Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CHARLIE’S ANGELS (2019) (one spoiler paragraph)

With all these reboots and remakes one is more than likely to get lost in the fog, acceptance wise, when taking into effect Hollywood’s recent mantra: “Everything that was old is new again.” For me, I just take it one film at a time, and try not to mix these retooled franchises with my like or dislike of other ones. Some work, and some don’t. That simple. Unfortunately nowadays, if something doesn’t work for and individual, that reviewer has to then walk on eggshells while summarizing their thoughts through the spoken or written word. That is because so much hatred for films these days leads to people accepting or writing off these opinions with varying degrees of negative excuses such as: toxic masculinity, studio interference, feminism, toxic fandom, dude bro hatin’, etc. When really, 99% of one’s like or dislike of a film has nothing to do with any of that. It is simply that the film didn’t work on an entertaining level and/or didn’t work for them on a technical level. CHARLIE’S ANGELS (2019) worked for me minimally on an entertaining level, yet didn’t work for me at all on a technical one. While watchable, and good camaraderie between the 3 leads, there were so many things that didn’t work story, script, editing, direction, that it is too hard for me to even give this a slight recommendation.

CHARLIE’S ANGELS (2019) is definitely a women-centric film. Directed by a woman, produced by women, scripted by women, starring women. Know that even though I didn’t like this film that much, I have absolutely no problem at all with it being women-centric. There are plenty of fantastic films out there that are mostly women-centric, such as Widows, Wonder Woman, Booksmart, etc, etc, etc. And while I may dislike this movie and maybe just a handful of other ones, especially Ghostbusters (2016), my reason for disliking them HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT BEING WOMEN-CENTRIC. The problem with Ghostbusters (2016) is that the story and script had multiple problems such as not making any narrative sense, the story itself left a lot to be desired, And director Paul Feig can’t direct action very well, and had way too much improv going on and needed to learn to say “cut!” Even though the four women leads are very talented in other aspects of their career, not having a well written and fully fleshed out script, served them absolutely no favors in regards to their performance in that movie. The only difference between that film and the reboot sequel of Charlie’s Angels is that the leads were actually able to elevate the bland script and make the finish product watchable with their performance and their chemistry together. When I look back on how dull and bland the story and script were, that had to have been no easy feat.

And while I really enjoy a lot of the projects Elizabeth Banks is in acting wise and her performance in them, I don’t think she’s a very good screenplay writer or director. This is her second big gig directing, and part of the reason why she probably got it was because Pitch Perfect 2 did so well at the box office. Studios always look at those numbers first, turning a blind eye to mixed reviews. And let’s face it, the first Pitch Perfect is the only good one. The 2nd film is essentially a remake of the first, and it is all point and shoot directing. As you know, Charlie’s Angels relies on some action sequences because the story is about female off the grid spies, kicking ass and defeating the bad guys. None of the action sequences in this film stood out, and it is because they weren’t shot or edited well. Everything is shaky cam, and the editing is so bad and at such a frantic pace at the start of every action scene, that it ends up being a dead giveaway that the editor really did have any great static footage to work with. It was either shot weird or it was too slow, the editing serving to hide all the inconsistencies. Elizabeth Banks if you ever read this, which I doubt you will, if that wasn’t the problem, the editor on your film should be fired. I am willing to forgive her writing wise as this was Banks’ first big screenplay. While the concept of this movie being a reboot yet also a sequel (we will get to the spoiler paragraph in a minute) was quite clever and cool, the execution was piss poor drivel. It’s the same story you’ve seen a thousand times before: a device that is supposed to be used to help people can also be weaponized, a person working on it is targeted for death because she knows of the flaws and will ruin the bad guys plan, so she is saved from assassination and brought in to work with the Angel’s to take all involved down. If that doesn’t sound familiar to you, you must not have seen a movie in three decades.

**one spoiler paragraph warning** I have to get into a major spoiler to provide some evidence that I really didn’t much care for how the film forced itself into being part of the whole Charlie’s Angels canon, so if you want to avoid any spoilers, just skip this paragraph for more of my non-spoiler likes and dislikes about the film. So this film Ret-cons itself into being a sequel to the whole Charlie’s Angels mythos by changing up one major character, the original Bosley. With this film, everything is in its own universe, the main television series that aired a long, long time ago, and the two McG movies that starred Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore (who is an executive producer on this film). Bosley, portrayed by David Doyle in the original series, and then by Bill Murray in the first McG film, is played by Patrick Stewart here. Then the movie does the unthinkable and the most eye-rolling imaginable. It recons Patrick Stewart’s image in old photos of the original series and the McG films, stating that this is the constant one constant Bosley in this entire universe. Well, here’s the first problem, Patrick Stewart is English, and other than not even closely resembling the likeness of Bill Murray or David Doyle, speaks a British accent in the film. Basically they Cumberbatch/Kahn it. I’m okay with that, but then the ending of this film reveals that Bosley is the true bad guy mastermind, basically what they did with the character of Jim Phelps and the first Mission:Impossible movie. Changing that character like that doesn’t make sense on a narrative level, because if all the other Charlie Angel’s project are now canon, we know that someone with that statue isn’t just going to turn into an evil mastermind asshole. It just seems like a shock and awe you twist that was just thought up of to shock and awe you and tricking you into thinking its clever. Sorry, it’s not. **end spoiler paragraph**

Elizabeth Banks actually makes a great female Bosely in this movie (all the heads of all these Charlie’s Angels organizations around the world are just code named Bosely) but the aspect that makes this film unwatchable to watchable are the three leads: Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska. Kristen Stewart has never been better. She acts like she wants to be in this movie, gets some fun and quirky stuff to do and almost steals every scene she is in. Naomi Scott, the one aspect of the remake of Aladdin that I liked, is good here to as the creator of said object that can be weaponized and the “new recuit”. Her freak out scenes of seeing all this action, espionage with not knowing what to do with gizmos and gadgets was hilarious and effective. Ella Balinska, who I am not familiar with at all, gets the bulk of the action fighting sequences, and she definitely picks up some of the slack that the editing and directing left to be desired. Her flirting scene with Netflix chick flick movie hunk Noah Centineo is easily the best sequence in the film. Characterization screenplay issue wise the trio thankfully happen to overcome with their excellent chemistry with one another. Now while Naomi Scott gets a decent if awfully familiar origin story, Kristen Stewart’s characters gets one of those one line of dialogue explanations of not shown events that made her the person she is today, and almost the same thing happens to Ella, although we meet one of her old contacts of her former employer, which I guess maybe possibly helped beefed up her character a little bit.

Here’s how this movie could’ve worked: Elizabeth Banks should’ve gave the directing reigns to a director that knows how to shoot action sequences, such as the likes of Patty Jenkins, Kathryn Bigelow, and other undiscovered female director talent. She should’ve completely thrown out the story by two guys that aren’t really great storytellers and wrote such trash as The Girl In The Park, the Beauty and the Beast remake with Emma Watson, and the failed Snow White sequel The Huntsman that Kristen Stewart wasn’t fucking even in. Banks should’ve then brought in some other, better storytellers like Kathryn Bigelow or Gillian Flynn, and work on the screenplay with them together. Then keep everything else, including the three leads and Banks as a female Bosely. With all those ingredients, we could’ve gotten a spy romp that really could’ve worked and could’ve really been something special. I can’t be the only one thinking this, as I am writing this review it was revealed the movie made less than $10 million at the box office this past opening weekend and even Elizabeth Banks has recognized it as a major box office bomb. These studios need to actually look at these ideas & screenplays to these re-tooled, remade, or rebooted franchises before just fucking green lighting the project. They just look at the saying, “Everything that was old is new again,” they shrug, and they think it will be a major hit because of all the other similar reboot successes. They are just all incompetent Charlie’s, all voice only, never to be seen, never to read the file, issuing commands without any rhyme or reason. That is how you get fallen angels my dear readers.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: FORD V FERRARI (no spoilers)

Usually with “based on true events” biopics, if I don’t know much about the subject/subjects, I do a little research beforehand with what really happened so that I can compare the movie to it, and pick out the inaccuracies, to try and be comfortable with them. Also I do that to try and get into the mind set of the filmmakers, to maybe get a feel for why those choices were made. But with FORD V FERRARI, I decided not to this time, just for the sake of just watching and enjoying the movie for what it is, and I have to say that was a great decision. Ford V Ferrari is old school film making at its finest. It will remind you of the underdog triumph movies of the late 90s/early 2000s and is just an entertaining feel good film for everyone to enjoy. And the fact that the lengthy 2 and a half hour run time blows by faster than those cars in the movies, is a giant indicator of just how good it is. Any other year, like those previous time periods mentioned above, this one would sweep the Oscars. It’s a different time now so no film is really a true lock anymore, but I do predict that it will get a shit ton of nominations and win in most if not all of the technical awards (editing, sound editing and sound mixing). For me, it is one of the best films of 2019, with an unsurprising tour de force performance by one actor we can always trust now: Christian Bale.

Ahhh, yes, this is where I explain the plot, where I usually do a little more research to come up with well structured sentences and try to make it sound like I’m smart. Eh, fuck that, let’s just wing this. Henry Ford II is losing business and tries to buy out Ferrari to make more luxurious cars for baby boomers to get the company back on track. Ferrari laughs in their faces and insults the entire organization, so Ford decides he’s going to build a race car and beat Ferrari at the 24 hr race at Le Mans. They hire Carroll Shelby, played by Matt Damon to help out in this matter, and he in turn wants the knowledge and driving skills of Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale, who is a bit difficult to work with. Can they succeed? Boom, how did I do? Usually biopics with that big of a run time always have a slow spot or two to try and have everyone catch up with what is going on (and/or go to the rest room), but not this movie. I suggest to not buy any drinks and pee beforehand, because there is not an ounce of filler in this. In what would be the slow dialogue spots, both Matt Damon and Christian Bale elevate their performances to have those scenes be absolutely unmissable. Again, especially Bale.

Director James Mangold is now a director you can bet all your chips on. Sure, he has had a misfire or two, specifically Knight & Day, but I mean look at this guys resume. The superior remake of 3:10 To Yuma, Walk The Line, Girl, Interrupted, and one of the best comic book adaptations of all time, Logan. It is safe to say we can now put 100% of faith into him to delivery a pretty solid flick. The movie is near perfect but everything technical wise is perfect, specifically the sound mixing and editing. Fucking seamless. The roar of every engine, the squeak of every turn, every sound puts you in the drivers seat, deeper and deeper into the movie. It’s brilliant. I know there were a couple of CGI enhanced shots, but most of it was definitely real cars being raced and filmed, not the CGI bukkake that most of the Fast & Furious and other car movies are these days. The point is I couldn’t tell what was enhanced at all. And the acting is solid, from Matt Damon giving us his best performance since The Martian, to Outlander’s Caitriona Balfe being Miles loving and tough wife, to Josh Lucas playing the perfect asshole that you just want to beat the shit out of, to Tracy Letts playing a tough yet hilariously vulnerable and manipulated Henry Ford II, to even Jon Barenthal giving us something different playing one of Ford’s assistants.

But the true star here is Christian Bale, showing that even when he is stripped of a massive weight loss or gain for a role, stripped of all the prosthetics, he is one of the greatest actors of our generation, of all time. He gives it his all here, making Ken Miles a quirky character you can’t help but love, even with his difficult attitude. Bale’s face is so focused and tense during the racing sequences, it make me think that he practiced at home while taking a giant shit. It’s that intense. But yeah, I don’t need to say anymore, go see this movie, it is fantastic. It is expertly crafted, expertly directed, expertly edited, expertly acting, expertly (insert compliment here). Don’t go looking up the history of the two men or of that race, because the movie actually has a few twists and turns to it that I didn’t see coming, and something that I haven’t really scene in sports/racing films like these before, color me absolutely shocked and surprised. When I eventually get this for home viewing, I would definitely go a few laps watching it again, as it went straight to the finish line into the winner’s circle of my heart.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: NOELLE (Disney +)

As you can probably tell, when Disney+ debuted yesterday, I ate that shit up. Watched the first episode of The Mandalorian, watched the new live action remake of Lady And The Tramp, tried the first episode of The World According to Jeff Goldblum but couldn’t get through it as it was shockingly had too much Goldblum zaniness (I know, right?), and this other Disney+ original holiday movie available at launch, NOELLE. Or as I really want to call it: Elf 2 – A SJW Santa Story. I’ll get to the reasons for my alternate title a little later, but needless to say, this is the kind of movie you’d find premiering on ABC or the Disney Channel 25-30 years ago, on a weekend night. It works for what it is meant for, a small scale television movie. It isn’t going to be the next holiday classic like Elf was at the time, and there are a lot of problems with the film itself other than the “social justice warrior” angle (which I’ll get to as well) but I am giving it a slight recommendation as I did laugh out loud several times throughout it and also mostly due to the quirkiness and lively performance from Anna Kendrick, who always brings her charming A-game, even if the game of said movie is not up to snuff.

The reason why this movie is so close to Elf is that it is about a fictional holiday character, in this case, Santa’s sister, having a fish out of water journey, as she has lived her entire life at the North Pole. Noelle, always really into Christmas and its spirit, has to leave her home and go to Phoenix, Arizona in search of her brother, who has gone on vacation due to the stress of it being his first Christmas taking over the Santa mantel from the recent passing of their father. The movie largely consists of updated technological fish out of water jokes (a lot of advancements in tech and our way of life with them have been invented since 2003’s Elf) and also jokes consisting of the fact that she has lived in a very cold place on Earth all her life and just quickly transitions to a hot one. With any other actress, I don’t think these jokes would’ve landed as well as they did because of Anna Kendrick going all in with each and every single one. And the holiday spirit messages such as being with family, being a good person, giving not receiving, thinking about others, yada yada yada, are all in there too and they mostly work even though we’ve seen it all before.

There are other famous actors/actresses in this as well, such as the funny Bill Hader, Shirley McClaine, and the mostly annoying and loud Billy Eichtner (here he is fine though), but they don’t have much screen time, and completely take a back seat to Kendrick’s quirkiness, especially Hader. His involvement in this film seemed like a real missed opportunity. There are some glaring problems with the movie, for one, the CGI is shoddy as fuck. The reindeer look remarkably fake and weird, and it seemed like a lot of scenes had a green screen backdrop behind them, even when it is in Phoenix, Arizona, making everything seem like it was filmed inside a cheap studio, with cheap sets, cheap everything. With a heftier budget, this project could’ve looked a lot more livelier than it had. But I realize that this project was probably made for Disney+ from the get-go and not theatrical distribution, so I guess all of that is forgiven. If this had premiered in theaters, all of it would’ve been completely unacceptable.

The movie was written and directed by Marc Lawrence, a name you may have heard as he is responsible for one of the most watched and quoted rom-coms of all time, Miss Congeniality. And his film Music & Lyrics I enjoyed. But the bulk of his work, which includes Two Weeks Notice and Did You Hear About The Morgans?, is mostly unfunny comedy drivel. I have a feeling this script was written awhile ago, and again, whoever is in charge of Disney+ digged this script out of development hell and said, “oh this could be cheap and easy to make to debut on the platform!” Yep, it all shows. (side note: I actually looked at some rumored trivia for this film and found out that filming at supposedly started in 2017 but then was postponed a little to debut on the service, take that rumor for what you will). The biggest thing that had me rolling me eyes during the movie was the social justice warrior angle of the film. If read my description of the plot, you probably can predict how the movie solves all of the conflict. I don’t want to spoil what actually happens in the movie but I want to take a direct quote/thing that happens from the movie to prove my point, so consider this a **spoiler warning**. One male character shouts out during a meeting, “A woman can’t be Santa Claus!” and a woman in the audience scoffs and yells, “Hey!” **end of spoiler**. I don’t mind some of those messages as our way of life has undoubtedly changed over the years, but there is a more subtle approach to be had, and dialogue like this in the film gives off too much of a social justice warrior vibe. There, I said it.

But anyway, I do end up recommending Noelle, as I can see people, families, what have you, queue-ing it up every other holiday or so to enjoy a nice and serviceable Christmas movie together with a fantastic re-watchable performance by Anna Kendrick. I can’t bash shit like this too hard, as I will eventually come out as an Ebenezer Scrooge myself. Know this: I really and truly try to give each and every film the time of day, even if I’m not looking forward to them. I was looking forward to this, mainly for the acting talent involved, and while I wish there was much more from Hader, Anna Kendrick elevated the mediocre material and shoddy production value, and made the film slightly work. As long as those head honchos at Disney+ know that this kind of straight to platform film will only work for so long, as with the streaming battle about to come out to a full on war, they’ll need to elevate their material to ultimately get and keep people’s attention (I have no doubt that the Marvel shows will end up doing this). But I’ll give this one a ho-ho-hopeful review for the time being.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: LADY AND THE TRAMP (2019, Disney+)

Like a last minute savior that helps a protagonist or, more in this case, a bad situation in multiple films throughout the decades, Disney+’s live action remake of LADY AND THE TRAMP swoops in and saves 2019 from a shutout year of bloated, bombastic, and God awful live action remakes of Disney classics. “But Zach, The Lion King wasn’t a live action re…” FUCK YOU, yes it was. And it was a shot by shot boring disaster if there ever was one. I’ll pick apart that and the two other abominations later in this review, but I am happy to say that Lady and the Tramp doesn’t suck, and I was fully expecting it to be a piece of…pun intended…dog shit. But don’t get too ahead of my words, this isn’t the end all be all greatest live action remake we’ve ever gotten (that still goes to Jungle Book), but considering the drivel I’ve had to sit through this year, my expectations at rock bottom, the fact that I even give this a solid recommendation should be a shock to anyone’s ears. You could definitely watch this with family, your young ones, or friends and definitely have a Belle Notte.

This film seems like it was destined to actually hit theaters before Disney+ was announced, and then someone in charge said, “oh shit, we don’t have enough original content at launch, let’s just debut that on there as Lady and The Tramp doesn’t have enough brand recognition like Lion King, Dumbo, or Aladdin.” I would’ve rather this been in theaters and the other three kicked to a dark desolate corner of Disney+, never again to see the light of day, because to me, this thing was delightful. Another warning for all you review reading warriors, I don’t remember much of the original cartoon. I know that the Tramp gets Lady in trouble and the spaghetti kiss eating dinner scene with the famous song with the accordion…and that’s about it. So that might cloud my judgement a bit. Although I didn’t remember much of Dumbo, and that was the worst of the three other remakes earlier this year. I’m off point, the reason why this movie seems like it was destined for theaters is because it looks really nice. The old time-y feel, the classic Victorian (is that right? fuck it, I’m no architect) houses, the bright and colorful cinematography, the fact that they used REAL FUCKING ANIMALS instead of just CGI generated catastrophes, it just felt theatrical and nice.

You know the story, a cocker spaniel named Lady is adopted by a couple and is treated royally, but then the couple have a baby and Lady feels like she is being ignored. Enter the Tramp, a dog out on his own, always chased by a dog catcher, living the free life, that teaches Lady a few things while falling in love with her. But can Lady really live his free yet dangerous life, and what about Tramp’s past, is he too rambunctious to truly be with her? They use real life dogs to do the walking, running, and stunts, but use some CGI magic to make their mouths move while talking with a couple of eye brow and pupil alterations for more expressive facial expressions. I thought it would bother me, based on the fact that they did it in The Lion King back in July, and it turned the once expression filled cartoon characters into mindless CGI emotionless robots. Thankfully, it is to better effect here, almost seamless in fact, and I think the true difference is the fact that it was on real animals. Just that little extra touch that makes a huge difference, not relying on complete CGI creations. It was nice to just slide into. Plus they do a lot more movement with the expressions which helped. Would the movie had worked as well if they were still talking to each other, but it being more like a “Look Who’s Talking” expressionless situation with no mouth moving of any kind? I honestly don’t know. For kids, who this movie was made for, probably not. They needed the CGI enhanced faces here and I’m glad it wasn’t overdone.

The problem with Dumbo was that while not being a shot for shot remake, and it told a different tale, it was too dark, dour, and boring, not a kids film, yet not an adult one. Basically it had no target audience, and nobody cared about the story either. The problem with Aladdin is that it felt too over the top and fake, messing up classic songs with rap, a very underdeveloped villain, and the fact that every single God damn location looked like a movie set, nothing really feeling like it was shot on location. It just seemed all fake. Lion King’s problem was that it was a shot by shot photo realistic remake that added nothing new to the story, while scaling back the effectiveness of the characters with all the animals seeming like they all had the same personality because of their expressionless faces and un-enthusiastic voice acting. The Lady and the Tramp, even though having most of the same story beats as the original, feels as if it wasn’t just made as a product for people to consume more product, if that makes sense. It feels like it was filmed back in the day, with classic buildings and homes, the human costumes, etc.; it just all felt authentic. And it changes up some of the story beats without completely copying it but also without going too far out of left field with the source material. The movie isn’t a complete musical, only having 3 little numbers, doesn’t change them up too much, and they are only there to mildly enchance the story. Bella Notte, the best sequence in the classic cartoon, is done exceptionally well here. Not too over the top, and sung pitch perfect…and thankfully Will Smith doesn’t come out and start adding rap words to the score.

The voice acting from all the dogs is perfect, especially the two leads, voiced by the lovely Tessa Thompson and dashing Justin Theroux. They actually VOICE ACT, breathing life into the characters, instead reading off the paper like most of the cast of the remake of The Lion King seemed to do. Sam Elliott also steals his scenes as Trusty, the older next door neighbor dog. And the human acting is decent as well too, Thomas Mann and Kiercey Clemmosn plays the titular couple that owns Lady, with small supporting roles by Ken Jeong and Yvette Nicole Brown. The latter two almost took me out of the film because I thought it was going to be some sort of Community reunion, but thankfully Ken Jeong isn’t his usual self and Yvette Nicole Brown isn’t her usual self either. They play characters for once. The only character I thought was a bit off, odd, and took me a couple of times out of the film was the dog catcher. He just seemed a little wooden yet…creepy. Like a dog catcher pedophile. I don’t know how to describe it, you’ll see what I mean when you watch it. If there was any character that needed to be a bit over the top to sell that part of the movie it should’ve been him, and that’s the only part that didn’t truly deliver.

But yes, it was nice to have a good Disney+ “original” movie on the streaming service at launch. I also saw the other Disney+ movie available at launch Noelle (which I will have a review up shortly for) as well, but I prefer this film, and wanted to have my first Disney+ movie review with a film I could solidly recommend to everyone (and not just keep singing The Mandalorian’s praises ((but please check that out too)). I’m glad it swooped in and save the day, I was completely dreading being bored and hated it and adding it on my top ten list of the year, next to the other three live action remakes that are currently on it and will probably still be on it come the end of next month. This was a remake that didn’t feel rushed or manufactured, but made with care. Definitely more of a lady, and luckily not at all near a Trump…whoops, I mean Tramp, TRAMP…or did I?

Diane’s Delightful Movie Reviews: LAST CHRISTMAS (no spoilers)(with Ebenezer Zach’s two cents)

‘Tis the season to be jolly…I guess. To me though…LAST CHRISTMAS wasn’t very jolly at all. So instead of six paragraphs bashing a very lame rom-com dramedy that wasn’t meant for the likes of me, I am going to have my wife, who enjoyed the movie much more than I did, talk very briefly about why she liked it. She is definitely the Tiny Tim in this situation. If you want to know what my crotchety Krampus old self thought, stay tuned at the bottom for some lumps of coal in your merry stocking!!!

Diane’s thoughts:

Zach is such crap. This movie was sweet and heartfelt. The characters were real and relatable. All of the actor’s chemistry together was great. Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding were meant to be together. The twist is easy to spot and that’s OK. You don’t always need to be surprised at every go around. All the right things are there, family love and conflict, personal self growth and realization, with a bit of romance to make you happy. What the movie does leave you wanting is more romantic comedies with Emilia Clarke, she is so delightful and charming you just want to eat her up with a spoon. In the end, it was a lovely Christmas movie with all the things you expect and love to see happen on screen. If that is not what you want then don’t see it … (cough) Zach.

Ebenezer Zach’s thoughts:

Bah Humbug MOTHERFUCKERS!!! It’s Ebenezer Zach here to chime in with his scathing two cents. I thought Last Christmas was boring, unfunny, and just very dull. I almost fell asleep multiple times. In fact, I think the lame obvious twist that treats its audience as if they were idiots is the least harmful statistic about it. To keep this bag full of dislike I have short, let me go through the list. The script is uninspired. Cliched ho ho ho sappy dialogue about living your best life and doing better that has been done to better effect in a bunch of other movies you’ve seen before. I did not laugh once throughout the movie, and some of the jokes were really….odd, like they kept going on because they thought if they kept hammering in the joke that you’d eventually get it and laugh. I didn’t and I didn’t.

The movie is about this down on her luck girl that had a heart problem and, last Christmas, got a heart transplant. As she is trying to navigate the world and the holiday season one year later, a mysterious man randomly shows up in her life to try and teach her the correct way of living it. Saying the film was based off George Michael’s music was the first mistake this film made, because if you take every lyric about the song “Last Christmas” literally, the twist is so damn easy to figure out. I figured it out months ago without knowing every single line of that song. There were other ways to still have that twist that would’ve felt a little more earned and unique. Instead it just reminds you of a bunch of other movies that have that twist, all as lame as this movie (if you want me to list those movies, just message me so I don’t spoil it for others). What is also very insulting is that it was co-written by Emma Thompson, who has actually won an Academy Award for screenplay writing. She’s in this a little too as Clarke’s character’s mother, but she was kind of over-the-top yet still dull.

My wife was right on though with one thing, the only compliment I am going to give the movie: Emilia Clarke needs to be in more but better romantic comedies. This was easily her best performance in a film. She’s always been a bit weird to me in dramas, I never really bought her as Khaleesi in Game of Thrones (she was just hot to me), and she was a terrible Sarah Conner. But in this film, she plays her lovable self that you can see throughout interviews and social media, and she is just delightful. And Henry Golding, always proving his worth since Crazy Rich Asians, was good in this as well, and their chemistry together were the only bright spots in this dark hole of a film. But yeah, put this Emilia Clarke performance and add it to a better rom-com or even a rude and crude sexual humor one and she would be utterly fantastic.

Paul Feig is literally a hit and miss director. It seems that when one film is good, his next is always not so much. And I can prove it. Bridesmaids: great. The Heat: shit. Spy: Great. Ghostbusters 2016: fucking garbage. A Simple Favor: Good. And now this: crap. At least I can look forward to his next film, almost guaranteeing it to be at least half way decent. My last review was of Let It Snow, a Christmas film on Netflix, and instead of going out to see this cliched utter mess, I suggest staying inside with family and loved ones and watching that instead, even though that film wasn’t the best either. I wish it were Last Christmas, as that way this movie didn’t exist then and I wouldn’t have had to suffer through it.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: LET IT SNOW (Netflix)

I didn’t know how to describe LET IT SNOW while watching it, so something my wife said that I thought was pretty accurate I got permission to use, and it’s “cute meh.” I would say it’s a more romantic, more serious, really loose remake of Nickelodeon’s Snow Day. With all the dumb rom-com dramedy cliches that come with it. Fortunately sprinkled with flakes of decent acting. Basically, you could watch much much much much worse than it, but you could watch so much better. It’s only one step above those crappy Christmas/Winter Hallmark Channel movies. Or that stupid Prince and the Pauper Netflix holiday remake film. Or those dumb Rose McIver Prince and Me Christmas themed rip offs. It’s definitely better than that Netflix summer version of this film conveniently titled, The Last Summer. But it’s definitely the kind of movie that Netflix should seriously think about not buying if they want to actually compete with the other streaming platforms in the future.

IMDB.com describes this movie best: In a small town on Christmas Eve, a snowstorm brings together a group of young people. Like I said, it’s a more serious version of Snow Day, but dealing with kids about to head off to college instead of middle school kids wanting an extra day off school. There is no Chevy Chase dumb weather reporter, and instead of an evil Chris Elliot snow plowman, there is Joan Cusack, who is a nice yet weird tow truck lady that spouts off life advice. And then add more cliches on top of the cliches that I’ve already spouted out. You have the small town girl who doesn’t know if she is going off to college because she wants to take care of her sick mother and ends up falling in love with a famous guy that just happened to be traveling through town. You have the guy and girl friend that have been best friends for the longest time but then they realize they might want something more. You have the wanna be DJ that wants to throw a giant party so maybe his career can take off. You have the girl obsessed with social media and keeps investigating to see if her boyfriend is going to break up with her. And then you have the lesbian in love with a girl that hasn’t come out to anyone and has a whole bunch of straight friends. You. Have. Heard. And. Seen. It. All. Before. Including the cheesy dialogue that comes with it.

It only works because of the acting. The people you might know it in is the girl that plays the new live action Dora The Explorer. The girl that plays Sabrina The Teenage Witch is in it. The guy that voices Miles Morales in Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse is in it. The daughter in Santa Clarita Diet is in it. And Peter Parker’s Asian friend from the new Spider-Man movies is in it. And like I mentioned earlier, Joan Cusack (she also needlessly narrates the beginning and ending of the film). Oh and Janet from The Good Place is briefly in it. They all do a decent job with the shit cheesy dialogue that they have to work with. Not surprising that the screenwriter of all the Pitch Perfect movies is behind it. But more 2 and 3 quality instead of the really great original. You just go into it expecting all the predictability in the world and you won’t come out disappointed. And I’ll give the movie one more compliment, it looks like they actually shot on location, with real snow and shit, instead of it being fake snow on sets and set in California.

Am I recommending it? Slightly. It kept my attention enough and when I think about all the other shit that was released by Netflix this year such as: Sextuplets, The Last Laugh, The Last Summer, Someone Great, Murder Mystery, and The Silence, I really I would watch this a million times more than watching even five minutes of those others. My wife recommends it way more than I do. Like she just told me sitting next to me, “if you are looking for a halfway decent Christmas movie and you are bored, there is worse ways to spend your time. It’s cute meh.” Meh, I guess I’ll agree with her. But if I watched it by myself you could’ve expected a much more scathing review. You were lucky she was with me.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN

With MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN, actor Edward Norton gets his first credited writing project, and his second directorial feature since the so-so Keeping The Faith, which was almost two decades ago. With his writing/adapting skills (this is based on a novel) I give him some strong applause, but with his directing and egotistical necessity of putting himself as the lead actor in his project…I say better luck next time. There are several problems with the movie, off the top of my head the film was a little bit too light, corny, and cartoon-y to really represent one of those detective “gum shoe” serial noirs of the 30s – 70s. Another problem is that Norton’s performance as a detective that happens to have OCD and tourette’s crosses the line several times of being too over the top for me. And the last major complaint is that the movie is way too long, there were several scenes that could’ve been shortened or cut out altogether to make a tighter two hour movie (it did not need to be almost two and a half hours). But the movie’s dialogue is quite good for me to say that this is a very decent rental, and if you love those “gum shoe” detective noirs of the past and need something to scratch that itch (I can’t remember the last one in theaters), this is right up your alley.

So am I recommending this? Slightly. People have asked me through messenger recently to start giving my movies letter grades, but I don’t want to do that because a lot of you will just start scrolling to the bottom and not really listen to what I have to say. But with this one I’ll make an exception, but I’m going to say it here so you have to find it like you’d try and find Waldo. I’d say a very solid C plus. I think if Norton stuck to just the writing, ditched the directing, and maybe honed his performance a little bit (because I still think Edward Norton is a hell of a great actor), this could’ve been something great. But we all know that Norton has an ego (see his MCU history) and he just couldn’t get out of his own way direction wise. His direction here isn’t one to write home about. He also directed himself in Keeping The Faith. In order to see if Norton really has unique directing chops, I’d like next time for him to maybe write and direct, and NOT be in his movie at all. But with the only two movies of his he has directed and starred in, and both of those being okay (this one is definitely better than his first), I really don’t have much to go on.

What is the movie about? To not spoil anything, Norton plays a associate detective named Lionel Essrog, or “Motherless Brooklyn” to his detective boss Frank Minna, plays by Bruce Willis. Lionel and another guy back up Minna during a meeting of several people, that meeting takes a huge turn and **spoiler alert**, Frank Minna is killed less than 15 minutes into the movie starting (not so spoilery though if you’ve watched the trailer). The rest of the movie has Lionel try to find out what happened to his boss based on what he saw and heard when the meeting went down and Frank’s incoherent last dying words. He gets wrapped up in a conspiracy involving a powerful man played by Alec Baldwin and his unstoppable determination to control and build a better community in 1950s Brooklyn. He also runs into a very lovely lady played fantastically by Gugu Mbatha-Raw who may or may not be wrapped up into this layered conspiracy as well. Lionel has to navigate the evidence to find out exactly what is going on his revenge quest while trying not to get killed himself.

The dialogue in this film is great. I would love Norton to maybe get out of the limelight a little bit and adapt novels for other, more establish directors to direct. He’s got a knack for it. His direction here is only a tiny bit more than just point and shoot. But that’s because he’s directing himself, which is probably no easy task, but then again, maybe he should’ve let someone else take the reins so he could concentrate on his performance. His performance isn’t too over the top, I don’t want my words to make you think you have to suspend belief to take his tourette’s OCD personality seriously. About an hour into the film I ended up not puckering up my butt hole so much and got used to it better. In fact, there is one part where his tourette’s made me laugh the hardest I’ve laughed in a theater this year (it involves the F word that isn’t fuck), so I can thank the movie for that. The performance just came off as a little corny and cartoon-y, a little out of place and out of tone with the rest of the noir detective type film. Like trying to mix oil and water. The rest of the cast is great though. Bruce Willis, even though hardly in the film, actually looked like he took the time out of not caring on his many direct to video adventures to give Norton a believable little gig. Alec Baldwin makes for a good “sleezy” Trump type business man (who knew right?! **cue the SNL sarcasm**) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw steals every scene she is in she is so serene and lovely.

The end result (story resolution) though also felt a little too “Chinatown”y, with it being in almost the same “twist and turn” vein as the climax of that film, but with more of a racial overtone and less of an incest one. You’ll see. The film had me guessing though and I didn’t see the ending coming. I just wish it were a little more complicated. There are also several scenes that go on way too long, especially one where Norton has tourette’s in a nightclub, that should’ve been cut way way down. If the movie were edited a little more, it could’ve been a better and more solid two hours. I got bored several times with its uneven pace. But the movie is more original than a lot of the shit we get these days, and it is nice to see something different with the detective “gum shoe” noir being brought back for 2019, so there is that, I ultimately just don’t think the too light of tone worked for me, combined with Norton’s uneven performance and uneven, kind of lazy, direction. But the dialogue is incredible. So if you like films like this, I would recommend that you seek it out. For me, there was just too much evidence that was too light on clues, if that pun makes any sense to you.