Movie Reviews

Songbird (2020)

songbird-movie-poster-review-2020Director: Adam Mason

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Romance

Runtime: 84 Minutes

Main Cast: K.J. Apa, Sofia Carson, Craig Robinson, Bradley Whitford, Peter Stormare, Alexandra Daddario, Paul Walter Hauser, Demi Moore, Jenna Ortega

Plot: The year is 2024, and the world is suffering with COVID-23. Nico (K.J. Apa) is one of the very few who are immune, and works as a courier. When the situation turns dire, he turns to desperate measures to help his girlfriend Sara (Sofia Carson) escape.

My Thoughts: Are we ready for a COVID-related disaster movie? Not really, let’s be honest. Songbird didn’t necessarily want to be the best, but it did want to be first. Sadly there’s a little horror movie called Host (2020) which already owns that title. I’m a sucker for bad movies though, don’t ask me why, and with the situation in the UK what it is I thought it might be nice to escape to a fictional Earth where things are somehow worse, to make me feel better. It achieved that at least, and as much as it wasn’t a good movie, Songbird entertained me enough.

Thing is, when you’re living in a pandemic, you know the ins and outs. So a fictional movie isn’t going to pull the wool over your eyes. COVID-23 is so bad that you’ll actually be shot on sight for leaving your home. Those who are immune have jobs as couriers delivering packages to the rich. The whole time I was asking, yeah but how to people get groceries?! These people have fridges full of alcohol, where are they getting it from? The real villain here though isn’t the virus, it’s the Head of Sanitization. Get ready for the most over-the-top villain you’ve ever seen. I actually expected him to burst into song at one point, it was so corny.

Silliness aside though, give it a few years and we’ll probably have a better COVID movie, like it or not. Think Contagion (2011), but probably starring Dwayne Johnson. Songbird was just clearly thrown together as quickly as possible. There’s some good stuff there, I was intrigued by the Q-Zone. Basically, you get tested every day through an app on your phone and if you test positive, the hazmats take you away to this Q-Zone. We never even got to see it though apart from a few aerial shots from a distance. It’s not a total disaster, but only watch it if you’re up for having a bit of a laugh with it.

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Best Bit: Forget the main love story, I was there for Alexandra Daddario. She instantly makes any terrible movie a whole lot better. Although, she does have in her possession the most useless face mask in history…

Worst Bit: Finally getting around to writing your review for this movie on the same night the Prime Minister informs us of a new, dangerous COVID strain – paving for the way for Lockdown 3, whilst the rest of the world slowly cuts off our tiny, infested island. Sigh.

Fun Trivia: SAG-AFTRA issued a “Do not work” order on Songbird, telling its members to refuse any work on the film.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 Whopper burgers. RIP, Burger King…

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Movie Reviews

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

wonder-woman-1984-poster-reviewDirector: Patty Jenkins

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Runtime: 151 Minutes

Main Cast: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal, Connie Nielsen, Robin Wright, Gabriella Wilde, Lilly Aspell, Kristoffer Polaha

Plot: It’s now 1984, Diana (Gal Gadot) is still mourning Steve (Chris Pine) and everything changes when she happens to befriend Barbara (Kristen Wiig), her clumsy work colleague tasked with identifying a mysterious artifact.

My Thoughts: As much as I want to gush about how much I loved this movie, I’m keeping my review SPOILER FREE. The UK somehow got it earlier than a lot of countries (which never happens), and there are so few cinemas actually open that I feel incredibly lucky to have watched it on release night so I’m not spoiling anything until my top 10 of the year list, which this will definitely be a part of. I enjoyed Wonder Woman (2017) just fine but the final act killed my buzz a little, but that wasn’t the case with this sequel. It’s a long movie but the time whizzes by and I really didn’t want it to end. It’s been wonderful to have the time to watch more indie movies this year but nothing beats walking into that cinema for the year’s biggest blockbuster.

Gal Gadot is quite simply breath taking in every sense of the word. We don’t get to see Wonder Woman in costume an awful lot but it makes those action moments stand out even further, and it’s clear the team behind Diana’s outfits were having a blast. Diana’s moments with Steve were adorable, and I’ve always been a fan of those ‘fish out of water’ scenes so watching Steve be fascinated by everything the 80’s has to offer was so funny. I thought Kristen Wiig was an odd casting choice when I saw the first trailer but she’s perfect in the role of Barbara and watching her character change from the ditzy, fun-loving work colleague to the cold, bitter villain she becomes was great. Pedro Pascal absolutely steals the show whenever he’s on screen, though. His character is up there with my favourite comic-villains of all time.

I’m not sure what more I can say without getting into spoiler-ish territory, so I’ll finish here by telling you that I enjoyed Wonder Woman 1984 much more than I thought I would. We get to see more of Diana’s will and daring from when she was a child, we get some thrilling action shots, a beautiful romance story and some laughs along the way. What more can you really ask for?

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Best Bit: Whenever Diana’s theme music kicked in my heart started racing. My favourite scene was the car chase in Egypt, there’s clips of it in the trailer of course but the actual full scene is stunning.

Worst Bit: I have a few problems related to the artifact that I can’t talk about yet and they’re probably me just nit-picking, but other than that the only thing I didn’t like was when Barbara turned full Cheetah. I’m not saying that the release of the movie Cats (2019) is what caused the world to fall apart but…they both happened at the same time and I’d like to not be reminded of that!

Fun Trivia: The role of Cheetah was first offered to Emma Stone but she declined. The role was then offered to Kristen Wiig, Patty Jenkins’s first choice.

My Rating: 4 and a half fanny packs (they’re called bum bags in the UK!) which not even Chris Pine can make look sexy.

wonder-woman-1984-usa-fanny-pack

Movie Reviews

The Prom (2020)

the-prom-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Ryan Murphy

Genre: Musical, Comedy, Drama

Runtime: 130 Minutes

Main Cast: Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells, Jo Ellen Pellman, Ariana DeBose, Mary Kay Place, Tracey Ullman

Plot: 4 self-obsessed Broadway stars travel to a small conservative town in Indiana to help out a young girl whose school has cancelled their prom because she wants to take her girlfriend. By getting the prom back on, the stars hope that the publicity will boost their careers.

My Thoughts: Can I first acknowledge the crime that is the fact I had to watch this at home on Netflix with the background noise of my husband playing the PS5 instead of being at the cinema, dancing in my seat? Can you imagine if The Greatest Showman was released this year? Anyway – The Prom might not be my favourite musical ever but there was still so much I loved about it. Firstly, can I get a ‘hell yeah’ for Jo Ellen Pellman, starring in her first feature movie, acting alongside Hollywood legends such as Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman and doing a damn fine job of it? Get it, girl!

You know me, I’m not a theatre person (I’ve seen 1 show in a theatre my whole life) so I had no idea this movie was based on a show, so I can’t comment on how it holds up as an adaptation. I was slightly put off by it’s runtime but honestly, the time whizzed by, I enjoyed every second. I maybe didn’t care so much for the Broadways stars because of their motives, but the rest of the characters? I was there for them. Keegan-Michael Key really surprised me. He elevates every movie he’s in but in this one he showed a side to him I’ve never seen before. His musical number ‘We Look To You’ hit me particularly hard, especially in a year like this.

Forgive me for comparing but when I think about the lesbian couple in The Prom, I can’t help but think about the lesbian couple in Happiest Season (2020). If you read my review you’ll know I loved it, but struggled to get behind the couple. That wasn’t the problem here – I was behind these girls all the way.

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Best Bit: Although I really enjoyed the songs, they weren’t ones that stuck in my memory very well, although I’ll certainly be playing them in my car this week. One song in particular made me laugh and if I’d been in a cinema I might have been clapping along too. It was Andrew Rannells performing ‘Love Thy Neighbor’. It’s not a cheesy musical without a flashy number to rally an entire town!

Worst Bit: You might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned James Corden yet. I can’t quite put my finger on why but he just irritates me as a person. I think he’s got that aura of arrogance, and he often winds me up. I have to say, I didn’t mind him in this, but he was woefully miscast. I don’t have a problem at all with a straight man playing a gay man but was Titus Burgess every in the running for the role? He would have been PERFECT.

Fun Trivia: Nicole Kidman portrays Angie Dickinson, a life long chorus girl who just quit her job of 20 years in the musical Chicago after the producers never let her go on for the role of Roxie Hart. In real life, Kidman turned down the part of Roxie Hart in Chicago (2002).

My Rating: 4 out of 5 glitzy dresses…give it some zazz!

the-prom-give-it-some-zazz-2020

Movie Reviews

Standing Up, Falling Down (2019)

standing-up-falling-down-poster-movie-2019Director: Matt Ratner

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Runtime: 91 Minutes

Main Cast: Billy Crystal, Ben Schwartz, Grace Gummer, Eloise Mumford, Nate Corddry, Jill Hennessy, Caitlin McGee, Kevin Dunn, Debra Monk

Plot: Mike Wazowski and Sonic the Hedgehog become best friends. Scott (Ben Schwartz) is forced to move back in with his parents as his career as a comedian in LA is struggling. After meeting with Dermatologist Marty (Billy Crystal), the two form an unlikely friendship and help each other with their issues.

My Thoughts:¬† One of my favourite genre fusions has to be the dramedy, a mix of comedy and drama. It was Little Miss Sunshine (2006) that first caught my attention and I haven’t turned one down since. Sure, there have been bad ones but the good ones are often excellent rather than average. I’d never heard of Standing Up, Falling Down until I got an email about it but as a huge Parks and Rec fan, I was never going to shy away from a movie with Ben Schwartz as the lead. This movie might not bring anything new to the genre but I adored almost every moment of it.

I don’t think I’ve seen Ben Schwartz in a more serious role, and I hope he lands some more on the back of this because he does it well, and of course he shines best in his funnier scenes. It was Billy Crystal who surprised me the most, though. His character has gone through so much pain but he tries to take it in his stride, improve himself and find the good in every moment. He has one scene in particular that I won’t mention for spoilers that really tugged on my heart strings. I haven’t watched many of his movies, I have to admit, but I’ll make an effort to.

What I loved the most was that there was a pivotal moment in the movie that I should have seen coming, in fact I’m sure you all will have done, but I got caught up in the daily lives of these two characters and just didn’t want it to end. I don’t know, I think maybe I’m hyping it up a bit too much, but you know when you find a movie with characters you just feel a real connection with? That’s me with Standing Up, Falling Down. If you give it a go I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Oh and one more thing – that Twitter account, @dermatol_OG, is real! Don’t look it up until you’ve finished the movie though.

standing-up-falling-down-billy-crystal

Best Bit: Skipping past the emotional, spoiler-filled moment, Scott’s relationship with his sister is so funny. The banter between them is so real and one of my favourite moments is when Scott turns up at the pretzel stand she works at and ends up terrifying her co-worker.

Worst Bit: I know that Marty did some wrongs in the past but man, he didn’t deserve to be treated the way he did by his own son. That scene on the front lawn was so upsetting to watch.

Fun Trivia: I can only find two bits of trivia for this. One is a huge spoiler and the other is a vulgar reference to The Revenant (2015) that I’ll spare you the trouble of reading.

My Rating: 4 and a half Jägerbombs which, UNLIKE the characters in this movie, I know how to make. WAY too much energy drink was used in those ones!

standing-up-falling-down-jagerbombs

Movie Reviews

Happiest Season (2020)

happiest-season-2020-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Clea DuVall

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Runtime: 102 Minutes

Main Cast: Kristen Stewart, Mackenzie Davis, Alison Brie, Aubrey Plaza, Dan Levy, Mary Holland, Victor Garber, Mary Steenburgen, Jake McDorman

Plot: Abby (Kristen Stewart) has hated Christmas ever since she lost her parents as a teenager. Her girlfriend Harper (Mackenzie Davis) convinces her to stay with her overbearing family over the holiday and Abby agrees, planning to propose.

My Thoughts: A festive romcom with a stellar cast is like food for the soul to me. Happiest Season might just be my most-anticipated movie of the year, and still would have been even if we had blockbusters in 2020. I’ve always been a Kristen Stewart fan but she just keeps getting better and better. I might be a happily married straight woman but KStew, Aubrey Plaza and Alison Brie all in 1 movie has me hot under the collar. Throw in Dan Levy whilst I’m in the middle of a Schitt’s Creek obsession? This movie was always going to make me happy, let’s face it.

It has everything Christmas movie needs. The right songs to get you feeling festive, gorgeous winter scenes, a family so dysfunctional you start to think yours might just be normal after all, laughs aplenty and a moment or two to make you cry. There is just one glaringly obvious problem though, which I’ll probably ramble too much about. It’s not a new concept in a romcom that someone appears by chance and tempts someone away. In Happiest Season it’s Riley (Aubrey Plaza). You see, Harper hasn’t told her parents that she’s gay, and she’s terrified to. Rightfully so, with a family like hers. But it cost her relationship with Riley, and that gives Riley and Abby something huge in common. Plus, Harper is spending an awful lot of time pushing Abby away- giving her plenty of time to get to know Riley better.

Which led me to hoping that Abby would actually ditch Harper. And this is the movie’s biggest problem. We never get to see how Abby and Harper meet and fall in love, we’re just told that they did. In fact, all we see of them is Harper being a total bitch, so it’s really hard to root for her. I was satisfied with the ending though, I just wish I could have spent a bit of time in the past.

happiest-season-kristen-stewart-dan-levy

Best Bit: Dan Levy is the best friend that everyone needs. He is just incredible here, channeling a bit of David Rose when he forgets to look after all the pets Abby had left him in charge with. But he also delivers such a powerful monologue towards the end of the movie. I’m not the target audience for a speech like that but it brought me to tears.

Worst Bit: Any scene involving Harper’s male ex Connor (sorry Jake McDorman, I’m sure you’re lovely). From Harper’s parents inviting him to dinner to Harper herself ditching Abby to hang out with him, his presence on screen is just, ew.

Fun Trivia: Director Clea DuVall wrote the film as an autobiography. She has said that she wrote it so she could see her own experiences play out on screen.
(This is interesting – was she Abby or Harper?)

My Rating: 4 and a half glasses of spiced alcohol, my favourite thing to drink this time of year.

happiest-season-2020-spiced-alcohol