My Spy and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios & STXfilms
Directed by Peter Segal
The New Mutants is STILL the reigning champ of movies repeatedly missing their release dates (perhaps only being outdone by Amityville: The Awakening), but this film just kept getting pushed further and further back, so much so that I remember seeing posters for this in probably APRIL of last year; back when movie theaters were still open and the world only had a hundred things bringing us to the brink of destruction instead of a hundred and one. As much as I love Dave Bautista as a character actor (GO SEE HOTEL ARTEMIS ALREADY), he hasn’t quite found his groove as far as starring roles with him threatening to make the same KID-FRIENDLY mistakes The Rock did early on in his career and that John Cena is already kicking butt at right now. Is this a surprisingly fun take on a tired formula fueled by another great performance from Dave Bautista, or will this be yet another movie to put on WORST MOVIES STARRING A WRESTLER lists that I’m sure are all over YouTube already? Let’s find out!!
JJ (Dave Bautista) is a hotshot young (I guess?) CIA agent who has the kind of special forces background they’re looking for but doesn’t have the finesse or spycraft to make the most out of his role there. When a mission in Russia goes bad where JJ has to kill everyone in a very clichéd action scene, his boss (Ken Jeong) sends him and one of the techies Bobbi (Kristen Schaal) on a do-nothing assignment as his last chance to prove that he’s cut out for this. All they need to do is keep an eye on A young girl named Sophie (Chloe Coleman) and her mother Kate (Parisa Fitz-Henley) who recently moved to the States after Sophie’s father was murdered under suspicious circumstances that could be connected to an arms dealer in the region, but no sooner have they set up shop do they get found out by the girl and so to keep his job JJ has to do whatever the girl wants him to do so she’ll keep quiet about all this; including teaching her how to be a spy which seems like a dubious prospect considering how bad JJ clearly is at it. Can JJ keep this house of cards from falling over by keeping Sophie entertained and keeping an eye on the family? Will JJ be the kind of spy his government needs him to be, or will he get to close to the targets and endanger their lives in the process? If you got made by a nine-year-old, shouldn’t that be a sign that you should be looking for a new career path?
Brahms: The Boy II and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment
Directed by William Brent Bell
You’re unlikely to find a bigger cheerleader for The Boy than me, so when the trailers started coming out for this sequel four years after everyone else had forgotten about it AND it looked like a truly awful mess, well let’s just say that my spirits weren’t very high for this. Seriously, that bit where Katie Holmes makes a face in the trailer and they play the clichéd horror movie sting is one of the most embarrassing things I’ve seen in something allegedly trying to sell you on a movie, and it was so disappointing to see how little they seemed to care about this considering just how good the first one was! I guess getting excited for horror sequels is in and of itself a fool’s errand, but who knows what it’ll REALLY be like before we get a chance to see it. Maybe there are some hidden depths to this that the studio was scared to give away in the trailers, much like the first film, and this is truly worth successor! Yeah, I’m doubtful as well but let’s find out!!
Taking place sometime after the events of the first film, we follow Liza (Katie Holmes) and her son Jude (Christopher Convery) who had a traumatic experience with a break in; leaving her with headaches and night terrors while Jude became mute and now communicates with a notebook. In an effort to try and get them past this, the father and husband Sean (Owain Yeoman) decides to take them on a trip to someplace out in the country where they can get away from it all and reconnect as a family! As it just so happens however, the place they decide to stay in is a hereto unknown guest house (ugh…) of the mansion from the first film, and said mansion has fallen into disrepair under the new owner Joseph (Ralph Ineson) who’s been trying to fix it up but can only do so much as one guy. Of course, Jude ends up finding the Brahms doll somewhere and IMMEDIATELY attaches himself to it which seems to at least be doing a good job of opening him up a bit, but it comes with other weird behaviors and a set of rules that must be followed or else the doll will get very cross with them. Liza’s naturally worried about all this and isn’t helped by her ghastly nightmares of the break in, but Sean isn’t exactly convinced the doll is evil (just a little bit creepy) and believes that Liza is overacting despite the many strange things that start to happen around the guesthouse and Jude’s increasingly bizarre behavior. Is there some secret to the doll that wasn’t in the last film that Liza must uncover in this one? Is Jude being manipulated by whatever it was in the last film, or is there something else that’s terrifying this family? I’m not even sure why they’re friends to be honest. Doesn’t seem like they’d have a lot in common.
The Gentlemen and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Films
Directed by Guy Ritchie
So hey! Now that we’re talked about our collective complicated relationship with Michael Bay, we might as well get to Guy Ritchie as well! I actually haven’t seen most of his movies, even the ones that everyone else seems to like (no, I haven’t seen Snatch) but the general consensus is well known and can be seen even in the few films I’ve sat through; an over reliance of style over substance which coupled with the wrong material is utterly disastrous. He SOMEHOW didn’t crash and burn with Aladdin even if that isn’t a great movie, but King Arthur was an absolute garbage fire of a movie; one that I’m sure we’ll all have fun laughing about for years to come. Then again, his adaptation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was a surprising fun little ride, and with him returning to his comfort zone for this movie maybe he’ll get back into the groove of things and give us something truly enjoyable once again! Can Guy Ritchie still knock it out of the park when he’s doing the one thing we know he’s good at? Let’s find out!!
Told to us by way of Fletcher the journalist (Hugh Grant), Mickey Pearson (Matthew McConaughey) is the biggest grower and distributor of marijuana in the UK, and despite being so successful and sacrificing so much to keep his business afloat, well he’s approaching that age where there are more important things and so he decides it’s time to sell it. His buyer to be is the much more respectable Matthew Berger (Jeremy Strong) who will need to pay a pretty penny for it as that kind of infrastructure will be primed to make BILLIONS once pot is legalized in the UK, but as it turns out there’s someone else vying for a chance to get it from Mickey; namely the Chinese-British gangster Dry Eye (Henry Golding) who’s uncle George (Tom Wu) basically controls all the other drugs in the country. Mickey isn’t planning on selling to anyone else though and politely tells him to shove it which was probably the right move to make but still ends up causing headache for Mickey and his crew including his right hand man Raymond (Charlie Hunnam) who coincidently is the person that Fletcher is telling this story to. Kind of seems odd that he’s telling Raymond about things that he was already there for, but Fletcher assures him that there’s a twist to this story that he won’t see coming and is one that he’s certain Raymond and Mickey will be more than willing to pay twenty MILLION dollars to find out. With so much at stake, what will Mickey do (or perhaps have already done given the framing device) to keep his empire from crumbling right before the big sale? What could Fletcher possibly have that Raymond and Mickey don’t already know, and is it really worth as much as he says it is? Will this be the redemption of both Charlie Hunnam and Guy Ritchie after that disastrous King Arthur movie!?
It’s not always easy to look past a REALLY blatant issue in a movie to see everything else that’s great about it, but this might be a case where that effort is warranted. It’s such an oddly paced and weirdly structured film that about an hour into the movie I legitimately thought we were still in the first act, and yet almost every individual scene works in its own isolated little bubble. It’s almost like a sketch comedy movie, like if Monty Python and the Holy Grail’s framing device was a guy reading the book out of order, and if you can look past how bizarrely this whole thing is paced (and a few moments where the crudeness and violence sail right past good taste) then you’ll find a really fun and interesting gangster film here. If only Guy Ritchie wouldn’t get in his own way the whole time, then we could have had something great, but at least he’s back in his element and isn’t trying to turn King Arthur into… I don’t even know; Robin Hood crossed with Dragon Ball Z and Dark Souls? Now that I think about it that does sound amazing, but trust me; he DID indeed find a way to screw that up.
21 Bridges and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Films
Directed by Brian Kirk
Look, the holiday season is a busy time and this one slipped through the cracks, alright? Besides, even if this movie hasn’t been in theaters since Disney Plus came out, it still has SOME value… at least once the blu ray comes out… right? Eh, whatever. I’ve got a To Do list for the end of the year, and we’re putting a little check next to this one right the heck now. Is this cop thriller a fun little distraction from the rest of the big movies that came out in the last two months, or is there a reason I kept pushing this one to the back burner until it was well past the point of being relevant? Let’s find out!!
Super Detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) is called to the scene of a gruesome crime. A bunch of cops were found dead at the scene of a drug robbery and the two suspects have disappeared with a large amount of cocaine. Said suspects are Michael and Ray (Stephan James and Taylor Kitsch) who we learn were not expecting THAT much coaine to be there, let alone any cops, and so they have to find a way to get out of town and probably even further than that as soon as possible with the drugs they took being their best bargaining chip in the seedy underbelly of organized crime in the city. Andre however is hot on their heels along with his temporary partner Frankie (Sienna Miller) from Narcotics that seems to be particularly invested in this case along with Captain McKenna (JK Simmons) who was in charge of all the officers gunned down during this raid. Andre’s big plan to catch the crooks is to shut down the island of Manhattan (which includes it’s TWENTY-ONE BRIDGES) to any traffic in or out and hopefully root out the two bad guys before they can escape without a trace, but as Ray and Michael work their way through dealers, contacts, and Swiss bank account dudes to try and secure safe passage, they may have come across some information that puts an even bigger target on their backs than the ones they already had. Will Andre be able to find these two and uncover the mystery of wat exactly happened this night? What secrets did Ray and Michael learn, and is it their ticket to freedom or their ultimate death sentence? Most importantly, is this a role worthy of the king of Wakanda!?
Hustlers and all the images you see in this review are owned by STXfilms
Directed by Lorene Scafaria
Have I mentioned before that BASED ON A TRUE STORY is a tagline that fills me with dread and anxiety? Yeah, it’s never fun having to be historian of sorts (or even just read a few articles) to make sure that you aren’t being unfair to a movie because you don’t know everything around it, and frankly they tend to have rather unimpressive endings because life rarely ends on a BANG. Still, the premise looks interesting enough and I don’t need much of a reason to enjoy seeing rich people get screwed over, so maybe this will turn out to be a fun time even with the FACTS OF THE STORY hanging around its neck like an albatross! Maybe it’s a NICE albatross! You ever think of that!? Anyway, is this piece of late stage capitalism bashing yet another cathartic bit of enjoyable escapism, or is the only good thing that’ll come out of this movie the awesome dance moves that Jennifer Lopez learned while making it? Let’s find out!!
Dorothy, AKA Destiny (Constance Wu), is a stripper who has just started working at a big club in New York City, but despite the promises of big money she finds that she’s not quite fitting in with the clientele and that management is taking out HUGE chunks of her paycheck for various “services” that let her keep working there. If only there was an extremely talented stripper there who can show her the ropes and make her into a star, but what are the chances of THAT, am I right!? Oh wait, what about Ramona (Jennifer Lopez)? Yeah, she makes a bunch of money and makes it look totally effortless in the process! With her tutelage, Dorothy does manage to find her niche there and makes more money than she ever had before, but the plot twist here is that this is all ACTUALLY taking place in 2007 and the big financial crash that wiped out this entire country is about to hit their industry hard; especially since their big paying clients are Wall Street guys who are now broke. Well not BROKE broke like everyone else, but they’ve become rather stingy with their dollars and now no one can make money in this business which is particularly bad for Dorothy who has an elderly grandmother to take care of as well as a kid she’s raising by herself. Once the dust settles from the crash, Dorothy eventually goes in on a scheme that Ramona has set up along with fellow co-workers Mercedes and Annabelle (Keke Palmer and Lili Reinhart) to drug these rich penny pinching punks with stuff that’ll make them happy, pliable, and forgetful so they can then run up their credit cards on all sorts of services that they get a kickback on. Sounds like a great plan if you ask me, especially since none of these jerks went to jail for tanking the housing market, but a good thing can never seem to last and so things start to unravel over time as Dorothy starts to question whether Ramona is truly looking out for all of them or just for herself. Can Dorothy get enough money to take care of her biological family while ALSO keeping her new family safe and away from inquiring eyes? Just how much do they plan on getting away with before someone will eventually catch on, or are they hoping to steal back every penny these investment firm jerkwads took from the American public? Does anyone else think these ladies should be in line for the next Captain America? Taking money from these guys seems to me about as patriotic as apple pie and The Cheesecake Factory!
Ugly Dolls and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment
Directed by Kelly Asbury
So are Ugly Dolls even a thing? I feel like it HAS to be a thing for this movie to even exist, but I’ve never heard of them and frankly the first thing that annoyed me about the trailers is how decidedly UN-ugly all the dolls were supposed to be. What, are big eyes fuzzy skin on a doll all of a sudden outside of societal norms? There’s no room in the world of the beautiful for dolls of non-humanoid proportions!? See, this is the kind of thinking that gave Sonic straight human teeth, the portions of an Olympic runner, and the eyes of a soulless monster! Say what you will about that Garbage Pail Kids movie, at least they knew what ugly meant! Okay, that’s PROBABLY not the best grounds to dismiss an entire movie on, but with only the occasional trailer and buzz leading up to its release, it certainly doesn’t seem like this is gonna be the sleeper hit of the year. Does it manage to defy expectations and be a really great movie despite how lacking the marketing has been, or are we doomed for yet another animated disaster in a year that already gave us Wonder Park? Let’s find out!!
In the happy town of Uglyville, everyone is happy and always partying which is easy to do when so many of them are inexplicably great singers and love to narrate their lives through song! One such resident is Moxy (Kelly Clarkson) who enjoys her simple life in this unassuming town of ugly dolls, but dreams of something more! She wants to be part of OUR world, by which I mean she wants to be a doll for a kid and… I guess she’s just waiting around for it to happen? Every morning she sings that THAT day will be THE day that she’ll get her own kid, but then just hangs out in Uglyville where no kids every come by. Eventually Moxy realizes that this is probably not the BEST strategy, so she convinces a few of the other residents of Uglyville, Ugly Dog, Wage, Lucky Bat, and Babo (Pitbull, Wanda Sykes, Wang Leehorn, and Gabriel Iglesias) to accompany her on a journey to outside of town. The only way out is also the only way in as there’s a giant tube in the side of a mountain that shoots out an ugly doll every once in a while to join the town, so she figures that they’ll climb up it and see where it goes. It turns out that it goes to a town called Perfection which is full of Barbie knockoffs that have to go through rigorous training before being allowed to go through the pearly gates which… I guess is where they’ll be packed into plastic boxes and sold on store shelves to hopefully wind up in a kid’s hands. The mechanics are a bit unclear, but the point is crystal! Moxy and her friends will face these challenges that all the other dolls have to go through in order to PROVE THEIR WORTH and pass through the gates themselves! However, the leader of Perfection named Lou (Nick Jonas) isn’t happy about these UGLY creatures fouling up his perfect little community and will do whatever it takes to stop them from achieving their dreams! Can Moxy and her friends find a way to not only pass the ridiculous tests set before them but perhaps make a positive change in Perfection in the process? Who is this doll named Mandy (Janelle Monáe) that keeps trying to help them, and what is her reason for doing so? Is it just me, or is this an overly complicated version of college frat comedy?
The Happytime Murders and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment
Directed by Brian Henson
Well the day has finally arrived! After a decade of production hell, Brian Henson has FINALLY completed his dream project and is ready to show it to the world! I’m excited to say the least, especially after they released the trailer and I started looking into Henson Alternative which is the offshoot of the Henson Company that’s responsible for bringing this to life, and sure some of their productions have been less than stellar, but this premise is just too great of an idea to NOT want to see get made! I rarely get this excited for a movie as I usually try not to get too hyped for stuff that I’ll end up reviewing (I’m also VERY good at living under a rock so a lot of movie do sneak up on me), but for this one I have very high hopes that we’ll get something unique if nothing else. Does this manage to exceed my expectations and is one of the best action comedies this year, or was this yet another pet project that should have never seen the light of day? Let’s find out!!
Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) is a private eye working in Los Angeles who not only used to be a cop but was the very first puppet cop in the city. However, after… THE INCIDENT… that ousted him from the force, he’s been making ends meet digging up other people’s dirty laundry. May not be the most noble of professions, but it keeps a roof over his head, a steady paycheck for his assistant Bubbles (Maya Rudolph), and a well-stocked shelf of booze. Content with his sad life, Phil never expected that his latest client Sandra White (Dorien Davies) to be the one that changes it all forever. Well sort of. While investigating a blackmail letter that Miss White received, Phil stumbles upon a bunch of dead puppets; one of whom was a cast member of a famous puppet TV show known as The Happytime Gang. Things get even worse for Phil once his former partner Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) is put on the case, and Phil eventually finds his way towards investigating it himself when more Happytime Gang bodies start piling up; especially since his brother Larry (Victor Yerrid) was one of the cast members as well as Jenny (Elizabeth Banks), the woman he loved. Can Phil and Connie put aside their differences regarding… THE INCIDENT… in order to solve this case and save the lives of the remaining Happytime Gang? What could possibly be motivating such killings, and could it have something to do with Phil himself? Can we get Best Achievement in Puppets category for the Oscars? I feel like this should win SOMETHING, and if we’re making up new awards anyway!
The Happytime Murders is owned by STXfilms and all the images you see in this trailer talk are the property of their respective owners
Directed by Brian Henson
If you follow movie news rather closely (or did a google search after the trailer drop), you’d be aware that this is a project that has been in development hell for quite a few years; languishing at Lionsgate for many years before finally getting switched over to STX in 2015 which is who is finally getting this thing into theaters. Apparently the story of a hardboiled detective who is ALSO a puppet wasn’t the easiest concept to produce even it sounds like THE GREATEST IDEA EVER, but now that this is ACTUALLY turning into a real film instead of a piece of strange Hollywood trivia, what do I think of what we’ve gotten in the first trailer? I think it looks pretty good! I’m a huge Melissa McCarthy fan, and while the joke is PRETTY obvious, there’s certainly potential for it to be really subversive of the cop genre and at the very least very interesting to watch. I love the puppet designs here and in all honesty the incongruous nature of these goofy looking characters with a raunchy cop comedy isn’t nearly as enticing as seeing awesome puppets on the big screen again. Sure, we had those two Muppet movies a few years back (this was in development well before those films by the way), but if it were up to me we’d be getting at least three puppet movies a year and in ALL sorts of genres for all sorts of audiences! So the novelty will certainly be THERE and I’ll surely get a few chuckles out of it, but it needs to have more than just puppets acting crudely in order to be a GOOD film. If that’s all they have up their sleeves, well Meet the Feebles, Crank Yankers, and TV Funhouse beat them to it.
I Feel Pretty and all the images you see in this review are owned by STX Entertainment
Directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein
You know, I should really watch Trainwreck at some point. I mean I have it RIGHT here on blu ray, and yet I’ve never found the time to pop it in and see what it’s all about which would HOPEFULLY give me a bit of perspective on Amy Schumer because after seeing precisely one of her movies, I’m not sure if I get the appeal. Now that’s not to say I’ve written her off yet, especially when the premise of THIS film seems rather intriguing if they can pull it off, but my rather limited track record with her has left me feeling a bit cold whenever she comes up. Still, this does seem like a film that can play to her strengths while also having a positive message about self-esteem and body positivity, so let’s hope this is the one where I finally get it and become a fan! Does this manage to live up to its rather clever premise without falling into the obvious pitfalls it sets up for itself, or will this fall flat on its face as it trips over its good intentions and lands smack dab into offensiveness? Let’s find out!
Renee (Amy Schumer) is a typical middle of the road white woman in the big city. She’s got a decent job, good friends (Aidy Bryant and Busy Phillips), a nice place, but she’s still unhappy with her life and is constantly searching for ways to fill that gnawing sense of emptiness that keeps us all up at night. Her solution? LOOK PRETTY! She spends all her time trying to learn beauty tips, experimenting with her makeup, and working out to try and lose weight which I’d say are doing their job just fine, but she’s bought into the unobtainable beauty standards that society has pushed on us, and so no matter how good she looks she’s still not happy about it. If only this were more like THE MOVIES where you could wish for a better life and POOF! It just happened! Well… it kind of does here! During one of her spin classes, she falls off the bike and smacks here head which I guess isn’t the IDEAL way of initiation a body switch, but there wasn’t a Zoltar machine nearby so they had to go with plan B. When Renee wakes up, she looks exactly the same, but every time she looks in a mirror she sees PERFECTION! The body she’s ALWAYS wanted is staring right back at her and she couldn’t be happier! She’s so happy in fact that she applies for the job she always wanted as a receptionist at a cosmetics company run by Avery LeClaire (Michelle Williams) and gets the job due to just how confident and pleasant she is in the interview despite not having the body type they usually hire for that position. Things get even better from there as she starts helping Avery with her upcoming “regular folks” line of product (Renee being a FORMER normal person gives her insight into what average consumers are looking for in their makeup products) and she even meets a guy (Rory Scovel) who loves her outgoing and fearless personality! Still, how long will she be able to keep up this momentum before society inexorably tries to knock her down a peg for not being the perfect body type? Will she ever find out the truth and learn to accept herself for who she is rather than the fantasy she’s built up in her mind? Who’s to say that her beauty wasn’t on the inside the whole time!? And on the outside too! She looks pretty great as far as I can tell!
Gringo and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios and STX Entertainment
Directed by Nash Edgerton
Hey, if Netflix is gonna try to produce feature films, then why not Amazon too!? Heck, they’ve had a pretty good track record with distributing films like The Handmaiden and The Big Sick, and some of the original programming on their video service has been pretty decent too! Hopefully they can translate that success into this wacky comedy which has a PRETTY good trailer but not a whole lot of buzz, though it’s not entirely their fault considering how much Black Panther and even A Wrinkle in Time have dominated the national discussion around film; leaving films like this to just kinda slink in wherever they can. Does Amazon have a great film on their hands that’s unjustly falling under the radar, or should they have sent this straight to their storefront where no one will ever actually buy it? Let’s find out!!
Harold Soyinka (David Oyelowo) is a well to do middle management corporate drone who is incredibly content with his current life living with his wife Bonnie (Thandie Newton) and working for Richard and Elaine (Joel Edgerton and Charlize Theron) at a pharmaceutical company he very much likes. The problem is that at every turn, the people in his life continually disrespect him and see him less as a valuable asset and friend, and more of an errand boy that also functions as a doormat. Eventually Harold gets wise to this during a trip that he along with Richard and Elaine take to Mexico in order to inspect one of the facilities, and the straw that breaks the camel’s back comes when Bonnie decides to divorce him; something that she tells him over skype. Having something of a nervous breakdown, Harold takes a bus to a small town in Mexico and fakes his own kidnapping once Richard and Elaine are back in Chicago. Little does Harold know however that the Cartel is after him due to his connection to the pharmaceutical company, so his little ruse might turn out to be more of a prophecy! On top of that, we’ve got a couple trying to sneak drugs from Mexico back to the US (Amanda Seyfried and Harry Treadaway), a mercenary who may be able to get Harold out of the jam he’s in (Sharlto Copley), and like four other subplots that are going on at the same time as Harold’s misadventures in Mexico. Will Harold be able to bilk his employers out of a crap load of money before he gets captured by the Cartel? What was Richard and Elaine doing that got the eye of the Cartel in the first place, and what will they do to get Harold out of the mess he’s in? Most importantly, HOW DID THEY MANAGE TO MAKE A STORY LIKE THIS SO BORING!?