Category Archives: Movies

Movie Review – Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers (2022)

Sometimes, some crimes, go slipping through the cracks but these two, gum shoes…are bringing the reboot back?

BQB here with a review of this uber meta movie.

If you’re a middle-aged person, chances are you loved a little slice of networking programming called “The Disney Afternoon” when you were a child. It all started with Ducktales and when young audiences of the late 1980s/early 1990s couldn’t get enough of Scrooge McDuck taking his duck nephews on globetrotting adventures, sure enough pretty much every other House of Mouse character got a reinvention for what was then considered the modern age.

You had TaleSpin, which featured the Jungle Book characters flying planes in search of derring-do and of course, Chip and Dale teamed up with an Australian adventurer mouse (Monterey Jack), a high-tech fixer of all things mouse (Gadget) and a mute fly (Zipper) to create their own detective agency.

Like everyone else now of a certain age where we’re too old to go back but too young to stop moving, I thought that simpler time of afternoon programming, where literally every other kid was watching the same thing so they could bond over it because there was nothing else to watch, were long over.

Thus, I found myself scratching my head in confusion when ads for this flick began circulating. Reboots of old shows/movies so often fail because that media was a product of a different time, so trying to breathe new life into a story that has its roots in the past can be an exercise of Weekend at Bernie’s-ian proportions. Eventually, Hollywood stops trying to drag the corpse of an old franchise around like the fly ridden meat puppet that it is and moves on to something else.

So, I have to admit, this movie surprised me…in that it’s pretty good.

Who is it for? That’s the million-dollar question, and frankly, a question I ask whenever an old show is rebooted. So often, Hollywood turns these reboots into a Frankenstein monster that the kids don’t want because the concept doesn’t appeal to the younger generation and the adults don’t want because it doesn’t embrace the essence of what made the show great a long time ago.

Ah, but leave it to the Lonely Island boys to find a humorous way to make something that appeals to everyone.

But first, I have to present the following points:

#1 – There is a world where humans and cartoons live together.

#2 – Cartoons are not animated. Cartoons are performed by cartoon actors, just as any other movie is performed by human actors.

Still with me? Hold on:

#3 – The Chip and Dale you know and love from Rescue Rangers were, in real life, actors who coincidentally have the voices of comedians John Mulaney (Chip) and Andy Samberg (Dale.) The voices from the old show? That was just Chip and Dale (actors) doing silly voices while playing fictional versions of themselves. Remember, they’re a duo of performing chipmunks who met in high school, went to Hollywood after graduation, and became famous performing a funny chipmunk act with characters of the same names, so famous that Disney greenlit their Rescue Rangers show and the rest is history.

Alright, now that you’ve traveled down that Matrix-like cartoon rabbit hole, you can start to wrap your head around this flick. Chip and Dale, the actor-munks, are now, like the kids who watched them back in the day, middle-aged-munks. It’s been years since they broke up and they are settling in with the grim reality that life probably will never be as exciting as they dreamed when they were young. (You know, just like the middle-aged adults who watched the munks when they were kids are doing right now.)

Blah, blah, blah, some stuff that I won’t give away happens and it is up to Chip and Dale to save the day, which will be new for them, because remember, they never actually saved the day in the past. They were just acting. But now they can’t just act. They must do, for they must get to the bottom of a mystery most foul and reunite with their old RR buddies (also toon actors) in the process.

Sounds ridiculous? Yes. Yes, it does, but, I’ll give it props because a) the middle-aged adults who loved RR as kids will get a kick out of it and b) their kids will enjoy it too because remember, at the end of the day, these toons are for the kids. Or are they? Toons for adults have been around so long it’s hard to know anymore but at any rate, with a PG rating, this is one the whole family can enjoy.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. My one criticism is if you ask who were the actors who played Chip and Dale before Rescue Rangers, you know, the chipmunks from the old 1950s cartoons where they just ran around and squeaked and stole apples and stuff from Donald Duck while they made his life a living hell, the whole premise falls apart, though I suppose they could explain that in the sequel, or the reboot. Don’t forget, a Rescue Rangers reboot is theoretically possible outside of this movie because the “real life” versions of Chip and Dale from this movie are just actors, after all.

I know it sounds like you need a flow chart and a slide rule to follow this movie, but don’t worry about it. Just turn it on, enjoy, and wonder how the heck you got so old. Curse you, time!

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Movie Review – The Lost City (2022)

Romance! Treasure! Adventure!

BQB here with a review of The Lost City.

Let me say off the bat this movie is OK. It is an acceptable way to pass your downtime. I am disappointed in that everyone kept telling me this flick is awesome and I’m missing out if I didn’t check it out, but honestly, I found it more or less “meh.”

Loretta Sage and her late husband once traveled the world as archaeology scholars, unlocking the secrets of past civilizations. Alas, after her husband’s untimely demise, she cloistered herself and earned her living writing cheesy romance novels about an adventurous lady archaeologist and her hunky sidekick who go on treasure hunting exploits, a far cry from the academic treatises she wanted to publish, a dream denied due to lack of sales.

Years later, the novels are a smash success, too popular in fact. When billionaire Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) kidnaps Loretta in the hopes that she’ll be able to translate the key to a long-lost treasure, it’s up to her handsome yet incompetent, Fabio-esque cover model Alan (the hunky sidekick inspiration from the novels) to come to Loretta’s rescue.

A fine setup but the execution leaves something to be desired. Treasure hunting movies have been DOA for a long time. One might argue it’s because we’ve grown as a society and come to realize that all Western treasure hunters ever really did was just um, you know, locate and steal treasures belonging to other countries, cultures, civilizations etc. That’s part of it, though honestly, no one ever did the treasure hunting genre as well as Indiana Jones. The Romancing the Stone movies might be a distant second but ultimately, Indy was never topped. Tomb Raider and Uncharted? Yes, in video game form. No in movie form.

At any rate, you don’t really see a lot of stuff you’d expect in a treasure hunting film. There aren’t any puzzles, riddles or clues. There’s not even sufficient danger. To the heroes? Yes. To the world? I mean basically, if the evil billionaire gets the treasure, he’ll be more rich and if he doesn’t then he’ll be less rich. A far cry from the Indy stakes where an artifact falling into the wrong hands equals Nazi rule of the globe forever and ever and ever.

Even so, Loretta is in peril and Alan (Channing Tatum) is an unlikely hero. He screws up the rescue early and often to great comedic effect and there’s probably a fresh angle in that in real life, people who do things for the first time often screw them up royally. We never learn or grow without those screwups.

A different dynamic than we are used to seeing. Alan often bungles his way into becoming the “damsel in distress” that Loretta has to save and there is a 20 something year age disparity between Tatum and Bullock, though movies often feature an older, sophisticated man with a hot younger babe. Here it’s the other way around with smart Loretta and her man-bimbo Allan.

There are a lot of side characters we learn little about. They might have been interesting if allowed more time to shine. A side plot sees Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Beth as Loretta’s publisher who travels the world in search of her abducted writer. It feels like there was a budding romance between her and goofy pilot Oscar (Oscar of The Office fame) that was cut short, possibly for time. A quick line at the end will make you raise an eyebrow.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I wouldn’t rent it but wait for when it streams. It’s billed as a treasure hunting movie but it’s more of a chase movie through an exotic jungle location where the heroes have to out run the pursuing villains. A lot of CGI and the whole lady author falling in love with the real life Fabio from her covers might have been funnier in the 1990s when Fabio was at his peak, musclebound wind in the hair glory. Bonus points for some insights into the publishing industry, what sells, what doesn’t, the lengths that authors have to go through to sell some books.

Double Bonus Points for a surprise cameo that is fun though it made me wonder if the movie wouldn’t have benefitted from the cameo lasting longer.

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Movie Review – House of Gucci (2021)

Boof, 3.5 readers. Very boof indeed.

BQB here with a review of the very underrated House of Gucci. (BEWARE SPOILERS)

Always know the difference between chocolate and shit, 3.5 readers. They both look alike but when you bite into the wrong one and get that terrible taste in your mouth, it’s too late. Disgusting yet wise words and I would say this movie is very much a tasty chocolate treat.

Money is the root of all evil, and when it comes in the form of a family business, it can turn people who are supposed to love each other into bitter rivals. Such is the case when Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga) charms her way into the House of Gucci as a loving wife to son Maurizio (Adam Driver) only to become a cancer that spreads destruction and catastrophe to everyone and everything she touches.

The first third of the film is a sweet love story. Maurizio, a shy law student, meets Patrizia at a party. Her love brings him out of a self-induced shell and allows him to experience the world. Alas, father Rodolfo (Jeremy Irons) fears Patrizia, a commoner, is just after the family fortune and will leave his son penniless and broken. Estrangement between Maurizio and the Gucci clan ensues until Patrizia eventually charms the pants off everyone, wrapping them around her little finger.

If this were a 1990s rom com, the story would end there with M and P living happily ever after, having proven their love is strong enough to set aside resentments and the Guccis ride off into the sunset as one great big happy family. Ah, but this is a film based on real life, so naturally, in the second act, Patrizia proves that the fam’s fears were very much valid indeed. One by one, she takes the various and sundry Guccis out, separating them from their fortunes through power plays, trickery, deception, blackmail and so on, all in the name of putting her husband at the top of the game.

In the third act, P, having tromped over the heads of all the other Guccis, realizes her husband is the last obstacle in her way to having it all and well, since this is based on a true story you can just google to find out what happens or just watch the movie.

This movie got a lot of lampooning, especially because of the bad Italian accents. Problem is I’m not sure what the actors/actresses could have done differently. I’ve noticed a trend in some movies based overseas for actors to speak in their regular English speaking accents, or in movies like Valkyrie, British actors are utilized to at least provide an air of foreign speaking to the American ear. I don’t think any of that would have worked in a movie set against beautiful high society Italian backdrops.

At first, I found myself offended by Jerod Leto’s portrayal of Paolo Gucci, the so-called most useless of the Guccis, a portly, bald, naive, almost child-like man baby easily duped by Patrizia into bringing about the demise of himself and everyone he loves. My initial thought is putting Leto in a fat suit and heavy facial prosthetics comes across as “fat face” and “bald face” and honestly, aren’t there chubby, bald actors who ignored all the people who told them they’d never make it in Hollywood because they are chubby and bald whose ship would have come in with this role? Why just ugly up a handsome guy? It just comes across as a mean-spirited, lampooning of chubby bald men.

But as the movie progressed, I did warm up to Leto’s portrayal. At first, he’s a fool but as we learn more info, we see how his overbearing, money holding over his head family set him up over the years so that he could have never grown up to become anything other than a fool. Don’t be fooled into thinking that money buys happiness. It just buys you into a new set of high-class problems.

Al Pacino stars in the best role he’s had in a long time, that as Aldo, the seemingly tough family patriarch who turned the Gucci brand into an international empire only to be rooked by his conniving niece-in-law.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Unfairly snubbed by the Oscars. An interesting study into how money can rip a family apart, how family businesses often don’t last when passed down from one generation to the next because a successful business needs one decision maker at the top ruling with an iron fist, not rule by committee formed of people who bitterly resent one another. Even so, sometimes these powder keg type situations can be safely stored away for many years until an outsider like Patrizia comes in and lights a match.

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Movie Review – Uncharted (2022)

Grab your treasure map, 3.5 readers. It’s time to chart a course to…mediocrity.

BQB here with a review of the treasure hunting tour de force (farce?) that is Uncharted.

Movies based on video games are often hit or miss and frankly, more miss than hit. I can’t really recall a game based movie that was a hit. A better movie historian than I might know of one and I feel like there must have been one but ultimately, what works as a collection of cut scenes between parts of a game where players make stuff blow up rarely translates to the big screen.

This is ironic as most gamers, myself included, have always agreed that Uncharted is one of the most cinematic films ever made. For the uninitiated, the games follow snarky treasure hunter Nathan Drake, a descendant of famed explorer and Queen Elizabeth love interest Sir Francis Drake. With the help of surly old pilot Sully, he travels the world in search of history’s greatest piles of long lost loot, often getting shot at by villains who want it more than he does. As a gamer, you get to shoot back, jump across ravines and hope you don’t fall in, climb up wreckage before it falls off a cliff and so on.

Sadly, the film version loses a lot in translation. Mark Wahlberg’s Sully isn’t grumpy or surly but is greedy, a scumbag who cares about gold more than people. He has a heart in there somewhere but whether he will let his lust for wealth get the better of him is his challenge. Villain Antonio Banderas…sigh…all I can say is he is getting up there in years, but I suppose it happens to the best of us. He is an average villain as villains go.

There’s a hot babe who likes to stab people and another hot babe who joins Sully and Nate. I can’t remember their names. I don’t think they added much to the movie other than they were hot and the one stabby hot one stabbed people in creative ways.

Tom Holland is given a chance to shine outside of his best known Spiderman role. I think the question we viewers had was can he play someone other than Spidey. Turns out he can. You’re able to view him as someone other than Peter Parker though in the games, Drake’s character was more of a handsome ne’er-do-well while Holland still has that aw shucks nerd appeal though he tries to lose it here.

While it is a fun romp, it doesn’t quite live up to the games. Though it comes out big time, and I mean big time at the end, much of the film is devoid of stuff you’d want to see in a treasure hunting movie, like wandering through jungles and tombs and catacombs and so on. I’ll give the film credit and admit the end is a visually stunning thrill ride but the ride toward it is a bit of a snoozer.

Holland does great but I think was ultimately miscast in the role, as was Wahlberg. Again, if you’ve never played the games, imagine a young, full of himself Robert Downey Jr. being flown around the world by an angry wiseacre grandpa. It was a buddy duo that worked in the game but doesn’t work in a movie where both characters want to be the cool leading man guy.

Also, the film kind of just glosses over Drake being an ancestor of Sir Francis Drake. I don’t think they ever even explain who Sir Francis was, and the modern day Drake’s ancestry was a fun part of the games. Weird how every Batman movie needs to devote at least a half hour or more to the Waynes’ untimely demise outside a movie theater but no one thought to add a five minute scene about how the main character is a distant descendant of a world famous explorer.

STATUS: It’s ok. A bit of a bummer because if there was ever a game begging to be turned into a movie, it was Uncharted. I’ll admit that making a treasure hunter movie in today’s modern times is a hill so steep one wonders if climbing it is worth the effort. Today’s modern audiences are more aware than ever that treasure hunters are basically just thieves who travel the world stealing another culture’s precious wealth and relics and all those booby traps the hunters have to dodge are just the ancient equivalent of an alarm system. Don’t you lock your doors and turn on your alarm to protect your stuff? Well, ancient people did that too. (By the way the film also distinctly lacks any good booby trap scenes, a must have in a treasure hunter movie.)

Is it shelf-worthy? Barely. It could have been better. It looks like sequels are planned. Though I like Tom Holland, I think the movie rests heavily on Holland’s fame and charm and if Hollywood had put some thought into it, they could have made some great flicks here. Then again, maybe not. After all, no one roots for a treasure hunter anymore. Why do you think Hollywood hasn’t put out any recent Indy reboots when they’ve rebooted everything else?

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Movie Review – Ambulance (2022)

Woo woo. Boom boom. Vroom vroom. Kapowie zowie!

Oh sorry, I just gave away the entire plot to this stink bomb.

BQB here with a review of the Michael Bay schlockfest, Ambulance.

This movie is a bimbo. Pretty face. Long hair. Great eyes. Jumbo cans. Terrific tucas. A sweet set of getaway sticks.

Ah, but alas, when she speaks, you realize if you marry her you’d be spending half your life reminding her to not look up with her mouth open whenever it rains so she doesn’t drown. Seriously, who has that kind of time?

The trailers looked awesome and I wanted to see it for months…you know, not unlike how when an uber hottie slides into your DMs and you look forward to your first date only to meet her in person and learn that she spent so much time on her looks that she can’t count to twenty without taking her shoes off.

Thus is the problem with this flick. It’s all razzle but no dazzle. All hat but no cattle. It has a bangin’ bod but can’t read.

I should have known. This is Michael Bay’s MO, though in his long line of movies that are high on kabooms but leave no room for wacky things like deep, meaningful character introspection or plot development, this has to be the worst offender.

Down on his luck dad Will (Yahya Abdul Mateen II), having been given the runaround from his insurance company only to learn there is no way for him to pay for his son’s desperately needed yet terribly expensive surgery, visits his adopted brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal). He’s hoping for a loan but instead gets a job, a bank heist job, a trip into a world of crime he had long escaped from, having broken away from his sibling years earlier for fear that Danny’s criminal ways would drag him down.

Naturally, the heist goes awry, leaving Danny and Will the only survivors of a shootout with the police. They hijack an ambulance hoping it will give them the cover they need to get around police roadblocks, only to discover a badly wounded police officer in the back. This leaves EMT Cam (Eiza Gonzalez) in the unenviable position of having to save a gunshot victim’s life while being a hostage trapped in a high speed chase.

Could I, as a noble viewer, have suspended disbelief? Sure. Half the time, that is the job of a noble viewer, after all. No one wants to see real life in the movies. No one wants to see a movie about an accountant who suffers from hemorrhoids whose kids hate him and who eats cookies in front of the tv all night and can’t bring himself to challenge his wife about her emotional affair with a coworker because at this point in his life it would just be too exhausting to divide up all the stuff.

So yes, I can pretend like it would be possible for an EMT to perform a life saving bullet extraction in an ambulance being driven at high speeds, being rocked by bullets and crashes and so on. I can believe that the LAPD wouldn’t have smashed this thing off the road within five minutes.

What I can’t believe in is the virtually non-existent plot and lackluster character development. Every character is a cheap cookie-cutter cutout, a gimmick and a few hacky one-liners. Garret Dillahunt is an undercover cop who joins the chase with a comically large dog in his backseat. Olivia Stambouliah is a cop with big hair who worries about things being caught in it. A latino gang that gets involved calls everyone vato every five seconds. A gay FBI agent in charge of LA’s anti-bank robbery division comes into the chase mid-way and seems to only exist to provide expository details of Danny’s past. One wonders how the top FBI agent against bank robberies in the area went through half his day without hearing about this absurdly dangerous bank robbery. Also, for some reason he reminds everyone he is gay every five minutes. Yeah, I know, maybe it’s wrong to wonder why a gay character reminds everyone he is gay for five minutes when hetero people remind everyone they are straight every two minutes but it really feels like Bay is doing this to point out that he has a gay character in the film. Subtlety has never been Bay’s strong suit, such that he is one step away from having the gay FBI agent shout out during a shootout, “Hey everyone! Just a reminder! I’m a big fan of the penis! OK back to shooting at the bad guys now! Pew! Pew!”

Meanwhile, EMT Cam was almost a doctor but was thrown out of med school for speed addiction. We never learn why she wasn’t thrown out of EMT for speed addiction. Apparently, it is ok to be an EMT on speed. Danny’s criminal enterprise largely consists of a warehouse full of fast cars.

And it goes on and on like this. I get it. This is an action flick. But even the cheesiest action flicks give us a reason to care. This movie just feels like Bay played an expensive game of toy car crash em up, like how little boys bonk their toy cars together then go have milk and cookies except when they do this it doesn’t cost millions of dollars.

Irony is the critics seem to dig it. I wouldn’t think they would but I rarely agree with them. A quarter of the way into the movie I found myself checking my phone and puttering around the house to do busy work. Such is the sign of a bad movie when you are like, “yeah, yeah I get the gist but I’m not going to miss anything if I turn my back for a few minutes to do the dishes and fold the laundry.”

Weird. More explosions and crashes than a Beirut backyard barbecue and yet I lost interest. Critics seem to enjoy it as a roller coaster ride. In that case, I can see it and maybe it would have been better on the big screen, away from all my household chores. Even so, I say if a movie can’t keep me from my chores than it has failed.

STATUS: Borderline shelf-worthy but very borderline. I can’t say I’d watch it again. I wouldn’t rent it or pay money for it, but when it comes to your favorite streaming service, you might put it on so you can be moderately amused while you sweep the floor and finish your ironing.

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Movie Review – The Northman (2022)

Oh, those wacky Vikings!

BQB here with a review of “The Northman.”

It’s a story told time and again throughout Western literature – a young lad, happy as can be, a prince with a loving king father and queen mother. All is well until the greedy, conniving uncle steps in, wacks the poppa, steals momma, and absconds with the throne. Alas, the kiddo must grow up and seek his revenge if he is to ever quell the anger and resentment that broods inside him, though there’s an underlying question of whether revenge is worth it and he could always choose to run and learn to live with the injustice…but then again, he obviously can’t.

Perhaps you saw this story as “The Lion King” when you were a kid or “Sons of Anarchy” as an adult. More likely, you know it as “Hamlet,” the great-great-great grandaddy of English lit, some say the story that all stories owe their existence to. In fact, this movie is the story of Prince Amleth (Alexander Skaarsgaard), a scorned Icelandic royal on a lifelong quest for retaliation against his murderous, scheming uncle (Claes Bang) who killed his father (Ethan Hawke) and his fool (Willen Defoe) only to abscond with his mother (Nicole Kidman) and the throne.

On the one hand, one might find this to be a typical ancient history film. A bit long and dry, hard to connect with people from long ago, so far removed from our modern lives. Sadly, history movies are always a gamble at the box office and many don’t fare well.

However, this is different than any other history flick you’ve seen. Many history flicks add a tinge of modernity just to get the viewer through it. With any adventure into the past, I often wonder if any of us can ever grasp a true sense of what life was like in a time we never saw, that we only know about through long decayed writings on stone or parchment or second hand stories passed down through the generations.

To the film’s credit, Director Robert Eggers strives for accuracy and in doing so, shows us a world we should all be very glad indeed that we don’t live in. In the land of Ancient Iceland as well as other parts of the frozen north, life is very cheap indeed. Lowborn or lineage otherwise considered improper will condemn you to a life of slavery. Nobles feel free to kill, torture or, well, have their way with you as they please. Blood and tears are expelled every hour on the hour. Limbs and other parts are hacked off with great frequency. Animal sacrifices. Bizarre religious rituals and/or witchcraft where the practioners truly believe magical powers will be bestowed upon them if they do X horrible deed.

And don’t even get me started on the labor. Have you ever complained about having to do the launder? Ugh. Forget it. You wouldn’t last 5 seconds as an ancient Icelandic peasant slave then. Backbreaking labor from early morning to late night. Wrestling with the rock filled frozen earth just to plant a few measly crops. Fetching water buckets and carrying them to the village on your back. There’s nary an Arby’s in sight and there’s no Taskrabbit to pawn your grueling chores off onto someone else with.

Don’t even get me started on the stink and bad medicine. As you watch the lack of hygiene, you can almost smell the medieval funk and frankly, noble reader, if you were to time travel to the dark ages with nothing but the crap you have in your medicine cabinet, you would be considered a great, mystic healer indeed. What a smelly, unsanitary time it was.

Ultimately, I’d have to say that this film’s no holds barred view of a world at a time when life was, to quote Thomas Hobbes, “nasty, brutish and short” is what makes it memorable. Otherwise, its more or less yet another retelling of the Hamlet story. Skaarsgaard is practically a modern day Viking himself and shines in the lead as Amleth, who literally broods with neverending rage his entire adult life as his only waking thought is how he can return to Iceland and give his uncle his comeuppance.

Along the way, our hero falls in love with peasant slave Olga (Anna Taylor-Joy and unless it is a stunt tucas, you get to see her tucas in a gratuitous manner which I’m not complaining about.) Defoe is comically creepy as usual and Kidman isn’t just another pretty face as she brings some depth to a character who, well, I won’t spoil it other than to say this queen isn’t going to win any mother of the year awards any time soon.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Some great cinematography shows old Iceland as a truly desolate place, so rough that one wonders why all these dumb Vikings are fighting over it in the first place. As I watched, I couldn’t help but think of Groucho’s old line. “It’s God’s country…and he can have it.”

SIDENOTE: If you ever think you have it bad (and I’m not knocking your plight, for you very well might have it bad) at least look on the bright side. If you’re reading this, chances are you were born in a country that recognizes its citizens have a basic set of rights that come from God and not government, for government given rights can always be taken away. You can’t be enslaved because you were born into the wrong family. You can’t be murdered by the people in charge or otherwise punished without a fair trial. You have modern conveniences and inventions that keep you warm, fed, and bring water to your house. Damn it, anything you want, from a new pair of shoes to a rubber chicken, can be ordered with the click of a button and delivered to you in days. And you have Arby’s and they have the meats. Don’t even get me started about Arby’s. Show me the person from today with the lousiest life you can imagine and I’ll show you a person who still has it better off than an Icelandic king from 1000 years ago.

In conclusion, whenever you feel down and out, remember you won the cosmic lottery when you were born in the Western world during a time of washing machines, indoor plumbing, and Arbys. Also, treadmills. Go run off that Arby’s ya fat bastard.

(Actually, come to think of it, no Arby’s and daily back breaking work probably left everyone cut and ripped and saved them tons of money on gym memberships so what do I know?)

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Movie Review – The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021)

Lights! Camera! Jesus! Makeup!

BQB here with a review of the biopic/life story of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker.

I thought this would be very stupid. Actually, I thought it was going to rake a duo of greedy TV preachers and while it’s hard to say they don’t deserve it, if you were alive in the 1980s and 1990s, then you know they pretty much were made fun of ad nauseum so at this point, twenty some odd years later, it’s like beating a dead horse, then kicking the horse for extra fun. Doesn’t make any sense.

Ergo, it was a surprise that this movie was actually interesting and a good watch. This is always a nice surprise when you go into a movie thinking the worst and coming out with the best. It actually humanized the Bakkers, told me a lot I never knew before.

Honestly, I was a kid when there religious media empire blew up under accusations of wrongdoing so I only knew them as the preacher that cheated on his wife with Jessica Hahn and that said wife was that crazy lady with tons of makeup.

Things I didn’t know: that Tammy cheated first and Jim’s cheat was, as the movie claims, a retaliatory cheat. I didn’t know that televangelism dated back to the 1960s. I didn’t know that Tammy sang or did puppet shows. I just thought she was a wacky lady with a lot of makeup.

I also didn’t know that Tammy was advocating for inclusion of LGBTQ worshippers into the Christian faith. An early scene where a young Tammy tries to talk a disinterested Rev Jerry Falwell (Vincent D’Nofrio) into being nicer to homosexuals goes about as well as you might expect, but you have to give her credit for trying because this was the 19-freaking-60s.

I also never knew there were claims that Jim Bakker was gay. The movie never outright confirms it but strongly suggests it. Not that anyone reads this fine blog but I suppose in fairness, I should mention Bakker has denied being gay and remarried a new wife in 1998.

Surprisingly, the story sympathizes with the Bakkers to the point where you might not want to completely let them off the hook, but you understand how they got there. Tammy’s mother wasn’t one for doling out love so she sought the world’s love through Christian songs. Jim freaking accidentally ran a kid over when he was young and promised God he’d become a preacher if he let the kid live and he did so he held up his end of the bargain. Alas, all the money and power…and unfortunately, two halves of a couple trying to live in a spotlight that can only shine on one with all the jealousies that ensue…yeah I can’t condone what they did but I get how they got there.

Jessica Chastain completely transforms into another person, right down to Tammy’s patented laugh. Andrew Garfield also turns into a Jim Bakker clone. Great acting here.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I could almost make an argument that it was deserving of a best picture nomination. My unbridled speculation is that maybe the Academy doesn’t like movies where religious types aren’t painted out as supervillains. Overall, I thought this biopic was fair – it didn’t let them off the hook for chicanery but it didn’t reduce them to cartoon characters or take a victory lap around them either.

SIDENOTE: How freaking old is Pat Robertson? A number of famous TV preachers are portrayed but Pat is shown as one of the big names in televangelism in the 1960s and the dude is still on TV today.

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Movie Review – The Bubble (2022)

Aw sweet! Cliff Beasts 6 is out already, 3.5 readers!

Come with me for a review of…The Bubble, not Cliff Beasts.

My first reaction is this is typical Netflix fanfare combined with typical Judd Apatow fanfare. Large ensemble cast. Basic structure but largely improvised dialogue. Too long. Could have benefitted from some editing. Not very coherent but it ended eventually. I assume Netflix likes such movies because they can spend heavy on the cast and not so much on anything else.

But that’s where I was wrong. This is a very special effects intensive film, largely because they are making fun of Hollywood, the film production process, pretentious actors and of course, action flicks. The ensemble, featuring the likes of Karen Gillian, Keegan Michael-Key, Fred Armisen, Leslie Mann, David Duchovny, that girl who played Borat’s daughter, Pedro Pascal and plenty of others who I’m probably too old to know their names star as the cast of the Cliff Beast franchise, a series of lousy action films in which a team of heroes assemble again and again to defeat evil dinosaur like creatures who dwell on cliffs.

This fact alone leads to the biggest laughs of the film as we get a comparison between how CGI scenes look very cool once rendered vs. what buffoons everyone involved looks like when they are shooting such scenes.

The overall premise is that at the height of the pandemic in 2020, back in the early days of the rona when everyone was so worried that they were wiping down their potato chip bags, a major studio dares to be one of two companies still willing to produce a major film. Accordingly, the cast is cloistered in a posh hotel in the British countryside and are forced to live together, not go anywhere or do anything fun for fear of coming down with the dreaded rona. Hotel staff have to pamper these rich entitled bums who are used to getting their way and are willing to throw outrageous temper tantrums over trivial things whereas the rest of us working stiffs have grown used to not getting our way.

Hijinx ensue that’s pretty much where the coherence ends. Each character has their own subplot and it all culminates in the ensemble yearning for a way off the set, for the film itself becomes a nightmare. Mistakes and errors cause the production to drag on for months and months and there’s no exit from the hotel in sight. The actors try almost every option to get out of the film except, you know, being good actors.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Not really a great film and not something I’d want to watch twice. It does have a lot of laughs and parodies Hollywood extensively. The behind the scenes looks at actors working on a green screen set are a laugh riot. I suppose we’ve come a long way in two years, from the time when people wearing scuba type helmets on dry land seemed like a great idea to now, when a film can laugh at such silliness.

SIDENOTE: I’m not entirely sure a dry land scuba helmet is a terrible idea. I’d wear one if it were socially acceptable.

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Movie Review – Nightmare Alley (2021)

Never be a geek, 3.5 readers. Believe me, the last thing you want to be, at least in this film’s definition of the word, is a geek.

BQB here with a review of Guillermo Del Toro’s Oscar buzzed noir flick.

It’s the early 1940s and drifter Stanton Carlisle (Bradley Cooper in a fedora, see?) has just snatched up a paying gig, he’s a carnie and accordingly, all the freaks and geeks of a traveling show will educate him on the ways of flim flam, fakery, deception and of course, the con.

His professors in this master class include Zeena and Pete (Toni Collette and David Strathairn) – a couple who perform as a fortune teller and her assistant bilking the crowd of boku buckeroos with claims of communication with the great beyond. Meanwhile, “geek keeper”) Clem Hoatley (Willem Dafoe) educates the lad (Cooper is referred to throughout this movie as young buck but isn’t he pushing fifty? Oh well, if you’re handsome enough…) on how no one gets ahead without getting their hands dirty. (Sidenote: in this movie, “geek” does not mean “person who collects many Star Wars action figures” as it does in modern times and I’ll leave it at that.)

Rooney Mara rounds out the cast as Molly, she who claims an astounding ability to absorb electricity and Ron Perlman stars as strong man Bruno, Molly’s father-appointed protector who promised to beat up anyone who hurts Molly, thus putting Stan the Man in line for a knuckle sandwich with extra beatdown sauce if he misbehaves.

Long story short, the film is actually two films. The first half, Stan learns the art of the con and the second half, flash forward years later to a time when Stan has perfected the con, performing a mysterious mentalist act with the help of assistant Molly to large, sold out halls in the big city.

Enter Dr. Lillith Ritter (Cate Blanchett). Molly describes her as a stone-faced bitch and frankly, that’s the best description of Blanchett’s typical role I’ve ever heard. In addition to being a stone-faced bitch, Ritter is also a psychiatrist, who views her profession as a legalized con and recruits Stan to use his BS skills to bilk uber wealthy but hella gullible rubes out of their bucks in exchange for Stan tricking them into believing he can communicate with their deceased loved ones.

Then again, the uber rich aren’t people you want to piss off…and I’ll leave it there, another than to mention turns by Richard Jenkins, Holt McCallany and Mary Steenbergen.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I saw this offered on HBO Max and for a long time I assumed it was some sort of new series that I didn’t feel like investing time in. The movie was long and at times I actually wondered if it would have worked better as a series with Stan conning a new mark every week. I’m not sure it’s Oscar worthy and may not have been in the running had it not been for Del Toro’s direction.

DOUBLE SIDNOTE: In the first half of the film, it is always raining. In the second half, it is always snowing. At any rate, bad weather abounds.

TRIPLE SIDNOTE: Based on an old novel turned into a 1940s film that makes me want to go check out the old film. I doubt I will though because I am incredibly lazy.

SPOILER ALERT:

LOOK AWAY UNLESS YOU’VE SEEN IT!

There’s two endings. I can’t get too deep into them other than to say the first ending required me to suspend disbelief as it seemed unlikely someone so adept at conning would do what they did.

As for the second ending, that was great and fitting and it added some symmetry, bringing it back to the beginning of the film which I felt laid out something terrible and made me wonder if they had just forgotten this part only to go back to it at the end.

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Movie Review – Death on the Nile (2022)

And the murderer is…

You’ll have to watch for yourselves, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of a surprisingly good movie for Hulu.

You might remember in 2017 Kenneth Branagh breathed new life in the seminal work of the great mistress of the whodunnit, she who gave birth to the modern mystery novel and perhaps the modern mystery film by association – the great Agatha Christie. Five years (how have they gone by so quickly) later, Branagh is back as Christie’s signature protagonist, the brilliant (both in mind and mustache) Detective Hercule Poirot.

This film has more stars than your favorite constellation, so part of me is surprised it has flown under the radar. It came out on February yet I just realized it was on my second favorite streaming service which to me is like saying my second favorite bag of doggy doody (but I’ll get into my love/hate relationship with streaming services another time.)

The other part of me isn’t surprised the fanfare for this flick has been lackluster. It’s a historical piece, and a thinker at that. Like most whodunnits, it follows Christie’s tried and true formula of putting several flamboyant personalities into one location, giving them all a motive and then, egads! Murder most foul! Lock the doors and bring in Detective Poirot! You’ll have to follow the clues, take notes and keep track of the evidence…or just be lazy like me and munch popcorn while Poirot does all the work and take his word for it.

Here, the dessert loving stache man has been invited on a pleasure cruise of the Nile, at the behest of newlyweds played by Gal Gadot and Armie Hammer. (Sidenote, there’s a scene where Gal grinds her tucas on Armie’s junk on the pyramids so hey, that’s fun. Oh, sorry for the spoiler…then again maybe you’ll watch for the grindage.)

Long story short, these two are absurdly good looking, absurdly successful and absurdly rich, such that they draw the envy of many a cruise guest and drive one of them commit a most heinous crime.

Letitia Wright of Black Panther’s sister fame, that wild snow girl who dated John Snow in Game of Thrones whose name I can’t remember, Annette Bening, Russell Brand and more whose names I don’t feel looking up. This flick really was a get for the Hoo to the Loo.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Come for the mystery. Stay for the suspense. Feel free to pause it on Gal grinding her hiney. Curse your family’s bad genes that prevented you from being a handsome actor like Arnie who gets paid to have his junk grinded on by Gal Gadot. Oh and eat more cookies. That always helps.

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