The concept of a man falling into a vat of pickle juice 100 years ago and only because of the pickle juice he could been preserved and has not aged a day when he was revived is completely absurd. This absurdity is the entire premise for the new movie on HBO Max “An American Pickle”, starring Seth Rogen. There is nothing wrong with having to suspend all common sense in order to buy into the main story of any movie – especially a comedy. The problem with this movie is that even after you suspend all of that common sense, there is nothing that is funny.
Seth Rogen also plays the great grandson Ben Greenbaum, of Herschel Greenbaum and overall I thought the double shooting of both characters played by same person was well done. The story comes down to a billboard that was placed over the gravestone of Herschel’s wife and an attempt to start a new pickle business in order to get 200 thousand dollars to pay to get the billboard taken down. Obviously, this is not a strong enough of an idea to carry a 2 hour movie.
What is most strange with this film are the relatively high 75% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and the very low 46% audience ratings, including IMDB. In this case the critics are very wrong and the audience is right. There is nothing worth seeing here, and I do not recommend this movie.
The movie “High Fidelity” was released in 2000 and starred John Cusack. To this day High Fidelity is one of my favorite movies, because of the stories involving relationships, humor, music and the performance of Jack Black, in what is still his best role.
Due to the outstanding quality of High Fidelity the movie, remaking this into an 8 part series on Hulu had to be a daunting task. This version is basically about the same thing. The owner of a small music store, Robyn(Rob) Brooks, played by Zoe Kravitz, hires two employees, who barely do their jobs or come to work on time. While struggling to keep the store alive, Rob suffers through a series of bad relationship experiences and tries to figure out why he is always being rejected. Why he feels, he is doomed to always be alone. This Hulu series contains many similar excerpts from the original movie and effectively stretches this 2 hour story into an 8 hour streaming series.
The supporting cast starting with Rob’s employees, Todd Louiso and Da’Vine Joy Randolph, who plays the Jack Black role were very good in their roles, but Randolph did not get close to being as funny as Jack Black was in this role 20 years ago. I remember enjoying the elitist music egomania of all the employees of this small record shop 20 ago and their ongoing hobby of enumerating their top 5 favorite music categories throughout the original movie. This also happens in this Hulu series remake, but less than the original movie.
I thought this High Fidelity remake series from an original movie, one of the few I have ever known about, was very well done and I highly recommend it.
The new Hulu series “Little Fires Everywhere”, is one of the best serious dramas about every day life, living through high school and race relations that I have ever seen. This 8 part series stars Reese Witherspoon and Keri Washington as two women in their 40’s at the opposite ends of the social status of Shaker Heights Ohio.
Keri Washington plays Mia Warren, who along with her daughter Pearl are homeless and mostly living in their car. Mia is a starving artist, who is very cash poor due to a series of life challenges. During a random drive by, Elena Richardson, played by Witherspoon, notices Mia and Pearl living in a parked car and at first tries to help them, by offering them cheap housing, and then a job for Mia as her maid. All of this happens despite Mia’s obvious dislike of Elena who is both helpful and condescending to both Mia and her current lot in life. Many of the scenes in this movie involve Mia trying to hold back her rage as Elena talks down to and disrespects her, to a level that at times was very hard to watch. There are people like this in the world who derive pleasure from piling on more misery to people who are just trying to get through life. They seem to feel better about themselves only because they feel superior to someone else so they try to knock them down.
Elena is a reporter for a local Shaker Heights newspaper and her husband Bill, played by Joshua Jackson is a high priced lawyer. Over time, Mia’s daughter Pearl becomes close friends with Elana’s two sons and both of her emotionally challenged daughters Issy and and Lexi. What is most impressive about this 8 episode series is how over time the lives of all of Elana’s children become more and more connected to both Mia and her daughter Pearl.
Towards the end of this movie there is a new story involving one of Elena’s close friends and a very complex child custody case that also has a connection to Mia’s past when she was a teenager. All of this leads to a huge climax that involves a house fire that I thought based on what was happening, was too extreme to support this level of drama. Based on the unresolved ending at the conclusion of the 8th episode, there is a strong possibility of a second season of Little Fires Everywhere.
This series has been nominated for 3 Primetime Emmy’s including Keri Washington who was outstanding in her role as Mia, as well as the entire cast. The other nominee is Lynn Shelton as best director, who unfortunately passed away this past May at only age 54 of a rare blood disorder. This series was also nominated for best limited series and has my vote for the best series of 2020.
This is the first time I have used the free first month for Hulu and I thought that the quality of this production was every bit as good as Amazon Prime or Netflix. Little Fires Everywhere gets my highest recommendation as does Hulu that contains very impressive content.
I am proud to announce that this movie review website, that has been in existence since October 2014, has been chosen by Feedspot as one of the top 100 movie review websites on the Internet. Currently we are #60.
I want to thank all my loyal readers who have followed this website from the beginning.
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As far as the new movie on Netflix “Fatal Affair”, starring Nia Long and Omar Epps, the real story is how can this same exact movie, be made so many times. The entire story is always the same. A largely black cast, a love affair gone wrong, one of the partners, either a man or a woman is either mentally disturbed or insane. Then there are several incidents that prove that the person who was rejected is completely off the deep end, and then the climax includes several characters running for their lives, physical violence and the insane person, along with other people in harms way, die.
What would be a better movie is a documentary about how or why this very same film has been made so many times. Given the relatively marketable fame both Epps and Long have, it is hard to believe that they would agree to perform in a another copy of a film that has been made so many times.
I agree with the very low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes of 16% and 4.4 on IMDB and I do not recommend this mostly bad film.
Since the release of the impressive “Atomic Blonde” in 2017, Charlize Theron has now become a highly skilled Martial Arts actor, that now also includes the new Netflix movie “The Old Guard”.
The Old Guard is one of those science fiction action movies that requires the audience to suspend all common sense, because this story is about a group of immortal soldiers who have been alive for about 1000 years. They cannot be killed, even when they are shot in the head or riddled with bullets. The one trick in this plot is that, after being killed unknown number of times these soldiers are no longer able to come back to life. Due to all of this absurd life and death complexity, this film runs a fine line from being entertaining mostly because of the Martial Arts action to being ridiculous because the immortality angle mostly does not work.
Originally there are 4 soldiers led by Theron who have been traveling the world for centuries fighting in wars and saving lives, but through their common dreams they find out about a new immortal soldier Nile, currently in the US army, played by KiKi Layne. What follows for the rest of this story are events we have seen before including a scientist who wants to capture all the soldiers so they can be studied and fighting various enemies with gunfire and Martial Arts. The last quarter of this story is mostly about the group’s ongoing attempts to evade capture by this evil scientist. At the very end of this story, there was a very strong suggestion that this is the first of a series of movies with these characters, that will probably be determined based on the Netflix ratings for this first installment.
Despite the strong 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, I give this movie a 70% rating and a very marginal recommendation, mostly for fans of solid Martial Arts action.
The new movie “Greyhound:, starring Tom Hanks was originally scheduled to be released to movie theaters, but due to the Pandemic, it is only available on Apple+ streaming service. Greyhound is a Naval war movie starring Tom Hanks, and his performance reminded me of his incredible performance in “Saving Private Ryan”, released in 1998 – arguably the greatest war movie ever made – and arguably the greatest performance in Tom Hanks impressive career.
The events of this film are fiction, based on the book “The Good Shepherd” by C.S. Forester. The screenplay for this movie was written by both Tom Hanks and C.S Forester. During World War 2, in the battle of the Atlantic, “3500 ships were lost carrying millions of tons of cargo were sunk and 72,200 souls were lost”.
From the start, the commander of a battle ship, Captain Earnest Krause, played by Hanks is in charge of the protection a crowd of freighter ships in the North Atlantic in 1942 from German U-boats. What impressed me the most about the constant danger throughout the start-to-end battle within this story, was the complex maneuvering and the barking of orders from Captain Krause, where one small misstep could cost the lives of everybody on board of the battleship he commands. Krause’s ship is surrounded by submarines, and other German battleships involving excellent special effects within very choppy ocean water. There are at least 3 almost collisions with Krause’s battleship and other ships as Krause tries to avoid the constant attacks by the enemy.
Most unusual about this entire movie is that there is really no story, instead just a series of non stop events in the life of a battleship and its crew during a high point of the Naval battles in the North Atlantic in 1942.
The Rotten Tomatoes ratings are only about 76% and my rating is more in the 90% range, mostly because of the special effects and Tom Hanks performance. I highly recommend Greyhound as one of the best Naval War movies ever made. See the Greyhound WW2 movie trailer below.
Since the release of Hamilton on the new Disney+ streaming service on July 3, 2020 one would have to guess that there has been a huge increase in subscribers, at least for one month.
Even for those who hate musicals, and I am one of those people, you cannot help but admire the enormous amount of work the creator of Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda, put into composing so much music and rhythmic dialogue for a production that is over 2 12 hours long. Then add all the singing and rapping of so many words that the entire cast had to memorize for so many musical numbers in this long production. Years ago, nobody would have guessed that someone could make an entire musical from the life of Alexander Hamilton who lived from January 11, 1755 – July 12, 1804. At its peak, Hamilton was the most attended and popular musicals in the world.
This movie, that is only available on the Disney+ service is a recording of a Broadway performance in June 2016 at the Richard Rogers theater. It plays exactly like you are sitting in the audience, watching a Broadway play. Ever aspect of the production is excellent and I agree with the very high 99% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. For me the standout performance was the actor who played King George, Jonathan Groff. He was both an excellent singer and very funny during all of his standout musical appearances. The entire rest of the cast, especially Miranda were all outstanding.
Hamilton is a must see, for the high level of acting, music and production.
The new on demand movie “Irresistible” is both written and directed by John Stewart, and my first question is, why is this movie even called Irresistible? This title makes no sense, considering what this movie is about. The story of Irresistible is about the political process in this country, that is all about raising money and back stabbing and bad mouthing the other side. Its about the system being broken and is all about money and not about changing things for the better. The problem here is that the point of this film is lost in Stewart’s attempts to be different and because of this, most of this entire film does not make any sense.
First of all, why would a high level political operative, Gary Zimmer (played by Steve Carell), who works in Washington D.C. ever care about a small town Mayoral race in Wisconsin? This would never happen, so why not make Zimmer more local to Wisconsin?
The movie starts with Zimmer seeing a speech during town hall of a former army Colonel Jack Hastings, played by Chris Cooper and because of this one speech, Zimmer believes he would be a great candidate for mayor of a small conservative town in Wisconsin. What follows are mostly unfunny and disjointed scenes of a political campaign and even a trip to New York City to get funding for this mayoral race, in what turns out to be millions of dollars. Why would rich people in New York City give a great deal of money to fund a mayoral campaign for a small town in Wisconsin? There are several other scenes in this movie that looked like Stewart was trying too hard to be different, including one scene where an injured army veteran was dressed up and talked like a robot, because of his many strokes. I thought this was not only unfunny, but in very bad taste. The campaign manager Faith Brewster for the current mayor, played by Rose Byrne has an ongoing love hate relationship with Zimmer, and most of their scenes also fail pretty badly and are never funny.
The ending included the conclusion of an ongoing scam with the town, that did not work and was completely implausible. The ending is another attempt by Stewart to try something different that also failed. I had the feeling throughout watching this film that any new screenwriter would never get this screenplay made into a movie because it was just not strong enough. Only because of John Stewart’s clout was this movie pushed forward and financed.
My other question is that why are these on demand first run movies so expensive to buy at $19.99? You would think that because the movie has no distribution costs that it would be cheaper to make. Perhaps the producers believe that the only way to recoup enough money is to charge a ridiculously high price for a movie you can see in your home. Given that Irresistible is not a good movie, paying 19.99 is even more annoying for all who will see this film.
I agree with the very low 42% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and recommend this movie should be avoided to save the $19.99. John Stewart is very funny as a talk show host and a talented comedian and it must be hard for him to get all of these bad reviews. Sometimes it is better to not make a bad movie rather than produce something just to try and stay relevant in Hollywood.
The new movie “My Spy”, streamed on Amazon Prime is one of those forgettable films, because its so much like so many other stories about Spies and undercover Police that we have all seen before. For this film, nothing stands out as different or groundbreaking.
My Spy stars wrestler/actor Dave Bautista, who has been in more than a few movies the last few years – most of them about the same. Time will tell if he can create a movie career, anything close to the huge success of Dwayne Johnson, who has made many movies the last 15 years.
The story of My Spy is very similar to “Stakeout” that was released in 1987, starring Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez. It is so similar that the only real difference is the 9 year old girl involved Sofie, played by newcomer Chloe Coleman. She steals this whole movie, mostly during the scenes where JJ, played by Batista, who is a CIA agent, become friends – even to the point of Sophie bringing JJ to school with her, for show and tell of all things. Considering that JJ is a very experienced CIA agent, most of these bonding scenes with a 9 year old girl, do not make much sense. Sophie’s mother Kate is played by Parisa Fitz-Henley and eventually becomes the love interest for JJ, which is also the same plot line of Stakeout.
The bonding scenes between JJ and Sophie take place during the middle of this film, and are mostly not compelling enough to keep a person interested in watching. There are several moments where this film refers to other action movies of the past, including even “Raiders of the Lost Arc” at the end where JJ and a terrorist are fighting in front of a plane. Also at the end of the movie there is an attempt at humor, trying to make fun of action movies where the hero is walking forward, and something explodes behind them. I thought this was an interesting idea, but not enough to save this movie.
The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for My Spy are a low 51%, and I agree with this rating and do not recommend this film.