Free Guy (2021)

free-guy-movie-review-poster-2021Director: Shawn Levy

Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi

Runtime: 115 Minutes

Main Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Lil Rel Howery, Joe Keery, Taika Waititi, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Owen Burke, Channing Tatum, Matty Cardarople

Plot: Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is a bank teller in Free City, living each day just like the last, until he meets Millie, aka Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer) who helps him discover he’s actually an NPC in a video game.

My Thoughts: I can’t even tell you how much I’ve been looking forward to this movie. Ryan Reynolds is my favourite comedic actor, and I’ve been a gamer since I was little so this movie was made for me. To get to see it 2 days early as part of my local cinema’s secret movie night was just the icing on the cake. It was so worth the wait!  I was expecting a half-decent comedy with lots of references, similar to Ready Player one (2018) and it was so much more than that. It somehow had quite an original storyline, and a decent romcom side plot too which I wasn’t expecting.

Yes, the references are great. World of Warcraft players will have a few big ones to laugh about. Just look up the cast on IMDB to find loads of huge voice cameos, too. There’s so much detail to Free Guy that I think you could watch it 5 times and still find new things to marvel over. I’m familiar with Jodie Comer (but she reminds me so much of someone and I can’t put my finger on who) but I loved her here. It’s a lot of fun seeing a character in real life and then comparing them to their game character in Free City. Honestly, fun is just the perfect word to describe everything about it.

I don’t want to discuss the bigger jokes in detail because there’s some really shocking cameos and surprises that are better to be witnessed without knowing about them. This is the kind of movie that demands to be seen in a cinema. The buzz, the crowd of people laughing out loud at even the smaller jokes, it was just such a great experience. I don’t know what’s around the corner but for now, cinema is back and I’m here for it.

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Best Bit: *SPOILERS* Ask anyone their favourite moment and I guarantee most will have the same answer. Guy lifting up Captain America’s shield just at the critical moment, with the Avengers music blaring, followed by Chris Evans watching from his phone – BRILLIANT. The whole room absolutely lost it, in fact I haven’t seen a crowd lose it like that since that famous Captain America moment in Endgame! And then Dude. Just…Dude. What a character.

Worst Bit: The gamer in me can’t help but pick apart some of the logic here, I’m sorry. It was the only thing stopping me from giving it a full 5 out of 5. I know it’s for storytelling purposes that Guy couldn’t be stopped, but if that’s the case why show us that the staff have their own characters and can activate God Mode if they aren’t ever going to use it again?

Fun Trivia: Shortly after Guy dons the sunglasses, over his shoulder you can see a power-up on the floor entitled “Blatant Product Placement”, which appears in the shape of a gin bottle. This is likely a reference to Aviation American Gin, of which Ryan Reynolds (who plays Guy) had a stake in and maintains an ongoing ownership interest.

My Rating: 4 and a half cups of medium coffee, with cream and two sugars.

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Jojo Rabbit (2019)

jojo-rabbit-movie-review-2019-posterDirector: Taika Waititi

Genre: War, Drama, Comedy

Runtime: 108 Minutes

Main Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Taika Waititi, Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant,

Plot: Jojo is a 10-year-old boy who dreams of becoming a Nazi, aided by his imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler. When he discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house, his world is turned upside down.

My Thoughts: What are you watching at the cinema tonight Allie? A movie I’ve been waiting months for about a little Nazi boy and his imaginary friend, Hitler! Yeah, there’s no way to explain the plot of Jojo Rabbit without it sounding batshit crazy, but then again, it IS batshit crazy in all the best ways! Only Taika Waititi can pull off a movie like this and make it so darn good. The absurd plot has definitely drawn in a wide crowd, I only wish Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) did the same.

I came for laughs and I was not disappointed. We only got brief glimpses of imaginary Hitler which works perfectly because too much would have been obnoxious. It’s one of those movies that needs to be seen at least twice because I’m sure there are some cracking jokes I missed the first time around. Scarlet Johansson was surprisingly not annoying and the bit where she calls her own kid ‘Shitler’ made me laugh a lot. Not quite as much as a canine-related joke, though.

You know what I didn’t come to the cinema for? For my heart to be ripped out of my chest and stamped on. No spoilers but there’s a moment halfway through that the tone turns drastically, and I didn’t even notice it happen for too long. Sam Rockwell was an absolute gem too, his character arc was superb. Like Waititi’s other movies, this might be too wild for the casual movie fan but it’s without a doubt one of my favourites of the year.

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Also – I really need to show some love for little Roman Griffin Davis. The kid is 11 years old, and this is his first-ever professional acting gig. Like, that’s mental, is it not?! He was SO GOOD.

Best Bit: How could I actually pick one moment? Sam Rockwell’s incredible costume? Jojo accidentally blowing himself up? The book Jojo makes, an expose about Jews? How about Stephen Merchant somehow being creepier than his character in Good Boys (2019) in front of a child? I could pick 10 at least!

Worst Bit: I love Rebel Wilson, don’t get me wrong. But she felt ever so slightly out of place here and her accent was terribly bad. I did love her gang of clones, though!

Fun Trivia: Taika Waititi said that in the scene when the Gestapo come to Jojo’s house “Heil Hitler” is said 31 times in one minute. He wanted a funny moment and also wanted to illustrate how ridiculous and unnecessary Nazi protocols were.

My Rating: 4 and a half German Shepherds…not German Shepherds…!

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Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

hunt-for-the-wilderpeople-2016-poster-review(I’m on vacation right now celebrating my 30th Birthday! To fill the void whilst I’m away I’m posting some old movie reviews that I wrote for the blog I had before I started Often Off Topic. I’ll be back in early September.)

I’ll give any movie a try, within reason. I don’t listen to critic reviews, but I place a lot of faith in bloggers’ opinions. Bloggers review movies for fun in their spare time, you know you’re going to get nothing but their own opinions from their reviews. Hunt for the Wilderpeople only came into my radar a few weeks ago, and every blog review I read had nothing but praise for it. That was enough to convince me to add it to my watch list, but once I realised that it’s directed by Taika Waititi, the genius behind What We Do in the Shadows, I made it my mission to watch it as soon as possible.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is based off a book by Barry Crump called Wild Pork and Watercress. It has that book-adaptation feel to it (don’t ask me to explain that feeling – I can’t) anyway, and it’s broken up into Chapters which sum up the ongoings well. In fact, I’d really love to give the book a go, I hope it’s as funny as the movie.

Ricky (Julian Dennison) is a troubled young boy, moving around different foster homes. He’s dropped out at the farm belonging to Bella (Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (Sam Neill) as the last chance. If he screws this up, he’s going to end up in Juvy. Ricky struggles to settle in his new home, despite the love and attention given to him by Bella, and so he runs away into the bush. Hec goes out to find him, and the result is a national manhunt for the pair as it appears that Hec has kidnapped Ricky.

It’s a funny coincidence that I watched this in the same week as Swiss Army Man, because they both have a lot of similarities!

Waititi’s style is clear in this movie. It’s got that same sense of humour as What We Do in the Shadows, and it’s quirky from start to finish. Julian Dennison absolutely shines as the child star of the movie, and his delivery of the witty lines is perfect. He’s just like a lot of other 13-year-olds, thinking he’s a gangster because he’s shoplifted a chocolate bar, played GTA and listens to rap music. Yet he’s such a likable character!

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Every time I watch a movie set in New Zealand, I’m taken back by the beauty of the country. I’m sure a lot of work went into the cinematography, but honestly, the setting does half the work itself, it’s gorgeous to look at.

The movie walks that line of Comedy and Drama perfectly without throwing the tone all over the place. It has some horrendously sad moments that had me sobbing quite openly, although I won’t discuss why because of spoilers, but it’s also one of the funniest movies I’ve seen all year. The dialogue is brilliant, thanks in part to the chemistry Julian Dennison and Sam Neill share.

I’ve been trying to balance this review out with a few negatives to warrant the 9/10 score I wanted to give it, but I’m really struggling. Originally I thought the roles of the Child Protection Officer and her Policeman companion were too campy, but actually, they fit the overall feel of the movie perfectly, especially when I try to compare it to What We Do in the Shadows. I very rarely give perfect marks to any movie, I think there’s always room for improvement, but I can’t find it here!