This movie may be about bad times but if you see it you’ll have a good time. Zing! I’m so witty.
BQB here with a review of Bad Times at the El Royale.
3.5 readers, I’m just going to say it. This is the best movie I’ve seen all year and frankly, one of the best new films I’ve seen in a long time. I went into it thinking it would be decent but was blown away by its style and originality and I love it when I can give a glowing recommendation right off the bat. Go see it. Go see it now.
The El Royale is a hotel that straddles the California and Nevada state lines. In the 1960s it was a hot spot for the rich and famous, though by the 1970s when this film takes place, it has been long forgotten.
A series of guests check in at the same time. There’s the obnoxious traveling salesman (Jon Hamm doing his best Foghorn Leghorn impression); the lounge singer (Jennifer Hudson in the role she’s been waiting for); the Catholic priest (Jeff Bridges); and the rude hippy (Dakota Johnson).
If I were to tell you much more, I’d ruin it all for you. Suffice to say, in each room, there’s a mystery underway. Every guest has a troubled past and each mystery will come together in a big way.
There are times when it takes awhile for the story to build up, but the promises of big plot paydays are made and paid with interest if you hang on.
The Oscars have been under fire the past few years as being a stodgy institution that just pays attention to obscure art house flicks that no one watches. This film would be the Academy’s chance to buck that trend.
While each character has their moment to shine, Bridges and J-Hud shine particularly bright. Jeff Bridges turns in his best performance in over 20 years since the Big Lebowski. What range. Two decades ago he played a mellow dude who never let anything bother him and today he’s playing an aging holy man whose violent past has caught up with him.
Meanwhile, I’ve always admired J-Hud. While most singers rely on skimpy outfits, gimmicks and scandals, Hudson has always let her pipes speak for themselves. She turns in her performances in public and then her private life is her own and she doesn’t try to blend the two. She’s had a number of parts in films over the years but this the most memorable since her turn as Effie in Dreamgirls launched her career.
I know it’s still early and most Oscar films don’t come out until the end of the year, but I hope the Academy will consider this film. It is not a traditional Oscar flick by any means but the story grips you, the performances are great and Bridges and Hudson deserve gold statues.
Is J-Hud seeing anybody? Feel free to move into BQB HQ anytime Miss Hudson.
STATUS: Totes shelf-worthy.
EDIT: Hey, I don’t feel like rewriting this review but it was just brought to my attention by Twitter that J-Hud wasn’t even in this movie. Cynthia Erivo plays the singer in this movie but hell, give her an Oscar because she’s also great. There are a lot of actors/actresses that look alike. I know fairly recently there was an actress I kept mistaking for Jennifer Lawrence, for example. Maybe I’m losing my mind or I’m not keeping up with pop culture. Oh well.