Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: GREENLAND

GREENLAND, a movie that was supposed to release in theaters just several weeks after Tenet in the United States back in September, ended up being pulled because of Tenet’s poor box office performance in this country. Instead, it going to be available to rent for $19.99 Premium Video On Demand on December 18th, with it hitting HBO Max for free several months later at the beginning of Spring 2021. I’m here to tell you that if you are really interested in this movie, and have HBO Max, to just wait it out. Don’t spend $19.99 on this for 48 hrs, don’t buy it, either wait for HBO Max or get one of your tech friends to download it so you can somehow watch it for free. Disaster and survival movies haven’t been the same since the 90s. Films like 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, and this either try to be too serious or end up being too cheesy, and never sustain the balance of both tones that movies like the first Independence Day, Deep Impact, Titanic, Dante’s Peak, Daylight, Volcano, Hard Rain, Twister or Armageddon did back in the day. Greenland is the former. It is way too depressingly serious, and is basically a 2 hour survival movie with it’s main message that says, in the end, no matter who is running the government, they are all probably a bunch of uncaring, devious, and unsympathetic assholes. I don’t want to ruin any of the decisions/actions that our government makes when they realize a giant ass comet that was thought to just closely pass us by instead decides to drop in for a more permanent visit, but needless to say, in the state of the world we are in, I thought, “yep, seems about right.” Disaster movies are supposed to be fun little escapes for a couple of hours time, not depressing tales that hit too close to home that still manage to use too many eye rolling cliches that have already been done before. Of course Gerard Butler’s kid in the movie has diabetes!

IMDB describes this movie quite simply, it’s a simple disaster movie: “A family struggles for survival in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster.” Nothing more, nothing less, other than showing us how shitty people can be when the chips are down. The acting’s not the problem. Gerard Butler plays the strong everyday family man well like he has in a bunch of other movies. Morena Beccarin has unfortunately been typecast as the damsel and/or mom in distress, and she’s solid as she’s been playing the same role all these years. The problem isn’t even the special effects. The extinction level event depicted in the film is realistic and when the spaced out comet hitting ground action does occur, it’s draw dropping and realistic (even though that the way it keeps happening to just this family you’ll have to really suspend your belief). Which brings us to my problem with the film. It is too deadly serious. That would be okay if it was ORIGINAL, while being too deadly serious. But disaster movie cliches piled on even more disaster movie cliches took me out of the film every five minutes. Whether it was using Butler’s son’s diabetes and insulin numerous eye rolling times just to move the plot forward to genuine nice good samaritans that suddenly become as evil as Hitler to that one old family member that is content with dying in a few short hours to other civilians doing stupid shit to stop the main characters from getting to certain destinations, nothing original happens. Except for the ways our government would end up handling a crisis like this. That’s not to say that this is a bad movie. It’s watchable and entertaining at points, and the destruction of some parts of the world were a bewildering sight to see. It just added nothing new, and the cliched stuff that was there kept taking me out of the movie. It’s just okay, and if that just okay with you, then Greenland is your comet ride away from our Earth for two hours.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BAD THERAPY

What is this movie? Seriously, I think it’s supposed to be a dark comedy, but there are no comedic elements in sight. I thought BAD THERAPY was going to be something like Bad Moms, Bad Santa, Bad Words, Bad Teacher, or Bad News Bears, movies which actually do pull off the dark comedic aspects correctly, albeit some better than others. However, I wouldn’t put this movie near the same ballpark as those others. Seriously, what…is this movie? It’s dour, dark, and doesn’t balance it’s supposed tone very well at all, in fact it’s close to abysmal if not for some recognizable names in the cast including a decent lead performance from Alicia Silverstone, which needed to be in another movie. Other’s include The Unicorn’s Rob Corddry and Michaela Watkins, playing Silverstone’s husband and their marriage counselor/therapist respectively, and while Corrdry and Watkins give decent performances as well, I feel like they could’ve been great if the script and story wasn’t a giant pile of shit. IMDB lists Bad Therapy as a comedic romance drama and describes the film with the following: “A couple seeks out Judy Small, a marriage counselor; but the counselor is more than what meets the eye.” All you need to know is that this movie is not a comedy, not a romance, not a drama. It’s just…there? The marriage counselor/therapist is a nut job herself and tries to further push the couple’s marriage into ruin. And no, there isn’t some surprise ending where the therapist turns out she knows what she’s doing and the craziness was all an act, like the movie Anger Management had. And there are no redeeming qualities about her by the film’s end, like movies such as Bad Words and Bad Santa had. It’s just a mean, ugly, unfocused movie that has no identity and goes absolutely nowhere.

The only time I laughed in this movie was when the thirteen year old teenage girl that plays Silverstone’s daughter got high with her friend and got caught, and that scene lasts about ninety seconds in this hour and forty seven minute slog of a watch. At times I was asking myself whether I was supposed to laugh, to feel drama, to feel tension, to feel concerned for the characters, and/or to hope the entire thing would get better, and the answer was a hard no each time. There are constant scenes that we don’t see that get told by explanatory dialogue a scene or two afterwards…why not just film those scenes or let us see what is going on before those abrupt cutaways. It made no sense, and I understand that some cutaways are meant to make sense in context of what’s going on, but this movie had no context, so therefore, it doesn’t make sense. Especially a scene where Silverstone’s daughter comes home and discovers something she’s not meant to see. For comedic and/or shocking effect, why didn’t the audience see what she saw? If it was too sexually explicit (which it turns out it wasn’t that bad), there are ways to frame a scene to make something look like something is going on without showing it. If you are dumb enough to watch this movie after my critique, you’ll see what I mean. There are also some supporting characters that have a story somewhere in this movie, but we don’t see their stories plaid out, they are just yelled out to other characters when the movie is almost over. And the climax of the film is pretty fucking stupid too. Characters do desperate things for no rhyme or reason other to say that they are stupid and/or crazy. Stuff happens just to happen because movie. Yes, you read that sentence correctly. It would be too easy of a pun job to end this review just by saying Bad Therapy is a bad movie. Way too easy. I’ll make it a bit zanier and say that if this script had went to a script doctor before it was taken to camera, the script doctor would’ve placed said script on his couch and then burned both until they were a pile of ashes.

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: LOVE AND MONSTERS

LOVE AND MONSTERS was just the fun, smarter than it looks, adventurous action flick that I needed this shitty year. It has wonderful creature design and special effects, a new and unique reason why the world turned into an apocalyptic landscape that felt refreshing the entire one hour and 50 minute runtime, sympathetic and likable characters, a fantastic performance by NOT Logan Lerman, but Maze Runner’s Dylan O’ Brien…just the works. It has the works, I don’t know what else to say about it other than this one complaint. And it’s the stupidest complaint in the world. Why in the fuck…are you available to buy the film from Amazon, Google, or Apple for $24.99 or you can rent it for $19.99, and you can only rent it on VUDU and FandangoNow for $19.99 and not buy? Why? Why the exclusivity bullshit in being able to purchase the film? Streaming services, DO NOT START THIS! Either you all offer just rent or you all offer rent and buy, this picking and choosing what services get what is the stupidest fucking thing to do to your customers in the middle of a fucking pandemic. Makes me sick to my stomach. I wanted to blind buy this film but I wanted it on the streaming app that I have the most movies on, which is VUDU. So you know what? Fuck you, I got a friend to pirate it so I could watch it for free. Granted, I loved this movie so much that I’m going to buy it in a couple of months when you guys finally get the nerve to get the regular purchasing rights, but what I had to do this weekend could’ve been avoided. Not offering both the option to rent or buy is going to really effect your sales numbers in the long run. Might want to think about that. Anyway, that is my only complaint about this movie and it isn’t of the content in the movie itself. That’s saying something.

IMDB describes Love and Monsters with the following: “In a monster-infested world, Joel (Dylan O’Brien) learns his girlfriend is just 80 miles away. To make the dangerous journey, Joel discovers his inner hero to be with the girl of his dreams.” The most lovely thing about this movie is that it takes place in a post apocalyptic world that is nice to look at. Since Joel reveals what happened to the world at the very beginning of the movie, I guess I can reveal it without it being too much of a spoiler, that way I can describe the way I liked this world in better detail. What happened was a giant meteor was about to hit and destroy Earth and everyone got together and shot a bunch of nukes at it and successfully blew it up. But all the radiation and chemicals from those nukes rained back down on Earth and mutated bugs, amphibians, plants, some sea creatures, you get the drift. So the world is overgrown with lush flora and fauna with bright colors and and pleasing topography. One of the better looking post apocalyptic movies that I can remember as of recently. The creatures are cool looking and menacing. To put it into perspective, Love amd Monsters is a more realistic Zombieland, but with no zombies and more natural, non-juvenile humor. It has some perfect, for the long haul, set ups, that have perfect payoffs, my favorite being this long running “did you get kicked out of your colony for stealing food?” gag that wasn’t overused with has a delicious climax payoff. While the movie does have some of the nervous wimp turned smart hero end of the world cliches (O’Brien plays a more likable version of Jesse Eisenberg’s character from Zombieland here), it is made up with some unpredictable character beats and fates, such as the dog that ends up tagging along with him, and two character’s that O’Brien runs into, Guardians of the Galaxy’s Michael Rooker, and a little girl played pitch perfect sarcastic by Ariana Greenblatt…who coincidentally played Young Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War.

It’s amazing that screenplay writer Brian Duffield is two for two for me in just a couple of weeks in 2020, as he also wrote one of my favorite films this year called Spontaneous that I reviewed about a week ago. He has a way with story details and dialogue which boggles my mind how they are so good, he needs to be given a lot more stuff to do. I think that with this, Spontaneous, and the first Babysitter movie on Netflix, he has more than proven his worth. I am not familiar with the director, Michael Matthews, as he’s only directed one other indie feature of which I haven’t seen, but his direction is good here, able to film the action beats without resorting to mindless shaky cam. I always appreciate no shaky cam. Dylan O’Brien is a hell of an actor, and while everybody does a good job here including Rooker and Jessica Henwick who plays the girlfriend that he’s traveling over 80 miles in a dangerous landscape for, this whole movie is the O’Brien show. He does not have one ounce of his character from Maze Runner here, and when he goes through the motions of his wimp turned into a determined but unlikely hero character arc, he doesn’t ever get too macho for his own good where it feels out place. Near the end of the film, not to ruin anything, but he is still plays it as a bit of a wimp, but one that just received a week’s worth of built up courage and confidence. You’ll see what I mean if you study his performance from the get go. If you are reading my review, you should watch this movie whenever you can. But don’t give into Paramount Pictures studio greed and only rent the damn thing for 48 hours for $19.99. It is definitely worth a $24.99 buy or a much cheaper rental in a couple of months, but only on the streaming platform you prefer. Don’t give into this exclusivity shit. I love this film and will eventually buy it when it comes to VUDU, but the studios doing this pick and choose platform option is a monstrosity within itself.

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: AMERICAN PIE – GIRLS’ RULES

Is it wrong of me to not think this movie was THAT terrible? I mean, yes, it’s very inauthentic when you consider that it is supposed to be a girl centric version of an American Pie story and it is written by two guys. The film did keep my interest the whole way through…and I chuckled throughout it… so to me it was just…harmless? And better than all the other 4 straight to video American Pie Presents films? So am I recommending AMERICAN PIE – GIRLS’ RULES? The only answer I can come up with is ‘sort of’, as I appreciated more for what it was trying to do than Adam Sandler’s new bullshit Netflix Halloween film. It tried to gender swap the American Pie movie because of today’s overly ridiculous political correctness debacle, and it did it…politically correct…and to be fair, I think teenager girls will get a kick out of it, even though there is no way that they talk to each other likes the characters talked to each other in this movie. And if you are much older than a teenager, I guess if you have nothing else to watch and need something to quickly kill and hour and a half. It certainly isn’t boring, just don’t go in expecting any greatness spawned from the original four films. The only aspect that makes this an American Pie Presents movie is that one of the 4 main girls’ last name happens to be Stifler. Out of the five direct to video films, which I’ve only now seen this and Band Camp, I think there has been a new Stifler(s) in each one, and I couldn’t tell you how the fuck they all relate to each other. Maybe that’s the joke, each movie becomes so much more convoluted involving the Stifler family tree that it wants viewers to take the Tenet approach, “Don’t try to understand it, just feel it.”

IMDB describes this film with the following: “It’s Senior year at East Great Falls. Annie, Kayla, Michelle, and Stephanie decide to harness their girl power and band together to get what they want their last year of high school.” That harnessing their girl power turns into a way too coincidental plot of them accidentally falling for and going after the same guy. And since this new guy at school happens to be cool and not an asshole, us viewers know that he isn’t going to try and end up with all four girls. The plot is so ridiculous and convoluted that you know exactly what girl he ends up with when they meet on screen for the first time, and you know what other guys the other three girls end up with as soon as they first show up to share the screen as well. For me, the movie was all about the crude and sexual humor jokes surrounding the outlandish plot. They involve the girls saying weird stuff about their bodies, sex toys including vibrating underwear, randomly screaming obscenities, and I’ll admit it, I chuckled, so sue me. The movie isn’t just dirty humor the whole way through at least, it knows when to lay it’s sweet and charming chips on the table and actually bring some humanity into the mix. The acting is decent for a direct to video debut as well, as it seems like more of a real movie than the other spin offs brought us. Sara Rue plays the school’s new principal and her scenes were probably the best of the bunch with that picture perfect blend of crude humor and charm. And Danny Trejo seems to have filmed his scenes maybe after production was done as a silent Janitor, but those didn’t work for me as it felt like an excuse to have one recognizable face in the credits. There’s nothing more to say about this film other than that if you go in expecting a harmless crude and sexual humor romp that in no way masters the greatness of the original four American Pie films, you maybe won’t be disappointed. Who knows, my brain might be a pie chart right now whose sanity is just a tiny, incoherent, sliver of a piece.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BABYTEETH

BABYTEETH, a drama with a few comedic bits that you can stream on Hulu for free today (otherwise you can rent it streaming), was a nice refresher of mild quirky-ness after the overload of garbage that was my previous movie I just reviewed, Kajillionaire. Babyteeth is still not a perfect or great movie by any means, I think out of 1 hr and 57 minutes about 15 to 20 could’ve been shaved off, the movie has a very strong beginning, very strong ending, and very strong performances. It does lag a bit toward the end of the beginning of the film and the middle of the film, but it makes up for it in the other qualities I just shared. It stars Eliza Scanlen, who has been in a ton of things recently such as HBO’s Sharp Objects, Little Women, and Netflix’s The Devil All The Time and IMDB describes the movie as: “Milla, a seriously ill teenager falls in love with a drug dealer, Moses, her parents worst nightmare.” She is pitch perfect here as a girl that just wants to live her life to the fullest in case she dies. Her parents are played perfectly by Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn, the latter of which is becoming one of my favorite actors of all time. He plays it quirky and weird when his character calls for it, but serious yet calm when those scenes come along. It’s because the honest script and dialogue helps the performances, written by first timer Rita Kalnejais, and she doesn’t force the characters to be too abstract and weird. While the characters and situations have their quirks, it is grounded in a sense of dramatic realism where you feel like all of them make true to life decisions and actions.

The movie is directed by Shannon Murphy, who I’m not familiar with, although she directed two episodes of the hit tv series Killing Eve, and she is definitely an actor’s director and has a spark of visual flare, something I hope she can translate to future projects. Unlike Kajillionaire, there isn’t one unlikable character in this, as even though Moses has his fare share of problems, his good heart ultimately prevails. He is played by Toby Wallace who apparently is really good in Netflix’s most recently cancelled beloved series The Society. I’ve seen a few clips of him in that, and needless to say, he’s a damn fine actor when you compare that with this role. My only complaints for this film come before the living situations of all involved are permanently set in stone (that’s all I can say without giving anything away). Milla trying to get Moses interested in her as more than just friends (when they are the only two onscreen) are the scenes that didn’t really have any emotional weight or context for me, compared to the scenes where Milla’s parents are also involved. I think that maybe point A, point B, & point C were the structure of the screenplay, the solid ideas of the story that were cemented in stone before the screenplay was even written, before the connections were made by filling out the tiny details. While getting from point B to point C was fleshed out and solidly told, more time was needed on how to get from point A to point B, as those scenes dragged on too long and didn’t really work for me. But, Babyteeth is still a decent one time watch, if not for the strong ending and beginning, and for all the performances. You won’t be grinding your teeth, wishing for this movie to end, but I suggest to bring some tissues so that tears won’t be hitting them constantly throughout.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: KAJILLIONAIRE

KAJILLIONAIRE gave me (an my wife) a kajillion headaches. Not because it was confusing but it was a slog and a half (considering the 1 hr and 47 minute run time) to get through. A quirky film just for the sake of being quirky, which made it overwhelmingly quirky and unbearable. And a really annoying and bizarre performance with an annoyingly bizarre low tone of voice by Even Rachel Wood. There are only really two scenes of actual levity and earnestness in the film, one that doesn’t happen until the last 10 minutes of the movie, and one in the middle that lasts only about 10 seconds before it goes back to being monotonous. This comes out in theaters today (only really Alamo Drafthouse and other independent theaters), and then streaming VOD in about a month, and I am here to tell you to save your fucking money and your fucking time no matter how it’s available to watch to you (even if free). I won a free digital 72 hour screening from Focus Features and decided just to get it out of the way last night. This is supposed to be a comedy (really a dramedy) yet neither my wife nor I laughed once. And when I put on a 2005 comedy that definitely couldn’t be made today (Waiting) and laughed more in the first minute than the atrocity to cinema I just watched…then something is truly wrong. You may go on Rotten Tomatoes and see the critic score to this is in the low 90s, which is a really good score, but I no longer ever trust Rotten Tomatoes, because I think most critics are high off of being able to stay home and avoid COVID-19, so they are giving anything a good review based on that bias.

And you may be saying, “Zach, maybe you just don’t like quirky movies?” Not true, I’m going to review another film later today that just came to Hulu but was released earlier in the year called Babyteeth, where its quirky-ness was in contribution to the story and wasn’t just there to be there. It’s all about context people. Me, movies, and context. If you haven’t gotten that by now with all of my reviews that I write then I don’t know what to tell you. I even warn you whenever I throw context and my brain out the window and just enjoyed what I was watching, so I can’t be any more blunt with you than I usually am. To put this all in another way you’ll understand, Kajillionaire sucked to me. Per IMDB, it describes the movie as: “A woman’s life is turned upside down when her criminal parents invite an outsider to join them on a major heist they’re planning.” This whole family is filled with terrible, terrible con people. Terrible not jut morally, but that they also execute all of these “cons” terribly. What was really offensive about this film to me isn’t just its fake, unearned quirky-ness, it’s also it feels like a cheap knock off of a very good international film that came out a couple of years ago called Shoplifters. That movie even got nominated for an Academy Award. I’ll scoff if this does and protest. Richard Jenkins and Debra Winger are completely wasted as Evan Rachel Wood’s (who is the main protagonist by the way) parents, and they are completely unlikable characters from the get go. Evan Rachel Wood is supposed to be likable but her bizarre bat shit performance made her extremely unlikable to me.

The actress that sort of saves this from being a complete clusterfuck (even though this film right now is in my top 20 worst of the year list) is Gina Rodriguez. She plays the stranger in IMDB’s description of the film above. Her quirky-ness in this film almost works, and she saves a little bit of the movie by being the focus of the two only earnest moments in the movie (These moments are technically spoilers, but you’ll know them when you see them). She is the only one unscathed in this production. I have never seen writer/director Miranda July’s other “quirky” movies or short films, and this movie definitely will not have me search any of them out, any time soon. I mean, this film is just weird to be weird without any context. They live in a cheap little place that overflows with bubbles (they clean this place constantly that’s why the rent is so cheap) from the ceiling because it’s an attachment to a bubble factory called Bubble, Inc. No explanation to what they do other than make bubbles apparently. I understand the films message about family and human attachment, it just went about it in a very awkward, non pleasing, and off putting way. It is very slow pace, with a major heist that in all honesty didn’t make a lick of sense to me. If you watch this movie and end up enjoying it like the critics did, I won’t hark on you. Clearly this movie just wasn’t meant for me. I didn’t connect with it on any emotional level, and the only emotion I shed during it were the kajillion tears of joy that I wept once the movie finally got to the end credits.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ANTEBELLUM

I feel a little bad for ANTEBELLUM because when it comes to movies playing on the big screen, or mostly at home if the year is 2020, doesn’t really matter when, it is extremely hard for a film to keep its secrets. Especially if the marketing doesn’t do it any favors. But on the other hand, I don’t know how they could’ve marketed this film. The film literally has two faces. If they would’ve only shown footage from one side of the coin, it would been written off as a 12 Years A Slave rip off. If they would’ve only shown footage from the other side of the coin, when the movie started, audiences members would’ve been really, really confused that the theater was playing the wrong film. And because of the coin, it’s going to be really hard to review this movie without giving anything away, but I’m going to try. Let me just say this, if you’ve seen the trailer with Janelle Monae, you can probably guess from the very beginning where the film is going, because the trailer shows footage from both different aspects of the movie. You know what this would’ve been great as? A novel. Holy shit, if this would’ve been a 500-600 page novel by Stephen King, it could’ve been a fucking masterpiece piece of literature. As a movie though? Well, the more I think about the movie, the more I’m beginning to…how would I say this without recommending it? Okay, got it, the more I think about Antebellum, the more I appreciate what it was trying to do. Except the execution of the really neat idea, the hell of a great premise, is almost completely botched. When the movie hits the 40 minute mark it lags and then it seems like it just coasts through the climax, without any type of scares whatsoever. Yes, this is being marketed as a horror movie, and it really isn’t.

Well it is, in a way. It will always be horrible to see white slave owners in the civil war days brutalize, rape, and treat African Americans like absolute shit. But to call this a horror movie, is like calling 12 Years A Slave a horror movie, and THAT film definitely isn’t. There are no jump scares here, so I’m guessing the real horror aspect to put Antebellum in this film category is when the movie fully reveals its hand. Like the thought of what is really going on is the true horror. And that I can agree with, I guess. Anyway, let’s look at IMDB’s description of Antebellum…whoa…yikes…never mind it basically gives away the whole farm. Uh…let’s see, I guess I’ll do it myself! Eden, played by Janelle Monáe, is an enslaved woman on what is a southern plantation and is brought back on horseback after attempting to escape at the beginning of the film. There, that’s it, that’s all I’m going to tell you. Anymore and I’ll ruin it. If you go and search for some real critic reviews of this film, they aren’t very kind (and some are really spoiler heavy). Some critics are calling it the worst film of the year, saying that it “exploits black trauma, says nothing about the obliterating function of whiteness and anti-Black racism which makes its approach to horror and social commentary become deadened.” Yeah, I can definitely see why people would think that. But I don’t know if I necessarily agree. If this movie was made completely by a white guy, I would 100% agree. But the movie is written and directed by a white and black dude duo…so I don’t think their intentions were for people to feel that way about this movie.

The problem with this movie for me was on a film making level. There are films that have had these kind of 180 completely changing the narrative twists before, and they have been executed much better. I realize that they wanted the story to take its time, and its fine, but about 40 minutes into the movie, when we get into a different narrative for a bit, it takes its time a little too much, and then rushes the climax. The climax should’ve been more fleshed out and maybe the longest part of this concrete three act structure. The movie is and hour and 45 minutes long. The first 40 minutes is a slave plantation awful treatment of black people movie. The next 40 minutes is something else, and then the climax is only 20 minutes with 5 minutes of credits. The climax should’ve been 40 minutes as well and I think the film would’ve been tighter. The movie is filmed extremely well by both writers and directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz. The cinematography in this is sometimes too gorgeous for its own good. It has some horror shots and elements in this that clash with the tone. It’s the script that needed more work, and only in bulking up the narrative, story, and climax. And possibly one or two of the characters. The villains, especially the one played by Jena Malone, normally a fantastic actress, are too cartoon-y and too over the top. Here the script did her no favors. The standouts from this film are of course Janelle Monae, followed by Gabourney Sidibe, and Kiersey Clemons. Sidibe seems like she’s having fun and chewing up the scenery in her two extended scenes, and Clemons small performance will break your heart.

Monae is the powerhouse in this movie and just proves she needs more projects to lead in hopefully better films than this and Harriet. I’ll give you one small hint about the ending. If this shit was done in real life, there would be no turning back in our country. If it was found out, there would be endless rioting in the streets, endless violence, and a ton people would be killed, and not just the guilty party. That’s all I’m going to say. So am I recommending this film? Eh, hard to say. I guess how you take it in. This is going to be a really hard watch for anyone. It’s a hard watch that makes you think long after the credits roll. But it’s so botched in how it tries to pull everything off, its like eating a cheeseburger without the meat. A dry cheese sandwich. So no, I’m not recommending it. But it certainly is not one of the worst films of the year by any means. Have these critics not seen Bella Thorne in Infamous or Ludacris in John Henry? How they even put this movie in the ranks of those I don’t think I could ever understand. And I don’t think this movie will be that divisive either. I think everybody is going to agree that they had a hard time watching it and that they can see what the filmmakers were going for but it just didn’t work for them. I think Gerard Bush said he got the idea of this movie in a whacked out dream of his. Good God that must’ve been horrifying to experience. But maybe it should’ve stayed as a dream…or had struck a deal with a novel writer like King.