Cats and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Tom Hooper
I know next to nothing about Cats the stage show or the TS Eliot book it’s based on. I know it ends with a sad song that earns the cat another life and I know the band Mungo Jerry took its name after a character in it, but other than I don’t have the first clue; not to the narrative, what the famous songs are, or why it’s so popular that a studio sunk a bajillion dollars into making good actors look like creatures from The Island of Dr. Moreau to bring it to the big screen. Yeah, those trailers weren’t doing this film a lot of favors as the odd cat suits were all anyone was talking about and it certainly wasn’t selling a newbie like me on the CATS experience. Still, even if the effects are strange there could be an engaging and heartfelt story beating underneath that’ll make up for all tht which if nothing else will explain why the stage show is still popular after all this time. Is this the cinematic dance party of 2019 that The Greatest Showman was for 2018, or will this sit right alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber’s other missteps like Love Never Dies and Gerard Butler? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Victoria (Francesca Hayward) being dumped in an alley by her human owner (a very disturbing sight by the way coupled with these shrunken cat humanoids) and she is greeted by the Jellicle Cats. What’s a Jellicle Cat? I have no idea, but I think it involves three years of ballet and two years of tap. The Jellicle Cats led by Munkustrap (Robbie Fairchild) take Victoria through the streets of London to meet other Jellicle Cats like Jennyanydots, Bustopher Jones, and Rum Tum Tugger (Rebel Wilson, James Cordon, and Jason Derulo), and eventually to the Jellicle Ball which is some sort of talent show where even MORE cats show up to strut their stuff in the hopes of winning a new life. I’m not sure if this is some reincarnation deal or if they get a tenth life tacked to the end of their ninth, but regardless there are a lot of cats trying to impress the leader of the Jellicle Cats, Old Deuteronomy (Judi Dench), who is the one that will ultimately make the decision. Some cats like Gus and Skimbleshanks (Ian McKellen and Steven McRae) will simply try to do their best, while others like Macavity (Idris Elba) will use underhanded means to try and while, and others still like Grizabella (Jennifer Hudson) are excluded entirely, for… reasons. Will Victoria find a place among the Jellicle Cats now that she no longer has a home with the humans? Who will be chosen to receive the ultimate prize this night, and how far will Macavity go to try and secure it? Does anyone know if this is all one big joke? Who looked at those faces and thought, YUP! THAT’S WHAT WE WANT TO SPEND OUR MONEY ON!!
Jojo Rabbit and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Directed by Taika Waititi
I don’t know if I’d classify this as Oscar Bait even though it’s set in World War II which is like half the criteria right there, but it’s certainly a film that’s been on everyone’s radars for months now; somewhat due to the controversial subject matter, but mostly because of the filmmaker behind it who’s really blown up in the last few years and for good reason. Thor: Ragnarok was one of the most exciting films in that Phase of the Marvel franchise, and everything we’ve seen of him since then has only increased his status in the public eye. Now we have his first directorial film since Ragnarok which is a satire of Fascism at a time that couldn’t be more relevant, so you can’t say that the guy doesn’t swing for the fences! Is this a brutal and necessary take down of the ideology that’s been infecting global politics for a few years now, or is the film just not equipped to tackle such a heavy subject matter no matter how much talent there is behind it? Let’s find out!!
Jojo Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis) is a young boy growing up in Nazi Germany who wants nothing more than to become a true fighter for the cause and even has Hitler as his imaginary friend that gives him pep talks and dubious advice. He hopes that the camp he’s about to attend for the Hitler Youth will be the turning point in his life as he becomes a TRUE man and uses the skills he will learn to not only fight for the Aryan race, but become Hitler’s right hand man as they exterminate the dastardly Jews off the face of the Earth! Yeah… Jojo is kind of a messed up kid all things considered, but he’s also seemingly too sensitive to REALLY become the monster that the rest of the Nazis around him have become, and he gets the nickname Jojo Rabbit when he refuses to kill a rabbit to prove his manhood. Instead he tries to throw a grenade which goes horribly wrong and leaves him with a bunch of scars on his face and a leg that doesn’t work as well as it used to. Because of this he has to spend more time at home with his mother (Scarlett Johansson) who he suspects may not be fully on board with this whole “Nazi” thing; a suspicion confirmed when he finds out that she’s been protecting a Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) who’s been living in a secret room within the walls of the house; specifically the walls in the room of Jojo’s sister who seems to have died at some point during the war. With his own family seeming to turn against the ideology he loves and the man he believes to be a hero, will Jojo come to terms with the failings of the Nazi ideology and join his mother in resisting their influences? The allied powers seem to be advancing on his village, so will he have to fight against them at some point despite his bad leg and lack of a killer instinct? If Hitler is such a good leader, then why hasn’t he fixed all this kid’s problems and made him a true blue Nazi solider? Checkmate, ten year old kid!!
The Hustle and all the images you see in this review are owned by United Artists Releasing and MGM
Directed by Chris Addison
Whether or not it’s a particularly successful tactic (particularly when the audience for blockbusters is only growing larger and larger), counter programming is still a thing in the industry and I’d wager that it’s the main reason this movie is being sandwiched between so many big named blockbusters. I certainly thought the trailers for this looked quite good and I like the casting quite a bit, but being put in theaters now when Avengers and Detective Pikachu are still tearing it up at the box office is either a sign of great insight for the studios to fill a gap in the viewing audience or total hubris that will spell doom for what seems to be a fun little crime film. Is this film a big time hustler elbowing its way to the forefront against such big titans of the cinema, or is this a small time crook that’s way in over its head? Let’s find out!!
Penny Rust (Rebel Wilson) is a con artist working in the city running scams on dating sites which are actually quite effective, but end up garnering a significant amount of heat on her and so she’s forced to take her game elsewhere. Said elsewhere turns out to be the stomping grounds of another con artist Josephine Chesterfield (Anne Hathaway) who’s set up her base of operations in a ritzy French tourist trap which is never short of gullible dudes just itching to be separated from their valuables, but a wild card like Penny could throw a wrench her in perfectly laid out plans if left to her own devices. Initially she tries to fool her into leaving of her own accord, but by her own wits and a bit of luck, Penny becomes wise to Josephine’s game and wants in on the action; a proposition Josephine is initially resistant towards but figures that keeping Penny happy and useful is better than risking her going to the authorities with what she now knows. At first it seems to be going just fine as Penny trains in the arts of manipulation with the help of Josephine’s assistants Brigitte and Alfred (Ingrid Oliver and Nicholas Woodeson), and they even pull of this brilliant little scheme that’s never really come together until Penny entered the picture, but all is not sunshine and roses in the world of professional scamming, and so the student must eventually face the master in a game of wits, ingenuity, and even a bit of outright cruelty, to prove once and for all if Penny’s brash resourcefulness is truly a match for Josephine’s refined expertise. Will Penny and Josephine’s ultimate challenge bring out the best in both of them, or will they lose everything to their overblown egos? Can they ever come to a mutual understanding given how different their backgrounds are and how cutthroat their line of work is? Is it just me, or is one of them at a distinct advantage considering they’ve already played a diamond thief in a previous movie, and that’s ASIDE from them already having played Catwoman!
Isn’t it Romantic and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson
This review is going up PRETTY darn late considering it’s been out for over three weeks now, but I have a VERY good reason for taking my time with it! Okay, maybe not a GOOD reason, but the truth is that I got a serious case of writers block thinking about this movie. Yeah, the mid-February release is the one that locked up my brain for a lot longer than I’d care to admit. How could that be!? In the year that already brought us Glass and Serenity, THIS is the one I had trouble wrapping my head around!? Could it be that this is a multi-layered and nuanced examination of relationships and the media surrounding them, or is it just kind of… meh, but in ways that aren’t particularly interesting to write about? Let’s find out!!
Natalie (Rebel Wilson) is a young woman struggling to make it in the big city and has abandoned love to focus on her career which isn’t going to great either because she’s a smart and overly competent woman who isn’t taken seriously at the workplace. Her best friend Josh (Adam DeVine) has a crush on her, her girlfriend Whitney (Betty Gilpin) is a bit quirky but always encouraging, and the new hotshot with a million dollar smile Blake (Liam Hemsowrth) is ignoring her ideas to his own detriment because she has some brilliant plans for his next project. Sounds a bit clichéd if you ask me, even the part about Natalie being cynical about love and calling out other Romantic Comedies for being unrealistic, but after suffering a concussion in a WACKY mugging scene, she wakes up and finds herself in a ROMANTIC COMEDYTM where everyone is a model, the colors are boosted up to eleven, and people will break out into song occasionally. Natalie may be fully aware that she’s stuck in a Meg Ryan movie by way of Baz Luhrmann, but the question is how the heck does she get out of here? Is this Back to the Future rules where she has to recreate the incident that got her there, or is this Groundhog Day rules where she has to fulfil some sort of destiny before she’s allowed to leave? Well she’s gonna have to try both at least, and when the first one doesn’t work out she starts to pursue the hunk-tastic Blake because of course that’s who she’ll end up with in these kind of stories and starts going to the motions as best as she can; which includes living in her overpriced apartment, starring in makeover montages, and even having an offensive gay best friend stereotype named Donny (Brandon Scott Jones) who lives next door and always pops up whenever he’s needed! Can Natalie survive this nightmare of high fashion, shallow problems, and unrealistic romance long enough to get back to her normal life of muted colors and an unfulfilling work environment? Will Blake be the key to her escape, or is there something ELSE she should be looking for instead? Doesn’t this feel a bit like a chicken and egg situation where figuring out if the cliché is more clichéd than the critique on the cliché?
The Brothers Grimsby and all the images you see in this review are owned by Columbia Pictures
Directed by Louis Leterrier
It has not been a good year for comedies so far, has it? Even if you cut out bottom of the barrel garbage like Dirty Grandpa and Fifty Shades of Black, we’ve got Hail Caesar which was underwhelming (for a Coen Brothers film), Pride Prejudice and Zombies which was one joke told over and over again, and Gods of Egypt which wasn’t even SUPPOSED to be hilarious. What are we left with? Deadpool? Zootopia? We need a REAL comedy that’s all about telling jokes instead of mashing it together with super hero antics or civil rights messages delivered by way of Furries! Good thing Sacha Baron Cohen is still around to show the people what’s what… right? Honestly, I don’t have much hope for this from what I’ve seen in the trailers, but the guy is a damn good comedian and is responsible for some of the most transformative and influential works in that area in the last decade. Can he pull it off at least one more time? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows the misadventures of Nobby (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Sebastian (Mark Strong); two brothers separated during their youth due to their parents dying and subsequently being adopted by different families. Sebastian grows up to be Not James Bond, while Nobby grows up to be a loser, though he seems pretty happy with his life overall; what with having eleven kids (at least) who all seem to love him and Rebel Wilson as his girlfriend who he’s madly in love with. Despite all the riches that life has bestowed upon Nobby though, he still has a hole in himself that Sabastian left when the two were separated. Well the good news is that the movie doesn’t take too long for the two of them to meet back up. The bad news is that, on top of being a loser, Nobby is a blithering idiot and fucks up Sebastian’s mission; causing him to become an internationally wanted man in the process. Now Sebastian has to clear his name, find out what the evil plot the Bad GuysTM are planning, and deal with his dumbass brother in the process. Nobby’s biggest concern on the other hand is to not miss the football game and try to make up for lost time with his brother. Can these two work together to save the world from the Bad GuysTM? Will the twenty eight years of separation prove to be too large a hurdle for them to overcome? Does Sacha Baron Cohen whip his dick out at least once!?
How to Be Single and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Christian Ditter
Oddly enough, the really terrible Valentine’s Day film already came out with The Choice a week ago and this movie seems less interested in that market than it is in going after the Pitch Perfect or Sisters audience (hence the reason why Rebel Wilson is so prominent in the advertisements). While I’m glad that this movie was not selling itself as an overly sentimental low budget Chick FlickTM, what it WAS promising didn’t look all that… well promising. Still, trailers can be misleading and it does have Leslie Mann who’s always fun to watch on screen. Does this turn out to better than expected, or is this just a low brow cash grab trying to ride a trend that’s already been defined by much better movies? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about four women for the most part. We’ve got Alice (Dakota Johnson) who’s just moved to the big city and has taken a job at a law firm where Robin (Rebel Wilson) works and the two of them become fast friends as the latter teaches the former how to loosen up a bit and learn how to be a single lady. We’ve also got Meg (Leslie Mann) who is Alice’s sister and she has decided that she wants to have a kid and find a way to make it work as a single parent with a demanding job as a doctor, while also making sure her younger sister doesn’t get into too much trouble. Off to the side (definitely the least important part here) is Lucy (Alison Brie) who… I guess just wants to meet a guy? I don’t know, there’s this thing about her finding an algorithm to find the perfect man, but that kind of drops off. Her character basically gets subsumed by the local bartender anyway (Anders Holm) and, despite the poster, she has zero interacts with our three other leads. Anyway, Alice’s big crisis is that she decided to put her current relationship with Josh (Nicholas Braun) on hold as she wants to experience single life before deciding whether or not she’s ready to settle down with him yet, but you can probably guess that those plans go pear shaped rather quickly and so she has to adapt to being single as a way of life rather than as an experiment. Will Alice eventually find out how to live her life for her and not define it by the relationships she has with other men? Will Meg be able to handle all the responsibilities of being a single mother? Does Deadpool end up being the better romantic comedy!?