Tag Archives: movie reviews

Movie Review – Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Pretend I’ve been whipped with the lasso of truth, 3.5 readers, for this will be an honest review.

Some preliminary thoughts, in no particular order:

  1. It’s been so long since I’ve seen a movie theater quality movie that it was nice.
  2. I get why some reviews are calling it bad.
  3. It’s not as good as the first one…
  4. …but that is, largely in part, due to the fact that the first one was so good.

If we back up a few years, DC had totally botched its rollout of a DC Universe of movies that we hoped would rival what Marvel had done over the past decade. Instead, we got the horror show that was Batman vs. Superman and the Suicide Squad movie (I was the only one who liked it though even I admit it could have been better.)

In those days, we realized that DC wasn’t going for perfection, or anything near it. Instead, they were going for the quick cash grab, trying to rake in a big haul before the comic book movie bubble burst. (I’m not sure why they thought it would. If anything, there’s a hole to fill in the wake of the end of Marvel’s Avengers saga that DC could be stepping in to fill nicely had it taken its time to work on some good stories.)

At any rate, there was a lot of pressure on the first Wonder Woman film. BVS and SS were considered total failures and if WW had tanked, that would have been the end of DC movies for the foreseeable future.

Ahh, but then our favorite lasso wielding lady came in and stole the show, as well as our hearts. Her origin story, as an Amazon warrior princess who leaves the safety of her homeland to save the world from the destruction of World War I was quite harrowing indeed, and frankly, her presence saved the mediocre Justice League movie.

In DC’s defense, they had a bigger challenge. Marvel’s cast of characters were largely unknown to the movie going public, and so they were able to roll out each character with an origin story of their own, followed by flicks that tied the heroes together.

Meanwhile, we’ve already seen Baby Superman’s space capsule crash in Mr. and Mrs. Kent’s backyard 100 times on screen. We’ve seen Young Batman watch his parents get shot after a night at the theatre too many times too. We didn’t need any more origin stories for them and yet, we would have benefitted from stand alone adventures that introduced us to these versions of the well known characters.

Don’t even get me started on the drek that was Birds of Prey. DC should just pay to have all the copies recalled.

Thus, it’s hard for me to knock Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot is beautiful and charming and overall, this character and Gadot’s portrayal pulled DC’s bacon out of the fire. WW is now carrying the whole DC universe on her back and its sad, because if they’d put more thought into creating a cohesive cinematic world, then it would never have had to be that way.

Back to this movie.

We want it all and we want it now. We’ve felt that way for quite some time and the 1980s is arguably the decade where that sentiment began. Get rich. Get famous. Get this. Get that. Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie and give it to me today, not tommorrow.

This is evident from the opening said, where WW saves numerous citizens from, well…their own self-obsession. Idiots impressed with their fast car don’t noticed a jogger. A groom holds up his bride too close to a railing over a steep drop to get the best photo while dopey teenagers run from a store with their shoplifted goods. A pack of imbecile crooks who’d rather cause mayhem in a shopping mall than get caught and do the time attached to their crime. There’s an ongoing theme – everyone is obsessed with their own personal gain and only Wonder Woman can save them from…themselves.

Enter villain Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal aka Mando), a typical 1980s self-help type guru who promises his fans big riches if they buy into his BS. We quickly learn is schtick is but a mere pawnsi scheme, but when he gets his hands on a wishing stone that has wreaked havoc on past civilizations, he gets it all, but to a disastrous effect.

You see, 3.5 readers, at the start of the film, a young WW learns the hard way, back on Amazon Island (whatever it’s called) that nothing good in life is free and if we want something, we must put in the time and the effort. We must slug our way through to the end and drag our weary butts across the finish line. We can’t do things half-assed. We can’t take shortcuts. We can’t cheat our way to success and expect to grab a long lasting success that actually matters.

Referring to “The Monkey’s Paw Effect” (which assumes viewers have read the Monkey’s Paw or seen one of its many TV parodies), WW and company learn that wishing upon the stone comes with a terrible cost. When something is given, something else is taken away. In the Monkey’s Paw tale, an elderly couple wishes on a simian hand. They get, but they also lose…big time.

In reality, magical comeuppances are rare, but to cheat usually brings shame upon yourself. It damages your reputation. Makes people less inclined to trust you. To want to work with you. Ultimately, any ill gotten gain isn’t worth it. You would have been better off slugging away in the trenches of your profession, building yourself up than say, sleeping with your boss to get ahead, or slandering a rival or engaging in corporate espionage or what have you.

Comeuppances in exchange for wishes are bigger and bolder in this film, and that’s where it starts to fall apart. You see, Lord wishes to become the wishing stone, the granter of wishes, and thus, when he grants a wish, he decides what he wants to take from the wisher, and does so in order to fill his needs. Wishes beget more wishes, comeuppances beget more comeuppances, somehow this all escalates into global turmoil as world leaders enter the fray, wishing for madness and getting madness in return.

Ultimately, the movie is more of a lecture on the dangers of consumerism and the need to walk the straight path. If you want to be X, you need to get in line, wait your turn, and check off all the boxes that come with becoming X. Great lesson but, you know, we’d all prefer to see less lecturing and more of WW beating dudes senseless with her whip.

It was cool to see comedienne Kristin Wiig get her day in the sun. She’s that underdog you root for. Talented. Funny. Got to shine in Bridesmaids and then was never given another major vehicle until now. My main complaint is that she is WW’s nemesis, Cheetah, yet we see very little of Cheetah.

STAUS: Shelf-worthy. Overall, it’s a good movie and if you miss the theater experience as much as I do, you’ll enjoy this. It doesn’t beat the first, though it’s rare for a sequel to do so. Wonder Woman continues to be the best that DC/Warner Bros have to offer and if recent forays like Birds of Prey are any indication, poor Ms. Prince will be carrying the DC universe on her back for years to come…so if she wasn’t all you hoped and dreamed for this time around that a) you missed the movie’s point and b) give her a break. She’s doing a lot of work.

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Why You Should Watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) (Or Settle Less To Get More…Maybe)

Moon River, 3.5 readers. Moon River.

I wrote a review about this movie awhile back but I am too lazy to post a link to it. As lazy bloggers go, I am one of the laziest there has ever been…except for those bloggers who are so lazy they never even start blogs that are read by only 3.5 people. Those bloggers are truly the laziest.

But I digress. This movie is old but IMO, it holds up. It’s about growing up and how sometimes we have to settle for less to get more. Sometimes we have to abandon far fetched dreams in order to cling to the real success that is all around us.

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn) is a Manhattan socialite, always invited to every party. Her only means of support come from a) bilking dates out of money for the washroom, because apparently in 1961 you had to pay to poop (she would run out the back door without bringing back the date’s change and/or never made change because she never pooped in the first place) and b) delivering coded messages in the form of “weather reports” between the mafia and their imprisoned in Sing Sing don, though whether she understands the gravity of what she is doing is debatable. Spoiler: She probably does.

Holly’s great dream in life is to one day be a trophy wife, to land a big fish of a husband who is rich and able to pay for all of her needs and wants and desires so she can just have fun and live a happy, carefree lifestyle.

Ironically, her new neighbor, Paul Varjak (George Peppard) is, in a way, living the life Holly has always dreamed of, though he doesn’t enjoy it. Paul is a struggling writer but has won the “patronage” of a wealthy older woman who pays for his apartment and all of his expenses, under the auspices that she is a patron of the arts and believes in Paul so much that she wants him to be able to focus on his dream of writing that great mindbending, once in a generation novel that becomes the toast of the literary world. (But really, the underlying deal is that Paul is her personal man candy and has to give her the old badoinkity doink whenever she snaps her fingers.)

SIDENOTE: If any wealthy older women want to strike up a deal like that with yours truly, I’m all ears. Your sponsorship of all my living expenses will help me focus on writing my Toilet Gator novels, to the literary world’s benefit and I mean, if you’re a 5 or higher I guess the old badoinkity doink can be arranged.

Back to the movie. As Holly and Paul become friends, they realize the love they have for one another is pure and better than anything they could hope for, yet they must find it in their hearts to give up their long held dreams in order to grasp the real love right in front of them.

This means that Holly must abandon the notion of being a rich man’s kept trophy wife. This premise becomes more and more likely as Holly’s dates become increasingly boorish, leading her to include that it is unlikely that a rich man who would be OK to marry a woman who is only in it for the money would be anything but a miserable brute who would boss her around and try to control her.

This also means that Paul will have to, horror of horrors, abandon the arrangement he has with his older grand dame, say goodbye to his hope of spending years on writing a fantastic novel, and GASP get a day job! Ack!

From there on, it’s a will they or won’t they scenario. You don’t want them to abandon their dreams, but you don’t want them to abandon their love either. Ultimately, for their love to work, they’ll both have to become 9 to 5 working stiffs and lead a middle class life. Their pie in the sky dreams will be dashed but they will have their love which is real.

So ultimately, the film is an argument for settling for less to get more and I can tell you, 3.5 readers, that I settled a long time ago and…I wish I hadn’t. I really regret it. Maybe I shouldn’t. But that’s the human condition. We grab hold of something real in lieu of something we might grab tomorrow and then rather than appreciate what we grabbed we start thinking, “Well, what if I had waited another year? Would I have gotten what I wanted?”

Maybe Paul would have written that great novel if he had just kept badoinking that old gal for another year. Maybe Holly would have one day met that rare, one in a million rich man with a heart of gold willing to be her personal ATM machine while not trying to control her comings and goings and doings.

But maybe they would have also just grown old and alone. Maybe the old rich lady would have found a younger struggling writer to patronize and kicked Paul to the curb. Maybe Holly would have never found a rich man and would have just ended up living in her apartment all alone forever.

You never know, 3.5 readers. You only know how your choices worked out. You never get to learn how the paths you didn’t take would have worked out, so try not to wallow in regret…or do. It’s a free country.

But above all else, remember to settle because it will make you happy…but also, it might not, so I guess, don’t settle and keep shooting for your dreams.

Do whatever. It rarely matters anyway. I mean, seriously, Audrey and George are long dead so nothing we do matters in the grand scheme of things. All we are is dust in the wind as the song goes.

SIDENOTE: It was fun to see George as a young man because I only knew him as Hannibal, the leader of the A Team when I was a kid. George didn’t settle for less. He went all in on his acting dreams, was the leading man in this movie and then was rewarded later in life by having to don a parachuting lizard costume in a TV show as an old man. So, it worked out for him. I assume he enjoyed it. Maybe not. He’s dead so I can’t ask him.

DOUBLE SIDENOTE: Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of Holly’s Asian neighbor is awful. I know it was 1961 but even so, you’d think one person on the set would have been like, “Dude, WTF?”

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Movie Review – Knock Knock (2015)

This movie is that big piece of candy you reach for. You know you should be going for the meat and potatoes or better yet, a healthy tofu platter but damn it, it tastes good going down, even though you know it’s going to leave you with a tummy ache in a half hour, wondering why the hell you bothered with it in the first place.

BQB here with a review of a movie that’s found new life in the Netflix charts as of late, “Knock Knock.”

Going into this movie, you know it’s a horror film of sorts. It’s directed by Eli Roth, who has given us strange and bizarre horror films filled with exploitative sex and gore. The sex is here big time while the gore is not but Roth replaces the gore with weird mind games.

Keanu Reeves plays Evan, a middle aged family man who stays at home one fateful weekend while his beautiful wife and family go on a beach trip. All alone and swamped with work, Evan answers the door to find two scantily clad young women claiming to be lost in the rain. Would he mind letting them in to dry off and get their bearings and find out what to do?

Now here’s where I differ from most men put into this situation. As my 3.5 readers know, I am incredibly ugly and hideous, such that I make Gollum look like Matthew McConaughey by comparison. Thus, if a random hot, scantily clad woman comes on to me, I know fraudulence is afoot. There’s no possibly way she could be warm for my form because my form is blobular due to a life long crippling pizza addiction. Ergo, if a woman comes onto me, I know she’s trying to murder me or set me up for blackmail or going to rob me or what have you so in such a situation I would see through the ruse and slam the door in the faces of the women immediately.

Frankly, I’m so jaded that I’ll never trust a woman who doesn’t empty the contents of no less than three cans of mace into my face upon meeting me, but enough about me. Back to the review.

Keanu is handsome and his character is rich, so I guess I can see how he would figure these babes are legit into him. Even so, one might think he’d be intelligent enough to think that things that are too good to be true, i.e. two hotties showing up out of nowhere ready to party constitute a gift horse whose mouth should be thoroughly examined.

The first half of the film leaves us wondering what are these women going to do, because you know it is something. Are they going to murder him? Rob him? Blackmail him? Something else?

The second half of the film leaves us wondering why the women are doing what they are doing to Evan. Has he wronged them in some way that has yet to be revealed? Is he a horrible person who deserves it and there’s just some clue we have yet to see? What is the purpose of all this mayhem?

SPOILER ALERT: There’s a lot of build up for very little payoff. After Evan caves into temptation, the women (Lorenza Izzo as Genesis and Ana de Armas as Bel) put Keanu through a series of tortures, each creepier than the next. I hate to say it but some of them are even humorous, though I don’t think they were intended to be. There’s something about watching veteran actor Keanu buried up to his head in dirt while the women taunt him that makes me wonder if we weren’t better off in the Golden Age of Hollywood when 50 something actors would gracefully retire, only to maybe return once in awhile to play a kindly grandpa, whereas today dudes like Keanu rub some shoe polish in their hair so they can be chased around by psycho babes on camera well into their golden years. I don’t know. At any rate, Evan is subjected to all manner of punishments, though an explanation as to how or why these women decided to go around, offering their goodies to married men only to punish them if they partake is never fully explained.

Is there a moral to this story? Men are, by nature, animals, as are all creatures. In our cavemen days, men claimed any woman they wanted as long as they were strong enough to carry them back to the cave and I doubt that was a situation that ever worked out well for the woman.

The years passed and man became domesticated, realizing that the best goal in life is to win the heart of a woman, to marry and form a partnership, create a stable home, family etc.

In theory, men often torture themselves. If I’d waited, would I have been able to find more women? Could I have become rich and successful and attracted a vast array of hotties if I hadn’t tied myself down to the old ball and chain?

Probably not. And the irony is, it was hard, at least for me, to not feel sorry for Evan. Here is a dedicated family man, husband and father who brings home the bacon and at the start of the film, enjoys an idyllic life. He does not appear to be the kind of man who cheats and it is doubtful he would ever go out looking for another woman, i.e. he isn’t patrolling the bars late at night or anything. Left to his own devices he would never stray, but put two random naked beauties in front of him and his animal instincts kick in.

In such a scenario, does he deserve to be punished? Isn’t this entrapment? Or is that the moral of the story? Perhaps it wouldn’t happen in this way. Perhaps two too good to be true babes will never show up at your door. However, temptation is everywhere (again, if you’re Keanu) so…I don’t know. A flirtation with a waitress. An emotional affair with a coworker. You get tempted one time, you stray just one time and that’s all it takes to ruin your idyllic married life. And would those women punish you as in bury you in your head in dirt and try to kill you? No, but you know, they might take your money or ruin your reputation or leave you divorced and penniless and at that point, you might wish they had buried you alive and put you out of your misery.

Again, this would never happen to me as I don’t trust any woman who doesn’t instantly pepper spray me. You’re a woman and you want my trust? Pepper spray me directly in the eyeballs. Then I will know you are a woman of good moral fiber.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. It is a terrible movie and yet like a flaming dumpster fire full of poo, it is hard to not look away. I’m not sure why Keanu did this movie as it seems beneath him other than I guess he got a paycheck and got to hang out with naked babes though I doubt he needs Hollywood’s help in the money and babe departments at this stage of his life so, who knows.

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Movie Review – The Postcard Killings (2020)

A serial killer run amuck! An American forced to work with Europeans!

BQB here with a review of “The Postcard Killings.”

I liked this one. In a year where there hasn’t been much in the way of new releases, this was a good mystery. Plus, as a fan of The Walking Dead, it was good to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan not just in a lead role, but in a role that’s a real person and not a cartoon character come to life.

Morgan plays Jacob Kanon, an American cop who arrives in London when his daughter in son-in-law are murdered during their honeymoon vacation. Unwilling to wait while the Brits discover whodunnit, he throws himself into the fray, quickly learning that similar murders have occurred all throughout Europe, brutal killings in which the victims are posed in positions similar to famous works of art.

Along the way he works with journalist Dessie Lombard (Cush Jumbo) and his ex-wife (Famke Janssen) to crack the case.

I suppose I can’t say much more without revealing the plot but overall, it’s a good mystery.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Hubie Halloween (2020)

Well, I suppose I had to watch it sooner or later.

BQB with a review of Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix movie, “Hubie Halloween.”

I wish I could remember who said this so I could give them credit, and I’m going to be paraphrasing here, but I remember one time a reviewer likened Adam Sandler to a drug dealer in that both provide products that the public consumes and yet both never stop to think if they should. Ouch.

However, as Sandler movies go, this isn’t his worst, and if you’re looking for a film that will put you in the Halloween spirit without being too scary, this will work.

Sandler returns to his Waterboyish demeanor as Hubie Dubois, the constantly dumped on and made fun of town doofus in Salem, MA, which you history buffs may recall was the home of the Salem Witch trials in the 1600s and thus has been the locale of many a Halloween based movie.

Hubie is a man child, having never really grown up. He works in a deli and in his free time, he holds himself out as a self-appointed town volunteer, involving himself in this or that cause on the auspices of being a good citizen but ultimately, you the viewer quickly realize that this guy is so awkward and lonely that he basically volunteers for a reason just to come into contact with people.

His favorite time of year is Halloween and as the town’s self-appointed “Halloween monitor” he spends his days in October snitching on kids who are purchasing absurd amounts of eggs and toilet paper, lecturing school kids on Halloween safety and dodging all the various objects that townsfolk throw at him while riding his biycyle.

Long story short, someone is kidnapping townsfolk on Halloween night and it is up to Hubie and his trusty Swiss Army thermos full of soup to solve the case. Along the way, he’ll have to dodge bullies like Ray Liotta, Time Meadows and Maya Rudolph, collaborate with police officer Kevin James, and win the love of his high school crush (Julie Bowen who I recognized but wasn’t sure from what until I looked it up and realize she played Sandler’s love interest in Happy Gilmore and has still got it!)

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure who this movie is for. Sandler still practices that old school style of unwoke comedy though you can sort of tell it was run through a filter where various suits probably told him “You can’t do this or that or this or that and here’s as far as we’ll let you go.”

As someone who was alive during Sandler’s early heyday, I appreciate his style, though Im not sure many today still do…or then again maybe they do as this movie is ranked in the Netflix’s top ten as of late (at least, last I checked).

It does have some swears and some adult jokes, yet overall it is silly and childish so I can’t see adults loving it – it is Halloween based so you’d think it would be for the kids yet due to the aforementioned swearing and adult jokes, I’m not sure you’d want your young kids to watch it either. I believe it is PG 13 which seems about right.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Ava (2020)

Jessica Chastain as a lady assassin. What could go wrong?

Well…it’s not that this movie is all bad, but it could have been a lot better.

There’s star power. Colin Farrell. Geena Davis. John Malkovich. Common.

But alas, the plot is rather thin.

Chastain plays Ava, a woman who, years ago, had a falling out with her family and ran away to join the army and later, become a hitwoman for hire, beholden to a mysterious agency, Malkovich playing Duke, her handler.

The reasoning for the running away from her fam – well, it sucks but in the grand scheme of things, everyone probably has a story or two to tell about the time they came of age and realized that their parents and/or siblings weren’t the heroes they thought they were when they were young. I won’t spoil it but as backstories go, it seems more like a story that would make a young person want to get a job at Walmart and get a crappy apartment just to get some personal space and not the kind of story where you’d become an assassin but whatever.

The story fluctuates between the main plot of Ava vs her agency, i.e. she has begun to question whether it is right to be an assassin and thus the agency wants to take her out before she grows a conscience. It would probably be good if it focused on this, but it delves into sideplots – i.e. Ava returns to her hometown and squabbles with her mother (Geena Davis, once a great beauty and I think it would have been better if she’d grown old gracefully rather than try to cling to youth with plastic surgery but to the flim’s credit this is poked fun at) and her sister, who is now betrothed to Ava’s old boyfriend, played by Common. In a third subplot, Ava takes on the underground gambling operation that Common’s character owes money to.

There are parts where the acting falls a little flat, but I don’t want to call out the offending actors. Not that it matters. Only 3.5 people read this blog anyway.

My feeling is with a better script this movie could have been a lot better but instead it serves as sort of a showcase for the talents of a lot of actors and perhaps a stepping stone for Chastain to enter into the badass female character genre.

But I’ll be honest, if it weren’t for COVID shutting down theaters, I probably wouldn’t have wasted much time with this.

STATUS: Moderately shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Mulan (2020)

Be a man, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Disney’s live action Mulan.

God, I’m old. When I was a young lad, newly minted driver’s license in hand, I took a girl to see the cartoon version of this movie and we were blown away by it, for it was ahead of its time. I think it might have been like my first actual date.

In the blink of an eye, 22 years and my hair are gone and the original film is now considered culturally insensitive because it had a talking cartoon dragon who, I’m just saying, sold the movie.

And what the hell happened to that girl anyway? I’d look her up online but I’m worried she might have lost her hair too.

Fun sidenote: She taught me how to put sauce on Taco Bell tacos after the movie. Up until then I didn’t know you were able to request a sauce packet to squirt on your taco. It blew my mind and I think of this girl whenever I squirt sauce into my taco and yes I know how that sounded and I’m sorry for poor phrasing but you’re the one with the dirty mind because I’m just meditating on a time when I was young and innocent and blown away by things that seem silly and trivial to adult eyes. And yes, I stand by the decision of taking a date to Taco Bell.

But enough about me. Mulan is back, in live action form this time. There’s a cast of martial arts movie maestros including Donnie Yen and Jet Li. Liu Yifei takes on the role of the everyone’s favorite girl who pretends to be a boy so she can save her father by taking her place when the Emperor comes looking for soldiers to fight an invading army.

Lots of dazzling special effects, stunts, swordplay, etc. It is more of a fantasy war epic. I don’t really know what the kids like nowadays but I assume they will like it. Merch opportunities are gone as there won’t be any cuddly Mushu stuffies to sell and if Disney doesn’t like that, they aren’t saying anything.

I have to say I still like the cartoon version better, because, and OK, I get it, if you cut out the un-woke parts, the part where Mulan takes out the invading army by starting an avalanche is cool and also the part at the end where it looks like its a celebration only for there to be a surprise ending where Mulan has to foil the bad guys once again….cool stuff.

Also, you can’t beat the Emperor’s line in the old one. While encouraging the captain to go after Mulan, he says, “You don’t meet a girl like that every dynasty.”

That line always stuck in my head. There was a girl I met later in my 20s who was one of those girls. I wish the Emperor had been around to remind me that you don’t meet a girl like this every dynasty, so I guess I can blame the rise of communism for missing out a great catch and the fact that now the highlights of my day are microwave dinners for one and writing on a blog that is only read by 3.5 people.

Sidenote: I actually did look this girl up and she kept her game tight so…yeah I don’t know, since I didn’t I probably did her a favor by being an oblivious dummy who decided to play the field without realizing that the field was destined to play him.

At any rate, this new Mulan is still pretty good and worth a watch. Is it worth the 30 bucks that Disney makes you pay for it via Disney Plus? Eh, that’s up to you. Theaters would have been packed for this so Disney missed out on all that revenue, so I get they have to make it back somehow.

It does make me wonder about the future of film. While people sometimes cheer the downfall of movie theaters, I think people have to remember that a lot of these special effects heavy blockbusters can’t be made unless you have that first wave of ticket sales, then the second wave of rentals and then finally whatever is left that comes from cable and streaming.

So, let’s keep hoping that COVID goes the way of the dodo, or the Mushu (sorry, Eddie) and that theaters will be at full capacity and slinging popcorn soon.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Bill and Ted Face the Music (2020)

Time for a review, 3.5 dudes.

I think it was Thomas Wolfe who said you can’t go home again and I think of that line whenever one of these movies come out to capitalize on the pop culture products of yesteryear.

Who is this movie for? I remember (sadly, almost like it was yesterday) being a little kid and thinking Bill and Ted were hilarious (still do). The plot of the original Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, if you recall, is that when they are about to flunk their history exam, the leaders of the future send Rufus (George Carlin) in a time traveling phone booth to pick the boys up and go on a tour of actual history, picking up actual historical figures to learn from (and to inadvertently trash a mall due to historical misunderstandings gone awry.)

I even remember the sequel, Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, where they die and go on an epic quest through heaven and hell, cheating and befriending Death along the way. Heck, I saw this one in the theater. Just like it was yesterday.

Soo….I don’t know. Is this movie for today’s kids? Maybe. Rock and Roll is long dead though. Sad because the first two were heavily rock based, such that they popularized the air guitar. The valley dude bro speak that Bill and Ted engage in is pretty much a thing of the past too.  Well, maybe not in California but its seen way less in movies whereas it was all the rage in 1980s comedies.

It definitely isn’t for Keanu Reeves, though as I watched it, I decided he has a heart of gold. Bill and Ted launched his career and he has been skyrocketing ever since. Now in his middle age, he’s going stronger than strong, his John Wick movies a license to print money so he didn’t have to do this. I assume he only did it for love of Bill and Ted fans who gave him his start.  Alex Winter didn’t go on to achieve Keanu status but I doubt he needed to do this either, so the real life Bill and Ted must think us 1980s/90s era dudes, now pretty long in the tooth ourselves, must still be pretty excellent to give us this dose of nostalgia.

So maybe it is for us fans who are getting up there. Nostalgia can be fun. For me these movies remind me of a happier time. Whether the past was better is always debatable and often we think of the past as being better, not necessarily because it was better for everyone but because it was better for us. We were young. The world was new. Time was on our side and all of life’s seemingly endless doors of possibility had yet to be slammed in our faces.

It makes me wish I had a time traveling phone booth of my own to go back and talk to me after seeing the old Bill and Ted movies and warn myself of all the proverbial rakes that the universe had hidden in the grass for me – where to find them and how to avoid stepping on them.

If you want to see this one, you might want to see the others first. You’ll get the gist if you haven’t, though there are references to the others that brought up vague recollections for me.

The plot is that Bill and Ted have spent the past few decades trying to achieve the destiny they were promised in the earlier films, namely that they would one day write and perform a song so awesome that it unites the world in peace and harmony. In truth, that song is needed more than ever today, but alas, the dudes have not been able to make it happen. Their band, Wyld Stallions, have gone from early success all the way down to the 99 cent bin, leaving them to perform at community center taco nights, the stress of it all draining their marriages to the British princess babes they dragged out of the past.

Don’t get me wrong. The film has its moments. I found one scene where Bill and Ted and their wives/princess babes go to couples’ counseling to be pretty funny. Meanwhile, Bill and Ted’s daughters, basically carbon copy parodies of their younger selves, are a hoot and they do a lot of the film’s heavy lifting.

Long story short, reality is about to collapse and B and T have a new deadline to write that epic song. While middle aged Bill and Ted go on a quest to the future to shake down various old versions of themselves in search of the song, their daughters go back in time looking for the great musicians of the past, seeking their help in producing it.

All in all, I enjoyed it. I do think Bill and Ted are products of the late 80s, early 90s when Rock and Roll was still loved and appreciated. Bill and Ted are able to solve most problems with a trip through time, though in reality, if you’re like me, you’ve realized that once mistakes are made and certain paths are traveled down, they can’t be undone, as much as you might long for a magic phone booth to use to go back and warn your past self of future problems and how to fix them.

Bonus points for a brief, tasteful tribute to the late George Carlin.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Capone (2020)

Time for a review of a modern day take on the old timey gangster movie 3.5 readers, see?

(SPOILERS)

I don’t know what to make of this movie, other than, who the hell wanted this?

Al Capone, the man who basically invented American organized crime, has been featured in films and TV shows for decades, so much so that there probably wasn’t much of a chorus of voices calling for another Capone story.

But not having much else to do, I gave it a shot.  The premise is that it takes place during the last year of Capone’s life. He’s 48 and in bad shape.  Though late forties isn’t normally the time when the average man turns into a doddering codger (at least by modern standards), Al is in poor health.  He suffers from syphilis of the brain, which has lead to strokes, which has led to declining mental health.

By the start of the film, Al has been released from his ten year stint in prison for tax evasion. He has run off to his estate in Florida with his wife and family, and is constantly annoyed by the presence of workmen who are packing up his precious statues so they can be sold, the family apparently in need of the dough.

Overall, the movie is a vehicle for Tom Hardy to flex his acting chops.  Hardy is able, through facial contortions, make-up, prosthetics and voices.  He becomes almost like a living breathing cartoon version of a gangster brought to life here.

But other than that, there isn’t much to the movie and honestly, it was a chore to watch it. I checked my clock regularly, just praying for the damn thing to end.

Plot wise?  There isn’t a lot to it.  There are occasional mentions of Al having stashed $10 million away, and sometimes various characters try to break past Al’s scrambled mind to find out where he has hidden the loot.  An old henchman played by Matt Dillon wants to find it, on the auspices that he’d like to help Al seeing as how Al and his family are in need of money, yet said henchman doesn’t exactly come across as the type of person you’d want to trust with your loot.

There’s also a doctor who is being pushed by G-Men into trying to get the info out of Al, though what the Feds have on the doc is never explained.

That’s the movie in a nutshell.  Threads are pulled but never sewn back together in the end.  The side plot about hidden money might have been interesting if it was ever explained one way or another where it is, or if it isn’t anywhere, then why.

There’s also a side plot that Al has an estranged, secret son who wants to reconnect with his father, though why the son is estranged we never know.

The climax of the film features a demented Al stalking the grounds of his Florida estate in his bathrobe and diaper, using his tommy gun to pump rounds into the workmen who have so vexed him.  You wait for the G-men who have been watching him to swoop in and arrest him but, spoiler, even that is a red herring as we learn that was just one of Al’s fever dreams.

Ultimately, there’s a lot of coughing, choking, and shit.  So much shit.  Al shits the bed. He shits his pants.  He is forced to wear adult diapers and shits those too.  I mean, though Capone is often portrayed as a Robin Hoodish folk hero, he was a gangster who killed and stole and committed atrocities for personal profit, so yeah, who gives a shit if he is left to spend his last year sitting in his own poop but holy crap…did I need to see it?

I mean, seriously, was there a great public outcry for a movie about Capone pooping in his bed?  I think not.

It is hard to watch because, setting aside that the character is Capone, it is sad, in general, how health problems can destroy the body and mind.  It just isn’t something I want to see.

STATUS: Not shelf-worthy.  Hardy is skilled and talented, but I think there was a better vehicle for him.

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BQB’s Classic Movie Reviews – True Grit (1969)

Fill your hand, you 3.5 sons of bitches.

BQB here with a review of John Wayne’s best movie.

Ahh, corona. I’ve watched a lot of flicks during you that I otherwise would not have, and I have spent more time than usual with a particular old person, who has wanted to watch John Wayne non-stop after learning it is possible to do a John Wayne search on your TV now and have his whole catalog pop up.

As a film buff, my feelings on Wayne have always been mixed. I like him, and I know he was Hollywood’s first action movie star.  I watch old Arnold Schwarzenegger movies like this old person watches old John Wayne movies, and I know that without Wayne there would have been no Arnie.

That being said, to me, Wayne always came across as stiff and wooden. Maybe that was the point. He played stiff and wooden tough guys. Men who ate nails and shit iron bricks and didn’t flinch in the face of danger.

Still, maybe most of his flicks are lost on me because I’m not from that generation.

At any rate, I gave True Grit a chance and found it to be way above and beyond anything Wayne ever did and it is no surprise this film earned him his only Oscar, a surprise because he was the king of the Western genre, and for the first 50 years of Hollywood, the industry was carried by the Western.

So, what put Wayne over the top with this one?  Simple. He shows his soft underbelly here.

Wayne, I want to guess would be 60 something in this movie, is an old, curmudgeonly, one-eyed U.S. Marshall by the name of Rooster Cogburn. He lives in a Chinese shopkeeper’s spare room, the shopkeep and cat that he names General Sterling Price being his only friends.  He has no family and when he isn’t shooting at bad hombres, he crashes on a backroom bed, gets drunk and sleeps all day – a far cry from the typical white hat that Wayne usually played.

One fateful day, a teenage girl named Mattie (Kim Darby) tracks Rooster down, seeking his help in bringing villain Tom Chaney to justice. Chaney was taken in by her father as a field hand on his property only for Chaney to shoot him in a drunken stupor.

Mattie hires Cogburn to chase after the scoundrel, who has fled to “Indian Territory” or what came to be known as Oklahoma.  Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Pronounced in the film as La Beef, played by Glenn Campbell) joins forces with Cogburn, for he has also been hunting Chaney because he shot a Texas state senator prior to taking employment with Mattie’s father.

You’ve heard of an odd couple but this is an odd trio, as they are constantly at odds. Mattie is young and headstrong, long on smarts but low on experience. She backseat drives the law men, insisting on tagging along to make sure the job is done, but doesn’t know the first thing about hunting down ne’er-do-wells.  Meanwhile, LaBeouf and Cogburn trade constant jibes, a major point of animosity between them being that they served on opposite sides of the Civil War.

Young Robert Duvall plays the uber villain of the film, gang leader Lucky Ned Pepper who has taken Chaney under his protection, and a young Dennis Hopper also has a small role as a gang member.

I don’t claim to be a Wayne expert and there are people who could blow me out of the water with their Wayne knowledge, but there is a scene toward the end (SPOILER) that really humanizes both Cogburn and Wayne.

In that scene, Cogburn and Pepper are on horseback, on opposite sides of a field. Pepper has three goons with him while Cogburn is on his lonesome. Cogburn advises the hoodlums to give up, while Ned’s reply is something to the effect that he isn’t scared of a fat one-eyed marshal.  The look on Wayne’s face, that he isn’t taking that bullshit and then he says, “Fill your hand you son of a bitch!” i.e. here’s your warning to grab your gun because I’m charging.

Charge he does and I’ll leave it to you to watch it on your own for the results.

As other reviewers have noted, 1969 was a transition year for Hollywood.  Hell, Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was basically an ode or lamentation about that time.  The 1960’s saw political assassinations, riots, civil rights struggles and a seemingly endless quagmire in Vietnam and Americans, as a result, were feeling less than willing to accept hokey, put a smile on your face drek from Hollywood.

This film does have its hokeyness, for sure, but it does tip a toe into that “grittiness” (pun intended) in that Wayne plays an anti-hero, someone you probably wouldn’t want to trust or invite into your home yet you need to pat him on the back because the job called for an SOB and he won against Pepper using his SOB skills.

And he got a much deserved Oscar for it, for going out of his comfort zone. Cogburn isn’t one of the vast array of squeaky clean heroes that Wayne has played. He’s a chubby, booze swilling, falling down drunk who seems rather annoyed that anyone ask him to do his job unless extra reward money is offered above and beyond his salary.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  The 2010 remake isn’t bad either, but as a film buff, it is cool to watch Wayne play against type and seemingly have fun do it.

SIDENOTE: Obviously, there is stuff that wouldn’t hold up today. There’s a part that creeps me out, where La Beouf tells Mattie that he had been thinking about stealing a kiss from Mattie even though she’s young and not pretty but now he wants to spank her.  A grown ass man telling an underage girl that a) he wants to kiss her but b) he wants to kiss her without her consent c) he is withholding the forced kiss as a punishment for her backsass as if his unwanted kiss would have been some kind of treat d) that she should be thrilled that anyone would kiss her because she isn’t pretty, like he’d be doing her a favor, e) that he wants to spank her i.e. perform corporal punishment on her….I mean, holy crap, that whole line is just gross. So gross.  I know it takes place in 1880 but holy shit, even then I think someone might have told La Beouf that he’s an effing pervert.

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