Movie Reviews

Happily (2021)

happily-movie-review-poster-2021Director: BenDavid Grabinski

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Thriller

Runtime: 96 Minutes

Main Cast: Kerry Bishé, Joel McHale, Al Madrigal, Natalie Zea, Paul Scheer, Stephen Root, Natalie Morales, Jon Daly, Charlyne Yi

Plot: Janet (Kerry Bishé) and Tom (Joel McHale) have been married for 14 years now and they’re still firmly in the honeymoon phase. They rarely argue, and when they do they make up immediately. When out with friends they can’t keep their hands off each other and their friends have now had enough. They’ve uninvited Janet and Tom from an upcoming weekend away but that’s the least of their troubles when a strange man turns up on their doorstep.

My Thoughts: I usually sit on a movie for a couple of days before I try and write my thoughts down but sometimes a movie comes along that evokes such a strong emotion from me that it’s a bit of a now or never situation. I didn’t know what to expect from Happily, it sounded quite fun and I recognised a few of the actors so it seemed like the perfect way to wind down after a fraught weekend. It quickly turned into something really funny and interesting and within the same strange vibe that Game Night (2018) has. Basically, Janet and Tom are told that they both have a defect which is why their relationship is so perfect – and after a shocking murder the movie turns into a mystery to solve.

That’s the best part of this movie, the big question. Is this defect real – or is it a cruel prank gone wrong? Janet and Tom are re-invited to the weekend away but they have to question why? Each of the other couples seems to have their own issues and possible motive and it’s wrapped up in this deliciously dark humour. It was all going so well until the movie rolled into its conclusion. I don’t mind an unexplained ending, I can even forgive an ending that leaves more questions than it answers, but the ending to Happily felt really anti-climatic.

Of course I won’t explain why because that would enter spoiler territory, but also because it’s an ending best watched knowing as little as possible. Some people will love it, I read a few other reviews on Letterboxd and that’s clear, but it felt like a huge letdown to me. I was waiting for one final twist that would lift up the shock factor but it never happened. In the end, it’s going to be a memorable movie for me and I would always prefer that to it being completely forgettable.

happily-movie-twilight-zone-joel-mchale-2021

Best Bit: Let’s get the obvious out of the way first – who gave Joel McHale permission to have a body that fit?! Moving on! I just loved the humour in this. There’s a joke leading up to a suspenseful moment where you think you’re about to see a dead body in the back of a car but it turns out to be about 10 boxes of pizza instead and I really fell for it.

Worst Bit: I won’t say why but during the reveal at the end I just felt so damn sorry for Charlyne Yi’s character Gretel. The confession came out of nowhere and it didn’t fit in with the tone of what else was happening at all. Even when she got her moment to shine afterwards it still felt off.

Fun Trivia: Happily was scheduled to have its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 18, 2020. However, the festival was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

My Rating: 3 omelettes that Joel McHale definitely should have made himself!

happily-movie-review-2021-make-your-own-omelette

Movie Reviews

The Little Things (2021)

the-little-things-movie-review-poster-2021Director: John Lee Hancock

Genre: Crime, Thriller

Runtime: 128 Minutes

Main Cast: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek, Jared Leto, Chris Bauer, Michael Hyatt, Terry Kinney, Natalie Morales, Isabel Arraiza, Joris Jarsky

Plot: Deke (Denzel Washington), a deputy sheriff finds himself back in LA where he used to be a detective. There he teams up with the uptight Baxter (Rami Malek) in order to solve a case that Deke feels is connected to the case that led to his downfall years ago.

My Thoughts: Well, well, well. I didn’t expect this movie to be blowing up all over Twitter a week after watching it. Never in a million years would I have labelled The Little Things as an awards movie. Don’t get me wrong -I really enjoyed it, but award worthy? Nope. The movie is essentially a gripping serial killer case and that’s it’s strongest element. The cast is great, the trio of Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto works really well but I didn’t care for their characters. They felt two-dimensional and so I just wasn’t that invested in them. I love a good mystery though so I was hooked for the case.

It takes a while to pick up the pace and to see how the cases are linked, and even longer until we’re introduced to Jared Leto’s character, Sparma, but that’s when the shit really hits the fan. We’re convinced Sparma is guilty, of what we aren’t sure, but he’s slimy and so easy to dislike. It’s been a while since I hated a fictional character so strongly. Which, I guess is why Leto’s been nominated for both a Golden Globe and a SAG. I don’t get it. I’m prejudiced I know because I think Leto is a creep in general so that role didn’t take much acting.

I realise I’m sounding like a Debbie Downer so let me reiterate, I really liked this movie! I think in a previous life I was a detective, I got so absorbed into the case and the little clues and what they might all mean. The ending to The Little Things will probably put a lot of people off but I loved it. Plus, Jared Leto’s nominations will mean that this movie gets a bigger audience which is always a bonus!

the-little-things-rami-malek-jared-leto

Best Bit: There were two stand out moments for me. The first was when Deke was questioning Sparma at the station and he lost his cool – I felt a little bit scared myself! The ending though, ugh I’m a sucker. I won’t spoil it but my reaction was kind of like this “Oh man…okay then…what’s he…OH. WHAT!”

Worst Bit: Sparma’s smug reactions whilst flicking through those photos…I have never wanted to punch my TV so badly!

Fun Trivia: Writer/Director John Lee Hancock originally wrote the screenplay for the film almost 30 years ago (1993) after completing his work on the Clint Eastwood picture A Perfect World.

My Rating: 3 and a half red barrettes which I’m still screaming about.

the-little-things-red-barrette-2021

Movie Reviews

Review: Battle of the Sexes (2017)

battle-of-the-sexes-movie-review-2017If there’s anyone who can get me interested enough to sit through a biographical drama of tennis, it’s Emma Stone and Steve Carell. When I heard last year they were going to be starring in a movie together, I think I got my hopes up for another Crazy, Stupid, Love. If you can’t tell, I’m not the biggest fan of biographic movies (although I’m beginning to turn, to be honest) and sports has never been my thing.

Battle of the Sexes (2017) tells the true story of the 1973 tennis match between Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) and Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) in the sports world’s biggest struggle for women and equality. Fed up of women champions being offered as little as an eighth of the prize money that men are offered, Billie Jean starts her own tennis championship for women.

Meanwhile, self-proclaimed chauvinist Bobby Riggs, in the midst of his struggles with a gambling addiction and a failing marriage, offers to play a match against the women of the tennis world with a huge prize fund, in the ultimate battle of the sexes. It’s an offer that Billie Jean ultimately can’t refuse, but she must also deal with her own personal struggles in her life.

battle-of-the-sexes-emma-stone-steve-carell

What I love the most about this movie is how engaging the story is. I was expecting something heavily political, something with a lot of tennis lingo that would go over my head, something that would end up boring the pants off me essentially. But I was engrossed from the very start; I guess my lack of knowledge about the great Billie Jean was also to thank.

You see whilst on tour, Billie Jean ends up falling in love with a hairdresser called Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough). The two have an exciting affair, but get caught by Billie Jean’s husband, Larry (Austin Stowell). Larry is one of the kindest characters I’ve ever seen on screen. He finds out about his wife’s affair but instead of confronting her, he does all he can to support her through the build up to the big match, even offering to call Marilyn to help whilst Billie Jean was ill. My heart genuinely hurt for the guy.

battle-of-the-sexes-emma-stone-andrea-riseborough

And then of course we have Bobby Riggs who provides a lot of the laughs during the movie. His sexist comments are so shocking at times and yet he remains an extremely likeable guy, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. His act stayed strong right up until the final match (I won’t tell you the outcome just in case you’re like me and had no idea how it would go) but the way his story ended was perfectly fitting.

Just before the credits roll the movie gives us a summary of what happened after the game which really moved me, and then we got shown photos of the real Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King, and I just can’t believe how similar they are!

If you can’t tell, I have so much love for this movie. I honestly can’t find anything negative to say about it, so that’s why Battle of the Sexes gets 5 out of 5 tennis balls from me.

battle-of-the-sexes-emma-stone-andrea-riseborough