Movie Reviews

Onward (2020)

onward-movie-review-poster-2020Director: Dan Scanlon

Genre: Family, Adventure, Fantasy, Animation

Runtime: 102 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer, Mel Rodriguez, Kyle Bornheimer, Lena Waithe, Ali Wong

Plot: Years ago, the world was a magical place. But magic is a hard skill to master, and so as time went on, the mythical creatures in this world found newer and easier ways to get by. When Ian Lightfoot turns 16, his mother presents him and his older brother Barley with a gift from their father who passed away before Ian was born, a staff and a spell with the power to bring their father back from the dead for one day.

My Thoughts: After so many years, Disney Pixar don’t need to furnish me with any marketing. Just give me a date for when their next movie comes out and I’ll be there. That said, does anyone else feel the marketing for Onward has been a little…light? Not only that, in the trailers I saw over the past few months, I can’t help but feel like Onward could easily be mistaken for a Dreamworks movie. It has that kind of vibe to it, you know?

And if I’m brutally honest, I wasn’t blown away by the movie for a while. I was absorbed in the world-building, and I loved Ian and Barley as characters, but it felt like a very straightfoward, colour by numbers kind of story for a while. However. There was a moment around halfway through, when Ian and Barley are dancing with their father, that it all finally clicked, and the Disney Pixar magic kicked in, and every moment after that was just so good!

No spoilers of course but the ending really took me by surprise. I mean, you can see where the story is leading and you know what the climax will involve, but it didn’t go the way I thought at all which is always welcome. Oh boy did I cry though. It was up there with “Take her to the moon for me” on my Disney Pixar crying scale.

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Best Bit: The spells that Ian learns throughout the story are so much fun and took me back to my Harry Potter days. Aloft Elevar is the new Wingardium Leviosa, people. However! My absolute favourite bit was the creature that I will not reveal for spoilers and…let’s say…the finishing touch the curse brings it. I laughed quite loudly at that.

Worst Bit: I’m not fully sold on the mum’s boyfriend as a character. For a movie centring its themes on family, death and grief and everything that follows, I would have expected there to be more about the brother’s feelings towards Colt, other than simply mocking him.

Fun Trivia: Pixar’s iconic Pizza Planet truck appears in the troll bridge toll scene.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 cans of Mountain Dew DOOM. I wish they were real!

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Movie Reviews

Dolittle (2020)

dolittle-movie-review-2020-posterDirector: Stephen Gaghan

Genre: Comedy, Family, Adventure

Runtime: 101 Minutes

Main Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Antonio Banderas, Michael Sheen, Jim Broadbent, Jessie Buckley, Emma Thompson, Rami Malek, John Cena, Kumail Nanjiani, Octavia Spencer, Tom Holland, Craig Robinson, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Mantzoukas

Plot: John Dolittle, famed doctor and veterinarian with a talent of speaking to animals, turned to a life of seclusion after losing his wife. His peace is disturbed one day when a young boy turns up at his door with an injured squirrel, as well as a young girl summoning him to save the Queen who is on her deathbed.

My Thoughts: Doctor Dolittle (1998) is one of my childhood favourites, so I was always going to be interested to see this remake/reimagining. By the sounds of it, this newer version stays much truer to the original source book. And look at that cast list! I usually chop down the list to just the main, big names, but that’s impossible in this case. How on earth all these names signed up for this movie is beyond me. Some of them are instantly recognisable, like Jason Mantzoukas, very much playing himself…if he were a dragonfly.

Let me get to the point – you’ve probably read a lot of negativity surrounding this movie, and I’m not going to try and change anyone’s mind. I still can’t work out where in the UK Robert Downey Jr.’s accent was meant to be from, but he seemed to struggle with it so much he never expressed a single emotion throughout the whole movie. It feels very much like he’s turning up just to collect his paycheck. It’s all very silly and predictable.

BUT. This movie wasn’t made with most of us in mind. It’s a movie for children. And I’m sure children will love watching a dog in glasses dragging its butt across the floor, a gorilla kick a tiger in his private parts, a grown man pulling objects out of a dragon’s ass, and a polar bear complaining about being cold all the time. There are a few adult jokes scattered throughout to keep the parents chuckling, and I’m sure it’ll be a hit this half-term in the UK.

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Best Bit: In the credits, they show a shot of each of the animals along with the name of who voiced them, and my friend Steph and I turned to each other at the same time when Chee-Chee the gorilla came up and went “THAT WAS RAMI MALEK?” It’s almost enough to need to see it again.

Worst Bit: I’ve already mentioned it but seriously, what accent was that? I’d decided it must have been Scottish, and then I read someone else’s’ review where they said it was Welsh! I should know, shouldn’t I? And yet I’m clueless.

Fun Trivia: Nicolas Cage turned down the role of King Rassouli.

My Rating: 2 out of 5 bagpipes which were retrieved from…well, I think you can guess where.

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Movie Reviews

Ma (2019)

ma-2019-movie-poster-reviewDirector: Tate Taylor

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Runtime: 99 Minutes

Main Cast: Octavia Spencer, Diana Silvers, Juliette Lewis, McKaley Miller, Allison Janney, Corey Fogelmanis, Tanyell Waivers, Dante Brown, Gianni Paolo, Luke Evans

Plot: Maggie and her Mum have just moved into town, Maggie has to settle into a new school and her Mum has to find herself a new job. To fit in with her new friends, Maggie asks a lady, Sue Ann, to buy her and her friends some booze from the local shop. Sue Ann accepts begrudgingly and invites them to hang out in her basement so they aren’t drinking on the streets, but Sue Ann has one rule – don’t go upstairs.

My Thoughts: I feel like I say this too often, but Ma is one of those movies where the trailer gives away the whole story. I won’t talk spoilers here but if you want to go and see the movie – go in blind! It’ll be a much more fun experience, I promise you. In fact, the only thing the trailer doesn’t give away is why the kids aren’t allowed to go upstairs, and honestly, it’s not that much of a shock.

Regardless, Ma is a really fun little horror/thriller movie. Yes, it’s full of characters making terrible decisions – sometimes quite comically, and as I say, if you’ve seen the trailer there are no real surprises, but it’s worth it for Octavia Spencer. She’s such an incredible actress, and I’ve never seen her in a role like this before. The way she can go from a sweet old lady to a menacing psychopath in an instant is just brilliant.

I think what I liked most about the movie was the motivation behind what Sue Ann was doing. I can’t condone her bat-s**t craziness but when you find out what’s upset her so much, you can’t help but feel sorry for her. Oh, and if Allison Janney was my boss? You would NOT find me standing around messing about on my phone. She is so scary! Not the most attentive person in the world though, considering how much stock went missing. I don’t care if the bottles got put back, they’ve still been used!

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Best Bit: My thoughts when Luke Evans turned up at the vets and started chatting to Sue Ann went from calm to OMG back and forth so many times. There I was, thinking he was the one at school who actually cared, then I panicked and thought he was going to stand Sue Ann up at the bar, then he turned up and everything was lovely, and then…oh boy, don’t upset Luke Evans…

Worst Bit: So Sue Ann ran over that nasty lady whose name escapes me. Actually, I think mowed down is a better term. Did anyone like, find her body? She literally got murdered in the middle of the road during the day and apart from it being mentioned once in passing by Sue Ann, no one seemed to know/care?!

Fun Trivia: The sequence involving Sue Ann noticing the porcelain cat statues had been moved, is a homage to a similar sequence in the 1990 film “Misery.”

My Rating: 3 and a half bottles of vodka that I got someone else to buy for me. Anyone giving out lifts to Ma’s tonight?

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Movie Reviews

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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Movie Reviews

Oscars Special: Lion (2017), Hacksaw Ridge (2017) & Hidden Figures (2017)

I’ve done it, guys. More than 2 weeks to go until Oscars night and I’ve seen all of the Best Picture nominees. Mostly thanks to advanced screenings at my local cinemas considering the fact some of these movies aren’t on a wide release yet. Help us out, Academy! The UK loves movies too. This is a super positive Oscars Special post today, because I absolutely adored all three of these movies.

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I’m still thinking that La La Land will take the win, but after watching each of these movies I’ve changed my mind on what my personal favourite is. My other Oscars Special featured Moonlight, Loving and Hell or High Water. I’m yet to write down my thoughts on Manchester by the Sea, because I still don’t know how I actually feel about it.

Also – this Sunday is the BAFTAs! The only award show I get to watch at a decent time of day. I’ll pop together a predictions/wishes post for that later this week, and I suppose I should watch I, Daniel Blake, after all the love it’s been given. Has anyone even watched it?

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I wanted my last Best Picture movie to be something I was really looking forward to seeing so that it didn’t feel like a chore, but part of me wishes I’d seen Lion first now. It’s the story of a young boy named Saroo (Sunny Pawar) who gets separated from his brother and ends up on a train to Calcutta, thousands of miles away from his home. Saroo faces many devastating hardships before he is adopted by a loving Australian couple, and when he grows up, he uses his memories of home and Google Earth to find his family again.

Firstly, little Sunny Pawar is absolutely incredible, and could have handled this entire movie if needed. Equally, this was the best I’ve seen Dev Patel. The story of Saroo is heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure, and the only negatives I can give are some pacing issues around the mid-way point, and the fact I didn’t like Rooney Mara’s character at all. It’s sometimes hard to imagine this is a true story, and when I finally learnt why the movie is called Lion, I ugly-cried everywhere.

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One of the few Oscar movies I could convince my husband to see with me, and maybe the only one I wasn’t looking forward to much. Only because I just don’t do war movies. I can tolerate one for Andrew Garfield though, especially in our local cinema’s special screen with enhanced sound. Hacksaw Ridge is the story of WWII Army Medic Desmond Doss, played by Andrew Garfield, who serves during the Battle of Okinawa without brandishing a weapon.

This is the movie to change my mind about the genre. It was amazing. Gripping from start to finish despite it’s lengthy run-time, and scared the absolute crap out of me in several parts. If you want to know why I don’t watch horror, it’s because I lost my sh*t during the nightmare sequence and the green flare. Our row was laughing at me. Speaking of laughter, how nice was it to see Vince Vaughn giving his funniest performance since the early 00’s? He killed that role!

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It took far too long for me to see a trailer for Hidden Figures. I’d read reviews from other bloggers and that was enough to get me excited, but I didn’t realise it would be such an entertaining movie! Hidden Figures is another true story, this time about three incredibly talented African-American female mathematicians working for NASA during the race to put a man in space, and their struggles with racism. Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle MonĂ¡e play the lead roles, and they are fantastic.

As I said, on the back of a serious and shocking story of racism in the workplace, Hidden Figures is a highly entertaining movie. From the opening scene, these three ladies are so likeable, you just want them succeed, no matter what. Watching the rest of the workforce’s attitudes change is a delight. Although the plot is entirely predictable, it’s forgiven for being so darn fun.