Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT

You can say that again. Normally I would tease what I really think about a movie just to get clicks and for you to read my entire review, but this time…eh, fuck it. I should have left YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT about 30 minutes into this 1 hour and 33 minute film. That runtime felt more like a two and a half hour one filled with “what’s?”, “really’s?”, slogs, bores and snores. But my rule is, in order to fully review a film, you have to fully watch it, so I battened down the hatches and watched the final hour. And while the movie is well shot, framed and moderately well acted, if you watch closely you’ll realize that it’s just a “smoke and mirrors” film: cheap editing and post production tricks to make you think it’s more special than it really is. But when the end credits roll, if you ever took a film class in college, you’ll be thinking the exact same thing as me: that this would’ve been a perfect little 15-20 minute short film because of how inconsequential the small message is at the end of the film. If you think the movie makes absolutely no sense, it doesn’t, until it does, and then when it reveals itself you’ll get a relatively confused look on your face and say, “wait, all that for THAT?!?” Yep, there isn’t anything deeper under the surface. It’s a very boring, very “meh” haunted house movie that unfortunately doesn’t really do anything different from some others that have been released recently, such as the overrated Relic that was released just a few weeks ago.

When this movie came out a month, month and a half ago via PVOD for $19.99 for a 48 hr rental, I knew to just be patient, and based on the poor reviews this was receiving, knew that it would be 5 bucks in no time. Well only a month and a half is definitely no time at all in the film buisness. And frankly, if I had spent $19.99 for one viewing of this movie back in June I would’ve slapped myself silly. Per IMDB, their log line for You Should Have Left is as follows: “A former banker (Kevin Bacon), his actress wife (Amanda Seyfried), and their spirited daughter book a vacation at an isolated modern home in the Welsh countryside where nothing is quite as it seems.” Ugh, when a movie’s log line uses “nothing is quite as it seems,” it seems to be at a loss for words on how else to describe a very plain, cut and dry film. They should just come out and say, “it’s basically another boring psychological haunted house film with cheap jump scares that don’t work at all.” Has David Koepp not learned anything from his poorly reviewed other films, such as his last “horror” film Secret Window or his last blockbuster he co-wrote…Tom Cruise’s The Mummy…or even before that…Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull? I’ll give you a minute to let Mr. Koepp’s post year 2000 screenwriting ability seep in. What happened to this guy? In the 90’s he wrote fantastic adaptations of Jurassic Park and Mission: Impossible…oh wait though, he also did The Lost World and Snake Eyes…but wait…give him Stir of Echoes (his last collaboration with Kevin Bacon) and I’ll give him writing credit on one post 2000 film, Panic Room. But instead of dragging through his entire filmography for another two paragraphs before I get to my point, like he did with this film, let me just say it: The man is the epitome of a roller coaster like film career. Screenwriting wise.

While his writing career is full of highs and lows, his directing career is mostly lows. And all I need to point out is one film to prove my point: Mortdecai starring Johnny Depp. He has only directed one decent movie, Stir of Echoes. And even then there are some out there that feel that that movie is overrated. While You Should Have Left is well shot, the screenplay is so boringly bad that it takes away from that fact in the end. I would trust him more if he directed a horror movie where he didn’t have a hand in the screenplay whatsoever. He could focus on his directing craft instead of trying to do that WHILE looking and changing the blueprints every two seconds. Blueprints that were wonky to begin with. Again, the whole movie will leave you very confused the entire run time as to what its endgame is until about 5 minutes left, and even after it is revealed, you’ll be as disappointed in the conclusion as well as the journey. It is not one of the year’s worst films, because you can tell it was made with some effort. There is precisely one shot in the movie I like, in the house’s stairwell with a swinging light. I would rather watch Kevin Bacon run up and down those stairs all day than watch this film again. The acting is decent, but then again Bacon and Seyfried are pros, so that wasn’t shocking. What’s shocking was just how “meh” this film was. It was unnecessary and pointless. The point has been done before and in much better movies. But Blumhouse, who produced this film, makes a shit ton of movies on a very small ass budget. So to get Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried in a movie that takes place mostly just inside a house…why not right? I’ll tell you why not. Because they left logic, reasoning, and most of all…they left the scares nowhere to be seen.

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Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SCOOB!

Viewing SCOOB! at home was very bittersweet as I pressed play to watch my $24.99 BOUGHT copy of the film and not the dumb $19.99 RENT option. This movie was supposed to arrive in theaters this weekend, before COVID-19 raped all of our lives, Shawshank style. This would’ve been a movie I’d have taken my young son to, as he had expressed interest in this new Mystery Machine gang outing, having seen some of the old cartoon and yelling “Scooby!” whenever the clever talking canine appeared on-screen, and also briefly seeing some of the marketing online, on television, and even the teaser trailer to the new film when we saw Spies In Disguise, his last movie in a theater. I have to say though, not having to buy the $10 each movie tickets for the three of us, and then eventually buy the movie anyway when it would’ve normally came out on digital three months later, and instead just paying one upfront price now & getting to watch it in the comfort of your own home was…kinda nice. No asshole teens on their phones, none of that crinkling of movie snacks, and no chatty Kathy’s (or is it Karen’s now?). So the bitter part was not being able to go to the theaters but the sweet part was watching it together as a family at home when it was supposed to come out anyway, right? Well…the latter part is true. I’m actually glad we didn’t spend tons of money at our local multiplex because the bitter part of all this is that SCOOB! really wasn’t that great.

Say what you want to about the two critically and audience panned live action theatrical Scooby-Doo movies that were written by none other than James Gunn (yes, you read that right), but at least they stuck to the core idea of the gang solving one central mystery. And even though it broke the old television series rules of that “anything supernatural ended up having a natural explanation” to it, narrative wise it kept it’s focus completely on Scooby, Shaggy, Fred, Daphne, and Velma, and it never strayed. Plus, a screenplay that had the balls to make Scrappy-Doo the ultimate bad guy in the first film has to be given some kind of bold credit. The main problem with this new Scoob! movie is that it isn’t so much of a Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine gang solo adventure than it is a Hanna-Barbera Universe Avengers film. It’s like if the DCEU started off with Justice League and not Man of Steel or the MCU with Avengers and not Iron Man 1. It doesn’t work & feels bloated here. There are a shit ton of other Hanna-Barbera characters that make either quick cameos, or are wayyy too much in the story, taking the focus off our core gang. This whole thing…just too many characters. I have a feeling that in the coming weeks this film is going to be given alternate titles to make fun of it, but the first that comes to mind is either: Hanna-Barbera Civil War or Scooby-Doo: Hanna-Barbera War. With the DCEU almost stumbling over itself right out of the gate, and now this misfire (I’ll give it credit for being better than the live action films at least), there is now enough factual evidence to prove that Warner Bros. has no fucking clue what to do with its intellectual properties.

The synopsis of the films is as follows, taken from IMDB.com: “Scooby and the gang face their most challenging mystery ever: a plot to unleash the ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this dogpocalypse, the gang discovers that Scooby has an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.” And there in lies the problem. The movie tries to add some convoluted mythology to Scooby-Doo’s ancestral origins, and none of it coherently worked for me. The movie has no central mystery to it, the gang isn’t trying to uncover an answer to a problem, or a haunting, or a crime, etc.. If you start to watch this, and wonder within the first 20 minutes what the fuck I’m talking about, that it seems like the same Scooby-Doo you knew from your childhood, you are right. It is. The first 20 minutes of this film are absolutely fantastic. It completely goes off the rails right then afterwards when it turns into a superhero film with crazy superhero film like action and explosions and shit when Blue Falcon & Dynomutt show up and pits all of them against Dick Distardly. If those names sounds familiar, it is because they are Hanna-Barbera characters that had their own shows and who I think didn’t need to be in this film at all. I have mostly tried to stay away from the marketing as I didn’t want to be spoiled by anything. But the marketing at the beginning I did see, was a giant misdirection. The teaser trailer made it seem like it was going to be the younger adventures of the Mystery Machine gang, but then later marketing showed that the film does feature them as adults and features voice talents of famous adult actors and actresses. That’s when I thought the film would’ve been a half and half thing. The first half brings up a mystery they weren’t able to solve as kids but get to finish as adults (the route the film should’ve taken). And that is when the final theatrical poster was released (before COVID-19), with Blue Falcon and Dynomutt on it and that is when I thought, “ohhhh noooooooo, I really hope they aren’t going to do what I think they are going to do.” They did.

Here’s the thing, my kid, and your kids, are probably going to love it, so you in turn might love it as well. And that is exactly why I watched this first without Grayson by my side, so that my opinion wouldn’t be biased based on his joyous face throughout the 93 minute run time. To be fair, the film has a good message about togetherness and friendship, the animation is absolutely gorgeous, and even though I would’ve rather had voice actors that while not the original people, have been doing other things as the characters for years, Zac Efron, Will Forte, Amanda Seyfried, & Gina Rodriguez do an adequate job, and Mark Wahlberg even steals the show as Blue Falcon. But plot, narrative, adventure, story-wise, what have you, the film is severely lacking. Oh, and early 2000s called, they want their Simon Cowell/American Idol references back. The Scooby-Doo original cartoon series was a sort of grounded detective-mystery series first, a slapstick hijinks movie second and an adventure series a distant third. There is no mystery here, it isn’t grounded at all, the hijinks are set to overload and it’s all covered as an outlandish adventure I didn’t really care for. And that’s because there were too many characters. That made it too stuffed which in turn made it too convoluted. Keep it simple, stupid. It should’ve been a cool mystery solo adventure with tiny hints that other Hanna-Barbera characters could eventually join the party down the road and then some solo films of those characters before all of them team up in the ultimate universe movie. But no, it’s a Hanna-Barbera Universe movie just trying to trick you by wearing a Scooby-Doo movie skin. And they would’ve gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for the over ambitious, meddling script.