Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

GIRLS TRIP (2017): The Thing I Like

Girls Trip (2017), Regina King, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish
Girls Trip (2017), Regina King, Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish

Girls Trip is a Michael D. Lee (The Best Man Holiday (2013) directed comedy about lifelong friends getting together, in New Orleans for a fun-filled few days after several years apart. 

The film’s main stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith and Tiffany Haddish all got to shine in their respective roles. However, as everyone has been saying, it is indeed Haddish who absolutely stole the show with her loyal and rather ‘out there’ character – thanks no doubt to her impressive comic timing and delivery.

Girls Trip features a healthy amount of outrageous fun to keep you engaged. As hilarious as it all was, what I loved most about this movie is the way the story of love and general sisterhood between the four friends is handled. A sisterhood enriched with a certain level of realism, particularly in regards to the relationship between Latifah and Hall’s characters, that I wasn’t expecting.

I liked that New Orleans was the setting for this story, if only because it reminded me that I need to make it to that place on day. The setting and the music also had me thinking of Chef (2014), a movie I love and recommend, not just because part of it is also set in New Orleans.

Watch Girls Trip because there’s truth in all the positive feedback. 

Happy Film Loving

G

SWINGERS (1996) Movie Review: The Thing I Liked…

Swingers (1996), Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn
Swingers (1996), Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn

Since I tend to enjoy so much of Jon Favreau’s recent work, I wanted to check out one of his earlier projects. I chose Swingers, a Favreau written comedy in which Favreau plays Mike, a twenty something aspiring actor in Hollywood. Mike is down in the dumps because he left his girlfriend behind in New York. Mike’s friends who are also coping with the mysteries of life and women decide to help him feel less lonely.

To get straight to the point, I enjoyed some humorous moments in Swingers and I’m sure the film was a special feat at the time of release. Nevertheless, I didn’t fall in love with Swingers. Reason one being just how annoying Mike became because of the seemingly ceaseless moping. I actually spent a good portion of the movie wondering about when his friends were going to lose patience with him because I already did, a while back. Reason two, the overuse of the phrase ‘you’re money.’ I’m sure it was likely very cool for some people to say that and often, back then but in the present day, I personally have little to no time for ‘you’re money.’

I know that Swingers isn’t exactly a terrible movie. Granted it’s definitely a film guys will likely enjoy more than ladies. Still, the best I can say is that there was a slight Superbad (2007) vibe – if Superbad was set several years post high school. It’s of course not lost on me the idea that Swingers probably inspired Superbad, That still doesn’t mean that I have to like it now; does it?

Have you seen Swingers? Is there something great that I missed to recognise about this movie? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy Film loving

G

CARNAGE (2011): The Things I Liked…

Carnage (2011), John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet
Carnage (2011), John C. Reilly, Jodie Foster, Christoph Waltz, Kate Winslet

After seeing the trailer for Roman Polanski’s Carnage, I immediately had high hopes because of the exceptional cast. Namely, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, John C. Reilly and Jodie Foster. These seasoned performers play two sets of parents who decide to meet at one of their homes after their sons are involved in a fight. Before too long, as you can imagine, things get pretty dramatic… and amusing.

Based on the play by Yasmina Reza, understandably 98% of this film is set in one room. This is far from a bad thing because at no point did I yearn for different scenery; everything that happened was just that engaging.

The dialogue in Carnage  is beautifully written and delivered. The lines spoken by Waltz’s character made me laugh the most, thanks in part to his character’s highly committed relationship with his phone. One might even argue that though uncredited, that phone is very much a key member of the cast. 

There’s also the highlight that’s the seriously uptight and judgemental mother played by Foster. I confess that I saw a little bit of myself in all the four main people in this story. However, I shan’t divulge which one person in particular.

I really enjoyed this movie. In some ways more so because I’ve never seen the play. I therefore don’t have anything to compare it to. Besides amusing me, Carnage highlighted the fact that the cause of most, if not all personal conflict is judgement. Particularly judgement of the blatant and unapologetic variety. 

Watch it because it’s good and fun.

Happy Film loving

G

BAYWATCH (2017): The Thing I Liked…

Baywatch (2017), Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson
Baywatch (2017), Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson

Random great one liners here and there are really the main highlight in the 2017 version of Baywatch. Directed by Seth Gordon and starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra and Aexandra Daddario, this is a film that made me laugh mostly when I watched the trailer. It’s unfortunate foe me that Gordon’s movie contains some seriously cringe worthy moments and dialogue. If you like that sort of thing then you’re in luck! I mean, people complained about Ed Sheeran’s cameo on Game of Thrones but David Hasselhoff’s appearance in Baywatch felt far more awkward, for me.

Am I crazy for thinking that the original Baywatch television series about a group of California lifeguards may have had a little more substance than this re-imagining? The first thing that disappointed me when the movie started is the the lack of sufficient character back story. How else was I going to connect with them and become invested if I hardly know a thing about most of the key players. 

It had never really occurred to me just how dissatisfied the Baywatch characters must have been with their own jobs. In Seth gordon’s movie they appear to be so unhappy that they assume the roles of police officers. Isn’t that illegal? Did the TV series take things this far and I just didn’t notice? Generally, I know that this is a movie and things have to be ‘bigger and better’ but for me it was definitely bigger and more ridiculous.

If I had to pick a favourite moment, in this movie, I choose the beautiful fireworks display towards the end. That’s really it because the trailer proved better than the finished product. A far too common trend with comedies, it seems.

Watch it only if you absolutely must.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE INCREDIBLE JESSICA JAMES (2017): The Things I Liked…

The Incredible Jessica James (2017), Jessica Williams
The Incredible Jessica James (2017), Jessica Williams

The Incredible Jessica James is not a super hero movie as I first thought. It is in fact a comedy about an aspiring New York based playwright played by Jessica Williams. Williams is an actor who’s not completely new to me thanks to People Places Things (2015)one of my favourite comedies of 2015.

The story, written and directed by Jim Strouse who also wrote and directed  People Places Things, centres around Miss James’s friendship with a guy called Boone (Chris O’Dowd). A friendship that begins whilst Miss Jones is on the rebound from a break-up.

There are definitely one or two scenes at the beginning of this movie where I thought, ‘the camera is definitely spending too long on this moment’. Luckily for me, as the film progressed, I just liked it more and more. Williams did a good job of portraying all that is incredible about Miss James and I enjoyed the writing, especially as I found that I identify with Miss James in a number of ways. To mention just one way (you may relate to this too), I too have a slightly less than ordinary dream that also requires much dedication.

Noël Wells, an actor I first saw in Aziz Ansari’s rather good series Master Of None was a highlight. I also loved O’Dowd who was as always a delight to watch in comedy / drama roles.

By the end of The Incredible Jessica James , my thoughts had evolved from ‘the camera is definitely spending too long on this moment’ to ‘Miss James may not wear a special suit or a cape, but she really is quite incredible’. Not only did I want to be as cool as Jessica James, but I’d decided that I’d definitely tune in in the event that this movie were turned into a series.

Watch it and see.

Happy Film loving

G

DESPICABLE ME 3 (2017): The Thing I Liked…

Despicable Me 3 (2017), Steve Carell (Gru)
Despicable Me 3 (2017), Steve Carell (Gru)

I never, ever thought I’d say this, but it’s official, the minion magic no longer works on me. The minions are not even in Despicable Me 3 that much but long gone is the version of myself that would literally squeal with delight at the mere sight of them. Now they’re more like a favourite song played over and over again that I can kind of no longer stand.

I actually found myself adequately bored in parts as I watched Despicable Me 3. The main reason being, my favourite moments in the movie were the ones I already saw in the teaser trailer with the Michael Jackson loving super villain, months earlier. One of the newest things in this instalment, namely the introduction of one of Gru’s relatives unfortunately felt a little too much like a desperate attempt to find any reason, any reason at all to keep the franchise going.

Just to be clear, I’m definitely not saying that Despicable Me 3 is terrible, generally speaking. I’m saying that I didn’t love it because it felt tired and I’m over all the characters; most surprisingly to myself, I’m tired of the minions.

Immediately below are just some of the thoughts that went through my mind as the credits rolled. In some ways, I really should have known.

‘What was I thinking?’

‘Why was I looking forward to this when I knew that I never really enjoyed the first two Despicable Me movies anyway?’

‘I simply must have forgotten that the minions were the ones I really loved (back then) – not super villain Gru and his children.’

If you’re super intrigued, watch it and see how you like Despicable Me 3.

Happy Film Loving

G

NAKED (2017): It’s…

Naked (2017), Marlon Wayans
Naked (2017), Marlon Wayans

Naked is another movie that’s inspired by Groundhog Day (1993). Except this time, instead of a weatherman, a future groom is forced to relive the same nerve-wracking hours over and over again until he learns what he’s supposed to learn to become a better person.

Directed by Michael Tiddes, part of my issue with Naked is that Marlon Wayans’s character just wasn’t trying hard enough to make it to the wedding. Some of the movie  felt quite silly and sadly not as smart as such a story ought to be. Wayans’s character ended up being too over the top in pats to be amusing. I’ve basically concluded that I’ll probably have to stick to a younger me’s memories of Senseless (1998), one of the few Wayans performances I really enjoyed. There’s also the Scream parody films Scary Movie too, I think.

This year alone I’ve seen 3 movies all for the first time and about characters re-living the same day over and over again. There are a few well executed moments in Naked but not enough to make this movie the kind I recommend.

Watch it if you must, but only if you simply must.

Happy Film Loving

G

BEAUTY & THE BEAST (2017): The Thing I Liked…

Beauty & The Beast (2017), Emma Watson
Beauty & The Beast (2017), Emma Watson

The last time Disney had a live action movie made of one of their fairy tales, I was beyond thrilled. Thrilled with the trailer, thrilled with the cast list and absolutely delighted with the end result. The movie I’m talking about is of course, Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella (2015).

For me personally, Cinderella was always going to be a hard act to follow. Bill Condon’s Beauty & The Beast is a movie I was also looking forward to. However, to be fair, Beauty & The Beast doesn’t quite have the likes of acting queen Cate Blanchett on the cast list. So you can imagine that my enthusiasm just wasn’t the same. Additionally, the acting and singing weren’t bad but as a non-fan of musicals, all the singing probably didn’t help me appreciate the film more. I really did enjoy the romance towards the end and I think the movie was alright, overall. Without a doubt though, my preference is certainly Cinderella. I imagine that big fans of Beauty & The Beast rather enjoyed this remake of the fairy tale about a monstrous-looking prince and a young woman who fall in love. Maybe they even loved it as much as I did Cinderella.

I understand that Aladdin is coming next. I’ll of course eventually watch it even though it is a musical.

Happy Film Loving

G