Marriage Story (2019)

marriage-story-movie-review-2019-netflixDirector: Noah Baumbach

Genre: Drama, Romance, Comedy

Runtime: 136 Minutes

Main Cast: Adam Driver, Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Ray Liotta, Alan Alda, Julie Hagerty, Merritt Wever, Azhy Robertson, Wallace Shawn, Martha Kelly

Plot: Charlie and Nicole had a seemingly happy marriage, working together for Charlie’s theatre company. But things changed, their feelings changed, and now they’re navigating a difficult divorce and battling over custody of their son.

My Thoughts: It’s Saturday night, the kiddo is fast asleep, the bestie is coming over, takeout has been ordered, what shall we watch? A devastatingly upsetting movie about divorce. Hurrah! Wasn’t that a great idea? I need to watch this again, alone, because I held back my tears when really this movie demands you sob aloud. Lots. We’re reaching the peak of Adam Driver season and if he doesn’t take home an Oscar for this one I will RIOT. How an actor can express that much emotion is beyond me, some scenes were honestly difficult to watch because of it. It felt like I was intruding on something private.

It’s raw emotion throughout. We don’t get to see how Charlie and Nicole got together, see how in love they once were, only hear about it whilst they talk to therapists and lawyers. But you can tell. You can tell the feelings are still there. And whilst it’s powerful throughout, there are 2 key scenes for me that actually made me stop breathing. If ever I need a good cry to let things out, this is where I’ll turn.

But then, Marriage Story is so funny at the same time, in those little moments. I know if ever the worst happened with my own marriage my mum would be just like Nicole’s. She already takes his side in any argument ever. Could you imagine a scene where a husband is handed divorce papers that he isn’t expecting to be hilarious? Because it is in this movie! Not forgetting the knife scene of course, we’ll come to that in a short moment. Honestly, I’m still a little lost for words about it all. I think that’s how you’re meant to feel!

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Best Bit: *SPOILER-Y WARNING* When Charlie started playing with the flick knife early in the movie I knew the shot was too long to be a one-off moment. The scene where he was being monitored and assessed with his son and ended up accidentally slicing his arm open without realising was probably the funniest and most shocking thing I’ve seen all year! And the kitchen roll! Oh boy, I need to see it again…is there a gif yet of Adam Driver being terrible at getting kitchen roll?!

Worst Bit: I mean the worst bits to watch in Marriage Story are actually the best bits performance wise so it’s unfair to mention how the sight of Adam Driver, broken and on his knees completely destroyed me. So DAMN. The way the legal system works in divorce cases is just so unfair, isn’t it?!

Fun Trivia: Adam Driver’s performance of Sondheim’s Being Alive from the musical Company, was recorded live and done in 1 take.
(Hollywood please let Adam Driver star in happier movies. And sing more.)

My Rating: 4 and a half pies used to conceal divorce papers, which apparently makes the whole thing worse.

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Noelle (2019)

noelle-disney-christmas-movie-2019-posterDirector: Marc Lawrence

Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Runtime: 100 Minutes

Main Cast: Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader, Shirley MacLaine, Chelah Horsdal, Andy Nez, Billy Eichner, Julie Hagerty, Maceo Smedley, Kingsley Ben-Adir

Plot: Nick and Noelle’s father has passed away, leaving Nick to take on his role of Santa Claus. Nick struggles with the pressure however, and after Noelle suggests he takes a weekend away to de-stress, Christmas itself is in jeopardy when he fails to return.

My Thoughts: Christmas has well and truly landed in my house, our tree is up, mince pies are readily available, and I’m consuming as many festive movies as I can! There’s no way I was going to skip Noelle. It combines my favourite time of year and one of my favourite actresses. And! It’s a Disney movie! Can I really ask for anything more? It draws a few comparisons with Elf (2003) for its ‘fish out of water’ vibe, and whilst it’s nowhere near as good, there’s still a lot to like.

What is there to like, you ask? How about the cutest outfits December can buy, an adorable baby reindeer called Snowcone, and Bill Hader leading a festive yoga class? If that’s not enough for you then bah, humbug. Billy Eichner is back, you might know him better as the voice behind Timon in the Lion King remake. I wish he was given a little more free rein, though. I was hoping he would have a hissy fit like he did in Parks & Rec but his character was much more restrained.

For me, a Christmas movie needs to do 3 things. It needs to make me laugh, which this did many a time, even if they were groan-laughs at terrible puns. It needs to make me feel festive, which it did, mainly in the form of outfit envy over Anna Kendrick’s elf getup. Finally, it needs to be so darn sweet it makes me cry and goddamnit did Noelle make me cry. The scenes at the children’s shelter made me sob like a baby.

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Best Bit: I couldn’t even list all of the puns but they are relentless and I love it. Also, the candy cane gavel joke never got old. I also kind of want one.

Worst Bit: This was almost my Best Bit instead because the CGI reindeer at the shopping village were SO TERRIBLE it was actually hilarious. The people in the background weren’t even looking at them in some scenes. Totally took me out of the movie but for funny reasons. Like, that CGI would have looked bad 15 years ago. That’s how much it stood out.

Fun Trivia: In the scene at the store where Noelle is in the freezer, you can see a Disney Duffy doll behind her, and just after that, a guest is seen purchasing a Shellie May doll.

My Rating: 3 and a half iPads which seemingly everyone in this movie wanted for Christmas. To be honest Santa, I wouldn’t say no if you’re offering…

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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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