Movie Review: Good Boys

“Good Boys” is yet another movie that I went to see for this blog, that received high scores on Rotten Tomatoes, even though it is far from a movie worth seeing. Good Boys is about 3 friends in grammar school that get involved with stealing a drone, stealing and buying drugs, all because of a kissing party that some young Chinese 10 year old boy is organizing. The story line is all over the place, mostly disconnected and most importantly not funny at all. Nobody laughed in the audience I was in and I was more interested in checking my watch, hoping this mostly bad movie would be over soon. There are so many scenes that were very annoying including, too many times when one or all three of the boys were screaming with these high pitched squealing sounds.

Good Boys stars Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon and Keith Williams who are close friends and fall into some ridiculous situations, the entire plot of this film. The one scene I disliked the most was when the 3 boys were trying to cross a two lane very dangerous highway to get to a mall. Only by some miracle did they manage to not get killed. There is nothing funny or entertaining about a scene like this considering the thought of a young child getting hit by a car. The problem with showing three young boys trying to cross a dangerous highway is there are children in this world who are just stupid enough to try something like this themselves and because of this, the producers of this film were extremely irresponsible by not removing this scene.

I can only guess why the critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie a high 79% rating, because this is at best 40%. I do not recommend Good Boys.

Movie Review: Luce

I am sure there is no accident that the main character in the movie “Luce”, who is an overachieving high school student, looks a great deal like a young Barack Obama. The film Luce is highly unusual in that it is more about how people interact with someone who everybody assumes is a great person, who will be doing to do great things and is extremely likable. This story examines the reality that what people show the world is not necessarily what they actually are.
The cast of this low budget “Indy” movie is impressive, with Naomi Watts as Luce’s mother, Tim Roth as his father and Octavia Spenser as his high school history teacher and newcomer Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Luce. What makes this story mostly work is that Luce was adopted by two white parents from a war zone and he needed years of rehabilitation starting at age 10 to recover from his PTSD due to years of being exposed to war as a young child. While Luce is a tremendous overachiever in high school, there are problems that start with the suspicions of his high school teacher Miss Wilson, played by Spenser, because of a paper that promotes violence Luce wrote for his history class. What follows are a series of events, including a scene where Miss Wilson’s mentally ill sister runs naked in the lobby of the high school, which I thought was not only unnecessary but not related enough to the main part of the story to even include in this film. The story has several other sub stories, some that enhance the story and others that seem unnecessary to the point of the film.
The acting in Luce is of course outstanding, but what I did not like was the ending, that did left too many loose ends, and resulted in an unsatisfactory conclusion in my opinion.
The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for this movie is an extremely high 93% but my rating is about 80%, more for the acting and less for the story. I do recommend Luce.

Movie Review: The Peanut Butter Falcon

The new movie “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is a low budget art movie, that is about as different than any movie I have seen in many years. The main character Zak is played by a real actor with Down Syndrome, Zack Gottsagen – who despite his limitations does a very good and believable job with this role. The story is very simple, “with the help of Zak’s roommate, played by Bruce Dern (in yet another low budget movie role), Zak escapes from his nursing him – with the hopes of becoming a professional wrestler by attending a school for wrestlers somewhere on the coast of North Carolina”. Assigned to find Zak, is Eleanor, his caretaker played very well by Dakota Johnson, who has recovered very well from her 3 bad roles in the ridiculous “Fifty Shades” franchise. They both run into a fisherman named Tyler played by Shia LeBeouf, who is in some trouble and then most of this film involves the 3 of them trying to find this wrestling school because of Tyler’s promise to Zak.
I thought this movie was good, mainly because of its simple story and acting, but not as great as the critics are rating it on Rotten Tomatoes at 95%. My rating would be a solid 80% with a moderate recommendation.

Movie Review: Angel has Fallen

“Angel has Fallen” is the third, and possibly the last installment in this franchise, that started with “Olympus has Fallen”, released in 2013. Olympus has Fallen is arguably one the best action movies ever produced, about a gang of North Korean’s who invade and take over the White House. This sequel “London has Fallen”, released 3 years later, was unfortunately not nearly as good as the original. Angel has Fallen is also not as good as the original, but it is much better than London has Fallen. The main problem I had with this film is that there are not enough action scenes for too much of the 2 hours and because of this, the high level of tension that was present in the first movie was not maintained for enough of the movie, until the end.

Gerard Butler, who plays Mike Banning is perfect for this role of a secret service agent, who is put into impossible situations that always involve imminent death and martial arts skills that are always far better than almost all of his combatants. The plot of Angel has Fallen was very obvious to figure out and I thought that Jada Pinkett was miscast as the lead FBI agent. I also didn’t like the producers using a different actress, Piper Perabo to play Banning’s wife only because of a scheduling conflict. In the interest of continuity, it would have been better for fans of the franchise to make the schedule work and not give Banning a different wife. Nick Nolte is also in this installment as Banning’s father, who is living in the woods and looks like a mountain man, who is far older than Nolte’s 79 years. I thought the chemistry between Butler and Nolte was very well done in this story and the funny ending was well done.

The Rotten Tomatoes review of this film is a way too low 46% and once again the critics are wrong. Angel has Fallen is a very solid action movie and the correct rating is 75%.  I recommend Angel has Fallen.

Movie Review: Where’d you go Bernadette

“Where’d you go Bernadette” is one of those strange, trying too hard to be different movies where you wonder how lead actors like Cate Blanchette and Laurence Fishburne could read the screenplay and agree to appear in this film. There is no real story here, just a series of scenes where an architect, Bernadette Fox, played by Blanchette is slowly having a nervous breakdown mostly caused by her manic depressive personality. I found most of this not interesting enough to hold my attention for 2 hours, even though the acting, mostly by Blanchette was good.

It is hard to understand why this movie was made or why actors like Fishburne, Blanchette and the very talented Kristine Wiig agreed to agreed to appear in this film. I agree with the low 44% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and do not recommend this movie.


Movie Review: Blinded by the Light

“Blinded by the Light” is an obscure true story from 1987, about a Pakistani teenager from a small town near London England who becomes obsessed with the songs and lyrics of Bruce Springsteen. Amazingly, through the music of Springsteen, Javed, played by newcomer Viveik Kalra is able to escape from his depressing life in a poor family who live in a depressing and typical apartment complex, constantly harassed by racists in his high school and neighborhood.

Despite his unemployed father’s wishes, Javed wants to be a writer and as I seen in so many movies, “Fences” being the best example, Javed’s father stands in the way of son’s dreams and ambitions because of jealousy and anger over his own life failures. Through the brilliance of Springsteen’s music and the lyrics of his great songs, Javed is able to escape from his life that seems to have nowhere to go but down. What this film shows, better than most I have seen like it, is the importance of great artists in the world, who can inspire others to never give up on the dreams, and to just for a little while, escape from their depressing reality and live one more day.

I agree with the high Rotten Tomatoes ratings for Blinded by the Light of 91%. This movie was very well written and well acted. While slow in some parts, the overall message was a good one, and I do recommend this movie. 




Movie Review: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Every once in a while as a movie blogger, I read a review or see a high score on Rotten Tomatoes and then see a movie that has no business having a high score, in the case of “Scary Movies t Tell in the Dark” at 80%. There is nothing special about this film. Nothing that scary, nothing we have all not seen many times before. Parts of this film were very slow and boring in too many places. There was also nothing special about the ending that did not rescue this run of the mill horror movie or the special effects that were at best, average.

The correct rating for Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is about 45%. This one should definitely be skipped.

Movie Review: The Art of Racing in the Rain

For the latest Dog movie, “The Art of Racing in the Rain” – everybody knows going in that the formula will be the same as just about all the recent Dog movies that have been released. The Dog will slowly get old and eventually die. There will be scenes of extreme happiness and joy, followed by overwhelming depression.  The problem is, we have all seen movies like this too many times. Critics correctly call movies like this “tear jerkers”, and when the story is manipulative, like this one is, it can cause resentment from the audience.

The reason for the low reviews for this film is because there is nothing new in this story, other than the fact that the Dog is fan of the sport of Car Racing and the main character, played by Milo Ventimiglia races cars for a living. He gets married, his wife played by Amanda Seyfried and has a daughter – nothing new here. As with most of the recent Dog movies, the audience hears the Dog’s thoughts through the narration of an actor; for this film the narration is performed by Kevin Costner. I was surprised that Costner accepted this role, because in my opinion, the screenplay was not strong enough for someone of his caliber. All of this is a retread of so many Dog movies we have seen too many times already.

In the interest of trying a new idea for a Dog or a Cat movie, why not write a story where no Pet or human being dies for a change.  Formula movies can be enjoyable and work much of the time, but due to the flood of recent Dog movies like this one, this is all getting old very quickly. Its time to create something new.

I agree with the low 49% ratings for The Art of Racing in the Rain and I do not recommend this film.

Movie Review: Brian Banks

From Merriam Webster:

INJUSTICE applies to any act that involves unfairness to another or violation of one’s rights. The injustices suffered by the lower classes INJURY applies in law specifically to an injustice for which one may sue to recover compensation.

In all my years of being an avid movie goer, I have never seen a true story like the one depicted in the new movie “Brian Banks” that defines a level of monumental injustice as much as this story. As a matter of fact, if Brian Banks was not a true story, it would never work as a movie, because nobody would believe that something this outrageous could ever happen to anyone who lives in this country. All of us know that the legal system in this country is corrupt and broken in so many cases, but what happened to Brian Banks in 2002 is an outrage that was unbelievable to realize. Just one problem in our disastrous legal system are the plea bargain’s that occur in 97% of the cases, many times because the courts are so backed up and the defense attorney’s don’t care about their clients. As a result innocent people are thrown in jail because of expediency and incompetence, and as a result, lives are forever ruined.

Brian Banks was 16 years old in 2002 and a top college and future NFL prospect. He was accused of raping a 15 year old girl and he was not only innocent, but his innocence was so obvious that only a system as corrupt and broken as the legal system in this country could have convicted this young man who did absolutely nothing wrong. Many of the events in this very good film were difficult to sit through because anyone with any sense of empathy for another human being could only imagine what it was like to be only 16 years old with a great future and being forced to do hard time for 6 years only because of a broken legal system. Only because of a judge that didn’t care enough about a young man and a defense lawyer that was utterly incompetent. Imagine being trapped in a disgusting jail cell in constant danger, your life ruined before you are even 20 years old when you did nothing wrong. Put in solitary for 60 days, wondering “why me” every hour of every day for 6 long years. Then when you are released and on probation, you can never have a shot at getting into the NFL or even get a job – and you did nothing wrong. Your name is placed on every sex offender’s list in this country and you did nothing wrong.

Through it all his accuser knew he was innocent and never had enough humanity to come forward and tell the truth. What this film does extremely well is show how Brian was able to survive these horrible years only because of an instructor at the prison who taught him about life, including concepts like, “All you can control in life is how you respond to life.” – great advice given in the self help book
“As a Man Thinketh” mentioned in this movie several times. The most impressive aspect of this story is that through all of this, Brian Banks never gave up trying to clear his name despite the impossible odds and a broken legal system that included so many people that just did not care enough to help him.

The Rotten Tomatoes reviews for this film at only 55% are not only wrong, but this time around – absurd. I give this movie a 95% rating for the story, the great screenplay and the acting that includes Aldis Hodge as Brian Banks, Sherri Shepherd as Brian’s mother, Morgan Freeman who is great as the prison instructor and Greg Kinnear as the lawyer who saved Brian’s life and cleared his name. I give a strong recommendation to Brian Banks as one of the best movies about a true story and injustice that I have ever seen.

Movie Review: The Farewell

“The Farewell” is a true story about a large Chinese family who believe that if an older person gets Cancer, its better to lie to them because the fear of dying is worse than the disease itself. After seeing this movie its hard not to believe in this tradition born from of the Chinese culture. What sense does it make to tell an old person they have this horrendous disease, when they can live out their last days in comfort and without fear? Another perspective is, how often are doctors wrong about how long a person has left to live, giving more credence to this idea of lying to an older person about having Cancer.

The Farewell is one of the few movies I have seen that is equally in English and subtitles and both were very well done. The acting was also very good, even though at times it was hard to understand some of the English speaking. The sub story of the entire family lying to their grandmother about lung cancer is an impending wedding with the brother of the main character Billi, played very well by actress Awkwafina. There were some emotional and even very funny scenes in this film despite the depressing diagnosis of the beloved matriarch of this family.

The Rotten Tomatoes ratings for The Farewell are an extremely high 99% and I give this movie a 90% rating and strong recommendation.