Wonder Park and all the images you see in this review are owned by Paramount Pictures
Directed by no one
So you’re telling me that there’s a movie in theaters right now where a sex pest had to leave the movie halfway through its tumultuous production, and it’s NOT Bohemian Rhapsody!? Yes, it’s not a typo that I didn’t credit a director on this movie because the guy who at some point sat in that chair got booted off of it and got the added justice of having his name stripped from the credits; something that I’m sure Fox would have really liked to do for its movie before things got awkward at the Oscars. Even before I knew any of that though, I was not looking forward to this considering how low rent and unappealing the trailers were which makes it all the more astounding that the darn thing cost upwards of a hundred million, so it seems pretty clear we’re in for a train wreck of epic proportions. Does this movie miraculously stick the landing despite everything going against it, or are we just here to watch it flame out in spectacular fashion? Let’s find out!!
June Bailey (Brianna Denski) is your typical millennial smarty pants who was basically raised her whole life on STEM related games; the main one being an imaginary park known as WONDER PARK with fantastical rides and a staff of talking animals that she and her mother (Jennifer Garner) would work on each night before bed. Over time, June’s interest started to bleed out into the real world which started off rather dangerously with unsafe roller coasters made out of plywood and city property, but eventually she started to focus on smaller scale project with actual engineering behind them instead of trial and error until someone cracks their skull open. However… something happens. I’m not going to say WHAT because the trailers do a very good job of hiding what this movie is actually about, but there’s a tragedy that causes her to give up on her Wonder Park dreams, and since this is a Kid’s Movie the universe will not take such flagrant cynicism lying down! Thorough the power of unexplained magic, June ends up in Wonder Park itself which is run by the loyal animal staff which includes Boomer the bear, Gus the beaver, Cooper the OTHER beaver, Greta the boar, and Steve the porcupine (Ken Hudson Campbell, Kenan Thompson, Ken Jeong, Mila Kunis, and John Oliver), but has been left in disarray for some time now. See, something happened to the park as well which brought THE DARKNESS upon them (I WONDER IF HER TRAGEDY AND THEIRS ARE SOMEHOW CONNECTED!?) that caused the guests to disappear and the stuffed animals to turn homicidal; taking the group’s leader Peanut (Norbet Leo Butz), a chimpanzee with a magic marker who made the rides June and her mother thought of. So now June is stuck in the last place she wants to be with animal friends who are not very helpful and is now trying to fix an amusement park in order to save a chimp with magic powers from adorable abominations. Sounds legit if you ask me! Can June and her friends figure out how to get the park up and running again to banish the darkness once and for all? Will this exercise in engineering splendor and stuffed animal homicide be just what June needs to confront her traumas once and for all? Is it just me, or does this all sound pretty convoluted for a movie so clearly aimed at five year olds?
Love Simon and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Greg Berlanti
Does anyone else think we’re at the point where we need to come up with a better way of describing movies like this one other than “Like a John Hughes movie”? As much as those movies are a touchstone in popular culture, the phrase a bit played out at this point, and on top that movies such as this one, despite being quite faithful to the overall formula and tone that he developed, feels like something that couldn’t have (even if it SHOULD have) been made in his time. I mean I GUESS we could go with “teenage coming of age story”, but that still doesn’t feel like it fully encapsulates the specific high school angst and post puberty struggles of self-discovery that made us develop the term in the first place. Anyway, I’m just rambling here as I honestly had no idea of this movie’s existence until it showed up at my local theater, but I am happy that we’re getting an ACTUAL LGBTQIA+ teen comedy as that kind of movie is a lot more in my wheelhouse than the super serious LGBTQIA+ films like Moonlight or even Carol. Does this manage to succeed in being just as good if not better than its straight peers in the genre, or is its good intentions just not enough to carry this film all the way through its run time? Let’s find out!!
Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is your typical teenager, in that he’s not quite sure about his place in the world and has secrets that he doesn’t feel like sharing with the rest of the world. As the audience though, we’re privy to ALL that information and we find out right away that Simon is in fact gay but hasn’t come out yet; not to his friends Leah, Abby, and Nick (Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr), nor to his parents (Josh Duhmael and Jennifer Garner) and little sister (Talitha Bateman). He has his reasons for doing so and it’s not like there’s a LAW that says you have to do it as soon as you know, so his plan is to just continue pining after hot dudes while hiding any trace that he’s actually doing so! Simple enough, right!? Well… not necessarily. It turns out that there’s ANOTHER closeted gay dude in school who posts an anonymous letter on the school’s blog under the pseudonym Blue and leaves an e-mail address for people to contact him at. Simon on a whim decides to reach out to him (using a pseudonym as well) which leads to a flurry of back and forth e-mails as Simon starts to develop feelings for this unknown “Blue” person. However, since this IS a movie about teenagers, there has to be SOME sort of disaster and in this case it’s the nerdy kid Martin (Logan Miller) who finds Simon’s letters and tries to set up an “arrangement” (*cough* Blackmail *cough*) where Simon will help him clean up his act, take better care of himself, and become a much more attractive and emotionally available person which will help him meet awesome women who think he’s awesome and they can have awesome dates together. At least that’s what I’m sure is going through MARTIN’S head to make this sound so much more innocent, but what it breaks down to is Simon (under threat of being forcibly outed) having to arrange dates between Martin and Abby who the former has a crush on. Yeah, not the BEST situation to be in all things considered, and worse yet he might end up losing his chances with Blue who might get scared off if Simon is forcibly outed; thinking he might be next if he keeps contacting him. Can Simon juggle this rough situation with his everyday duties of being the typical American teenager? Will Martin make good on his threats and just how far will Simon have to go to keep that from happening? How is it that EVERYONE’S teenage years suck!? You’d think at least ONE person would luck out at some point!
Nine Lives and all the images you see in this review are owned by EuropaCorp
Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld
How does this movie even exist? I know actors gotta eat, and sure, we ARE getting a Bryan Cranston dad comedy with James Franco soon, but even HE doesn’t have the freaking clout of Kevin Spacey! If this guy was so desperate for a payday, then why isn’t he in a Marvel movie or a DreamWorks animated feature!? Why the hell is he in a TALKING CAT movie!? This is the shit you cast Chris O’Donnell in or snatch up Jason Lee to do! Not two time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey! Ugh… whatever. We gotta deal with the cards we’re dealt. Does this movie manage to be just as bad as we expect it to be, or is there something there that justifies its reason to exist in 2016? No. The answer is no. Still, we might as well take a look anyway.
Tom Brand (Kevin Spacey) is your typical movie dad. Spends a lot of time at work, doesn’t have much time for his family, and is generally considered a jerk by his peers. He doesn’t care though because he’s building the TALLEST BUILDING ON THE EAST COAST which will be his legacy; much more so than his grown ass son David (Robbie Amell) who works for him in a desperate bid to get his approval, and his daughter Rebecca (Malina Weissman) who still hasn’t figured out that her dad is an asshole. His wife Lara (Jennifer Garner) informs him that he better come through in spades for his daughter’s birthday and all she wants is a cat. Bi shocker there. The guy bites the bullet and goes to buy a furry bastard but somehow (through FATE perhaps!?) ends up in the shop of God (Christopher Walken) who for some reason runs a cat store. Okay, he’s not ACTUALLY God, but considering how magical this guy is, there’s not that many other alternatives, though it would have been AWESOME if he turned out to be Satan. Anyway, Tom buys a cat from the man known as Felix Perkins (he runs a shop called Purr-kins) but has to make an emergency stop at the office on the way back to tell one of his company’s terrible managers (Mark Consuelos) that his ass is shit canned. Unfortunately for Tom, lightning strikes, shenanigans ensue, and he ends up in the body of the cat while his real body is in a coma (presumably the cat’s consciousness just died or something). Now he has to find a way back into his body before that awful manager dude somehow sells the company out from under him and his son, while also learning that maybe life isn’t all about going to work every day and providing for your family. What a moral. Can Kevin Spacey bother to show any interest in this performance? Just how embarrassing can Jennifer Garner’s performance get? WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA!?!?
Miracles from Heaven and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Patricia Riggen
These movies are just going to stop, are they? Well certainly not as long as Sony’s Jesus Department (Affirm), Roma Downey, and The Kendrick Brothers haven’t been driven out of Hollywood for being hacks. Oh who am I kidding? No one has EVER been driven out of Hollywood for being a hack. Still, these crappy religious movies are starting to look more and more like crappy regular movies now that their attracting big name talents like Jennifer Garner. Does the fact that this movie attracted an ACTUAL actor instead of one who’s only looking to be in Christian cinema (or are desperate for cash) mean that this might be one of the better films to come out of the Christian Film Revolution? Even if it is, does that mean it’s actually a GOOD movie? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the tragic and uplifting story of the Beam family who were met with an unbelievable crisis when one of their daughters Annabel also known as Anna (Kylie Rogers) is diagnosed with an incurable intestinal disorder that leaves her unable to eat and in constant pain. For the most part, the movie is from the perspective of her mother Christy (Jennifer Garner) who takes the brunt of the action and the emotional toll by doing everything she can to get her to the best doctors and come up with ways to pay for all these expensive treatments. The trailers are a tad misleading considering that the fall from the tree that cures Anna (spoiler alert) doesn’t happen until the last twenty minutes of the movie, so it has more in common with something like 90 Minutes in Heaven than Heaven is For Real, considering the majority of the movie is about the suffering rather than the aftermath of the divine intervention. Still, is it an inspiring and heartwarming story BEFORE we get to the Deus Ex Machina? Does Jennifer Garner actually manage to elevate this material above its very simple premise? Couldn’t God have come up with a way to heal her WITHOUT giving her a concussion!?