The Grinch (2018)

8 09 2021

I watched the Chuck Jones-Dr. Seuss short from 1966 which I gave a 7/10. (I also watched the Dr. Seuss short The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat which is also an interesting look into his character, 6/10.) I watched the Jim Carrey venture which I really liked but gave a 4/10. I still really like it, even before I picked the 2018 version up. So here we go. Why are there so many filler scenes? More tropes and inconsistency. Shoehorned Minions-esque humour. Lack of prior establishment or setup. Does Illumination Animation constantly use the same techniques in all their films? So how does the Grinch get his idea to steal Christmas in this movie? I don’t know. The other versions have his dog falling into the snow and coming out with snow around the face (which somewhat reminds him of Santa Claus) but in this movie, he just randomly gets the idea with no prior build-up whatsoever.

The 1966 version is most faithful to the book. The Grinch is basically a mean-spirited bully who loves trolling others and robbing them of their joy with malicious and cartoonish ways. Jim Carrey’s Grinch: So Mr. Grinch was a normal guy who was bullied as a child. A fallen hero denied his waifu, he turned to a life of crime to exact revenge on those who have shamed him. Benedict Cucumberbatch’s Grinch: So Mr. Grinch is a butthurt basic binch whose entire motivation amounts to a Care Bears special: he just wants to be needed. And he aged by 53 years since he was that orphan boy in the flashback. What was up with that throwaway line about the age? Oh, and he’s also a tsundere in this version, meaning that he constantly shows a prickly cold-hearted side in an attempt to try to hide his moments of vulnerability.

I was cautiously optimistic about this movie. From word of mouth, I heard that this is the best Illumination movie. Is it true? A little. This is definitely the step in the right direction for the studio, but it is still riddled with missteps. There’s a lot less focus on Minions-esque humour thankfully. We still got the cute breakout character whose only existence is supposed to garner an “aww” reaction from the audience. Three of them I guess. I’m not really a big fan of the designs (very simplistic again). The voice acting is a bit better this time around. Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t do an amazing job, but it’s decent enough after a while. There are also some good examples of comedic timing. But there are also a lot of filler scenes. The movie meanders on for about 30 minutes before the actual plot starts going… and it meanders even after that. Most of the filler scenes are for the sake of “comedy”. There’s a reindeer subplot that doesn’t really go anywhere. There are some changes, a lot of unnecessary ones. There is some expository dialogue again (though to be fair, all other versions had similar expository dialogue), chase scenes, the aforementioned “aww” moments, the variegated soundtrack (some of the tracks are downright annoying), and some of the voice acting is a bit off-putting. I know I complimented the voice acting earlier, but it must be said. In every version, The Grinch is characterised with a deep voice, so hearing this soft-spoken voice coming out of him takes a LOT of getting used to. As I said, Benedict Cumberbatch doesn’t do a terrible job, but it takes some getting accustomed to. Kenan Thompson’s voice is also a bit… Again, the performance is good, but the character takes some time getting used to. There was something about the narrator, who is played by Pharrell Williams. It was super distracting and unnerving every time. It’s such a drastic turn from the likes of Anthony Hopkins or Boris Karloff.

“Why does this kid suddenly have four arms? Does this kid fall asleep with twintail braids?” Also, want a non-dog character to seem cute? Make the animal act like a dog. That always seems to work, right? Not to me though. What’s up with the stock sound effects? I brought up the animation shorts earlier which also use stock sound effects, but that was during a time when technology wasn’t up to snuff. This is 2018. What excuse do you have? And why is the iconic Christmas heist scene present in every Grinch adaptation only 3 minutes long in this version (not counting the last house)? The comedy is a lot better this time around (relative to Illumination). This is definitely a step in the right direction, but it isn’t the highest rated movie in their repertoire in my opinion. I gave Despicable Me a 4/10, and I’m giving this one a 3/10. It is largely inoffensive, but we can do much better than this. Also, I believe in Santa Claus.





Hop (2011)

7 09 2021

I, at first, wasn’t going to do a review on this, but here we are! It has the same issues I mentioned (I watched a bit of this a while back, but never finished it): inconsistent writing for otherwise SIMPLISTIC characters, weird prop usage, remarkably bad execution, tropes galore (“big misunderstanding”, “liar revealed” and “why no failsafe” to name a few), but I got some compliments this time around: the visuals are decent. Some of the performances are also pretty hilarious, but most were gloriously bad (Jason Marsden with yet another CG creature). The voice acting isn’t even categorically voice acting and stuck out like a sore thumb. It was difficult to tell if I was laughing with the movie or at the movie at some points. The imagination and creativity is quite pleasant and I got no idea why something like this isn’t attempted again. This is definitely a bad movie, but it’s one of the rare tolerable movies in the studio’s repertoire. I just wanted to say that much. I still have no idea why they wanted to capitalise on the Easter holiday, but whatever. Also, some things happen that were never established beforehand. That can be quite annoying. But I cannot deny I enjoyed some aspects. I wanted to hate it more, but some of the things are rather inoffensive and a bit, a BIT, enjoyable. So this stinker gets a 2/10 from me.





Sing (2016 American Movie)

5 09 2021

This is for the American movie, and not the Hungarian movie that was also released in the same year.

Annoying title card that immediately wants me to make me go, “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” Gorilla wearing a bunny mask, in a city populated by anthro animals. Katy Perry song. Teenager played by a 30-something year old. Stereotypical black family. Asshole Seth McFarlane character. Animal models are repeated, no variations whatsoever. Bland character designs. VERY serviceable animation. Typing mistake where ONE key is pressed, yet the comma or period clearly changes as well, which makes no sense. Mistake is published, so waiting for the “Liar Revealed” trope. I’m only 12 minutes in. Audition scene just goes on and on, horrible sound mixing. Lots of licensed song plug-ins. Mildly racist Japanese joke. Fart joke that doesn’t mean anything. Sub-par voice acting. Unfunny Japanese “joke” returns after less than 3 minutes of absence. Stereotypical black family again. Unfunny nanny “joke”, if I could even call it that. A whole automated system for the whole house accomplished in only one night. Every voiced character so far is a stereotype that obviously targets a specific demographic. Unfunny Japanese joke again after about 6 minutes. Seth McFarlane’s character is a super unlikeable asshole. Stereotypical family again, along with a “big, giant misunderstanding” trope which goes on for far too long. Incredibly on-the-nose and ham-fisted “joke”. Forced emotional moment. Okay transition. Why are they animals? I’m 40 minutes in and the movie never establishes why. Sheep doing absolutely human things. Why is he a sheep? Unfunny Japanese joke troupe are now a mainstay, and it only took 12 minutes after their last appearance. No Japanese subtitles for an obvious Japanese joke (I know Japanese, and he says, “You stink very much!” essentially). An unfunny joke about teenager stereotyping that overstays its welcome. Same character models still repeating for clearly different characters with no variations whatsoever. Rhino character’s horn pops a balloon. Is that an animal-related side gag? Finally. Ear-shattering voice acting due to the microphone peaking. Awful character designs. Teenager jokes again because I don’t know. Porcupine shooting needles joke, which isn’t something porcupines can actually do. It feels weird this movie is clearly trying to be grounded yet has so many unrealistic things happening. Nick Kroll is fun, but the performance is getting annoying really quickly. Irredeemable asshole Seth McFarlane again. How is he a mainstay character? Repeated character models again. British character (Johnny) says gas instead of petrol. Extended “in-the-closet” subplot for some reason. Highlighted note for only Johnny (among the chosen singers) and no one else. Is he the main main character? Goes in to pull off a robbery… while wearing the same clothes shown in every stage appearance. Automated home system is destroyed by a simple bump. Why no failsafe? Microphone peaking again. Bear citizen goes to eat mouse citizen, so cannibalism is a thing in this universe. Yet Reese Witherspoon’s character from earlier was in a grocery shop earlier where only fruits, vegetables and unknown frozen products were shown. “All creatures, great and small,” but only two anthro animals were shown. Bright light show which “illuminates” all the empty seats in the theatre. “He lied! Moon lied to us all!” Liar revealed, and it only took 54 minutes, more than half the movie. Another repeated glass eye joke. It wasn’t funny the first time, nor the second, nor the third, and it’s not funny now. 69 minutes in, the main theatre is destroyed, but there’s still 38 minutes left… More unrealistic jokes. Sad piano music accompanying a “giving up” scene. Main characters (minus the Seth McFarlane asshole) do a 180 for… some reason. Repeated character models again. No visual gags whatsoever in this animated flick. Extravagant big band orchestral music accompanying a scene where some main characters are degrading themselves (literally motorboating cars as well as butt-shaking against them). “Hallelujah” song plug-in. You’re seriously going up against Shrek? I know Shrek didn’t invent this, but Shrek is literally another mainstream animated film that incorporates the song “Hallelujah” during an emotional “giving up” scene. Seth McFarlane shows up again for no reason, and… I wanted him to leave, and he does thankfully. The movie establishes that there is no winning or losing, and the main characters (minus Seth McFarlane again) are all going to be “singing for ourselves”. With such a glowing cast of… stereotypes that cater to every targeted demographic, I guess the concept of winning or losing is too complex for this movie. How do you have a sound system in a theatre that’s been destroyed? Why are you wearing a mic headset? Sexy pig strip-tease? Is it fine that the costumes, though the same colour, clash in basic structure? One has a cowl with a cape, and the other is a unitard. Seth McFarlane has been reduced to a butthurt basic binch. Repeated character models. One camera is shown recording the whole live performance, yet there are multiple camera angles of the performances. How? Father pulls on the bars, strangely in sync with the actual musical performance. That was a nice touch. So Johnny is meant to ONLY play the piano. So why are there other instruments backing his performance for some reason? Kids were being pulled to stage a minute ago, but they’re suddenly in the audience seats now for some reason. Stick-in-the-mud authoritative figure who just “doesn’t get it”. Porcupine shooting quills joke again. Japanese joke troupe appear again, despite being inadvertently insulted by Moon (the manager). Let’s talk about this: you got a Japanese girl pop group who is in a town filled with an American English populace. It is shown they cannot understand English. So… why are they here? They also can’t understand basic sign language that is actually rather aggressive and blunt, literally pushing them away to imply that they’ve been rejected. Hence why I mentioned “racist” earlier. Seth McFarlane now does a complete 180 for some reason. Why? Poorly written excuse that implies the writers don’t exactly understand this stereotype of a character very well. He only cares about the money and he KNOWS there is no payout by participating in this live performance, so why does he care about performing in it? Johnny’s character arc is resolved with barely any development or build-up at all. The female mouse that Seth McFarlane was with suddenly owns the car Seth McFarlane drives. Did he get to the stage on foot? Annoying audio mixing as well as microphone peaking. One of the main characters is an elephant. The other is a mouse. How is the joke not even there? No character design says ANYTHING about the character, except for maybe the MAIN elephant character and not the others, who only has droopy ears which can imply a lot of different things. What can you tell me about the main elephant character from the design alone? What character traits spring out to you when looking at an individual picture? To me, nothing at all. How does the theatre have a working big-screen for the backdrop if the entire set was demolished? Why is there an expensive backdrop? Why is there an expensive audio system? Why is there anything? WHY? Otherwise decent performances that are constantly being interrupted. Movie’s over. Do I even need to review? It’s basically American Idol mixed with funny animal videos on YouTube or something. There are three animal-related jokes in the whole movie, two of which don’t even make sense and one being a throwaway gag in a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it pace. I only gave two compliments, one single scene transition which is just okay (weak) and one scene where the audio beats are also amplified with things happening during the musical piece (also weak). I didn’t laugh a single time. If anything, this gets a 1/10. Close to a 2, but there were just far too many faults.





Shrek 4 Review + A “Shrekrospective”

5 09 2021

I revisited all the main Shrek movies earlier (and quite recently) in The Onion Cache Marathon, but I recently decided to visit the main Shrek films only this time around, namely 1, 2, 3, 4 and Musical. I will say from now: NONE of my ratings have changed. I will briefly talk about all the movies, including the two outliers (in this case, 3 and Musical), so let us begin.

Recap

If you’re going to revisit the Shrek franchise, I can highly recommend 1, 2 and 4. I do not at all recommend 3 and with my recent revisitation, my rating is now closer to a 2 than a 4. I still recommend the Musical, but I can acknowledge that it is not for everyone and somewhat misses the point of the original Shrek’s tone. There are definitely some things to merit from 3, but it’s super boring. We got some nice dialogue (most of the time) and better animation than the first 2 (most of the time), but it ultimately feels pointless as the 4th movie literally recaps the third movie with just ONE little montage that is literally just shown by ONE shot. Spoilers (but does it really matter?), the baby montage in the beginning of Shrek 4 is essentially ALL you need to know about Shrek 3. The Musical essentially recaps the major events in the first movie and also expands upon the origins. I’ll admit that it didn’t age well though (unlike the original), but I can definitely notice that it had a TON of production value as well as good performances. The Donkey character and singing don’t really make a whole lot of sense, and their presence may annoy Shrek purists. This is a recap of the first movie, right? Well, Donkey is no longer the glue or the catalyst towards all the main events in the Musical, but does instead assume a role similar to what is seen in Shrek 2: basically the breakout-like character who is responsible for much of the humour in the movie. The singing… well… the quote from the first movie really summarises all of it. Shrek just yells, “WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT SINGING??” in the original. The Musical also has some references to Shrek 2, implying that this is a one-time thing. Not that Shrek 1 is on a pedestal or something. There is definitely some crude and immature humour in Shrek 1, though there’s definitely a lot to take out of it, especially fairy-tale jabs as well as a LOT of incorporation of the whole “subverting expectations” ideology. It is well-written and is definitely a huge middle finger to Disney. There are TONS of instances of reference humour, but the best thing is that the jokes can stand on its own. For example, the Babe reference where Shrek says, “That’ll do, Donkey. That’ll do.” stands on its own because even if you don’t get the reference, this is something that Shrek (the character) would say. I’ll also talk about the Matrix scene. Shrek 1 references the Matrix but to those who didn’t get the reference, it’s still a cool shot to marvel. It still holds up in my opinion. It’s still consistent with the tone. The first Shrek movie is like the biggest anti-Disney movie, the second Shrek movie is fundamentally a continuation of the established universe (and I have no idea how it is as good as it is, a really well-made sequel in general, not just a Shrek movie), and the third movie is a blemish that should probably not have existed. As I said, the short baby montage in the fourth movie is all you need to know about the fourth movie. I’m not going to talk about every individual movie because it’s been done several times by many publications, but let me talk about something that’s not very talked about.

Shrek 4 Review

I initially gave this a 6/10 when I revisited it recently. During this revisitation, 3 months later… it’s still a 6/10, though it a lot closer to a 7 than a 5 now. I’m literally 10 years late with this review. When I first saw this, I loved this movie. When I got older, I noticed that not a lot of people did. I genuinely didn’t understand why, prompting me to revisit it 3 months ago. I revisited it again today not because I had some sort of motive or whatever, but because I genuinely liked it. Rewatching all the Shrek movies, I feel like this is the movie I can reap the most out of with all rewatches. I only noticed the very important birthday party scene that happens early in the movie takes place in the dark and shaded pub featured in Shrek 2 in this rewatch. I feel as though the existence of the third movie really soured the reputation of this one. It left such a bad taste for most audiences, and that bad taste splashed onto this movie I guess. If this movie came out directly after the 2nd movie, I think it would be more well-received. Also, most of the events that occurred in the third movie are not even mentioned at all. Essentially, the third movie does have some merits (SOME), but this is a review of the fourth movie. What we’re left with is a movie that is a REVERSE of the first movie in a way. All of the major events in the movie have been flipped on its head here. I cannot explain this without spoiling, so here we go. I’m spoiling this 10-year old popular movie now (as well as spoiling Shrek 1). So this time around, we got a new villain who is also an imp of a man (similar to the first movie). Both villains like to ham it up as well as being very well-voice-acted. Despite the similarities, they are distinctly different. Shrek this time around goes to befriend Donkey, whereas the exact opposite happens in the first movie. Shrek is now the main catalyst for every single major event that occurs, with Donkey now being a supporting side character rather than a main character (even though fans KNOW his main role in the story). Donkey and Puss in Boots meet in a very rushed scene that is the reverse of what actually happened in Shrek 2. Shrek now has to receive true love’s kiss from Fiona this time around, rather than Fiona being freed by true love’s kiss like in the first movie. It is definitely the most impactful of the whole franchise. It ends with a recap of the first 3 main movies’ main events (with very little shown of Shrek 3 though, reinforcing my idea that the third movie was a bit of an afterthought). Literally, the baby montage shown in the beginning of Shrek 4 is basically all what you need to know about Shrek 3. What else happens? Fart jokes… that don’t even progress the movie. It’s weird that I have to write that sentence down. The first two movies had fart jokes, but most of them actually helped build the character of Shrek, in that he is a repulsive gross ogre that seems rather unrelateable. In the third, I didn’t feel it. There are no intrusive fart jokes in this movie though. In fact, some of the best lines of dialogue are delivered in this movie (in the whole franchise). What else can be said? I’ll be honest: the marketing for this movie also soured its reputation. It was advertised as Shrek Goes Fourth, Shrek: The Final Chapter, and now Shrek Forever After. It is definitely not the funniest definitely. The tone is a bit… different this time around. VERY different. It’s a lot more serious than the first movies. It’s also very dark. Some of the soundtrack also gave a good horror feel that really contrasted with some events. Speaking of the soundtrack, I really loved the soundtrack. A lot of different crescendos and different instruments being used. As I mentioned, some of the tracks sounded a bit like classical music, which is in stark contrast with what is actually happening. These “classical” music tracks are normally reserved for the scenes in the royal castle, which is a great contrast. I also liked the fast-paced animation as well as the storyboarding. But here’s something that might piss off some fans: it’s too serious. There is definitely a lot to admire in this movie, but the tone is definitely not consistent with the rest. I was definitely invested and thought that it served as a great ending to the whole Shrek saga, but I’m talking about fans here. Most fans have definitely watched the third movie before watching this movie, which probably left a bad taste in their mouths. By the time this movie rolled around, it is easy to conclude that the Shrek movies have already overstayed its welcome. Ironically, I believe this movie aged the greatest. Additionally, there is barely any fairy-tale bashing this time around. This movie is definitely a callback to the first movie (reincorporating dialogue too even), but it doesn’t have the main flavour the first movie is offering. There are definitely more things that may piss off newcomers actually. This movie is more or less reliant on how people KNOW from the first two movies (yes, I said two). So newcomers wouldn’t really feel the impact of how things are so very different this time around. I mentioned that this movie is essentially a reverse of the first movie. Not all newcomers have watched the 1st movie. They even reprise a song from the first movie again, so I’m not sure what newcomers are supposed to get out of that. Also, Puss and Donkey are now good friends and movie never establishes what has happened off-screen between the two, so how are they good friends later in the movie? I imagine that a newcomer would point that out as a criticism. I would point that out as a criticism too, and I’m a longtime fan of the franchise. So it’s established that Shrek only has 24 hours to live. So you’re telling me that Puss and Donkey became good friends in less than a few hours? It sounds like a nitpick since every movie is rather adamant with adhering to the 90-minute runtime rule. Since I brought that up, I have to talk about the pacing. Every single Shrek movie is roughly 90 minutes long on average. There is brilliant pacing, but some things have to be rushed out. This, unfortunately, is one such instance. It’s like a bent strand of hay in a haystack, so it’s definitely a nitpick. Speaking of Puss in Boots, I didn’t really feel annoyed by his inclusion in this movie. He kinda overstayed his welcome in the second movie, so I get the sense they knew how to incorporate his character in the main narrative more this time around. I mentioned about the very different tone this movie has. It’s a lot more emotional, serious, and rather darker than the previous films in the franchise. However, it still has some of the same tone as the original two. It doesn’t feel like it’s cut from a different cloth as in. There are definitely some jokes here and there, but I feel like it had to be more serious this time around because it is the end of the saga. This is advertised as “The Final Chapter” after all, with the storybook imagery actually shown being closed in the end. It also does a short montage of the pivotal moments of the franchise as I said earlier. But in the end, it is largely an inoffensive movie. I got a lot out of it (probably the most out of it when I revisited it). It feels rather by-the-books. I’ve seen this type of story structure be attempted in different franchises before (even before that time), so it’s not as if it’s groundbreaking in storytelling. It DOES see the main character grow, but this feels like such a love letter to the fans mostly, especially to the first movie. There are some good set pieces and what not, but it’s not like they’re immediately identifiable unless you look (or hear) carefully, which is not something the rest of the movies do. The tone is something that a lot of people can take issue with, so it’s rather polarising. This is a lot closer to a 7 this time around, but I still award it with a 6/10. Despite it not being the highest rated from me, it’s definitely my favourite of the franchise.

Conclusion

I don’t think there will be a fifth movie. A lot of sources simply say it’s some sort of reboot. Some say it’s a soft-boot, and some say it’s a hard reboot. The movie was apparently made a long time ago, but got cancelled due to funding, but this just gets me wondering. The fourth movie was such a good run, so how exactly is a fifth movie going to top it? It’s such a good send-off that I actually believe a potential “fifth Shrek movie” will actually be a reboot of the franchise. What gave me that impression? It is being worked on by Illumination rather than the original team from Dreamworks. I criticised a lot of their productions (I refuse to watch all of them). I even watched some of their supposed “good” films… which I ended up criticising like hell, like Sing (2016). But here’s the most pressing issue: the new Shrek film. If it’s a reboot, then will something like The Lorax (2012) happen where it’s a soulless reboot that misses the point of the original source material so immensely? Or will it be a sequel, something like Despicable Me that capitalises on mindless “funny” humour that comes across as mainly annoying and not progress the story in a meaningful way at all with the main focus being on merchandising? Once I found out that Illumination was behind the untitled Shrek movie project rather than the main DreamWorks team, I lost all hope. This makes me conclude that this will not be a fifth movie. If it is a fifth movie, it will definitely not carry the spirit of the original Shrek movies. From what I recently found out, the untitled movie’s script has been rewritten by Illumination. Even if it’s a standalone movie, I doubt it would get much leeway from me (I criticised Sing, The Secret Life of Pets, Hop and Minions quite negatively). Despicable Me 1 is also a standalone film. It didn’t get much criticism from me, but I did accuse it for being rather unoriginal, lazy, horrifically bland (especially when it comes to visuals) and incredibly serviceable. It is the highest rated movie from Illumination’s catalogue, with the rating being at 4/10 from me. I will still regard this franchise as a fantastic trilogy I grew up on. Yes, trilogy. Future revisitations will have me revisiting only 1, 2 and 4. They’re also the ONLY movies that have storybook imagery in the main franchise.





Karen (2021)

4 09 2021

Everything hurts. I was laughing too hard. So here we go, a review of Karen, the joke just writes itself already. How is this even a movie? Objective reasons, we got incredibly hokey acting, super on-the nose music composition, lots and LOTS of bad writing, awful sound design, bad framing, baffling inconsistency, etc. The movie literally opens with Karen saying, “We’re gonna be late for school!” and she proceeds, in the same scene, to have a casual conversation with a neighbour. The same neighbour is established as a racist who uses the term “black”, then in another scene, corrects her other neighbour to avoid using the term “black” and to use “African-American”. What?

I think my notes summarise it perfectly. I’ll write some down: Painfully obvious hokey acting. Super on-the-nose writing. Wastes no time at all to get to the “jokes”, no decent exposition or build-up at all. Incredibly bland title drop. Music indistinguishable from standard thriller schlock. Expository dialogue. Plot so very ham-fisted. Horrible wardrobe choices. Awful effects, what’s with the rain? Shot-reverse-shot, a lot of it. Terribly choreographed. What’s with the transitions? VERY American imagery (I’m not American). Racist mum says “we need more people of colour” despite being a racist. Main black family is incredibly black supremacist, Karen is incredibly white supremacist, why should I even care who wins? “So, Karen is a Karen.” Weird camera work. The lighting hurts my eyes. Forced conflicts. Bad kid acting. Ends abruptly on a dance sequence.

I refuse to judge a book by its cover, and I believe that there’s something to learn from bad movies in general (just look at Ed Wood). This, however, is just BAD. It’s entertainingly bad, but it doesn’t really give me much to work with. I just complained negatively about everything. There’s nothing to salvage from this mess. I was laughing ironically (a LOT), but I wasn’t proud of myself at all. No one has any moral compass at all. The movie is baseless and doesn’t offer any substance whatsoever. That, and I imagine it will age incredibly poorly (because it already did). I’m assuming that this movie is just something that is supposed to entice viewers to click on or something, essentially clickbait. Fortunately, I got this movie for free from my mate. So no clicks or money for you from me. Don’t support this.

Now, probably the thing you were expecting most. I complained about the writing, but it’s now time to talk about the “plot”. Literally, from the first 4 minutes, I predicted EVERYTHING. I kept wondering how this movie is even a thing, and how can you stretch what is essentially a bad skit into an 89-minute movie. So we got Karen (yes, a Karen stereotype who is literally named Karen) dealing with a new black family who uses the word “black” in almost every sentence, who have incredibly entitled friends as well. So here’s the conflict already: all main characters are entitled. They’re all dirtbags. So how can I possibly relate to any of them at all? Karen is also directly related to a cop, who is a racist entitled piece of shit as well. Karen herself is the president of some homeowner’s association or something. Personal bias aside, the plot execution just happens because there has to be a movie I guess. Why does this character do this? How do we get from Point A to Point B? Where is the logic in all that? A movie had to be made. That’s the only explanation. There is no rhyme or reason behind any of the character’s actions. The audience is just meant to accept that all characters are racist stereotypes with no moral compass at all. And they try to hammer in this whole moral or whatever, but it just doesn’t work. This has to be the most ham-fisted usage of the “Black Lives Matter” statement I have ever seen, and it’s also PAINFULLY executed. How did we get from this shitstorm to a misguided “Black Lives Matter” moral? This seems like an attempt to make the movie so meaningful, but it’s such a shoddy attempt that is incredibly forced and not well-put together that the meaning is lost on me. This is supposed to be meaningful, but it’s just not here. We can do so much better than this.

So what is the plot exactly? I can sum it ALL up in one sentence: A racist stereotype wearing an incredibly unconvincing wig named Karen is plotting to get rid of her new black neighbours. I would say African-American, but the movie constantly uses the word “black” so much. The new neighbours in question are also stereotypes. Not as bad as Karen, but still. We’re supposed to be rooting for these characters, yet the film never tries to establish “Why?” So what happens after that? Karen does Karen things. That’s it. That’s the whole movie. Karen does Karen things. It’s obvious that the black people… win? Movie over. Everything hurts.

The credits are literally just using ALL the licensed music in one mishmash that doesn’t even flow well together. It’s like piles of incoherent bullshit patched together in a poor attempt to seem coherent… but it’s just not. There is just something so interestingly awful about this movie but at the same time, there is not much to chew on. And for that, this movie gets a 1/10. It was literally torture trying to get through it. I was only 4 minutes in and already the movie was a 1/10. Not one thing worked. I feel bad for giving this a 1 even. Not because I want to give it a higher score. There’s simply no lower score.





Girl, Interrupted (1999)

28 08 2021

Why are you not wearing a bra? If that’s what the movie starts with, I don’t know what else to say. So tight-fitting shirt and no bra! The movie opens with Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel, which is from the 60’s and not something popular around the time. It somewhat reminded me of Trainspotting at some points. I was very confused already, so I did a bit of research. So it’s a movie with several ratings: 16+ and R. It stars several actors I know like Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Brittany Murphy, Jared Leto, Elisabeth Moss, Whoopi Goldberg, Kurtwood Smith, Jeffrey Tambor, etc. Lots of scenes with mumble dialogue, so subtitles are practically a must. I initially thought this was a chick flick, but it’s not. This subject matter deals with mental illness (which is apparent by dialogue around 3 minutes in). I’m quite experienced in that field, so let’s see how this is tackled.

I surprisingly didn’t take a lot of notes for this one after the first half hour; I was engaged. So this is a review this time around. The only negatives I had to note down were that some of the dialogue was a bit hammy (“You’re pretty when you sleep,” and the title is actually said aloud near the beginning) and that the aesthetic (this movie is set in 1968) isn’t exactly nailed. It is definitely nailed, but the nail still needs some hammering. Fortunately, the movie takes place primarily in one facility, so the latter comment isn’t exactly a glaring flaw. What is a glaring flaw however is that the DVD copy I own is faulty. There were video syncing issues and delayed subtitles primarily as well as frame jumps and slight discolouration. I made several observations too, one being that it’s similar to the House, M.D. episode Broken, using very similar beats and elements. Broken came out later and after watching both, I can see that they both have similar goals although wildly different execution. I also noted similarities between 12 Monkeys (1995) of all things, particularly the similarities between Jolie’s character and Brad Pitt’s character. Both these movies came out years before Brangelina was a thing by the way. So let me talk about the positives now.

From the things I’ve noticed, there are very smooth transitions and camerawork as well as brilliant shot composition and lighting techniques. There is also noteworthy makeup as well as spectacular performances, especially from the two main leads: Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. The music choices are very fitting and boast great sound design. I know I mentioned the dialogue earlier, rather negatively might I add. Let me elaborate: the negative parts happen for only around 5% of the movie. There are a lot of meaningful monologues.

The movie is based off a memoir also titled Girl, Interrupted (1993). There are many themes at play in the movie that were executed well enough, though I believe further elaboration would be nice. As in these themes could’ve had more time to develop as some the main themes are rather specific. I know that the main protagonist played by Winona Ryder also happens to be the real-life person who wrote the book, but this is a movie after all. Writing liberties do exist, and I didn’t see a “based upon a true story” anywhere. The movie calls the memoir a “book”. That’s fine by me, but I would’ve had no idea a similar event actually happened if I didn’t do some research after watching the movie. The movie also needs more cat. The movie introduces a British Shorthair later in the movie that definitely needed more screen time. Cats make everything better. Personal preferences aside, it’s a great movie. Worthy of your time and I recommend it. 7/10.





Never Been Kissed (1999)

28 08 2021

The mouth, monkey! The mouth! The film opens up with misleading camerawork as well as a voiceover. Subtle that. Draw Barrymore’s established as an English enthusiast who is a quirky geek who can’t handle herself. Gee, I wonder what role she plays in the story. So Drew Barrymore’s character is already annoying me, and I’m only 3 minutes in! And Drew Barrymore’s character wants to grab a bull’s balls. How long is this movie? And I’m only 4 minutes in? This is gonna be a LOOOOOOONNNNGG movie. Characters who rub you off the wrong way but decent performances. Expository dialogue. Sappy over-romantic dialogue with accompanying wistful music meant to clue the audience in that they should now be feeling something. Nice set design… if a little too on-the-nose though. “But business doesn’t work like that!” This is set in an office environment. They had to shoehorn the high school theme somehow… “You get to be 17 again.” And now we’re making fun of the high school environment? Uhh… whatever. So we got an OL infiltrating a high school setting… Are there gonna be any “I’m out-of-touch with changing tastes of reality” jokes again? Nice shot and makeup. Drew Barrymore’s character now has a 90’s perm and is overdressed. I called it. Literally my previous note. “I’m out-of-touch with changing tastes of reality!” “I’m a high school student. I’m here with my fellow students.” I’m reminded of Steve Buscemi infiltrating high school and going, “How do you do, fellow kids?” “Find and destroy sombrero.” Quirky underdog Drew Barrymore, making a fool of herself, making for delightfully awkward scenarios. Foolishly foolish fool… “Hey! This is a very GROOVY movie! Oh, that rhymed! Nice one!” This is a bit painful to watch… and I’m only 20 minutes in this 107 minute movie. This isn’t the worst thing I’ve seen in the genre, but the jokes are painful to sit through. Hammy side-character performances. The Simpsons theme being played by the march band. “Oooh, reference!” 25 minutes in and we’re still going with jokes that are actually making me physically cringe. They say that “Comedy is subjective,” to which I reply: “No, it isn’t.” Many comedy critics also acknowledge this. What makes you laugh is subjective, but not everything that makes you laugh is the result of a well-written clever joke. There’s a very specific science used to craft jokes. There’s a study. I researched about it. “Does he notice me?” Ahh, this trope. Drew Barrymore seems rather skilled at playing charming quirky underdog girls who are seemingly unattractive in romantic comedies. That, or she has been typecast. One-dimensional bullies, and the bullies are almost always the popular kids. Is this an instructional video showing when not to correct grammar in social situations disguised as a quirky teen romcom or something? A successful joke always has to have a pratfall… Subplots! What? Strange audio mixing in the club scene. Noteworthy setting transition. Delightfully awkward scenario, go! 45 minutes in. “Jiffer.” That’s all I’ll say. Iconic scene, but “What did you THINK would happen?” Why is your mum a clearly different actress than the one showed earlier with completely different wardrobe too? Was that other actress a sister or something? Please establish. Ohh, no wonder I didn’t like this movie. It’s directed by Raja Gosnell. I watched many of his movies before, and all of them were movies I tore apart in a horrendously negative fashion. I didn’t watch all his movies (nor do I want to), but the 9 of 12 movies I watched were horrific. This movie was released in 1999. Show Dogs in 2018 featured not-so-subtle humour and “out-of-touch with reality” jokes. What were the changes? Well, now there’s a focus on trendy CGI marketable characters. Back to Never Been Kissed, there are sex-related jokes because why not. I’d rather be operating heavy machinery with my buttcheeks. “But this cannot possibly happen in real life!” Knocking over disposable plastic cups has a strike at bowling stock sound effect. Sex with minors is now a plot point… What’s the target demographic and rating for this? PG-13? This is so tasteless… Also, what teenager talks like that? “Your butt is comfortable.” I’m always in two minds over using the word “spunk” in movies. Good performances that are a bit too enjoyable, which is a good thing. Illogical dialogue, and 71 minutes in already. Bottomless, topless, boob windows, codpieces, this is supposed to be a high school, right? I know it’s secondary school, but this setting is clearly American. Reverse bunny outfit. Skimpy outfit with boob-adjusting, so basically a girl mugging the camera. That’s the level we’re at. “I want a sword.” Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas reference. Obviously, the target demographic would get the reference to an 18+ property. Though the outfits are not exactly appropriate, I have to praise the wardrobe and costume design as well as the makeup. Underage sex subplot again. Is this like a cultist mating ritual or something? Did I miss the part where putting your leg over your head to the back of your neck is attractive and always leads to sex? I’m a 90’s kid, so I am part of the demographic at the time, and I don’t remember this being a popular thing at all. There’s some dude dressed up as a giant turtle. This is probably the most respectable costume so far, mainly cuz it’s so goofy and off-putting. And the character loves it. He’s yucking it up. I totally missed this earlier. There are two characters with VERY similar names, Kirsten and Kristin. That’s not confusing at all. High school student kissing a teacher. Interesting… Why does your prom date look like a serial killer? What is that facial expression? So the Prom King title receives no buildup at all whereas there’s a very pregnant pause before introducing the Prom Queen. We’re 80 minutes in. Where’s that “liar revealed” trope? A complete 180 for an established one-dimensional character for some reason. Where did this come from again? Uncomfortable silence after a failed joke. That happens. So what’s the moral of this story? “Pursue true love and business be damned”? How’s that working out for you? And consulting a Magic 8 Ball for career-altering advice. Questionable sound effects at 95 minutes in. Cute ending presentation. 3/10. I most probably will never revisit this again.





She’s All That (1999)

28 08 2021

I didn’t review this movie, but I gave it a 4/10. Check this post out for the notes I’ve taken.





He’s All That (2021)

28 08 2021

I didn’t review this movie, but I gave it a 2/10. Check this post out for the notes I’ve taken.





All That… Duology?

28 08 2021

So I watched both movies. I watched both movies… So, here are my thoughts. Note that these will not be reviews, just the notes I took.

She’s All That (1999)

It’s always fun seeing people in their 20’s trying to pull off being teenagers in high school. Objectification of people is cool. Dated dialogue. Bland cinematography. Some interesting transitions, SOME. Good performances. The film’s score is forgettable, with licensed songs reflecting what’s popular at the time. Painfully obvious sequence of events. I predicted the whole plot only 8 minutes in. Some nice jokes and quips here and there. The movie definitely aged, but it’s rather quaint. Ends on a reference, despite the fact there are barely any references in the movie. The reference IS explained away… with two lines. At least there’s something. I still see it as quaint, though some of the morals are backwards. 4/10.

He’s All That (2021)

It’s always a good sign when you start off your movie with emojis. At only about 2 minutes and 40 seconds in, we got a cameo from the previous movie. She plays a different character. Some quirky jokes. Similar aspect ratio as the first movie, 16:9. You “kiss” by pressing your jawline on the other person’s head… so why the exaggerated kissy face if you’re gonna “kiss” with your chin? Vapid characters. Dance sequence because why not. A principal character from Cobra Kai is here. A quirky overly realistic character, I wonder what role this character will get. This dynamic reminds me of Daria. Adult character who tries to be hip and relevant with the youngsters but “just doesn’t get it”. How many times have I seen that trope? The hair doesn’t fit the Cobra Kai character nor the wardrobe whereas in the original, the wardrobe was a little off-balance but fit the outcast character more. Nice new way to spice up the established formula. Old lady watching the main character’s TikTok which is clearly aimed towards teens because… funny? The main character’s friends are idiots. Weird camerawork. The main character hyperventilates a lot. Can’t tell if bad acting or bad characterisation. Do teens even use the word “pariah”? I don’t think this type of plot structure is ideal for the current times. The introduction of the “outcast” moniker for the Cobra Kai character doesn’t really work in execution as well as the original. Dumb dialogue that still continues. Outcast dude loves horses. 10/10 instantly! No. Still weird characterisation. Is duck face still a popular thing on social media? Pizza Hut product placement. Whoa whoa whoa, slight spoilers here. Previous dialogue indicates you don’t listen to popular music. Yet you know the lyrics to a popular song suddenly? The reason is later revealed, but there’s one thing I still don’t get: your best friend who describes you as a “brother” doesn’t know about your singing skills? Okay… Good editing as well as effects. Better chemistry between the main leads. Okay, Outcast Boy, I can’t buy your character at all. Super inconsistent. At least the movie is a bit self-aware. There’s some dialogue that pokes fun at certain contrivances. The main character does the duck face a LOT. Sped-up music montage. And the editing compliment earlier is thrown out the window now. Lots of reference humour. The acting is so laughably bad! I kept laughing at the dumb delivery. It’s the watermelon scene. Obvious stunt double shot. Why are you friends with this fanny? Cue soft and intrusive piano music to let the viewer know they should feel something. The acting! Oh no! I nearly bust a gut. So they got Matthew Lillard to be the out-of-touch cooky principal who literally only has one running joke… The dude has energy and even in recent titles in this year, he still has energy. This is a glorious miscast if I’ve ever seen it. Wasted potential. This movie needs Ernest Khalimov. What’s with the dance choreography? And morals are backwards here too, but even more than the original. Famous song from original plays. Because every good movie ends with a dance sequence. 2/10. I was going to rate it a 3… until the ending sequence started.

Summary

Before I get into this, I might as well say that I’m not against remaking at all. There are some remakes out there that actually prove to be better than the original (compare the 1977 and 2018 versions of Suspiria). Anyway, I think my notes on the 2021 remake is sufficient enough. The original is definitely not a masterpiece, but it definitely has charm. Even as I rewatched it now in this day, I still think it holds up in a few spots. I give it a negative rating, but not as negative as the 2021 remake. Where to even begin? Both movies have vapid characters, with the whole plot being about objectification gone wrong. The plot for both movies is incredibly predictable. Not just cuz the 2021 version is a remake. As a standalone movie, viewers still have to deal with weird characterisation, bad dialogue, bland cinematography, tropes galore, horrendous writing, forgettable soundtrack, decent-to-bad performances (the bad ones aren’t as numerous unfortunately… I say unfortunately because they’re so entertaining!), etc. The jokes don’t really hit (for both versions) but the old one has the benefit of being charming. The new one has the benefit of being… nothing? Like, why should I care about the main character? So the moral of the original is to pursue love I guess, while the new one has the moral of “Screw your business and livelihood in order to pursue love.” What the hell kind of a moral is that? I had a lot more to say about the 2021 version, negative things actually. I wouldn’t actually recommend the original, but I would say that it’s better than the remake. This is a rather useless remake in retrospective. I didn’t get anything out of it. I would’ve loved it if we got the original movie again with the better chemistry between the main leads from the remake (and SOME of the updated tropes). I also liked some of the editing of the remake, but the original had better transitions. Not sure what to say to that. The original movie was quite accessible whereas the remake is a bit dated… already. The original has definitely aged, but the performances were enough to keep me engaged. What else can I say at this point? There are better high school romance movies out there.