Category Archives: No Spoiler Reviews

MY COUSIN VINNY (1992): The Things I Liked…

My Cousin Vinny (1992), Joe Pesci
My Cousin Vinny (1992), Joe Pesci

My Cousin Vinny is one of those movies I’ve heard people reference several times over the years. And finally, a few nights ago, the mood hit just right for a classic 90s movie session. Especially after I heard a popular podcaster mention how great Oscar-winning actor Marisa Tomei is in the movie.

My Cousin Vinny, a comedy/crime movie directed by Jonathan Lynn is the story of two New Yorkers, Bill (Ralph Macchio) and Stan (Mitchell Whitfield). Two young men who contact Vinny (Joe Pesci), a loudmouth lawyer with zero trial experience, after they find themselves accused of murder in rural Alabama.  

I’ve been a fan of good courtroom scenes for a long time. And luckily for me, My Cousin Vinny captures those moments well. To the point where the courtroom scenes are my favourite thing about the movie. There are also some amusing scenes to enjoy and good performances by all, including Tomei who is as good and gorgeous as the podcaster insisted.

What I like least about Lynn’s film happens near the start. Particularly when one of my least favourite comedy tropes is used. The one where two people don’t realise that they’re talking about two completely different things. I haven’t found the use of said trope funny since the first time I saw it in a film, TV or stage production. It’s the reason I had to quit watching the cult comedy series Arrested Development. They shamelessly overused it, completely to death! I mean, full disclosure, I did binge-watch a bunch of episodes in one sitting. But surely, the writing formula shouldn’t be that obvious.

I say watch My Cousin Vinny if you’re especially curious. It’s certainly not a bad movie. And it has some highlights. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t love it. Or maybe you will.

Happy Film Loving

G

THUNDER FORCE (2021): It’s…

Thunder Force (2021), Melissa McCarthy, Netflix
Thunder Force (2021), Melissa McCarthy, Netflix

Bridesmaids (2011), This Is 40 (2012) and Spy (2015) are my three favourite Melissa McCarthy movies. The Heat (2013), Tammy (2014) and The Boss (2016) are the ones I found most disappointing. 

The not so great news is that McCarthy’s latest Ben Falcone written/directed comedy/action/adventure Thunder Force falls firmly at the bottom of the latter category.  

I honestly tried my very best to give Thunder Force, the story of estranged childhood best friends reuniting and ending up with superpowers a fair chance. It’s just unfortunate that the writing and pacing left me desperately wanting. 

What makes it worse is that I wasn’t even tired when I hit play to watch a hopefully fun comedy in the afternoon. Yet, twenty minutes in, I awoke from a rather pleasant impromptu nap. A situation I feared might occur, especially after an unnecessarily long and unfunny bit of dialogue about salmon and a rock near the start of the movie. Nevertheless, I held on in desperate hope that things might turn around at any moment.

Things did not get better, not even a little bit. As such, after giving the movie one very last try, only to find myself waking up from my second nap in half an hour, I had to put an end to the madness.

Looking back, the most memorable parts of Thunder Force include the one brief moment involving rabbit-like teeth. And the other is the presence of Pom Klementieff as Laser. 

Thunder Force is a film you watch, only if you absolutely must because you’re much better off revisiting the first three movies I mentioned at the start of this post.

Happy Film Loving

G

GODZILLA vs. KONG (2021): The Things I Liked…

Godzilla vs. Kong (2021), Warner Bros. Pictures

The main reason I wanted to watch Godzilla vs Kong is the monster fight. What proved most disappointing is that I found the fight sequences to be ‘just ok’ at best. 

The special effects were impressive and I particularly appreciated the city lights in Hong Kong, as well as the film’s smart use of colour. Other highlights include Brian Tyree Henry who came across very convincingly as the investigator/conspiracy theory enthusiast. 

As someone who enjoyed Kong Skull Island (2017), I was expecting an equally engaging story with Godzilla vs Kong. Especially where the fight sequences were concerned. It’s unfortunate that by the twenty-minute mark, I found myself wanting to fast forward to the monster face-off, rather than sit through the tired human stories I was supposed to buy into.

My desire to skip to the fun moments is partly because I wasn’t able to suspend my disbelief enough, not to notice how silly and cliché the story felt at times. I also missed Tom Hiddleston’s character from Kong Skull Island and found myself wishing he were in this movie. Because that way, he’d have helped ground things a little more. 

If you’re curious about the special effects, watch Godzilla vs Kong. You may find yourself thinking that it feels sillier than expected, but you will most likely enjoy the CGI and the lights.

Happy Film Loving

G

HAPPILY (2021): The Thing I Liked…

Happily (2021), Joel McHale, Kerry Bishé, Paramount Movies
Happily (2021), Joel McHale, Kerry Bishé, Paramount Movies

Happily, a comedy/romance about a happily married couple whose life takes an unexpected turn is a self-aware, self-indulgent movie that has one or two moments that are mildly satisfying. Unfortunately, for me, none of these moments adds up to enough to make the experience worthwhile. 

What Happily has to say about relationships and marriage did not need a whole movie to say it. At least not in the way it said it. Furthermore, what Happily ends up saying is unlikely to be what you wish it had to say; well, at least not in the way it says it. 

Writer/director BenDavid Grabinski’s film relies heavily on music to create a tense atmosphere. And I kept watching past the halfway point hoping that the pay-off would make all the excessive atmospheric music, and seemingly unnecessary slow-motion shots somewhat worthwhile, but no.

As for what I enjoyed about the movie, I like Joel McHale and Natalie Morales.

Lastly, watch Happily ONLY if you absolutely must because there have to be far better marital/relationship drama movies out there. I’m also sure there are good TV shows about ’best couples’ whose friends are jealous that their own relationships aren’t as passionate. I can’t think of any titles right now but I know they exist, good ones!

Happy Film Loving

G

DEFENDING JACOB (2020): The Things I Liked…

Defending Jacob (2020), Michelle Dockery Apple TV+
Defending Jacob (2020), Michelle Dockery, Apple TV+

There are parts I thoroughly enjoyed in Michelle Dockery, Chris Evans and Jaeden Martell’s Defending Jacobthe story of two parents who have to deal with the idea that their fourteen-year-old son might be responsible for murdering his classmate. Yet, I can’t say I completely loved the experience of watching it. 

The best moments besides the big revelation in the courtroom is  Dockery’s performance. Evans wasn’t terrible and Martell is a very talented young man. I only wish I enjoyed the series in its entirety and spent less  time asking questions such as:

Do we really need to keep going back and forth between Evans’s character in the present day as he recounts what happened? It doesn’t seem to be adding much to the experience.’ 

Why isn’t this a two-part, or four-part series instead of eight?

The truth is I could do with more patience when it comes to movies and TV shows. However, all I want is for something I’m watching to be fully engaging, to the point where I’m happily lost in it, rather than having to question editing decisions.

I like the idea of a story about the possibility that one’s child could be a psychopath, and I felt for Dockery’s character. The bigger issue is likely that I’ve seen elements of this story in other productions several times before. A truth that then makes this experience less new/impressive.

If you’re especially curious, give Defending Jacob a chance. You may find that you love the way it just the way it is. And that you have a lot more patience than I do.

Happy Film Loving

G

THE NETFLIX AFTERPARTY (2021): The Thing I Liked…

The Netflix Afterparty (2021), London Hughs, Fortune Feimster, Netflix
The Netflix Afterparty (2021), London Hughs, Fortune Feimster, Netflix

I watched the first episode of The Netflix Afterparty, a talk show featuring conversations, skits and more with the stars of the newest and biggest Netflix titles months ago. The bad news is that the thoughts that went through my mind during and at the end of episode one weren’t great.  

Hosted by David Spade, Fortune Feimster and London Hughes, I knew that the first episode was unlikely to be excellent. What I didn’t expect was to find a few things I liked.

Matters weren’t helped by the surprisingly feeble sound of audience applause at the start. Additionally, it may be that I’d forgotten about the nature of Spade’s charm because his delivery often came across as lazy and the comedy skits proved more cringe-worthy than funny.

Besides the idea of a fun new talk show, what drew me to The Netflix Afterparty is rising standup comedy star, Fortune Feimster. The good news is that by episodes, two and three, some adjustments had been made to the show. Not a lot of change because there’s still room for improvement in areas including format, people speaking over each other, and how fun/funny the show is.  

What I know for sure is that Feimster is my favourite. So much so that I’ve wondered how much more fun The Netflix Afterparty would be if she were the sole presenter. Or, if it were just Feimster and Hughes as the presenters. 

I plan to check in periodically to see what other changes are made. And I look forward to more engaging interview questions and even better chemistry between the hosts.

Happy Film Loving

G

LOSING ALICE (2021): The Things I liked…

Losing Alice (2021), Ayelet Zurer, Apple TV+
Losing Alice (2021), Ayelet Zurer, Apple TV+

Losing Alice is a drama/thriller about the slow unravelling of the life of Alice, a talented film director whose career stalled after becoming a mother of three. Far from creatively satisfied, Alice is suffering largely in silence; that is until her eyes land on a new script she finds irresistible. One that results in a Faustian bargain with the potential to completely unravel her life.

The performances in Losing Alice are faultless. Not least of all, that delivered by the talented Ayelet Zurer who plays Alice. When I wasn’t busy taking in all the great performances, I was looking forward to the moment when I realised why the show’s title made perfect sense. All while also enjoying the very strong musical score. A score that helped keep me engaged in the moments when the camera would choose to linger longer than I might have preferred in some scenes. 

There are moments in Losing Alice when I became impatient for the unknown to be revealed. Yet, I couldn’t stop watching because I had to find out how complicated this particular female movie director’s life was going to get. After all, there are still very few female directors working while married and with children. Losing Alice does a good job of exploring the challenging predicaments that arise.

Watch Losing Alice if you’re curious, and definitely if you’re an aspiring director, female or not. You’ll probably appreciate the way the show reveals some of the behind-the-scenes reality of movie-making. 

Lastly, it’s not an english language production but the sound is very well dubbed, if that helps. Did I already mention the musical score?

Happy Film Loving

G

TRUST (2021): The Things I Liked…

Truth (2021), Victoria Justice, Vertical Entertainment US
Truth (2021), Victoria Justice, Vertical Entertainment US

Trust, the new drama starring Matthew Daddario, Victoria Justice, Lucien Laviscount and Katherine McNamara has some notable high and low points.

The standout highlight in a story about a New York gallery owner and her husband, as they each face exceptional temptations, happens to be the beautifully lit shots of Paris, and particularly, New York City. So colourful and vibrant are said images, that for a moment I suspected the makers of Trust likely brokered a deal with the New York City Tourism Board. 

Additionally, Justice’s attire and the gorgeously lit Royal Bangladesh Indian Restaurant, the very one featured prominently in the film’s trailer are two other highlights. I can only hope the latter managed to survive the pandemic so I can visit in the future.

The acting isn’t terrible. But I did find the dialogue cringe-worthy in parts. A truth that made me realise that Trust is not at all as sophisticated as the movie it initially reminded me of, namely, Last Night (2010)

Other low lights include the less convincing moments in Laviscount’s Dublin accent and the editing. Particularly the decision to reveal an important piece of the puzzle at the very start; a decision that seemed unnecessary, at best. 

Overall director Brian DeCubellis’s film is one you watch if you’re curious about the highlights. And or, you’re a fan of the cast. Otherwise, I recommend Last Night (2010) instead; for an arguably smarter and more sophisticated execution of a similar story.

Happy Film Loving

G