Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC had the potential to be something that could really poke fun at, yet homage all the romantic comedies we’ve seen time and again and still get made to this day. While it wasn’t the disaster I thought it would be, I don’t feel like it tried hard enough to poke fun at everything and instead at times fell into more of the pit falls that hurt those kinds of films. In the end, I feel like it was a decent one time watch, and that maybe someone down the line will watch this film, and decide to make a better one. I have to admit, it wasn’t as agonizingly dumb like the stupid parody films we’ve gotten in recent years like Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet The Spartans, Superhero Movie, Disaster Movie or anything like that, but it should’ve dug deeper into the subject matter and maybe given us a film more akin to Airplane! or Top Secret! instead.

If you live in a tree and don’t know what Isn’t It Romantic? is about, it is supposed to take the romantic comedy formula, spin it on it’s head, make fun of it, and come to a more realistic conclusion based more in reality. Rebel Wilson stars as an architect that just can’t catch a break in her job or love life, and after she bangs her head in a mugging incident, she wakes up in a world where everything adheres to the rom-com rules of the movies. The movie outright make fun of those films by having Wilson’s character be bleeped whenever she tries to say the F word, and not showing the sex between her and Liam Hemsworth characters, and it also has nice little subtle touches that I enjoyed more such as pretty flowers being absolutely everywhere and little Easter Egg road signs about engagement and marriage.

The movie tries to be more realistic when it isn’t in the fantasy world, such as stating that New York really is not that great to look at and smells of shit, but it doesn’t take it to that realistic level it needed to be at for me. Her little thing with Adam Devine in the real world still reeks of movie cliched dialogue and tropes and the ending, ending (going into the credits) really missed the opportunity to be more realistic. It instead just threw the pages of the screenplay up into the air and just shrugged off everything that it tried to establish before and decided to have a non charming song and annoying dance number. The whole film needed to have more scenes like when Rebel Wilson is about to try on a bunch of clothes for a date with Hemsworth and she goes on about not doing a “trying on clothes” montage, and then THEY DON’T DO THE MONTAGE! More of that would’ve been fantastic, but the jokes don’t hit as often as they should.

I’ll also give the film some props: this is the first film where I wasn’t annoyed at all by Rebel Wilson’s character. She still does her improve that somehow works, but it is now all incorporated into a normal character that the audience can relate to. Rebel Wilson isn’t just screaming lines in this and spouting off nonsense, it looks like she wanted to take this comedy a little bit more seriously to branch out of her type cast of the not so pitch perfect films she has done before. Adam Devine proves that he is still an underrated comedian and should be in more things and Liam Hemsworth proves that, like his brother, he should be in more comedies to stretch out his talent. One actress I did not like in this was Priyanka Chopra. I’ve never thought she was a good actress, and in this her improv skills are…lacking, for lack of a better and meaner word. She has always been just eye candy to me and in this she doesn’t show anymore range. She was awful in this as much as she was in Baywatch. I never watched Quantico, but I’m guessing her career is going be way of Kate Hudson more than anything.

Anyway, my wife liked this film more than I did, and I have a feeling most women will eat this up, but to me, I watched it once, and that was enough. I’m thanking God it wasn’t a disaster like other parody films we have gotten in the recent age, but wished it was smarter like some parody films we got a long long time ago now. There just wasn’t enough poking fun of rom-coms for me. It should’ve been a joke a second, when it was more like a joke every couple of minutes. The run time of this is extremely short, only 84-86 minutes, and parts of it felt slow, which should not happen in films like these. Anyway, I just look at this as a little bit of a missed opportunity, but I didn’t want to rip my eyes or ears off. I think you’ll like it more if you are familiar with the movies it makes fun of. Also, if you do see it, see it on a romantic date… you might get a little more out of it than if you go alone.


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MIRAI and NEVER LOOK AWAY (2 film review) OSCAR CATCH UP CHAPTER 11. BANKRUPTCY. FINISHED!!!

Wow, being 100% complete on one year’s worth of Oscar nominations and being prepared the most I have ever been for the telecast this Sunday, and also for Diane and I’s 10th Annual and last Oscar party, feels great. Doing this was one of my ‘bucket list’ items and I’m glad I completed it at only 32, thanks to a lot of things (Netflix, Hulu, dark web illegal shit, last minute screenings, friends of friends). It was also a fucking beating, time consuming, and I’m never going to do it again. So here is part 11 of my Oscar catch up. I’m finally done. For the rest of the year you will be getting only 2019 movie reviews. Here we go:

MIRAI (Nominated for Best Animated Feature)

I’ve never really ‘gotten’ anime I guess you could say. Other than being into the Pokemon video games and watching several episode of the cartoon when I was younger, to watching several episodes of Full Metal Alchemist when I was older, I never really gotten into it or care for it. So take my review of Mirai with a grain of salt, especially if you are an anime fan. That being said, the movie was okay. I really think it was nominated as a “we need a fifth nominated film, here’s your consolation prize as there weren’t other noticeable U.S. films this year, and we usually include one Japanese anime film on here per year now so we aren’t labeled racist or non-diverse.”

If you look really hard at it while watching it, you could compare it to The Boss Baby, with Alec Baldwin. It’s about a young little brat kid that has a new sister, and imagines a bunch of scenarios in his mind about interacting with past and future versions of his ancestors, parents, and his new little sister Mirai, in order to become a better person, but most importantly, a role model for his little sister. The main version that comes to him is his “sister that is older from the future.” The film didn’t really get going for me until the last 15-20 minutes, with awesome imagery and animation that reminded me of watching Little Nemo and the Adventures in Slumberland when I was a little kid.

The animation is great too, always love and miss 2D renderings all the time at the same time. It was just that I was mostly bored while watching it. It didn’t click with me. The Japanese anime humor flies way over my head and I honestly just don’t get it. But if you are a lover of anime and a pretty decent story, this film is definitely right up your alley. Hell there could’ve been a much worse fifth nomination this year…like Smallfoot maybe? I don’t know, didn’t see it but heard it was shit.

NEVER LOOK AWAY (Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film and Cinematography)

And yet another foreign language film I found to be more engaging, engrossing, and entertaining than Roma, and this son of a bitch is 3 hrs and 8 minutes long! I can’t decide if I like this or Capernaum better but I know that both completely blow Roma out of the water for me (even though I still find Roma to be a very good cinematic achievement…technically not narratively). Never Look Away takes place between right around 1937 and goes to 1961. It chronicles the the life of a painter named Kurt Barnett and his life as a child dealing with the end of World War II and the tragic death of his beautiful aunt, through socialist expressionism, all the way to where art became extremely experimental and avant-garde. His life consists of meeting and falling in love with a beautiful designer student while also trying to find his true voice as an artist in a profession that is constantly changing. While he is the narrative focus we also get a B Plot of a Nazi Professor named Carl Seeband and his role in the Nazi eugenics program. I would explain what that is, but the movie does that well enough for you and you can look it up on your own, it’s quite malicious and horrifying. Plus if I keep going with the plot I’m going to ruin the entire thing for you, best to check it out for yourself.

To say that these two stories intertwine at some point is a given, and you would think that I would complain that by the way these two stories come together are too much of a coincidence for me (I complained about this in my review of Border), however, with the 3 hour run time, and the ultimate conclusion/resolution to the film, the film easily earns its couple of happenstances and the ending thankfully foregoes a cliched confrontation that so many movies have done before. The film is also nominated for Best Cinematography, and I also agree that its nomination in this category was well deserved. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (who is Zooey and Emily’s father) enriches the screen with beautiful imagery of a pre, present, and post war country. It get even better in the latter half of the film with Carl trying his hand at creating different forms of art, especially the climax.

The acting in here is great as well, so great in fact that about 15 minutes into the film I didn’t even realize I was reading subtitles to get what was going on. Although the main actor Tom Schilling looks like if Jeremy Renner and Devon Sawa fucked and had a baby. It was a little distracting at times because I wanted to prove that all three of them were related. The actor that plays the Nazi Professor, Sebastian Koch, is great here as well, and some of you may recognize him from some American films/television programs like A Good Day To Die Hard or Homeland. Here he gets a lot of scenery to chew and does it well. Anyway, the story here is magnificent and if you really like foreign films and don’t mind reading subtitles, the 3 hours wasn’t just necessary for me to appreciate all that was necessary in this story to tell, but also flew by like watching Titanic or Gone With The Wind. It’s an epic story told with epic perfection.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BORDER and HALE COUNTY, THIS MORNING THIS EVENING (2 Film Review) Oscar Catch Up Part 10…of 11

Thank God the journey to watch all the nominees this year is almost over. Just got to see Mirai tonight and you’ll get a review of that plus Never Look Away tomorrow. I don’t want to leave my Oscar Catch Up series on a dire note (hint: I’ve already seen Never Look Away and loved it), so for the penultimate review I am going to talk about two films that I absolutely hated and that should not have gotten nominated whatsoever:

BORDER (Nominated For Best Makeup and Hairstyling)

This film is about trolls and baby raping. I shit you not. It’s sort of a realistic fucked up adult fairy tale with dour mistreatment of infants that I could barely stomach. Do not watch this film if you have a newborn, or if you get depressed really easily. The movie is nominated mainly for the two leads and their facial prosthetics around their face, and also probably for the make up on the “non-living troll embryos,” don’t fucking ask. It is nominated with two other films, Vice and Mary Queen of Scots. I can literally think of any other film that could’ve been nominated instead of Border, such as all the cool make up and hairstyling from any one in Wakanda in Black Panther or Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol, where they used Xenu Scientology like make up to keep Tom Cruise from aging…

The film starts out promising enough: a weird looking woman, who works as a airport border patrol agent has a unique talent, she can sniff out the ‘wrong’ in people. One day, she sniffs out a SD card hidden in the back of the cell phone that contains child pornography. This leads to higher ups wanting her to help them find this porn ring and put a stop to it. So there is Plot Point B. Plot Point A is that a weird looking guy, that almost looks just like her, happens to come through customs soon after that. She smells something wrong on him too, although they don’t find really anything on him (except that he has female and not male parts ((again, don’t fucking ask)). They end up together and starting a relationship, and he reveals their true origins.

I’m going to get into a minor spoiler here (not going to say exactly what it is), but one thing I didn’t like the film is that Plot Point B happens to overlap someway into Plot Point A, where the whole story felt forced and too coincidental. And then the rest of the film hints at child abduction, baby raping, trolls growing appendages and fucking each other…and a bunch more things I just couldn’t get into. The film was just too weird and dragged on in parts. I think though I would’ve like the whole ‘sniffing what is wrong with people’ detective scenario quite a bit…if it was done righteously in a different movie.

HALE COUNTY, THIS MORNING THIS EVENING (Nominated for Best Documentary)

So when watching all of these documentaries, I was trying to pin point the exact movie that shouldn’t have been nominated over the greatly snubbed and much better Won’t You Be My Neighbor? documentary on Fred Rogers. After watching RBG, Free Solo, Of Fathers and Sons, and Minding The Gap…I was like, oh shit, maybe it was snubbed for a good reason. Nope. Hale County, This Morning This Evening is one of the worst documentaries I have ever seen. It has absolutely no message, no linear narrative, and no emotional weight (except for one tiny scene that I thought was going to dive deeper into the film in the halfway point ((deals with SIDS)), but nope, just moves on without any explanation or general thought on the event really).

In fact, the doc has several scenes that last 5 to 10 minutes each where NOTHING FUCKING HAPPENS. It’s either a POV shot of a car driving down the road with no dialogue, or people talking in the background where you can even hear what they are talking about (putting on subtitles does no good as it reads ‘people talking indiscernible in background’) while a child runs around the room, or a static shot of a basketball team in a locker room, all talking over each other and neither you or the subtitle feature can make out whatever the fuck they are saying.

Critics and a couple of others are praising the nonlinear documentary for being nonlinear and that it is ‘pure cinematic poetry’, and I just can’t understand why. The film is supposed to be about a black community that lives in Hale County in Alabama’s black belt. But to me it wasn’t really about anything. There no message on poverty, or racism, or really any hardships of any kind save for a child dying of SIDS. To me, this documentary had no purpose, it was avant-garde film student film making at its most experimentally worst. Documentaries, in my opinion, always need to have some kind of structure. Trying to do something other than that seems risky of losing your audiences attention span. I had to wash dishes and clean baby bottles while watching it just to get through it.

GUEST CRITIC! Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews Presents Don Hernandez’s take on ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL

Hey there, this is Zach really quick here, I posted on my Facebook page that I would not be reviewing ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL because I really don’t have much of an interest in seeing it. So instead, my good friend Don Hernandez decided to write up his opinion on the film. After reading his review…kind of glad I’m skipped out on it and am waiting for rental. Anyway, here is Don’s review:

After being pushed back multiple times, The Robert Rodriguez/James Cameron manga adaptation has finally been released in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s clear why Fox pushed it back over and over again as they hoped the CGI filled Sci-fi action movie would do better against more diverse movies. With the original summer date and then the Christmas date, Alita would have been battling some major action juggernauts. While she may be able to handle her own in the movie, no amount of cybernetics would have kept her from being lost in the crowd.

Don’t get me wrong, the visuals are stunning and Alita, despite being all CGI, comes off quite realistic the longer you are in this world. However, two of the main baddies end up not feeling realistic at all (Nova & Grewishka, I don’t know why but it really felt like they ran out of money when these two were put together as they look so out of place at times). The action sequences are awesome. Alita’s bar fight and the arena sequence are spectacular (highly recommend Dolby Cinema or IMAX to get full effect of this).

Where the movie suffers is the story. One part I have to mention first, because I still can’t shake how dumb it is, happens just around the halfway point: there are these individuals called “Hunter Warriors” and some huge leaps in logic are taken to how they are viewed in this society that made me say to myself more than once, “wait, when was this established about them?” It literally makes no sense unless they were just trying to find a way for Alita to monologue before giving us a fight scene. Let me put it this way, a tiny little dog shows more bravery in the movie than 99% of these so called “bad ass hunter warriors”.

It gets even more odd later because one of them starts spouting off about “the hunter code”….to quote another movie “the code is more or less guidelines than actual rules”. Many important characters aren’t really given their moments to be fleshed out enough to care/understand their motivations either. When we get some character development, it’s quick and pushed aside for the shiny CGI moments. Which is a shame because Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, and Masherala Ali are all great actors.

As for the main character’s story…. Alita is introduced quite well and we are just as invested as she is to find out who she truly is. We do get pieces here and there but it’s never fully explained. Throughout this there is, of course, the “of different worlds” love story that provides the vehicle for finding out more of Alita’s arc but overall it isn’t needed to actually advance it. A little over halfway into the movie though it’s clear why; the whole thing is just being set up for future installments (that maybe will give more backstories of more than just Alita?). Too many studios are doing this now and it’s hurting more than helping. It’s a double edged sword. Do I want a sequel to this? Sure…..but I didn’t need Fox force feeding it to me. Let the film speak for itself. It’s poor writing when you can’t create a self contained story but leave the possibility for continuing it. If you need half your movie to be set up you already failed.

The ending, the cameos, the star power, so much is wasted here since the film has already made it’s bed; we are left with an incomplete story that really doesn’t make any sense. I felt like I was on a cool roller coaster ride in the dark that showed me flashes of the rest of the track only for the ride to end.

As stated previously, it’s a shame because a self contained story would have made this a concrete much watch. That’s saying a lot because I’ve always believed action movies aren’t supposed to be for “story”. Sure, a solid story can make certain action movies stand out from the rest. Overall though it’s all about the action, explosions, and visuals. Only in this case, it’s an action sci-fi film that introduces us to a different world and time so we need that story to make the connection & investment. A character’s development can manage that as well but it needs to be within the first film. Sadly Alita: Battle Angel asks too much of the audience without giving us the proper motivation with no guarantee of the future.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U (no spoilers, I promise)

HAPPY DEATH DAY 2U is bold and bat shit crazy. In a good way thankfully. Kind of like Aliens did with Alien, it completely does a 180 degree flip and changes genres, and completely sticks the landing. The first film was a Groundhog’s Day horror/thriller that happened to be funny with a great, great, let me emphasize that more, GREAT, performance by Jessica Rothe. And even though it was a horror/thriller, it wasn’t very scary, but the fun completely made up for it. The sequel, released yesterday, almost completely (except for one or two little tense jump scares) abandons the horror/thriller aspect and becomes more of a sci-fi emotional mystery adventure. And I God damn loved every minute of it.

And don’t ask me in a direct message if the movie was better than the original. They are two different beasts if try to put them in a competitive match. Like comparing apples and oranges at this point in time. I will say that whenever I watch the first film again in the future, I would watch the second one immediately, as they are great companion pieces to one another, and are both proof that you CAN DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT than just rehash old shit in sequels. Writer/Director Christopher Landon did something unique and I can’t believe Blumhouse bought into it, but I’m glad they did. This movie definitely has more of a Back To The Future Part II vibe than anything, and it even references the film directly, and has little trinkets of Easter Eggs as well throughout the whole thing if you are willing to pay close attention.

I’m not going to reveal any of the plot or story, but I love how the movie starts out immediately by not making it about Jessice Rothe’s character Tree, but organically brings her back into the fold, and front and center no less. I’m not even going to reveal how she ends up getting back into her death loop or what the loop has been about the entire time, the best parts of this movie is finding out everything yourself when the story unfolds and a perfect pace for you. And I love, love, LOVED how this movie has such an emotional punch to it, that you don’t even care really who is the killer in the end (I completely stopped guessing at one point because the movie basically tells you to and that it isn’t the point of the story), it’s more of just the a good tasting cherry on the cake you weren’t expecting to get anyway.

This sequel also manages to ask and answer questions we didn’t even know we needed asked or answered from the first film. And the best thing about it all? It pokes fun at itself, it knows how ridiculous it is, but the tone is so nearly pitch perfect that it doesn’t matter. There are several scenes in this film that will make you cry if you even have half a heart, and the movie features an emotional score that is too good for horror/thriller/sci-fi films (loved the Back to the Future Part II homage musical cues). And the performances were all spot on for a film like this. But again, I’m going to focus on the very underrated actress Jessica Rothe, for without her, these movies absolutely would not work. She is the entire light, the light bulb, the plug, and the spark to ignite everything. She is absolutely amazing in this, and even manages to pull off a better emotional performance than the first film, which I thought was damn near perfect to begin with. You’ll know what scenes I am talking about when you see them.

Trust me, I wish I could write a spoiler review and spoiler the shit out of this thing screaming its praises, but I should be shot if I tried. I can’t wait for more people to see it so I can discuss this film privately with them. If any of the movies little fun secrets are ruined for anyone, I would feel really really bad. Just take my word that the movie is a completely different experience from the first film, and if you accept the sci-fi story elements, you are going to have a great and fun time.

Look, in the end, you know if you want to see this movie or not. If you are looking for the same old shit like the first film, this isn’t for you. If you want something scary and horrifying, this film isn’t for you. If you didn’t like the first movie, you probably won’t like this one either. I’ve read reviews with complaints that they wish there was more Baby face mask killing and stalking, but IMO, if we got more of the same, this film wouldn’t have been all that great. This film is something different from the original, which we need more of in sequels. In a nutshell, if you are willing to go on this little bat shit crazy sci-fi mystery adventure emotional idea, this film will reward you…and reward you….and reward you….and reward you….and reward you…

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: WEEKENDS and SHOPLIFTERS (2 Film Review) Oscar Catch Up Part 9

Update: By Monday, I will end up seeing every single nominee for the 91st Academy Awards, all 121 of them (some are the same obviously as some films have multiple nominations). This series of Oscar Catch Up will ironically end on Part 11, which I will then call Chapter 11 since it is the end. But anyway, two quick short reviews:

WEEKENDS (Nominated for Best Animated Short)

WEEKENDS is a short 15 minutes. The animation is easy on the eyes (kind of messy/classic, you’ll get what I mean when you watch it, it’s on YouTube now), and other than a score and a couple of repeating rock/pop songs, there is no dialogue. It is about a boy that is dealing with the separation of his parents. His mother gets him during the week, his father on the weekends. He tries to move on with his life as they move on with theirs.

It’s quite emotional and stays with the theme of all the shorts basically being about growing up and dealing with your age. I have now seen all 5 of the nominated ones now, and while I think Bao will ultimately win, (I mean Pixar, come on) I really hope instead that it is One Small Step. This one would be a close third.

SHOPLIFTERS (Nominated for Best Foreign Language Film)

I have one Foreign Language film left to see (Never Look Away, this Friday), but I’m going to go ahead and call that SHOPLIFTERS will be my least favorite of the bunch. It’s good, don’t get me wrong, but this one might have been a little over hyped for me. The film is a Japanese drama film about a family, who are not really related at all we come to find out, that steal from shops and do other scams to deal with a poverty type lifestyle.

You probably won’t know any of the actors/actresses in it so I won’t waste my time, but the acting is very solid. The story itself and the motivations and secrets of these characters is like peeling layers off of a fruit to get to the sweet juicy center. Some of the revelations are sad, some are downright shocking. The ‘family’ mentioned above is a family of five at the beginning, and then it turns to six when they take in a girl that seems to be abandoned and abused by her mother and father.

The ending is sure to leave a lump in your throat and the film is very engaging on a story and character developmental level. Everything technical about it could’ve used some work. The cinematography isn’t all that special, and some scenes were too dark to work with to see what was going on. It felt like a point and shoot kind of movie. However, going back to a positive light, the film has probably the best child acting since IT in 2017. But yeah, the movie is available to rent on all your Movie On Demand providers. It’s worth checking out completely story wise, as it is really original and is something that Hollywood in America wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole now, due to the fact we are in sequel/reboot land for the next 1,000 years.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: FREE SOLO and PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE. (2 Film Review) Oscar Catch Up Part 8

There will be one more part after this and then I’m done. Will have ultimately seen 117 out of the 121 Oscar nominees, my personal best. I will be posting my list tomorrow if anyone could help me out in watching the last four. Anyway, here is a quick review on two more:

FREE SOLO (Nominated for Best Documentary)

I’ve now seen 4 out of the 5 nominated full documentaries nominated for an Academy Award, and while any of them would make a fine winner, I ultimately hope that this wins. It is AMAZING. The documentary is about a man named Alex Honnold and his dream to pursue a free solo climb of El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. What is a free solo climb? You know rock climbers right? Imagine them scaling giant rock spires with no harnesses, ropes, or any protective equipment of any kind. Instead they have to rely solely on their athletic ability. Many people have died free soloing around the globe.

This is one documentary that is sure to have your heart pounding. It’s not a spoiler to say that he makes it to the top and doesn’t die, because I don’t think there would be a movie necessarily if he plummeted to his death. Oh wait, right, there still would be because Hollywood loves a tragic story as much as they do a triumphant one. But the doc isn’t just about the climb. It’s about Alex and how he lives his life climbing while trying to maintain a romantic relationship to a woman who happened to give her number to him at a signing.

The doc shows him practicing for the climb, older footage of him free solo climbing other things. That combined with Marco Beltrami’s amazing score, the 1 hour and 40 minutes just floats by in a snap of the fingers. The film also goes into the intricacies of rock climbing while still making it interesting enough even for the casual viewer. I was awed while watching this, it might be my favorite documentary of all time to be honest.

This was just available to buy starting today.

PERIOD. END OF SENTENCE. (Nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject)

Just released on Netflix today, this short 25 minute documentary is the favorite to win Best Documentary Short Subject, and I hope it does. It was funny, light, inspiring, and entertaining enough where I could’ve watched it a whole other hour had it turned into a full length documentary.

What is it about? It’s about a small group local women in Hapur, India as they inform their women and community on women menstruation. They also learn how to operate a machine that makes cheap and biodegradable sanitary pads. They then go around trying to sell them, but inform everyone at the same time, as some of them don’t really know what menstruation is all about, and some of them even laugh and are embarrassed at the word. One woman tells about how she basically dropped out of school because she didn’t have a sanitary pad at the time, and she’d have to go out of her way to change all the time, and men would either stare at her or make fun of her.

Again, I really wish this was longer, it was as engaging as Free Solo. But I guess you could say it is short, sweet, and just proof that the world is trying to change for the better, one small step at a time. Truly inspiring.