Let It Snow (2019)

let-it-snow-netflix-2019-movie-reviewDirector: Luke Snellin

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Runtime: 92 Minutes

Main Cast: Isabela Merced, Shameik Moore, Odeya Rush, Liv Hewson, Mitchell Hope, Kiernan Shipka, Matthew Noszka, Jacob Batalon, Isabela Moner, Joan Cusack, Miles Robbins

Plot: On Christmas Eve, a series of circumstances and events, as well as a snowstorm, brings together a group of teenagers in a diner.

My Thoughts: Every Friday, Netflix is releasing a new Christmas movie for us to enjoy. They’re all going to be that ‘Hallmark Channel’ kind of quality but hey – isn’t that what Christmas is all about? I for one can’t wait, and have promptly cleared all of my Friday nights from now till the big day! Let It Snow is Netflix’s contribution to the Love Actually category, in where all these characters find their stories intertwined by the time the credits roll. It’s also one of the best (worst?) movies I’ve seen for finding yourself having to pause and say ‘I know him/her from something!’. I swear I stopped the movie at least 6 times in the first 10 minutes.

By far the most interesting story here for me was Stuart and Julie (played by Shameik Moore and Isabela Merced). Stuart’s a famous musician and meets Julie on a stranded train where he mistakes her for a fan. She, in fact, couldn’t care less who he is and is struggling with deciding whether to accept a scholarship and leave her sick mother behind. It’s a cheesy story but they both have such great chemistry, and the other stories fell to the wayside a little.

So no, it’s no Love Actually, but it’s far better than the other copycats out there, and even if it’s a little too silly for you, the soundtrack makes it worth your time, too. Who doesn’t love Whole of the Moon by The Waterboys? And if I still haven’t sold it to you, let me tell you this. Bad Janet is in it! Like, almost literally Bad Janet. I watched Let It Snow straight after catching the latest episode of The Good Place and thought I was tripping when she showed up.

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Best Bit: Tobin turns up fairly early in the movie, and I KNEW I knew him from somewhere, so much that I refused to look it up for ages. I was practically shouting at my husband, I can picture him now, he’s singing, he’s really well dressed, why can’t I work out what he was in?! Oh, he’s Ben in Disney’s Descendants. That character I have an embarrassing crush on. Wait, I put this in ‘Best Bit’? Whoops.

Worst Bit: Joan Cusack plays ‘Tin Foil Woman’, a woman driving a truck whilst covered in tin foil, dishing out stellar advice whether it was asked for or not. Husband claimed early on that she wouldn’t be real and we were both a little disappointed that his theory didn’t turn out to be true.

Fun Trivia: The movie “Let It Snow” is an adaptation of the book by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle.

My Rating: 3 and a half waffles – and on that note, is there a waffle house in existence that sells those Waffle Quaffles? Because damn, they looked tasty.

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Instant Family (2018)

instant-family-movie-review-poster-2018Director: Sean Anders

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Runtime: 118 Minutes

Main Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Rose Byrne, Isabela Moner, Gustavo Quiroz, Julianna Gamiz, Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro, Margo Martindale, Julie Hagerty

Plot: Pete and Ellie have a fantastic life and relationship. They’ve spent many of their early years building up their house-renovating business and are very successful at it. However, they’ve reached a point where they want a family, but worry that they’re too old, which leads them to look at becoming foster parents.

My Thoughts: I don’t know what brought me to the cinema the other night to see Instant Family, I got an offer of an early preview at my local cinema but I’d seen the trailer already and wasn’t impressed at all. I guess it was fate in the end because I ended up really enjoying it! The trailer made it look like an unfunny comedy but it’s got a heck of a lot of heart, and it’s funny in that Dramedy way.

The movie brings to light the problems around foster kids, especially the teenagers who just get stuck in the system because parents mainly look for a younger child to foster. Pete and Ellie find a connection with teen Lizzy, not knowing that she was a package deal with her younger siblings Juan and Lita. Chaos ensues from their first night together which is where a lot of the laughs come from, but things take a more serious turn when the kid’s birth Mother returns to the scene.

One of the highlights of Instant Family is the cast. I always enjoy Rose Byrne, Mark Wahlberg is hit and miss but he’s good here. The kids are wonderful and not irritating in the slightest. Then you have some great side characters played by Octavia Spencer and Margo Martindale to name just two. There really is a lot to love here.

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Is the plot predictable in every sense? Yes. Does the movie still skim over the dark side of the fostering system? Absolutely. But it’s funny, it’s sweet, it made me laugh and cry in equal measure and all in all, it was far better than it had any right to be.

Best Bit: I can think of a few, but what made me laugh loudest was Juan being a clutz at the grocery store and then shouting ‘No, please don’t hit me!’ over and over again. The reactions of passers-by were brilliant.

Worst Bit: The night before the court case. Curse my stupid Mum emotions. The stupid movie was making me ugly-cry, the heating was broken in my screen and my tears were falling down my top and making me even colder.

Fun Trivia: The film was inspired by writer/director Sean Anders’ experience adopting through Seneca Family of Agencies’ Kinship Center.

My Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 hairbrushes, which you’ll find in the toilet if you need them…

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Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)

sicario-2-day-of-the-soldado-movie-reviewDirector: Stefano Sollima

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

Main Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Isabela Moner, Jeffrey Donovan, Catherine Keener

Plot: The war on the US – Mexico border continues to escalate as the cartels have now begun trafficking terrorists across the border. Matt Graver teams up once again with Alejandro with a plan to start the cartels warring against each other, involving kidnapping the youngest child of the head of the biggest and most powerful cartel.

My Thoughts: I was late to the game when Sicario (2015) came out, but it was well worth catching up with – it’s one of the darkest movies I’ve seen with so much tension. I was expecting more of the same with the sequel, even though I still don’t feel like it needs one. Thankfully as a sequel, it’s a great movie, but still fell a bit short of the mark for me.

Firstly, I didn’t think I would see a more grim opening to a movie than the original Sicario, and now I have. This one is definitely darker, and grittier than the first, mainly due to the subject matter. It doesn’t hold back at all. There’s also a side story running parallel to the main mission about a young boy being recruited by the cartels that’s desperately sad, because I guess even though it’s a fictional movie, this stuff happens in the real world, too.

The only thing that I can complain about is the scale of it all. For me, it felt like the movie started with a huge, wide-spreading story, and as the time went on it ended up becoming more and more about a very small segment of the wider picture.

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Best Bit: It’s a spoiler so I’ll type it really faintly and you can highlight if you want to read it! I was shocked when Alejandro was killed off but when you realise the bullet went straight through his cheeks…it was so gnarly but a really cool moment!

Worst Bit: That opening scene in the supermarket. The moment it dawned on me what I was about to watch. Each time made me jump out my seat and I genuinely felt sick for a while afterwards.

Fun Trivia: Emily Blunt was originally attached to reprise her role in Sicario as FBI Agent Kate Macer. However, director Stefano Sollima ultimately decided not to use Blunt or her character in the film, noting that Macer represented the moral compass in Sicario, whereas he did not want any character to serve as moral guidance in the sequel.

My Rating: 4 school buses out of 5, driving through the dead of night.

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