On the Basis of Sex and all the images you see in this review are owned by Focus Features
Directed by Mimi Leder
Wait, didn’t we get this movie last year? Oh right! That was a documentary! Well I guess since we got that we need a fictionalized version of the story to make a double feature out of, but at the very least this IS an individual whose story is worth getting the BIG HOLLYWOOD treatment and it’s not like we couldn’t use a GOOD biopic to balance the scales after last year’s big mistake. Look, it was a pretty rough start to the year and the movies haven’t been doing much for me, so maybe the inspirational story of one of America’s most celebrated judicial figures could help me get out of this poor mood! Or it could be another disappointment in a year that seems all too willing to hand those out left and right; especially since this was originally screened in 2018 but got pushed back into the 2109 dead zone for the rest of us. In any case, let’s find out!!
Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Felicity Jones) has had to deal with quite a lot in her life! She managed to go to Harvard at a time when few women were able to, and got her law degree there as well as at Columbia; all the while taking care of her daughter as well as her husband Martin Ginsburg (Armie Hammer) who had some serious health issues while they were in school. It was all worth it though because now they both have their law degrees and they can live out their dreams of being lawyers! At least that’s the plan as Ruth, who managed to navigate the harsh male dominated world of academia, still hasn’t managed to land a job in the harsh male dominated world of law firms. Oh well. At least she got a teaching job which she excelled at for quite a few years, but one day Martin comes across a case that may just be the one the two of them have been looking for. You see, they became lawyers because they wanted to do good in this world and fight for equality, and one of the things that has always a bugbear of theirs is how Men and Women are defined differently under the law and are therefore treated differently like in regards to workers’ rights and inherence. The case that Martin found though is an instance where the laws negatively affect a man because Charles Moritz (Chris Mulkey) cannot claim a tax credit despite meeting all the qualifications for it… except for the fact that he is a male bachelor. I know, it sounds UTTERLY RIVETING to hear people talk about tax laws, but this is the kind of thing that can really take a pickaxe to the existing status quo and a ruling in Charles’s favor could be the rallying point for other similar laws to be overturned! With the case of a lifetime in their laps, the Ginsburgs begin to work the case with the help of the ACLU run by Mel Wulf (Justin Theroux) as well as a personal hero of Ruth’s Dorothy Kenyon (Kathy Bates) who’s resistant at first due to a lifetime of learned cynicism, but might just be willing to give them the push they need to be taken seriously. Can Ruth and Martin successfully overturn this law and get Charles that sought after tax credit? What kind of resistance will they face from the government that has a vested interest in keeping things the way they are? FOOLISH MORTALS! NO ONE CAN STOP THE RBG!!
Life of the Party and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by Ben Falcone
This isn’t the most object thing to say as a film critic, but there really are times where the success of a movie or the people behind it makes me hate the end product just a little bit more. Adam Sandler’s entire career is based around this, and absolute dreck like Fist Fight and Daddy’s Home 2 are bad enough that their success only intensifies what I found lacking in them; especially with Daddy’s Home 2 which was so bad AND so successful that it pretty much poisoned the first film for me which I thought wasn’t THAT bad and somewhat enjoyable. I bring this up because I get the feeling that many people feel that way about Melissa MicCarthy and her movies, and yet I’ve never had anything but praise for her as a performer. Okay, I wasn’t a fan of Bridesmaids and I still haven’t seen Identity Thief or Tammy, but her track record has been pretty strong as far as I’m concerned and even her low end efforts like The Boss are still better than plenty other comedies that don’t seem to attract as much ire; not to mention the absolute shit storm that blew up over that AMAZING Ghostbusters movie! Now she’s back to “ruin” yet another one of your treasured eighties films as this movie seems to be an update on Old School starring Rodney Dangerfield, and I hope the next film she does has her working on a golf course or traveling back in time to meet her parents in high school; just to see how far she can piss off “passionate” fanboys who can’t stand to see their original films (THAT AREN’T GOING ANYWHERE!!) being updated for a new audience! Does this latest effort manage to do for college frat humor what the new Ghostbusters did for comedian driven adventure films, or is this a disappointingly low effort outing from one of the most talented comedians of our time? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Deanna Miles (Melissa McCarthy) dropping off her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) for her final year of college which SHOULD be a celebratory day… but it all goes to hell when her jerk of a husband Dan (Matt Walsh) informs her on the ride home that he’s divorcing her, he’s already seeing someone, and he’s gonna sell the house. Well that stinks! What the heck is she gonna do to support herself now that her husband is gone and she hasn’t worked in years; not to mention that she never finished college which closes her off from most job opportunities! Wait a minute… COLLEGE! THAT’S IT!! She’ll enroll in the same college as her daughter to finish up that final year and get her degree in… Archeology! Because the market is bursting at the seams for someone with THOSE qualifications I guess! Oh, that’s not important! The important thing is that Maddie’s mom is gonna be at the same place as her and will be SUPER embarrassing! Well actually, Maddie’s sisters as the Sorority (Gillian Jacobs, Adria Arjona, and Jessie Ennis) take to her rather quickly and she soon becomes the talk of campus; even getting invited to parties and hooking up with sexy stud Jack (Luke Benward)! Oh, and I guess she’s got to attend her archeology classes taught by Chris Parnell, but forget that! It’s time to put the MOM back in MOMentous College Experiences as she teaches the youngsters about being responsible adults and they in turn teach her how to cut loose! Will Deanna manage to pass her final classes to get that degree, or will the pitfalls of college life distract her from reaching her dreams? Will Maddie gain a newfound respect for her mother now that they’re spending so much time together, and what will the divorce do to her relationship with her as well as her dad? Will Melissa McCarthy retain her title as one of the most bankable stars in the country, even when she’s doing a cheap college film!?
Get Out and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Jordan Peele
2016 turned out to be a fantastic year for horror movies; not just for the ones that ended up on my best of the year list, but also the ones that aimed to be middle of the road seemed to step up their game and try harder than you’d normally expect from the genre. Now sure, 2017 started with The Bye Bye Man, but even 2016 had some low points with The Forest and Incarnate. Plus, we’ve also gotten the excellent, if problematic, Split not too long ago which is already one of the better films this year; horror or otherwise. Now we’ve finally gotten to the BIG one which is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut that’s been getting a lot of positive buzz from when it was first announced all the way up to now with those Fancy Schmancy “professional” critics who are raving about it after they saw the “Critics Screenings”. Well I had to drive thirty miles in the rain AND hail to see this damn thing, so it BETTER be as good as everyone is saying it is! Is this thoughtful and well-crafted horror film that everyone says it is and that we desperately need right now, or did the hype machine get out of control with this movie which admittedly can sometimes happen with horror films? Heck, I wasn’t the biggest fan of You’re Next, and that movie was instantly touted as a classic of the genre! Anyway, let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) heading off to meet her family for the first time in what is sure to be a painfully awkward experience for everyone. Sure enough, Mr. and Mrs. Armitage (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) are just as “down” and “hip with the youngsters” as you’d imagine from older white people, but Chris seems to know what he as getting into and is just taking everything in stride until he get back home after the weekend is over. Of course, things only get worse as Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) enters the picture is an obnoxious dweeb as well as a bunch of the Armitage’s other white friends who are VERY excited to meet Chris. On top of that the Armitage’s have two black servants, Georgina and Walter (Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson), who look to have gotten the Stepford Wives treatment, though only Chris seems to be noticing this. Tensions mount higher and higher as more clues are uncovered by Chris and it’s starting to seem that he may be in more danger than he initially realized. Can he get out before he becomes the victim of whatever these white people have planned? What happened to Georgina and Walter that has them acting so strange? Did we SERIOUSLY get one of the best movies of the year from the guy who co-wrote Keanu? That wasn’t a BAD movie, but god DAMN is this a step up!!
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Jake Szymanski
We all love Zac Efron, right? Sure there was a point where everyone inexplicably hated him the same way that everyone hated DiCaprio after Titanic, but the guy is just bursting with charisma when he’s not merely bursting out of his clothes. Still, he’s hit a bit of a rut recently where he’s either in an awful movie or he’s in a decent enough movie but isn’t asked to stretch very far, and I fear this might continue for a while considering how badly his sincere low budget drama We Are Your Friends ended up being received by everyone other than me. This one looks to be a continuation of that trend where he’s playing yet another dumb guy with a stupidly hot bod, though maybe they can manage to do something interesting with that character rather than just regurgitate jokes we’ve seen him do for the last five years? Yeah, I don’t have much hope either, but you never know! Let’s find out!!
The movie is all about Mike and Dave (Zac Efron and Adam Devine); two brothers who may as well be spin-off characters from the Neighbors movies as both are in total broski mode as they are PROBABLY in their thirties by now (their age isn’t specified) yet are still trying to live life like they’re college douche bags. They’re liquor salesmen but as far as I can tell they only have one client who buys their whiskey out of pity, and their apartment looks like the jock-pocalypse took place, what with the empty pizza boxes and indoor basketball hoop. Their bubble is about to burst though, at least somewhat, they are confronted by their parents and younger sister Jeanie (Sugar Lyn Beard) who’s wedding is coming up and all of them, including the fiancé Eric (Sam Richardson), want them to shape up and act like adults rather than party animals. How exactly do they expect these two knuckleheads to pull this off? By getting dates of course! Through a whole bunch of convoluted means, they end up meeting Alice and Tatiana (Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza), who are pretending to be nice and stable girls so they can bum a free vacation off of these two as the wedding will take place in Hawaii; a destination I’m sure was chosen for its natural beauty and rich culture and wasn’t an excuse for the actors to take a vacation (a well-known Hollywood scam known as An Adam Sandler Movie). Of course, the bad girls can’t keep up the act for long which only leads to Mike and Dave getting all riled up and chaos eventually ensues! Can everyone manage to keep their shit together, at least until after the two get married? Will these four people thrown together through luck and manipulation manage to find… true love? Why would the supposedly reasonable people ever think that this plan would work out?