Month: September 2018

Episode 57: A Simple Favor

Garrett and Carson do you a favor by reviewing A Simple Favor.

Episode 56: The Predator

Garrett and Carson are on the hunt for a good Predator movie.

Review: White Boy Rick (Carson’s View)

The most appealing thing about White Boy Rick is that it is based on a true story. That and McConaughey’s mullet and mustache, which he should keep for every movie he ever makes going forward. I am sure his performance in this movie is praise-worthy, but I don’t think my eyes ever left his mullet. Either way, he is definitely the highlight of White Boy Rick.

When dealing with a true story, you are given a set of actual events and expected not to deviate much. Telling an engaging story using those events is what makes a good director. Director Yann Demange isn’t quite there yet. There is a lot going on in White Boy Rick, however, I couldn’t help but feel a bit bored. The characters are interesting and the story is one worth telling. It is the execution that is lacking.

Episode 55: Peppermint

Garrett and Carson discuss whether this movie is peppermint or poopermint.

Review: Hearts Beat Loud (Garrett’s View)

Have you ever thought about what your favorite chocolate chip cookie is? It can be a fairly tough question because, in the end, all chocolate chip cookies are pretty similar in terms of ingredients and how they’re made. The same can be said of indie drama movies. They usually have a pretty similar feel to them and hit a lot of the same beats. But just like you know a great chocolate chip cookie when you have one, you know a great indie drama when you watch one. Hearts Beat Loud certainly does not break any new ground, but it is a great indie drama nonetheless.

The pairing of anti-Ron Swanson Nick Offerman (Frank) and Kiersey Clemons (Sam) are the heart and soul of this movie. Whether they’re on screen together giving us a window into the relationship between a widowed father and a college-bound daughter or they’re given their own scenes to explore their respective character’s growth as a middle-aged man and a young woman, both actors give performances that feel subdued, yet poignant.

The true magic in Hearts Beat Loud’s greatness is the music. Not just in terms of listening enjoyment (very high), but how the music is woven into the story. Music is the means by which Frank makes a living via his record store. At the same time, it represents his dream of becoming a famous musician that he was never quite able to obtain. For Sam, it represents something she’s immensely talented at but has set aside for the practicality of becoming a doctor and earning money for her family. Together, music is what bridges their relationship and as the movie unfolds, brings them closer as a family. Every note and every lyric in this film has meaning to the characters. For the audience, the music adds another layer of exploration into the hearts and minds of Frank and Sam.

Hearts Beat Loud is full of charm. It may make you cry, but it will definitely make you smile and probably leave you humming a few tunes afterward.

Review: A Simple Favor (Carson’s View)

A Simple Favor is anything but simple. There are so many twists and turns throughout this movie that you often forget where you started and no have idea where you are going. You think you know, then you don’t, then you realize you really did know… but you didn’t. All of that may sound like it would be a lot of fun, but that is actually the least enjoyable part of A Simple Favor.

The main issue with A Simple Favor is that the tone of the movie is all over the board. There were almost as many tonal shifts as there were plot twists. At one point, it is deep into a murder mystery, then it shifts into a comedy, then back to a drama with a tease of paranormal, then ends with slapstick. A more consistent feel would have done wonders for this film.

The reason to go see A Simple Favor is simply to see Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick. The two have fantastic on-screen chemistry. Every scene in which these actresses get to banter with one another is worth the price of admission. I have little doubt that in the near future they will be brought together once again. My only hope is that it will be in a more cohesive project.

Review: A Simple Favor (Garrett’s View)

So much of the success of A Simple Favor was destined to live and die with the mystery at its center. The mystery can be tiptoed around, peeked at, even played hide-and-seek with. But at some point, director Paul Feig was going to have to drop the setup, take the mystery head on, and get to the payoff. Regrettably, the transition into the payoff begins a series of tonal shifts that are made further disorienting by a multitude of twists that cause a once fairly tight film to fall into a dizzying tailspin.

The film is carried by Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick who perfectly embody their respective boozy, high-fashion diva-mom and quirky, DIY-vlogger mom characters. An unlikely pairing at first that quickly becomes a friendship that seems derived from a potent cocktail of Bad MomsDateline, and Real Housewives. In fact, their interactions and banter are so enjoyable that the plot which forces them apart becomes wholly regrettable. It’s a wonder Feig didn’t scrap the plot and opt for a way to keep the pair on screen together for as much of the runtime as possible.

Obviously, the plot unfolded just as the trailer preordained and the whodunnit mystery wedged itself into the story like the annoying person who forces their way onto a couch between two friends. As the plot shifts, the tone tries to keep up but stumbles from scene to scene. Ranging from dark and brooding (death and drug use) to silly (rapping in a car) to erotic thriller (shades of Fatal Attraction and a direct rip of Sleeping with the Enemy) and back again. It’s a bit much to digest and makes you wonder what type of movie you’re watching. By the end, you may even wonder if you’ve been watching a satire of a Lifetime movie.

As for the central mystery that unfolds in the third act, it lacks any real sense of payoff. Instead of a core thread that the audience can pull on to slowly unravel the mystery, Feig opts to play out as many scenarios as possible. The audience is forced to constantly guess who is partnered up with who and who they should be rooting for. This can be fun if the guesses feel informed or educated, but in A Simple Favor they feel like throwing darts while blindfolded. When the movie finally arrives at its final destination, it feels like it took the longest possible path to get to the most obvious outcome.

To put it bluntly, A Simple Favor would have been far more enjoyable had it stayed, well… simple.

Review: The Predator (Garrett’s View)

The Predator is a mess — plain and simple. It is bloated, unfocused, hastily assembled, and at the end of its runtime proves itself to be a wholly unnecessary movie. Arguably worse, it manages to degrade the Predator brand which was already in a state of freefall.

The quasi-return of Shane Black to the franchise held a certain appeal to fans who hoped that someone tied to the original Predator’s greatness would bring a long-lost respect to the franchise and recapture some of that good old 80’s action movie magic. And perhaps a recognition that what made Predator (1987) great was its small-scale tale of man vs. alien and hunter vs. hunted. It’s clear now that Black had other ideas in mind. A LOT of ideas. And every last one of them is crammed into this movie. Instead of a back-to-basics approach, The Predator tries instead to expand its mythos as wide as possible with super Predators, rogue Predators, Preda-dogs and much, much more. In the process, Black alternates between giving no explanation and giving unnecessary explanations through characters who somehow know or figure out everything there is to know about Predators. The latter of which seems to be the only reason Olivia Munn and Sterling K. Brown’s characters exist.

Everything in this movie is dialed WAY up. The ragtag group of mercs our heroes emerge from harkens back to the original Carl Weathers & Jesse Ventura group, but every one of them is given some sort of tic that is supposed to make them even more interesting or funny. Little quips are replaced with a barrage of one-liners and jokes that are tonally all over the place. It’s almost as if Black expected the comedy to be a close second to the action instead of a subtle companion. And even the action is ratcheted up. But instead of an uptick in violence, terror, and gunfights, we’re given more spaceships, technology, and questionable CGI. The old adage of bigger not always being better fits The Predator like a glove.

The Predator is the annoying bro at the party who talks over everyone else, screams his stories loudly all night, and tells vulgar jokes that only he laughs at (hysterically). Go ahead and put The Predator on the pile of failed attempts to reinvigorate a once proud sci-fi franchise. It will be the perfect complement in a bad movie tripleheader along with Terminator: Genisys and Alien: Covenant. The downward trajectory of these franchises can’t even be buoyed by saviors from the past — be it Shane Black or Ridley Scott. It’s officially time for these franchises to go into hibernation for a VERY long time.

Episode 54: Searching

Garrett and Carson take on Searching in an attempt to find a good movie.

Review: The Predator (Carson’s View)

I came into The Predator with unrealistic and unwarranted expectations. I have been longing for a Predator movie that rivals the original, which is something that hasn’t been achieved in 4 movies over 30 years. I thought for sure that writer/director Shane Black would breathe new life into the franchise with his clever dialog and character building that we have seen him do many times before. Instead, The Predator left me questioning if I ever even liked Shane Black… or Predators… or movies.

There is nothing new in The Predator. Every single character has a predictable and stereotypical story to tell. If you have ever seen an action movie before, you are able to determine everyone’s role and their fate from the instant they are introduced. The script is so unbelievably generic that the only brainwave activity you experience is trying to comprehend how this got made. Even the new threats that are introduced are basic and uninspired. More often than not they are downright boring to watch. It is a shame that such an awesome concept about creatures who cross the galaxy simply to hunt other lifeforms is wasted time and time again.