Movie Reviews

Deadly Illusions (2021)

deadly-illusions-2021-netflix-movie-reviewDirector: Anna Elizabeth James

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 114 Minutes

Main Cast: Kristin Davis, Dermot Mulroney, Shanola Hampton, Lora Martinez-Cunningham, Greer Grammer, Grayson Berry, Marie Wagenman

Plot: Mary (Kristin Davis) is an award-winning writer tasked with writing one last novel. Struggling with writer’s block, she hires a young girl named Grace (Greer Grammer) to help look after her children and her home. Grace fits in with the family immediately and the kids adore her, but after a while things at home get a little…strange.

My Thoughts: I should have known. I should have known a movie called Deadly Illusions couldn’t be good. It sounds like the name of a punk or emo band that the weird kids at school are part of. But last week I said I was going to stop judging books by their covers and so I gave Deadly Illusions the benefit of the doubt. It really is as bad as it sounds, I’m not sure where to begin. I guess the saving grace (pun intended) is that it was so fantastically bad that I was invested for the whole ride.

Firstly, nothing at all happens for a good hour, it’s painfully slow. Even when the drama does kick in, it’s far too late to save it. Then there’s the fact that most of the plot doesn’t even make sense. Mary gets visited by her publishers, the company is in trouble and they desperately need her to write a new novel to save them. Okay, that sounds fair. But they’re willing to pay Mary $2m in advance, regardless of how well the book sells. I’m no business woman but if that’s how they conduct their finances then it’s really no surprise that they’re struggling.

Moving on to some spoiler territory (I won’t ruin the twisty ending though) – Mary is quite happy to cheat on her husband with Grace, but is furious when she finds that he’s also cheating with Grace? Double standards, much? It’s all just sloppy, lazy writing and half-hearted acting. I wouldn’t recommend this at all, it’s absurdity kept me interested for it’s almost 2-hour runtime but I clearly don’t have anything better to do!

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Best Bit: I don’t have an academy award on my shelves at home so I’m hardly one to judge, but the acting here is sometimes hilariously bad. I won’t give details but there’s a scene where a character comes across a dead body and screams ‘Oh my God!’ and it actually sounds like an excited scream – it was unintentionally hilarious.

Worst Bit: I can forgive so, so much – but there’s a moment where a dog gets kicked for absolutely no reason and that’s just not okay in my books!

Fun Trivia: Kristin Davis broke her “no nudity clause” in this film. She went the whole series of Sex in The City without disrobe.

My Rating: Half a laptop that you should always use to do a background check on anyone you’re about to hire to look after your kids.

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Movie Reviews

Moxie (2021)

moxie-movie-review-poster-2021-netflixDirector: Amy Poehler

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Runtime: 111 Minutes

Main Cast: Hadley Robinson, Lauren Tsai, Alycia Pascual-Pena, Nico Hiraga, Sabrina Haskett, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Ike Barinholtz, Josephine Langford, Clark Gregg, Amy Poehler

Plot: After a shocking display at her school where new girl Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Pena) stands up to the boys voting and making lists about the girls, Vivian (Hadley Robinson) discovers her mother’s rebellious past and finds the inspiration to start Moxie, a magazine calling for all the girls at school to rise up against the way they’re treated.

My Thoughts: I adore Amy Poehler, ever since I fell in love with her character Lesley in Parks and Recreation. I was so excited to see her directional debut Wine Country (2019) but it was a real let down. That said, I was more than willing to give Moxie (2021) a watch and I’m SO glad I did, it’s brilliant. I wouldn’t call myself a rebel exactly but I do rebel in my own, smaller ways. High School was where I was most rebellious, I think. On the last day of school it’s a tradition (in just the UK or elsewhere too?) to get all your friends to write messages or sign their names on your school shirt. On our last day we were told that it wasn’t allowed, no reason for it, we just weren’t allowed to. Well, I didn’t listen and I encouraged my school mates to do the same, and we did. By lunchtime I was sent to the Head Teacher’s office for being disruptive but by that point so many of us had rebelled their only choice was to let us continue or send our whole year home. We won!

Anyway, I’m digressing massively. The girls at Vivian’s school are subject to judgement every day, and not even just from the boys. One girl is sent home for wearing a tank top by a female teacher. The worst part? Another female student was wearing almost the exact same top, but she wasn’t as developed so it was deemed fine. I guess it’s clear that although we’ve come a long way as females, we still have a lot of work ahead of us! Despite tackling serious issues, Moxie is still a fun and vibrant movie, there’s something for everyone to enjoy here.

If anything, I think the characters were maybe a little too stereotypical, but I’m nitpicking here and trying to find faults, on the whole I had a blast. It was good to see that Vivian wasn’t portrayed as some saviour character either, she messed up and had to face the consequences of that. It also showed how boys can be supportive too – Seth (Nico Hiraga) was such a positive character, just a genuinely nice guy who wants to be helpful but also has the courage to stand up and call someone out on bad behaviour.

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Best Bit: Honestly, I could pick so many moments. The creation of the Moxie magazine, the speeches towards the end of the movie? Great scenes. And maybe it’s silly but when the teacher Mr. Davies commented on the walk out and then opened his hands to show the heart and star symbols? I wanted to do a little cheer!

Worst Bit: Maybe I wasn’t paying proper attention for this scene but why did Vivian and Seth have a date at a funeral parlor?! I swear I put my cup of tea down, looked up at the TV and there they were, cuddling in a coffin. *shudder*

Fun Trivia: The song that the Rockport High School marching band plays at the assembly and at the football games is to the tune of “For Boston”, the traditional fight song of Boston College and Boston College High School. Director and co-star Amy Poehler is a Boston College alumnus, and graduated from the college in 1993.

My Rating: 4 and a half Rockports – they might be the name of the school in this movie but when I was at school they were the brand name of the shoes all the chavs wore!

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Movie Reviews

What I Watched: February 2021

Well, hello March. It’s yet another month of lockdown to go but at least the weather has taken a turn for the better. We get out of the house every weekend for our daily allowed exercise from the government and when you have a 3-year-old that means sometimes layering up for an hour of muddy football, but this weekend has been absolutely glorious.

I have to tell you something only you’ll appreciate, too. You might remember for Christmas my husband got me a Schitt’s Creek jumper, all black with the words ‘Ew, David’ on it. Well, my daughter just loves to match clothing lately and has gone on and on and on about wanting her own ‘Ew David’ jumper. She’s never even watched the show (and why would she?) but with the help of eBay, I managed to make her one. I promise you she loves it, but trying to get her still for a photo is impossible!

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Anyway! I’m here to round up all the movies I watched last month, so let’s get on with it, shall we?

next-2007-nicolas-cage-reviewNext (2007) – Oh my god, this movie was corny as hell but I loved it. Nicolas Cage plays a magician with the ability to see into his own future, but only by a few minutes. The government want to hire him to stop a nuclear attack but he wants nothing to do with it. It’s as silly as it sounds and if it were anyone but Nic Cage I would be slating it, but it was entertaining. I still can’t decide whether I loved or hated that ending!

malcolm-and-marie-movie-reviewMalcolm & Marie (2021) – I’m sorry I never got around to writing more about this one. I put off watching it for a while because on paper it sounded like the equivalent of watching paint dry but I was hooked. It’s basically almost 2 hours of Zendaya and John David Washington arguing but it’s glorious. They’re both in the wrong (but he’s so much worse) and Zendaya gives one of the best performances I’ve ever seen. This movie hasn’t gotten anywhere near enough awards attention as it deserves!

Red Dot (2021)Full Review

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar (2021)Full Review

Willy’s Wonderland (2021)Full Review

to-all-the-boys-always-forever-reviewTo All the Boys: Always and Forever (2021) – I very nearly didn’t watch this. I haven’t read the books but I hopped on the band wagon when everyone raved about the first movie and I loved it. The second one, not so much. It was boring and I think I spent the whole time on my phone. But, you know, worldwide pandemic, nothing to do, I gave the third movie a go. It really captured the magic that made the first one so fun. I’m glad they didn’t make Peter be a jerk about LJ’ following her dreams. I’m fully on board for the fourth movie now!

black-bear-aubrey-plaza-reviewBlack Bear (2020) – I don’t even know how to write a review for this one. Just know that I loved it with every bit of my being. I adore Aubrey Plaza and damn, she needs to be given more roles like this. I can’t wrap my head around what actually happened in this movie but I want to watch it again and again.

supernova-movie-reviewSupernova (2020) – Weirdly I ended up watching this in the same week as watching Still Alice (20214) for the Hidden Gems challenge, and sadly it marred my enjoyment of it slightly. Supernova is a beautiful and heart-wrenching story of dementia but it didn’t go into the depth that Still Alice did. It’s unfair to compare them of course because they tackle the subject in different ways, but Supernova was a much quieter movie than I was expecting. Fantastic performances though, especially by Stanley Tucci.

I Care a Lot (2021) Full Review

monster-hunter-movie-reviewMonster Hunter (2020) – I knew this would be garbage but my husband is a fan of the games and so he wanted to see it. It’s got some impressive CGI  and some cool action scenes but that’s about it. There’s a fun, feline nod to the games that my husband had a little nerd moment over but that was the highlight really. The product placements for Coca Cola and Hershey’s were unintentionally hilarious, I’ll give them that.

juliet-naked-movie-reviewJuliet, Naked (2018) – This has been on my watchlist forever and I don’t even remember who recommended it to me. It was probably after I raved about how much I love Chris O’Dowd, though. This was a surprisingly good rom com actually, with a bit of a love triangle thrown in there.

news-of-the-world-movie-reviewNews of the World (2020) – I’ve been putting this movie off because I’m not a fan of westerns. Many other reviewers said that the western element wasn’t really the main genre though so that and the fact that Tom Hanks is the lead is what made me give in, in the end. I mean, when does Tom Hanks ever give a bad performance? I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie, it was too slow for me, but not surprisingly, Hanks was brilliant and that final scene really tugged on the old heartstrings.

mothers-day-jason-sudeikis-reviewMother’s Day (2016) – Look, sometimes you just need to kick back on the sofa after a long day of parenting in a pandemic and watch a bit of trash with Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston in, you know? Don’t judge me! The only bad thing to come of Love Actually’s release was the copy cat movies that came afterwards. You know the ones, movies with about 20 characters in who are all somehow connected. It was nice at least to see Jennifer Aniston play an awkward character for a chance, and Jason Sudeikis…raps. So there’s that?

I also watched Clouds of Sils Maria (2014), Equals (2014), and Still Alice (2014) as part of Mettel Ray’s Hidden Gems Challenge. Last month my pick was Kristen Stewart if you hadn’t already guessed!

Movie Reviews

Red Dot (2021)

red-dot-movie-review-poster-2021Director: Alain Darborg

Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 86 Minutes

Main Cast: Nanna Blondell, Johannes Kuhnke, Anastasios Soulis, Kalled Mustonen, Thomas Hanzon, Anna Azc√°rate

Plot: David and Nadja’s relationship is under a lot of strain, not helped by the fact that Nadja has just discovered she’s pregnant. As a surprise, David plans a few days break away in the mountains but during their first night they find themselves fighting for their lives from an unknown shooter.

My Thoughts: Thank goodness for Netflix, because the way things are going in the UK right now, we won’t be in cinemas until the end of the year. UGH. We’re also having the coldest week in almost 30 years and it’s really putting me in a bad mood now. There’s nothing like watching a fictional couple try to escape death to cheer you up, right? This little Swedish movie was a good watch to be completely honest, not without it’s issues but certainly decent.

My biggest issue is with a trope that always bugs me. It starts with it’s ending, then goes back to the beginning of the story. So first we see David, heavily injured in the snow, with Nadja hobbling away from him, also injured. There is, of course, more to the ending than that but it definitely takes away a lot of the tension for the rest of the movie. For example, there’s a scene where David falls through an ice covered lake and Nadja can’t find him. That would normally have me on the edge of my seat but when I know for a fact that he’s going to be okay? It’s not as thrilling.

The strongest part of the movie is in the two biggest questions. Who is trying to murder this couple? And why? We’re given a few suspects and motives but they seem to be quite weak, so it’s interesting watching that develop. The final reveal was definitely a huge surprise to me, and it really changed how I felt towards the characters. For better or worse, I’m not sure. Either way, Red Dot isn’t a fantastic movie but it’s good enough for me.

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Best Bit: That first night, when the red dot appeared – that was a really tense moment. It’s a shame that it was quite short lived, considering the title of the movie I thought it would play a bigger part. But for that moment at least, I really felt the fear that the couple did.

Worst Bit: *MILD SPOILERS* The second I realised they were taking the dog with them on that trip, I knew what his fate was going to be. I hate that movies like this rely on killing off the family dog for thrills. This one was particularly brutal and hard to watch, too.

Fun Trivia: Nothing to find I’m afraid, so have this fun fact about the Northern Lights instead. The International Space Station sits at the same altitude as the Northern Lights meaning astronauts can see the lights from the side.

My Rating: 3 drones equipped with filming devices. If you happen to catch anything interesting on them then you know, maybe hand the footage TO THE POLICE.

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Movie Reviews

The Prom (2020)

the-prom-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Ryan Murphy

Genre: Musical, Comedy, Drama

Runtime: 130 Minutes

Main Cast: Meryl Streep, James Corden, Nicole Kidman, Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key, Andrew Rannells, Jo Ellen Pellman, Ariana DeBose, Mary Kay Place, Tracey Ullman

Plot: 4 self-obsessed Broadway stars travel to a small conservative town in Indiana to help out a young girl whose school has cancelled their prom because she wants to take her girlfriend. By getting the prom back on, the stars hope that the publicity will boost their careers.

My Thoughts: Can I first acknowledge the crime that is the fact I had to watch this at home on Netflix with the background noise of my husband playing the PS5 instead of being at the cinema, dancing in my seat? Can you imagine if The Greatest Showman was released this year? Anyway – The Prom might not be my favourite musical ever but there was still so much I loved about it. Firstly, can I get a ‘hell yeah’ for Jo Ellen Pellman, starring in her first feature movie, acting alongside Hollywood legends such as Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman and doing a damn fine job of it? Get it, girl!

You know me, I’m not a theatre person (I’ve seen 1 show in a theatre my whole life) so I had no idea this movie was based on a show, so I can’t comment on how it holds up as an adaptation. I was slightly put off by it’s runtime but honestly, the time whizzed by, I enjoyed every second. I maybe didn’t care so much for the Broadways stars because of their motives, but the rest of the characters? I was there for them. Keegan-Michael Key really surprised me. He elevates every movie he’s in but in this one he showed a side to him I’ve never seen before. His musical number ‘We Look To You’ hit me particularly hard, especially in a year like this.

Forgive me for comparing but when I think about the lesbian couple in The Prom, I can’t help but think about the lesbian couple in Happiest Season (2020). If you read my review you’ll know I loved it, but struggled to get behind the couple. That wasn’t the problem here – I was behind these girls all the way.

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Best Bit: Although I really enjoyed the songs, they weren’t ones that stuck in my memory very well, although I’ll certainly be playing them in my car this week. One song in particular made me laugh and if I’d been in a cinema I might have been clapping along too. It was Andrew Rannells performing ‘Love Thy Neighbor’. It’s not a cheesy musical without a flashy number to rally an entire town!

Worst Bit: You might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned James Corden yet. I can’t quite put my finger on why but he just irritates me as a person. I think he’s got that aura of arrogance, and he often winds me up. I have to say, I didn’t mind him in this, but he was woefully miscast. I don’t have a problem at all with a straight man playing a gay man but was Titus Burgess every in the running for the role? He would have been PERFECT.

Fun Trivia: Nicole Kidman portrays Angie Dickinson, a life long chorus girl who just quit her job of 20 years in the musical Chicago after the producers never let her go on for the role of Roxie Hart. In real life, Kidman turned down the part of Roxie Hart in Chicago (2002).

My Rating: 4 out of 5 glitzy dresses…give it some zazz!

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