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!

Movie Reviews

Bill & Ted Face the Music (2020)

bill-ted-face-music-2020-review-posterDirector: Dean Parisot

Genre: Comedy, Adventure, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 92 Minutes

Main Cast: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, Kristen Schaal, Samara Weaving, Brigette Lundy-Paine, William Sadler, Anthony Carrigan, Errin Hayes, Jayma Mays

Plot: The year is 2020. Life, as we know it, is about to end, unless Bill & Ted can write and perform the song to unite and fix the universe before the clock runs out. The duo decide the only way to find that song is to travel in time to take it from themselves, whilst their daughters team up to put together the perfect band.

My Thoughts: I’m not well versed in the Bill & Ted universe. I’ve only seen the first movie and that was recently. I loved it, but the trailer for the new movie left me feeling mixed. On one hand, it’s Bill & Ted! How can a Bill & Ted movie not be fun? On the other hand, it felt SO cringe in places. The UK has had to wait a little longer for the release but it’s exciting nonetheless to have new releases to look forward to. The first 20 minutes or so felt slow and a bit dull, mainly because it was all just extended scenes from the trailer I’ve seen 100+ times, but once Bill & Ted started travelling through time, it was a lot of fun.

We sure have had our fair share of time travel movies this summer, haven’t we?! Meeting the different Bill’s and Ted’s in the future is where a lot of the laughs come from. I wish we could have seen a few more variations as most were already in the trailer. I feel like there were plenty of in-jokes for long-standing fans too, just a few scenes or lines that didn’t quite make sense to me but definitely would for others. Samara Weaving (playing Bill’s daughter) is always a fine addition to any movie but I adored Brigette Lundy-Paine as Ted’s daughter. They managed to capture so much of Ted’s mannerisms from the original movie!

Most of the jokes land, others get a little tired after a while. Kristen Schaal was a great addition to the cast, although I’ll never be able to unsee her Bob’s Burgers character whenever I hear her voice! Dennis Caleb McCoy, the murderous robot got a lot of laughs out of me but I did get ever so slightly bored of his character towards the end. All in all, it was better than I was expecting it to be, and it’s definitely the kind of movie we all need at this point in the disastrous year that is 2020!

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Best Bit: There was something so uplifting about the final scene where the prophesied  song is played. Maybe I’m just a bit soppy but for those few minutes everything really did feel right with the world.

Worst Bit: You know I went through a bit of a Keanu Reeves phase last year. I was already mourning his beard when the first set photos were released but none of those compared to the image of British Ted sporting a huge beer belly. Although, I did feel like Bill was channeling his inner Carole Baskin. And of course, my most sarcastic thanks to my husband who pointed out during a John Wick re-watch that Keanu Reeves can’t run. Seriously! You watch him run in any movie he’s in, including this one. His legs just don’t know how!

Fun Trivia: During filming in a neighborhood in Louisiana, the cast and crew were often greeted by local residents. One day, Keanu Reeves noticed a sign on a lawn that read “You’re breathtaking”. He stopped, got out of the car, went to the sign and autographed it. After finding out to whom the sign belonged, he went to the family and posed for a photo with them.

My Rating: 3 and a half time-travelling phone booths that I think we all wished were real right about now.

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Movie Reviews

The Lake House (2006)

the-lake-house-2006-movie-posterDirector: Alejandro Agresti

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Main Cast: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Christopher Plummer, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Willeke Van Ammelrooy, Dylan Walsh, Shohreh Aghdashloo

Plot: Kate leaves a letter at her lake house home before she leaves asking the new owner to forward any mail she gets. Alex, the new owner replies with confusion as the house has been abandoned for years. A romance blossoms between the two as they exchange letters but a problem is apparent, Kate lives in 2006 and Alex lives in 2004.

My Thoughts: Ah yes, I’ve slipped into that stage of actor obsession where I start digging up their old romance movies. In my defence, my local cinema doesn’t seem to showing anything other than 30 screenings a day of The Lion King. Although, I’m behind on the Blind Spot Series and my watch list certainly isn’t getting any smaller so…

Anyway – onto the movie! I’m marking this as spoilers because I’m not sure how much of the plot is general knowledge. It took me far too long to actually let my brain switch off and enjoy this movie for what it is, I was definitely taking it too seriously for too long. You know that meme of Charlie Day with his map and markers looking a bit crazy? That was me for the first 45 minutes at least. I kept pausing and trying to work out how any of it was possible!

If you don’t like the sound of a magical mailbox with the power to deliver letters to and from the future then this isn’t the movie for you. But if you can push that to one side, The Lake House is actually a nice little romantic story. If Sandra Bullock gets to do another romantic movie with one of my favourite actors though I swear…it’s just not fair!

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Best Bit: I’m not normally this sappy but I loved the final scene where Kate and Alex finally meet again. Just too darn cute!

Worst Bit: The Lady who works the counter at that fancy restaurant is the worst. Like, you get all snobby when announcing that you’re fully booked till October because that’s just how good the place is, then get all confused when Keanu Reeves wants to book a table in 2 years time? If Keanu wants a table in 2 years time you GIVE him the table in 2 years time!

Fun Trivia: The actual house did not exist, and was built for the movie, then dismantled. In using Google Earth to see the house, enter 41.7142, -87.8901 in the window on the Fly To tab. This will take you to the center of the lake. Zoom to the clearing on the eastern shore. Then select April 29, 2005 as the date.

My Rating: 3 copies of Persuasion by Jane Austen, and if you happen to leave them behind at a train station, just ask Keanu to fetch them for you!

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