Cinema Dispatch: Bliss

Bliss and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios

Directed by Mike Cahill

So hey!  Either studios are getting bolder in 2021 and are actually releasing stuff, or I’m finally paying attention and now have about two months’ worth of releases to look forward to across my various streaming services!  I’m definitely ready to get back on that movie reviewing horse (even though this review is coming out almost a week after the movie did), and what better film to herald this renewed vigor than a movie literally named after a word for happiness!  So does Amazon’s sci-fi take on a less action heavy Matrix (or a less dreamlike Eternal Sunshine) prove to be as good as the title promises, or is the true bliss the moment you decide to turn the movie off?  Let’s find out!!

Gregg Wittle (Owen Wilson) is your typical upper middle class miserable white dude.  He’s recently divorced, he hates his job, and while he loves his kids they’re pretty much grown now and there seems to be some issues there he doesn’t feel like confronting.  Instead, he spends his time drawing pictures of a better life which may be cathartic for him but because that’s ALL he does at work he ends up getting fired.  Just as well, I mean the place is a dismal office building with all life and personality scrubbed out of it, but in the real world you can’t just get fired and let everything fall to the wayside.  Or can you!?  Drinking his misery away, Gregg meets a woman named Isabel Clemens (Salma Hayek) who recognizes him as someone special and whisks him away on an adventure of homelessness and telekinetic powers!  Why?  Well according to Isabella, this is a fake reality that she built and that nothing here matters!  The people are fake, the boredom is fake, the lousy jobs are all fake, and she’s here to show Mr. Wittle that’s he’s not so Wittle after all!  Seems like an enticing proposition and there is certainly some evidence to support this, but there are also many questions as well that Isabel either has a convenient technobabble excuse for or is outright hesitant to confront, so does Greg dare to hope that his boring meaningless life can be changed in an instant by this benevolent benefactor?  If everything is a simulation though, doesn’t that mean his kids aren’t real either?  How would you even define if they are real if the feelings are genuinely there?  Can we call Morpheus in to explain this?  He’s pretty good at this kind thing.s

“Real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain, and guess who’s got a Taser!” “Whoa.” “Heck YEAH, whoa!”
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Cinema Dispatch: Happy Death Day 2U

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Happy Death Day 2U and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Christopher Landon

Man, I’ve been sitting on this one for almost two weeks.  I don’t know what happened!  Even though I saw it right when it was released a bunch of movies came out and this went on the back burner!  It certainly had a lot to live up to considering that the first movie was one of my favorite films of 2017; not to mention that a sequel seemed like the worst idea ever as the first movie felt so complete in its story.  Bill Murray never made Groundhog’s Day 2, and probably for the same reason he never did a Ghostbusters 3; it would have been a terrible idea!  ANYWAY, before I say something that’ll REALLY tick people off, does this pointless sequel manage to justify its own existence, or are we doomed to yet another brilliant movie made to churn out sequels until you forgot why you liked the darn thing in the first place!?  Let’s find out!!

Tree Gelbman (Jessica Rothe) having discovered who it was that was trying to kill her and closing the time loop that put her in a Groundhog’s day scenario is living the good life!  She woke up and it was a different day, and that guy Carter (Israel Boussard) who helped her out all those times but has no memory of it is making out with her!  Yup, it looks like easy street for Ol’ Gelbman!  Oh wait!  Carter’s roommate Ryan (Phi Vu) seems to be stuck in a time loop of his own!  How did THAT happen?  Hm… maybe it has to do with quantum reactor that Ryan and his two classmates (Suraj Sharma and Sarah Yarkin) have been working on!  Wait, what?  So all this time, it was a giant science thingy in the basement that somehow made Tree relive that day over and over again?  Huh.  Well okay then!  So that mystery that didn’t need solving is now solved, but what ISN’T solved is why things are still acting up in the space time continuum after she managed to close the loop?  Well before she can find out, things get a LITTLE bit out of control and the quantum thingy… explodes I guess, and puts Tree back into her original loop.  OR DID IT!?  It turns out that she’s not just back reliving Monday the eighteenth over and over again; she’s doing it in a parallel universe where things are significantly different in ways that Tree is gonna have to discover the hard way!  Can Tree and the science squad manage to figure out how to work the darn machine and send her back to her own universe?  Will this universe actually have something in it that Tree desperately needs, and will she give up her old life to live here?  If the killer from the first movie isn’t the killer in THIS universe, then who IS the killer!?

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“OLD MAN BLUMHOUSE!?”     “That’s right!  I wanted to make horror movies even cheaper so I just started stabbing teenagers myself!  And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for SAG-AFTRA regulations!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: The House

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The House and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Andrew Jay Cohen

While everyone else was looking forward to yet another Spider-Man movie or that new Thor film, I was waiting on bated breath for the new Will Ferrell comedy!  Now sure, the guy hasn’t been at the top of his game lately, but more often than not he still manages to have a certain amount of charm and charisma that keeps his more mediocre movies at least somewhat entertaining (*cough* Daddy’s Home *cough*) so at the very least his presence usually means I won’t be tearing my seat up in frustration while sitting in the theater.  What really sold me on this movie though is that it co-stars Amy Poehler who along with Kaitlin Olson is one of the most underrated comedians out there and really SHOULD be headlining big blockbusters along the current greats like Kevin Hart and Melissa McCarthy.  Not only that, but the premise was actually pretty interesting with its sights firmly aimed at the ridiculousness of college tuition fees and the burden it places on students who want ta chance at great opportunities and the parents who are stuck with the extortionist bills.  Being one of those unlucky bastards still paying off his student loans, I can certainly relate!  Does this movie manage to take full advantage of its extremely talented cast and solid premise to deliver one of the funniest films of the year, or have the filmmakers squandered a fantastic opportunity to make something great?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with the mild mannered middle class Johansen family, made up of Scott, Kate, and Alex (Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Ryan Simpkins), taking a tour of Alex’s dream college that they can JUST barely afford since she won a local scholarship for being such a good student.  Of course, the city council led up by Bob Schaeffer (Nick Kroll) has decided to divert the scholarship funds towards making a gaudy and impractical local swimming pool (complete with water slides and a food court) w which gives Scott and Kate only three months to come up with tuition money or else Alex can’t go to college.  Fortunately, they have a friend named Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) who’s teetering on the edge of total instability after his wife left him and comes up with an idea to not only make them the money they need for Alex’s education but to get him some extra cash so the bank doesn’t foreclose on his house and hopefully get his life back on track enough to win over his soon to be ex-wife.  The plan?  Use his absurdly large house to set up an illegal casino for all the local housewives and working dads (and vice versa) to unwind and lose a shit load of money!  If Scott and Kate can just hold it together for a month, they can make just enough money to pay for Alex’s tuition and close up shop before the one cop in town (Rob Huebel) or even that asshole Bob Schaeffer find out what they’re doing.  Can Scott, Kate, and Frank keep things from getting out of hand in the high stakes world of illegal gambling?  Look, we’ve ALL seen Casino so it can’t be THAT hard, right?

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“SOMEONE GET AN ICE PACK!!”

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