Movie Review: Stuber

The thinking in Hollywood California about the idea of pairing actor Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista was probably that they are such an unlikely pair and so different culturally that this would lead to a new buddy-cop-comedy team. Nanjiani was so funny in the movie “The Big Sick”, that he will be funny again in this movie. Unfortunately the movie The Big Sick had a great script and Nanjiani was funny, because the dialogue and situation was funny. This is not the case with Stuber. Everything starts with a great idea, then a great story and screenplay and there are never any shortcuts.

The story of Stuber starts out impressively with some very good action scenes that were very effective, but not believable given that two characters fall from heights of over two stories, which is supposed to kill any human being. The Karate expert Iko Uwais is in these scenes, and he is arguably one of the best movie Karate experts of all time. Once the movie is past the opening scenes, what follows are some boring chases and a story-line involving corrupt police officers that we have all seen thousands of times before. Some attempts at comedy with Uber driver Stu, played by Nanjiani and a police officer Vic, played by Bautista mostly all falls very flat. The actress Mira Sorvino also appears in this film in a small role and it was nice to see her in a movie again, but its too bad that her white hot career of some 15 years ago is at least for right now, a distant memory. The comedy movie test that I always use also failed, because there were almost no laughs during the almost 2 hours of this film.

I agree with the low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes for Stuber that are a low 46% and I do not recommend this movie.

Movie Review: Crawl

The new movie “Crawl” gets high marks for originality. A father and daughter are trapped in a basement during a major Hurricane surrounded by very large Alligators. I have to admit, I have never seen something like this before. The only problem with this story, is the same problem with all movies like this; people do stupid things more for Hollywood drama rather than because they are panicked. If someone panics and does something stupid because they are about to be eaten by a huge Alligator, then this makes sense and is understandable. However, some of the decisions in this movie, especially towards the end are just plain dumb and are only for increasing the drama, rather than enhancing what is a pretty good story. Crawl delivers what it promises, I just wish it could have done this with some more common sense and intelligence.

The Rotten Tomatoes are a surprisingly high 88% for Crawl, but my grade is only an average 75%, mostly for the very well done special effects than the story and some of the very bad decisions the characters make to try and survive.

Movie Review: Wild Rose

There should be more movies like “Wild Rose” made, for the millions of young people who aspire to move to Hollywood to be an actor or a famous singer. The odds are very long and what this film shows, is the truth about these long odds. The reality of the luck involved, the disappointments and heartache, the breaks that are needed and might never come. It all amounts to gambling with your entire life. There are the lucky few and the thousands who never make it. It doesn’t matter that you work hard to achieve your dreams or that you may actually be the most talented, like the singer in this movie. What matters is that Rose-Lynn has been the absentee single mother to 2 kids starting at age 18. Her talent will always come in second to her children.

The lead character of Wild Rose,Rose-Lynn is played by Jessie Buckley, who is not only an outstanding actor in this role, but a great singer as well. Her mother Marion, played well by Julie Walters comes to her daughters rescue frequently because of the late nights and drinking that come with her daughters life as a lounge singer.

This movie takes place in Scotland, a very unlikely location for a singer who wants to become a country singer who lives in Nashville. One problem wit this film is because of the very thick Scottish accents, many times it was impossible to fully understand what people were saying.

The message of this movie is a good one. Just because the odds are long and probably impossible does not mean to not try to achieve your dreams.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for Wild Rose are a very high 94% and I agree with this assessment and highly recommend this film.

Past Movie Reviews: Harrison Ford and Kevin Costner

Neither Kevin Costner or Harrison Ford have ever won an Academy Award for best acting, but just based on these two scenes below, they should have won for best actor for Ford and supporting actor for Costner. In terms of showing real emotion in a movie, it does not get better than these two scenes from “Air Force One”, released in 1997 and Molly’s Game, released in 2017.



Movie Review: Spiderman: Far From Home

The newest addition to the Spiderman franchise, “Spiderman: Far From Home”, I thought was a very solid addition to the series, directly connected to the last Marvel Film, “Avengers Endgame” – where Ironman/Tony Stark dies. The time travel and loss of half of humanity is explained at the start of this film by calling what happened “A blip” in time. As I stated in my review of the Avengers movie, everybody has to suspend all sense of common sense and logic to buy into the time travel idea in Avengers Endgame, where half the worlds population is rescued using time travel.

There is a twist in the story of Far From Home, that I thought was too far fetched to believe that most of the science could be pulled off by the villain in this movie played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Samuel L. Jackson is once again in another Marvel movie, adding to his long record of super hero movie appearances playing the Nick Fury character. Spiderman is once again played well by Tom Holland, in his second appearance in this franchise.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this film is a very high 93% and I would rate it at about 80% mainly due to the convoluted story idea. I recommend Spiderman: Far From Home.

Movie Review: Yesterday

For so many screenwriters who have writers and idea block, a ridiculous premise in the new movie “Yesterday”, “a world wide 12 second power failure creates a new world that excludes the Beatles (and several other things)”, definitely open up a huge number of new ideas for new screenplays. Like so many time travel and science fiction movies like this one, the audience must suspend all levels of common sense before you can appreciate the story and possibilities that follow.

The beginning of this story defines the real life of a struggling singer Jack Malik, played very well by Himesh Patel and his schoolteacher manager
Ellie Appleton also played very well by Lilly James. The world sees the end result of successful singing careers but we all never see the years of struggle and misery it takes to ever have a remote possibility of success in any part of show business. This movie does a great job of showing a young singer who is tired of the bad gigs and no money and is about to give up all hope, before the miracle happens and he becomes the only person in the world who remembers the Beatles.

I thought that this entire idea was rather risky, because it mixes Romantic comedy with science fiction and the power failure premise is so ridiculous. Once this miracle where some of the greatest songs ever produced are slowly reintroduced to the world, where can the story go from there with a satisfying conclusion? I also though that Lilly James, even though she is very good in her role, was miscast as the eventual love interest of a character played by Hamish Patel, as they just did not look like they could ever be involved romantically.

The best part of this movie is the appearance of Kate McKinnon, who in my opinion has finally gotten the movie role that shows that she can be very funny, by doing nothing other than showing up. She had just about all of the best moments in this film. There are several other funny and ironic moments in this movie that worked very well, especially when the story shows about 4 other things, other than the Beatles that also no longer exist in this new altered world.

The Rotten Tomatoes critics are wrong with their 60% grade for this movie, that I thought was at least a solid 80%. I highly recommend Yesterday.

Movie Review: Pavarotti

The new Ron Howard documentary “Pavarotti” is about the late Luciano Pavarotti, arguably the greatest Opera singer of all time. This film is a collection of many home movies about Pavarotti’s life that collectively show what it is like to be a world wide prolific performer. The good parts are the world wide fame, love of the fans and money. The bad parts are the lack of privacy, with your life played out in Tabloids, living your entire life on the road from one depressing plane flight to another hotel in another city, almost never being home or being able to spend time with your family. All of this takes its toll, both emotionally and physically. The old expression, “be careful what you wish for”, comes to mind.

During this documentary there are many film clips of Pavarotti singing different Opera’s, mostly in Italian. One cannot help but be extremely impressed with Luciano’s dedication and years of hard work learning to master so many lyrics and accomplishing so many high notes; mostly as they called it in the movie, “The high C”.

There are recent interviews with many of Pavarotti’s relatives throughout this movie who comment on his amazing talent, his generosity with so many charities, his triumphs and mistakes throughout his life. Pavarotti died of Pancreatic Cancer in 2007.

This movie is very well received with the critics, with 88% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. I highly recommend this documentary.

Movie Review: Anna

The biggest problem with the new movie “Anna” is the chronological jumping around, easily the worst I have ever seen. Its 3 years ago, its 6 months ago, its 6 months later, its present day, its 3 years ago again, then its 3 months from now. I lost count on the number of scene transitions that involved flashback story telling, that at this frequency will never work for any film. At some point, a screenplay should be re-written to reduce flashback story telling so that it makes sense to any audience, not increase it to this extremely annoying level. There is nothing wrong with telling a story in chronological order.

This movie stars newcomer Sasha Luss, Luke Evans and respected actor Helen Miren, who could not have read this script before taking the part.

There are great similarities to the movie “Point of no Return” starring Bridget Fonda, released in 1993, with Ann Bancroft in the Helen Miren and Gabrielle Burn in the Luke Evans role. The idea is the same, take a disaster woman who happens to be attractive and turn her into a contract killer. Point of no Return is a far better movie than this one.

There are a number of very good hand to hand combat scenes in this movie, including one in a restaurant that was very impressive. With all movies like this one, with one highly skilled martial arts character and so much gunfire, the fact that nobody can easily kill one person with so many guns, is always ridiculous. I would appreciate more realism as opposed to one woman who is built like a high fashion model taking out 25 men armed with weapons.

I agree with the low 26% rating for this film on Rotten Tomatoes and do not recommend this movie.

Movie Review: Toy Story 4

“Toy Story 4” is the 4th installment of a great animated movie franchise, and all four of these movies are of the highest quality. Considering the amount of software development, planning, science and hundreds of technical decisions, involved in creating the extremely impressive graphics for these movies there is no way that Pixar would ever forget the most important part of any film – the screenplay. Arguably this fourth movie could very well have the best story of all of them, and I thought it was the most emotional of the 4. Like so many movies with special effects, decisions are made to forgo any story believing that explosions and computer movie graphics are all that is needed. This is never the case with any film that is produced by Pixar.
Toy Story 4 has the same two actors that have appeared in all four movies: Tim Alan and Tom Hanks, the first Toy Story released in 1995. Both actors where as always, outstanding in their parts as were all the new voices played by Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan Micheal Key and even Keanu Reeves.
The Rotten Tomatoes rating for Toy Story 4 is a very high 97% and I agree with this rating. Toy Story 4, like all four movies in this franchise are for both children and adults and I highly recommend this great film.

Movie Review: American Woman

The movie “American Woman” is nothing about a typical Hollywood formula with a beginning, followed by a huge conflict in the middle and then a conclusion. This film is about the real life desperation and misery of a divorced woman Debra, played extremely well by Sienna Miller, in her late 30’s. She has a teenage daughter who is also a single mother and they both live with her. The relentless harsh reality of the garbage house Debra lives in across the street from her sister, played by Christina Hendricks and her husband, their children and her mother, played by Amy Madigan is at times extremely overwhelming to see, knowing that so many millions of Americans live like this in this country.

The most difficult parts of this story to watch, is the desperation of Debra, who is forced to take demeaning low paying jobs and live with an abusive boyfriend because she thinks she has no choice but to put up with his constant physical and emotional abuse – because she does not have enough money to walk away. Depicting real life is where this story hits home in the most impressive way. Just because a human being has suffered and deserves for their luck to change – if for no other reason than the law of averages – does not mean that this will actually happen. This is real life, not a Hollywood formula happy ending and that is the main reason why this film stands out.

Much of this story plays like a roller coaster throughout with extreme highs and lows and I agree with all the critics who are saying that this is Sienna Miller’s best performance in her career. She is definitely deserving of an Academy Award nomination, even though this movie has not been released at the end of this year.

There is another story within this movie about Debra’s daughter, that I would not reveal in this review, but it does involve another possible harsh reality of living in a poor or lower middle class neighborhood.

This movie has outstanding acting with all the actors involved, including Aaron Paul who plays one of Debra’s boyfriends.

What I did not like in this movie throughout was the constant chain smoking of Sienna Miller and once again, this happens because of Tobacco companies funding the production of too many movies, even after decades of knowing that smoking will kill you. I hope to one day see this ongoing disgusting practice of money over health, finally end.

Despite this depressing story, and tough life reality of American Woman, I highly recommend it and agree with the Rotten Tomatoes rating of 81%.