Jumanji: The Next Level and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Jake Kasdan
Two years after the Jumanji reboot and I still think it’s a pretty good movie! I’ve had to of seen it at least twice since seeing it in theaters, and it still holds up pretty well; especially with such a fun and talented cast that could have phoned it in and let the special effects do all the work but instead elevated the material to something far more watchable than you’d expect at first glance! Now it’s time for a sequel, and… well I don’t know about you but I’d have rather seen a sequel to Baywatch than watch them try to recreate what made that reboot so good. Seems like a bit of a long shot that we’ll get something halfway decent out of this, but hey! I was saying the same thing about that first movie before it came out, and look what we got! Can we go back to the well one more time without the formula feeling stale and apathetic? Let’s find out!!
After Spencer, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany (Alex Wolff, Ser’Darius Blain, Morgan Turner, and Madison Iseman) had defeated the mysterious Jumanji video game and smashed it to bits with a bowling ball, we pick up on their lives a year or so later where everyone is off doing their own thing but still manage to stay in touch as they even plan on meeting up during the winter break. However, only three of them show up to the meeting spot so they go to check on Spencer and find that his grandfather Eddie (Danny DeVito) hasn’t seen him since last night, though he hasn’t been paying much attention this morning as he has an unexpected house guest in the form of his former business partner Milo (Danny Glover) who Eddie’s been avoiding for over a decade now due to some conflict that broke them apart and I’m sure will be resolved before the end of the movie. Anyway, Fridge, Martha, and Bethany go to the basement to find that Spencer not only took the Jumanji pieces home with them but repaired them to the best of his abilities (I don’t know how many MAGIC retro console repair tutorial are on YouTube but I’m pretty sure it’s more than zero) and has managed to get himself back into the game. With their friend’s life (as well as contractual obligations) hanging over our heroes’ heads, they head back into the game once more time. However, things don’t go as planned as only Fridge and Martha wake up inside, and while Martha is still in the body of Karen Gillan, Fridge is now in the body of Jack Black. The ones filling the Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart shaped meat sacks turn out to be Eddie and Milo respectively who have no idea what’s going on but don’t seem to disturbed by it; assuming they just died or something. With only half their team, a brand new game scenario involving some dude named JURGEN THE BRUTAL (Rory McCann), and even some new mechanics including magic fruit and a body switching liquid, can this rag tag group of tired pros and retired noobs find Spencer and beat the game before everyone dies a miserable and painful death? What will Spencer have to say for himself once they find him and start demanding answers as to why he’s here in the first place? Will Eddie and Milo be able to resolve their decade’s long rivalry, and will it be half as compelling as the Sunny episode Frank’s Brother!?
The Angry Birds Movie 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Thurop Van Orman
We only got one shot at the Super Mario Bros in the last twenty five years, yet THIS manages to get a sequel? I actually LIKED that Mario movie, which just goes to show that Hollywood is out to get me specifically; though I can’t imagine why since I’m SUCH an agreeable and charming fellow! Anyway, the first movie left me feeling pretty bitter so there’s not a single part of me that is looking forward to see the further adventures of Boring Red, Danny McBoom, and Fast Olaf, but sitting here dreading the darn thing isn’t gonna get us anyway, so let’s put on a brave face and try to meet this film halfway! Can the sequel meet or perhaps even exceed the low bar that the original movie set, or is hoping for even that much just setting myself up for disappointment? Let’s find out!!
Following the events of the first film where Red (Jason Sudeikis) became a hero to Bird Island by driving away the Pigs, the two islands are at something of a standstill with each of them pulling pranks and launching food at one another in an attempt to see which island can get the most annoyed. Red is overjoyed by this since being the hero who fought the pigs is now his full time job as he along with Chuck and Boom (Danny McBride and Josh Gadd) spend every waking moment coming up with new schemes, retaliating against attacks, and giving speeches to the citizens of Bird Island. That’s all about to change however as a THIRD island starts to float into the middle of the conflict which is head up by Zeta (Leslie Jones); an Eagle on an island of ice who throws ice balls at people just because she’s angry that her island is full of ice. She could just take a vacation to one of the adjacent islands, but nope! Massive ice balls that surely crush whatever living thing ends up beneath them! The pigs are the first one to notice the threat and King Leonard (Bill Hader) offers a truce to the citizens of Bird Island who are all happy to finally be done with this prank war… except for Red who now has to get a real job I guess and find people who like him for reasons other than being the maroon messiah. Well I guess if being the brave warrior who defeated the pigs isn’t cutting it anymore, than recklessly leading the charge against the eagles is the next best thing! Along with Chuck, Boom, and King Leonard, they recruit Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), Courtney the pig (Awkwafina), gadgets expert Garry (Sterling K Brown), and Chuck’s hereto unmentioned sister Silver (Rachel Bloom) to aid in their plot to destroy Zeta’s super ice weapon, but are the ready to face such a dangerous and flamboyant threat? Can they save both islands without betraying one another or just screwing up due to their own incompetence? Are we sure we can’t just let Zeta take over the islands? Maybe it’s just me, but I think we should at least give her a chance!
The Farewell and all the images you see in this review are owned by A24
Directed by Lulu Wang
I really haven’t seen nearly as many small release and indie films as I should have this year which is a shame because Can You Ever Forgive Me, Sorry to Bother You, and Ingrid Goes West certainly aren’t the kind of films that will be playing at my local theater which STILL has Aladdin yet no room for this film. Yes, I had to go out of town once again to see something even marginally outside the mainstream (how does an Awkwafina movie not get on every screen in the world!?) but more often than not the effort has been worth it as there are a lot of great stuff to find outside the blockbuster tent pole films, and not ALL of them have gone to Netflix yet! Does this family drama about a family member dying somehow manage to be the standout film of the summer, or are we doomed for mediocre dreck ON TOP OF such as somber premise? Let’s find out!!
Billi (Awkwafina) is your typical American millennial; in that she’s living in New York, she wants to be a writer, and she is perpetually broke. Oh well! At least she has her parents to support her (Tzi Ma and Diana Lin) and has maintained a good relationship with her paternal grandmother who she refers to as Nai nai (Zhao Shuzhen) and talks to on a regular basis. One day however, when Billi is home to do her laundry, she finds out that Nai Nai has been diagnosed with lung cancer and only has a few months left to live. The whole family including relatives in Japan will be going to see her so they can make her goodbyes which is about all Billi could hope for from this tragic situation, BUT WAIT! The family SPECIFICALLY doesn’t want her to go! Why? As it turns out NO ONE IS TELLING NAI NAI SHE’S DYING (her sister played by Lu Hong hid the medical reports) and everyone is pretending that Billi’s cousin Hao Hao (Chen Han) is getting married as an excuse for the trip. Billi being the… I don’t know, emotional and/or Westernized one is liable to spill the beans if she sees her. Billi goes anyway however despite the protests of her parents but she does manage to keep the secret for the time being. However, she’s constantly struggling with whether to tell her while going along with this wedding ruse that starts to spiral out of control; all the while just trying to deal with the fact that she’s going to lose someone so important to her as well and the (at least to her) bewildering actions her family is taking. Will Billi come clean to Nai Nai or is keeping this a secret the more humane approach? Will the family get the closure they need during this trip despite the layers of subterfuge getting in the way? What if Nai Nai has some unfinished business she needs to take care of!? How do they REALLY know what she’s up to on the weekends!?
Crazy Rich Asians and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Jon M Chu
Do you remember the last time an Asian man or an Asian women were the protagonist or even the romantic interest in a Romantic Comedy? The last one I can think of was Hayden Szeto in The Edge of Seventeen, and even then the role was rather tertiary. Thankfully we have the director of Jem and the Holograms (ugh…) making a movie that not only centers Asian actors in the leading roles, but is filled to the brim with Asian actors the same way… well ninety-four percent of films are with white actors. Does this Romantic Comedy turn out to be one of the better examples of the genre on top of being a huge boon for representation in Hollywood, or is this a great opportunity that is ultimately squandered by a less than stellar outing from Jon M Chu? Let’s find out!!
Rachel and Nick (Constance Wu and Henry Golding) have been going out for some time now and are enjoying their pretty average life in New York City with her being a College Professor of Economics and him… actually I’m not sure what he does, but they’re just great together and Rachel couldn’t be happier! All that changes however when Nick tells her that his best friend Colin (Chris Pang) is getting married in Singapore, which is where his family JUST SO HAPPENS to live, and that it’d be great if she would go with him. On top of that, Rachel’s college friend Goh Peik Lin (Awkwafina) lives in Singapore too and she’s been meaning to visit, so why the heck not? It’d be nice to meet his family, right? WRONG!! As it turns out, Nick is SUPER rich and comes from a wealthy as heck family which comes as a surprise for Rachel, so now she has to deal with Rich People Problems and being looking down upon for being a lowly… professor. Hey, when you’re as rich as Nick’s family is, being a professor might as well earn you minimum wage! And so Rachel’s vacation/torture begins as she gets to experience the opulence of Nick’s life while also fending off his controlling mother (Michelle Yeoh), a jealous ex-girlfriend (Jing Lusi), and anything else this new world wants to throw at her! Will she be able to make it through the weekend with her mental health and dignity in tact? What does it mean for her relationship with Nick if this is the family that she’d be a part of? How the heck did the guy behind Jem and the Holograms turn out to be THIS talented!? Why did that even happen if he’s capable of doing something like this!?
Ocean’s 8 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Gary Ross
I’ve never had much interest in the Ocean’s movies and even though I’m PRETTY sure I saw the first one, the only things I remember is George Clooney on a payphone in the beginning and everyone looking at a fountain at the end. Needless to say that had they gotten the gang back together for Ocean’s 14, I’d have easily checked out and just went to whatever else was playing that week. Recasting the entire thing with AMAZING actors in a sort of soft reboot though? NOW you’ve got my attention! Don’t always discount reboots, kids! You’ll find one someday that’s right up your alley! Does this latest entry in the franchise prove to be a necessary and extraordinary fresh start, or is the title the only thing worth remembering about this movie? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock), who is the sister of the PRESUMABLY deceased Danny Ocean, getting out of jail on parole and IMMEDIATELY starting up her life of crime once again; scamming stores, sneaking into other people’s hotel rooms, and of course getting ready for her BIG score. Yes, the one she’s been planning ever since she went inside and is chomping at the bit to get started on. After all, who wants to ENJOY their freedom when they can just risk it all on a foolhardy heist!? Speaking of hardy fools, she also reaches out to her old crime buddy Lou (Cate Blanchett) who’s been holding her own but clearly anticipating Debbie’s next big score, and the duo start to lay down the groundwork as well as scope out some new talent who can pull this whole thing off. So what is the heist you may ask? There’s this SUPER expensive necklace valued at about one hundred and fifty MILLION dollars that’s sitting in a vault somewhere which is such a shame because it could be going to better use, like enriching a bunch of thieves who are smart enough to figure out how to steal it! For this to work they’ll first need a patsy to get their hands on the necklace so that they can steal it from HER, and who better to use than one of the most famous actors on Earth, Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway)? To convince Miss Kluger to use the necklace for her ensemble that evening AND THEN to steal it right off of her neck, Debbie and Lou will need a crack team made up of expert jewelery forger Amita (Mindy Kaling), street hustler Constance (Awkwafina), desperate fashion designer Rose Weil (Helena Bonham Carter), MOVIE HACKERTM Nine Ball (Rihanna) and retired fencer Tammy (Sarah Paulson). Wait, that’s only seven. Hmm… maybe there’s more to this plan than even WE know! Can Debbie and her crew pull off this heist without a hitch? What could Debbie be hiding from the rest of the team, and could the secrecy cost them everything? Is this yet another awesome and well-made movie for the internet man-babies to cry about because there are too many ladies in it!? Well I sure hope so!!
Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
They just couldn’t resist the urge, could they? I guess there was just too much money lying on the table to NOT make another one of these. Sequels to unexpected hits (especially comedies) are almost always underwhelming as it’s like trying to capture lightening in a bottle twice. Caddyshack 2, Ghostbusters 2, Horrible Bosses 2, you could make a neigh infinite list of them. Now the first film was a pretty solid movie that had a bit more to it than you would expect from a movie that’s essentially a prank war. Not only that, but they’re coming into this one with a decent enough idea in regards to how Sororities are viewed by the education system, even if it is a bit ridiculous that the SAME THING happens to these people twice in a row. Can this manage to be the few comedy sequels to NOT be the worst thing imaginable, or is this movie destined to be the worst thing imaginable? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins a few years after the first one ended with Teddy Sanders (Zac Efron) still wasting his life away but now doing so as Pete’s roommate (Dave Franco) and Mac and Kelly Radner (Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne) planning to sell their house so that they can move to the suburb. There’s a small roadblock though to their plan which is that they ALREADY bought the house in the suburb, but the house they just sold is in escrow which the movie thankfully explains is a thirty day waiting period where the buyers can back out of the deal if something were to change. That couldn’t POSSIBLY happen though, right? Well back on the college campus (what college is it anyway?) the new female freshmen are trying to get into Sorrorities, but three of them (Chloë Grace Moretz, Kiersey Clemons, and Beanie Feldstein) find the guidelines about not being able to party too restrictive, so they decide to start their own independent Sorority. Well SURELY they won’t end up at the EXACT same house that Teddy’s frat was at, right? Well speaking of Teddy, Pete just got engaged so Teddy has to move out which means he’s lost once again and needs to find not only a new place to stay, but some meaning in his life. Oh look! The house he used to live at! And look! The girls are touring it to see if it works for their needs! An unholy (and tenuous) alliance is born between the girls of the new Sorority (Kappa Nu) and the frat boy looking to relive his glory day, so they rent out the house to the terror of Mac and Kelly who just want to sell their place and move on with their lives. And so the war is on once again as the girls refuse to keep things quite for thirty days and the old people try to keep them from exercising their right to party! Can Mac and Kelly once again destroy the young people who are trying to fuck up their lives? Will the sisters fail in their endeavor to bring about a new kind of Sorority that’s empowering those who want to have fun but don’t want to be objectified? Things can’t get any crazier here than they did in the LAST movie… right?