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

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

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

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Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ON THE ROCKS (Apple TV+)

ON THE ROCKS is writer/director Sofia Coppola’s only second movie that I’ve liked and enjoyed, the rest of her filmography, I either haven’t seen, like The Virgin Suicides, or outright loathe, such as the remake of The Beguiled, Somewhere, Marie Antoinette, The Bling Ring, and A Very Murray Christmas. I think Lost In Translation is her true masterpiece that will never be beaten for me, although On The Rocks is still a very decent film with Bill Murray’s best performance since that 2003 gem. The reason why On The Rocks is the only other one of Sofia’s movies that I’ve enjoyed is probably because it is its most mainstream and relatable, her other films being too abstract, boring pieces of artsy fartsy garbage that were made just for the sake of being artsy fartsy and not having any true underlying meanings. IMDB describes this film with the following: “A young mother named Laura, reconnects with her larger-than-life playboy father, named Felix, on an adventure through New York.” That adventure is following her husband, played nice and straight laced for once by overrated comedian Marlon Wayans, because both her and her father think he is cheating on her. During this journey they talk about how Laura used to be fun and not so insecure, how Felix is too secure, why the relationship and marriage with Laura’s mother failed, and how there is still very much love within the family. The movie is very predictable, including the conclusion of whether said husband is cheating on Laura or not, but the chemistry and charm of Jones and Murray is what got me through a quick ninety six minute runtime. Especially the genius of Bill Murray.

Murray will definitely get a nomination, or at least get close to one, for best supporting actor here. He is still Bill Murray, with his improv, dry wit humor, but he does play an actual character here: a concerned and loving father that is too secure with himself leading to his own social issues with women. I wouldn’t be too surprised if most of this movie isn’t scripted, because Murray’s performance always makes it feels like it IS scripted. Trust me, I know that that sentence contradicts itself but that sentence makes more sense than you know if you know Murray’s filmography. He is just really good with words and knows what to say on the fly. Plus his facial expressions are first rate. He made the first Ghostbusters movie what it was. He is and he isn’t playing himself here, and if you give the film a chance you will know exactly what I mean. He’s THAT much in top form here. Even though this movie is ‘The Bill Murray Show’, Rahsida Jones also gives the best performance of her career. So does Marlon Wayans believe it or not, I wish that he would quite writing, directing, and starring in bullshit that makes him look like a attention craving and starving assholes, like A Haunted House or Netflix’s Sextuplets. He’s better than that, and this movie proves it. Combine these performances with some of the best Sofia Coppola dialogue since Lost In Translation and you got yourself a good movie here, although it won’t be nominated for much else Award Season wise beyond Murray and it won’t be on my top twenty films of 2020 list. But I’d watch it again soon, along with Lost In Translation, just to hold me over until next summer where Bill Murray finally returns to the franchise (canon wise, that cameo in the 2016 piece of garbage doesn’t count) that permanently stuck him to the map that Saturday Night Live put him on. Sofia Coppola’s career isn’t so rocky for me anymore, hope she keeps it up from here.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BAD HAIR (Hulu)

You can not tell me that the premise for Hulu’s new original movie, BAD HAIR, doesn’t sound interesting: “In 1989 an ambitious young woman gets a weave in order to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television. However, her flourishing career may come at a great cost when she realizes that her new hair may have a mind of its own.” The movie is about a hair weave that kills people. Plain and simple. Brilliant. I have never seen a movie like that before. It pains me to say though that even though the script and the tone gets the late 80s right, with plenty of fantastic social commentary on the African-American woman and how her hair looks/how she looked in general at the time, the execution of the horror aspects are absolutely abysmal. Especially the editing and the CGI of the hair weave killing people. A. BYS. MAL. I think writer, director, producer, Justin Simien, was just completely out of his element here, directing wise. He’s known for the semi-satire movie and Netflix series, Dear White People, which those are little great features on their own, but he is in no way a horror director. Simply put, what needed to happen was that he needed his script polished by someone in the horror industry and the film needed to be directed by someone well versed in the horror industry. This could’ve been something really really special, but the hammy horror scenes, which aren’t meant to be hammy, I can 100% confirm that, are just plain awful. I would’ve understood and have been more into it if this had been a complete satire or commentary on African-American hair, but the horror aspects in this are completely meant to be taken seriously, they are just directed like a film student who doesn’t have a budget. The Chris Rock narrated documentary Good Hair was more of a horror film than this was.

This movie has some pretty recognizable faces in it: Usher, Jay Pharoah, Vanessa Williams, Lena Waithe, James Van Der Beek, with Unsecured Elle Lorriane providing a strong lead performane as Anna, the young women who is trying to make it in the music television industry. They all give good performance, in fact, I would say that I really enjoyed the tone of the first half of the movie. It’s a very solid social and appearance commentary. But once the horror film takes over, it’s all down hill, and it’s all down hill fast. What are meant to be earned and creepy jump scares are shot and edited to shit, with embarrassing CGI that takes the realism out of everything. The mythology of why this particular hair weave kills people is interesting, but instead of there being an entire scene where the mythology is brought to light, in this case from a Folklore Story Book, that scene is chopped up and spread out, where the story being interrupted 2 to 3 times is a huge disadvantage for some viewers as they could’ve forgotten the information given to them 20 minutes ago. Considering what happens during the course of the movie, the ending is rushed and doesn’t make a lick of sense. I liked that it was visual story ending, a not telling but showing ending, with some obligatory sequel set ups, but a little explanation was required why certain people ended up getting away with certain things and weren’t caught and arrested. Hopefully you get my drift without me completely spoiling it. Bad Hair is half a good movie, but half a mostly bad one…ultimately disappointing with how much potential it squandered because of a likely budget, editing and directing issue. This tale was not woven together very carefully.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE WITCHES (2020 remake, HBO MAX)

I know the exact moment I uttered “Stick to the original” while watching the new Roald Dahl’s The Witches remake. It was about 30 minutes in when Anne Hathaway opened her mouth to speak for the first time and she was too over-the-top and sounded like Russian Borat. I know the exact moment I moaned “oh…no…” twice, once when it showed how jarringly awful the CGI animals and rodents looked and then when the witches reveal themselves for the first time in their overabundance of CGI glory and none of the practical effects from the 1990 classic. But…at least it wasn’t as offensive to me as watching the Rebecca remake that debuted on Netflix yesterday, certainly making everybody involved in that 1940 classic rolling over in their graves, Hitchcock probably a dozen times on repeat. Still, there are plenty of eye rolls to be had in this forgettable adaptation. This remake was originally supposed to come out this holiday season in theaters before being delayed to April 2021, but then HBO Max just last month, since they really don’t have that many original movies or new content in general, surprised announced that they were dumping it onto their streaming platform today so families could enjoy something in the comfort of their own homes. But again, why are we even remaking a film that is considered a classic by many in the first place? This film is completely unnecessary. And why did they get Robert Zemeckis to direct it? He adds literally none of his stylistic visual flare to this movie (it’s so standard point and shoot anyone could’ve directed it), and instead puts together a film that feels like it is just Tim Burton doing the same monotonous remake/adaptation crap on autopilot. Unfortunately this movie just proves my theory…that everything that was supposed to be released in theaters during the pandemic, if put on a streaming service for no extra charge (or an overcharge in the case of Mulan), is a giant waste of space and the studio didn’t have any confidence in the movie in the first place. I want to coin a two or three word phrase that explains exactly what I just said without having to spell it out in a run-on sentence everytime…maybe P.M.F? Pandemic Movie Formula.

Instead of candy that Hathaway and her coven offer to children in this movie, you’ll instead be craving three things by the end credits: 1. Angelica Huston 2. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Special Effects 3. The witches claws coming through your television screen, gouging your eyes out so you don’t have to ever endure watching this again. Almost forgot to give IMDB’s description of the film in case those of you living in your dumb pandemic bubbles have never heard of any iterations of this story: “Based on Roald Dahl’s 1983 classic book ‘The Witches’, the story tells the scary, funny and imaginative tale set in 1960s Alabama, an orphaned young boy stumbles across a conference of witches, while staying with his grandmother at a hotel, and gets transformed into a mouse by the Grand High Witch.” The descriptive words scary, funny, and imaginative I would use to describe the original novel (which I’ve read) and the 1990 film (which I’ve seen), but not this film. The three words I would use to describe are unimaginative, unnecessary, and uninspired. This is just another almost shot by shot remake with a couple of added things here and there to make it a small piece of cheese crumb worth of a difference. Roald Dahl has famously said that he doesn’t like the 1990 version of the film because they completely botch his darker and more bittersweet book ending (which they did, I’m not going to lie). One of the differences here is yet again the ending, but I don’t think Roald Dahl would be pleased with this one either. In fact, he’d probably would think it’s worse than 30 years ago. After watching the movie I’ve read a couple of the reviews of major well known critics and they keep repeating one after the other that this movie is too dark and scary for children. Pfffft, this wasn’t even close. The novel and 1990 film easily tell this film to hold their beers. This was laughably silly, and not in a fun or charming way either.

Another one of the differences from this adaptation to the rest is a race switch of the young boy and his grandmother (white to black), which explains why Black-ish creator Kenya Barris has a screenplay credit. But if you are going to do that, which I didn’t mind (in fact it’s the only part of this remake that works, I enjoyed the young actor and Octavia Spencer’s performances), why not have also something to say with it…even subtly, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT TAKES PLACE IN 1960s ALABAMA!!! But there are absolutely no racial identity messages in this and the movie has absolutely nothing to say about racism and how bad it is. This is where the movie could’ve stood out from the rest of the pack! If you are going to do a remake to something and hire someone like Kenya Barris to co-write the damn screenplay…YOU. MAKE. IT. DIFFERENT. ENOUGH. TO. REMEMBER. I’m not saying to bonk the audience on the head with “DO YOU GET IT?!” racial morals every five seconds, but I mean you got the creator of Black-ish to do a draft, where he created and once was the show runner to a television comedy, that in its prime, was filled with racial wit and subtlety (I’ve only seen a couple of early episodes). But no, it seems like he just re-wrote some of the dialogue and that’s about it. And how the fuck did Guillermo Del Toro get a screenplay credit in this? I’m betting he was simply attached to direct at some point, stepped down, and was just given a credit for his two second involvement before the production started filming. The third and last screenplay credit goes to director Robert Zemeckis himself, and based on his dull directing here, probably took the dull way out screenplay wise as well and just had a copy of the book and of the first adaptation’s screenplay and copied it almost word for word.

I hate to repeat another conclusive paragraph with another “I told you so” statement, but yet, my reviews wouldn’t be zany if I didn’t. Remakes, especially of classics or other beloved films, DO…NOT…WORK. Not only do they not work, they are unnecessary and the studios’ obvious cash grab intentions are exposed in direct sunlight. They already don’t look good right now, keep on keepin’ on delaying major theatrical releases, saying that their true intentions are to release them when they are “safe,” when we all fucking know that it’s because they are greedy and selfish. (**RANT WARNING** Someone needs to get it into their heads that if they keep delaying the releases, that there won’t be any theaters left to play their movies on when the dust settles. WE HAVE GOT TO START LIVING OUR LIVES, ALBEIT SAFELY. We can do it. It’s called compromise. At some point some movie, a more established franchise or series, MUST BE THE GUINEA PIG to see how they can get butts back in seats. It couldn’t be Tenet, an original film that makes modern movie audiences scratch their heads because they are too fucking on the spectrum to follow along. It’s gotta be something simple and easy going such as Wonder Woman or James Bond or Black Widow or Ghostbusters 3. ADAPT OR DIE movie studios, ADAPT OR DIE. **END OF RANT**) Instead these studios, letting some of their flicks go direct to streaming, avoiding theaters and thinking that they are doing us all a favor watching it at home…what they are really doing is just slapping us in the face even harder because their movies are mediocre or abysmal. But to try and bewitch us and “surprise” release forgettable, inferior REMAKES of all things, is more of a sledgehammer to the face than it is a hard slap.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: REBECCA (2020 remake, Netflix)

If you ever see me review a new film which is a remake from an established classic or even a decent enough original film, 99.999999999% of the time you might as well skip my review and just heed these words: “Stick to the original.” And with the new REBECCA movie, that just debuted today on Netflix, that is a remake of the 1940 Alfred Hithcock classic (which happened to win Best Picture that year), to which I have indeed seen, no surprise here but I’m also going to just say “Stick to the original.” And to just get my next review out of the way, tomorrow’s remake of The Witches on HBO Max, I’m betting I will be saying “Stick to the original” a third time, so why even read my reviews? I guess if you want to know in depth details of why the remake doesn’t even hold a candle to Hitchcock’s, then keep reading, as that is what I will mostly be doing in what is hopefully a short review. IMDB describes the Ben Wheatley, 2020 Rebecca with the following: “A young newlywed arrives at her husband’s imposing family estate on a windswept English coast and finds herself battling the shadow of his first wife, Rebecca, whose legacy lives on in the house long after her death.” What confuses me is that in interviews with movie sites that I frequently visit, director Ben Wheatley has said that this is not a remake or retelling of Hitchcock’s Rebecca and that it is a different story that will stand out on its own. Ummmm…I hate to use any words that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth but my viewing of this film warrants it…that’s fake news. This movie is almost a shot by shot remake, even having close to the same runtime as Hitchcock’s (two hours and 10 minutes.) Why you would go around touting in interviews that your film isn’t a remake of another movie with the same story and title, when surely you know that once critics watch it they are going to be calling you a liar? That is indeed a head scratcher. I’m guessing Netflix maybe put him up to it?

This film looks beautiful to be sure and is very well acted by everyone in it, but the mystery that is supposed to be the foundation of Rebecca is hardly there, and when it does come to light, the viewer will not care, as emphasis on what exactly is going on seems to be downplayed so that you only notice just how much money was spent on it’s glorious production design. When the movie ends the next image you will have in your mind is Hitchcock rolling over in his fucking grave. There isn’t an urgency to anything in this movie, wait, that’s not true, Lily James meets and gets married to Armie Hammer all in the span of ten minutes after he plays one game of “hiding his rich white penis in her poor white vagina” on the beach. Who cares about the mystery when you don’t even care that these two characters are together? The original 1940 Hitchcock film is one of the most romantic movies of all time. You completely buy the fact that Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine love each other. Every second of every minute here I believed Hammer was just after banging her and was simply keeping her as a sex trophy wife. The romance is where the film should’ve taken its time but instead, after the rushed meet and greet, the time is taken where it doesn’t need to be, in her wide eyed, amazed look at how rich he is and how her life is going to be so much better while being naive at the fact that the main family caretaker, played by Kirsten Scott Thomas, doesn’t care at all for her. It also spends so much time with Hammer being a complete asshole, we are left in bewilderment why the new missus doesn’t just pack up and leave the bullshit behind her.

The solution to the mystery and what exactly is going on? A little bit different but still ended up going back around to the same path to get to the same resolution as the original. And also in the end, both sides of the audience, those that have and have not seen the Hitchcock film, don’t care, because the rest of the movie didn’t care about its characters or any realism in the romance. It was too busy trying to nab award nominations in costumes, cinematography, and production design. Which begs the question? Why remake Rebecca? Unless you are going to update it to modern times with modern characters and call the film something generic as Becky and try to do what 10 Things I Hate About You did with Shakespeare’s The Taming Of The Shrew…Why. Remake. A. Classic. Movie. That. Won. An. Oscar. For. Best. Picture? Shouldn’t we be remaking films that sucked in the first place? Kind of like what You’ve Got Mail did with The Shop Around The Corner, or John Carptenter’s The Thing did with The Thing From Another World and the short story Who Goes There? Why are we remaking films that are already beloved by so many? It doesn’t even make sense, as the 1940 film STILL FUCKING HOLDS UP!!! Alfred Hitchcock paid attention to EVERYTHING in that movie. There is emphasis on the romance, there is emphasis on the mystery of Rebecca, there is emphasis on the tension where it needed to be. We cared about the characters and we cared what their ultimate fates were. I don’t want to watch a film where it’s trying to persuade me to take off my pants and start jerking off because of how great it looks. Go call Michael Bay, because I can’t be persuaded by that shit. Everything has to work in a movie, or at least almost everything, or nothing works. Nothing usually works when you try and re make a classic film…just ask (insert remake here).

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ALONE

ALONE is probably as generic as a generic horror/thriller film can get. It has a halfway decent white knuckle first thirty minutes, and then a decent last five minutes, but then the other hour in between is filled with characters making stupid decisions (we’ll get to the biggest blunder I’ve seen yet in 2020 in a bit), cliched run ins with other potential help, and a bunch of other plot conveniences you’ve seen in every horror/thriller film where a woman is kidnapped by a sadistic psychopath male. When do we get a movie that’s the other way around for once? IMDB describes Alone with the following: “A recently widowed traveler is kidnapped by a cold blooded killer, only to escape into the wilderness where she is forced to battle against the elements as her pursuer closes in on her.” Those elements the log line describes are a little bit of rain, a knocked down tree, a raging river of which the conclusion to is anti-climatic, and a stick in the foot. Not much of a battle if you ask me, especially when the traveler is constantly making dumb choices about what to do next after she escapes hand and foot. But don’t worry, the bad guy constantly makes worse decisions allowing for even more convenient plot contrivances. I’m writing this review to say that I need to stop the “I’m calling these the dumbest characters written in 2020” angle I have been doing recently in my reviews, because every subsequent, only okay to abysmal, film I watch keeps taking the trophy away from the other. Honest Thief this weekend took the trophy away from Amazon Prime’s The Lie, and now Alone ironically just stole it away from Honest Thief with the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen a kidnapper do in any movie about kidnapping ever. Don’t worry, I will spoil that moment because it would be a stupid decision on my part not to.

In fact, why don’t I just do it right now? So the killer kidnaps the woman and takes her to a cliched cabin in the middle of the woods (I can hear your cliched laughing) and has her locked in a room. He torments her once, giving us the only interesting character trait about this woman, in that she’s not only widowed but her husband killed himself for some unknown reason. When he closes the door and locks it…HE LEAVES THE FUCKING KEY IN THE KEYHOLE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR! She manages to get a nail out of a piece of wall in her room, takes an article of her clothing and shoves it halfway out the other side, pokes the key through the keyhole with the nail, the key falls onto her clothing and then she slides her piece of clothing back under with the key on top, and fucking escapes. Yes…did that sound just as dumb to you as it did to me while experiencing it with my own two eyes? I didn’t even fucking laugh even though it would’ve made me chuckle if played out the same way in a horror spoof movie. Alone asks you to take it seriously from the get go, but then it constantly slaps you in the face, making you feel dumb for doing so. She then proceeds to run into a dumb hunter willing to help her in the middle of the woods (you can probably guess how that plays out), phones are conveniently smashed and/or no/weak signal, and characters won’t shut their fucking mouths and keep giving away their locations. It’s absurd. I don’t know the writer or director, but needless to say, the screenplay needed some work, and the director should’ve waited to shoot the film until said work was done. The camera work is good, but its negated by the generic and stupid screenplay. The only good thing about this film is the beginning before she gets kidnapped, the final confrontation between kidnapper and victim and the acting all around from actor’s and actresses of who you would maybe recognize but not really care who they are after you got a look at them. If any of you watch this movie, I hope I am not alone in thinking how utterly stupid, boring and generic it was.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: CLOUDS (Disney+)

I’m surprised that with CLOUDS, Disney didn’t send a box of tissues to every Plus subscriber with the instructions on the box reading, “Open, then stick directly to face before pressing play.” Good lord that son of a bitch mouse has rarely tickled any of our balls to make us laugh until we cry but he sure has punched us in the gut a shit ton for the same effect. Here’s the good thing though with this movie, the acting and story EARNS those tears instead of going for forced and cliched feels that have tricked many a young millennial time and time again. Every studio is guilty of this, even Disney, but every studio is also capable and has made films that are worthy of your sobs. Like this one, as Clouds is easily Disney+’s best original film to date, not that it has had that much competition. But be forewarned, YOU WILL BE CRYING NIAGARA FALLS BY THE END OF THIS FILM. If you don’t, then you are probably a Trump supporter. IMDB describes Cloud, which is based on a real story, with the following log line, “Young musician Zach Sobiech discovers his cancer has spread, leaving him just a few months to live. With limited time, he follows his dream and makes an album, unaware that it will soon be a viral music phenomenon.” The movie doesn’t try to make you cry right off the bat, absolutely not, as that Zach knew the severity of his situation and just tried to live a normal life anyway. He also seemed to have a very earnest and winning personality, as he seemed to inspire a lot of people in regular life before he went viral. He wasn’t all ‘woe is me and give me attention’ because I’m in pain, he was inspired by the power of music, happened to just think up of a song, recorded it, uploaded it to YouTube, and his story just spread fast, in a good way.

And the acting in this movie reflects that greatly. You probably don’t know him, but actor Fin Argus is phenomenal here. He brings something to Zach that feels unique and genuine, which makes you root for his character to ultimately live even though you probably know the end fate. He isn’t the only great acting job here. Sabrina Carpenter, who plays his musical as well best friend, completely makes up for Netflix’s piece of cliched film Work It that came out a couple of months ago, and proves again why she was too good for Girl Meets World. Lil Rel Howery, who plays the TSA agent friend in Get Out tones down his Kevin Hart persona and brings some heartfelt personality to his inspirational teacher to Zach role. Tom Everett Scott, who was the go to good guy role in the mid 90s, gives us his best performance since That Thing You Do! Madison Iseman made up for the recent Welcome To Blumhouse Amazon Prime film Nocturne that came out earlier this week, playing the girlfriend with the heart of gold here. But the truly impressive performance here, is surprisingly Sydney Prescott herself, Neve Campbell, giving us her best performance ever, and completely shedding her horror ‘Scream’ Queen role. She plays Zach’s mother, and while the role could’ve ended up being very cliched and typical ‘mother’-esque from another actress, she transcends those preconceived character beats and makes the mother a different kind of sympathetic character. It’s hard to explain what I mean, but I guarantee you that by the end of this film that you won’t see an ounce of Sydney Prescott in her performance. GUARANTEE IT. The film is also based off of Zach’s mother’s book ‘Fly A Little Higher’ and I don’t think the person that wrote the screenplay, Kara Holden, or the person that directed it, Justin Baldoni, have done much else but they both did a pretty good job here, Holden trying to write past the cliches and giving the audience something that feels a little more real and inspirational, and Baldoni matching that script with filming fantastic performances. I loved a little moment in the movie where Sabrina Carpenter’s character reads a shitty comment that some asshole left on their YouTube video. Zach’s dialogue and response to it were perfect. Clouds is the perfect tearjerker right now that has nothing to do with COVID-19. Will probably even make you forget about it for two hours, and you’ll download the film’s song the title came from immediately afterward.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: A.P. BIO SEASON 3 (PEACOCK)

Prepare for a crap ton of reviews today because I am behind. First up is A.P. BIO SEASON 3, and the only reason I am reviewing these quick and funny eight episodes is because I signed up for a month of the new Peacock app for basically $1.99 after cash back, and my main goal is that I wanted to finish this series. Because I do not think it will be back for a Season 4. Not to say that it isn’t a good show, because it is, but because it isn’t a GREAT show. And it’s ratings weren’t that great in the first place. It’s a shame because I think the show was finally starting to find its groove, kind of like Seinfeld Season 2 and 3 back in the day. I wasn’t a fan of the show until about the last couple of episodes in season one and then the second half of season two (both seasons had 13 episodes each). Some people said that they like A.P. Bio more than they do It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (Glenn Howerton is in both series) and I took offense to that because there is NO GOD DAMN WAY this show is funnier than It’s Always Sunny. Just look at the statistics. It’s Always Sunny is going on to its fifteenth season, and A.P. Bio was at first cancelled but then the new and already failing Peacock app brought it back for an exclusive third. I was more offended by the fact that A.P. Bio Season 1 took away Glenn Howerton for a bit from It’s Always Sunny, resulting in Sunny’s worst season because the character of Dennis (my favorite) was barely in it. So when people tell me, A.P. Bio might not be funnier or better than It’s Always Sunny as a whole, it is better than several of It’s Always Sunny’s seasons…no shit Sherlock, it’s only better than the couple of seasons Glenn Howerton is almost nowhere to be found. Let’s get back to the basics though. I do not hate A.P. Bio, in fact, I do kind of like it, especially the latter half of Season 2 where they get Glenn Howerton’s character a cool and sweet girlfriend that has a satisfying story arc, and I really liked these eight new Season 3 episodes (except for a couple of minor nitpicks). In fact, I think these eight episodes were better than the entirety of Season 1 and first half of Season 2 combined.

What’s even more frustrating is that there was supposed to be 10 episodes this season but of course COVID-19 fucked everything up, and even though the show would end up leaving on a high note for me with the “Katie Holmes Day” fucking hilarious episode, I think the last 2 episodes could’ve expanded even more off that potential, and possibly those last two episodes could’ve made a great case for a season 4 to happen. I don’t have any insider information, but I do not think that they are going to be allowed to go and finish those other two episodes and I also think that with all the damn renewal reversals of television shows recently because of COVID-19 (like Netflix’s Glow), I think this will be on the new Peacock app’s chopping block, but don’t quote me on that, and I hope I’m wrong. If you live comfortably in your ignorant sports bubble, A.P. Bio is described by IMDB with the following: “A former philosophy professor who takes a job teaching AP biology, uses his students to get back at the people in his life who have wronged him.” Glenn Howerton plays that philosophy professor and he’s not quite Dennis because his character Jack actually learns lessons from his misdoings and has somewhat of a heart at the end of each episode. I thank God it’s not a retread of Sunny. What mostly didn’t work for most of the first season and some of the second for me was the sadistic, dry, revenge humor. Dry humor in general makes or breaks me. It’s got to be smart and it seemed like at the beginning of the show it was just juvenile and sloppily written. But again, that’s just me. I think, after watching these eight episodes, I should go back and give the first season and a half another try. It’s possible that I just warmed up to the humor and/or started reading in between the lines of the jokes and understanding them better. In essence, I’m saying that if you are a huge fan of A.P. Bio already, well, you are in for a treat for season 3, and if you are kind of lackluster on the series as a whole, since there are only about 34 half hour episodes total, I would encourage you to give it another shot.

I have also started warming up to all the other characters, mainly the students and Patton Oswalt. I do not really much care for, and still don’t, for the three other main women teacher’s that Howerton interacts with and I really still don’t care for and actually kind of hate Paula Pell’s character, the principal’s assistant, Helen. The three other main women teacher’s seem like they have nothing to fucking do and while I laughed at their shenanigans the very final episode of Season 3, which deals with a 55 inch big screen television donation mix up, I thought they have been completely useless time wasters the other 33 episodes. I thank God Paula Pell’s cliffhanger story arc at the end of season two was resolved quickly in the first episode of season three, because if she would’ve been in the class with Howerton and the other students the entirety of these eight new episodes I would’ve gouged my fucking eyes out. She is so fucking annoying and unfunny to me. I think the show knew that they couldn’t have her there that long too and works better with Patton Oswalt’s character, so even though they probably at first meant for her to join Howerton’s classroom for the long haul, they just couldn’t come up with enough material for it to stay that way. The kids’ personalities, while dull in Season 1, picked up great in Season 2, and were just starting to become masterful in Season Three for me, especially Heather, who is played to perfection by Allisyn Snyder. The show’s highlights are definitely whenever Jack interacts with them and whose adventures co-align with theirs. Jack and Heather have one of the series best episodes when they try and outsmart a writer, played by Jon Lovitz, that is getting Jack to ghost write one of his big so that Jack’s book can get published. Whenever Jack and the kids are together, that’s when the show is pure magic.

So let me get quickly to my very minor complaints before I wrap this review up, because it’s getting a little too long. The season three finale doesn’t feel like a finale, even though it is a hilarious episode, but we can blame our buttfucking government and China’s buttfucking government for the way they handled COVID-19 for that. Paula Pell’s character is still so fucking annoying and stupid that she seemed even more annoying and stupid this season because I think she had more screen time than she’s ever had here. I don’t know why I hate her character so much, don’t ask. And then Jack’s love interest, Lynette, first introduced in Season Two and who completely stole that season out from everyone, is barely in this season. Her quirky yet down to Earth personality matched very well with Howerton’s, and their ‘will they are won’t they’ arc in the second season was some of the best romantic half hours of television in 2018/2019. She is in about half of these episodes but those appearances are a bit fleeting. I don’t know whether actress Elizabeth Alderfer wasn’t available or not, but it was disappointing that she didn’t partake in it more. I can only be happy with the fact that the writers didn’t just take the easy way out and have her break up with Jack, but that they are still happy and are still together and she’s just off doing other things. Maybe if we get a Season 4 we can get her in it more. The show is created by Mike O’Brien, who was a featured player on Saturday Night Live for a bit, and I couldn’t stand his humor on that series…whose humor was more miss than hit anyway. While it was just his SNL dry schlock in the first season and a half, I feel like it has transformed into something more…something smarter, and if the series would be given the green light with more seasons, I think it could end up schooling me in what a great television comedy could be.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE OUTPOST

It’s pretty easy to declare THE OUTPOST as the best direct to demand action war film ever made, but I’ll go one further: this is probably my favorite since either American Sniper or Black Hawk Down. The main question I post to the filmmakers and studio behind it…how the hell did this not get a theatrical debut? And I do understand COVID-19 and all that mess but in doing my research I think this was always meant to be straight to demand. Then my second guess of an answer would be that there aren’t too many recognizable faces in this, and the main one that is isn’t in the film too long. Director Rod Lurie needs to flex his muscles, get out of his mostly television work, and maybe take on some big budget action films because some of the shots, especially the one take shots, and action in this movie are mesmerizing. IMDB describes the movie with the following: “A small team of U.S. soldiers battle against hundreds of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.” To explain it a little bit better in my own words, The Outpost tells the gripping real story of Camp Keating, which was one of several outposts placed to control the Taliban movement and their supply chain during the war in Afghanistan. The camp was situated in a valley surrounded by mountains, and for the 400 Taliban that rallied for a surprise attack that takes place during the entire last hour of this two hour film, for them it seemed like it was shooting fish in a barrel. It was up to these soldiers to leverage their poor defenses, lack of ammo and manpower they had, to ultimately survive and go back to their loved ones. The film is a fantastic tribute to military heroes, even if one of my complaints about the film is that you don’t really get to know them specifically and only catch fleeting glimpses of personalities. This movie is a direct to demand technical feat.

If you are a war film buff, this is essential viewing. You may be wondering what the hell I’m talking about with the first hour, as it showed what military life was like at Camp Keating, stories that have been depicted many times before in other war films and do it with about the same level of authenticity, but when you get to that hour mark, hold on to your butts, because you are in for a non stop action packed ride the all the way to the end credits. I would say to see this in a theater, but since you technically can’t, try to see this on the biggest screen you can with the best sound, possibly someone that has a nice movie theater living room. The movie stars Scott Eastwood, Caleb Landry Jones, and Orlando Bloom and they all do an adequate jobs, even though the former just acts like the tough guy he’s been in all of his previous films, the latter is barely even in the film to really critique his performance, and Landry Jones plays the cliched scared guy out of his element, working up the courage to show what he’s really made of. While most of the camera work is masterful, there are one or two shots that gave away that something really bad was about to happen, would’ve rather it been more subtle for more shock value. But you aren’t here to read my nit picky hard critiques I judge films for, you just want to know if the action in this war film is worth your time. Abso-fucking-lutely. The last hour of this film is a sight to behold and is worth the cliched military life hour set up, and even though the lingo and dialogue seems legit, like I said, it’s just been done a little too many times before for me to get into it. That last hour man…DO. NOT. WATCH. THIS. MOVIE. ON. YOUR. FUCKING. PHONE. It is currently on Netflix if you have the service and don’t want to pony up the dough to rent it. But I’d say a rental is worth it. In fact I could see me revisiting this specific outpost in the future and constantly point to it when someone is in the mood for a good war film that they haven’t seen before, especially one this adequately made for direct to streaming.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: EVIL EYE (Amazon Prime)

Well, we have come to the end of the first month of 4 “Welcome To The Blumhouse” films exclusively for Amazon Prime, and to be honest, each one was worse than the last. Enough where I’m going to do something rare at the end of this review and give them all letter grades. Just cheap mass produced potato chips that we’ve tasted all before. Not stale, such as Blumhouse’s Into The Dark Hulu exclusive movies, but a taste we start to get bored and tired of quickly after only a few chips. EVIL EYE is easily the worst because just like Nocturne, it is a rip off of another movie. Namely, it’s a spiritual, supernatural, reincarnation, Indian male rip off of Fatal Attraction. Not only that, but the two lead female protagonists talk on the phone and think it is ‘acting’ for over half the short 90 minute run time and then only have two scenes physically together at the end where we are supposed to care what happens to them due to said phone conversations, especially because they are mother and daughter. Due to the cheapness of the film I doubt that those two actresses were really talking to each other and their scenes were of course filmed separately, causing me not to get invested in them. And yes, I know that there is a pretty good screenplay reason for why they only talk on the phone, the daughter lives in the States and the mother lives somewhere in India, but what the movie needed to do was have all the actors and actresses near the same location, I don’t care where, it just needed to happen. That way there could’ve been more physically there scenes with both the protagonists and the male antagonist, where more tension would’ve been built, more suspense, which would’ve made me invested in not only the story, but everything about it.

I guess you could say that my evil ‘film’ eye was being too harsh on the film and my attention waned. IMDB describes Evil Eye with the following: “A superstitious mother is convinced that her daughter’s new boyfriend is the reincarnation of a man who tried to kill her 30 years ago.” What the movie fails at considerably is the execution of whether or not said new boyfriend of the daughter is really the reincarnation of the mother’s abusive ex-fiancee. Kind of spoiler alert, but you know that he really is, because if he wasn’t, there wouldn’t be a fucking movie. The story then goes about the cliched route of everybody thinking that the mother is crazy and that she should see a doctor to get her paranoia and superstitious nature put to rest. And of course, just as she agrees to get help, is when the “big reveal” happens. Now I liked the reveal/revelation, especially what happens right after the mother likes a picture on her daughter’s Instagram before she discovers the half way decent McGuffin object in the photo. The reason why I wasn’t into what was happening when the movie wanted me to be is that all the mother’s interactions with the daughter and the antagonist fiancee were over the phone (and only one brief use of a split screen), and all those moments, all that dialogue and ‘acting’, which again, were half the movies run time, felt “phoned in.” Yes, pun intended.

When the mother, played by Sarita Choudhury, was off the phone and talking to her husband or others, her acting was quite solid, especially when she seemed to be going off the rails mentally and didn’t have a phone to her ear. The daughter, Sunita Mani, less so, as she seemed just a little too ignorant for what was happening all around her. And you just know there is going to be a scene where the daughter finds out who her fiancee really is, but the way it is handled is kind of awkward, as the male antagonist was very careful and precise up until then, and his slip ups to his discovery ended up feeling forced and a bit out of character. The movie is extremely predictable, chunks of dialogue from screenplay writer Madhuri Shekar, who hasn’t done much else (this movie was based off an Audible original, it probably should’ve been kept that way), felt clunky and inauthentic (especially the parts over the phone) and there was no visual flair from directors Elan Dassani and Rajeev Dassani, who I’m not familiar with either, as they have mostly done shorts. It felt like it should’ve been a Blumhouse Lifetime movie, not something exclusive to prime. It all felt fake. I also think I’m being extra super hard on this movie because Netflix already tried to rip off and do a reverse gender and race Fatal Attraction earlier this year with Fatal Affair, which currently is in my top twenty worst of the year list. This movie is much better than that one, due to that the movie did have something to say about Indian culture, love and marriage expectations, and what the ‘evil eye’ is to their people, but it was still disappointing because even with those factors, it was just another beat by beat rip off of other and better movies with no sense of unique style. I don’t know if my eye will be able to take more “Welcome To The Blumhouse” movies in the near future…will have to probably wait and see what other eyes think of them first before proceeding to give them a chance.

Amazon Prime’s “Blumhouse Presents” Film Ratings:

  1. The Lie: C+
  2. Black Box: C
  3. Nocturne: C-
  4. Evil Eye: D+