Movie Reviews

Promising Young Woman (2020)

promising-young-woman-poster-review-2020Director: Emerald Fennell

Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama

Runtime: 113 Minutes

Main Cast: Carey Mulligan, Bo Burnham, Laverne Cox, Clancy Brown, Jennifer Coolidge, Alison Brie, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Molly Shannon, Adam Brody, Max Greenfield, Chris Lowell

Plot: After suffering a tragedy in her past, Cassie (Carey Mulligan) takes her revenge on the predatory men she seeks out on a weekly basis at her local bar.

My Thoughts: A slight ramble from me before I begin. The pandemic has really thrown my creativity out of the window this year but something amazing still came from it. A little dream came true and I was accepted as a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics. One of the perks of memberships is sporadically receiving screener links to not-yet released movies and so finding myself watching Promising Young Woman at home, 2 months before it’s UK release with a screener copy that has a watermark with my name on? That’s made my year, for sure. But on with the review!

We get thrown straight into the thick of it when a group of guys in a bar are leering at Cassie, seemingly drunk and alone. One of the guys eventually comes over to offer to get Cassie home, but they end up at his house instead. When the guy starts pushing himself onto Cassie she snaps, completely sober, to teach him a lesson. YAS Cassie. Her quest for vengeance has taken a huge toll on her life, though. Her relationship with her parents is terrible and she threw away a chance at a highly successful medical career. To talk more about the plot would be doing a disservice because just with movies like Gone Girl (2014) – the less you know, the better.

But it’s more than just the story, there is so much more to marvel over. There are things I rarely pay attention to in most movies such as soundtrack and cinematography, but it’s impossible to ignore here. There’s a harrowing version of Britney Spears’ Toxic that gave me actual goosebumps, and every single shot looks like it was set up to be used for a poster. It’s just stunning. I didn’t know what to expect at all and I think that helped too.

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Best Bit: This would change on a daily basis, but the ending is the bit that sticks out the most to me. I know it’s been one of the few things that others have found fault in, but when my hopes were dashed and my jaw had been on the floor for many minutes, what happened at the wedding just blew me away.

Worst Bit: I’ll be as vague as I can but the bedroom scene at the bachelor party. I don’t remember feeling as awful as I did in that moment when watching any other movie.

Fun Trivia: The title is a reference to Brock Turner, a Stanford University student who was convicted of sexual assault in 2016. Despite his conviction, he was referred to by some as a “Promising Young Man.”

My Rating: 5 out of 5 notebooks, and don’t you ever do something that leads to your name being inside one of them.

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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

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)

lego-movie-2-second-part-2019-movie-reviewDirector: Mike Mitchell

Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure, Family

Runtime: 107 Minutes

Main Cast: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Alison Brie, Maya Rudolph, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Will Ferrell, Richard Ayoade

Plot: The Lego Movie 2 picks up right where the last one left off – with the Duplo bricks taking over. It’s now 5 years later and things are getting worse. Emmett and his friends are now facing invaders from outer space, destroying anything that looks cute.

My Thoughts: It’s weird to think that this is the only sequel to the original Lego Movie thanks to the spin-offs we’ve had. I almost think its taken a bit of the excitement away but nonetheless, I was really looking forward to checking in with these beloved characters. I love animation, I love comedies and I love Lego, so I knew I would enjoy this.

There are some things I knew I could expect from the sequel. Witty one-liners, and the kind of jokes I’ve come to love from both Lego movies and games. Inventive names like the Sis-Star System, and Queen Whatevra Wa-Nabi. Will Arnett continues to be my favourite Batman yet (sorry Christian Bale) and inside jokes you’ll only understand if you watched the original. “Honey, where are my pants?”. So it’s safe to say the writers know what works and stick to their guns!

What I wasn’t expecting was to fall for was *MILD SPOILER* the Frozen-style plot twist halfway through. Why am I so gullible?! It felt like this installment was more geared towards children than the original, with its morals and family-orientated story, but that’s hardly a negative comment. To be honest, I’ve never really grown up, so you’ll find me in my car on the way to work playing Catchy Song and Gotham City Guys on repeat. The extra songs were a welcome addition!

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All in all, though it might have lost the original magic that the very first movie had, The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is still a solid movie!

Best Bit: Rex Dangervest, Galaxy defending archaeologist, cowboy, and raptor trainer. You may as well have just called him Chris Pratt, he’s covered all of those roles now! Thinking about it…that was probably the joke…wake up, Allie.
Plus Queen Whatevra Wa-Nabi’s song was funny enough to begin with, and even funnier once you’ve seen the whole movie.

Worst Bit: So many cool characters from the first movie ended up being pointless in the sequel, and it felt like they’d just been stuck in for the sake of it. I’m looking at you, MetalBeard, Benny, Surfer Dave…I’m sure I spotted Good Cop/Bad Cop at one point, too.

Fun Trivia: Actress Stephanie Beatriz (Sweet Mayhem) has a signature small scar on her right eyebrow which was caused by, ironically enough, tripping on a piece of LEGO when she was 10 years old.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 Lego Duplo sets. I’m holding on to every day that goes by that my living room floor isn’t covered in these bricks. Thankfully, the Mega Bloks we have at the moment are far too big to be dangerous to my feet.

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