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Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)
Not terrible, but I personally prefer complete absurdity of "Stage Fright".
Twenty seconds into the first song, I really thought I would be completely sold on this. Unfortunately, the rest of this R-rated Disney Channel flick lacks the assuredness and confidence (especially in the direction) that it needs. In the end, it's a great musical + OK zombie horror + weak comedy + a bad Christmas movie, which equals a product that doesn't quite live up to its premise.
The Grinch (2018)
Expanding this poem to a full-length story is ALWAYS a mistake.
We don't need the Grinch's psychology; the character's original intent is to serve as a stand-in for anyone who has forgotten "the meaning of Christmas". Making him a secluded, unloved orphan takes away all the joy in the story, and completely changes the message. And whose BRILLIANT idea was it to change and dumb-down Seuss' brilliant narration? The line to apologize to Jim Carrey and Ron Howard starts behind me.
If you're a fan of Hot Rod, this is like an R-rated version of that.
A super funny spoof of 80s/90s action movies, Forte centers the movie brilliantly, giving the comedic performance of his life. Every single time he offered sexual favors to another character, I felt like it might be the funniest thing I'd ever seen.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Redmayne is making decisions...lots of BOLD decisions.
Honestly though, that's sort of what everyone is doing here, and I dig it! The action is great, the story is imaginative, the world-building is super weird...and there are SPACE SKATES! WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE???
One Magic Christmas (1985)
Disney in the 80s was an odd place...
"It's a Wonderful Life" on downers. It's depressing, inane, stupid...and worst of all, it's a potentially dangerous lesson on the wrong kind of hope you can give a grieving child.
Jacob's Ladder (1990)
More proof of the evil of Vietnam
A bonkers and disturbing terror that really puts you in the brain of a person with extreme PTSD / personal trauma, and it's never less than captivating...until the last 15 minutes when it becomes a didactic explain-a-thon. But hey! Little baby Lewis Black has a cameo as a doctor! That's fun!
Doctor Dolittle (1967)
Doctor Dolittle is a triple threat: racist, sexist, and profoundly stupid.
Rex Harrison getting himself cast in multiple musicals over the years is one of the great cons in Hollywood history. On top of that, this is another movie where Rex Harrison treats a much younger woman with complete contempt and malice, and naturally she falls in love with him.
What a shame we'll never get George in that fitted suit again.
I haven't seen but about 10 Bond films, but this is my favorite. Early on, it felt like I may have been in for a long slog. Thankfully, once we reach the mountain antics, the OO7 Winter Olympics features the perfect combination of Bond-ian self-seriousness and wonderful absurdity. Lazenby's only turn as James captures an everyman spy; plenty of super-cool, bad-ass moments, but not nearly as stuffy and much goofier, in a good way.
The Proposition (2005)
So glad this can become a regular Christmas viewing for me now!
Among the greatest and most authentic modern westerns I've ever seen, and sadly the most underseen. Brutally poetic and poetically brutal, it's a drop-dead gorgeous film even in its extreme grime and filth. The sad cyclical nature of family, class and colonization that's so difficult to break, it's hard not to drown under it.
Dolemite Is My Name (2019)
"The Success Artist."
For real though, when was the last time Murphy was this good? He's funny, relatable, engaging. His portrayal Rudy Ray Moore beautifully plays into the way the black community manages to take the negative aspects of their American reality and turned them around to benefit themselves.
It really is as great as everyone is says.
A haunting parable, with so many stark images that will forever be burned into my brain. A pointed highlight of the differences between the haves and have-nots. A sublimely original movie that's full of surprises and unnerving but hilarious anxiety.
Bye Bye Birdie (1963)
Ahead of Its Time
I'm a giant fan of the Brady Bunch movie for its loving mixture of cynicism and sincerity. This is similar, only so far ahead of its time. The ways in which it makes fun of ridiculous teen phenoms is even more impressive given that this culture just began. Better yet, the Gone with the Wind style crane shot of the fainted teens; not only hilarious, it represents the real message...a shocking vision of how young Americans were seduced into supporting a war that ultimately killed so many of them.
A Phenomenal Performance in a Rote Film
Judy lacks the emotional punch of a Wikipedia article, and it barely has more artistic merit either. Yes, Zellweger is quite good; she never succumbs to a strict imitation, and instead captures her deep troublesomeness, something much more interesting than a mimicked voice and mannerism. Otherwise, it's an obnoxiously predictable and downright boring downer that once again reminds us that (SPOILER!) show business is brutal.
one of DC's best in years
Resplendent visuals. Like...super great. Not only is the superhero action wonderful, but the design of the worlds and costumes is full of unique color. Much like Asgard in the first Thor movie (another underrated man-in-tights flick), you'll either buy into the ridiculousness of the Atlantis or you won't; I found it refreshingly bold. On the other hand...atrocious dialogue. Like...super bad ("In Atlantis, our tears are washed away." "Here, we have to feel them.").
The Meg (2018)
Take the same director, give him more money and a better script, and you've got a killer summer blockbuster on your hands. For all the fun in the tone, pace and action, the dialogue, characters and laughable effects just sink it. Here's hoping the box office returns give the sequel a better chance.
House of 1000 Corpses (2003)
don't watch with your mom...or with anyone, really.
Rob Zombie's love-letter to Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a colorful experiment in unbridled, disgusting, disturbing debauchery. The rough-around-the-edges nature is so charming that even with the obnoxious lens effects and horrendous editing don't get in the way. The general design is great, created with true independent spirit.
Home for the Holidays (1995)
Inauthentic, yet desperate to be
This is clearly a heartfelt film that just never quite connected for me. Its message is timeless (you're rarely an adult in your childhood home), but it's far too dramatic to be the authentic vision of the American family that it so wants to be.
Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)
THE Thanksgiving Movie
The scene where Martin is yelling at Candy in the hotel room that first night...incredible. Only Hughes and those two master performers could pull off something so simultaneously uproarious and heartbreaking.
I never appreciate the brilliance of the top-tier Disney animators more than when I watch one of these throw away sequels.
The Disney Channel Formula: A musical comedy about love on the other side of the tracks.
An afternoon preteen sitcom with a completely predictable prejudice allegory story, peppered throughout with decently cool music videos that feel like they were pumped out of an earworm machine.
...that Daft Punk score really is dope.
The Tron movies are like Blade Runner for children...and as an adult, I prefer Blade Runner. They each have strong neon-based style, cold emotions, unique world-building, and (mildly) complex plotting. Unfortunately, Tron lacks the ethical and thematic strength...not to mention the de-aging tech is more than a bit rough.
The Black Hole (1979)
One of the least-Disney Disney movies ever, it was intended to capitalize on the success of Star Wars. Really though, it's more like a fantastic episode of OG Star Trek; slow and dated, but full of ethical and philosophical intrigue. The killer cast, lush visuals, creepy humanoids and black-hole-insanity make for a cool-as-hell 70s scifi thriller that's among Disney's darkest and most adult.
Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
Even as an indoors-lover, that treehouse is goals
I've never seen a group of people more easy-going and less affected than The Robinsons. Catastrophic shipwreck? No big deal. Stranded on a deserted island? Let's build a treehouse! Nearly killed by wild animals multiple times? A mild nuisance. Attacked by pirates? Merely a fun child's game. Overall, this was a refreshing bit of nostalgia that mixes the lightness of a sitcom with the big fun of an adventure film.
As a movie? Meh. It too often veers off course to tell us something that doesn't seem pertinent to the compelling central story. However, as a capture of two truly incredible men's work? Priceless.
Best Animated Movie of 2019
Klaus has all the best elements of Disney, Laika & even some Burton, all rolled into one. It's firmly planted within the tradition of animation (slapstick humor, bouncy score that matches visuals, broad but heartfelt themes) but pushes it into the future. It's so rare nowadays to watch a children's movie that's this original, where you can't immediately tell where it's going or how it's going to get there. A wonderful origin story that honors the importance of legends as much as the truth behind them.