Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE SILENCE (Netflix)

And I didn’t think a horror film that came out this year could be worse than the remake of Pet Sematary. Or a film worse than The Last Laugh. Dumb. Mean. Stupid. Idiotic. Laughable. Atrocious. Absurd. Rip-Off. Any negative word in the negative context to give Netflix’s new film The Silence, give it to it. This movie is a waste of space, a waste of 90 minutes of my life, but I’m writing this review so that maybe hopefully you can save yours. This movie literally gives the finger to John Krasinski and is not only a blatant rip off of A Quiet Place, but gives the audience a giant middle finger with every single stupid horror trope you can find in it. Does it have human bad guys? Of course! Just like the giant pitiful fucking mess that was Bird Box. There are too kinds of horror that make you not ever want to watch a horror film again. 1. Horror is where the movie is so dark, depressing, shocking, but so incredibly well made and great, that you want to watch it again, but can’t bring yourself to do it (example: Hereditary). 2. Horror where the film is so bad that you wish you could cut out the part of your brain that remembers that film to never remember it again. Guess what category this falls into?

I can give you the plot is one short sentence: Flying creatures that can only hear crop up from an ancient cave that was once blocked (but we like the dumb humans we are accidentally release them) and we journey with one family as they try and find a place to truly survive. Doesn’t that sound like A Quiet Place to you? Minus that the creatures can fly? It basically is, but it is just dumber. Dumber on every narrative possibility you can think of. And yes, the family even has a deaf girl in it. But instead of the girl being deaf in real life and pulling off a fantastic performance, the girl in this is played by the new Sabrina Spellman herself, Kiernan Shipka. And being that the mom in this (Miranda Otto) plays her aunt on that show, I’m wondering if their studio lots were right across the street from each other. Instead of getting a great performance out of Kiernan actually portraying a deaf girl, the movie conveniently says that she wasn’t always deaf, and can speak without any speech impediment whatsoever. What I’m trying to say is, there is no difference between her performance as Sabrina Spellman, and whatever the fuck her characters called in this (I don’t want to make the effort on IMDB to look it up).

This also stars Stanley Tucci, where again, this completely scream paycheck, as he completely phones it in and doesn’t give a shit like he’s there. Who in their right fucking mind possibly green lit this shit and spent money on it. I want to meet the screenwriters. Are they going to lie and tell me that their idea came before A Quiet Place and they couldn’t get it made until it came out? Or did they get high after watching it and had the selfish idea to just make a duller, stupider carbon copy. Nevermind, I just went to IMDB to find out who to blame. It was written by Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke and I should’ve known. All of their written shit has gone straight to video, they are responsible for the awful Chernobyl Diaries and even wrote….Titanic 2? What the fuck?!? As for the director, I should’ve known, John R. Leonetti….he director the worst Conjuring Universe Film, Annabelle.

I can go on and on about what I hate about this film. But you get the gist. It’s ugly, it’s uninspired, it is the definition of a bad movie. Not a so bad it’s good. Just a bad bad fucking waste of space. The film doesn’t have any set ups, doesn’t have any pay offs, and it is all over the place. In fact, with only 30 minutes left in the movie, it seems like they ran out of story, so they of course put in weird human bad guys from a Church group that cut off their tongues and wants the daughter because she is fertile. Just so fucking ridiculously stupid and unnecessary. If you are going to rip something off, at least have some act of imagination. This film seems like it was written in a weekend filled with self-induced concussions. The Silence needs to be silenced, taken off Netflix and every digital copy destroyed. This is a major contender for worst film of 2019.

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Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA (no spoilers, and yes it is a Conjuring Universe film)

So they say that in early marketing of THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA that studio heads were trying to present it as a film on its own and not a part of The Conjuring Universe and that they wanted to save the reveal in the film that it actually is one a surprise. But then fans started to question whether this film was or not, especially when the poster released and it said “From The Producers OF The Conjuring Universe” and then a trailer came out that included a character that looked strikingly familiar and played by the same actor that showed up in the first Annabelle film. That was several months ago. When their goose was cooked, I don’t understand how they didn’t just go full monty on the marketing and let people know that yes, this is a part of The Conjuring Universe. They still tried to sell it as vague and they probably just missed out on a whole bunch of money, because on its own, this film is a dull mess, but within The Conjuring Universe…wait, well, yeah it is still a dull mess.

At least it isn’t as bad as The Nun or the first Annabelle film. This films problem is the screenplay and the non-stop cookie cutter cheap jump scares with absolutely no substance. If the film would’ve had some substance, it could’ve ranked high on my The C.U.F. list (that’s what I’m calling it instead of typing out everything for the umpteenth time). And the frustrating fact of this film is that it uses a good real premise, a real Mexican folklore, and has the opportunity to expand on that myth and spin it into a pretty sturdy C.U.F., but other than the mention of the actual lore and a couple of ways to keep evil demons and spirits away from your home, it doesn’t expand on shit. It’s as if the producers said, “ok, you got this great premise, get the story out of the way in the first 30 minutes and then just hit the audience with jump scare after jump scare until the end credits. That’ll make a great movie!” Well, it doesn’t.

And I think the director, Michael Chaves (who is going to direct The Conjuring 3), knew this, and at least tried to spice up the film with his own cinematic flavors. The movie contains really, really good camera work. Excellent style. Excellent long take shots. The film looks good. I guarantee you Chaves was looking at the screenplay, muttering “oh shit” into his head, and at least tried to figure out a way salvage what he could out of the dull story, dialogue and jump scares. It is saying something when I really don’t like a film but believe that the director would be better suited with a meatier screenplay, that’s why I think The Conjuring 3 will be in good hands, because that will not have the same screenwriters as this. While the Mexican folklore this film is based on is creepy and scary, the spirit/demon/entity haunting families and drowning kids in this looks silly, not scary, and not once was I scared or did any of the cheap jump scares actually made me jump. In the entire 3rd act of the film, instead of doing something different, we just get a home invasion type spirit, spooky spooky schlock we’ve seen 1,000 times before.

There is another positive of this movie, and that goes to actress Linda Cardellini (Velma from the live action Scooby Doo films from years past). Although her character is essentially another one dimensional mother that eventually believes her kids and that something supernatural is happening to their family, she makes what she can out of it. Her tears, frightened expression, and her trying to save shitty dialogue is what elevates this film from the mediocrity or shitty-ness of The Nun and Annabelle. Her kids were pretty good too. The person that doesn’t do a great job acting wise is Raymond Cruz, who plays an ex-priest in this. I don’t buy any of his fear or what he is saying in this, seems to be in it for the paycheck, which is a shame because you may know him for his excellent portrayal of Tuco Salamanca in Breaking Bad and a guest appearance on Better Call Saul.

Like I said before, this film isn’t terrible, it’s just dull and uninspiring. It has no substance, just telling you the Mexican folklore and quickly getting it out of the way so the movie can satisfy dumb ass millennials that buy into the whole cheap jump scare bait shit. It is unfortunately what sells. I’m curious to see how much bank this film makes when people living under a rock for some reason figure out they need to go see it because they’ve seen all of The C.U.F. and need to check it off their list. Anyway, you have this. But don’t fret, there is another C.U.F. before The Conjuring 3 next year: Annabelle Comes Home. And if they can somehow make it better than the far superior sequel to the first, Annabelle: Creation, then we are in for a huge treat, maybe. I mean The Warrens are featured in it, how bad could it be…right?

My Opinion Rank of The C.U.F.:

  1. The Conjuring
  2. The Conjuring 2
  3. Annabelle: Creation
  4. The Curse of La Llorona
  5. The Nun
  6. Annabelle

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE PERFECT DATE & THE LAST LAUGH (both NETFLIX)

I am combining two Netflix movie reviews into one because their isn’t a whole lot to say about each of these movies and I feel like the length of both of these will equal one theatrical review. So here we go (spoiler alert: one review is kind and one review is not kind at all)

THE PERFECT DATE (Netflix)

THE PERFECT DATE just came out on April 12th 2019 on Netflix and completes what is being called the “Noah Centineo Trilogy”. No, this isn’t a real trilogy with the same character, it is three different movies, all on Netflix, that happen to star Noah Centineo. The first one was To All the Boys I’ve Loved before (saw it and really liked it), the second is Sierra Burgess Is a Loser (haven’t seen it, going to now though), and this film completes this so-called ‘trilogy.’ There is one thing that I can positively state: Noah Centineo is one charming ass motherfucker. And that’s why these movies work so well even though they are cliched as fuck as all get out chick flick rom-coms, is his performance. If this guy can charm the pants off a straight dude like me, you know he’s the real deal. If he and Laura Marano weren’t in this, and the chemistry wasn’t there between Centineo’s character and those around him, this movie wouldn’t work.

And the reason why it wouldn’t work is because the set up of the movie isn’t fully fleshed out and leaves a lot to be desired. The movie is about this guy, played by Centineo, who really wants to get into Yale after high school but needs to write a good admission essay and needs the money. After being paid to be on a date with a high school hot shot’s cousin (played by Laura Marano), he and his friend create an app where he will be a “stand-in” on a date. No, he’s not a pimp and none of these dates are sexual, the app is designed for women to choose what kind of personality he is to be, how’s he’s dressed, what kind of function he’s going to go to, for some kind of purpose. Maybe the girl wants her parents to hate the stand-in so that when she reveals her real boyfriend, they’ll accept the guy, or a girl wants to go on a pretend date so that she’s not nervous when she actually starts dating, or the girl just wants someone to talk to.

All of this sounds interesting right? Well, there is basically one montage of him being this stand-in and becoming these people that lasts about maybe 4 to 5 minutes, and that is it. We really don’t see him doing it all that much, instead the movie switches gears fast to get to the journey and endgame of whether or not he gets the money, gets into yale, and gets the girl he has a crush on (Camila Mendes from Riverdale). And I think the main problem is that at just 90 minutes, the movie is too short. If 15 to 20 minutes were added of showing him going on several full fledged stand in dates, mainly for the audience to get invested with the premise, it would’ve been great. They could’ve thrown a girl wanting sex from him at the end of the night or a girl falling in love with him kind of problem and done more with the app. Instead, the app literally has no problems, and the friend gets attention from his app making skills. Too tied up in a complete bow. In this day and age, there is no way a app like that would go smoothly.

But I realize it is a rom-com, and its a Netflix original, and it is predictable as hell, which means that it isn’t going to go that deep, so you have to judge the film on whether it entertained you or not and whether or not it is better than films in that same genre. And in that case, it is. Noah is charming as fuck, the dialogue (at times) feels like high school kids actually talking to one another, and the 90 minutes flies by with how entertaining it is. So as far as Netflix originals go, I’d definitely would recommend that you check this one out, it’s quaint and charming.

THE LAST LAUGH

What isn’t so quaint and charming is this other Netflix original that was released early January, THE LAST LAUGH. Since I guess we are counting Netflix films now in movies seen and top ten or top worsts lists, this now beats Pet Sematary as worst film of the year. I am not going to talk about it too long because that’s how terrible it was. It stars Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss as old friends that meet up when Chase is sent by his granddaughter to live in a retirement home. They are old friends as that Dreyfuss’ characters was a comedian doing stand up acts 50 years ago and Chase was his manager. As they see people they love dying around them, but Dreyfuss’ character as ‘funny’ as ever cracking jokes, Chase takes Dreyfuss out on the road to do a stand-up comedian comeback type of thing. Past things and emotions come up, trouble endues, but you know how it is going to end, it is dull and painfully predictable as well.

I did not laugh once during this film. All the jokes are painfully unfunny and Dreyfuss doesn’t do a great job playing a character that was once a stand up comedian. Chevy Chase is worse here, looking like he doesn’t want to be there, and acting like he wants to go home and kill himself. All the performances in here are painfully dull. Chris Parnell as Dreyfuss’ son and Kate Micucci who plays Chase’s granddaughter are cringe worthy here. Terrible performances. I didn’t buy anything that was going on, especially one part where a older woman, played by Andie McDowell (wasted here) has a small love thing with Chase. They way that Chevy Chase just looks bored there and spits out his lines, there is no way any woman would go within 10 feet of that guy. Chevy Chase had that one great season on SNL, he had the Vacation movies, Fletch, and a couple of good moments on Community, but other than that, his career was a giant misfire. And still is. And he should be old enough to know when to call it quits. I expected more out of Richard Dreyfuss but maybe he’s at that age where he doesn’t care anymore and a paycheck is all he needs to get off his ass. This is one of the worse Netflix Originals since the awful Adam Sandler ones the past couple of years, and that is saying something.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE DIRT (Netflix)

THE DIRT is basically a poor man’s Bohemian Rhapsody that Netflix picked up. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either, it is just really generic. It tells the story of Motley Crue, but like any band biopic, it is just another film filled with a roller coaster life of ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies. If you love their music, it is filled with it, although the one thing I have to hand it to this film over Bohemian Rhapsody is that it really doesn’t try to fool the audience into thinking there were certain events that inspired certain songs. Their music really is a backdrop in this to their drug-induced insane life altering lives. They either have parent issues, drug issues, family issues, girl issues, or E. All of the above. It’s all just very generic and standard.

But I would be lying if I didn’t think it was entertaining. I mean it is. It’s only an hour and 47 minutes, and it goes by faster than a really shitty movie goes by when its only an hour and 20 minutes long. But it’s all standard, the band gets together, hits it big, does drugs, manslaughter, falls apart, goes to rehab, family tragedies, gets back together. It’s the point A to point B to point C of all band biopics. There isn’t nothing new to these things anymore. It’s all a roller coaster ride of different, yet similar, experiences that all basically end at some point. I have a feeling that Rocketman, the biopic about Elton John that stars the guy from Kingsman movies, is going to be about the exact same thing. And we already know the ending to that one too, because Elton John is still alive.

The film does do one little nice unique thing (it’s been done before but I haven’t seen it in a bit), some of the band members and others break the fourth wall to talk with the audience. I wanted more of that. When they did it, it was humorous little anecdotes that if they did it more throughout the movie more it maybe would’ve given it a unique voice. There is voice over narration, but it sounds really flat and in there more as an after thought, maybe not thinking the audience would get what is going on. The acting is good though. You might recognize one of the band members being played Iwan Rheon, who played the sinister Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones. And Pete Davidson from SNL, is Pete Davidson, but with a hilarious wig and a couple of funny little one liners and his own little breaking fourth wall moment.

I would only recommend this film if you are a huge Motley Crue fan. I knew of their music and some of their history, so I didn’t enter this into the dark, but I’ve never been listening to them constantly, just a couple of jam outs on Rockband and Guitar Hero back in the day. But again, this film is very very very by the books generic and standard. If that’s fine with you, take a look. If you are looking for something more than just another Bohemian Rhapsody or another band biopic retread, you are looking in the wrong direction mate.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE HIGHWAYMEN (Netflix)

You might have noticed I’ve been reviewing Netflix movies a lot lately. Damn straight, I pay for the service don’t I? And I can just watch Friends, The Office, and Parks and Recreation over and over and over again. And I have a lot of To Be Determined on my top movies of the year, and need to fill it out without spending my money at the theater on shitty films like Miss Bala or Dumbo. Anyway, this just came out like last week, and I’ve seen the original Bonnie and Clyde with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, and was interested to watch what the other side did to *spoiler alert if you aren’t a history person* gun them down in the end. It’s directed by John Lee Hancock, who is hated by my many Austin movie friends on Facebook (they think he is a giant hack). Well, I mean, at least he made it into the business guys. But I agree, he’s a just point and shoot director with no vision. He’s directed only 6 films, and I’ve only really liked two of them. The Founder…and this is #2.

While The Highwaymen is just another point and shoot affair by him, the material is elevated by the screenplay, the acting from both Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson, and the cinematography. I didn’t live in Texas back then, but I heard the whole thing was shot in Texas, and it feels like it. It captures that essence perfectly. And the ventual take down of Bonnie and Clyde I read was filmed right where they were taken down, which was pretty damn cool. The problem with Bonnie and Clyde, and why they got captured was that they had too much of a pattern, and these two retired Texas Rangers, played by Costner and Harrelson, picked up on it super fast when a lot of other people of authority couldn’t.

This film isn’t the be all end all of Netflix films, mind you, but it is quite good. Harrelson and Costner usually always bring their A game and here is no different. I also loved the way Bonnie and Clyde are represented. They barely show their faces, they are mostly dark silhouettes, monsters without a face, killing innocent people. How the movie with Beatty and Dunaway made them not seem too bad, even though they killed a lot of people, this movie makes them the monsters that they deserved to look like back then. They are a mean, powerful force, making them mythical ghosts that people at that time thought were impossible to kill. That part of the film is quite interesting.

The film has several slow parts (it could’ve been shorter and not 2 hrs and 12 mins long), especially when the movie tries to bring an arc and humanity to Costner and Harrelson’s characters…you know, those obligatory scenes where they talk about their past and how they might’ve been monsters themselves at one point even though they were upholding the law. But that’s okay, because if that was missing from the movie, I, and other critics, would just complain that it was missing that aspect. It could’ve been spruced up a bit. And I would’ve loved to see more of Kathy Bates than her literal two scenes playing first Woman Governor of Texas Ma Ferguson. Best part she’s had in years and she’s in it for less than 10 minutes.

Anyway, it’s a pretty solid Netflix view. Unless you really hate the director, who hails from Texas, then this film will not change your mind about him (you know who you are). But everything other than some slow parts are good, and I love that you could kind of watch this film with the original Beatty Bonnie and Clyde as a double feature to give you some perspective on the whole manhunt from both sides. I’m sure a better screenwriter and better director could’ve made a masterful film, but other than superheroes and sequels, what studio other than Netflix is going to take on a film like this these days?

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: PADDLETON (Netflix, and not the bear movie, f*** you Kim)

PADDLETON is not Paddington, no matter what Kimberly Finke tells you. Paddleton came out late in February on Netflix, and the only reason I knew to watch it in the first place is because my favorite movie reviewers, Jay and Mike on Red Letter Media/Half In The Bag did a review on it because they found it and really enjoyed it. And I liked it too. Not as much as they did, but I did think it is a well made, and extremely well acted and realistic little movie. It stars Ray Romano and Mark Duplass, and it is about both of them finding out that Duplass’ character has terminal cancer and only six months to live, so they take a little road trip to get this assisted suicide medication that is only legal to get there.

They aren’t lovers but actually real good friends and neighbors, as Romano’s character lives right above Duplass’ in a apartment complex. They play a made up game together, called paddleton, that deals with bouncing a ball off the wall and getting it into a black barrel on the ground. Anyway, Roman’s character is kind of strange, probably has undiagnosed Asberger’s, Duplass’ being a bit more normal. They have weird ‘what if’ conversations, and some of it is funny, and some of it is serious, and it all feels very realistic. The film is co-written by Duplass, who admitted that 87% of the movie was improvised, all the scenes mainly had outlines and the actors just played off each other. While other films, like 2016 Ghostbusters remake, you can completely tell the improve, this feels just like two friends conversing, having a good time.

There isn’t much to say about the film, it’s a tight 90 minutes, and the movie doesn’t have any twists are turns, its very simple. The end is very emotional and a little hard to watch emotionally, but I appreciated how real it all felt. The acting is extremely good, with Ray Romano again being a standout like he was in The Big Sick. I’ve never had a problem with Ray Romano, I never really watched Everybody Loves Raymond, and kind of found him to have lousy sitcom acting, but he definitely knows how to make a character. I hope to see him in even more dramedy’s in the future. Mark Duplass is good as well. But yeah, if you want a little emotional, yet a little funny movie, and have 90 minutes to kill. I would recommend this, definitely above the just reviewed by me and just released by Netflix Unicorn Store.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: UNICORN STORE (Netflix)

Let’s set the record straight here. For those of you that think Brie Larson got this Netflix deal to direct and star in this movie, UNICORN STORE, because of Captain Marvel, you are sorely mistaken. She was offered this after she won her Oscar several years ago for Room, and it actually had its premiere at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) back in 2017. So it’s been in the can for awhile…and you know how Netflix will pick up stuff even if its the last player on a team to be picked. Unicorn Store relies on its colorful whimsical premise and off beat humor. It relies a lot of suspension of belief and performances to get you through the short 90 minute run time. And I guess the end result is…okay?

I honestly don’t know what to think of this film. I haven’t even really let it sink in due to the fact that I just finished it 20 minutes ago on my phone on my lunch at work. It was a watchable film. It had a plot, it had characters, and it had an overlaying arc. But did it have purpose? I guess you could say its sole purpose was to be another one of those films with the “hit you over the head” message: It’s never too late to discover yourself and you can discover yourself by failing at things as much as you can achieving them. How many movies have had this message? I’d be dead by the time I finished if I started doing research and starting to count. If you need to know the premise, it’s about a woman that has an early life crisis after being kicked out of art school…I guess for being too experimental and zany? Anyway, she finds a temp job really quickly at this PR firm where it doubles as an ad agency…I guess? Why am I asking these questions? When watching this film I guarantee you are going to be constantly asking yourself…”wait, what?” She then gets a card on the stoop of her house (but she misses seeing it) and then she gets a card at her work telling her to come to some store, the store that has everything she needs. It is run by a whimsical and weird Samuel L. Jackson (hence why I think this was film around the exact same time as Marvel). He has a minor afro and colorful strings and glitter in his hair and he offers her what she has wanted her whole life. A unicorn. There are stipulations to get this unicorn, aka build it a stable, be financial stable, etc. And she wants this unicorn, and goes to make her life right to be able to own one…maybe?

Basically its like a weird Garden State vibe kind of whimsical weirdly-toned dramedy. Brie Larson’s character, Kit, hires a guy to build this unicorn stable and they eventually bond, and that’s the best part of the movie, were their scenes together. The man is played by Mamoudou Athie, who was a stand out in the movie Patti Cakes. The only part of Unicorn Store I believed in was their budding friendship and romance. Unfortunately the movie was too short to show more of that, as all of its focus was Kit discovering herself and whether or not she would get a unicorn and whether or not her ad for a vacuum would be picked up by a really creepy #Metoo type weirdo boss. I’ll give it one other thing: Brie Larson is a better actor in this than she was in Captain Marvel. And honestly, that is probably because the character of Captain Marvel was written a little wooden and directed by two people way in over their head that hadn’t directed a big feature before.

Brie Larson directed this. And for the most part it is good. She knows how to direct people. She knows how to direct herself. She knows how to frame a scene (the standout being her pitch to the vacuum ad), the only thing I didn’t like is that some parts of the film had an unnecessary shaky cam like presence that had no point. Thankfully it didn’t do that the whole time. She moves back in with her parents at the beginning of the film, played in small roles by Bradley Whitford and Joan Cusack, but their characters are ones we’ve seen too many times before. Weirdos, with weirdo jobs (they go on hikes with damaged teens/young adults with truth circles), and they invade her space but eventually show that they are actually sane and know a thing or two about life.

I just…like I said, I don’t know what to think of this film. Would I ever watch it again? Probably not. Would I recommend it? Only maybe to people that have a high tolerance for weird ass tales in kin with movies like Garden State (a much better film). Did I feel like I wasted my time? No, I mean, I like Brie Larson as an actress a lot (although she has been foot in mouth recently with her interviews and press tour for Captain Marvel), and I really think if she was given a chance to direct more and better projects she could be a pretty decent director overall. The ultimate problem is: who is this movie really for? Who is it marketed toward? What is this movies audience? The answer is: I have no fucking idea. Maybe that is the reason why Netflix picked it up?