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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Movie Reviews

What I Watched: November 2020

It doesn’t feel real that today is the start of the last month of the year…how can a year be so awful and drag for so long but also be over in a flash? Regardless, December is always an exciting month for the blog as I start to think about my Best and Worst of 2020 lists, and what to look forward to in 2021.

November brought on a second lockdown in the UK, which ends tomorrow. Each area is placed under different ‘Tiers’ from then on though and as luck would have it – my town is stuck in the strictest tier, meaning no indoor activities of almost any kind. That sucks as a parent who was looking forward to having something other than freezing cold parks to entertain their toddler, and it also means no cinema, but then there’s no new releases anyway.

That’s put a huge dampener on my mood to put it very lightly, and so I didn’t watch as many movies as I’d have liked to, and I reviewed even less. December is a fresh start though, and it’s still fun to take a brief look back at what I’ve watched over the last 4 weeks.

horizon-line-movie-2020

Horizon Line (2020)

This one I actually got to see at the cinema the night before lockdown 2.0, and I’m so glad I did. It’s one of those disaster movies that works well on the big screen, with the surround sound and the darkness. I was genuinely frozen in place to find out if the couple would survive the ordeal, but it all ended quite abruptly, I wish it had a more satisfying ending.

love-the-coopers-2015-movie

Love the Coopers (2015)

What is bound to cheer me up during a depressing November? Christmas movies! Netflix delivered and suggested a whole bunch for me to choose from. I picked Love the Coopers for the cast but GOOD LORD was it a miserable movie. I’ve actually blocked most of it from my mind since then. Not a bad movie by a long shot, but not the magical flick full of laughs I was hoping for.

Over the Moon (2020) FULL REVIEW

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The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run (2020)

I was gutted to not see this in the cinema, I’ve been a Spongebob fan since the very beginning. I know a lot of people are complaining about the animation style but that didn’t bother me at all. Keanu Reeves has a fun role but the story itself was lacking.

On the Rocks (2020)FULL REVIEW

Shithouse (2020) FULL REVIEW

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The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special (2020)

This was EPIC and I’m so sad it was only around 45 minutes long. The Lego games and movies always deliver on their humour and this was no exception. Rey finds herself travelling back in time through the original and prequel Star Wars movies and it pokes a lot of fun about the things fans both love and are annoyed by. Plus, Lego Ben Swolo and General Hux have the greatest scene ever that I’m furious never made it into the movies.

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The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story (2020)

I don’t tend to review documentaries because I don’t watch a lot of them, but after rekindling my love of Spongebob this was something I had to see. It was fascinating to learn about how Nickelodeon started and how it was run but crickey it was so dry, considering it’s subject matter. The most interesting parts got thrown into the end credits like an afterthought!

I also watched Standing Up, Falling Down (2019) and Happiest Season (2020) at the end of November but I adored them both and I want to dedicate more time to writing about them. Believe it or not, I’ve been watching some TV Shows too! I’ve finished The Queen’s Gambit which was surprisingly fascinating – you can trust the hype. I also watched The Undoing which was absolutely fantastic and had such a satisfying ending. Plus I’m up to date with The Mandalorian which is as glorious as always.

Movie Reviews

Shithouse (2020)

shithouse-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Cooper Raiff

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Runtime: 100 Mminutes

Main Cast: Cooper Raiff, Dylan Gelula, Amy Landecker, Logan Miller, Olivia Welch, Abby Quinn, Joy Sunday

Plot: Alex (Cooper Raiff) is having a tough time settling in at college. He misses his family terribly and his roommate is a jerk to say the least. One night he pushes himself to try harder and attends a party at Shithouse, which is where he meets Maggie (Dylan Gelula), a girl who understands him.

My Thoughts: I might be in my 30’s with a husband, child and mortgage but I’m still a big kid deep down so let me start by saying that the title alone was enough to make me want to watch Shithouse. It won the biggest award at SXSW this year, quite the feat during a year when the festival was cancelled! In its most basic form, Shithouse is a coming of age movie, but deep down it’s so much more than that. It’s a movie for the kids who never fit in, who cried on the phone their Mum and stood awkwardly in the corner at parties.

It’s rare for a movie to show that side of college in the first place, let alone from a male perspective. Boys cry too, you know? Alex even has a stuffed toy in his room that speaks to him through the power of subtitles. When he meets Maggie it seems she has it all figured out, but the more he gets to know her it’s clear to see she’s struggling too. Even his roommate Sam (Logan Miller) is having a hard time, it’s just difficult to tell when he’s forever getting drunk and boasting about his comedic skills.

This is Cooper Raiff’s directional debut but I’d never have guessed. I’ll definitely be looking out for what he makes next. As an actor he does a great job but you can tell he doesn’t have the experience with bigger projects when he’s on screen with Dylan Gelula or Logan Miller. All in all, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy Shithouse as much as I did. It’s a low budget movie that doesn’t need to try and be bigger than it is, and I highly recommend it!

shithouse-2020-review-sxsw-festival-winner

Best Bit: There’s no stand out moment for me, per-say, but I just loved how real it all felt. That’s the joy with indie movies I guess, they don’t have to pander to a wide audience so it’s easier to find something that really resonates with me. There’s no magical click of the fingers to solve a problem for Alex, he has to work at it.

Worst Bit: Again, no specific moments jump to mind but the middle section REALLY drags. It’s important to the story but it slows the whole movie down to a snail pace and my mind started to drift.

Fun Trivia: The film was set to have its world premiere at South by Southwest in March 2020, but the festival was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The South by Southwest film competition nevertheless went ahead, and Shithouse won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 goldfish that, should you ever go on holiday, you shouldn’t leave in the care of Maggie.

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