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.

Advertisements

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: VELVET BUZZSAW (Netflix)

VELVET BUZZSAW just came out on Netflix this past weekend and I watched it in two sittings, so since its technically a movie that came out in 2019, I’m here to review it. And I’m not saying it is technically a movie just because its on Netflix, I’m saying its technically a movie because it has actors, characters, a plot, a beginning, middle, and end, and it is feature length. However, this movie lacks that one thing that I constantly bitch about if you are a constant reader of my reviews: focus. It lacks focus. And the infuriating part of it is that it has two central focal points, however they don’t really mesh together here very well. One of the focal points (we’ll get to what they are in a second) is pretty damn fantastic the first half of the film, then the second focal point doesn’t really deliver at all, and when meshing with the first one, makes a back half that drags and delivers a ho-hum of an ending. I’m actually a bit disappointed, seeing that this was from Dan Gilroy, writer and director of the fantastic film Nightcrawler.

And then he made Roman J. Israel Esq. which I think I enjoyed more than most people (story/plot wise), especially Denzel Washington’s Academy Award nominated performance, even though it never even closely reached the heights of Nightcrawler. Velvet Buzzsaw never reaches the heights of either movie, save for Jake Gyllenhaall’s performance. The film is about a supernatural presence in artworks that kills artists, gallery owners, art critics, etc. after a woman (played by Zawe Ashton) ‘steals’ a bunch of exquisite paintings by an unknown artist. When I say ‘steals’, she actually happens to find his dead body on the stairwell in her apartment complex, find out he has no next of kin, and just goes searching in his apartment after the super says they are going to throw everything out.

Suffice to say that the movie tries to blend art world parody and horror, and while it gets the former correct, the latter is done so lazily and uninteresting that I found myself pausing the movie after every couple of minutes just to see how much I actually had left to watch. The horror isn’t even scary, and if not scary, it needs to be funny in a farce kind of way, and it doesn’t do either. And when the film focuses on the horror, it completely ignores that art world parody that came before it, leading to the scenes in the back half of the film being an unfocused, lazy, boring, terrible mess. Also another problem with the film is that there are absolutely no likable characters, I guess save for one, played by Stranger Thing’s Natalia Dyer, but then her character is just regulated to her spouting off a couple of sentences about needing a job and finding all the dead body’s this supernatural presence is stacking up.

Jake Gyllenhaul is excellent here, and seems to always bring his A game when investing in a role, however his character doesn’t really have an arc until the very end of the film, and it seems rushed and wasted. Plus, I didn’t like his character. Rene Russo seems like she’s bored, Toni Collette as well. Daveed Diggs looks like he is there doing someone a favor, and Zawe Ashton, who should have the most rounded arc of anyone in the cast, is terribly unlikable and the ending to her story was infinite degrees of dumb. John Malkovich is also terribly wasted here too. It seems like the characters motivations and action were traded in for story, which upends the film. When looking back at it, it seems Dan Gilroy had a great half a film, in which it completely parodies the art world and the people involved in it. The other half wasn’t realized and spruced up enough screenplay wise, making a film that goes together like oil and water.

None of the horror or death scenes are inventive or scary. Dan Gilroy doesn’t even do the modern audience a favor and bring in cheap jump scares to just liven the film up a bit. The characters just die in really lazy ways, with either terrible CGI spray blood or even fucking off screen (you don’t do this if you have a R/TV-MA rating). When watching the trailer to this, I was quite intrigued to see the new ride that Gilroy was going to give us. But now that his films clearly having a pattern of being not as good as the last one, I am a little shaken thinking of how his fourth feature could be worse than this. Is he a one-two trick pony going the way of Shyamalan? We’ll see…