead, they chose to go with Kevin Hart and Snowball since they feel that the audience force laughs to that the best. Where if they really paid attention they would’ve realized we laughed the best to the naturally organic jokes in Plots A and C and did something to that. In fact, I think that Snowball’s plot could’ve been completely thrown out the window and expanded on the other two to make a much stronger and superior sequel. But with Hollywood, and me looking in on the ultimate outsides of outside, I have literally no say in the matter, so I took what I could get. I really liked Plots A and C, and loved Harrison Ford’s new dog character Rooster. It seemed like Ford actually fucking tried. And the pets did funny pet-inspired things, none of them tried to be a fucking bunny that was aiming to be a wacky angry superhero straight out of a Zack Snyder movie. The white bengal tiger was cute but the wolves, the nasty circus owner and his pet monkey were dull to the point of being abysmal. Also, of course with there being a lot of plot, some characters from the first are going to get very limited screentime in the second, the one most effected is Duke, who literally does almost nothing. But I guess his story was really just the first film…and they basically wrapped his entire character arc up with it.

The animation, especially in the forest and outside at the ranch seemed more intricate and inspired. And the voice acting was pretty good. Patton Oswalt did his best to sound like sexual abuser Louis C.K. and not the rat from Ratatouille. Even though Tiffany Haddish voice is very recognizable she seemed into it and not just reading off paper. Jenny Slate and Harrison Ford were the true winners here though. Like I said, Kevin Hart was annoying with his yelling and Nick Kroll added nothing the evil circus owner we’ve heard a billion times before. Out of curiosity, I went to the “always reliable” Rotten Tomatoes. The critics are nuts on this and the audience score is telling me everything I needed to know and confirm. Critics liked the first film better, the score 73% to 59%. The audience score for me tells it like how I personally felt (albeit with much lower numbers for both). 62% for the first film, but a whopping 90% for the second film. I don’t think Universal’s Illumination Animation has had a great film since the very first Despicable Me. If the writers try even harder when the inevitable The Secret Life of Pets 3 comes out, maybe third time’s the charm to add a second great animated film to their roster?

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY (now on video, so some spoilers)

Now for a couple of reviews that will be focused upon film that were released earlier this year but I didn’t get a chance (or skipped it thinking it would be terrible) to see in theaters. While I knew that FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY got pretty damn good reviews, it currently sits at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, I didn’t see it really as a theatrical experience. I was right to make myself wait for video. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a solid movie showcasing the rise to stardom of WWE’s Paige, I figured that I probably wouldn’t have gotten anything more out of it from seeing it on a giant screen (I confess, I watched this on my phone…but on an official HD Streaming Platform). I think it is the best movie about wrestling there is….wait, I mean, are there really many? The only other one I can think of is Ready 2 Rumble with David Arquette, which is a guilty pleasure for me. But the movie did what it set out to do, where as the whole who wins, who loses, choreography, script, etc, etc in wrestling is fake, it in actuality is a lot of work (both mentally and physically) on an individual, and really hard to get into professionally.

Paige actually doesn’t star in this herself (kind of surprising since she is only 3 years older than the actress who plays her and doesn’t she act anyway in the WWE?), so they got a sort of not really familiar face in Florence Pugh. You probably have no idea who this actress is, but I do, and I know she’s been having a helluva 2019 so far. She has this, Midsommar, and the upcoming Oscar bait Little Women, last year she had numerous roles in things as well such as Netflix’s Outlaw King, The Commuter with Liam Neeson, that Little Drummer Girl limited series with Alexander Skaarsgaard. And there’s a good reason why she’s getting so much work. She’s a helluva fucking actress. Everything I see her in she keeps getting better and better (one reason to see Midsommar is that it’s literally her best performance ever). And here, she completely embodies Paige (from the very small real footage I’ve seen of the wrestler), and manages to convince me that she was the underdog her overcame all obstacles thrown at her.

The movie deals with her entire rise to the beginning of her WWE stardom, and also deals with her mom and dad (who run a small Wrestling little Federation in England) being proud of her, but then dealing with her brother, who doesn’t even pass the first stage of getting even remotely close to the WWE. The reason why this wasn’t much of a theatrical experience is that all of these story lines play out exactly as you think. When Paige wants to quit, her parents try to convince her not to, and while her brother is at first jealous of her, he eventually finds his footing and gets mad at her when she wants to give up when she’s so close to both of their dreams. And if you want to see this because you are hoping for several real fun matches of Paige on the WWE, prepare to be disappointed, it’s mostly all just training montages with a couple of short matches in the small England Federation her Mom and Dad own, and then literally her first match on WWE. That’s it. But if you come for the inspiring story, like I do, then you are in for a half way decent treat. Note that when it says, “Based on a true story,” that what it shows you probably didn’t happen exactly as it shows (especially the clamming up during Paige’s first WWE appearance, I don’t think that happened) but the heart of it is plainly there to see. I liked that the movie also had these other women trying out for the WWE and even though they were former models or pin up bikini models, they were actually smart and had actual lives outside of wrestling. It’s a very woman empowering film.

Those wanting to watch it because the are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson completists, I know that they advertised the shit out of him in the marketing campaign, but he is just a glorified cameo. He is literally in only two scenes, one which is completely spoiled in the trailer to the film. Honestly, whenever any celebrity is on the “and” tail end of a movie poster, I know to not expect them in the film all that much (aka Drew Barrymore in Scream and Bryan Cranston in Godzilla, except Dwayne obviously doesn’t die here). But even in the scenes he is in, he reeks his hard yet gentle charisma and shows why he is getting a lot of work in the film business today. The film is written and directed by Stephen Merchant, and anybody whose anybody knows that he’s a good friend of Simon Pegg’s, Nick Frost (who’s really funny in the limited screen time in this as Paige’s dad), and Ricky Gervais. He’s co-written and co directed several other things, but I think this is his solo debut, and even though it seems like it is a point and shoot affair (even the wrestling scenes are just static shots), he seems like he is a good actor’s director as he gets I feel like were the best performances out of all those involved.

Vince Vaughn seemed to actually give a shit for once since Wedding Crashers and Brawl in Cell Block 99, and Leny Headey (Cersei in Game of Thrones) was charming for the limited screen time she was in, even though it seemed like she walked across the studio lot and just put on a wig for them after a day’s work on the HBO series. What I liked most about the film is the way that shows, even though that some aspects of wrestling are fake, the work to get there and even once there is a lot of physical and mental hard work. These wrestlers and entertainers are challenging themselves mentally and physically all just to put on a good show for those that are willing to watch. Hell, I even had a 3 to 5 year period when I was younger where I loved the shit out of wrestling, even getting free yet shit signals to the pay per view matches that my parents (and when thinking back on it, nor I) didn’t want to pay for. They were enjoyable even though I knew they were fake. If I would’ve known then what I do now, of how hard on a person it can be, I think I would’ve appreciated it more. This is a movie for old or new fans of wrestling that reshapes it all into one giant respect bubble.