Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SPACE JAM – A NEW LEGACY (Spoilers Ahoy, Mateys!)

READY PLAYER SPACE JAM….errrr, I mean CYBERSPACE JAM…errr, I mean SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY is going to do to your kids in 2021, exactly what the original did to you as a child in 1996. They will see one of the most legendary sports players of all time going toe to toe with their favorite Looney Tunes characters to play the ultimate game of basketball with sight gags and cartoonish violence aplenty. They will instantly develop memberberries and claim that this film was their childhood in a bottle. But then in 25 years, that will be the year…2046? FUCK. In 2046, they will realize the movie doesn’t hold up, at all. And they will start to question not only their childhood sanity, but their current one.

Just to set things up, I watched the original Space Jam last week in preparation for today. I thought I remembered 1996 just like it was yesterday: seeing this film in the theater, in awe of how Michael Jordan reacted to cartoon drawings, loving all the zany antics & hilarity. Not knowing that Bill Murray’s 5 minute cameo would be what I would ultimately only remember vividly about the film. Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages…SPACE JAM DOES NOT HOLD UP. It has a bittersweet beginning with Michael Jordan and his father…it was emotional and sweet then in 1996 but it is now a bit bitter knowing that Jordan’s father was tragically murdered three years prior (our parents rightfully kept this sad shit from us when we were young).

But after that well done little opening, the film is all over the place. It’s not a terrible film by any means. When the film gets to Toon Town and the ‘ultimate game’, the entertainment ramps up to a watchable little romp. The new character of Lola Bunny was too cool for school and didn’t take any shit from bugs. The villain MonStars had a actual character arc. It pokes a little fun at Jordan wanting to play baseball. It has some other memorable scenes here and there (mainly Bill Murray). But…

  1. Michael Jordan can’t act his way out of a paper bag. He shows a little charm in some scenes but ultimately he looks like he doesn’t know what he’s doing, having a hard time interacting with what amounts to a green screen and tennis balls.
  2. The opening credits shamelessly put Jordan on a pedestal (small nitpick but I started rolling my eyes as a 35 year old adult when I re-watched it last week)
  3. There isn’t that much character development with anybody: Jordan realizes…teamwork? And maybe not to play baseball? The Tunes learn to…believe in themselves? I guess? Even though they believe in themselves in the old cartoons that they previously did?
  4. When compared to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, which came out 8 years earlier, the animation and live action isn’t very impressive, especially on the court at the final game.
  5. Any scene with Newman from Seinfeld is unfunny, annoying, and you just want to punch him in the face.
  6. It needed more Danny DeVito voice work. And it needed more Looney Tunes focus & action (but is a masterpiece of focus when compared to this sequel)

I’m sure there is more but I’m trying to do a review of the sequel, so let’s get into it. To be fair, let’s just list the few positives this film has:

POSITIVES

  1. Don Cheadle
  2. The animation and live action blending here looks decent and uses modern technology to its fullest advantage.
  3. A Michael Jordan cameo that subverted expectations made me chuckle.
  4. A Rick and Morty 10 second cameo elicited the biggest laugh of the whole movie for me (I’m a huge fan)
  5. The film does have a couple of set ups and pay offs that worked, specifically dealing with an initial glitch in the son’s game he is designing at the beginning of the film.
  6. A couple of Looney Tunes sight gags here and there made me chuckle (one with the big red hairy Looney Tunes character and one with Wild E. Coyote made me laugh out loud).
  7. Don Cheadle

And that’s about it. I listed Don Cheadle twice because he looks like the only human participant in this picture that looks like they want to be there. He hams it up in every single frame he’s in and he looks like he’s having a grand old time. If he’s not, someone please give him a supporting Oscar nomination, because he could’ve fooled me. He’s also the only actor in the film that looks like an absolute pro talking to what is essentially a green screen and tennis balls.

Now, let’s list off the many, MANY negatives this film has:

  1. This movie is basically a giant Warner Bros. IP ploy. It just bukake’s everything under the WB logo and sun with every pop culture movie and tv character/property their banner owns. They show up EVERYWHERE. AND IT GETS VERY DISTRACTING. The attention is supposed to be on ‘the big game’, full of life and death stakes, but instead, character’s from The Mask, IT, Game of Thrones, Batman & Robin, Hanna Barbera, etc, etc, etc, show up and are clearly visible in the background that I ended up pointing them out to myself so much that I had to rewind the movie on HBO Max and make myself focus on what was happening on the court. How bad does it get? EVEN FUCKING RICK AND MORTY SHOW UP IN THIS FILM! At least the original film only had one pop culture reference that I didn’t get at the time, and that was to what is now my favorite movie of all time: Pulp Fiction. If you weren’t a fan of Ready Player One, the book and/or movie, because of the constant callbacks to other properties, prepare to REALLY, REALLY loathe this film.
  2. That being said, most of the movie relies on the Looney Tunes incorporating themselves into famous scenes and situations from Warner Bros. movies and tv shows like 8 Mile (the rap battle here is so fucking stupid), The Matrix, Casablanca, FUCKING MAD MAX FURY ROAD, the hard R rated film from George Miller, The Cartoon DC Universe etc. etc. etc. Not a spec of originality comes from the Tunes until the big game and even that was drowned out by all the sploodging of WB IP all over my fucking face.
  3. LeBron might have been one of the standouts of the Amy Schumer film Trainwreck, but here, he’s a literal trainwreck. He can’t act his way out of a smaller paper bag than Michael Jordan’s, and he doesn’t really seem like he wanted to be doing this. It screams paycheck. I know Michael Jordan can’t act but some charm at least seeped through in the original that showed he wanted to be in a movie that put him up on a pedestal. LeBron seems like he could care less as long as more money shows up in his hand at the end of it all.
  4. The opening credits, yet fucking again, puts LeBron up on a pedestal. I rolled my eyes twice as much as I did in the original Michael Jordan pedestal opening credits.
  5. There is literally no fucking character development here. What little there is, is just, “I need to pay attention to my son more, a son who doesn’t really want to play basketball. I also need to let him do his dream which is designing video games and not be such a hard ass.” And even that little message is muddled with all the Ready Player One bullshit that was going on around it.
  6. At least the MonStars in the original movie had an arc. They each had distinct personalities and realized they were being controlled by cartoon Danny DeVito too much and needed to branch out as toons on their own. Here the ‘Goon Squad villians’ have no story, no arc, they just show up for the final game with their God like special powers and say a few quips. That’s it. The villains in this, other than Don Cheadle, are completely ignored. And I understand that the villain players are basically just made up on the spot videogame entities created by LeBron James’ fictional son, but come on, some more humanity and back story go a long way. One of the few charms of the original film is that the MonStars steal the talent of real NBA players. And while the NBA players go on stupid hospital/therapy antics when they lose their talent in that movie, at least that was something. Here, it’s completely nothing.
  7. I like Zendaya as a person, actress, and celebrity but her voice does not match the character of Lola Bunny at all here. And it makes me enraged to think that the original voice actress for her (the one that voiced Lola in 1996) had recorded all of the dialogue as this film was being made, only to be dumped post production last minute and replaced by an A-List celebrity. For shame, Warner Bros. Let Zendaya do her Spider-Man and Euphoria thing and have ACTUAL VOICE TALENT VOICE YOUR FUCKING CARTOON CHARACTERS. You didn’t learn your lesson with last year’s SCOOB! and you certainly didn’t learn it here. They don’t need to be well known, they just need to be right for the part. Zendaya is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the right voice for the right character.
  8. Why the fuck is this movie even called Space Jam? At least the first movie they fucking played in FUCKING SPACE against SPACE ALIENS!!! Is it still called Space Jam because it’s supposed to be how much God damn server space that Warner Bros. has on all their IP properties? Why didn’t they just call it CYBERSPACE JAM?!? Either way, fuck that, I’d rather watch blood in my stool.
  9. Our lovable Looney Tunes are mostly in the background in this movie, in the deep deep shadow of Lebron James’ ego. In the original movie, all the main characters had a scene or two to shine. Not here. They are all amusing at times background screensavers as Lebron James doesn’t act right in front of our eyeballs.
  10. As one review on twitter put it: “Some of the reviews of SPACE JAM: A NEW LEGACY are missing the point. This movie wasn’t made for grown ups, it was made for kids. And if there’s one thing that kids today love, it’s references to Casablanca and A Clockwork Orange.” The reason why I see that a lot of kids might not like this film is the references that will go way over their head like the one above. I understand you can’t put in anything that references Disney but surely you could mention something more updated in these times for the younger crowd…
  11. Ummm…the movie gets very close to saying some naughty words that wouldn’t really fit the rating of this movie. Terms like “son of a glitch” is uttered (when uttered by Daffy Duck I honestly thought he said bitch for two seconds there). And there is one part where Don Cheadle is bleeped as he curses but I could almost clearly read his lips…And this was supposed to be a kids movie?
  12. Speaking of MonStars, they have a 2 second cameo that ruins their character development from the first movie, as they sigh and look depressed when the villains start to lose.
  13. LeBron James’ heartfelt climax speech to his son about his acceptance of his kid wanting to do other things other than basketball and also realizing he’s a shitty father is so cringe worthy it is sure to earn him a Razzie Nomination by the end of the year.
  14. There’s a “death”, “sacrifice”, what have you, that one of the main Looney Tunes characters make in order to win the big basketball game. Basically they risk deletion from the WB Server’s for good. At the beginning of the movie, a son does a specific basketball move with one of his players he created in the videogame he is making, and that move causes the game to crash and the character gets deleted. That is a set up for a pay off at the end of the movie to have a different character do that same move to win the game, but then get deleted. They set it up like LeBron James is going to sacrifice himself, but I knew one of the toons were going to take over and do it and I was seriously hoping it was going to be Pepe Le Pew. You didn’t see him the whole movie and then for him to just pop in the middle of the game would’ve been BOLD. That would’ve been a FUCKING BRILLIANT commentary on cancel culture and a smart and unique way to get rid of that character for good. But no, it’s another main toon. And that “death”, that “sacrifice” is completely null and void not 5 minutes later. You have this emotional scene with a character sacrificing sacrificing him/herself for his/her family (no, it’s not Dominic Toretto) and then act like it is permanent, only for the character to show up two scenes later and just shrug it off spouting, “I’m a cartoon, there’s no getting rid of me!” PATHETIC.

This review has gotten way too long, so let me end it with the following: If you are just a casual moviegoer that doesn’t get bothered by petty things, maybe one with a couple of young children to watch this with, or if you are still a no shame fan of the original, or if you suck down memberberries like Daniel Day Lewis does a hypothetical milkshake in There Will Be Blood, you might find some enjoyment out of Space Jam: A New Legacy.

But if you hated the constant memberberries ejaculating on your face in Ready Player One (novel or movie), if you hate LeBron James, if you didn’t care for the original film back in 1996 and/or don’t care for it present day when you finally grew a brain and learned better, if you are wanting just a bunch of fun and entertaining Looney Tunes antics like you’ve been getting with the charming HBO Max television reboot that has two seasons thus far on the streaming service (please watch that instead)…then you are going to want to avoid this like the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Grades for Both Films:

Space Jam – A New Legacy: 3 out of 10

Space Jam: 9 out of 10 (in 1996), 6 out of 10 (on a re watch in 2021)

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: VAMPIRES VS. THE BRONX (Netflix)

Yes, VAMPIRES VS. THE BRONX is a real Netflix original movie, but no, the movie isn’t as fun and schlocky as it sounds, and that is part of its problem. With a title like this one, or Snakes On A Plane, or Sharknado, you either go full fun, non-scary, dumb yet entertaining schlock, or you go home. This movie tries to be too The Lost Boys or Blade, and in doing so, doesn’t even get close to replicating their classic magic, and so this films title doesn’t live up to what is seemingly promised. This movie is too tonally in the middle of all those movies I just mentioned, which in turn makes it a cookie cutter, run of the mill, PG-13, bloodless, ho-hum, lame, by the numbers, assembly line product you’ve already seen and rejected before. I should’ve expected it though. The marketing for it, which little there was, only started the week before this film premiered, the trailer was bland, and the poster for it is one of the worst photo shopped shitty pieces of art that I’ve ever seen in my life. However, after watching the whole thing, it is not one of the worst films of the year. It’s just…there…and in about a week will be lost with all the other standard stuff that Netflix keeps rolling out each and every week. It’s frustrating because this film does show a lot of promise as I laughed out loud at some of the jokes, the film even has some familiar faces in it and everybody involved seemed like they wanted to be there. But it didn’t go where it needed to go to be a memorable schlocky romp that I was hoping it was going to be. It’s as if you opened up a coffin in a scary castle, saw the most vicious looking vampire you have ever seen in your life and they suddenly open their eyes. Yet it somehow isn’t intimidating to you, so you yawn, close the coffin, walk away and the son of a bitch doesn’t even have the audacity to try and chase you down and drink your blood.

Per IMDB, it describes this movie as: “A group of young friends from the Bronx fight to save their neighborhood from gentrification…and vampires.” It’s a simple description, yet reading between the lines it teases something that could be quite special. I was expecting it say something about race, gentrification, and middle-class. In a nutshell, I was expecting it to poke fun at white people. I mean, not that this really is a spoiler, but the heroes and good guys in this are African-American kids, their parents, and the community around them…and the vampires are all white for goodness sake. Surely the film would play with that and say several somethings about that scenario to its advantage, but other than one gangster pulling out a gun and calling one of the vampire’s ‘Hamilton’ because of its git-up, there are no really no other solid or smart jokes that cater to what the film might be trying to get at. In the end, there wasn’t enough tonal focus for me to even say with any complete confidence if the film even truly had a message buried deep down inside it, because it was all over the place tonally. There is a small fun scene, that only lasts less than 20 seconds, of our heroes stocking up on vampire hunting gear that was interesting, such as filling water balloons with holy water, but that kind of goofy fun (it reminded me of writer/director Edgar Wright and his ‘getting ready close up quick shots’) was short lived nor was it done as often as it should have. And there is only one funny vampire kill. That just cannot be in a film titled Vampires Vs. The Bronx. Not to mention all the kills are bloodless, off camera, and if a vampire does get killed we get that shitty disintegrating CGI that makes Blade’s seem as though it should’ve been nominated for an Oscar in special effects.

I hardly blame the direction, it’s completely the screenplay. The movie looks and feels like a movie, as director Osmany Rodriguez keeps shots somewhat dark in tone, and even in the daylight there was a gritty feel to the cinematography. I kind of dug the look of everything. The screenplay is co-written by him, but the other writer is a white guy. Remember how some of you felt that Antebellum or Green Book was inauthentic because a writer/co-writer/director was white? Same thing here, and I think that this Blaise Hemingway…who co-wrote Uglydolls and the awful Playmobile: The Movie mind you, should’ve taken a story by credit and handed the script fully to Osmany or another writer for a full rewrite. The familiar faces, Sarah Gadon, Shea Whigham, Method Man, and a glorified cameo from Zoe Saldana, look like they are having fun and want to be there, and the 4 hero kids definitely look like they want to be there and are having fun, but the final product doesn’t match their enthusiasm. The vampires come off as really stupid, and not in a fun, smart and jokingly way either. The action is tepid, there are no scares, tension, or any build up, and there is definitely not that much character development. I would even go to say that there were way too many characters for that given that it clocks in at only an hour and 25 minutes. Not really any plot arcs for any of them other than them telling the adults “told you so.” This film should’ve been about half an hour longer and taken its time getting to its revelations. The kids find out about the vampires not more than 15 minutes into this. In the end though, the most offensive thing about this movie is it’s title. It should’ve been titled something such as Bronx Nights or Blood Of The Bronx or it could have even sort of stolen Wes Craven’s shitty, mid-90s Eddie Murphy film and have it be called Vampires In The Bronx. Sorry, this movie does not earn the v or the s.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: AMERICAN MURDER – THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR (Netflix)

AMERICAN MURDER: THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR is a chilling documentary that has no voice overs, no interviews filmed specifically for the doc, it is an hour and 23 minutes of perfectly edited footage from Shanann Watts Facebook posts, texts between her and her friends, and footage we’ve seen on You Tube coming from police body cams and the Chris Watts interrogation cameras at the station. It was just released on Netflix a couple of days ago and it rushed to the #1 spot on Netflix’s Top Ten List immediately. Per IMDB: “In 2018, 38-year-old Shanann Watts and her two youngest daughters disappeared in Colorado. With the heartbreaking details emerging, the family’s story made headlines around the world.” If you live under a bridge, and weren’t watching the news at the time (it was everywhere btw) I’m about to give a big hefty spoiler ending with what happened because I have to explain the outcome of the case to effectively review this documentary. In the end, it reveals that the husband, Chris Watts, killed all three of them (Shanann was also pregnant at the time, so really 4 people) for absolutely no reason other than he was cheating on her and wanted a new life. There is footage of him blatantly lying to police when they are asking him questions and searching his house and he even has the gall to take a fucking lie detector test to try and prove his innocence. Chris Watts is a fucking monster and how he thought he could get away with it, I don’t think we’ll ever know. The fact that this documentary is as haunting as it is and is able to display the facts without any voice overs or new interview footage shot specifically for this film is unbelievable.

This is one of the hardest documentaries I have ever had to watch, as anger seeped through me, especially when it kept coming back to the fact that he killed is two very lovely young daughters and didn’t shed a tear for them until he got caught. In all the footage he looks like he’s a empty shell of a human being. The point of the documentary was to basically show the naysayers that kept victim blaming and saying that maybe Shanann drove Chris over the edge really are that stupid. She did nothing wrong. I know a lot of people have two different personalities, one on social media, and one in person, but all of her posts, texts, what have you in this doc, showed her as a deeply compassionate, loving and caring mother. And that this asshole son of a bitch deserved the three life sentences that eventually get sentenced upon him. The documentary is not too long, it is crisp and tight in what it is trying to say. It doesn’t show any bodies or anything but this is definitely not for the faint of heart or those that get their blood pumping easily from awful tragedies such as this. This is going to be a short review, as all I can comment on is how awful this story is but how well made the documentary is. If I went into specifics, it would just depress and anger me further. However, I haven’t seen director Jenny Popplewell’s other docs, but after this I might search for a couple to see if they are expertly made as this one was. So if you are strong minded, I recommend giving this a watch, as it is a different type of documentary that will have your eyes glued to the screen, and not falling asleep and losing interest like those Unsolved Mystery documentaries that have bland narration and are on the same streaming platform.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE BOYS IN THE BAND (Netflix)

Well, I can guarantee you one thing, there will be no other program this year that will have as many penises and man’s asses as this movie does! THE BOYS IN THE BAND is a film that just premiered on Netflix that is based off the 1968 play and the 1970 feature film of the same name. It’s a pure conversational dialogue movie, meaning that there are basically two main rooms characters talk and the story of the lives and tribulations of the characters are told through word and description. So if you snooze at anything Tarantino, and didn’t like Fences, or fuck, if you just don’t like going to and watching plays, this film probably isn’t for you. Also, if you don’t like or uncomfortable around gay people, you might not like this either, but it’s 2020, get with the program please. Luckily, I am a dialogue connoisseur and will take in all genres of different things, and I also do not care who anyone identifies as or who anybody loves either. Frankly I’m a little puzzled at why some bigots care so much. Per IMDB, it describes this iteration of The Boys In The Band as: “At a birthday party in 1968 New York, a surprise guest and a drunken game leave seven gay friends reckoning with unspoken feelings and buried truths.” The movie, mostly, takes place all at this birthday party, in a cozy small New York apartment. The dialogue is fast and furious, a la Gilmore Girls, however the movie slows it down a bit in those small and intimate moments where an important point is being made. And while I’ve never seen an iteration of the play or the 1970 William Friedkin film, I quite enjoyed this version, as the characters and dialogue kept my interest throughout the entire 2 hour run time. Makes me want to watch Freidkin’s film now, considering the other things he’s directed, such as The Exorcist and The French Connection.

Let’s just get this out of the way, I’m a heterosexual, so I probably didn’t get some of the inside jokes that I would know if I was gay, but I got the jist and most of everything else, and the film got me pretty emotional thinking about what gay people must’ve been going through not just in 1968, but today as well. Doing some research, back in that time when the play and movie premiered not too long after one another, a lot of people in the gay community were as horrified by the depiction of the life that might befall them and that it did a lot of harm to gay people rather than good. Some didn’t like it because they thought both the play and the movie portrayed a group of gay men wallowing in self-pity, with no redeeming qualities and not a likable character among them. I happen to disagree. The characters have their flaws but they all seem good at heart and the only unlikable character happens to be the straight man that invites himself to the party. And if you pay attention to the film closely, read between some of the lines if you will, I think the movie says what it needed to say rather subtly more than just conking you on the head over and over again, which I appreciated. What is said is rather important and heartbreaking, but it needs to be heard. Still does today. I guess Michael, played here by Jim Parsons, could be considering unlikable based on the game he makes the party guests play in the second half of the film, however if you look at it in a different light, he’s screaming out for help. They all are.

The acting in this is fantastic. The faces you will know are Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Zachary Quinto (Heroes, Star Trek) and Matt Bomer (White Collar). Not just those three, but everyone does a great job here. The best performance is easily Parsons, who I finally saw as playing an actual different character that wasn’t just another iteration of Sheldon Cooper (he says the non fuck f word a shit ton here and even says ‘cunt’ several times, things that Cooper wouldn’t even think of saying). I loved how in those two hours you felt like you really got to know every party guest there, their feelings, their longing desires, their secrets, and what the rest of their lives might hold in store for them. Some of it is loving, some of it is heartbreaking, some of it is frightening, but none of it is uninteresting. The dialogue flies off the tongue, some of it so fast you might have to do a double take and rewind a couple of times just so you can digest all that was said. Unfortunately it is the actors that make the movie their own and not combined with the direction. The director, Joe Mantello, who I’m not familiar with, is definitely an actor’s director, but did nothing to extinguish himself visually. It all felt like a point and shoot affair that could’ve been done by anybody that knows how to work a camera and can get along with anybody. Then again, maybe this movie didn’t have to have a visual flair, seeing that it is basically just a play, and when you go to a play, you are doing the pointing and shooting with your eyes and ears. If you’ve never seen a version of this movie or the play, this is a pretty well done starter experience for you. Just expect to see a bunch of man ass and penises, something I don’t think was present in the 1970 movie nor the 1968 play. If that bothers you, I don’t know what to say. Grow up, maybe?

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MOST DANGEROUS GAME (Quibi)

Unlike the shit show last night during the debate, Quibi’s MOST DANGEROUS GAME is certainly not a shit show. In fact, it takes The Stranger’s place as being my favorite thing I’ve watched on this quirky little app to date. I’m starting to come around on Quibi as I’m finding more and more things on there that peak my interest. Thank God it’s free or I never would’ve discovered it. And no, I’m not a fucking shill, it’s just that all three webisode series I’ve watched, I’ve been constantly entertained, even when the content was only okay (The Fugitive). Sometimes much more entertaining than a lot of the stuff Netflix just sputters out every day. Yes, yet again I’m reviewing this as a movie than a webisode TV series. Especially Most Dangerous Game, as it is easily the best shot, best looking, best acted, and most cinematic of the three that I’ve blazed through. It has a fantastic performance by Christoph Waltz, who was nominated for a supporting Emmy for this (when doesn’t he get nominated though?), and probably the best performance of Liam Hemsworth’s career, yes, he can do more than just look wooden during The Hunger Games (even though this is similar to those movies, kind of, he even cries in this and is believable!). I was unbelievably entertained by this and would even watch it again down the line, presuming that Quibi is still here in six months and my free subscription doesn’t completely go to waste.

I’m not telling you to get Quibi to watch this shit, I’m just saying if you happen to have it, you might want to give these webisodes a shot. Most Dangerous Game is basically a modern version of The Most Dangerous Game with several twists. Per IMDB, it describes these webisodes as: “Desperate to take care of his pregnant wife before a terminal illness can take his life, Dodge Maynard accepts an offer to participate in a deadly game where he soon discovers that he’s not the hunter – but the prey.” He has to survive a full 24 hours, stay in Detroit, and follow a whole list of rules that could get him disqualified. Money is deposited into his bank account every hour, and if he survives the whole night, he gets 24.5 million. If this were a movie that actually debuted in theaters, it would’ve been a wonderful little treat. And not that expensive as well. For as low budget as these Quibi webisodes are…they are wonderfully cinematic in scope sometimes (not so much The Fugitive). They all play out like a very enjoyable 90 minute to 2 hr film when put all together. Maybe if Quibi is sold whoever buys it up will release them as films? That remains to be seen. But this one was a true winner. It was tense as fuck, the action was half way decent, the acting was serious yet fun, and it was also fun trying to identify the 5 hunters after Hemsworth, even though they were easily identifiable.

Christoph Waltz is in this much more than you would think and while we’ve seen him excellently play a villain and excellently play a sympathetic character (he won Oscars for both), here we get to see him play a morally grey one, which he of course pulls off in spades. Everybody here seemed like they wanted to be in this, and not just for a paycheck. The 5 hunters, who I won’t spoil who they are but one or two of them might have a recognizable face to you, are quirky yet dangerous. I really enjoyed the big warehouse climax yet also enjoyed the smaller and more intimate moments. Sarah Gadon, who plays Hemsworth’s wife in this, isn’t just a ignorant character, but actually goes about to try and find her husband in the correct ways once he disappears. It’s just a well made tight thriller, the only thing hampering it from its true potential are ad breaks and the cuts to black after each ‘webisode.’ This one was also created by Nick Santora, who did The Fugitive (review was posted yesterday), but you could tell his heart was more into this one, as it shows in the meticulous quality of the production. I would like to see more of these “hunt” games with Christoph Waltz coming back to play the host, but let’s face it, Quibi’s in trouble and there probably won’t be any follow ups to this. But maybe that is a good thing as more of the same could screw up the charm that this one has. It’s sad that the most dangerous game for Quibi is getting more subscribers…but you can’t win them all. At least it has a winner or two on the inside.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE FUGITIVE (Quibi)

Yet another Quibi mini webisode television series that if put all together would be a 90 minute to 2 hr movie (closer to 1 hr 45 here). So that means yet another review from me treating it as a movie and not a webisode series. I didn’t think I’d watch anything else on my free 6 month subscription, however I forgot about this little remake that stars Kiefer Sutherland basically playing a toned down Jack Bauer with an in and out southern accent. Which is kind of funny because most of this plays out in real time. It’s like Quibi almost got the rights to 24, but then it slipped through their fingers at the last minute (evidence of this later)? But the real question should be: Do we honestly need yet ANOTHER iteration of The Fugitive? I mean, if you popped the Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones classic into your media player nowadays it still holds up tremendously (it was rightfully nominated for Best Picture as well back in 1993). And didn’t we have a remake tv series not too long ago that stumbled and fell right out of the gate? So why again? Because Quibi needed some kind of content and everyone is out of original ideas? That’s probably always going to be my go to answer for the rest of 2020: that everyone is out of original ideas but when Christopher Nolan comes along and makes a unique blockbuster spy adventure everyone is scared to go to a theater because of a dumb virus that 99% of the world’s population survives even if exposed to said virus. Pfffft. This remake remake remake shit is all on some of you cowards (ranting again I know, I’m just passionate about movie theaters).

Anyway, is this reiteration of The Fugitive any good? Kind of. Yes and no. Do the mini webisodes with constant ads, starts and stops, stop it from being decently good? Absolutely. Does calling this ‘The Fugitive also stop it from being decently good? Abso-fucking-lutely. If this were a movie with no stops and recurring ads of any kind, it would be a very decent one time watch. Other than that it is entirely forgettable, The Stranger on the same service being more worth your time (I reviewed that last week). I guess you could call this go around more relatable to our times as both Kiefer Sutherland’s police squad and the news rush to conclusions and put out ‘fake’ news about our main protagonists character, instead of taking a breather to analyse all the facts. Per IMDB, it describes this The Fugitive iteration as: “With the city in a state of panic and misinformation traveling at the speed of social media, Mike’s life and family hang in the balance as he becomes – The Fugitive.” The city of Los Angeles is in a state of panic because a bomb just exploded in the rail system, and cameras happened to record this Mike character on his phone in a black hoodie while exiting (the real bomber is wearing a black hoodie just like his coincidentally). The reason they jump to this Mike so fast is because he got out of jail 6 months ago because he was involved in a DUI accident that left two people dead…but of course the movie reveals all is not what it seems. This was just so that Mike can be a very, very innocent character everyone can relate to. You can’t have any dark spots character guy, it’s either you are completely innocent after 2017 #MeToo or you are guilty for life! Boyd Holbrook (Logan, The Predator) does his best as Mike, the totally innocent man on the run, but I mean, how hard is it to look exasperated and talk in frantic tones while you are running?

What we really need to talk about here is my theory that this was supposed to be a 24 sequel/prequel but Quibi couldn’t get the rights. Kiefer Sutherland’s character works for the CTB here, Counter Terrorist Bureau, instead of the Counter Terrorist Unit, which was what it was called on the program he is most famous for. He yells the way Jack Bauer does when stressed here, but add on more realistic curse words and a comes-and-goes southern accent just so that Fox/Disney wouldn’t sue. Most of the events play out in real time. His wife in this is said to have been killed in the terrorist attacks of 9/11…Teri Bauer was killed at the end of season one of 24 by a terrorist, which coincidentally, the show premiered in 2001. The director of this entire series, Stephen Hopkins, was executive producer and even directed episodes of…you guessed it…24. The numbers add up. I just ended up pretending he was Jack Bauer and that he had somehow escaped his capture from Russia, headed back to the US under a different guise or went into witness protection and somehow still got a job working for the new organization CTB that rose from the ashes of CTU. The only thing that was really missing here was a mole, ha! (inside TV series joke). If they had gotten the right this could’ve been called 24: Fugitive or something like that. Anyway, the acting is fine for what it is, and this movie/webisode show somehow didn’t just keep hitting you over the head with fake news/police incompetence messages, it was more subtle than just yelling in your face of how and why this show is timely. And anything that has Glenn Howerton, Dennis from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, in it gets a pass in my book, especially if he isn’t playing his character from his show. Which he wasn’t.

You get your cheese-y one liners here, Jack Bauer…err I mean, Kiefer’s characters has this whole dorky thing of getting his fellow officers below him to say, “Copy, sir!” which in turn, too many times to be honest, he replies with, “Music to my ears.” The action and running are fine for what it is, the direction is adequate, and to be honest, I was entertained for the short 14, 7 to 9 minute, “webisodes.” This would’ve worked better as a television movie no doubt. Other than calling this show The Fugitive, my one other complaint is that it seems like the real villain comes off as really stupid all at once, as Mike puts together what he saw when trying to help victims after the bombing before he was chased off by the police, combined with the fact that the villain stupidly reveals himself to Mike when if he would’ve just stayed silent it he would’ve gotten away with it. And then at one point Mike leads the cops to the real villain’s house and the evidence of the bombing is just laid out all on the table. A little too many plot conveniences just to move the story along wouldn’t you say? But hey, people get caught all the time for stupid shit that they do in the real world so who am I to say? None of this surprises me seeing as the main writer and creator of this revitalization is Nick Santora, who is executive producer and writer on other plot convenience shows (yet I still watched them and love them still to this day) such as Prison Break, Vegas, Law & Order, and Breakout Kings. He’s just going by formula and when a paycheck comes your way once you get that formula still going like clockwork, can you really blame the guy? So, before I’m caught ranting again, I’ll run out of this review by saying this is a half way decent entertaining one time watch, but forgettable as convicted small time con artists.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE LAST SHIFT

THE LAST SHIFT has one of those messages we’ve seen many times before in movies: what are you going to do with your life before it’s too late and you waste your potential? Depending on your age, is it ever too late to change? The only reason this “one time watch” movie worked for me is because of the performances, especially Richard Jenkins, who just left a bad taste in my mouth in the overrated and awful Kajillionaire before this. A big 3rd act incident happens near the end of the movie that doesn’t quite make sense in normal human logic, but that would be my only other complaint other than the familiarity of it all. This is one of those movies, that back in the 90s/early 2000s if you found on a movie channel at one in the morning, while sober, with a midnight homemade or fast food snack in hand, you’d probably watch until it was done at three am. “That was nice but I probably wouldn’t seek out to watch it again.” That kind of feeling. IMDB’s log line summary for the film is as follows: “Stanley’s last shift at his fast food job takes an unexpected turn.” Sigh, come on IMDB, what am I going to do with you? Stanley has been working at this chicken and fish place called Oscar’s for the past 38 years and he wants to move his mother out of the home his brother and him put her in and do something more with the last remaining years of his life. So he needs to train his replacement before he goes, a mild slacker named Javon, who may or may not end up teaching Stanley and/or himself that expectations are overrated and you are just going to walk the same path eventually that you try to divert from, depending on who you are and the color of your skin.

That’s the movie in a nutshell. The film mostly takes place inside the restaurant, with a couple of late shift shenanigans and weird and asshole customers. If you want a straight up comedy in this vein just stick to Waiting… which just hit Netflix this weekend. Their conversations inside the fast food joint are about life that feel realistic and don’t get too preachy. Married With Children and Modern Family’s Ed O’Neil is a supporting player in this, providing some comic relief and also there to get away with saying the R word that you barely have heard in movies this past decade. But it’s the Richard Jenkins and Shane Paul McGhie show here, as their performances make the movie. Jenkins plays an actual a character in this, unlike he empty shell in this week’s Kajillionaire. And McGhie plays a unique slacker with a hidden heart of gold. It takes a pro to pull off that kind of character and it seemed to just come naturally to this new big screened talent. Looking up writer/director Andrew Cohn, this seems to be his first big screen venture, as his career is filled mostly with nonfiction documentary and documentary shorts. I’d say this is an about average is not a little above, fictional big screen debut for him. He seems to possess the traits of a good actor’s director…but maybe he should direct someone else’s screenplay. A minor spoiler, but one of the two gets into a bit of trouble in their job near the end of the movie, and the rational and thought of the district manager I thought was a bit bullshit and unrealistic for the kind of situation that presented itself, especially if you factor in the color of both her and Javon’s skin and Stanley’s situation. Surely the catalyst to the climax could’ve been handled better. But hey, I laughed and was entertained throughout the nice, tight and short 90 minute run time. I am also quite happy that my last new movie viewing this weekend was in a theater and wasn’t a terrible piece of shit streaming film like Kajillionaire or the Secret Society of Second Born Royals, so there’s that.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SECRET SOCIETY OF SECOND BORN ROYALS (Disney+)

Congratulations Disney, you have managed to make a film that even the Disney Channel would’ve probably rejected back in the day, which in turn, makes this the worst Disney+ original movie yet. SECRET SOCIETY OF SECOND BORN ROYALS is offensively abysmal. It is literally a movie for no one. It treats kids as if they were idiots, it basically gives the bird to film critics everywhere, and adults that still enjoy some of the Disney Channel Original magic from the 90s/early 2000s will be scoffing at the screen, asking why this was even green lit to begin with. The CGI is laughably straight to video 1990s bad, you can guess the entire plot minute 5, and the movie doesn’t even have the audacity to give you an obligatory after credits sequence. It is just another poor man’s Avengers superhero rip off tale after all. Per IMDB, it describes this film with the following log line: “It follows Sam’s adventures at a top-secret training program for a new class of second-born royals tasked with saving the world.” What that little description doesn’t tell you is that these second-born royals, for some reason or another, gain superpowers when they become of age just because plot convenience. And some of these powers, while being original, are either laughably useless or laughably too powerful. One of the kids can make insects do what he wants yet can’t go small and have super strength like Ant Man in that size? One of them has just her senses heightened but can’t do much else, an adult can just hold their breath underwater for a bit, and one can just duplicate himself yet doesn’t create enough copies when in a pinch. Then the others go straight to laziness screenplay writing 101 by having unoriginal and boring invisibility powers, The Force, the power of persuasion, and then of course one of them can just touch all the others and steal their powers for a brief period. Is it possible I’m a second born royal and have the power to fall asleep whenever I detect bullshit?

Do I need to list every cliche this film has in store for you? Probably not, but you’ll need two sheets of paper when watching this if you were wanting to list it on your own. The movie even tries to make you forget the main villain has an accomplice half way through the movie once he gets captured, and then tries to surprise you by their identity, even though I guessed right off the bat in the ballpark of who it was. This film has excuses galore for how to write around kids with too powerful of superpowers, it’s insulting. The only really recognizable face in this is Pitch Perfect’s Skylar Astin, as the kids mentor and instructor, and honestly, it just seems like it was a paycheck for him, just enough effort to be invited back for possible sequel for an even bigger pay day. There’s a dumb McGuffin device at the end that makes absolutely no fucking sense whatsoever and was written just to preserve anything deathly shocking from happening that would make small kids ponder life’s ultimate questions. The identity of the writers of this giant polished turd is shocking when you look up their past filmography. Well, one shocking and one not so shocking. One of them wrote for Hanna Montana…which this film is almost an exact cheesy blueprint from that show and the other wrote the screenplays for…Robert Rodriguez’s Predators and Paul W.S. Anderson’s shitty Three Musketeers remake? How the fuck did he get roped into this? Add terrible performances from all the kids involved, a butterfly catching a human sequence that made me produce tears from laughter, and terrible direction and you easily have only the second worst thing that the Disney+ platform offers. The first is paying $30 for Mulan.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BABYTEETH

BABYTEETH, a drama with a few comedic bits that you can stream on Hulu for free today (otherwise you can rent it streaming), was a nice refresher of mild quirky-ness after the overload of garbage that was my previous movie I just reviewed, Kajillionaire. Babyteeth is still not a perfect or great movie by any means, I think out of 1 hr and 57 minutes about 15 to 20 could’ve been shaved off, the movie has a very strong beginning, very strong ending, and very strong performances. It does lag a bit toward the end of the beginning of the film and the middle of the film, but it makes up for it in the other qualities I just shared. It stars Eliza Scanlen, who has been in a ton of things recently such as HBO’s Sharp Objects, Little Women, and Netflix’s The Devil All The Time and IMDB describes the movie as: “Milla, a seriously ill teenager falls in love with a drug dealer, Moses, her parents worst nightmare.” She is pitch perfect here as a girl that just wants to live her life to the fullest in case she dies. Her parents are played perfectly by Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn, the latter of which is becoming one of my favorite actors of all time. He plays it quirky and weird when his character calls for it, but serious yet calm when those scenes come along. It’s because the honest script and dialogue helps the performances, written by first timer Rita Kalnejais, and she doesn’t force the characters to be too abstract and weird. While the characters and situations have their quirks, it is grounded in a sense of dramatic realism where you feel like all of them make true to life decisions and actions.

The movie is directed by Shannon Murphy, who I’m not familiar with, although she directed two episodes of the hit tv series Killing Eve, and she is definitely an actor’s director and has a spark of visual flare, something I hope she can translate to future projects. Unlike Kajillionaire, there isn’t one unlikable character in this, as even though Moses has his fare share of problems, his good heart ultimately prevails. He is played by Toby Wallace who apparently is really good in Netflix’s most recently cancelled beloved series The Society. I’ve seen a few clips of him in that, and needless to say, he’s a damn fine actor when you compare that with this role. My only complaints for this film come before the living situations of all involved are permanently set in stone (that’s all I can say without giving anything away). Milla trying to get Moses interested in her as more than just friends (when they are the only two onscreen) are the scenes that didn’t really have any emotional weight or context for me, compared to the scenes where Milla’s parents are also involved. I think that maybe point A, point B, & point C were the structure of the screenplay, the solid ideas of the story that were cemented in stone before the screenplay was even written, before the connections were made by filling out the tiny details. While getting from point B to point C was fleshed out and solidly told, more time was needed on how to get from point A to point B, as those scenes dragged on too long and didn’t really work for me. But, Babyteeth is still a decent one time watch, if not for the strong ending and beginning, and for all the performances. You won’t be grinding your teeth, wishing for this movie to end, but I suggest to bring some tissues so that tears won’t be hitting them constantly throughout.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: KAJILLIONAIRE

KAJILLIONAIRE gave me (an my wife) a kajillion headaches. Not because it was confusing but it was a slog and a half (considering the 1 hr and 47 minute run time) to get through. A quirky film just for the sake of being quirky, which made it overwhelmingly quirky and unbearable. And a really annoying and bizarre performance with an annoyingly bizarre low tone of voice by Even Rachel Wood. There are only really two scenes of actual levity and earnestness in the film, one that doesn’t happen until the last 10 minutes of the movie, and one in the middle that lasts only about 10 seconds before it goes back to being monotonous. This comes out in theaters today (only really Alamo Drafthouse and other independent theaters), and then streaming VOD in about a month, and I am here to tell you to save your fucking money and your fucking time no matter how it’s available to watch to you (even if free). I won a free digital 72 hour screening from Focus Features and decided just to get it out of the way last night. This is supposed to be a comedy (really a dramedy) yet neither my wife nor I laughed once. And when I put on a 2005 comedy that definitely couldn’t be made today (Waiting) and laughed more in the first minute than the atrocity to cinema I just watched…then something is truly wrong. You may go on Rotten Tomatoes and see the critic score to this is in the low 90s, which is a really good score, but I no longer ever trust Rotten Tomatoes, because I think most critics are high off of being able to stay home and avoid COVID-19, so they are giving anything a good review based on that bias.

And you may be saying, “Zach, maybe you just don’t like quirky movies?” Not true, I’m going to review another film later today that just came to Hulu but was released earlier in the year called Babyteeth, where its quirky-ness was in contribution to the story and wasn’t just there to be there. It’s all about context people. Me, movies, and context. If you haven’t gotten that by now with all of my reviews that I write then I don’t know what to tell you. I even warn you whenever I throw context and my brain out the window and just enjoyed what I was watching, so I can’t be any more blunt with you than I usually am. To put this all in another way you’ll understand, Kajillionaire sucked to me. Per IMDB, it describes the movie as: “A woman’s life is turned upside down when her criminal parents invite an outsider to join them on a major heist they’re planning.” This whole family is filled with terrible, terrible con people. Terrible not jut morally, but that they also execute all of these “cons” terribly. What was really offensive about this film to me isn’t just its fake, unearned quirky-ness, it’s also it feels like a cheap knock off of a very good international film that came out a couple of years ago called Shoplifters. That movie even got nominated for an Academy Award. I’ll scoff if this does and protest. Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger are completely wasted as Evan Rachel Wood’s (who is the main protagonist by the way) parents, and they are completely unlikable characters from the get go. Evan Rachel Wood is supposed to be likable but her bizarre bat shit performance made her extremely unlikable to me.

The actress that sort of saves this from being a complete clusterfuck (even though this film right now is in my top 20 worst of the year list) is Gina Rodriguez. She plays the stranger in IMDB’s description of the film above. Her quirky-ness in this film almost works, and she saves a little bit of the movie by being the focus of the two only earnest moments in the movie (These moments are technically spoilers, but you’ll know them when you see them). She is the only one unscathed in this production. I have never seen writer/director Miranda July’s other “quirky” movies or short films, and this movie definitely will not have me search any of them out, any time soon. I mean, this film is just weird to be weird without any context. They live in a cheap little place that overflows with bubbles (they clean this place constantly that’s why the rent is so cheap) from the ceiling because it’s an attachment to a bubble factory called Bubble, Inc. No explanation to what they do other than make bubbles apparently. I understand the films message about family and human attachment, it just went about it in a very awkward, non pleasing, and off putting way. It is very slow pace, with a major heist that in all honesty didn’t make a lick of sense to me. If you watch this movie and end up enjoying it like the critics did, I won’t hark on you. Clearly this movie just wasn’t meant for me. I didn’t connect with it on any emotional level, and the only emotion I shed during it were the kajillion tears of joy that I wept once the movie finally got to the end credits.