Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MIDNIGHT AT THE MAGNOLIA (Netflix)

Why did I watch MIDNIGHT AT THE MAGNOLIA? Mainly because my last several reviews have been Christmas/Holiday related, I thought it would be cool to post a bunch of new holiday themed movie reviews in a row, and I needed a quick break from my re-binge of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (of which I’m about to be on the 6th season’s very special Christmas episode). Also, Natalie Hall is the main female lead in this and while almost everything I’ve seen her in she’s only had bit parts, I have always found her extremely beautiful. So I thought, “what the fuck, why not?” “Well, how was it, you ask? If I was in ANY other type of mood, I would rip it a new mistletoe. However, since I went in expecting predictable Christmas-y, New Years-y, romantic schlock, it was serviceable. A lot of people that eat up shit like this that don’t know any better will love this film to death. To warn you all meticulously, this is only about half a notch from being a Lifetime TV Holiday movie of the week. A half a notch, so that’s why it is on Netflix, HAHA! Technically since it is a 2020 movie, presto, here is my review of it. If watching a romantic film like this is your thing, where ALL of the acting is over exaggerated and toeing the line of over the top overacting, you can predict what the ending will be minute five, the whole thing looks like it was shot on a $50,000 budget, but it ends up having a sweet message and a good heart, well you are in for a festive treat. But if you are a film Grinch like me, stay far far away unless you had one of those “random boring moods” such as I described above. Per IMDB, it describes Midnight At The Magnolia with the following: “Longtime friends and local radio hosts Maggie and Jack fake it as a couple for their families and listeners from the day after Christmas till New Year’s in hopes of getting their show syndicated.”

 Yes, some of you probably groaned as I did when you read two of those words. A boy and a girl “longtime friends”? There is no way that this happens. There is no way that two people like that in the real world haven’t accidentally had a night of regrettable but hot fucking by mistake. Especially when they have known each other since they were little. You can’t tell me that there wasn’t an intentional boob or penis graze and a drunken tryst of making out a couple of times. The most believable thing in this movie is that the two are radio hosts. Lead actors Natalie Hall and Evan Williams have the voices for radio and the camaraderie friendship depicted in the movie necessary for a real gig like that, where you end up wondering why those two don’t just maybe give up their day jobs and go into that profession. The acting is decent for what it is. Both Williams and Hall and all the other supporting characters match each other in terms of just how close to the ”over-the-top” line of overacting they can get without completely crossing it. And both Williams and Hall have a couple of scenes where they show that they are better than the material that is being written for them. I would’ve rather watched a movie of the two of them hosting their radio morning show for an hour and 27 minutes (the length of the movie). Alas, it was not meant to be. BUT…the movie is upbeat, quick, and moves at an entertaining pace, there is some silly banter between characters that worked. Evan Williams twisted some of the dialogue to work better and added some funny facial expressions to make the part his own, which is always appreciated. I believed in their friendship, even with over 75% of it being very clunky dialogue. Also, even with the short run time, I believed in them eventually falling in love. If you just got mad because I spoiled the movie for you, that’s your problem, and you are a dumbass if you thought it would’ve ended any differently. It has a 6.1 rating on IMDB from 951 reviews, which is not half bad for that website. It just goes to show you, sometimes I can stick my opinions up my own chimney. (PSSST…if you didn’t get that metaphor, by ‘chimney’ I meant my asshole.

Zach’s Zany SPECIAL Reviews: THE LEGO STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL (Disney+)

Obviously the first thing I did after watching Disney+’s THE LEGO STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL was search the net to see if Lucasfilm would consider this special canon. Well, apparently anything that is an officially licensed product, i.e. Lego, is NOT considered canon, although some of the ideas represented in them could become canon down the line as long as they are not in this kind of format. It is and it isn’t a bit of a let down, considering this special takes place AFTER the events of The Rise Of Skywalker, the last film in the franchise and the last established Star Wars linear timeline, and starts with Rey training Finn to become a Jedi. The filmmakers are kind of ‘wink-winking’ to the audience, them knowing we were sort of let down by Rise as a whole, and them trying to wrap up that stupid side plot of Finn never finishing his sentence of, “Rey, I’ve always wanted to tell you…” before he thought they were going to die in that sand pit. They took John Boyega’s answer of, “Well, J.J. told me he was going to tell Rey that he was Force Sensitive, it just never took fruition in the movie,” and made it come true (personally I think they should’ve had a Rey/Finn romance that was hinted at in The Force Awakens, but whatever). Whoa, I’ve gotten way off track, but that’s the Star Wars canon nerd in me. This special is basically the same as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, where a bunch of time traveling shenanigans happen but in the end no event in the Star Wars timeline has ultimately been changed. So it could be goofy canon I guess. IMDB describes it with the following, “Rey leaves her friends to prepare for Life Day as she sets off on an adventure to gain a deeper knowledge of the Force. At a mysterious temple, she is hurled into a cross-timeline adventure. Will she make it back in time for Life Day?” But overall, it’s just supposed to be a fun and funny little adventure that pokes fun at some of the most eye-rolling scenes in the franchise, and with that in mind, it exceeds expectations.

If you take it in as canon, you will be disappointed. And even though I did enjoy this special, I was a bit disappointed that they couldn’t REALLY make up for that shitty Star Wars Special in the 70s and get the new cast together for one last mini-canonical adventure (written by The Mandalorian’s Jon Favreau of course), but who am I kidding? That new cast is DONE right now with Star Wars, and I don’t blame them, after 5 years of toxic fan harassment, I would be too. But this Lego special suffices. It’s a nice and tight 45 minutes with no filler, excellent pacing, fun scenarios, with a sweet and kind message, something we need right now for sure. The only people from the new cast to come back were Billy Dee Williams as Lando and Kelly Marie Tran as Rose (the latter they asked back probably as the first part of Disney’s two part apology of how her character was handled in Rise of Skywalker, the 2nd part being making Tran the lead voice actor in next years Raya and the Last Dragon). Even with a handful of people coming back to voice their animated counterparts, they still only have a handful of lines and do nothing worth writing home about save for a Lando cape/It’s A Trap zinger. The other voice actors they pick and chose from people that were both in the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series and all the voice acting works for what it is. This is just a goofy, action packed, joke a minute special that is trying to make up for the shitty 70’s one that George Lucas had no involvement in that was also about their universe celebration known as Life Day. It also tries to make up a little bit the mild disappointment a lot of us had the way J.J. Abrams and writer Chris Terrio ended the saga. But here’s the rub, I think even George Lucas would approve of this one and wouldn’t even both trying to destroy every copy of it that exists out there.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: JINGLE JANGLE – A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY (Netflix)

Move over Christmas Chronicles, Netflix now has a new (and better) Christmas movie for families to watch together every year, JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY. I doubt that the Christmas Chronicles sequel, which releases next week, will over take this one for me, considering that the first movie is…only okay….sorry Kurt Russell. And if you have a problem with me saying that this is a ‘Christmas’ movie and not using the word ‘holiday’…well, not to mince words, but you can shove it up your butt hurt triggered 2020 asshole chimney. While the movie is shot, cinematography wise, like a television movie, and my wife and I discussed mid way through how this could easily be turned into a Broadway stage play in the future, the rest of the production is top notch. It has a wonderful production design, half way decent CGI for what it is, the musical song and dance numbers were fun and memorable, none of the actors phoned it in, including one of Forest Whitaker’s best performances in quite awhile…it has the Christmas works. Per IMDB, it describes Jingle Jangle with the following: “An imaginary world comes to life in a holiday tale of an eccentric toymaker, his adventurous granddaughter, and a magical invention that has the power to change their lives forever.” While the story ends up being a bit familiar (you know, the whole love, loss, redemption one audiences has seen a thousand times), and I would also say the movie is about 15 minutes too long (it’s a heavy 2 hrs and 2 minutes), the rest of the film was joyfully jolly and jovial enough to forgive it’s trespasses and go along with it for the rest of its wonderful journey.

Forest Whitaker is first billed here, and I’m glad that he wasn’t just playing himself in this one, as his character has some quirks to be kinked out, and his performance here earned the believability of his redemption arc. But he is not the true star of the show. That would be newcomer Madalen Mills, who plays his grandaughter, Journey. If it wasn’t for her pure of heart and delightful performance, Jingle Jangle simply couldn’t be what it ultimately is: very lovely. Ricky Martin voices a cute yet suspicious little CGI figurine come to life, whose MacGuffin-ness I dare not spoil here. There is a cute robot named Buddy 3000 that shows up halfway through the film that people are calling the next ‘Baby Yoda’, and although it is cute and made me smile, I think anyone who says that it is in the same ballpark of cultural impact that the new Star Wars character has, is just kidding themselves. The one actor that I felt got short changed in this movie is the other half of Key & Peele, the one that hasn’t won an Oscar, Keegan-Michael Key. He plays a wonderful little villain and has some great chops and can dance spectacularly with the choreography given, but other than his first big musical song and dance number, he isn’t in the film all that much. The climax of his character in the climax of the film is a bit anti-climatic as well, and although the movie had a bunch of very early set ups that were paid off during this scene, it just felt like Mr. Key was shortchanged a bit with his role. But maybe this could be an audition for bigger things for him. I hope it is. Anyway, if you want a decent streaming new Christmas movie because you won’t go to the theater and you’re are finally tired of watching the same Christmas stuff because the walls are finally starting to cave in on your 2020 bubble, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is here to blow some air into it to keep it from completely collapsing.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: FREAKY

FREAKY is the exact kind of movie that I needed to come out in a movie theater right now, pandemic and all. Not just me, but probably one that all horror fans also needed. And some comedy fans as well. Freaky is a scary, blood and guts bonanza of a good time with some big, big laughs that mixes horror and comedy quite masterfully. Some critics are calling writer/director Christopher Landon a future master of the horror genre, eventually joining the likes/ranks of Wes Craven, James Wan, David Cronenberg, Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, etc., but I’m going to disagree with that…to a degree, and put him in a whole different category of his own: he’s the new master of flipping the horror genre on its head. That title was previously held by Wes Craven when he defied expectations and went meta ‘before its time’ with New Nightmare in 1994 and then it was accepted more just two years later in 1996’s Scream. Unfortunately for Wes, those are really the only two movies where he did that successfully, as each Scream sequel failed to light a candle to the wit of the original, and then he had some regular horror clunkers in between like My Soul To Take and co-writing the sequel remake of The Hills Have Eyes 2. Christopher Landon has flipped the horror genre on its head successfully multiple times now and he keeps getting better. He started all the way back in 2007 with the Shia LaBeouf starring, new take on the ‘Rear Window’ movie, Disturbia. He then involved himself with the Paranormal Activity movies, which flipped the horror found footage genre on its head, and right after that he flipped the zombie horror genre on its head with Scouts Guide to The Zombie Apocalypse. More recently, he flipped the Groundhog Day ‘do-over’ genre on its head, giving it a fresh horror spin with Happy Death Day, and then flipped it yet again with the more sci-fi than horror sequel, Happy Death Day 2U. Now here comes Freaky, which flips the horror genre on its head yet again by mixing it with the done to death ‘body swap’ comedy genre, to masterful results.

IMDB describes Freaky with the following, “After swapping bodies with a deranged serial killer, a young girl in high school discovers she has less than 24 hours before the change becomes permanent.” The only question I asked myself after seeing a trailer to this movie, and the question you probably also asked yourself was: how is it no one thought of this sooner? Seriously, I’m very surprised someone didn’t attempt this about a decade ago, but here we are now, and this film is near perfect. After having seen the movie, I can’t imagine anybody else in the deranged serial killer role that suddenly inhabits the soul of a teenage girl other than Vince Vaughn. I called his comeback a few months ago when he had his best comedic performance since Wedding Crashers, in Hulu’s original film The Binge, and now Freaky just solidifies my claims. Forget The Binge, THIS IS NOW HIS BEST PERFORMANCE OVERALL since that 2005 masterpiece with Owen Wilson. When Vince Vaughn isn’t phoning it in, and when you can tell he wants to be in a project and is having the time of his life, that’s when movie magic happens. In Freaky, he lights up the screen, and he does so even before he inhabits the teenage girl’s spirit. Why hasn’t anybody made Vince Vaughn some kind of horror icon until now? This movie puts his tall height and frame to good use, making him look like a horrifying presence with the strength and determination of Jason or Michael Myers. I wonder if Vince Vaughn was Landon’s one and only choice for the role. It wouldn’t surprise me. If I had one complaint about this movie, there is a scene where you’ll really have to suspend some belief when Vince Vaughn and a teenage boy are flirting in a car. It’s a little cring-ey and not that believable, but the scene was written primary for laughs and a big “ewwww”, which it definitely got out of me, so that suspension was quickly forgiven.

And the movie isn’t all Vince Vaughn. The movie has a great earned jump scare of an opening scene. The movie also has snappy dialogue, some great gory and unique kills with tons and tons of blood, great editing, great directing by Landon, great consistent laughs, great supporting characters and performances (especially the teenage girl’s gay guy friend and black girl friend, who flip their genre character tropes on their heads) and the movie even subverts expectations with not having the movie end how I expected it to. In fact, I would say this is one of the most satisfying horror movie endings I’ve seen in my lifetime. The movie also wouldn’t be what it is without the other half of the body swap duo, the teenage girl who is played by Kathryn Newton. When her body inhabits the soul of Vince Vaughn’s deranged serial killer, her acting gives us a master class in what to accomplish in a body swap movie of its type. Switching personalities within a film can be hard to do, but just like Nicholas Cage and John Travolta in Face/Off, Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton pull it off like it’s a walk in the park. I cannot wait to own this movie and watch it again and again, I was that thoroughly entertained and I bet you will be too. You don’t even have to be a fan of the horror genre to get something out of Freaky, as my wife, who HATES horror movies, liked this one quite a bit as well. Movies like Freaky were made for the theater, to share laughter or jump scare frights with strangers in a dark and quiet auditorium. It was nice to see that this movie had the most audience members in attendance since I saw Tenet for the first time back in September. Let’s get more stuff like this back into theaters, so that we can save the movie going experience, and not just be fat asses at home on our phones, not paying attention to the straight to PVOD drivel we have mostly gotten since April.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: LET HIM GO

I lied about no reviews this weekend it seems and yes, this is a real review. I’m not telling Republicans to LET HIM GO because of their loss today, I’m talking about the new drama/semi western starring Kevin Costner and Diane Lane, both giving their best performances since whenever they were both nominated for Academy Awards last. I initially wasn’t going to see this, because I can’t remember the last half way decent Kevin Costner starring movie since Open Range back in 2003, but some non spoiler reviews persuaded me to give it a shot. Since I was basically alone in the theater because most of you are too scared to come out of your bubbles and/or refuse to wear a mask out in public, I got to almost basically yell at the screen at moments. I was THAT into this film. Not just the “fuck you bitch!” characters that you can’t stand or the “fuck you bitch!” cheering moments when an antagonist get their just deserts, but this film also had some emotionally powerful quieter moments where I was almost sobbing and wish I had brought tissues with me into the theater. I am so happy that I’m giving these smaller films a shot that decided to just give it a shot during the pandemic because they knew they’d be lost in a sea of streaming right now. I was worried during the disaster that was Honest Thief, but after this, Come Play, and Synchronic, I almost feel like I’m back to the movies normal again, even without big blockbusters like No Time To Die and Wonder Woman 1984. Sometimes big things come from small beginnings.

Per IMDB, they describe Let Him Go with the following: “Following the loss of their son, a retired sheriff and his wife leave their Montana ranch to rescue their young grandson from the clutches of a dangerous family living off the grid in the Dakotas.” The film takes place in the mid 1960’s, but the cinematography and beautiful landscape makes it look and feel like an old fashioned western. While the movie is quite predictable in the path that it ends up taking and has a few familiar revenge story beats, the rest of the film overcomes those few shortcomings in spades. And not just the bloody satisfying climax, but more the quieter moments of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane acting their asses off, especially Diane Lane. Good lord did she almost make me tear up every scene she was in. The movie I’ll admit anchors me a little biased as Costner and Lane’s characters love their small little three year old grandson so much, that it just reminded me how much my own parents love their little three year old grandson (my son) so much. I didn’t like the movie based on just that though. The acting was good, the cinematography was gorgeous, the direction was top notch, the climax and other smaller moments were intense, the ending was satisfying, I was entertained for an hour and fifty four minutes. This movie had the works. I vote Lesley Manville’s character the most evil and vile movie villain of 2020. I love westerns, and the fact that this felt like one just made me want to go home and re watch Open Range or Unforgiven or The Outlaw Josey Whales or 3:10 To Yuma or Hostiles, or one of the other dozens I hold dear to my heart. Just something about that genre that resonates with me. Simpler times perhaps?

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HIS HOUSE (Netflix)

HIS HOUSE is an expertly made decent one time watch new original horror/thriller from Netflix. Possibly their best unless someone can name another? One of their highest rated ones on Rotten Tomatoes too. IMDB describes the film with the following: “A refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but then they struggle to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.” In essence, it’s a haunted house movie and said house is filled with the “demons” of their past. Not that we haven’t seen something like that before, but the movie makes it fresh with the refugee angle and the mythology folklore story from their culture. Writer/director Remi Weekes captures the effective and earned jump scares with veteran precision, making it seem like he’s been in the business for years when this is actually his first full length feature. It doesn’t really star anyone you know, unless you are a Doctor Who fan, and even then, Matt Smith maybe has less than ten minutes of screen time in its nice and tight hour and thirty three minute runtime. The acting is solid, the movie has some twists and turns that I didn’t quite see coming, and I jumped on my couch quite a bit from whenever the movie switched to “scare ya mode.” So why am I not singing its praises? Probably because the film didn’t quite earn the character arcs of the refugee couple for me.

And that’s probably because they didn’t show much of their war-torn South Sudan plight. With the tight yet short run time, the movie only shows one desperate live or die situation to convey their hardship, and that’s right before their escape. With all that, it was hard for me to invest in their emotions and plight when the place they are in starts to haunt the shit out of them. Which in turn took away from the big reveal near the end, and so on and so forth. Hard to explain without spoilers, but when the emotional climax finally comes to pass, I uttered, “oh that’s interesting” when I should’ve been, “OHHHHHHH damn, now that’s an ending!” The ending is satisfying, but if another, say, twenty minutes would’ve been added onto the movie, with more of their daily life struggles in South Sudan, maybe even showing some of their early life, His House would’ve been quite masterful. But this a bad film by any means, it’s just not a repeat view for me, because I got everything I needed to get out of it when I watched it on Halloween night. I completely recommend His House, because even though I wanted more, it might be enough for you to invest more into it, especially when the scares are quite great, with an ending that fits with the rest of the film, even if the rest of the film needed to have more meat on its bones. This is a perfect little horror film for direct to streaming, especially when most of them have been overrated this pandemic year, such as Relic. Or ones that hit theaters earlier this year before COVID, such as The Grudge, that ended up being complete and utter shit. Or ones that were supposed to have hit theaters but ended up getting sent straight to streaming, such as You Should Have Left, that were disappointingly dull. Coincidental that those three I just listed are basically all haunted house movies, wouldn’t you say? His House, his unique rules.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SYNCHRONIC

How am I supposed to talk about a movie so great, that’s only in theaters right now, when I can’t really talk about it? If I talk about it at all, I’ll ruin the psychedelic trip, and I’ll ruin all the surprises. I guess I could talk about how well the story is told combined with some neat visuals that were done on a relatively small budget, but I just said it, and if I elaborated on it more, yet again, I would just ruin everything. The poster to this movie is beautiful, for some unbelievable reason the trailer doesn’t give anything away, and neither does the description of the film on IMDB: “Two New Orleans paramedics’ lives are ripped apart after they encounter a series of horrific deaths linked to a designer drug with bizarre, otherworldly effects.” It stars The Falcon from the MCU himself Anthony Mackie and Fifty Shades of Grey’s Jamie Dornan, the former giving his best performance since The Hurt Locker, and the latter giving his best performance ever for me, even though I have never watched that critically acclaimed TV series he’s in called The Fall. It’s one of my favorite films of the year so far and while I’m glad I just went, took a chance on it, and saw it, I’m kind of depressed it was released during a pandemic. I don’t think it made shit last weekend and is likely to be out of the theaters next week if not the week after. I am just hoping upon hope that this is discovered when it hits video, ends up as something like the movie Equilibrium with Christian Bale. That film was in the theater for a week before it was pulled, but became a massive hit on home video. Maybe Synchronic’s fate will end up in sync with that.

BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA, just go see it, or see it when it hits your bubble. I won’t make fun of you scaredy cats this time as long as you discover and gives this a chance when you have a chance to watch it at home. The storytelling in this is perfect, it doesn’t overstay its welcome at a lean one hour and forty minutes, the visuals complement the storytelling and are even more impressive considering the budget wasn’t all that big. I’m not familiar with writer/directors Justin Benson and Aaron Morehead, but apparently they got their visual and storytelling flair with a 2017 movie called The Endless, which I’m going to try to find on streaming and give a chance soon. The movie has several deep layered messages within it that were fun and moving to discover. AAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNDDDD…shit. I’m done with my review. I mean, what more is there to say other than these two writer/directors need to make more movies, Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan need to be given more movie roles like this, and the fact that original movies are still being made and released such as this, even though its in the middle of a butt fucking shitty year, makes me happy. I wish I was hyped up on this more before hand like I was Tenet, then again, I am very happy that Synchronic took me by surprise. Let’s hope the world gets more in sync soon with regular movie releases so we can start to all get back to normal as Synchronic was a masterful trip while 2020 has been the nightmare trip of a lifetime.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: COME PLAY

COME PLAY really works because it isn’t just a cheap jump scare horror movie. It is one of the rare ones that has a deeper emotional core at its center than others in the genre and the jump scares aren’t cheap at all, they are well shot, well choreographed, and well earned. This movie is also rated PG-13 surprisingly…I can’t remember one in quite awhile that worked, especially this shitty year. And this film is surprisingly really entertaining from start to finish. Interested? Wondering how you can watch it? Well, you are going to have to not be a pussy and go to a theater right now unless you wait several months for it to hit video. And this movie does deserve to be watched on the biggest screen possible. Doing so makes the scares that much more effective and the movie is so well shot that you are probably going to have a hard time appreciating it on a device that you can hide in your bra and/or shove up your ass. The emotional core and really good message in this film’s heart I really want to talk about, but in doing so ruins much of the film, so instead I’ll just mention that I appreciated what ideas Come Play tried and successfully, to me anyway, brought up, and leave it at that. What’s even more bewildering is that it did it all in just an hour and thirty six minutes. Usually films tend to be a bit longer when it is more than just trying to scare tweens the dumbest and stupidest way possible. IMDB describes Come Play with the following, “A long-limbed monster named Larry targets Oliver, a non-verbal autistic young boy along with his family, friends, and classmates by manifesting through their smart phones, computers, television screens and other electronic devices.” Well…based on that description the jig is probably up on the message I was trying to leave vague huh?

Horror/Scary films are made or broken by their scares. Plain and simple. If a horror movie doesn’t scare you, bother you a little, or doesn’t make you feel dread a bit when thinking about it afterward, it isn’t doing its job. I’m kind of numb to horror movies after so many years of watching so many of them, so for me, these films need to have that little extra something if they don’t manage to scare me at all. Which is why I was surprised when Come Play caught me off guard by not only making me jump in my seat, but tear up with its deeper meanings near the end of the film. The acting in this also works, especially when it relies mostly on young child actors reacting to things that definitely aren’t there in the real world. Azhy Robertson as the protagonist autistic Oliver is fantastic here and so is Winslow Fegley as Bryon, his old friend/new bully whose complicated friendship is part of the films special core I’ve been talking about. The two main adults in the film, Community’s Gillian Jacobs and 10 Cloverfield Lane’s John Gallagher Jr. also do a pretty good job, especially the former, who shed her Britta Perry vibes from the moment she comes on screen. I do wish they would’ve given her more screen time and maybe fleshed out Gallagher’s character more, they play Oliver’s mother and father going through a divorce. Their emotional arcs were still earned but just barely. This is writer/director Jacob Chase’s first foray into a theatrical spooky feature. I hope his career gains traction and he keeps getting better like Ari Aster, James Wan or Jordan Peele. He could end up being a master in the genre. If it wasn’t for this stupid fucking year and stupid fucking virus. Anyway, need something spooky to watch today on Halloween or possibly as soon as you have time and you are willing to come to a movie theater right now (especially when going to the gym and/or grocery store is a hundred times worse), then you’ll definitely want to come and play with Come Play.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BAD THERAPY

What is this movie? Seriously, I think it’s supposed to be a dark comedy, but there are no comedic elements in sight. I thought BAD THERAPY was going to be something like Bad Moms, Bad Santa, Bad Words, Bad Teacher, or Bad News Bears, movies which actually do pull off the dark comedic aspects correctly, albeit some better than others. However, I wouldn’t put this movie near the same ballpark as those others. Seriously, what…is this movie? It’s dour, dark, and doesn’t balance it’s supposed tone very well at all, in fact it’s close to abysmal if not for some recognizable names in the cast including a decent lead performance from Alicia Silverstone, which needed to be in another movie. Other’s include The Unicorn’s Rob Corddry and Michaela Watkins, playing Silverstone’s husband and their marriage counselor/therapist respectively, and while Corrdry and Watkins give decent performances as well, I feel like they could’ve been great if the script and story wasn’t a giant pile of shit. IMDB lists Bad Therapy as a comedic romance drama and describes the film with the following: “A couple seeks out Judy Small, a marriage counselor; but the counselor is more than what meets the eye.” All you need to know is that this movie is not a comedy, not a romance, not a drama. It’s just…there? The marriage counselor/therapist is a nut job herself and tries to further push the couple’s marriage into ruin. And no, there isn’t some surprise ending where the therapist turns out she knows what she’s doing and the craziness was all an act, like the movie Anger Management had. And there are no redeeming qualities about her by the film’s end, like movies such as Bad Words and Bad Santa had. It’s just a mean, ugly, unfocused movie that has no identity and goes absolutely nowhere.

The only time I laughed in this movie was when the thirteen year old teenage girl that plays Silverstone’s daughter got high with her friend and got caught, and that scene lasts about ninety seconds in this hour and forty seven minute slog of a watch. At times I was asking myself whether I was supposed to laugh, to feel drama, to feel tension, to feel concerned for the characters, and/or to hope the entire thing would get better, and the answer was a hard no each time. There are constant scenes that we don’t see that get told by explanatory dialogue a scene or two afterwards…why not just film those scenes or let us see what is going on before those abrupt cutaways. It made no sense, and I understand that some cutaways are meant to make sense in context of what’s going on, but this movie had no context, so therefore, it doesn’t make sense. Especially a scene where Silverstone’s daughter comes home and discovers something she’s not meant to see. For comedic and/or shocking effect, why didn’t the audience see what she saw? If it was too sexually explicit (which it turns out it wasn’t that bad), there are ways to frame a scene to make something look like something is going on without showing it. If you are dumb enough to watch this movie after my critique, you’ll see what I mean. There are also some supporting characters that have a story somewhere in this movie, but we don’t see their stories plaid out, they are just yelled out to other characters when the movie is almost over. And the climax of the film is pretty fucking stupid too. Characters do desperate things for no rhyme or reason other to say that they are stupid and/or crazy. Stuff happens just to happen because movie. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. It would be too easy of a pun job to end this review just by saying Bad Therapy is a bad movie. Way too easy. I’ll make it a bit zanier and say that if this script had went to a script doctor before it was taken to camera, the script doctor would’ve placed said script on his couch and then burned both until they were a pile of ashes.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE CRAFT LEGACY

THE CRAFT: LEGACY is a solid 20 minutes surrounded by a cauldron full of black cat shit. It starts out as an eye rolling almost shot by shot remake, then does a 180 and turns into an interesting direct sequel to the far superior first film, but then crashes and burns with a terrible stand-off climax very similar to the ending of 2015’s awful Fantastic Four reboot. And then a “of course they did that” very last obligatory sequel shot. It’s mind boggling how much of a craptastic roller coaster ride this film is. There are so many plot holes and dangling threads in this movie I thought that the ride was going to fall to the ground long before it did. I mean…did we really need a sequel to The Craft let alone a soft/hard reboot? Rebootquel, as it were? If they were going to make a sequel to that movie, it should’ve been only a couple of years after the first one, which was released in 1996. Was Neve Campbell really that busy after Scream 2? I do know why a sequel wasn’t made then, it’s because the movie didn’t become really popular until years after it had been released. Then many years after that, Blumhouse comes along and gives small budgets to every talentless hack and their mom so that they can make a movie, no matter how shitty it is. And since the budgets are so low and tweens are that on the spectrum to eat that shit up, all of these shitty movies end up making a profit. So fans probably wrote or contacted Jason Blum at some point a couple of years ago about making a small budget sequel to a popular 90s film…and here we are. Except that this is one brew that didn’t even need to start being churned in the first place.

IMDB describes The Craft: Legacy with the following: “A group of high school students form a coven of witches. A sequel to the 1996 film, “The Craft”.” Jesus Christ, how generic was that? I’ll go a bit further this time myself for my constant readers. It starts out almost just like the first film, with a new girl named Lily with untapped powers moving into a new town and her future stepfather’s home (played by X-Files’ David Duchovny) with her mother (played by Michelle Monaghan). The future stepfather has three boys of his own and they are quick to mostly ignore her and make her an outcast of the new found family. In her new school, after a boy bully makes fun of Lily having a heavy period, in a scene more ripped off from Carrie rather than an homage, three other girls, who are witches looking for a fourth to complete their power circle, recruit her and together they discover their coven potential. Doesn’t that sound like a remake and not a sequel to you? And for the first forty five minutes out of a one hour and 36 minute movie which includes ten minutes of credits, that’s exactly what it is, an eye rolling, frustrating remake. One in which one of the witches, played by Gideon Adlon, is annoying and over acts in every scene she is in, David Duchovny looks like he’s depressed about where his career has ended up and wants to kill himself, with only the performance of Lily, played by Cailee Spaeny, barely holding everything together from being a giant dumpster fire. Then around the 45 minute mark, after a confession from one of the step brother’s friends from school (easily the best scene in the film and powerfully acted) the movie turns into something halfway decent, while also turning into a direct sequel that expands upon the mythology of the first film…but only for twenty minutes.

That expansion of the mythology is very short lived and is followed by a terrible CGI revelation, a terrible CGI stand off fight climax where the antagonist literally just stands in one spot the entire time while fighting other people with shitty CGI mystical powers…powers we really hadn’t seen these others do previously in the movie. Combine what I just described with terrible and choppy direction and editing. Then once that is over, the movie completely forgets about a dozen other characters that the antagonist was in cahoots with and turns it into an “everything’s fine now” giant plot hole. Even if it were meant to be a dangling thread, where these other characters went wasn’t explained at all. The fight is over, so let’s take the main character and shove her into a tacked on obligatory laughable sequel scene that had to be a last minute re shoot. Sorry if this is all very vague but I don’t want to spoil the movie for those still interested to watch it. My experience during this sequel sure wasn’t helped by the fact that I re watched the original just a week before. Then again, in this day and age, it isn’t too surprising for a 1996 movie to hold up better than a new rebootquel, isn’t it? Other than those 20 minutes of mythology expansion, the fact that it didn’t end up being a shot by shot remake after the halfway mark, and main protagonist Cailee Spaeny’s acting, this movie was DOA for me. Stick to the original, as I and they say. This is another one of those premium video on demand titles that was supposed to hit theaters around this time, but due to the pandemic, the studio decided to cut its losses and just dump it onto streaming, because they didn’t have any confidence in the movie. To give writer/director Zoe Lister-Jones the benefit of the doubt, this movie certainly isn’t trying to be lazy, it just comes across that way because of the budget and the editing…maybe a director’s cut is lurking somewhere in the shadows? If not, may this film mount a broomstick and fly into the moonlight, never to be seen again.