Movie Reviews

Hidden Gems: Keanu Reeves

In the month of March, a third month into full lockdown in the UK and our third lockdown, I really needed cheering up and I was hopeful that Keanu Reeves could save the day! If you aren’t familiar with the Hidden Gems Challenge, it was started by Mettel Ray and you can find her original post here. Her pick for March is Audrey Hepburn and I can’t wait to see what she watched! Speaking of Mettel Ray, this month she wrote an amazing piece called Ted Lasso: The Unexpected Appeal of the Good Guy. If you haven’t read it yet then please spare 5 minutes, it’s beautifully written! But let’s talk about Keanu, shall we?

Why Keanu Reeves?

I was really late to the party when it comes to Keanu. I was fairly certain I’d seen the first Bill & Ted movie when I was a kid but I’d never watched any of the Matrix movies (until recently!). It wasn’t really until the release of John Wick: Chapter 3 that I became a real fan, and boy what a year that was for him anyway! I went on a bit of a Keanu binge in 2019 but I knew there was so much more of his work I had yet to see, so he was an easy choice for the challenge.

Statistics

Letterboxd has a whopping 124 movies listed under Keanu Reeves’ name. Some of these will obviously be not-yet-released movies and shorts but I don’t know where to even start filtering those out! I’d seen 19 of them, which is a decent number but a less than impressive percentage! Out of the ones I’d already seen some of my favourites include John Wick: Chapter 3, Speed, Toy Story 4 and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

I’ve also seen John Wick, John Wick: Chapter 2, The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Neon Demon, Point Break, Always Be My Maybe, Bill & Ted Face the Music, Knock Knock, Keanu, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, The Lake House, Destination Wedding, Replicas and Siberia.

As before, I tried to pick 3 movies where Keanu Reeves played a main role, and so my choices ended up being My Own Private Idaho, The Devil’s Advocate and Hardball.

My Own Private Idaho (1991)

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This was easily the movie I was looking forward to the most, it sounded so interesting. Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix play gay hustlers travelling from Portland to Idaho in a quest to find a family member. Whilst on their travels they play tricks for money and drugs and wind up attracting the attention of a wealthy benefactor. Mixed into all of that plot is the fact that My Own Private Idaho is also a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV. Sounds crazy, right?

I’m uncultured and not well versed at all in Shakespeare so maybe that’s what to blame but I didn’t understand this movie AT ALL. For the first half I was just happy to be tagging along on the wild ride but I was just so lost. It’s got great reviews though so worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yourself!

The Devil’s Advocate (1997)

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Moving swiftly on to The Devil’s Advocate, a movie that I was sure I wanted to see but was hesitant about it’s runtime (a few minutes shy of 2.5 hours!). Keanu Reeves plays a hot shot lawyer from Florida given the opportunity of a lifetime to work for a big time lawyer (Al Pacino) in New York, who just so happens to be the devil himself.

What an opening scene to a movie! Loveable Keanu Reeves, a defence lawyer for a teacher accused of sexual abuse stands up and, knowing damn well the guyis guilty, somehow manages to sway the jury and the teacher walks free. It was shocking – and I started to wonder what kind of online reaction that scene would cause if it were in a movie released today. Regardless – it’s all part of the plot and the movie itself was highly enjoyable. Not enough for me to call it a gem, but still good.

Hardball (2001)

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Oh. My. Goodness. I’ve had to actually step away from blogging after watching Hardball because all I wanted to do was talk about it and I knew I had to wait until this post! I don’t care about the lukewarm reviews, Hardball is easily a hidden gem in my eyes and easily oneof my favourite movies of all time. Keanu Reeves plays an aimless young guy addicted to gambling and thousands of dollars in debt. In a way to try and claw his way out, he agrees to coach a baseball team made up of young black kids from a deprived estate in Chicago.

It’s such a feelgood movie. I was rooting for Keanu to turn his life around but it was those kids who made it for me. One of whom just so happened to be Michael B. Jordan! If that wasn’t crazy enough, he just so happens to be another one of my picks for the Hidden Gems Challenge! Anyway – I won’t spoil it but there’s a pretty heartbreaking twist towards the end of the movie that I didn’t see coming and I don’t think I’ll ever recover. It was only not getting a conclusion to one particular kid’s story that stopped this being a full 5/5 for me, to be honest.

Final Thoughts

A mixed bag for sure but despite My Own Private Idaho being a personal dud for me I’m sure it’s something most others would enjoy. Hardball is going to be a really tough movie to beat for the rest of this challenge! I had to look back at my own announcement post to check who is next and in another twist of coincidence April is dedicated to none other than Michael B. Jordan himself! So be sure to check back this time next month!

Blogathons

Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021

Drew and Kim are back again with their Ultimate Decades Blogathon! In previous years they’ve covered the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 10s – but rather than go back further in time this year they’re switching up the format and are focusing on years ending in a 1. You can find a list with all of this year’s entries here. With so many movies in so many eligible years, it was impossible for me to pick just 1 movie to talk about so instead I’m bringing you 5 of my favourite movies spanning 5 decades!

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1971 – Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

I’ve watched very few movies from the 70s but one of those just so happens to be one of my childhood classics. Watching it now, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is quite a terrifying story but as a child it was magical. Didn’t we all just wish we could visit the factory and eat all the sweets and chocolate we could?

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1981 – Raiders of the Lost Ark

This blogathon serves as a perfect reminder that I need to have an Indiana Jones marathon soon. I remember watching the Indiana Jones live show at Disney World as a child and thinking I was watching the real deal. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ve seen every movie in the franchise yet so watch this space but in the meantime, can we all agree Raiders of the Lost Ark is the best of them all?

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1991 – Beauty and the Beast

I talk about this amazing, greatest of all time Disney movie far too much so I’ll keep this brief but come on, this was the only option for me. My Mum likes to tell me that this movie was played so much when I was little the VHS tape was worn to nothing but as it’s also her favourite Disney movie I’m not convinced that it was me who demanded it be played daily.

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2001 – Donnie Darko

There were a lot of movies I wanted to pick for this year but it has to be Donnie Darko. It opened my eyes to a movie genre that wasn’t animation, action or comedy and was basically the beginning of my love for weird movies. There’s something new to discover with every watch of Donnie Darko.

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2011 – The Muppets

Yes, I know this is an odd choice. There were some fantastic movies released in 2011, but I’ve realised that subconsciously I’ve been picking movies that mean something to me on a deeper level rather than simply great movies, and so I had to pick The Muppets. If I were to explain my sense of humour to you – this movie is it. It’s essentially me in movie form. And fun fact – at our wedding we walked back down the aisle to ‘Life’s a Happy Song’!

Lists

Thursday Movie Picks: Steven Spielberg Films

Happy first Thursday of the year, everyone! Oh wait, I missed that, because I was still in a red wine & chocolate coma not knowing what day of the week it was. Good way to start the year, Allie! It’s the thought that counts though, so I’m throwing myself into Wandering Through the Shelves’ 2020 Movie Picks with as much enthusiasm as possible. This week’s theme is Favourite Films by Steven Spielberg – a theme I worried would be difficult but crickey the man has made a lot of brilliant movies!

Here are my three favourites:

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The Terminal (2004)

I love Tom Hanks, so I’ve watched The Terminal a few times over the years now. Hanks plays an Eastern European tourist who’s government collapses whilst he’s at the airport, leaving his documents unusable and him stranded in JFK airport. I always remember it as a funny story but forget about how moving it is at the same time.

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A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)

It’s been years and I have no idea if A.I. Artificial Intelligence still holds up but at the time it felt revolutionary and raised so many thought-provoking questions. A mother’s son was stricken by an incurable disease, and, thinking she had lost him forever, commissioned a realist robot to replace him. The problem is, her son miraculously recovers. I can’t even count the number of times I watched that movie when I was younger.

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Jurassic Park (1993)

Have you ever asked anyone if they like dinosaurs and been told no? I guess you don’t go around asking strangers that question often but my point is, who doesn’t like dinosaurs? To me, Jurassic Park is just one of those movies that’s impossible not to enjoy. I can’t say for sure if I saw the older sequels when I was a kid, but I should make the effort to!

Lists

Best and Worst Amy Poehler Movies

I had so much fun writing my Best and Worst Will Ferrel Movies post a couple of months ago, I’ve been looking for an excuse to write another. For these kinds of posts, I usually head over to IMDB and check birthday dates because trying to pick an actor or actress out of thin air is virtually impossible. Turns out it’s one of my favourite comedic actress’ birthday today so I’m presenting you with my Best and Worst Amy Poehler Movies!

Her favourite role of mine will always be Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation. That show grew to be my most loved TV show of all time, and Leslie is just one of those characters who I admire and relate to so much. If you’ve never watched Parks & Rec please, please give it a go! As of the time of this post being published I’m pretty sure it’s on Netflix. The first Season is slow to get into (but short!) but a few episodes into Season 2, I guarantee you’ll be hooked if you’ve stuck it out that far.

Anyway, I’m talking movies today. So without further ado, these are my 3 favourite Amy Poehler movies:

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Sisters (2015)

If Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are together, you’re guaranteed to have a good time. The way they bounce off each other is simply brilliant, and after their short appearance at the Oscars I hope one day they’ll present the whole night! Sisters is one of those comedies that can be hilarious if you’re in the right mood. Poehler and Fey play sisters (funnily enough) who are summoned to clean out their childhood bedroom so that their parents can sell the house. It’s rude, it’s funny, and there are plenty of cameos to spot, too!

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Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

This one is worth a watch for the cast alone! I only watched it myself for the first time recently so seeing a baby faced Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper was a funny experience. The movie itself is basically the crazy antics of a summer camp, full of romance, mischief, and ending with a big talent competition. I might just make this movie a summer tradition.

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Inside Out (2015)

No prizes for guessing Inside Out would be my favourite. There aren’t many Disney/Pixar movies I don’t love but this one struck a chord with me like no other. Casting is so important when it comes to animation, and especially so when the animated characters are, in fact, emotions. Amy Poehler voices Joy, and I couldn’t think of anyone else more perfect for the role!

Now I’ve spread positiveness and love all over this post, time to highlight a couple of stinkers…

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The House (2017)

You could make the argument that The House was just a ‘meh’ movie rather than a bad one, but I was so disappointed that it wasn’t anywhere near as good as I hoped! Amy Poehler, Will Ferrell (that’s an odd coincidence, actually) and a whole bunch of familiar faces from Parks & Rec, together in one movie? Combined with a trailer that never failed to make me laugh, no matter how many times I saw it? I was so excited. And it turned out to be such an unforgettable movie.

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Wine Country (2019)

And speaking of promising casts, let’s look no further than this year’s Netflix release, Wine Country. You know how I said Amy Poehler and Tina Fey together was a guaranteed good time? I guess there’s always an exception to the rule. The story itself was interesting enough, but Wine Country was far from a good comedy.

So, judging by my Will Ferrel post, this is the part where you all tell me about an amazing movie that I haven’t even heard of, let alone watched. Last time, many of you told me about a great Will Ferrell flick, Stranger Than Fiction (2006). For the record, I haven’t seen it yet, but I plan to this week. What’s your favourite Amy Poehler movie?

Blogathons · Movie Reviews

Ultimate 2000s Blogathon: Donnie Darko (2001)

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The wonderful blogging duo Drew (Drew’s Movie Reviews) and Kim (Tranquil Dreams) are back again with the next Blogathon in their Ultimate series. They started with the 80s which I *think* I recall taking part in on my previous blog, then moved to the 90s, giving me the chance to talk about Liar, Liar (1997). Last year they went back further to the 70s and now in 2019 they’re giving us the chance to share our favourite movies from the 00s.

The 2000s is such a difficult decade for me to pick my favourite movie from. I’d finally reached an age in the 00s where I was watching movies for myself, and I’ve seen so many! Once I really made myself choose a single movie however the choice was clear, it had to be Donnie Darko (2001).

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If you’ve been living under a rock since then, Donnie Darko is a fantastically weird Thriller/Sci-Fi movie that demands to be watched at least twice. Teenage me had found herself obsessed with Jake Gyllenhaal, and spent hours on eBay tracking down second-hand copies of his movies, a trend that still very much lives on in me but has been made much easier thanks to the likes of platforms like Netflix. I couldn’t have been older than 14 at the time and I was terrified of the movie, but found it fascinating.

Donnie is a troubled teen with a history of violence. He takes medication but has recently stopped of his own accord. One night he sleepwalks and meets Frank, an eery-looking rabbit who warns him that in 28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds, the world will end. That same night, a jet engine crashes into the Darko’s house, destroying Donnie’s bedroom. Had he been home in bed, he would be been killed.

Donnie Darko is the movie that sparked my love and curiosity for dark and weird movies with endings that leave you with more questions than you started with. Donnie himself is a role that only Jake Gyllenhaal could pull off, and he does it so well!

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I haven’t seen it for a few years now, but off the top of my head, these are what I remember to be my favourite things about it:

  • “Oh please tell me Elizabeth, how exactly does one suck a f**k?!”
  • Those stoners talking about Smurfette. A conversation I didn’t really appreciate until I was a bit older.
  • Time travel!
  • The moral issue of finding a wallet on the ground. You have to take into account the whole spectrum of human emotion!
  • Donnie throwing shade on Jim Cunningham – it was hilarious.
  • “I made a new friend…”
  • Did I also mention Jake Gyllenhaal’s in it?

It wasn’t until reasonably recently that I learned a sequel was made, S. Darko (2009). A quick search of it on IMDB tells me that it’s currently rated #89 on IMDB’s Bottom Rated Movies list. Ouch. If you know me though, you know you can probably expect to see a review of it on my blog fairly soon. I can’t help myself. Any excuse to watch the original again too, I guess!