Bill & Ted Face the Music and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing
Directed by Dean Parisot
There haven’t been many rays of sunshine during the last few months of lock-down, but one of them was the first trailer for Bill & Ted Face the Music. I remember hearing that Reeves and Winter were trying to make this movie back when I was in COLLEGE which at this point that was a depressingly long time ago, but after years of starts and stops, hype and silence, and Keanu Reeves regaining his A-List star clout (as well as becoming everyone’s Favorite Person Ever), the duo have finally returned to give us one more adventure with the Wyld Stallyns. Is it a beautiful trip down memory lane for all the fans that loved this franchise, or is it too little too late for all the years of anticipation? Let’s find out!!
Bill S Preston Esq and Ted Theodore Logan (Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves) have spent their entire lives trying to write the song that unites the world which apparently was NOT God Gave Rock And Roll To You. Apparently someone else wrote that song and the Wyld Stallyns haven’t come up with a better one since then despite releasing several albums over the years; some of which were decent but they fell off the charts pretty quickly and have been scraping by for some time now. At least they have loving families that support them as Bill is still married to Princess Joanna (Jayma Mays) and they have a daughter Thea (Samara Weaving) while Ted is still married to Princess Elizabeth (Erinn Hayes) and they have a daughter Billie (Brigette Lundy-Paine), but the strain is starting to get to them and they might just give up music altogether. Right as they’re discussing the end of their career, a time machine shows up in the driveway and out steps Kelly (Kristen Schaal) who is the daughter of Rufus from the previous films, and she takes them to the future where they high council of… I guess the ENTIRE EARTH informs them that their song to save the world is not only to usher in an enlightened age but to fix some horrific distortion in space and time that if they DON’T fix will end all of reality as they know it. Oh, and they have less than two hours to do it, starting… now! Without much time left to get their act together, Bill & Ted figure the best way to get the song that saves the future is to go INTO the future and the song after it’s already written by their future selves, and while that’s going on Billie & Thea are given a time machine from Kelly to try and muster up a band who will be talented enough to play the song once Bill & Ted get it. Will these two loveable has-beens find a way to save the future before time and reality folds in on itself? Will Billie & Thea turn out to be as good at traveling through space and time as their fathers were, and discover what destiny has in store for them as well? You know, we could really use a Bill & Ted miracle right now, so what are the chances that this is the MOVIE that will unite the world and save reality as we know it?
Action Point and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Tim Kirkby
Johnny Knoxville doesn’t have what you’d call a STERLING FILMOGRAPHY with his most successful films being pseudo-documentary on shoe string budgets, but then again said movies are some serious box office smashes with the four Jackass movies (one through three and the offshoot Bad Grandpa) making totaling over three hundred and fifty MILLION dollars! Hell, despite the guy getting pretty much ZERO credit as a legitimate actor, he’s managed to find his way in some seriously high grossing blockbusters including Men in Black 2, the first reboot Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, and even that crappy Dukes of Hazzard movie which raked in eighty freaking million; not to mention Skiptrace which he did with Jackie Chan that made a boat load in China! I’ve always had a soft spot for the guy as a legitimate actor which may be due to my fascination with A Dirty Shame as well as the fact that I seem to be the ONLY person on the planet who sincerely likes Daltry Calhoun. It also helps that I’ve never seen The Ringer which would probably put an indelible stain on my inexplicable appreciation for the guy because even in 2005 that seemed like a really bad call. So much in fact that aside FROM the Jackass films, this is first film with a wide US release that he’s headlined since then (not gonna count the voice he did in the first TMNT movie) and it seems like even the studio is aware of how untested this guy is when he’s the face of something that requires a script and direction rather than a bunch of nut shots and Tasers because of how little marketing this thing got in the lead up to its release. Does this manage to be a diamond in the rough that will finally launch Johnny Knoxville’s film career, or is this another failed start that will eventually lead to him making another Bad Grandpa movie that will in all honestly probably net him another hundred million dollars? Let’s find out!!
Deshawn “DC” Crious (Phillip “Johnny Knoxville” Clapp) is the owner and operator of the absurdly unsafe and therefore absurdly fun amusement park known as Action Point, or at least Mr. DC WAS back in the seventies when things like “safety” and “regulations” were for pansies while breaking your arm was fixed with a fist full of mud and a forty of garbage beer! It’s not the seventies anymore though as we see DC somehow managed to survive not only that decade but Regan, Y2K, and Bush Jr (SPOILER ALERT!) as he’s telling his granddaughter all about the great times he had running that place and the one summer her mother (Susan Yeagley as an adult and Eleanor Worthington-Cox as a teen) came to stay with him. Yes, they’ll never forget that summer where they had stiff competition move nearby that was syphoning off most of their attendance while also being supported by local douchebag Mr. Knoblach (Dan Bakkedahl), but that only motivated them to get even MORE wild with the rides and skirt even MORE laws in the process! Truly an idyllic time of their lives spent with good friends like Uncle Benny (Christ Pontius) and the rag tag group of teenage rascals who helped DC run the place (Bridgette Lundy-Paine, Johnny Pemberton, Conner McViker, Eric Manaka, and a few others who don’t have extensive IMDb credits). Can DC do enough scheming to save the park from the greedy corporate fat cats? Will this long protracted battle against common sense and sensible safety protocols get in the way of DC being a good father to Boogie? Did you know that Johnny Knoxville’s eye almost popped out of his head during the filming of this!? Seriously, what more does he have to do to prove himself to you people!?
Downsizing and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by Alexander Payne
Every year, there’s usually one movie that starts off getting quite a bit of Awards buzz (mostly due to its cast and filmmakers) that eventually pivots all the way back to being an absolute train wreck once the critics get a chance to see it, and it’s usually not due to a genuine lack of talent on anyone’s part. More often than not, it’s misguided or something happened in the production that forced corners to be cut, so the badness of these kind of movies tend to be UNIQUE compared to the drivel that usually comes out during the rest of the year. Last year the winner of this prize was Collateral Beauty that tried SO hard to be a heartfelt and charming tale despite ostensibly being about people acting like total monsters towards someone with emotional issues, and word has been circulating that this is gonna be that film for 2017. I thought the trailers looked good as does its interesting premise, but I’ve been burned by good trailers before (*cough* Mother *cough*), so I’m hoping for the best but will keep my guard up just in case. Are the critics right about this film being wholly unable to live up to its lofty ambitions, or is this one of those few instances where the popular consensus will shift once it gets screened for the masses? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the adventures of Paul (Matt Damon) who’s a simple man with a ho-hum job living a ho-hum life with his ho-hum wife (Kristen Wiig) in his ho-hum town of Nowhere-ville. He’s looking for something to spice up his life and to give him a renewed sense of meaning (by which I mean he wants to buy more stuff), so he starts to entertain the idea of him and his wife Downsizing. What is Downsizing you may ask? Well it’s a process by which a human can be permanently shrunken down to a fraction of their normal height and then move to a community of similarly shrunken people. Since things cost less when they are smaller, that means that Paul’s meager life savings can let them live as kings for the rest of their lives in one of these communities, so he eventually makes the leap. However, his wife doesn’t go with him (balking at the last second) and he’s basically back where he was before; miserable and looking for ways to be happy. Through his ongoing life in Tiny Town (also known as Leisureland) he meets with a goods trader Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz) as well as a Vietnamese protestor who was Downsized against her will named Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau) that seem to be much happier than him and might just hold the secrets to helping Paul find what he’s been looking for. Can Paul find a shred of happiness in his sad pathetic life? What doors with Dusan and even Ngoc open for Paul that will help him on his journey? Wait, so we have this HUGE premise about people being shrunk down and living in corporate run micro-communities… and we’re focusing on some sad white dude the whole time!?
The Glass Castle and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Based… on a True Story. Ugh… is there any other phrase in the English language (other than Starring Jai Courtney) that sends a bigger chill down my spine? Trying to parse out which decisions a film makes that are due to the source material is not an easy task (especially when you don’t KNOW the true story to begin with) and it makes judging a movie with a well-rounded opinion THAT much harder to pull off since it works on different levels. Sure, ANY adaptation is gonna have some changes when going from one medium to another, but adapting something that ACTUALLY happened by its very nature practically begs to be judged on merits that are different from any other movie. So does this family drama manage to be enjoyable in its own right, or am I gonna have to read the book and do a whole bunch of research after the fact to TRULY understand what it’s going for? Let’s find out!!
The movie is an adaptation of Jeannette Wall’s memoir of the same name and we follow her as an adult (Brie Larson) as well as a child (Ella Anderson and Chandler Head); discovering how the latter is informing the former and learning about the pleasant as well as not so pleasant aspects of growing up with an abusive alcoholic father Rex (Woody Harrelson) with big ideas but too many personal demons to follow through on any of them. Along for the ride are her siblings Lori, Brian, and Bridgette (Sarah Snook, Olivia Kate Rice, Sadie Sink, Josh Caras, Iain Armitage, Charlie Stowell, Bridgette Lundy-Paine, Eden Grace Redfield, and Shree Crooks) as well as their mother Rose Mary (Naomi Watts) who all deal with their father in their own ways; though none of them come out of their life with him unscathed. Still, they all turned out well enough I guess, especially Jeannette who’s working for a big New York magazine and is engaged to a super-rich guy! Everything’s going great, right!? Well… maybe not, especially when Mom and Dad show up in New York and start squatting in an abandoned building. Will Jeannette be able to make peace with the way her father behaved when she was growing up? What exactly are her parents even doing in New York in the first place? Is Woody Harrelson able to NOT be likable, even when playing a total jerk!? Heck, he managed to stay at least SOMEWHAT charming in Natural Born Killers!