Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON (2019): The Thing I Liked…

Brittany Runs A Marathon (2019), Jillian Bell
Brittany Runs A Marathon (2019), Jillian Bell

In comedy / drama Brittany Runs A Marathon, Brittany (Jillian Bell) is a New Yorker who doesn’t have her life together; a reality she’s forced to face after her rejected request for an Adderall subscription leads to the wake up call she’d been needing.

Also starring Michaela Watkins, Lil Rel Howery and Alice Lee; director Paul Downs Colaizzo’s film is well acted and does a good, believable job of capturing the ups and downs of one woman’s personal journey of transformation. A transformation that was necessary in order for her to finally take charge of her life and go after the things she wants.

There are indeed some humorous moments in Colaizzo’s movie. However, those don’t stand out for me quite as much as the parts that proved difficult to watch. Especially when Brittany was hurting, disappointed and particularly how those negative feelings affected the people closest to her.

Overall, for me, the best thing about Brittany Runs A Marathon, besides its general believability is getting to see someone achieve what they, at the start may have perceived as impossible. I’m also not mad that it had me reflecting on the gift of great friends. May we all recognise and appreciate them when they show themselves.

Lastly, for the shortest of moments as the movie played, the idea of running a marathon seemed like a good one. That was until I remembered how much I like my blister-less feet and intact toenails.

Watch it if you’re curious.

Happy Film Loving

G

PLUS ONE (2019): The Things I Liked…

Plus One (2019), Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, RLJE Films
Plus One (2019), Maya Erskine, Jack Quaid, RLJE Films

Plus One is one of those ‘they’re definitely going to end up together but they just don’t know it yet’ movies.

Directed by Jeff Chan, Andrew Rhymer and starring Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid, the two leads play two friends who happen to be single during wedding season, and so they decide to go to the weddings they’ve been invited to as each other’s plus one.

I enjoyed the humour about all the things that often make weddings awkward and / or fun. Performance wise, I found Plus One completely faultless. The chemistry between Erskine and Quaid was great and I particularly enjoyed Erskine’s drunk acting / dancing and her characters testing yet endearing charm. 

I must confess that I had more fun with Plus One and the charming dialogue before the graveyard scene. A scene after which things became a little more serious and emotional. Overall though, I don’t regret watching Plus One because it has just the kind of charming quality I was after.

Happy Film Loving 

G

TALL GIRL (2019): The Things I Liked…

Tall Girl (2019), Ava Michelle, Griffin Gluck, Netflix
Tall Girl (2019), Ava Michelle, Griffin Gluck, Netflix

Tall Girl is a high school movie that’s engaging, well-acted and feels extra special because it’s the story of Jodi (Ava Michelle), a teenage girl who just happens to be more than six feet tall.

Directed by Nzingha Stewart, it’s also the first movie about the ‘tall girl high school experience’ that I know of. This key difference, along with the promise of comedy and Griffin Gluck – the now grown up young actor who was brilliant in  Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia (1999) are the reasons I just had to tune in.

In terms of the film’s comedy categorisation, I did laugh a few times but I’d say I was moved more than I was amused. Besides the stage-time moment that seemed to reference the Kanye West / Taylor Swift 2009 Grammy Awards situation, and one or two of Jodies’s exchanges with her father (Steve Zahn) at the dinner table, I had fun overall but there aren’t many especially amusing moments in Tall Girl that spring to mind.

As for the scenes that moved me, they include every effort that Jodie’s father made to help his daughter, Jodi’s relationship with her sister, her best friend; and of course the scene at the end with the ‘wooden school bag.’

Watch Tall Girl for a well-executed look at a very specific high school experience. There’s also beautiful messages about self acceptance, inner beauty and a timely reminder of the challenge that is effective parenting.

Happy Film Loving 

G

STUBER (2019): The Thing I Liked…

Stuber (2019), Kumail Nanjiani, 20th Century Fox
Stuber (2019), Kumail Nanjiani, 20th Century Fox

In Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani’s action / comedy Stuber, where a cop recruits his Uber driver into an unexpected night of adventure, Bautista and Nanjiani’s characters did deliver some amusement. Yet, if I had to choose, my favourite characters were played by Betty Gilpin – because there’s just something about her delivery, and Iko Uwais, thanks to his great stunt work as villain Oka Tedjo.     

Minus some of Nanjiani’s lines which felt unnecessary and out of place, Bautista’s Vic Manning and Nanjiani’s Stu had some good moments. It’s just unfortunate that I definitely lost faith in the movie because I couldn’t believe that anyone in their right mind would remove their protective glasses within a few hours of undergoing laser eye surgery – and against doctor’s orders. It’s even worse because not only did I not believe the decision, I didn’t buy the character’s motivation for making said decision.

Perhaps your own tolerance for a character’s carelessness with their vision is much higher than mine and Stuber definitely has some good / fun dialogue- and action sequences. As such, why not give it a chance if you’re intrigued?

Happy Film Loving

G

IN THE TALL GRASS (2019): The Things I Liked…

In The Tall Grass (2019), Laysla De Oliveira, Netflix

The story of In The Tall Grass centres around a sister and brother who venture into a vast field of tall grass, only to discover that there may be no way out.

Based on a novella that’s co-written by Stephen King, director Vincenzo Natali’s drama / horror / thriller definitely starts off with promise. It then goes on to deliver some quite satisfying twists and turns, but ultimately ends up losing its way and becoming more watchable than memorable.

Part of the reason I didn’t find In The Tall Grass to be great overall is that the story doesn’t come together in a way that made me fully buy into it all. Nevertheless, I do have a favourite thing about this movie and that is the performance by talented young actor Will Buie Jr. who plays Tobin. Also, is it just me who thinks that Buie Jr. kind of resembles Michael Douglas somehow? I digress.

Though In The Tall Grass is definitely not the best drama / horror / thriller of 2019, it’s also not the worst; nor is it ‘nightmare inducing scary’. Give it a chance if you’re so curious.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (2019): The Thing I Liked…

The Knight Before Christmas (2019), Vanessa Hudgens, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Netflix
The Knight Before Christmas (2019), Vanessa Hudgens, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Netflix

The Knight Before Christmas, a story about a medieval English knight who is magically transported to the present day where he meets the love of his life is exactly what I expected.

It’s a movie I liked almost purely for the Christmas-rich visuals. Everything else was tolerable just so I could enjoy that beautiful Ohio town and live in Hudgens’s character’s very well decorated house. 

I did definitely pay full attention throughout – but generally, The Knight Before Christmas is romantic, Christmassy, dare I say – silliness for incredibly non-taxing viewing. It was perfect for unwinding after my very busy week. 

Why not give it a chance and let it relax you if you’re especially curious? 

Happy Film Loving

G

KLAUS (2019): The Thing I Liked…

Klaus (2019), Netflix
Klaus (2019), Netflix

Klaus, Netflix’s 2D animated story about the origins of Santa Claus is a movie I wanted to love more than I did. 

I really like the above image because it reminds me of Christmas cards I’ve received in the past. I also definitely like the films central message: ‘A true selfless act always begets another.I just didn’t thoroughly enjoy the way it was all executed. 

Part of the issue for me is the lack of newness and surprise in the story. And when the story did unfold in the expected way – since almost everyone knows Santa’s story, the delivery wasn’t such that I was enthralled or delighted by much of it. I’ve now realised, for better or worse that I’ve come to expect a certain level of delight when watching animated movies and Klaus just didn’t bring it for me.

Lastly, I found that the combination of the animation style, highly muted colours – most of the time, and the pace of the story just didn’t really help matters. 

Give Klaus a chance if you’re really curious. Perhaps you’ll be more enthralled and even moved than I.

Happy Film Loving

G

TELL ME WHO I AM (2019): The Thing I Liked…

Tell Me Who I Am (2019), Alex Lewis, Netflix
Tell Me Who I Am (2019), Alex Lewis, Netflix

In Tell Me Who I Am, life changes dramatically for 18 year old twin brothers Alex and Marcus Lewis. Following a motorcycle accident that leaves Alex with very little memory, Marcus has to decide whether to tell his brother the horrific truth of their childhood or make up a whole new idilic one. Marcus opts for the latter – for reasons including recounting the truth would simply be too much for himself to bear, let alone his twin brother who’s in an extremely vulnerable state. 

Fast forward to the present day, several decades later, and though the brothers have written a book about their heartbreaking story, Marcus still hasn’t shared everything with his brother, that is until this documentary. Through the use of old photographs, interviews with both brothers – separately and together, we get to watch an extraordinary story of love, trauma, memory, personal responsibility and healing.

There were definitely moments during director Ed Perkins’s film that had me wishing for the story to move along a little faster. Nevertheless, I don’t regret sitting through all of it. And the reason I won’t be forgetting Tell Me Who I Am any time soon is not so much about the horror of what Alex and Marcus were forced to endure, both inside and out of their family home, a home which quite frankly looks like the set of a nightmare inducing horror film. No.

Tell Me Who I Am will stay with me for the same reason director Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate (2019) – the biography of celebrated Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh stays with me. The gift and blessing of siblinghood. Or, more specifically in this case, brotherhood. 

I’m almost certain that both Van Gogh and Alex would not have survived much longer without their truly loving brothers. Not to say that Marcus did everything exactly right, but considering all the hurt and trauma he was carrying, how could one really be surprised by his choices? 

Lastly, Tell Me Who I Am certainly isn’t ’easy viewing.’ Watch it for a better understanding of the human experience that will likely make you grateful for the existence of good siblings, blood related or otherwise.

Happy Film Loving

G