Tag Archives: movie reviews

BQB’s Oscar Predictions – Best Picture

Hey 3.5 readers.

OK.  The coveted best picture award.  Who will win?

Let’s talk about Hollywood’s many problems this year.

First of all, if you love Donald Trump or if you hate Donald Trump, I feel like the whole “let’s make the awards shows super political” trend has been backfiring on Hollywood.  The average person goes to movies for entertainment purposes.  The average person turns on the Oscars for entertainment purposes.  The average person will make up their mind on politics based on their own beliefs, values, research, what have you.  There really won’t be any people saying, “Huh, that celebrity thinks this so I should think this.”

It also comes off as a bit disingenuous.  I mean, these people live lives the average person can’t possibly fathom.  They wear suits and gowns to an event that cost more than the average salaries of like 50 people combined and then they probably just throw those clothes away and never wear them again.

They live in fancy mansions, can buy whatever they want and get paid piles of money to play pretend all day.  Some do a better job of reaching out to those in need than others but all in all, I just don’t see any of these celebrities opening up one of the several homes they own to shelter poor people in need.  Hell, if they took like a one percent pay cut the people who fetch their coffee on set could probably earn a living wage.

All I’m saying is that it’s better to do than to say.  Celebrities say a lot.  They don’t do a lot and it’s ironic because they’re in a better position to do than anyone.

3.5 READERS: Do you have a point, BQB?

Yes.  Thank you, 3.5.

This year, the Best Picture Nominees are:

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

WHO SHOULD WIN:  Though I haven’t seen it, my gut tells me any film but La La Land.  The plight of the forgotten, struggling people who keep working but never get ahead has been forefront on the public’s mind this past year.

Reflecting that mindset, you’ve got Fences, about a father who is poor and has been knocked around and yells at his son to stop dreaming about becoming a football player and get a regular, boring job and it becomes hard to tell whether the father is trying to give the kid tough love by telling him to stop chasing pie in the sky dreams and focus on reality or if the old man is so pissed off that he never made it that he feels inner jealousy at the idea of his son doing better than him.

You’ve got Hell or High Water, about two brothers cheated out of the family farm by a corrupt bank so they go on a bank robbery spree as an act of revenge against the bank that done them wrong.  The idea that people who depended on farms, factories, and other ever dwindling blue collar jobs are being forgotten is prevalent in the film.

In Manchester by the Sea, a troubled man has to raise his nephew when his brother dies.  Stepping up to do more when a relied upon family member dies is something the average people can relate to.

Moonlight – Cuban born drug dealer tries to be a part of his bullied son’s life.  A lot of people can relate to bullying, struggles with drugs and drug related crime, trying to make it as an immigrant and so on.

Hacksaw Ridge – Son tired of seeing his father beat his mother becomes so disgusted by violence that he refuses to carry a gun when he signs up to become a World War II army medic and overcomes threats of court martial and imprisonment due to his refusal to carry a weapon.  His abhorrence of violence drives him to become the best medic ever, single handedly saving tons of wounded men by dragging them down the side of Hacksaw Ridge on a rope while Japanese forces are in hot pursuit.

Hidden Figures – In the 1960s, black women overcome stereotypical views held by society about black people and women to become mathematicians, helping America win the space race.

Lion – An Indian kid gets so hopelessly lost that he is unable to find his family again.  He is adopted by an Australian couple, then years later, uses Google to locate his original family, thus highlighting how new forms of technology have helped people who in the past were not able to be helped.

La La Land – Gosling and Stone fall and love and sing and dance and shit.

WHAT WILL WIN: La La Land.  And, OK, I haven’t seen it.  Maybe it’s good.  But this is the problem.  Hollywood already gave the Oscar to a shitty love letter film to Hollywood’s greatness called Birdman in 2014, and that movie was truly a pile of crap.  It really was.

So I just think Hollywood is going to end up with a lot of egg on its face this year.  All the stars are going to rant and rave about how the government doesn’t do enough about poverty and how no one worries about poor struggling people and then all of the films about poor struggling people are going to get screwed over in honor of the film about two pretty people who have nothing better to do than fall in love and sing and dance and shit.

 

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2017 Oscar Nominated Movies that BQB Has Reviewed

Arrival 

Hacksaw Ridge 

Hell or High Water

Still need to see:

Fences

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

 

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BQB’s Classic Movie Roundup – Coming to America (1988)

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Holy shit I’m so old.  I actually saw this movie as a little kid in the theater, 3.5 readers.

And now that I think of it, I probably should not have heard the phrase, “the royal penis is clean, your highness” as a kid, but oh well, I turned out fine.  I run a successful blog with 3.5 readers, after all.

If you haven’t seen this yet, you have to.  I was running through the channels tonight and it came on and I was glued.  It’s got to be Eddie Murphy’s most memorable movie and even though it’s a comedy, I think the late 1980s Academy was in remiss for not giving it some Oscar love because it is as funny as it is touching.

Eddie Murphy plays Akeem, Prince of the fictional African nation, Zamunda.  His father, King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) has arranged a marriage between Akeem and a fine ass babe that will do anything that Akeem wants, but Akeem is, you know, a deep thinker.  He wants a woman who will love him for his mind, not his money and better yet, a woman who he will actually be able to connect with and talk to, an intellectual type.

So, Akeem and his trusty manservant, Semmi (Arsenio Hall) shuffle off to Queens, New York, where those pose as a pair of fast food joint workers.  Akeem falls for the owner’s daughter, Lisa (Shari Headley), but he must juggle his dopey poor man act while fending off Lisa’s douchey rich boyfriend/Jheri curl empire heir (a young Eriq La Salle before he became a doctor on ER), dealing with Lisa’s disapproving father (John Amos) and taking down a stick-up man (a young Samuel L. Jackson, long before he got tired of these mother effing snakes on this mother effing plane).

I spent so much of my youth quoting lines from this movie.  Check it out, 3.5.  You won’t be sorry.

 

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Movie Review – Arrival (2016)

Aliens.  Self-indulgent, self-importantce.  So much violin music.  So, so much violin music.

BQB here with a review of the Oscar nominated, Arrival.

At the outset, it’s a great first contact film.  Alien vessels have appeared at different points around the world and linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) have been selected to communicate with the aliens in one craft located in Montana.

A lot of issues that would be likely to occur in a first alien meeting are explored.  The aliens don’t understand the humans and vice versa.  There are concerns that the aliens might be up to no good.  People get scared of the aliens.  People worry about alien diseases.  People go nuts and cause chaos over alien fears and so on.

The film is clearly in love with itself as every moment is presented as very important, leading up to an ending that is pulled out of its own ass.  If you’re a prospective writer who has ever shelved an idea for being too far fetched, get ready to dust it off with the knowledge that this film was nominated for an Oscar for best picture.

And yet, I’m not ragging on it.  Since Interstellar, I have appreciated Hollywood’s newfound interest in exploring space in a serious manner, tackling conceivable issues that might arise as mankind seeks out answers regarding what lies beyond Earth.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

Guns!  Knives!  Stylishly choreographed fight scenes!

VGRF here with a review of John Wick: Chapter 2.

Take a gold coin and an OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING.

You know, 3.5 readers, back when I was dating that poor excuse for a man, BQB, I went with him to see the first John Wick movie and was pleasantly surprised.  Isn’t it great when you go to a film, not expecting much, only to be blown away by it?

Keanu Reeves, one of the world’s most well-preserved fifty something year olds, reprises his role.  Without getting into the nitty gritty, Wick owes someone a favor and when that favor is called in, whoa nelly, look out when because the shit is going to hit the proverbial fan.

It’s an excellent sequel.  It doesn’t follow the usual sequel mistake of trying to be bigger or badder.  It just carries on the story with all the stylish mayhem this franchise has caused us to grow accustomed to.

From a writer’s standpoint, wannabe scribes can learn a lot.  “Show, don’t tell” is the name of the game when it comes to good writing and both films follow that rule to the letter.

Wick lives in a world where hitmen have rules.  They use gold coins as currency.  There are hotels around the world where they can stay, utilize certain services and enjoy safety from other hitmen while under the hotel’s protection.  Ian McShane plays Winston, one such hotel owner. We learn a bit more about the rules and the people behind them in this film.

As this film series has grown in popularity, it’s no surprise that more and more actors want a piece of the action.  Common, Ruby Rose (who is having a good start to her year if you were one of the 3.5 people who saw XXX: Return of Xander Cage), and Lawrence Fishburne all stop by to trade snide comments and the occasional bullet with Wick.

Keanu’s still got it after all these years.  Whenever he speaks, he still sounds like that California surfer dude we loved in the eighties.  Half the time when he shoots someone I expect him to say, “And I’m Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan.”  (Go rent Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, millennials).

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  A third is clearly on the way.  I love it when a first film surprises me and I also love it when the studio doesn’t screw up the inevitable cash grabbing sequel once the first film generates a fan base.  Worth a trip to the theater.

 

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Movie Review – The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

Na na na na na na na na Batman!

VGRF here with a review of The Lego Batman Movie.

OBLIGATORY SPOILER ALERT.

Oh, 3.5 readers.  I’ve been enjoying myself so much since I broke up with that loser, BQB.  I have taken over the BQB HQ and now I get to go to movies without having to sit next to that nerd.

As it turns out, The Lego Movie was not a flash in the pan success.  Lego Batman is just as awesome.

The plot?  The Joker (Zach Galifinakis) is dismayed when Batman (Will Arnett) informs him that he isn’t the worst villain in his life.  Thus, the Joker goes out of his way to prove he is Batman’s worst villain and all manner of shenanigans ensue.

Along the way, Batman adopts Robin (Michael Cera) who completes his look by ripping off his pants and teams up with new Gotham PD Commissioner Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl (Rosario Dawson). Of course, no Batman film would be complete without Alfred (Ralph Fiennes).

For me, the best laughs came when Joker enlists every last Batman villain, including some of the lesser knowns (the ketchup and mustard shooting Condiment Man, for example).  Joker invites the audience to Google whether or not these villains were real and not just made up to poke fun at the Batman franchise.

Having no life, I did the Google search when I got home and low and behold, there really was a Condiment Man.

It’s fun for the kids but there’s also a lot of action…well, as much action as a movie about Lego toys can provide.  Also, it’s a non-stop parody of all of the past Batman movies as jokes abound about the Caped Crusader’s exploits, ranging from the latest Dark Knight films, to the 1980s and 1990s films, to the more campy 1960s series.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Fun for the whole family.  I don’t have a family so I took Bookshelf Q. Battle Dog.

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Movie Review: xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017)

Explosions.  Destruction.  Mayhem.  Vin Diesel’s big bald head.

BQB here with a review of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage.

SPOILER ALERT…I mean, if you care about that sort of thing when it comes to a movie like this.

So, I came up with some alternate titles for this stinker:

  • “xXx: Xander Cage is Back…and No One Gives a Shit.”
  • “xXx: Do You Remember?  Vin Was in This Movie Fifteen Years Ago and He Played a Guy Named Xander Cage?  Aw, Come On.  Of Course You Remember.  Just Think About It.  Still Nothing?  OK.  Look It Up On IMDB.  We’ll Wait.”
  • “xXx:  Vin Diesel is Back to the Shit that Actually Makes Him More After Finally Realizing that Hollywood will Never Give Him an Oscar Worthy Role.”
  • “xXx:  Vin Diesel is Reviving the Movies that Made Him Money Back in the Day But He’s Too Old to Be Awesome and the People Who Would Have Liked to Have Seen More of this Franchise Fifteen Years Ago Are Too Old To Give a Shit Now”
  • “xXx: Our Crew Rubbed Some Peanut Butter on Vin’s Lips So We Can Get Him to Deliver His Lines Just Like We Did With Mr. Ed.”
  • “xXx: Bookshelf Q. Battler Wasted His Life Between the Original and This Pile of Drek.”

But I digress.  You know, despite my snarky titles, I actually did enjoy this film to an extent.  It’s pretty tight, as action movies released in January go, though I admit that isn’t saying a lot.

When the new millennium was young, Vin Diesel hit the scene with movies like The Fast and the Furious and xXx.  He was also in Pitch Black, arguably the best thing he’s ever been in, largely because the role called for a creepy, enormous dude with a deep voice.

Since then, he’s shown love to the Fast and Furious franchise by returning in Fast Five and now there are so many of those damn movies I have lost count. He’s shown love to Riddick but in my opinion, Riddick was at his best in Pitch Black and though 2013’s Riddick was acceptable, 2004’s Chronicles of Riddick was a giant stink burger.

Now Vin’s back with a new xXx installment.   Back in the early 2000’s, extreme sports were in.  Parachuting.  Dirt bike racing.  Bungie chord jumping.  All those things that beautiful idiots do because for some reason, the world looks out for them a little more whereas I stub my toe regularly while walking from the kitchen to the bathroom and thus I’m sure I’d die instantly if I tried to jump out of a plane.

I digressed again.  The idea behind the xXx character was that Vin would be an extreme sports loving, American badass version of James Bond, but with more appeal to the youngsters.

I don’t want to say the film flopped.  As I recall, it was a blockbuster.  But it was also forgettable.  Over the years, I’ve seen it while flipping channels and ended up watching it out of a feeling of nostalgia, mostly as it reminds me of a time when I could have made fun of Vin because I had more hair than he did.

Sigh.  Stupid hair.

Another digression.  This go around, Xander Cage is recruited back into action when…oh God, I don’t know.  You know how these movies are.  Some stupid thing has been stolen by some piece of shit bad guy and the good guy has to get it before the bad guy does evil shit with it.

Donnie Yen steals the show as Shang.  Is Shang a good guy?  A bad guy?  It’s complicated.  All I know is you get to see his sweet kung fu moves.  Donnie remains one of my heroes for proving that you can still be a badass even when you are no longer a member of the highly coveted 18-35 year old demographic.

A bunch of youngsters and one old dude are added to Xander’s support team.  I assume a bunch of Hollywood suits decided that Vin was getting a little long in the tooth and needed some fresh faces in the mix.  Honestly, the only one I recognized was Ruby Rose of Orange is the New Black fame.  Oh and I hear she’s big in Australia.  I have no idea what Australian films she’s been in.  As an American, I assume that Australian TVs show kangaroos fornicating with koala bears 24/7.

Toni Collette stars as…a good guy?  A bad guy?  It’s also complicated.  She’s made up to look like a hot blonde chick but kind of ends up looking like an old hooker that no one told there’s an age limit to hookery.  Although, do keep in mind I think that’s what the intent behind the character was.

Blah blah blah.  Shit happens.  They fight.  There’s some bad CGI that looks like it was drawn in crayon.

Throughout the film there are numerous jokes and references that harken back to the first and second films.  Although they are meant to be humorous, I just sat there in the theater wanting to hang myself because I have lived such an uneventful life low these past fifteen years that my brain had plenty of room to recall moments from a forgettable, throwaway 2002 film.

Samuel L. Jackson (Augustus Gibbons, xXx’s handler in the first two films) and Ice Cube (Darius, or the agent who took over as a xXx agent in 2005’s xXx: State of the Union) provide the best cameos of the film.  They were so good in fact that it made me wonder why the Hollywood suits didn’t just cut out the supporting cast and come up with a blockbuster script revolving around Diesel, Jackson and Ice Cube worthy of a release date outside of January.  Then again, not to spoil it, but there’s a part at the end that leads me to believe they may go that way.

There’s a scene where Vin flirts with CIA tech nerd Becky (Nina Dobrev).  It’s played straight and humorous but in my mind it looked like an old man trying to pick up one of his daughter’s friends or some shit.

Sigh.  I worry about Vin.  One day he’ll age out of these action roles and it’s not like Hollywood will ever let him do Shakespeare so I don’t know what he will do.

Oh wait.  He’ll roll around in all of his money.  Good for him.  You know, I’ve never really known what to make of Vin Diesel.  Part of me thinks he’s this big, hulking, dumb cro-magnon jock that just gets to be in movies because of his muscles.  Then again, his face is kind of ugly and he doesn’t exactly have a look that Hollywood normally welcomes, so as the ambassador of the #OscarsSoPretty movement, I applaud the Vinster and I hope that yes, one day Hollywood will let him perform Shakespeare and/or be in something that could potentially lead to him getting a gold statue that is as bald as he is.

“Forsooth…uh…uhh..someone get the peanut butter.”

STATUS:  Borderline shelf-worthy.  Worth a rental.

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#OscarsSoPretty – Why We Must Rally Behind Michael Shannon for Best Supporting Actor

Hey 3.5 readers.

Ugly rights activist BQB here.  I don’t particularly care for the taste of crow but I must eat some.  I was incorrect in my column a few days ago when I said no ugly actors had been nominated this year.

One has.  And his nomination is a glorious shining beacon of hope to every ugly child who dared to dream about taken seriously despite his or her hideous face.

Michael Shannon has been nominated for Best Supporting Actor in a little known film called Nocturnal Animals.

I haven’t seen it.  Frankly, I just heard about it yesterday.  From what I have been able to glean from the Internet, Jake Gyllenhaal plays a lovesick writer.  Dumped by his wife (Amy Adams) because she feels he’s basically a loser that will never go anywhere with his writing career (story of my life, baby), the Jakester sets out to write a novel the contents of which read like a revenge fantasy on his ex.

The film moves between the real world of Jake and Amy’s misery to the fantasy world where the events of the novel take place.  Michael Shannon plays a creepy, close to retirement cop that helps a fictionalized version of Jake’s character get revenge on some bad dudes.

Look, I’m not going to sugarcoat it.  Michael Shannon is a talented thespian, but he also looks like the result of a one night stand between a gargoyle and a goblin.

I’m not trying to offend the man and I’m in no position to mock others because I am wretchedly ugly myself.  I’m just being straight up with you all by letting you know that when I envision hell, I picture multiple creatures with Michael Shannon-esque faces poking me in the ass and demanding that I push a boulder up hill until the end of time.

But seriously.  No offense Mike.  In fact, you kinda owe me one.  I can only assume that my 3.5 readers are members of the academy and when they saw my #OscarsSoPretty rants, they had no choice but to nominate a fine, upstanding Aesthetically Challenged American.

I’d be in remiss if I didn’t point out the fact that it is unfortunate that Mike is often typecast as creepy weirdos, based on no other reason that he looks like a dude who would totally crank one out while staring at you through your bedroom window.

FYI – I’m not saying he does that.  I’m just saying he looks like he could do that.  Then again, who does look like a bedroom window masturbator when you really think about it?  We have all these preconceived notions as to what a weirdo looks like but for all we know, good looking attractive people are just as likely to spank the monkey in a bizarre and disturbing fashion.

I digress.  It’s nice to see Mike nominated, but I wish Hollywood had seen fit to broaden the public’s minds about the ugly by casting Mike not as a creepy weirdo but as a head of state or captain of industry.

Seriously.  Over the years we have seen Michael Shannon play the uber psychotic Federal agent Nelson Van Alden in Boardwalk Empire, as well as the maniacal alien overlord General Zod in Man of Steel.

When does Michael Shannon get to play the lead in a wacky romantic comedy?  What?  Michael Shannon can’t woo Bridget Jones just because he wasn’t blessed with good looks?

Yeah, you laugh but first they refuse to put ugly actors in non-creepy roles.  Before you know it, they’re rounding up uggos and locking them away in concentration camps.  Total anarchy.

Don’t get me wrong.  I salute Hollywood for recognizing that an ugly actor has talent and deserves recognition.  Normally, Hollywood just uglies up a good looking actor with prosthetics and make up when they need a character in a movie to be ugly, so its a major coup that (are you sitting down for this?) an honest to God ugly person was hired to play an actual ugly person.  No makeup and/or prosthetics necessary.

I’ll take Mike’s nomination as a positive sign, but I’m putting Hollywood on notice that I do expect to see ugly actors playing nice, good natured, non-murderous folks in the future.  I want to see ugly actors not merely cast in their stereotypical roles as bridge trolls, CHUDs, monsters, criminals and psychos, but I also want to see uggos playing doctors, lawyers, business people, CEOS, titans of industry and pillars of the community.

We’re here.  We’re ugly.  Get used to it.  We have cast the paper bags placed on our heads by “The Man” and we are ready to support Michael Shannon in his quest for Oscar glory.

Who’s with me?  Academy, you must heal beautiful/ugly relations by giving Mike a statue!

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Movie Review – A Dog’s Purpose (2017)

Canine reincarnation.  Animal acting controversy.  Pooch Hall in a 1980s Jerry curl.

BQB here with a review of the sappy schmaltz fest that is, A Dog’s Life.

Before I venture into this review, I suppose I should discuss the elephant in the room.  This film was expected to get more play as an ode to man’s best friend, but all that was cast aside when video surfaced of a trainer struggling to get a German Shepherd to enter a turbulent pool of water, followed by the dog later ending up submerged a little longer than anyone would like to see.

More on that from the LA Times.

Honestly, I don’t know.  I watched the video.  The dog isn’t beaten or anything, though that shouldn’t necessarily be the low bar that is set for dog treatment.  The dog is scared.  The trainer tries to get him to go into the pool anyway.  Eventually the dog is in the pool and he goes underwater for a bit.  At the end of the day, he’s safe.

Animal activists are all over the movie like stink on a monkey, raising the question of whether or not animals should be made to appear/perform in movies at all.

On the other hand, W. Bruce Cameron, author of the book the film is based on, released this letter to USA Today, which, if you read it, seems reasonable.

I don’t want to put words into the man’s mouth but my takeaway was, “We goofed.  We’re sorry.  I love dogs.  The movie is meant as a love song to the relationship between man and dog.”

I’ll let you decide.  Personally, I think it might be one of those lessons where everything worked out, the dog’s fine and there was a lesson learned.  Movie dog trainers are now on notice to not force dogs to do things they aren’t cool with.  Yes, it’s a teachable moment for the PETA crowd to express their views, but then again, in today’s knee jerk to become outraged within 30 seconds Internet/social media culture, the folks behind the movie are being treated as if they are collectively Satan…and I don’t sense a vibe that they are Satan.

Moving on to the film itself, Bailey, voiced by Josh Gad, begins his journey as a golden retriever owned by young Ethan.  Time moves on.  As in any life, there are happy times and sad times, proud times and profoundly disappointing times.

Long story short, the pooch buys the farm and is reincarnated as a different dog over and over again, each time to a different owner in a different time period.

Each owner has his/her backstory and it’s up to Bailey to help each human with their personal problems as best he can.  Some owners are kind.  Some owners are douches.

Morals laid down by the tale:

  • Your dog’s life is in your hands and ultimately, he/she ends up being as happy as you are.  If you’re a douche and you treat your dog in a douche-like manner, your dog will be unhappy.  If you rise above whatever it is that is dragging you down, you’ll find happiness if you remember to treat your dog right.
  • Your dog has thoughts.  No, a dog’s inner voice probably doesn’t sound like Josh Gad, but dogs get the gist.  They know if you are mad at them or happy with them.  They know what it is like to be treated well and they know what it is like to be treated like crap.
  • Give your dog a break.  Sure, they occasionally poop on your rug, but if you wouldn’t cast out a family member for making a mistake then give your dog the same courtesy.
  • Dogs are a lot of work.  Being a dog owner is a big commitment.  Think about whether or not you are up for it.  Being chained up in the back yard with occasional feedings and waterings whenever you feel like it is no life for a dog.
  • Ultimately, your dog is a source of unconditional love.  Your dog won’t leave you a Dear John letter or tell you to get lost.  Though you’ll often go to work, go out into the world and leave your dog alone, he/she is like a friend that’s always there waiting for you when you get home.

I hate to admit it, but the film was a real tearjerker.  I mean, not to spoil it, but as a viewer, you’re forced to witness a dog die over and over and over again and that’s before you even scrape the surface of the emotional pain his various owners are in.  Oh and time flashes by at a lightning pace and entire decades have come and gone before you realize it, so try to make the most of it before it is too late.

It sucks that the controversy derailed this film.  I sympathize with the people that are mad.  I sympathize with the people behind this film.

All and all, I’d say give the movie a chance.  There’s a definite love of all things furry behind it.

STATUS: Shelf worthy.  Woof.

 

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Movie Review – Sing (2016)

Singing animals.  A koala bear hustler.  A mouse who can channel Sinatra.

BQB here with a review of Sing.

Non-Disney animation studios have always been at a disadvantage.  They’ve put out some great, funny films over the years, but rarely do they ever churn out something that could be called a “classic.”

Disney’s got the schmaltzy, heart string tugging formula down and it doesn’t hurt that they have a couple of parks to indoctrinate kids into their universe at a young age either.

I think Illumination, the studio who gave us those pesky minions, have brought us an instant classic with Sing.

Matthew (“Aw right, aw right, aw right”) McConaughey voices producer/down on his luck charlatan Buster Moon, a koala bear desperately trying to save the theater his father helped him build.  He thinks an American Idol-esque singing contest will do the trick, but alas, a typo on the advertising flyers courtesy of his incompetent secretary/iguana Miss Crawly lands him in hot water.

Finalists include:

  • Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) – A pig/stay at home mom who feels her vocal talents are being wasted in a life spent washing clothes and grocery shopping.
  • Mike (Seth MacFarlane) – A mouse who sings like Frank Sinatra with a gambling program that has left him in hock to a bunch of angry bears.
  • Ash (Scarlett Johansson) – A punk rocker porcupine, or “punkupine” if you will, trying to decide whether or not to stick with her loser boyfriend/bandmate or strike out on her own.
  • Johnny (Taron Egerton) – A gorilla forced into a life of crime by his bank robbing father.
  • Meena (Tori Kelly) – A shy elephant who would be a great singer if she can just get up the nerve.

Along the way, there are frogs who appropriately sing Van Halen’s Jump, bunnies who pay tribute to Sir Mix-a-Lot, and an alligator who sings the Humpty Dance.

Each character has his/her own reasons for wanting to win the contest and by the end of the film you find yourself rooting for all of them.  The kids will enjoy it but you will too.

STATUS:  Shelf-worthy.  Worth a trip to the theater.

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