Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: OVER THE MOON (Netflix)

This review is going to be a bit biased, seeing how I called into work an extra day last week and my 3 year old sat by me, snuggled, and paid attention to the entire one hour and thirty five minute run time of this movie. Totally worth it. OVER THE MOON, if you watch it, might seem a little bit generic to you, and it is unless you are familiar with Chang’e, the Chinese Goddess of the Moon and her history in their culture’s folklore. It’s another one of those “learning acceptance to change” adventures, where a young girl, who lost her mother four years earlier to what I presume was cancer, is about to be integrated into another half family. The father fell in love with another woman after his wife’s death, and this woman has her own son she is going to bring into this new family. The young girl, who’s name is Fei Fei, gets upset and doesn’t want to accept this change or get over her mother’s death, so she builds her own rocket ship and blasts off to the moon (I presume this entire movie was in Fei Fei’s head), hoping to meet this Chang’e and prove that she is real. Fei Fei also hopes that she can help Chang’e (DO YOU GET IT YET?!? CHANGE!!!) with her romantic tragedy described in her folklore and in return maybe the goddess can help Fei Fei deal with the tragedy of her mother’s death. Tit for tat, if you will. The movie is a computer-animated musical adventure family dramedy, and it is a solid, albeit, very familiar film. Maybe because it has a lot of similar beats of another film produced by the same company, Abominable (my son’s first film in a movie theater). It’s a little fishy that Over The Moon is the only second film produced by Pearl Studios, yet it borrows (and sometimes blatantly rips off) their first produced film. This film has been getting some Oscar buzz for Best Animated Movie and the reason for that is that this is the last film written by storyteller Audrey Wells (she died of cancer in 2018), who brilliantly adapted the novel The Hate U Give into one of my favorite films of 2018. The film was directed by Glen Keane, who at age 66, and former supervising animator at Disney with classics on his resume such as Pete’s Dragon, The Rescuers, Aladdin, and Beauty In The Beast, gets his first gig directing an entire feature. These reasons were probably why Netflix was over the moon to produce and distribute this film…pun intended.

But the movie is good I promise. There are several great musical numbers, more so than the mediocre Frozen 2, and the film’s animation is bright and mesmerizing…at least to young children as my son kept saying “wow” throughout his experience. Hamilton’s Phillipa Soo, who was also recently in The Broken Hearts Gallery which was a good movie but didn’t really showcase any of her vocal talents, is in this, and uses her talents gloriously. She voices Chang’e, and her opening introductory number was a memorable enough song that I’m still humming it out loud randomly almost a week later. The voice acting is great all around here, with Ken Jeong playing a pangolin (funny if you consider the multiple stories of the origin of COVID-19) who is not introduced until an hour into the film for some odd reason, but it was just enough not to have Jeong over do it and become annoying. I tagged Sandra Oh and John Cho in this article, but don’t watch this based on just those two names alone as they have less than 15 lines between the two of them. It’s really the Phillipa Soo, Cathy Ang (Fei Fei), and Robert Chiu (stepbrother Chin) show as they are present for most of the run time, and they all voice act their hearts out. Soo and Chiu have a fun, musical, rhythmic ping pong tournament competing for a McGuffin prize, there is a hilariously fun motorcycle gang of antagonist biker ‘chicks’, and the ending, while predictable as all get out, will probably make your eyes release several pent up tears of emotion. The whole problem I had with the movie was the familiarity and predictable nature of it, so if that kind of plot beat for beat shit doesn’t bother you, then you will enjoy this movie even more so than I did. Netflix, from what I can tell, at least has an eye for their original animated films even though most of their live action ones are crap. I am over the moon that the streak isn’t broken…again…pun intended.

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Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: A BABYSITTER’S GUIDE TO MONSTER HUNTING (Netflix)

Whoa, Harry Potter is going to sue somebody! Well…probably just the opening credits at least (the way they come at you, the actual font might be where Tim Burton enters the lawsuit), but then again, this movie does have similar beats to Sorcerer’s Stone, but then yet again, an unrecognizable Tom Felton is in this (he played Draco Malfoy), so maybe he got the okay from Rowling and Warner Bros.? I’m just kidding, I just thought that would be an interesting review starter to get you to read my critique on Netflix’s new original family film that just released today. A BABYSITTER’S GUIDE TO MONSTER HUNTING is what Hubie Halloween should’ve been: a fun and adventurous yet spooky Halloween family film that could end up being something you watch every year with your loved ones alongside Hocus Pocus and the Harry Potter films. Or is Harry Potter a more Thanksgiving and/or Christmas time series? Doesn’t matter, this is Netflix’s closest thing it will ever get to trying to recreate the feeling of what we all feel while watching Hocus Pocus 27 years later. Go in completely dark, don’t even watch a trailer to this, as I didn’t, and my expectations were so so low due to the title and the fact that it is a Netflix original, but I was slapping myself for being a precognitive Negative Nancy by minute twenty. This movie is just delightful, with top notch child performances, Tom Felton’s best performance to date (but who are we kidding, how hard was that?), and decent creature feature CGI effects that make whatever was in Disney+’s Secret Society Of Second Born Royals look like it was created by Woody Woodpecker using computers. This is the Halloween film getaway treat you were looking for, so please, don’t even start Hubie Halloween or if you are in the middle of it, abandon it completely, and knock on this other door, I promise you it is no trick.

IMDB describes A Babysitter’s Guide To monster Hunting with the following: “A babysitter embarks on a mission to save a child who’s been abducted by monsters.” What that premise doesn’t tell you is that this movie is Harry Potter-esque, as there is a coven, legion, group, what have you of babysitter’s that fight these said monsters all the time. They have a meet up laboratory with monster fighting gadgets and gizmos, a giant book filled with information on all the different creatures within this world, and even apprentices looking to join said group. Tom Felton plays a boogey man named Grand Guigol that wants to make a legion of nightmares and monsters come to life to overtake our world so he can rule it. The child he kidnaps is the key to making this happen, and his babysitter named Kelly, who had a run in with Guigol when she was young, must stop it before it is too late. This movie thankfully isn’t convoluted, does the “keep it simple, stupid” film making mindset, yet also incorporates some brilliant set ups and pay offs required so that both adults and their kids can enjoy it, without either getting bored or falling asleep. Tamara Smart plays Kelly (she was also in this year’s straight to streaming on Disney+’s Artemis Fowl, which should’ve been something like this movie but was too dumb downed and convoluted) and Oona Laurence plays the veteran babysitter already in the legion trying to help Kelly out. They both do a fantastic acting job in regards to mostly reacting to CGI special effects to make you think they are real. There is a couple of shaky CGI moments, such as the little different colored minion monsters and such but anything involving Tom Felton or Shadow Tentacle Monsters in the dark are quite realistic and spooky at times.

Just like Hocus Pocus, this movie rides the line of being too scary for younger children, but thankfully it rides that line well, where they won’t be hiding under the covers, but may sit next to you and lean their head on mommy or daddy’s head, still with their eyes glued to the screen, until the next scene comes along. I haven’t read the book that this movie is based off of, but I have a feeling the reason why it is so good is because the author wrote the screenplay, making sure he got the essence of his beloved novel just right. The director Rachel Talalay, is no stranger to spooky kooky films, as she’s directed episodes of Riverdale, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, BBC’s Sherlock, and her first feature film was even Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. She does an adequate job here, the action plain as day to see with no shaky came and shots that make the monsters scarier than they were probably meant to be. She seems like she had fun directing it (and Ghostbuster’s director Ivan Reitman even produced this, he must’ve saw something in it). The best thing about this film is surprisingly Tom Felton as boogeyman Grand Guigol, as they made him look like a zombie Sirius Black and acts like an evil Jack Sparrow with Voldemort motivations. I had a fun time watching his performance. Other than a couple of weird moments, obligatory sequel set ups and pacing issues in the finale, this new movie should be a fun little addition to your Halloween queue. Stop the hunting for something good and new Halloween feature wise. You’ve found it.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE WAR WITH GRANDPA

THE WAR WITH GRANDPA is the worst thing since AIDS. It’s more embarrassing than when I went to the theater with my dad in 2005 and saw Brokeback Mountain. I swear to you…you have my personal guarantee, that watching the likes of Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, and Uma Thurman try to skate their way through this garbage was more embarrassing than watching The Joker buttfuck Mysterio in a tent, in a dark movie theater, with my father sitting next to me. At least Brokeback was a good movie. fThis film was shot over three years ago and had several release dates in 2017, but it was shot under The Weinstein banner, which was destroyed when #MeToo happened the back half of that year. I really wish someone there would’ve burned the original negative while the studio was in a disarray or deleted the digital copy off the servers forever. I wish the machines in Tenet were real as I would enter one, literally sit in a room for three years by myself, inverted, until I got to when the movie was finished, re enter a Tenet machine, and then destroy all copies of the movie…only then would I warn top officials of of COVID. Or wait, since The War With Grandpa and coronavirus already happened, does that mean I’ll be unsuccessful in my inverted time trip? Fuck, that’s a head scratcher. What isn’t a head scratcher is that this is easily one of the worst films of 2020, and the only reason I saw it is two fold: 1. I still want to somehow support the theater even though they aren’t releasing any blockbusters and 2. I had to get rid of a free movie pass before it expired. I might as well have ripped it in two than use it.

IMDB describes The War With Grandpa with the following: “Upset that he has to share the room he loves with his grandfather, Peter decides to declare war in an attempt to get it back.” One example of how I can automatically convince you how fucking stupid this movie is: when the grandfather accepts that he and his grandson are going to war over the room, they list rules, and rule #1 of the prank war is NO COLLATERAL DAMAGE, meaning their pranks and other ways to make the other concede cannot and must not hurt other people or their property. That rule is thrown out the window not five minutes later and the characters and the screenplay itself just ignore it and everyone moves on. So if a screenplay can’t figure out a way to obey its own rules…WHAT’S THE POINT OF THE FUCKING MOVIE? This is like a remake of Home Alone meets Jackass and the script was written by Trump after he got autistic for taking experimental drugs after contracting the coronavirus. You also get:

  1. A stupid green screen dodge ball fight.
  2. Pranks that could really cause physical harm or death but instead the characters are unharmed in Looney Tunes like violence.
  3. An awfully paced and edited Christmas themed birthday party climax where people just stand around like fucking idiots watching dumb shit happen all around them.
  4. Repeated heart to heart conversations where others only listen if someone really almost was killed.
  5. Uma Thurman throwing coffee and eventually a snake on the same police officer, where they happen to meet at the same time twice, at the same intersection.
  6. Laura Marano (beautiful as ever but she’s 24 now and cannot pass as a young teen) literally only in the movie for reaction shots of when Uma Thurman, who plays her mother, catches her just making out with a secret boyfriend.
  7. Godfather and Deer Hunter endless references and jokes galore because hey, why not make a cheap joke or a hundred because you got De Niro and Walken in the same movie?
  8. Grown men seeing old man penis jokes…TWICE!
  9. Unrealistic slapstick violence over and over and over and over again
  10. An old man that can’t even work a grocery checkout register who can suddenly learn not only how to work a drone from a 5 year old girl but can also create an online account to an MMRPG and ruin his grandson’s castle in the game that he’s been working on for almost three years.

This is what you get when you adapt a film from an actual kids book, and the guys you hire to do it also wrote the abysmal FAILURE TO LAUNCH. And we can also blame director Tim Hill, who is still depressed after making the Alvin and the Chipmunks and Garfield 2 movies, and he didn’t sky rocket to film making stardom, so he keeps going all in dumber and dumber, with the awful looking new Spongebob Squarepants movie, and now this. He is on “I don’t give a shit” autopilot here. Maybe he always was. If you happen to stay during the end credits like my dumb motherfucking ass did, you’ll see that Laura Marano only signed the dotted line to do this movie if she could write and sing a new single for it. She’s a good singer, but the song sucked balls. Rob Riggle looks like he wanted to kill himself three years ago when making this as well. And Jane Seymour was in this too? How embarrassing. The only sense of snuggle-y warmth I got throughout the movie was that there were quite a lot of people and kids at my late 9:30 at night Saturday screening, and they seemed to enjoy it as dumb families together, so maybe the theater going experience isn’t dead after this cunt year. If movies like this are the ones to slowly and quietly get people to go back to the movies, so be it. But for me, unless it was free like this one was, keep me far away from it, or I’ll start to really wage war on the pussy studios that keep holding back all the good stuff back.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ANIMAL CRACKERS (Netflix)

ANIMAL CRACKERS journey to make it to the big scr…well…any kind of screen is interesting in itself. I’ll get to that bit in a minute. I watched this movie last weekend with my kid (it premiered on Netflix this past Friday as well) and while the 2nd half is much better than the first (it lost both his and mine attention multiple times as it took a bit to get really into the movie), it ultimately succeeds because of the fantastic climax, the cool set of rules the magical box of cookies come with that reveals itself along the way and not all at once, and the superb voice acting. If only the beginning of the film had a little more focus to make the set up a little less confusing. It goes through several generations of family in the span of only a couple of minutes and it is hard to sort out who is who for several scenes and it also takes a tad too long to get to the animal crackers themselves. But then once those magical MacGuffin’s are introduced, the film blasts off at the speed of light. It is just a little disappointing because if the whole movie was as strong in both parts, it would’ve really been something special. Well, it already is because I loved watching my son pointing out all of the different animals, naming them at the top of his lungs and “ohhh” and “ahhhh”ing at the action. As a avid film goer and fanatic I might only make a couple of more trips to this wild circus of a movie before I start to just fast forward to the good stuff.

Per IMDB.com, it describes ANIMAL CRACKERS as: “A family must use a magical box of Animal Crackers to save a run-down circus from being taken over by their evil uncle Horatio P. Huntington.” This movie was originally intended to be released on April 27, 2017 by Relativity Media, before they went defunct. It then set to be released on September 1, 2017 by upstart film company Serafini Releasing before they also shut down. This movie was later acquired by Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures, but the producers have since come out from that deal.┬áThe film almost never came out because it was held up for almost a year due to a lawsuit by a Seattle fisherman named Rodger May who claimed he owned the copyright to the film. The lawsuit was eventually withdrawn. All records of the lawsuit are public and can be found by a search for “Mayday vs. Animal Crackers”. Eventually Netflix bought it and although it was finished in 2017, that copyright states 2019. And then it was just released this past weekend on the streaming platform. I recommend you take a deeper look into its history, it is quite interesting to say the least. More interesting than the first half. Anyway, the point is, it is out there now, which is good because I don’t think any project should be delayed that long to see the light of day…looking at you New Mutants! The voice acting in this is excellent, there are too many celebrities to list but you have Danny DeVito, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Ian McKellen, and Sylvester Stallone. They all do a fantastic job, Stallone’s Bullet-Man character making me laugh out loud several times.

The other two things that make me ultimately recommend this movie is that the action packed climax is perfectly executed combining perfect pacing with plot progression, and then the rules of the animal crackers themselves. To try and explain it to the best of my ability, there is this box of animal crackers passed down from generation to generation that magically never, ever run out. You eat one, it turns into the animal that you eat, and then to turn back into human, you have to find the human cracker of you in the box, and then once you eat that, you turn back to your normal self while the cookie of the animal you had just eaten reappears in the box. There are other new rules that you figure out along the way as well, but revealing any of those would be spoilers and it is best for you to experience the journey for yourselves if you have any interest in watching this thing with your kids and family. I like how it stuck to the rules, and that there were no bending or breaking of them, it was all quite clever, even though some twists at the end I saw coming from a mile away. Again, I just wish the first half was as good. In any kind of movie you just can’t have the interest bits come up when you finally introduce the MacGuffin’s. Your story and movie need to have a beginning hook, and I just found it to be boring plot set up that felt like I was watching a standard biography on a generation of a family. That’s just me though. The animation is nice and pleasing to the eye, and the second half will definitely grab you, it’s just that those first 30 minutes were almost too bland and stale. Key word is almost.