Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: GREENLAND

GREENLAND, a movie that was supposed to release in theaters just several weeks after Tenet in the United States back in September, ended up being pulled because of Tenet’s poor box office performance in this country. Instead, it going to be available to rent for $19.99 Premium Video On Demand on December 18th, with it hitting HBO Max for free several months later at the beginning of Spring 2021. I’m here to tell you that if you are really interested in this movie, and have HBO Max, to just wait it out. Don’t spend $19.99 on this for 48 hrs, don’t buy it, either wait for HBO Max or get one of your tech friends to download it so you can somehow watch it for free. Disaster and survival movies haven’t been the same since the 90s. Films like 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, and this either try to be too serious or end up being too cheesy, and never sustain the balance of both tones that movies like the first Independence Day, Deep Impact, Titanic, Dante’s Peak, Daylight, Volcano, Hard Rain, Twister or Armageddon did back in the day. Greenland is the former. It is way too depressingly serious, and is basically a 2 hour survival movie with it’s main message that says, in the end, no matter who is running the government, they are all probably a bunch of uncaring, devious, and unsympathetic assholes. I don’t want to ruin any of the decisions/actions that our government makes when they realize a giant ass comet that was thought to just closely pass us by instead decides to drop in for a more permanent visit, but needless to say, in the state of the world we are in, I thought, “yep, seems about right.” Disaster movies are supposed to be fun little escapes for a couple of hours time, not depressing tales that hit too close to home that still manage to use too many eye rolling cliches that have already been done before. Of course Gerard Butler’s kid in the movie has diabetes!

IMDB describes this movie quite simply, it’s a simple disaster movie: “A family struggles for survival in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster.” Nothing more, nothing less, other than showing us how shitty people can be when the chips are down. The acting’s not the problem. Gerard Butler plays the strong everyday family man well like he has in a bunch of other movies. Morena Beccarin has unfortunately been typecast as the damsel and/or mom in distress, and she’s solid as she’s been playing the same role all these years. The problem isn’t even the special effects. The extinction level event depicted in the film is realistic and when the spaced out comet hitting ground action does occur, it’s draw dropping and realistic (even though that the way it keeps happening to just this family you’ll have to really suspend your belief). Which brings us to my problem with the film. It is too deadly serious. That would be okay if it was ORIGINAL, while being too deadly serious. But disaster movie cliches piled on even more disaster movie cliches took me out of the film every five minutes. Whether it was using Butler’s son’s diabetes and insulin numerous eye rolling times just to move the plot forward to genuine nice good samaritans that suddenly become as evil as Hitler to that one old family member that is content with dying in a few short hours to other civilians doing stupid shit to stop the main characters from getting to certain destinations, nothing original happens. Except for the ways our government would end up handling a crisis like this. That’s not to say that this is a bad movie. It’s watchable and entertaining at points, and the destruction of some parts of the world were a bewildering sight to see. It just added nothing new, and the cliched stuff that was there kept taking me out of the movie. It’s just okay, and if that just okay with you, then Greenland is your comet ride away from our Earth for two hours.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: FATMAN

After all the controversial things that Mel Gibson has been up to between the years of 2000 to 2010, ranging from that infamous 2006 anti-Semitic rant after being pulled over by a cop for a DUI to screaming at his then girlfriend back in 2010 using racist remarks and even the n-word to homophobic comments, how does this Academy Award winner still have a career after multiple falls from grace? Even after the 2017 #MeToo movement? Well, first of all, his talent is undeniable, he’s an Oscar winning director and he’s an actor that can more than exceptionally pull off any character in any genre. Secondly, he still has a deep bench of Hollywood supporters, ranging from people still in the industry such as Jodie Foster, Robert Downey, Jr. and Whoopi Goldberg. Finally, current Hollywood producers attribute his past misdeeds mostly due to alcoholism, pointing out that he has never been accused of sexual assault, alcoholism is a disease, and that he’s not the person he is made out to be in the headlines. In a 2016 and recent interview, Mel Gibson has stated that he is currently many years sober and finds it annoying that people keep bringing up his past shit, not willing to give him a second chance…or would that really be a 4th or 5th chance Mel? Anyway, Mr. Gibson is still in the movie making game, still attached to direct the big remake of The Wild Bunch, and still starring in some movies, albeit low budget ones, like Force Of Nature, Last Looks, Dragged Across Concrete, Boss Level, and a semi-budgeted one…bet you didn’t remember that he was in Daddy’s Home 2, did you? This leads us to FATMAN…one of 2020’s best little surprises of the year, where Gibson plays Santa Claus and per IMDB, “must contend with a hitman sent from a disappointed child.” Yes, I assure you that this is a real movie.

When I heard of FATMAN only several months ago, I thought it was a joke. Turns out it wasn’t, as just several days later, to my surprise, I found out that the movie had already been filmed and a trailer dropped. I watched the trailer, and was immediately intrigued. This wasn’t just a schlocky bullshit turn like his roles in The Expendables 3 and Machete Kills. This was a movie meant to be taken very seriously (even though the film has genuine and earned humor). He plays Santa Claus straight, as a very old, tired and weary man still doing his job even though the world has gotten dark around him. It turns out, every year there is less and less good kids to deliver toys to and it’s gotten so bad, to make up for lost money from the government (that’s right, the government pays him to do his thing once every year because it is a giant money maker), he accepts a military contract that has his elves make something…a little bit different than children’s toys. Currently, most of the kids in this cinematic Earth (could be argued that it’s truer to our world than you might imagine) are naughty little assholes that get their just desserts by receiving lumps of coal from him. One particular little shit (one of the movies expertly crafted jokes has this little shit listed as “Little Shit” in the hitman’s list of contacts on his iPhone), is a sociopath son of a bitch, manipulating school science contests, stealing money from his grandmother and of course, sending said hitman after Santa’s head once he gets a lump of coal for Christmas. What I love about the movie is that it tries to bring the audience a down to Earth type Santa Claus. You know how Man of Steel was supposed to be a tale of Superman but in today’s time? A more realistic Superman? Whether or not you think Zack Snyder and co. pulled it off is a different story. Basically, Fatman asks the question: what if Santa were really real? In today’s world? And I think this film pulls off that idea in spades.

And the reason it does that so successfully, in my opinion, is probably because of the low budget and what little it shows the viewers on screen. We don’t get Mel Gibson walking around in a red Santa suit and travelling the world. We don’t see the sleigh or reindeer fly. We almost don’t see any magic whatsoever where you’d have to suspend your belief for the world that the movie takes place in. It only hints at all of that stuff, which I thought was the right direction to go, and was quite fucking brilliant. The acting here is top notch, the little bastard that plays the “Little Shit” is pitch perfect by not going too over the top, just enough to make him a character you love to hate. Justified and The Unicorn’s Walton Goggins plays the hitman, with his own anger and obsession with the big red fatman. It’s also a great role that has more meat to it than you might think in a movie like this. But the movie is the Mel Gibson show, and he shows that he wants to be there. He acts HIS ASS off. He has tears in his eyes convincingly when he needs to, the chemistry between him and Mrs. Claus, played perfectly by Marianne Jean-Baptiste is undeniably great, and the silent moments where he is by himself looking at something are convincingly masterful. He is so serious, that near the final showdown with the hitman, which is one of the best Mel Gibson final 1-on-1 show downs in quite a long time, where he is shirtless and getting his guns and weapons ready to go outside, I just laughed out of pure joy to what was transpiring on screen. I am not familiar with the films writers/directors/brothers, Ian Nelms and Eshom Nelms, but they sure do know how to make a high, yet low concept movie. I hope they make more stuff in a similar vein. If I had any complaints is that I wish they would’ve shown blood and other stuff, shown more of the violence in the scenes before the final big showdown at the military compound. They cut away when a bullet fires or Goggins kills someone before that, and I think the movie would’ve had more of an impact if it didn’t cut away. But boy does that bloody showdown make up for it. Anyway, if you like demented adult Christmas movies such as Bad Santa, Better Watch Out, Gremlins, the original Black Christmas, Christmas Vacation, then you are going to LOVE Fatman.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: RUN (Hulu)

RUN is yet another film that was supposed to debut in theaters earlier this year but got postponed because of you know what, Hulu ended up buying the rights back in August, and now here we are. It was originally supposed to come out Mother’s Day weekend in May, which if it would have made that release date, without revealing anything it would’ve been quite fitting and ironic. Let me start off by saying that Run is a good movie. It is tension filled with some incredible white knuckle suspense sequences and masterful acting from both veteran Sarah Paulson and newcomer Kiera Allen. What prevents it from becoming a great film is the fact that the twists and reveals were way too predictable. I know that I’m a good guesser, but if my wife comes into the living room near the beginning of a movie, watches only two minutes, and ends up going, “well this is obviously that and also that is obviously this,” then YOUR MOVIE IS WAY TOO PREDICTABLE. My wife doesn’t really like horror films or thrillers of this nature and if she can come in and guess the reveals to something she can’t stand and doesn’t have a whole lot of knowledge of (even putting into consideration she has learned from the best for 11 years now), that doesn’t bode too well. And she wasn’t even present when the movie got to the reveals an hour later to get the credit she so well deserved (this review is about to be published sweetie, to give you credit where it is due). But, the movie is still too good with every other aspect in its film making to not give it a recommendation. This is one of Hulu’s better originals to be sure.

IMDB describes Run with the following: “A homeschooled teenager begins to suspect her mother is keeping a dark secret from her.” To give you a bit more background on the movie, without you having to watch a trailer (trust me, don’t watch the trailer), the teenager can’t walk or run, she’s in a wheelchair, and has a bunch of other medical problems, basically preventing her from being on her own outside the house, if at all. Surely you are putting two and two together? If not, watch the very first scene in the movie, which is about 2 to 3 minutes long (the movie is a tight and short hour and 30), and the full puzzle should be glued and/or cemented together for you. It isn’t hard. I was hoping that I was wrong and that the movie was trying to successfully pull a double red herring on me, alas, it wasn’t. What you end up thinking is going on, you’re probably right. Let’s not go too deep into this criticism of predictability anymore, let’s talk about the good stuff. Sarah Paulson and Kiera Allen could teach a master class of acting with this one movie alone. Both are incredible, Paulson proving that she deserves to be put on that pedestal so many of her fans put her on, and Kiera Allen proving that she deserves to be put in more projects. This is set in stone especially after the reveals if you weren’t already convinced. Other than their acting, the real reason to watch this movie is some of the incredible, white-knuckle, emotional, tension-filled “action” scenes. To not spoil anything, I won’t give you much context, let’s just say there is a scene where a character scales a roof that is perfect in its execution, and the climax in general was also perfect in its execution along with the character arc conclusion. That’s all I’ll say. The co-writer/director Aneesh Chaganty, who directed the laptop thriller Searching, proves with Run that he has the skills to direct more Hitchcockian thriller things like this and someday even become a household name. While Run on the whole isn’t a blast off, story wise, start in a race against other thrillers with less predictability, it’s a huge head start in terms of effectively executing tension and thrills.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE PRINCESS SWITCH: SWITCHED AGAIN (Netflix)

Were they even trying with the sequel title or is it supposed to be an homage to Die Hard 2: Die Harder? Doesn’t matter. I’m just going to be blunt, THE PRINCESS SWITCH: SWITCHED AGAIN aka The Princess Switch 2 suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccccckkkssss. Awful. Abysmal. About a billion lazy story/script choices, the fake CGI snow is fucking distracting, Vanessa Hudgens new 3rd character is on the spectrum bad, and many other nitpicks that would make this review about 5 pages long. Not going to do that. This movie doesn’t deserve to be talked about that much. This is one of the most unnecessary sequels of all time and nobody involved in this movie is trying to hide that this was a blatant greedy cash grab. I never reviewed the first movie on this Word Press blog, and while it wasn’t the greatest little take on The Prince and the Pauper story that I’ve seen, it was cute enough and serviceable, mainly because of Vanessa Hudgens performance. When she plays wholesome characters, her acting shines…and that’s mainly because she isn’t so wholesome in real life…just look at her almost NSFW social media pages…especially Instagram. Also do you remember earlier this year when COVID-19 started spreading and killing people? Do you remember that she was caught on an Instagram story saying, “well like…people die, ya know?” and a bunch of other questionable comments about the state of the world at that time? I ‘member. But this critique is not going to go into how much of an attention whore, sleazy sexual person and kind of dummy that Ms. Hudgens (and her sister Stella) seem to be in real life, this critique is all about this abomination of a sequel that she got a producer credit on, because “Look at me! I funded money to a project! Look at me! LOOK AT MY GOD DAMN NAME IN THE CREDITS BECAUSE I WANT GOD DAMN CREDIT AND ATTENTION!!!”

IMDB describes the movie with the following: “When Duchess Margaret unexpectedly inherits the throne to Montenaro and hits a rough patch with Kevin, it’s up to her double Stacy to save the day before a new lookalike, party girl Fiona foils their plans.” To take that into context, let’s go ahead and see what IMDB described the first movie as, since I never reviewed it: “Competing in a Christmas baking competition in Belgravia, a Chicago baker bumps into the prince’s fiancée–who looks just like her. They switch lives for two days.” As you can tell, this stretches the Prince and the Pauper story line past the point of it being coherent anymore. I get sequel prospects but did we really need Hudgens getting more money to play a third character, one that I have a feeling acts like she does in real life? The only thing nice I have to say about it is that the shots of two or all three Hudgens in the same frame were decent. And the set decoration is nice. But really? They couldn’t get a fucking snow machine for the outside shots and instead every fucking flake of God forsaken snow is CGI, with barely any of it actually hitting said actors on screen and if a flake happens to “land” on one of the characters, it slowly CGI melts off? Come on, that’s just lazy bullshit film making. Hudgens is a producer now, make her cough up the extra cash for a physical snow maker. Other than Hudgens, who does actually seem to be trying and seems like she wants to be there, (I’ll even give her props for having a dialect coach on set every step of the way to help her with her accents, which are considerably better and less cringe worthy than the first film) every other actor/actress looks like they want to kill themselves for being in this sequel, or they don’t care and over act to just get the shit over with and grab a paycheck at the end.

And then we come to my biggest nit pick with the whole movie: the screenwriters didn’t have anything for the Prince, that ends up marrying Stacy at the end of the first movie, to do so they blatantly don’t tell his character about the new switch for three reasons:

  1. If they told him the switch was going to happen, the rest of the dumb movie probably wouldn’t have happened. THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO LOGICAL REASON NOT TO TELL HIM!
  2. They needed more scenes of the Prince’s character, and the little girl Olivia character (Kevin’s daughter) because the actor and actress were probably paid a good sum of money for the sequel and they didn’t want to waste the both of them. (Olivia knows about the switch but this little girl is tasked to make sure that this PRINCE OF AN ENTIRE FUCKING COUNTRY doesn’t find out. How does he just travel with her with no God damn body guards, does that even make a lick of fucking sense?)
  3. To reiterate 1st reason: BECAUSE MOVIE NEEDED TO HAPPEN.

Speaking of Olivia, the young actress from the first movie was replaced even though the movie takes place two years after the events of the first movie and the first movie is only two years old. There couldn’t have been an aging concern then, so I’m guessing the original young actress knew what a stinker this one was going to be and hi-tailed it out of there. Smart move kid. The plot of this movie is unnecessary, boring, and stupid. The climax and outcome is unnecessary, boring, and stupid. And the 3rd character that Hudgens plays is unnecessary, boring, and stupid. I mean, need I say more? My recommendation is that if you’ve watched the first movie, do not even think about giving this piece of shit a try, instead, switch gears and maybe pick up a book and read The Prince and the Pauper. Your brain will thank you for it.

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?