Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BANANA SPLIT

BANANA SPLIT just happened to be a random find while cruising Netflix. When looking it up, it was certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, the premise sounded interesting, and it was released back in March of 2020 (even though it was made two years ago and played at film festivals for a bit until then), so here I am, able to review it. And I’m glad I did, because this was actually a decent little teen comedy that didn’t treat the audience as if they were morons. Witty, fun, yet crude dialogue that made our two protagonist characters hilariously funny. Combined with their undeniable chemistry ended up making this film a breeze of a watch, especially that it is also only an hour and 28 minutes long. It doesn’t drag once whatsoever. It’s one of those R rated coming of age tales that in no way shape or form would’ve made any kind of money whatsoever in theaters, due to the fact that while the two leads have been in a bunch of stuff your teen children could recite off the top of their heads, I only knew them from things when I looked up their names on IMDB. Streaming is the perfect platform for this movie. And it thankfully isn’t a Netflix original film, I looked it up and found that you could rent or buy cheap on other VOD apps like VUDU or FandangoNow for anyone interested that doesn’t pay for the big subscription streaming platform. Speaking of IMDB, it describes Banana Split as such: “Over the course of a summer, two teenage girls develop the perfect kindred spirit friendship, with one big problem: one of them is dating the other’s ex.” The reason why I probably enjoyed this film the most is that the two leads reminded me of two good friends of mine that act the same way toward each other, although neither of them has dated the same guy…thank Christ for that.

Halfway through the film, I started thinking to myself, “man, some of this dialogue is so crude and rude there is no way that a woman wrote this.” If the reveal had been a guy I probably wouldn’t have liked it as much. How am I supposed to know if what was said and made me laugh was authentic from a woman’s perspective? Well, it is authentic, as I was surprised to find out that the co-writer of this screenplay was the film’s main star Hannah Marks. She co-wrote it with her frequent collaborator Joey Power, which makes me want to check out their 2018 indie After Everything, which has similarly gotten good reviews. Her and Liana Liberato are fantastic here. Their friendship based off rules of not talking about the latter’s current boyfriend and the former’s ex felt genuine and realistic. Granted, it does go into some predictable territory by the film’s end, such as the audience knows the leads are eventually going bring up their feelings of jealousy and get mad at one another, but to give the film’s credit, it doesn’t wrap up everything in a nice and neat bow. There are a couple of threads left dangling, and the film does that on purpose, as the story is just about the resolution of these two’s relationship and their relationship alone. We have a couple of side B plots involving the boyfriend, played to the best of his stone face ability by not Jughead Dylan Sprouse, and his red headed best friend, and while a couple of things happen that are interesting, the movie knows it doesn’t need to focus on them as much as other teen comedies would have. Focusing on them too much would’ve bogged down the narrative.

The movie isn’t revolutionary in terms of the teen comedy or the crude sexual content comedy, it’s just a fun little flick that mostly works because of the fast, witty dialogue and the chemistry between the two leads. It was quite refreshing to not have a teen comedy go directly into the toilet within the first five minutes of the film, it had a natural progression that set things up as need be, and then the pay offs, although some of the predictable, didn’t try to do anything too outlandish. Hannah Marks should keep on keepin’ on writing. and unlike Ben Affleck, she’s a pretty good actress where I’d say she could star in her own stuff and it not seem like too much at one time. I’m really curious as to if maybe these two girls are actually really good friends in real life, but I don’t have the energy to do that much research on such a little film. Judging by their Instagram’s, I don’t think they are, which they could’ve fooled me as all their interactions in the film feel very realistic. I really don’t have any complaints about this film. It is a decent couple of times watch teen comedy that got quite a few laugh out loud moments from me. A movie like this isn’t meant to be studied or held up on a pedestal, it isn’t supposed to make you think or be nominated for any awards, it is just meant for escape and to have fun with it, something different than the bullshit movies on Netflix like Feel The Beat or Work It. Something worth your time and you can pay 100% attention to and not have your mind split over other activities on your phone or computer. It was a nice little indie treat.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: WORK IT (Netflix)

Holy shit…if I was really that lazy I would just go back and copy my review of Feel The Beat, paste it on here, change the names and move a couple of things around a bit and BOOM!…you have my review of Netflix’s new and yet…**groan**…another dance competition movie…WORK IT. Starring a former Disney star/singer/actress that is too good for this shitty material. I mean…really Netflix? Feel The Beat was less than two months ago, and you are going to put out yet another dance competition movie in so short a time that it is literally comparing rotten apples to rotten apples? You could’ve held this thing till January and still had some of your pride intact. But no, because of coronavirus, you are running out of shit to put on the streaming service, so here we are. But Zach, Feel The Beat was more like a family friendly version of Bad News Bears meets a competition movie where as Work It is more of a high school Pitch Perfect homage. Um…no, they are the same film, they both have almost the exact same plot beats (they even fucking advance from the first round due to technicalities, this film actually uses that word for fuck’s sake!), they have the exact same formula, and since there is little to distinguish one sack of crap from the other…it is called a RIP OFF. Work It is a rip off. It is almost the exact same film Pitch Perfect is, but dancing instead of acapella. Is there a love interest for our protagonist? Absolutely. Is there a dumb bad acting asshole villain from a rival dance team? Does a bear shit in the woods?

Ready for the big reveal I was going to wait until the end of this review to prove my rip off point? I’m just too excited I’m going to let the cat out of the bag early. The director of Work It is the same director…as PITCH PERFECT 3! That’s right, the filmmakers couldn’t even hire an unknown director where it would’ve given them their shot and pushed their limits a little directing something like this, but no, they went for the safe and easy option and got someone that had already directed the exact same type of film, because laziness. And the writer has only written one other screenplay…the critically and commercially slammed Ugly Dolls of last year. And now we get to Work It, which IMDB lamely describes as: “When Quinn Ackerman’s admission to the college of her dreams depends on her performance at a dance competition, she forms a ragtag group of dancers to take on the best squad in school…now she just needs to learn how to dance.” **YAWN**. Let’s look at IMDB’s description of Pitch Perfect, shall we? “Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school’s all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition.” It’s. The. Same. Movie. Look, this movie is so mediocre I was guessing what would happen ten minutes before it happened and every time it ended up proving me correct on screen, my wife, who was watching the film with me, kept giving me the finger. On about the 4th or 5th time my wife gave me the same hand gesture for “fuck you, I hate it when you are right,” I said, “look sweetie, you’ve been with me for 11 years, I’ve taught you all about this Screenplay 101 laziness bullshit…don’t hate the player, hate the game.”

Now let’s get to you Sabrina Carpenter. I’m going to talk directly to you except that I know you are never going to read this because you don’t take common folk like me seriously. So I’m just talking to myself. But alas, I have to say…YOU ARE TOO GOOD OF AN ACTRESS TO BE ACCEPTING SHITTY ROLES SUCH AS THIS JUST TO PROMOTE SEVERAL OF YOUR ORIGINAL SONGS FOR YOUR SINGING CAREER. You were easily the best part of this movie. I know you can dance in real life and the way you pulled off having to act like you didn’t know how, was quite believable. Look, you were good in The Hate U Give as the friend/bigot villain and right when Girl Meets World premiered, everybody watching the pilot episode with me said you were too good in it to actually be on that show. Fire your agent, and get someone that is going to take your talents a little more seriously. You are the only reason why I made it to the end of this film. That and some of the dancing was fun to watch. But the mediocre cliched love story, the cliched plot beats, the cliched dialogue, the really bad predictability bogged down the movie too much for me to have even pressed ‘Play’ in the first place. I don’t know why I did, maybe because I had nothing better to do? Fuck you coronavirus. At least it looked like you had fun making this movie Sabrina, everybody else knew what they were in and looked like they wanted to dance themselves to death. Netflix, stop producing or financing this kind of rip off content. You are better than this. You need to work it to keep our subscriptions.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY SEASON 2 (Netflix)

The sophomore slump. It happens to 95% of television shows. The second season of almost anything is usually not as good as the first. For example: 24, Lost, Alias, Homeland, Stranger Things, The Walking Dead, and Westworld, to name a few. There is the occasional exception when you think of shows such as Seinfeld, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Friends, and The Americans. Well, the 2nd season I’m about to review of a newer popular Netflix series has just reached that rare 5% where it not only doesn’t have a whiff of a sophomore slump, but completely destroys that cautious train of thought. If THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY Season 1 was the series’ A New Hope, then SEASON 2 is its EMPIRE STRIKES BACK. Season 2 eclipses Season 1 in every way imaginable: character development, plot structure, acting, pacing, twists, turns, visuals, and its entertainment value. I couldn’t believe how perfect the second set of ten episodes were. It starts off with a bang and does not let up, the final three episodes being some of the most perfect hours of television I have seen in 2020 along with the entirety of Better Call Saul’s 5th season. This season is a masterpiece, and it doesn’t matter if Season 3 is not up to snuff (which if there isn’t a season 3 after this Netflix is out of their fucking minds), there is no way in hell it could ruin the perfection of what I just witnessed. To put it in a better metaphor: the show’s umbrella did not let a drop of rain ruin the cashmere fabric that is these ten episodes.

I won’t be digging into Season 1 all that much on here, so if you are looking for an in depth analysis on it, I suggest you look elsewhere. I will just say that Umbrella Academy’s first season is a fun, if not flawed first 10 episodes, where the first couple of them are great and the last couple are great, but the middle of the series lags a bit. Only do the acting and characters pull through that slog to reach its grand epic conclusion. If you haven’t seen any of this show…what the fuck are you waiting for? The Umbrella Academy is about a family of 7 former child superheroes, who have grown apart, one of them even dead, that must now reunite to continue to protect the world. Well, that’s the first season in a nutshell. Minor spoiler alert for that season (but don’t worry, won’t spoil the big stuff of Season 2), they end up failing in the end and have to use one of their time traveling abilities to go back in time and try again. The first season ends right as they time travel, right before everything blows up and dies around them. The only thing I will reveal about the 2nd seasons story is at the beginning it is revealed that they went a little too far back into time, the 1960’s to be exact, and they have to prevent another and different kind of apocalypse, this one much sooner than what they had experienced in April of 2019. That’s all I’m going to say. Needless to say, when watching a trailer tease for this 2nd season, I was worried at first about the story line having a copy cat apocalypse angle from the first season and just doing more of the same. Boy, was I dead wrong.

The names of the seven characters are Vanya, Klaus, Allison, Luther, Ben, Diego, and Number Five. Their arcs and screen time were kind of uneven last season, focusing a little too much on just Ellen Page’s Vanya, but this season, everybody gets the exact same amount of screen time, all of them have full, interesting arcs and densely developed story lines. One villain that was uninteresting and in the background too much in the first, Kate Walsh’s Handler, is front and center this time and much more interesting, and a new character Lila, played extremely well by Rita Arya, has a fantastic dynamic with Diego and her own interesting reveals. Plus you have little mini arcs with some interesting characters from last season including Hazel, Pogo, Grace and Reginald Hargreeves, but nothing too distracting that takes away from the main seven. Episode 7 is easily the best of the ten, providing a new look at a list of time paradox ticks that are used perfectly and hilariously (you’ll see what I mean when you get there). I can’t reveal much more, so I’ll end this by saying that the series has a fantastic climax that is perfectly plotted over the course of the last three episodes (making the climax of season 1, that really just took place in the last 15 minutes of the final episode, feel rather tame), the visual effects are much more striking, the characters have a shit ton more to do, and Robert Sheehan’s Klaus and Aiden Gallagher’s Number Five, much like last season, steal every scene they are in. It’s just a fun and engaging second season that is perfectly structured narratively, directed and shot to perfection, and the character development is crisp and acted to new heights. It’s a perfect season of television, an unbreakable, sturdy umbrella if you will, that is sure to make you weather this COVID-19 bullshit of a storm for a bit.

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, 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. The 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.

Zach’s Zany Movie Review: THE KISSING BOOTH 1 & 2 (Netflix)

So I usually only write movie reviews on either the year they come out or a month or two after the new year has started. The latter reason is because they either weren’t available because of how limited they were released in the first place or that and they were also Oscar bait films (these movies probably only released last minute December in only New York and LA). Because of COVID-19 in 2020, new content hasn’t been released in theaters for months and I’ve been writing these reviews long after Jan or Feb because I need stuff to review because it’s all I have left to save my sanity and my blog. Now with my television reviews, which I started doing more of this year, I will only review that season that ended this year, but I’ll also combine it saying a little somethin’ somethin’ about the series as a whole. I have to do this in order to be able to explain my feelings about the current season well. This is my first movie review, where I’m needing to briefly talk about a Netflix film that released in 2018 so I can accurately review its sequel, which just came out this weekend. I never watched THE KISSING BOOTH back in 2018 because at that point in time I was relying mostly on theatrical reviews and didn’t have time to watch all this dumb yet harmless teen rom-com crap. Needless to say in years prior, I skipped a shit ton Netflix original films. But when I heard THE KISSING BOOTH 2 was releasing this weekend, and knew if I just watched the original real quick, I could watch and review the sequel, just to have new contend on my blog. How were they? Well, I already gave you a hint of what I thought when I used the words “dumb yet harmless” two sentences ago, but let me be a bit more clear: Just like To All The Boys I’ve Love Before and it’s sequel, both Booth movies are almost exactly carbon copies of each other, both sequels are unnecessary because the characters end up in the exact same place they were at at the end of the first movie, but both make up a lack for the dumbness by having everyone in its cast have great chemistry with each other. They also look like they are having a ton of fun making it, and the movie doesn’t treat its target audience as if they were idiots for liking the movie either.

Noticed I said ‘target audience’ just there. I AM NOT THESE MOVIES TARGET AUDIENCE! To me, they were harmless one time watches, maybe only watching the first one again sometime with my wife because its much shorter and a little more fun than its sequel. Any other guy watching this, especially single, would probably want to gouge their eyes out during either film and would be bored to tears. Per IMDB it describes the first Kissing Booth movie as: “A high school student is forced to confront her secret crush at a kissing booth.” IMDB describes the second Kissing Booth movie as: “High school senior Elle juggles a long-distance relationship with her dreamy boyfriend Noah, college applications, and a new friendship with a handsome classmate that could change everything.” Sound familiar? That’s because both Booth movies are basically both To All The Boys I Loved Before Movies, all four almost have the exact same plot and narrative structures. It is very, very bizarre. The real difference is that the To All The Boys movies take itself a bit more seriously than the Booth movies, where its just goofy fun teen angst stuff with just a little pinch of drama here and there. To get a little more into the Booth movies, Elle secret crush in the first oned is her boyfriend in the second movie, Noah, and Noah is the older brother of her best-est best friend in the world, Lee, who just happened to have been born the exact same day and time as Elle and they’ve been inseparable ever since, because their mothers were inseparable in high school. They have these list of rules of how best-est best friends should behave and act around each other and rule number #9 or something is you can’t date the spouses of your best friend. Needless to say it all gets complicated in the first film and everything happens and ends up exactly the way you could easily predict it would.

I’m just glad that the first movie didn’t end with Elle and Lee realizing they should now be more than friends with sexual feelings for each other…an ending plot point that has been done in too many rom-com’s we’ve already seen before. No, I can happily say that they don’t become more in either film, and they just remain truly best-est best friends, with no feelings of sexual love at any point whatsoever. He just doesn’t want her dating his older brother. Now the sequel, since Noah and her are together, you can guess how the first movie ends. So to stir up the pot this time and go somewhere different, albeit eerily very familiar when you think about the To All The Boys movies, it has Noah go off to college, and a new handsome boy comes to their school for senior year named Marco. Elle tries to get this Marco to do not only do their school kissing booth fundraiser that year, because he’s so hot and he could make them a ton of money, but also partners up with him in this Dance Dance Revolution competition for money so that she could possibly have enough money to pay for Harvard if she applies. IF she gets accepted, she could end up going to the same college as Noah next year after she graduates. You can basically see how all that predictably plays out can’t you? It’s all very, very predictable and ultimately very, very unnecessary. So now you might be asking me: “Zach, if you are saying all these negative things about it, why are you ultimately giving this film a pass for its target audience instead ripping it a new asshole?” The answer to your question is simple: the chemistry of all the actors together is fun and refreshing, and unlike other rom-coms, where it looks like people are suffering throughout filming just to get it done, everyone here looks like they are having fun and seem as though they want to be there.

And when the cast and crew look to be having fun, that fun was a tiny bit contagious for me. Joey King is just fun, innocent, and so damn delightful in these movies (her real life sister, Hunter King, who is not in this, is an absolute babe, my perverted self just had to mention that). Her chemistry with Joel Courtney, who plays her platonic best-est best friend, is refreshing to watch, knowing that it doesn’t become more than that. In the first movie at least, her chemistry with Noah, played by Jacob Elordi, is fantastic and felt real, and even though in the sequel he isn’t in it as much because he is off to college, when they do end up sharing the screen in scenes that are few and far between, their chemistry at least hasn’t missed a beat. And even though the kissing booth is questionable, ethics wise, in the first movie (it doesn’t really address homosexual people being left out), it at least made up for it in the sequel. In the end, I do end up preferring the first film, mainly because it is only an hour and 45 minutes long, where as the sequel tries to be this epic rom-com we didn’t need at 2 hrs and 12 minutes long. TOO. LONG. FOR. A. MOVIE. LIKE. THIS. This isn’t fucking Shakespeare In Love. Things that were supposed to happen in the third act happened in the second with still an hour left in the movie. Thankfully the films are frantically fast paced enough and not too complicated camera work or dialogue wise to get through it. Look, it’s this simple, you know who this movie is for. If it’s for you, it’s for you, don’t be ashamed about being interested in it, and don’t let my sometimes harsh critique get in the way of your enjoyment of it. I am ultimately recommending it to you, if you are its target audience. It’s harmless, teen angst fun. If it were teen angst for the sake of being teen angst added with too much bullshit drama, then that’s another story. Let’s just say, that if this movie itself were a real kissing booth, I’d buy YOU a ticket to go and kiss the man/girl of your dreams, and I would happily support you at a distance.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: JOHN HENRY (Netflix)

JOHN HENRY already has my vote as the most awful misogynistic film of the decade, and will probably remain that way by the time December 31st, 2029 rolls around. How this movie got released post #MeToo is downright fucking shocking. It is THAT bad. I can guarantee you though that it just received my coveted “Worst Film of 2020” award. I didn’t think anything would beat the almost equally shitty ‘The Last Thing She Wanted’ (coincidentally but not surprisingly both Netflix films), but this one did by a mile. I think instead of another one of my typical 3 to 4 paragraph reviews explaining why this film is the worst and most offensive film since Surf Ninjas, I think I’m just going to list not only awful shit that is said, but the awful shit that goes down in it. I’ll try to be vague enough not to give away any spoilers in case you were still interested in this after I rip it a new asshole. Per IMDB’s log line for John Henry, it stars Terry Crews and Ludacris and it is described as such: “When two immigrant kids on the run from his former South Los Angeles gang leader (Ludacris) stumble into his life, John (Terry Crews) is forced to reconcile with his past in order to try and give them a future.” Sounds sane enough but a little familiar right? WRONG. Here is some of the shocking bullshit that happens in this only hr and 30 minute movie:

  1. Ludacris has a gold plated jaw. It’s laughably stupid looking. He’s only in two-three scenes.
  2. An entire conversation that involves ‘gay panic’ takes place for several minutes in a van between two gang members. This ‘gay panic’ conversation also somehow incorporates the film ‘Human Centipede’ into the argument.
  3. For about 5 minutes, at the beginning of the film, female vaginas (they use the p word in the most derogatory fashion) are compared to how delicious Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits are. No, that’s not a joke. I. SHIT. YOU. NOT.
  4. Right before a character is about to be blown up, he yells, “I’m ____________, and my dick was legendary.”
  5. When one character is teaching another character how to correctly hold a gun, “Steady now, just like you would place a hand on a woman’s titty.”
  6. Women are called “bitches”…I don’t know how many times. Probably more than Django Unchained used the N word.
  7. A character gets shot in the head, but it turns out he’s okay, bullet just grazed him.
  8. Terry Crews rips his sleeves off while holding a sledgehammer as dramatic Western music plays in the background.
  9. Ludacris forces everybody who works for him to exclusively dress in white track suits.
  10. The film literally stops halfway through so we can get a montage of random places in Compton.
  11. Terry Crews flirts with a woman as he debates what brand of feminine products to buy.
  12. Ken Foree, who spends the majority of the film in a wheelchair, magically stops being a paraplegic during a gunfight because “adrenaline.”
  13. (Enter one of the awful and stupid things that happens in this film I forgot here here, because I’m sure I forgot something.)

The movie is tonally all over the place. If this movie was meant to be a satire, I could maybe, ONLY MAYBE, see one or two things on my list work, like the gold plated jaw. But no, it takes everything that happens in it seriously, and it wants the audience to take it seriously as well. But we can’t. The film doesn’t make any God damn fucking sense. Yes, there are a few allusions in John Henry to the folklore hero John Henry, but very few, and they are more insulting than they are homages. Co-writer and director Will Forbes and co-writer Doug Skinner, who have never written or directed a movie before, shouldn’t be allowed to ever make one again. Terry Crews and Ludacris are decent people in real life and they try and breathe as much life as they can into these poorly written characters, but it was all for naught. The gang accents are laughably bad, the violence is too “looney tunes” to take seriously, and even the original rap music written and made for the film was impossible to get into. It’s just a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very awfully made film. On all levels. There was no saving this screenplay and whoever fronted the money for this thing to get green lit should be banished from Hollywood forever. And I really really really really hope that when Terry Crews and Ludacris, fuck…any actor/actress in this production, cashed their paychecks in from this movie…I hope they felt ashamed. ABYSMAL.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE OLD GUARD (Netflix)

Why does every movie have to have a “new recruit” type story line? That’s where the universe is very much already established and they bring in a new character (someone casual moviegoers can relate to) to learn the ropes. Is it so that the story/screenplay writer can easily and without any kind of effort spoon feed all the information/rules to the audience in multiple uninteresting monologues? Is it so they don’t have to think hard of a new and unique approach where little things are hinted at here and there where movie goers would have to grow a brain and piece everything together on their own? The “new recruit” type story is EVERYWHERE. Men In Black, The Matrix, 6 Underground, Kingsman, Inception, is just a very small list of the thousands of movies out there that do it. However, those movies get past that cliched premise because they have other, much bigger elements that come into play that are interesting enough and overshadow that “same old, same old.” Inception is a HUGE example of that. Anyway, the thing that makes the new Netflix original film, THE OLD GUARD, just a one time half-way decent watch is that the bigger elements presented in this movie…is just more shit that has been done before, namely the “Immortality Old Warrior” type angle. Another problem with it would be that Charlize Theron and company just explain the rules to the “new recruit” in a bunch of uninteresting ways and have “standing close to each other for 5 to 10 minute” monologues. And yet another problem would be that I guessed everything that was going to happen way before they happened and even guessed what the mid credits scene would be only a half an hour into the 2 hour run time. The film only gets a barely passable slight recommendation from me because it has a action packed last 30 minutes, the movie looked good and was well shot, and of course…Charlize Theron is always fantastic in whatever project she takes on.

Still think I’m nuts? Look at the IMDB log line for this: “A covert team of immortal mercenaries are suddenly exposed and must now fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered.” New member. I guarantee you that two word phrase is in the log line of thousand of films that you have seen before. Is there really no way that this movie, and the graphic novel its based on as well, could’ve just had this “Old Guard” be on their own to present a story that hinted at and then gradually revealed the rules while the movie progressed without having one character explain all of it to a new one in a mundane monologue? There had to have been a way, HAD to. I myself can even think of several ways the movie could’ve avoided all those trappings and had been a unique ride. Alas, it doesn’t, it takes the easy way out for you to quickly understand and relate to the story. I’m just tired of it is all. Also, for an action movie, there is not a lot of action, save for the last 30 minutes. It’s really just a bunch of characters getting all the history out of the way so that the sequel doesn’t have to explain everything and just be completely action packed. I’m sorry but you do not want your first movie in a franchise to be just a dialogue bridge film for better sequels. You are already setting yourself up for failure doing that. Which, judging by the mid credits scene, is EXACTLY what this film is doing. Plus, let’s list the cliches shall we? We get another bad guy just wanting to make money off of or harness the groups abilities, betrayals and double crossings, plot points that the group are afraid will happen that they point out at the very beginning of the film that DO happen later on, the works. If you watch closely, this film is BEAT BY BEAT ripping off The Matrix.

Okay, enough with my bitching, it is getting old. Let me get to some of the good stuff. Like I said, Charlize Theron is excellent in this, that there is no doubt. The new recruit, played by KiKi Layne, is good as well. All the acting is top notch, even though Chiwetel Ejiofor is completely wasted with his talents here and should not have been cast in a role that small. I even loved that two of the Old Guard were homosexual lovers. That was a nice dynamic that had some great pay off scenes. The whole movie looks nice and is shot well by director Gina Prince-Bythewood. Give her a better story and screenplay to work with and she could do wonders. The only big fault with this movie is the story/screenplay. This screenplay was written by the actual creator of the graphic novel it is based on Greg Rucka, who is known for the many graphic novels he’s written. I wish he would have more original ideas is all and wouldn’t fall into the trappings of all the cliches he writes himself into. It just takes that one idea to be extraordinary. The real problem is that there is nothing new with this movie. Every element is taken from many other different films that have done those elements better. When you can’t take those elements and even put a small unique twist on them to make them better and new again, what’s the point of even writing those kinds of stories in the first place? Even though it has been happening for years, it has been starting to get old lately just recently for me. Fuck…maybe I’m just getting too old for this shit?

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: DESPERADOS (Netflix)

Good God, can it be next weekend already? Where two new streaming films, The Old Guard & Palm Springs, premiere literally a day before my birthday…and they’ve both already gotten decent reviews? Other than Hamilton on Disney+ this weekend…this new Netflix film…DESPERADOS premiered. And no, it’s not a foreign language film with subtitles. It’s a just a regular, stupid, cheap unfunny, masturbation gag a minute, sex joke romantic comedy about a trio of women looking for something more out of life than they have. And it’s mainly just the three of them, yelling and screaming out dirty stuff every half minute for the entire hour and 45 minute run time. It’s like an R rated version of Ghostbusters 2016, where women who are usually funny in other things improv too much and just yell random shit to see what sticks. And again, none of it does. It literally gave me a headache. And it is disappointing that former Saturday Night Live star Nasim Pedrad would accept this kind of role to play the lead…she must’ve really been desperate (pun intended) to land a job ever since her stint on New Girl went away a couple of years ago. She was great on Saturday Night Live, she maybe should’ve never left, as leaving for that John Mulaney failure of a sitcom was one of the worst career choices I’ve seen out of anyone. This movie is even worse. Speaking of being unable to get separated from New Girl, her love interest in this is the same guy (Lamorne Morris) that she ends up with in the series finale of that show. Did both of them just walk across the studio once the showrunners announced a series wrap for them? Anyway, here’s how to determine if this movie is for you or not: at one point mid way through, Nasim Pedrad gets humped by a dolphin at the edge of a boat and then the dolphin jumps and smacks his giant red aroused sea cock across her face. Did you laugh? I hope not.

Per IMDB, Desperados is described as: “A panicked young woman, with her reluctant friends in tow, rushes to Mexico to try and delete a ranting email she sent to her new boyfriend.” That new boyfriend is played by Robbie Amell, who looked like he did the filmmakers a favor and came over for a couple of breaks while shooting Amazon’s Upload. Completely wasted here. So are Nasim Pedrad’s two friends played by Barry’s Sarah Burns and Pitch Perfect’s Anna Camp. Their plot b and c stories of the former not being able to have a baby with her husband and going to a white woman shaman that’s supposed to give her medicine and/or advice to succeed and then the latter’s decision whether or not to leave her cheating husband are solved in seconds and then thrown to the side just as quickly. The white woman shaman is played by Heather Graham who looks like she doesn’t want to be there, and the ultimate climax (you’ll see pun intended) of the scene that happens between her and Anna Camp didn’t make any sense and was a little tasteless. The main plot of Nasim Pedrad trying to delete Robbie Amell’s e-mail was completely unbelievable and would never have happened. See the reason she wrote the hateful e-mail, is right after they have sex, it seems like he ignores her for 5 days. Instead, right after the e-mail is sent, he calls her and reveals he had an accident and was in a medically induced coma for 5 days. Oh but get this, the doctors don’t want him on the internet or for him to have his computer at all or his phone for a couple of days and just want him to rest and not stress out. The screenplay writers must’ve known this set up was a little hammy, as every few minutes they remind the audience through dialogue and just keep repeating he needs rest over and over. Never mind the fact that there are probably other people worried about him, he needs to rest. Fucking please, even I can’t come up with a way in which it could’ve worked. So Nasim Pedrad has a couple of days to find his phone or computer at the Mexico resort he was staying at, and really stupid shit keeps getting thrown at her so she can’t complete her goal, and that the movie isn’t so short. And she has time to “happen” to bump into a previous bad date at this resort (played by New Girl’s Lamorne Morris) and then start to have great adventures and conversations with him…you see where the movie ends up don’t you? I hope you do.

One of the scenarios that keeps Pedrad from her goal, is that she keeps running into a 12-13 year old that wants to have statutory rape sex with her and then that kids mom shows up a few seconds behind and yells and tries to beat Pedrad’s ass. And she keeps running into them and keeps running into them. It gets very old, very fast. The only decent part in the movie is the chemistry and conversations between Pedrad and Morris. They don’t lose a step going from being charming together in New Girl to being charming together in this, even though he plays it straight, and she’s the mess, where on the Fox show it was vice versa. Lamorne Morris is the best part of this movie, as he’s down to Earth and plays a pretty cool character. This is the second movie he’s stolen out from everyone, even in this shitty year of COVID-19, the first film being Bloodshot. They should give him more stuff to do, and that stuff needs to be in better films. Anyway, this movie is a complete waste of time unless you are an obnoxious woman or man that laughs at this low brow crude and crass comedy that isn’t even smartly written, and your men or women friends are just as stupid and obnoxious as you are. The woman who wrote this hasn’t done anything other than writing for THE FUCKING FAILURE SHOW THAT WAS THE JAMIE KENNEDY EXPERIMENT WAY BACK WHEN. No wonder. The director is a nobody too. Sorry I sound salty, this movie was just a completely waste of talents for everyone involved, and a complete waste of time for an audience that decided to press play. How can Netflix be that desperate (again, pun intended) to put horse shit like this on their platform? This is just one sliver better than Netflix’s The Wrong Missy…but not by much. One of the worst films of 2020.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE F**K-IT LIST (Netflix)

THE F**K-IT LIST, an obviously play on The Bucket List, is not the worst thing to come to Netflix? If that question sounds to you like a back handed compliment, it kind of is. It’s watchable, it’s a movie, it’s not abysmal…but would I ever watch it again? Probably not. It’s just…there. It makes you wonder how movies like this get made yet there are a bunch of good low budget scripts out there desperate to get green lit, but for some reason or another they don’t. This movie could’ve been much better than it is. Instead of being The Bucket List, where Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman actually do a lot of the things they write down, the protagonist in this movie video blogs a bunch of stuff that he ends up not doing, but goes viral anyway to inspire a lot of kids to do their own F**k-It lists in life. If the movie had shown him doing things on his list and then in turn getting more viral, the film’s message might’ve actually been earned and had been clearer. This review is going to be insanely short because I don’t know much to say about it. The actors and actresses are decent and you even got some recognizable names such as Jerry O’Connoll, Natalie Zea, Madison Iseman, Andrew Bachlor, and Peter Facinelli, that do a fine job in their small roles. But the real problem is that you have to suspend belief in a lot of what happens in the film, specifically the choices of the protagonist.

This is a long synopsis, but per IMDB, The F**k-It List is described as: “Brett Blackmore is a high school senior whose exemplary GPA and college resume hides the fact that he’s unintentionally sold his childhood for a future he’s not even sure he wants. When his high-school senior prank goes wrong, his life crumbles before his eyes. In frustration he launches the F**k-It List – of all the things he wishes he’d done but was too afraid. The list goes viral and touches a nerve with teenagers everywhere, exposing the educational-industrial complex as a money-machine designed to encourage anxiety-ridden parents to sell their kids into years of Tiger-Mom style servitude. Brett decides he’s going to break free – and make a run for a future of his own design.” Let’s get to the suspension in belief shall we? It’s really the only problems I have with this “okay” film other than Brett not doing much on his list. First off, the “senior prank goes wrong” scenario, is really not his fault. A couple of kids sneak into the school to hack into the computers, possibly to change some things (doesn’t really say), and one of the idiots steps on a gas pipe and breaks it. They go and get Brett to see if he can help, but he can’t and tells them all to get out of there as the room starts filling up with gas. The whole fucking school explodes (no one is hurt or killed) and he takes the rap. Yet…it wasn’t his fault? If I was him, even with a future I didn’t want, there is no fucking way I would’ve taken the rap for that extreme of shit. Also, the actor that plays Brett Blackmore, Eli Brown, is way too good looking and looks like he has a “fuck it” attitude in his face to be believable as a valedictorian let alone a decent kid.

Also, Brett doesn’t get arrested and the only consequences for his decision to take the rap is that he doesn’t get his high school diploma and that the 7 out of 8 ivy league colleges he was accepted to, take back their offers. But then that doesn’t really matter anyway as Harvard eventually reaches out after he goes viral and asks him to send an essay to possibly get into their elite college anyway. It’s very bizarre and while the film takes it seriously and not as one big joke, there is just no way in fucking hell any of that would happen, other than going viral…maybe. I get the messages of the future of young adults, how we need to make our own life altering decisions and to not just follow the wishes of our parents, but I don’t think the events that happen in this film warrant morals of that type. It’s just a very odd, yet somewhat watchable film. In fact, you’ve seen this teen angst film plenty of times before and needless to say, all those other films do a better job with the content than this one did. Add to the insult and injury? The co-writer and director, Michael Duggan, was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for being a producer of Law & Order. How…what…did….did he like bang his head and get the idea for this weird movie, or did he watch The Bucket List high and thought he should make a teen movie about it but a play on words? I have a feeling those questions would elicit answers that were more interesting than this film. Man, some of these title I keep hitting play on, I’m saying “fuck it” myself. I need to start thinking things through.

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

Netflix sure is stepping up their game when it comes to animated originals. THE WILLOUGHBYS is a fantastic, fun, original, yet weird kids movie that premiered back on the service in April, yet I didn’t hear about it until a recent visit to a friends place in Oklahoma for the weekend. I saw the release date was 2020, and following a recommendation from those friends’ kids that weekend, I decided to check it out. Boy am I glad I did. I’m glad I also waited to watch it with my young son and my wife, because we got to enjoy it together as a family. It’s based on the book by the famous Lois Lowry (I have never heard of this till now, who knew, right?!) and per IMDB it describes the film as: “Convinced they’d be better off raising themselves, the Willoughby children hatch a sneaky plan to send their selfish parents on vacation. The siblings then embark on their own high-flying adventure to find the true meaning of family.” And the whole story is fast paced loveliness with a dash of weird. It has colorful characters, morals about family that don’t try to hit you over the head with the messages, nice original animation that wasn’t trying to rip off anyone else’s work, and fantastic voice work from everyone involved, including, but not limited to: Ricky Gervais, Martin Short, Jane Krakowski, Terry Crews, Maya Rudolph, Alessia Cara (with a wonderful singing voice as well), and Will Forte (who really needed this, as his portrayal of Shaggy in the disappointing Scoob! just recently released seemed to be trying a bit too hard). This and Onward are the only two memorable animated films of the year so far.

This might only be a 2 paragraph review, as I don’t really want to spoil any of the surprises this film has in store for you and yours. Just know that other than the ending, this families predicament is far from predictable. Some wacky shit happens, some really cute shit happens, some dark shit happens, people are accidentally killed (well, if you see certain scenes from my eyes they did), tears will be shed, and smiles will be spread from cheek to cheek. This 2nd time director, Kris Pearn, whose first effort was Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, is not a newbie to the animation world, as he worked in the animation departments for a ton of projects like Arthur Christmas, Open Season, and the very underrated Titan A.E. He and his crew do wonderful work here, as this is a film I can see revisiting with my family over and over and over again. After this and Klaus at the end of last year, Netflix really has something going on correctly with their animation productions. Why can’t they take that positive momentum and apply it to the original film department? Or hell, even what they choose to buy from other studios to put on their platform? Needless to say, I’ll always be weary with a new live-action Netflix original. However, I’ll be eager to press the play button if a new release from them is animated.