Movie Review: A Dog’s Way Home

Someday, someone will do a study on how many dogs or cats are rescued from shelters or adopted after a movie like “A Dog’s Way Home” comes out. Over the years we have all heard about dogs that have gone through a miracle journey of hundreds or even thousands of miles to find their way back to their owner. Despite this, this story is not a true one and I thought that a better movie could have been made with a true story. This is a good movie about a Dog who gets separated from its owner and finds its way home and along the way goes through several hellish and depressing experiences. The worst part of this journey was when he wound up with a homeless man played by the actor Edward James Olmos – a part I would have left out of this movie. The dog also befriends a mountain lion and I thought that a flaw in this movie was the poorly rendered CGI for the mountain lion that looked very fake.

Several good things stand out about this film, starting with the incredible loyalty of dogs, who will go through anything to be with their owners. Where this level of loyalty and love comes from with mans best friend is one of the best things about owning a dog. As with most movies about pets, the downside of shelters and the realities of laws about controlling animal population comes up. The law in this movie is that Pit Bulls are outlawed in the Denver Colorado area, the reasons for this rather obvious due to the extremely severe damage a dog like this can cause with the strength of its bite.

This movie stars the actress Ashley Judd, who for several years after her extremely hot career in the 1990’s has been making movies like this one, forgoing a return to the big movie star status she had about 15 years ago. This movie is not for the younger children as some of the scenes would probably be too intense, but for any child over 13 I would say its an acceptable family movie.

The Rotten Tomatoes rating for this movie is only 60%, I would give this an average 70% rating due to some of the flaws, but overally I do recommend A Dog’s Way Home.

Movie Review: On the Basis of Sex

The new movie “On the Basis of Sex” is not really a biography of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, but instead in the first 1/3 of this film shows Ginsberg’s early college years at Harvard Law School as a married woman with a child, her husband Martin Ginsberg played very well by actor Armie Hammer. Most impressive about Ruth Ginsberg in her college years is that due to her husbands cancer diagnosis, she attended all of his law classes as well as her own, to keep him on schedule with his law degree. Not only did she graduate Harvard, help her husband and raise a young child, but she also finished first in her graduating class. Despite her great accomplishments at Harvard, she faced nothing but condescending discrimination in the New York City job market, because she was a woman. Eventually, her only alternative was to become a law professor because she had no other offers from any law firm. While watching this movie it was easy to understand the extreme anger Ginsberg must have faced after so many years of never getting what she rightfully deserved.

What I thought was unusual about this film is that the the remaining part of this story is about an obscure legal case in Colorado involving a single man and caretaker for his mother, was denied a tax write off. The only reason for this tax deduction denial was because he was a man and the reason for this was the title of caretaker always implied a woman. Amazingly this obscure case was the first landmark and the beginning of a whole series of supreme court arguments for equal rights championed by Ginsberg. Over many years the discrimination of women within unfair and outdated laws were overturned. I thought the idea to center almost this entire movie on this one case and the background and arguments leading to the final trial was unusual, but effective. The ending scenes and arguments to the Colorado Supreme Court was very impressive with some great acting by Felicity Jones who played Ruth Bader Ginsberg. In my opinion Jones should receive an Academy Award nomination for best actress, but unfortunately due to no nomination for the Golden Globe, this is probably unlikely.

The Rotten Tomatoes reviews for On the Basis of Sex are a very surprisingly average 71%. I would give this movie at least an 85% and I give this film a strong recommendation.

Movie Review: The Upside

Kevin Hart is one of the better stand up comedians to come up in the last 20 years, his story telling ability and comedic rythym and confidence are some of the best skills I have ever seen, including even Richard Pryor. Hart is one of the very few who have parlayed his stand up success as a stand up into acting in comedy movies. With the exception of Hart’s stand up comedy movies, most of the other films he has made (with the possible exception of Jumanji), have been for the most part not good enough to show Hart’s talent.

The new film “The Upside” with Nicole Kidman and Bryan Cranston is Hart’s first mostly serious role and the difference with this movie is – the quality of the screenplay. The Upside is a true story of a wealthy man played by Cranston who become paraplegic due to a hang glider accident – and hires an x-con who had no experience as a care taker. I thought the contrasting realities and the questions that arise from this were extremely well done. Is it worse to be unable to move for the rest of your life, or dirt poor and an x-con with no chance of ever getting any decent job? When you think about it, despite the unlimited wealth – the majority of human beings in this world would choose to be able to move, even if that meant that they would be extremely poor and perhaps even homeless.

I thought the acting in this movie was extremely well done and for the first time Hart showed that he can be a very good serious actor in a movie. What makes no sense to me are the very low numbers on Rotten Tomatoes, only 33% and only a 3.8 rating on IMDB. I can only conclude that these unfair and inaccurate low ratings are a direct result of Kevin Hart’s recent controversy with the Oscars and his apology for comments he made in 2011. All of this is unfair to bash a movie that is overall very good, based on comments that were made in a Tweet so many years ago that Hart has already apologized for several times.

I give The Upside a solid 80% rating and I do recommend it. In this case, the critics are definitely wrong.