Booksmart and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing and Annapurna Pictures
Directed by Olivia Wilde
I probably should keep tabs on some of the more interesting films being made, particularly those by studios other than Disney, because this one flew COMPLETELY under my radar and I’ve only just now started hearing about it despite getting rave reviews and being directed by an actor I actually like! I watched every season of house, yet I didn’t know that Thirteen had directed a movie!? I mean at least it means that I can go into a movie with few preconceptions on what it will be, but it also means that unless it comes to the big local theater I’m likely to miss it; particularly this year where I can barely keep up with the big releases, let alone the smaller stuff. Thankfully this one is getting enough buzz that even my regular theater has screenings of it, but will it manage to live up to the hype or will I once again have to be rather nonplussed about a critical darling? Let’s find out!!
Molly and Amy (Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever) are the best of friends who are about to graduate from high school as the Valedictorian and Salutatorian and have big plans for the future which include both of them going to Standford, graduating first in their classes, and probably being President and Vice President one day. Who knows!? THE SKY’S THE LIMIT! Sure, being such bookworms and ONLY focusing on getting good grades and doing activities that will look good on a college resume has left them as something of outsiders (which I found a bit odd considering the top kids in MY class at least were the popular ones as well, but whatever), and as their last day of high school approaches, they come to realize that MAYBE all that studying left them with no real life experience to carry with them to college and that they should break loose on the night before graduation by going to Nick’s party (Mason Gooding) where all the popular kids are having fun! Well okay, it’s MOSTLY Molly saying this, but Amy wants to be supportive and hesitantly agrees to go along with this and might even talk to the cute girl she’s had a crush on for some time (Victoria Ruesga). Sadly, no one bothered to give them the address before this huge revelation since… well they’ve never gone to one of their parties before so why would they now, and this means that they have to find someone who knows where it is and get the information out of them by whatever means necessary! Can Molly and Amy find the party of their dreams and survive whatever wacky hijinks are waiting for them out in the real world? Will this experience challenge their friendship like never before; possibly revealing longstanding issues that they’ve never allowed to bubble to the surface? Is it just me, or do movies like this make you realize how much you wasted your own high school years? And college years?
And most of your twenties? Okay, maybe it’s just me.
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!?
Masterminds and all the images you see in this review are owned by Relativity Media
Directed by Jared Hess
Oh hey, I remember this guy! Didn’t he do Napoleon Dynamite like a hundred years ago? Okay, maybe it wasn’t THAT long ago, but you can hardly say that he’s had a sterling career since then with Nacho Libre and Gentleman Broncos being poor follow ups to his breakout hit. Still, this one seems to be outside of his comfort zone, what with how many A-list comedians are on hand and the general tone of the film from the trailers, so maybe stretching himself as an artist will do him some good and he can wow us all once again with his immense talent! Hey, it’s POSSIBLE… right? Is this movie one of the standout comedies of the year that will remind us why we liked Jared Hess in the first place, or is this yet more proof that the dude peaked with his first film? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows lovable David Ghantt (Zach Galifianakis) who’s living the pathetic loser life in his shitty little town where no one respects him or even likes him all that much; even his fiancée (Kate McKinnon), but then she’s so cartoonishly off-putting that it’s hard to tell if she’s feeling anything at all. The dude seems perfectly fine to let things go this way and live out his life as a security guard for Loomis Fargo and have zero impact on the rest of the world. That is… until SHE came through the door. Kelly (Kristen Wigg) becomes a coworker of David’s and the two hit it off immediately, by which I mean he develops a massive crush on her and she gets her ass fired before she has a chance to really capitalize on it. Eventually though, she does come back into his life, only now she has someone with her. Steven Chambers (Owen Wilson) wants to use David to rob Loomis Fargo and plans on using his clear obsession with Kelly to get him to do it. Needless to say that David promptly agrees for that exact reason, and surprisingly the heist seems to work at first! They walk away with SEVENTEEN MILLION DOLLARS, David goes to Mexico while the heat dies down, and everyone else (including Kelly) for some reason stay in their shitty little town and try to lay low there. As with most crime movies though, things start to unravel, especially when FBI agents (Leslie Jones and Jon Daly) start to investigate those involved and a hit man (Jason Sudeikis) winds up in the mix. Will David get away with his crime and have all the money he could ever want? Will Kelly be able to save David from Steven who’s hell bent on keeping him out of their way permanently? How the hell did this stupid mother fucker get through airport security!?
“Is he brown?” “No, but he’s got lizard eyes and a wig.” “Hi there!” “Go on ahead sir.”
The Angry Birds Movie and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly
After the disaster that was Ratchet & Clank, this COULDN’T be worse… right? Honestly, with the track record that video game adaptations have, it’s not like a shitty movie based on a mobile game can tarnish their legacy any more than Street Fighter: Legend of Chun-Li did, which isn’t to say that I have any hope for this movie; just that it’s not in a position to do much damage. Does this turn out to be an unexpectedly competent surprise, or just another awful adaptation to add to the pile? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the angriest bird in Birdville, or whatever this place is called, named Red (Jason Sudeikis) who has finally pushed the citizens of Bird-opolis to the breaking point! After an “incident” gets out of hand involving a slightly messed up cake and cracked egg, Red is assigned to mandatory Anger Management which is led by Matilda (Maya Rudolph) and is attended by Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride), and Terence (Sean Penn); none of whom are particularly well adjusted. That’s only the first half of the movie though. Eventually, a ship chock full of pigs arrives at the Island of Birds and come offering friendship and gifts of the outside world! Only Red can see that they’re up to no good though, but no one wants to listen to him because… well he’s an asshole. Still, he manages to get Bomb and Chuck on his side enough so that they agree to go with him to find the LEGENDARY MIGHTY EAGLE who is said to watch over Bird-sylvania and aid it in its time of need. Can red get over his anger issues long enough to do some real good for his fellow birds? Can the LEGENDARY MIGHTY EAGLE save the town before the pigs enact their nefarious plan? Have these birds never bothered to go off of their island!? How have they never heard of pigs before!?
“Whatever it is, I think we should worship it.” “Don’t you think that’s a little extreme?” “HERETIC!!” “Don’t you mean… HAM-etic?”
Mother’s Day and all the images you see in this review are owned by Open Road Films
Directed by Garry Marshall
Seriously. It’s not funny anymore Garry Marshall. Whoever’s paying you to do this or whoever has your family hostage NEEDS to be stopped. For the third time in a damn row, Garry Marshall is trying to rip off Love Actually by taking the formula and centering on other holidays that seem to be chosen at random. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next movie is about Arbor Day and Julia Roberts plays a tree in it! So is this one just as bad as the rest? Yes. Yes it is. No point in giving you false hope. Let’s just get this one over with…
The movie is separated into four stories. Jennifer Aniston has to deal with the fact that her ex-husband has remarried a much younger woman and they are both dazzeling the kids with fun trips, junk food, and rock concerts while she’s at her house doing everything else for them. Jason Sudeikis is a widower whose wife passed away about a year ago and he’s still dealing with the grief while trying to raise his two daughters. Britt Robertson is a woman who’s raising her infant daughter with her boyfriend, but she also has her own demons to work out as she has never met her birth mother who is an HSN host played by Julia Roberts. And finally, KKate Hudson and Sarah Chalke play sisters who have married people their parents would not approve of (an indian man played by Aasif Mandvi for the former and another woman played by Cameron Esposito for the latter) and they are no longer able to hide this fact from them since they have made a surprise visit. Each of these stories are loosely connected by the fact that some of the characters know each other as either friends or in a professional sense, and we follow our heroes as they learn to get over their problems, make up for mistakes they’ve made, and become better people in the process. Oh and there’s a holiday in here… I guess.
“Holy hell! Is… is this what the rest of my career is gonna be like!?” “Yep. Welcome to the old ladies club.” “BUT I’M ONLY TWENTY SIX!!” “Yeah, and I’m only thirty seven. It’ll get easier after a while.”
Race and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features and TriStar Pictures
Directed by Stephen Hopkins
What with Oscars So White still being a relevant issues as the ceremony approaches, there really wasn’t a better time to release a biopic about the man who both shattered the color barrier to win four gold medals in 1936, and who succumbed to the insurmountable weight of the prejudice once her returned home. A fitting figure to highlight the discrimination that even people as successful as Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and countless other black and minority celebrities still have to face. Does this movie do justice to the story of the man while also being heartbreaking relevant to today? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the career of Jesse Owens (Stephen James) between his acceptance to Ohio State University and his participation in the 1936 Berlin Olympics where he won four gold medals for the hundred meter, two hundred meter, four hundred meter relay, and long jump events. Of course, the story is not as simple as it may seem considering this all took place well before the Civil Rights Act was even a possibility in the United States, and that the Berlin Olympics were taking place in Nazi Germany which was already becoming a hotly contested entity on the world stage. As he struggles with his own personal demons about being a proper man and father, he must also face the realities of being a symbol for something greater than himself. Certain members of the black community want him to take a stand against the Olympics as a way to highlight the atrocities in Germany as well as those in his own home country, which could be a powerful statement but would almost certainly end his career in the process. Now we all know he did indeed end up going to the Olympics, but it was stuff like this that was in the back of his mind that he had to work through while facing down the Nazis in their own country. Does this movie manage to capture the historical magnitude of Jesse Owens’s achievements or is this yet another biopic that fails to capture what makes the person so great to instead focus on running down a checklist of his life story?