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

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

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

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

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

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

POSITIVES

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grades for Both Films:

Space Jam – A New Legacy: 3 out of 10

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

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE PRINCESS SWITCH: SWITCHED AGAIN (Netflix)

Were they even trying with the sequel title or is it supposed to be an homage to Die Hard 2: Die Harder? Doesn’t matter. I’m just going to be blunt, THE PRINCESS SWITCH: SWITCHED AGAIN aka The Princess Switch 2 suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccccckkkssss. Awful. Abysmal. About a billion lazy story/script choices, the fake CGI snow is fucking distracting, Vanessa Hudgens new 3rd character is on the spectrum bad, and many other nitpicks that would make this review about 5 pages long. Not going to do that. This movie doesn’t deserve to be talked about that much. This is one of the most unnecessary sequels of all time and nobody involved in this movie is trying to hide that this was a blatant greedy cash grab. I never reviewed the first movie on this Word Press blog, and while it wasn’t the greatest little take on The Prince and the Pauper story that I’ve seen, it was cute enough and serviceable, mainly because of Vanessa Hudgens performance. When she plays wholesome characters, her acting shines…and that’s mainly because she isn’t so wholesome in real life…just look at her almost NSFW social media pages…especially Instagram. Also do you remember earlier this year when COVID-19 started spreading and killing people? Do you remember that she was caught on an Instagram story saying, “well like…people die, ya know?” and a bunch of other questionable comments about the state of the world at that time? I ‘member. But this critique is not going to go into how much of an attention whore, sleazy sexual person and kind of dummy that Ms. Hudgens (and her sister Stella) seem to be in real life, this critique is all about this abomination of a sequel that she got a producer credit on, because “Look at me! I funded money to a project! Look at me! LOOK AT MY GOD DAMN NAME IN THE CREDITS BECAUSE I WANT GOD DAMN CREDIT AND ATTENTION!!!”

IMDB describes the movie with the following: “When Duchess Margaret unexpectedly inherits the throne to Montenaro and hits a rough patch with Kevin, it’s up to her double Stacy to save the day before a new lookalike, party girl Fiona foils their plans.” To take that into context, let’s go ahead and see what IMDB described the first movie as, since I never reviewed it: “Competing in a Christmas baking competition in Belgravia, a Chicago baker bumps into the prince’s fiancée–who looks just like her. They switch lives for two days.” As you can tell, this stretches the Prince and the Pauper story line past the point of it being coherent anymore. I get sequel prospects but did we really need Hudgens getting more money to play a third character, one that I have a feeling acts like she does in real life? The only thing nice I have to say about it is that the shots of two or all three Hudgens in the same frame were decent. And the set decoration is nice. But really? They couldn’t get a fucking snow machine for the outside shots and instead every fucking flake of God forsaken snow is CGI, with barely any of it actually hitting said actors on screen and if a flake happens to “land” on one of the characters, it slowly CGI melts off? Come on, that’s just lazy bullshit film making. Hudgens is a producer now, make her cough up the extra cash for a physical snow maker. Other than Hudgens, who does actually seem to be trying and seems like she wants to be there, (I’ll even give her props for having a dialect coach on set every step of the way to help her with her accents, which are considerably better and less cringe worthy than the first film) every other actor/actress looks like they want to kill themselves for being in this sequel, or they don’t care and over act to just get the shit over with and grab a paycheck at the end.

And then we come to my biggest nit pick with the whole movie: the screenwriters didn’t have anything for the Prince, that ends up marrying Stacy at the end of the first movie, to do so they blatantly don’t tell his character about the new switch for three reasons:

  1. If they told him the switch was going to happen, the rest of the dumb movie probably wouldn’t have happened. THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NO LOGICAL REASON NOT TO TELL HIM!
  2. They needed more scenes of the Prince’s character, and the little girl Olivia character (Kevin’s daughter) because the actor and actress were probably paid a good sum of money for the sequel and they didn’t want to waste the both of them. (Olivia knows about the switch but this little girl is tasked to make sure that this PRINCE OF AN ENTIRE FUCKING COUNTRY doesn’t find out. How does he just travel with her with no God damn body guards, does that even make a lick of fucking sense?)
  3. To reiterate 1st reason: BECAUSE MOVIE NEEDED TO HAPPEN.

Speaking of Olivia, the young actress from the first movie was replaced even though the movie takes place two years after the events of the first movie and the first movie is only two years old. There couldn’t have been an aging concern then, so I’m guessing the original young actress knew what a stinker this one was going to be and hi-tailed it out of there. Smart move kid. The plot of this movie is unnecessary, boring, and stupid. The climax and outcome is unnecessary, boring, and stupid. And the 3rd character that Hudgens plays is unnecessary, boring, and stupid. I mean, need I say more? My recommendation is that if you’ve watched the first movie, do not even think about giving this piece of shit a try, instead, switch gears and maybe pick up a book and read The Prince and the Pauper. Your brain will thank you for it.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MIDNIGHT AT THE MAGNOLIA (Netflix)

Why did I watch MIDNIGHT AT THE MAGNOLIA? Mainly because my last several reviews have been Christmas/Holiday related, I thought it would be cool to post a bunch of new holiday themed movie reviews in a row, and I needed a quick break from my re-binge of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (of which I’m about to be on the 6th season’s very special Christmas episode). Also, Natalie Hall is the main female lead in this and while almost everything I’ve seen her in she’s only had bit parts, I have always found her extremely beautiful. So I thought, “what the fuck, why not?” “Well, how was it, you ask? If I was in ANY other type of mood, I would rip it a new mistletoe. However, since I went in expecting predictable Christmas-y, New Years-y, romantic schlock, it was serviceable. A lot of people that eat up shit like this that don’t know any better will love this film to death. To warn you all meticulously, this is only about half a notch from being a Lifetime TV Holiday movie of the week. A half a notch, so that’s why it is on Netflix, HAHA! Technically since it is a 2020 movie, presto, here is my review of it. If watching a romantic film like this is your thing, where ALL of the acting is over exaggerated and toeing the line of over the top overacting, you can predict what the ending will be minute five, the whole thing looks like it was shot on a $50,000 budget, but it ends up having a sweet message and a good heart, well you are in for a festive treat. But if you are a film Grinch like me, stay far far away unless you had one of those “random boring moods” such as I described above. Per IMDB, it describes Midnight At The Magnolia with the following: “Longtime friends and local radio hosts Maggie and Jack fake it as a couple for their families and listeners from the day after Christmas till New Year’s in hopes of getting their show syndicated.”

 Yes, some of you probably groaned as I did when you read two of those words. A boy and a girl “longtime friends”? There is no way that this happens. There is no way that two people like that in the real world haven’t accidentally had a night of regrettable but hot fucking by mistake. Especially when they have known each other since they were little. You can’t tell me that there wasn’t an intentional boob or penis graze and a drunken tryst of making out a couple of times. The most believable thing in this movie is that the two are radio hosts. Lead actors Natalie Hall and Evan Williams have the voices for radio and the camaraderie friendship depicted in the movie necessary for a real gig like that, where you end up wondering why those two don’t just maybe give up their day jobs and go into that profession. The acting is decent for what it is. Both Williams and Hall and all the other supporting characters match each other in terms of just how close to the ”over-the-top” line of overacting they can get without completely crossing it. And both Williams and Hall have a couple of scenes where they show that they are better than the material that is being written for them. I would’ve rather watched a movie of the two of them hosting their radio morning show for an hour and 27 minutes (the length of the movie). Alas, it was not meant to be. BUT…the movie is upbeat, quick, and moves at an entertaining pace, there is some silly banter between characters that worked. Evan Williams twisted some of the dialogue to work better and added some funny facial expressions to make the part his own, which is always appreciated. I believed in their friendship, even with over 75% of it being very clunky dialogue. Also, even with the short run time, I believed in them eventually falling in love. If you just got mad because I spoiled the movie for you, that’s your problem, and you are a dumbass if you thought it would’ve ended any differently. It has a 6.1 rating on IMDB from 951 reviews, which is not half bad for that website. It just goes to show you, sometimes I can stick my opinions up my own chimney. (PSSST…if you didn’t get that metaphor, by ‘chimney’ I meant my asshole.

Zach’s Zany SPECIAL Reviews: THE LEGO STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL (Disney+)

Obviously the first thing I did after watching Disney+’s THE LEGO STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL was search the net to see if Lucasfilm would consider this special canon. Well, apparently anything that is an officially licensed product, i.e. Lego, is NOT considered canon, although some of the ideas represented in them could become canon down the line as long as they are not in this kind of format. It is and it isn’t a bit of a let down, considering this special takes place AFTER the events of The Rise Of Skywalker, the last film in the franchise and the last established Star Wars linear timeline, and starts with Rey training Finn to become a Jedi. The filmmakers are kind of ‘wink-winking’ to the audience, them knowing we were sort of let down by Rise as a whole, and them trying to wrap up that stupid side plot of Finn never finishing his sentence of, “Rey, I’ve always wanted to tell you…” before he thought they were going to die in that sand pit. They took John Boyega’s answer of, “Well, J.J. told me he was going to tell Rey that he was Force Sensitive, it just never took fruition in the movie,” and made it come true (personally I think they should’ve had a Rey/Finn romance that was hinted at in The Force Awakens, but whatever). Whoa, I’ve gotten way off track, but that’s the Star Wars canon nerd in me. This special is basically the same as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, where a bunch of time traveling shenanigans happen but in the end no event in the Star Wars timeline has ultimately been changed. So it could be goofy canon I guess. IMDB describes it with the following, “Rey leaves her friends to prepare for Life Day as she sets off on an adventure to gain a deeper knowledge of the Force. At a mysterious temple, she is hurled into a cross-timeline adventure. Will she make it back in time for Life Day?” But overall, it’s just supposed to be a fun and funny little adventure that pokes fun at some of the most eye-rolling scenes in the franchise, and with that in mind, it exceeds expectations.

If you take it in as canon, you will be disappointed. And even though I did enjoy this special, I was a bit disappointed that they couldn’t REALLY make up for that shitty Star Wars Special in the 70s and get the new cast together for one last mini-canonical adventure (written by The Mandalorian’s Jon Favreau of course), but who am I kidding? That new cast is DONE right now with Star Wars, and I don’t blame them, after 5 years of toxic fan harassment, I would be too. But this Lego special suffices. It’s a nice and tight 45 minutes with no filler, excellent pacing, fun scenarios, with a sweet and kind message, something we need right now for sure. The only people from the new cast to come back were Billy Dee Williams as Lando and Kelly Marie Tran as Rose (the latter they asked back probably as the first part of Disney’s two part apology of how her character was handled in Rise of Skywalker, the 2nd part being making Tran the lead voice actor in next years Raya and the Last Dragon). Even with a handful of people coming back to voice their animated counterparts, they still only have a handful of lines and do nothing worth writing home about save for a Lando cape/It’s A Trap zinger. The other voice actors they pick and chose from people that were both in the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series and all the voice acting works for what it is. This is just a goofy, action packed, joke a minute special that is trying to make up for the shitty 70’s one that George Lucas had no involvement in that was also about their universe celebration known as Life Day. It also tries to make up a little bit the mild disappointment a lot of us had the way J.J. Abrams and writer Chris Terrio ended the saga. But here’s the rub, I think even George Lucas would approve of this one and wouldn’t even both trying to destroy every copy of it that exists out there.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: JINGLE JANGLE – A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY (Netflix)

Move over Christmas Chronicles, Netflix now has a new (and better) Christmas movie for families to watch together every year, JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY. I doubt that the Christmas Chronicles sequel, which releases next week, will over take this one for me, considering that the first movie is…only okay….sorry Kurt Russell. And if you have a problem with me saying that this is a ‘Christmas’ movie and not using the word ‘holiday’…well, not to mince words, but you can shove it up your butt hurt triggered 2020 asshole chimney. While the movie is shot, cinematography wise, like a television movie, and my wife and I discussed mid way through how this could easily be turned into a Broadway stage play in the future, the rest of the production is top notch. It has a wonderful production design, half way decent CGI for what it is, the musical song and dance numbers were fun and memorable, none of the actors phoned it in, including one of Forest Whitaker’s best performances in quite awhile…it has the Christmas works. Per IMDB, it describes Jingle Jangle with the following: “An imaginary world comes to life in a holiday tale of an eccentric toymaker, his adventurous granddaughter, and a magical invention that has the power to change their lives forever.” While the story ends up being a bit familiar (you know, the whole love, loss, redemption one audiences has seen a thousand times), and I would also say the movie is about 15 minutes too long (it’s a heavy 2 hrs and 2 minutes), the rest of the film was joyfully jolly and jovial enough to forgive it’s trespasses and go along with it for the rest of its wonderful journey.

Forest Whitaker is first billed here, and I’m glad that he wasn’t just playing himself in this one, as his character has some quirks to be kinked out, and his performance here earned the believability of his redemption arc. But he is not the true star of the show. That would be newcomer Madalen Mills, who plays his grandaughter, Journey. If it wasn’t for her pure of heart and delightful performance, Jingle Jangle simply couldn’t be what it ultimately is: very lovely. Ricky Martin voices a cute yet suspicious little CGI figurine come to life, whose MacGuffin-ness I dare not spoil here. There is a cute robot named Buddy 3000 that shows up halfway through the film that people are calling the next ‘Baby Yoda’, and although it is cute and made me smile, I think anyone who says that it is in the same ballpark of cultural impact that the new Star Wars character has, is just kidding themselves. The one actor that I felt got short changed in this movie is the other half of Key & Peele, the one that hasn’t won an Oscar, Keegan-Michael Key. He plays a wonderful little villain and has some great chops and can dance spectacularly with the choreography given, but other than his first big musical song and dance number, he isn’t in the film all that much. The climax of his character in the climax of the film is a bit anti-climatic as well, and although the movie had a bunch of very early set ups that were paid off during this scene, it just felt like Mr. Key was shortchanged a bit with his role. But maybe this could be an audition for bigger things for him. I hope it is. Anyway, if you want a decent streaming new Christmas movie because you won’t go to the theater and you’re are finally tired of watching the same Christmas stuff because the walls are finally starting to cave in on your 2020 bubble, Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is here to blow some air into it to keep it from completely collapsing.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HIS HOUSE (Netflix)

HIS HOUSE is an expertly made decent one time watch new original horror/thriller from Netflix. Possibly their best unless someone can name another? One of their highest rated ones on Rotten Tomatoes too. IMDB describes the film with the following: “A refugee couple makes a harrowing escape from war-torn South Sudan, but then they struggle to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.” In essence, it’s a haunted house movie and said house is filled with the “demons” of their past. Not that we haven’t seen something like that before, but the movie makes it fresh with the refugee angle and the mythology folklore story from their culture. Writer/director Remi Weekes captures the effective and earned jump scares with veteran precision, making it seem like he’s been in the business for years when this is actually his first full length feature. It doesn’t really star anyone you know, unless you are a Doctor Who fan, and even then, Matt Smith maybe has less than ten minutes of screen time in its nice and tight hour and thirty three minute runtime. The acting is solid, the movie has some twists and turns that I didn’t quite see coming, and I jumped on my couch quite a bit from whenever the movie switched to “scare ya mode.” So why am I not singing its praises? Probably because the film didn’t quite earn the character arcs of the refugee couple for me.

And that’s probably because they didn’t show much of their war-torn South Sudan plight. With the tight yet short run time, the movie only shows one desperate live or die situation to convey their hardship, and that’s right before their escape. With all that, it was hard for me to invest in their emotions and plight when the place they are in starts to haunt the shit out of them. Which in turn took away from the big reveal near the end, and so on and so forth. Hard to explain without spoilers, but when the emotional climax finally comes to pass, I uttered, “oh that’s interesting” when I should’ve been, “OHHHHHHH damn, now that’s an ending!” The ending is satisfying, but if another, say, twenty minutes would’ve been added onto the movie, with more of their daily life struggles in South Sudan, maybe even showing some of their early life, His House would’ve been quite masterful. But this a bad film by any means, it’s just not a repeat view for me, because I got everything I needed to get out of it when I watched it on Halloween night. I completely recommend His House, because even though I wanted more, it might be enough for you to invest more into it, especially when the scares are quite great, with an ending that fits with the rest of the film, even if the rest of the film needed to have more meat on its bones. This is a perfect little horror film for direct to streaming, especially when most of them have been overrated this pandemic year, such as Relic. Or ones that hit theaters earlier this year before COVID, such as The Grudge, that ended up being complete and utter shit. Or ones that were supposed to have hit theaters but ended up getting sent straight to streaming, such as You Should Have Left, that were disappointingly dull. Coincidental that those three I just listed are basically all haunted house movies, wouldn’t you say? His House, his unique rules.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HOLIDATE (Netflix)

HOLIDATE is only serviceable because of its R rating. If anybody were to ask you what movies would have been complete shit if not for its R rating and crude humor, you could point to Holidate without any hesitation whatsoever. I can’t imagine this film being Emma Roberts’ Valentine’s Day PG-13…or even Vanessa Hudgens’ Netflix PG rated The Princess Switch, or Vanessa Hudgens’ Netflix PG rated The Knight Before Christmas…or Vanessa Hudgens’ Netflix PG rated upcoming The Princess Switch: Switched Again. Don’t worry, Vanessa Hudgens is not in this, but Emma Roberts is, and is probably the most likable she’s ever been in a film for me…well, except for most of Scream 4…sorry, I’m just randomly stating shit. I was totally ready for my first line of this review to be “gag me with a shit covered spoon” but I’m coming out saying “eh, I’d watch it again if someone put it on.” IMDB describes Holidate with the following: “Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) hate being single on holidays where they face constant judgment from their meddling families. So, when these two strangers meet, they pledge to be each other’s “holidate” for every festive occasion in the year ahead.” Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand you can probably guess how it ends. At least the movie had the balls to make fun of itself knowing how it was going to end. Holidate is the perfect movie for adult couples during these shitty pandemic holidays, but only perfect if you watch it together, like I did with my wife. If you watch it by yourself, you may pick at the pine needles so much that they will fall off fast from your tree of enjoyment.

Despite the rom-com wholesome title, this movie is far from family friendly. There is a shit ton of language, crude humor, and the only thing missing was full on nudity. The movie works because of Emma Roberts and NOT A HEMSWORTH Luke Bracey’s chemistry in the movie. They are fantastic together, making you want to shake the hand of the casting director. The movie also felt more authentic as a gross out romantic comedy with a woman’s voice because the movie was actually written by a woman! Much more realistic than the constant crude humor and profanity coming out of the actresses mouths in the recent American Pie: Girls’ Rules, which was written by two men. The directing could’ve used some work and the budget could’ve been given more umph, as the most impressive set designs and shots consisted of the interior of a mall for a couple of scenes, but the dialogue, jokes, and acting were impressive for a movie in its genre. The movie made me laugh the hardest with the most simplistic gross out joke, which I’m just going to say the line here. To give it some context: Emma Roberts comes upon her ex near the beginning of the movie, with his new girlfriend in tow. He mentions how him and Roberts used to be lovers and the new girlfriend proceeds with saying: “How lucky are you?! Isn’t he great in bed?! He’s like The Terminator only I’m the one that keeps on coming!” I rewound just to hear the joke again and the perfect line delivery by actress Nicola Peltz. Let’s wrap this up like a Christmas present shall we? Other than a few pacing and awkward moments near the end of the movie, I enjoyed it for what it was, more so because I watched it with my wife. It’s the perfect little Holiday one hour and 43 minute getaway treat from the shitty real world. And that’s far from a lump of coal that 2020 has given us every fucking day since March.

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.

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.